The Legacy of Meier Katzenstein

Today I want to share some photographs and other documents that were shared with me by a cousin named Miles who found my blog and then generously sent me a large collection of photographs.

Miles is my fifth cousin through our shared four times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann. Miles is descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. Miles’ lineage is from Jacob Falcke to Meyer Goldschmidt to Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein to Meier Katzenstein to Sophia Katzenstein Lustig to his mother Nancy  to Miles.

I wrote about Meier and his family back on October 23, 2020 here. I will just summarize that blog post briefly in order to provide context for the photographs Miles shared with me. For more details and sources, please refer back to my original post.

Meier Katzenstein was the youngest child and only son of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Callman Katzenstein. He was born in 1860 in Eschwege, Germany, and was also the only child of Amalie and Juda to leave Germany and immigrate to the US. He immigrated in 1888, and three years later he married Emma Bacharach, also a German immigrant. They lived in New York City where their only child Sophia was born in 1892. Meier was in the business of manufacturing fancy linens.

Here are some photographs of Meier and Emma. You can see from Meier’s photographs how accurately he was described on his US passport application: “five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face.”

The first photograph was taken in Eschwege so presumably before Meier immigrated.

Meier Katzenstein in Eschwege
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier Katzenstein
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier and Emma (Bacharach) Katzenstein. Courtesy of Miles Mark

And these are some adorable photographs of Sophia Katzenstein as a girl alone and with her parents, including some taken in Germany, showing that Meier and Emma did return to visit their families back in Germany.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma and Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein in Germany Courtesy of Mark Miles

Sophia was not only a beautiful little girl; she grew up to be a beautiful woman. In 1914 she married Elias Lustig, who was a very successful hat manufacturer. Here are some photographs of Sophia as a young woman and one of Elias.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias and Sophia had two children. Their first child was David Miles Lustig, known as Miles. He was born in 1916. His grandfather Meier had died just six months before, and I assume that Miles was named for his grandfather.

Elias and Sophia’s second child Nancy was born five years later in 1921. Here are some delightful photographs of the two children of Elias and Sophia, grandchildren of Meier and Emma:

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles and Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia and Elias divorced sometime thereafter, and in 1936 Sophia married her second husband, Saul Baron. Here are two photographs of Sophia and Saul:

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died in 1941, and thus neither Meier nor Emma lived to endure the tragedy that befell their only grandson, David Miles Lustig. Miles was a 1939 graduate of Princeton University, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He enlisted in the US Army on January 17, 1941, almost a year before the US entered World War II. Here are two photographs of Miles in uniform looking so proud to be serving his country.

L David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Miles was assigned to the 44th Bomber Squadron, 20th Bomber Command. Here he is with some of the men in his squadron:

David Miles Lustig, right Courtesy of Miles Mark

Tragically, while flying over China in December, 1944, the plane in which Miles’s crew was flying was shot down and crashed. Miles landed in a river and drowned, but the rest of the men on his plane survived and recorded what had happened, as described in these documents shared with me by David Miles Lustig’s namesake, my fifth cousin Miles.

The first is a letter written to the family by the members of the crew on the plane that day. It’s interesting that they called him Dave, not Miles.

45th Bomb Squad

APO 631, NY

Jan 24

Dear Mr. Lustig and Family,

Several of the boys have received letters asking about Dave so we hope you get a little bit of comfort from as much as we can tell. (The events related in this letter concern 1st Lt. David Miles Lustig, 0-416239.)

We know it must have been a terrible blow to you and you have our deepest sympathy. If there is anything we can do, please don’t hesitate to ask any favor. We all thought an awful lot of your son.

Their plane was shot down returning from a combat mission and all the crew members were forced to bail out. Dave landed in the water and was drowned. The rest of the crew remained several days in the vicinity conducting a search until he was found.

You might like to know that just before he jumped from the plane he took his navigators’ log and carried with him so he could tell the rest of the crew their location on the ground. The paper was picked up later and returned by natives and that’s how we happened to know about it. So even in the emergency, his primary consideration was to his duty to the rest of the men.

It’s as hard to write about it is to think about and I think that is as much as we are allowed to tell at this time. I’m sure that at a later date, any of his friends will be glad to give you any information you desire.

Now we can only tell you how terribly sorry we are that it had to happen.


[signatures of the crew]

The second is a compilation of memories and details from various members of the flight crew. You can read it by clicking on the link below. It is too long for me to transcribe and too important to be merely paraphrased.

article on shooting down of plane David Miles Lustig

Sophia died just six years after the tragic loss of her son Miles; she was 58 when she died on November 9, 1950. She was survived by her remaining child, Nancy, and two grandsons. Nancy had married Mitchell Mark in 1943; they had two sons, Mitchell II., and Miles, the namesake of Nancy’s brother and the cousin who has shared all these photographs and documents with me. Nancy later divorced Mitchell Mark and married Saul Waldman in 1956.

The death of David Miles Lustig was not the only tragedy this family faced. In 1969, Nancy’s older son Mitchell was killed in a horrific accident when his car was crushed by an eighteen-wheeler. Mitchell II was only 25 years old. Nancy donated an ambulance to Israel in his memory. He was survived by his wife Linda and young son, also named Mitchell.

Nancy Lustig Waldman died on June 8, 2004. She was 83 years old. She was survived by her son Miles and by his children as well as her grandson Mitchell III.

I am so grateful to my fifth cousin Miles for sharing his family’s stories—both the triumphs and the tragedies—and for sharing all these beautiful photographs. He carries on the rich legacy of all his namesakes—his three-times great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt for whom his great-grandfather Meier Katzenstein was named and his uncle David Miles Lustig who was named for his grandfather Meier Katzenstein. That’s a chain going back to at least 1784 when Meyer was born to our mutual 4-times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann.


17 thoughts on “The Legacy of Meier Katzenstein

  1. To begin with, I was blown away by the photos. Truly treasured and preserved by heart sang reading the family tragedies though. A big thank you to Miles for finding you and sharing his family’s story with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a pleasure to meet over the internet with Amy. Here I had all this information along with the pictures and nobody to share it with and along comes my new cousin. It has been enjoyable to impart and to receive information on family previously unknown to me. Thank you, Amy, for all your hard work and dedication in preserving our heritage. Miles

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These photos are marvelous. He was quite the blondie! Sophia looks so much like a friend’s daughter I’ve known her since she was about nine, she’s now mid-thirties, and I’ve seen pix of her younger. Very very similar.

    Liked by 1 person

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