Charles Bloch Redux: A Lesson in French Genealogy Research

A few weeks ago I published my second post about Charles Bloch, searching for information about the time he spent in France during World War II. Charles was married to Amalie Meyer, granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. He wasn’t related to me except by marriage, but I can’t seem to let go of his story. So this is my third Charles Bloch post. And there will be one more.

All I knew at the time of that second post was that Charles was still in Germany as of December, 1938, when he was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that he arrived in the US from Toulouse, France, in 1946. I knew that his wife, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and his daughter Ilse Bloch, had both left Germany and were in the US by 1941, at which time Amalie reported on her declaration of intention that her husband Charles was in France.  But despite receiving additional documents from the International Tracing Service, I still didn’t know when Charles arrived in France or where or how he spent those war years.

I received a few suggestions from readers for additional research, but the most significant help came from a member of Tracing the Tribe named Danny Breslow. Danny has expertise in French genealogy research and was incredibly generous with his time helping me to find information.

First, he noticed something I should have noticed. On Charles’ ship manifest coming to the US in 1946, he listed as the person left behind in his former place of residence a person named Gaston Bloch, residing at 27 “Pomme St.” in Toulouse.

Charles Bloch, passenger manifest p. 2, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Fort Royal
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Danny then searched the 1936 Toulouse census (the most recent one available online) and discovered that in 1936, a couple named Gaston and Alice Alexandre lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse.

City of Toulouse, Municipal Archives, Call Number 1 F94, p. 301 (1936)

Could Charles have mistakenly referred to Gaston Alexandre as Gaston Bloch? Possibly, but not necessarily, as you will see.

Danny discovered that a boy named Jean Bloch had also lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. He was born in Marseilles, and according to an article Danny found in a French publication about the Jewish children of Toulouse, Jean Bloch was living in Toulouse with his grandmother and his older brother in 1944. Jean was only fourteen when he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Drancy and then to Auschwitz on March 24, 1944. He survived Auschwitz, but was later killed on a death march on April 17, 1945.

TOULOUSE-MÉMOIRE DES ENFANTS JUIFS DÉPORTÉS, September 2014

A profile on Geni managed by Jean Bloch’s nephew’s wife Hanna revealed that Jean Bloch was the son of Lucie Alexandre and Georges Bloch and that Lucie Alexandre was the daughter of Gaston and Alice Alexandre. Thus, young Jean Bloch had a grandfather named Gaston. Was this the “Gaston Bloch” living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that Charles Bloch named on his manifest? Connecting those dots proved challenging.

Danny and I tried to find some link between the lineage of Georges Bloch, whose in-laws lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme, and the lineage of Charles Bloch. According to Geni, Georges Bloch, Jean’s father, was the son of Albert Fortun Salomon Bloch, who in turn was the son of Joseph Bloch.1

Danny’s knowledge of French genealogy came in handy as he located a birth record for Jules Bloch, Charles Bloch’s father, showing he was born in Scherwiller, France, in 1855. (That explained why Charles was identified as French on the ITS documents even though he was born in Frankfurt; his father was French-born.)

Birth record of Jules Bloch, 1885, Scherwiller – Etat civil – Registre de naissances 1855 – 4 E 445/5  found at http://archives.bas-rhin.fr/detail-document/ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585#visio/page:ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585-3028132

As seen on Jules Bloch’s birth record, he was the son of Meyer Bloch and Sarra Weill. I’ve tried to dig back further to see if I could find a tie between the Scherwiller Blochs and the Marseilles Blochs, but without success. With Danny’s help and my discovery of a Scherwiller Bloch family tree on Ancestry, a tree that is well sourced, we were able to trace Charles Bloch’s lineage back to the 1700s without finding a link to the Marseille Bloch family.

I also contacted Hanna, the manager of that Geni profile of Jean Bloch and  the daughter-in-law of Jean Bloch’s brother Michel; Michel had survived the war and immigrated to Israel. Hanna did not know of any connection to Charles Bloch and pointed out that there had been another Bloch family also living at 27 Rue de la Pomme who were not related to the Alexandre family. I’ve yet to find any records for that family though.

In addition, Danny discovered that a young Jewish woman named Nicole Bloch Klein, a resistance activist in France, also once lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. Perhaps Bloch was a common enough name and 27 Rue de la Pomme was a big enough building that it’s purely coincidental that Charles Bloch ended up knowing people living in that building who also happened to be named Bloch?

I went back to look at the 1936 census again and counted five households living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that year. I don’t know what the odds are that, ten years later in 1946 when Charles Bloch reported a Gaston Bloch living at that address, there would have been another family named Bloch, unrelated to the family of Jean Bloch, living at that address.

So I cannot prove that there was a familial tie between Georges Bloch, the son-in-law of Gaston and Alice Alexandre of 27 Rue de la Pomme, and Charles Bloch, who listed the same address on his ship manifest. And I still don’t know how Charles survived the war. Who did he live with? How did he avoid deportation? Why did he wait a year after the war ended before joining his wife and daughter in the United States?

I still don’t know. But, in the course of researching the Bloch family, I discovered another interesting twist in the family tree.

To be continued…


  1. There were no records on Geni to support this, but since the profile is managed by a close family member, I assume that it is reliable. 

22 thoughts on “Charles Bloch Redux: A Lesson in French Genealogy Research

  1. Interesting is that the Weill name is still associated with 27 rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. I bet you loved working with Danny Breslow on this mystery.
    I was so hoping this would also be a lesson in French genealogy for me as well. My husband has a grandaunt who was living in Paris during WWII and family tradition is that she died in the bombardment of a train in Paris. I keep going back to her from time to time looking for new online database that may have more of her story. It’s been a while so I guess I’ll have another look around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately the latest census on line was the 1936 one. Danny showed me how to find birth records in France (and I hope I’ll remember), but we were not able to find anything about Charles during the war. Very frustrating! I’ve now tried Yad Vashem, USHMM, ITS, Arolsen, even a French newspaper database as well as the usual genealogy sites, but nothing… 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was hoping to see results from a site I’d not used. Paris is huge and I’ve only been able to narrow the years to 1941-1945. Paris does not have the 10-year tables for BMD for this period so I have to look at the death lists for each year for each of the 20 districts of Paris. 1942 done. Moving on to 1943. Keeping notes so I know where I leave off if I get distracted. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with Paris! Those big cities are always such a nightmare. When I’ve had to search in Frankfurt for records that are not indexed either in Ancestry or in the Hesse archive website, it’s a nightmare. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. French genealogy is so fascinating. I looked at the building on Google Maps using Street View – very pretty 🙂 Still, that doesn’t help with your research. I keep meaning to join Filae to help me with my French research (my 2nd great-uncle married a French woman and lived in Paris for almost 30 years)

    I wonder if Charles was one of those who managed to find a safe house. That he avoided the horrible velodrome round-up is a miracle. Looking forward to what you find next.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Charles Bloch Redux, Part II: A Surprising Twist in the Family Tree | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  4. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  5. How wonderful that you connected with Danny and that you could work together to try to figure this out. You’ve done such a great job at connecting with people who have been able to really help you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Three cheers for Danny’s insights!

    One of my closest friends in high school and university shared my surname, although we’re not related. It happens. And clearly keeps family historians on their toes!

    Liked by 1 person

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