Meier Blumenfeld’s Three American Children: Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo

Three of the nine children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss left Germany before the Nazi era and settled in Chicago, as we saw in my last post. First, the sisters Rosa and Sophie came in 1893 and moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where their uncle David Strauss was living. In 1900 Rosa was living with David and his family in Chicago, and Sophie may have returned to Germany, but returned to Chicago in 1905. Meanwhile, Hugo Blumenfeld, the only brother, arrived in 1904, and he also settled in Chicago.

Rosa married Ignaz Herzka in 1905, and they had one child, a daughter Elsa. Ignaz was a tailor. Hugo married Bertha Wolf in 1912, and they had two children. On his World War I draft registration, Hugo reported that he was working as a manufacturer with a firm called Deutsch, Blumenfeld & Strauss in Chicago.

Hugo Blumenfeld, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook,Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

In 1920, Ignaz, Rosa, Elsa, and Sophie were all in one household in Chicago. Ignaz was still a tailor, and Sophie was the manager of a delicatessen. Rosa was not employed outside the home.

Herzka household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 6, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_310; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 340
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1920 Hugo Blumenfeld was working as a traveling salesman and living with his family in Chicago. Hugo had become a US citizen in 1911.1

Sophie had filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on November 21, 1917, and her petition for naturalization on January 28, 1921. She took the oath to become a US citizen on February 24, 1922. Later that year she traveled abroad, perhaps to Germany to visit her family.2

Sophie Blumenfeld, petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petitions For Naturalization, V· 96, No· 9401-9500, 1920-1921, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Rosa was a witness on Sophie’s petition, and on Rosa’s 1924 passport application, she indicated that she was a naturalized citizen of the United States, but I cannot find naturalization papers for Rosa or for Ignaz. It appears, however, that all three Blumenfeld siblings were American citizens by 1924. Rosa and Ignaz traveled to Germany to visit family in the summer of 1924.

Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka, 1924 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2460; Volume #: Roll 2460 – Certificates: 387350-387849, 03 Apr 1924-04 Apr 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Perhaps these visits from his American aunts and uncle helped convince Otto Blum, the son of Dina Blumenfeld and nephew of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo, to move to the US. We’ve seen that he arrived November 1, 1926, and reported that he was going to his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld in Chicago.

I cannot find Sophie or Rosa and her family on the 1930 census, so perhaps they were traveling then as well. In fact, Rosa appears on an August 1930 manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg to New York. That may have been the family’s last trip back to Germany.3

Ignaz and Rosa’s daughter Elsa Herzka married Irving Blum in Chicago on September 21, 1931.4 Irving was born on January 7, 1900, in Chicago to Fred and Carrie Blum; he was working as a real estate salesman in 1930 and living with his parents and sister in Chicago.5 Elsa and Irving would have two children born in the 1930s.

With Hitler taking power in Germany, the Blumenfeld family in the US must have been very concerned about the family members remaining in Germany. Fortunately, Otto Blum’s brother Ernst Jacob Blum came with his wife Erna and two daughters on May 29, 1936, and also settled in Chicago, as already discussed. Sadly the two remaining sisters of Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—Franziska and Johanna-–failed to leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust.

But there was loss on this side of the Atlantic as well. Hugo Blumenfeld died on November 7, 1937, in Chicago.6 He was only 55 and was survived by his wife Bertha and two daughters. Bertha outlived him by 28 years and was 81 when she died in April 1965.7 In addition to their daughters, Hugo and Bertha are survived by five grandchildren.

In 1940 Rosa, Ignaz, and Sophie were all living together in Chicago. Ignaz was still in business as a tailor; Rosie and Sophie were not working.8 Rosa Blumenfeld Herzka died just two years later on January 8, 1942; she was 69.9 That was also the year that both Franziska and Johanna were killed by the Nazis. Rosa’s husband Ignaz died two years later on May 5, 1944.10 They were survived by their daughter Elsa and two grandchildren.

Thus, by the end of 1942, Sophie was the only surviving child of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss. She died seven years later in December 1949; she was 75.11

Although two of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss’s children were killed in the Holocaust, three of their children—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—and all their grandchildren ended up in the US, and because of that, today there are living descendants to carry on their family line.

Next, the story of Meier’s brother Baruch and his family.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Hugo Blumenfeld, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 7, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_315; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 403, ncestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. Hugo Blumenfeld, Naturalization Age: 29, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 1882, Birth Place: Germany, Naturalization Date: 1911, Naturalization Place: Illinois, Court: District and Circuit Courts, Northern District, Illinois, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  2. Sophie Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1922; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 13; Page Number: 44, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Rosa Herzka, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 382; Page: 2890; Microfilm No.: K_1984, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  4. Elsa Herzka Marriage Date 21 Sep 1931 Spouse Irving M Blum Marriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{46572B06-0A28-41F2-9499-D268830B06C9} File Number1324805 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)Archive repository locationChicago, IL Archive repository nameCook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  5. Irving Blum, Social Security Number: 345-09-1004, Birth Date: 7 Jan 1900
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Illinois, Last Residence: 60649, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA, Death Date: Jun 1967, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Blum family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0160; FHL microfilm: 2340156,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6.  Hugo Blumenfeld, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1882, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany
    Death Date: 7 Nov 1937, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Nov 1937
    Burial Place: Chicago, Ill., Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 55, Occupation: Insurance Agent, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfeld, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany, Spouse Name: Bertha, FHL Film Number: 1953190, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  7. Obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, 07 Apr 1965, Wed • Page 74 
  8. Herzka household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 103-258, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Rosa Herzka, [Rosa Blumenfield], Birth Date: 5 Sep 1872, Birth Place: Marburg, Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 1942, Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Burial Date: 9 Jan 1942, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt Israel, Death Age: 69, Occupation: Housewife, Race: White, Marital status: M, Gender: Female, Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Father Name: Meyer Blumenfield, Father Birth Place: Germany, Mother Name: Sarah Strauss, Mother Birth Place: Germany
    Spouse Name: Ignatz G., FHL Film Number: 1953739, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  10. Ignaz G. Herzka, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1863, Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary
    Death Date: 5 May 1944, Death Place: Chicago, Cook Co , Illinois Burial Date: 8 May 1944, Burial Place: Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, Cemetery Name: Mt. Israel, Death Age: 80, Occupation: Tailor, Race: White, Marital status: W, Gender: Male, Residence: Chicago, Cook Co., Ill., Father Name: Adolph Herzka, Father Birth Place: Szerat, Hungary, Mother Name: Minnie, Mother Birth Place: Hungary, Spouse Name: Rosa
    FHL Film Number: 1983247, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  11. Sophie Blumenfeld obituary, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
    03 Dec 1949, Sat • Page 25 

11 thoughts on “Meier Blumenfeld’s Three American Children: Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo

    • Well, six million were killed, but it’s hard to know how many chose to stay because they were in denial about the intentions of the Nazis, how many stayed because they could not get out—lack of money, lack of connections, immigration quotas, illness, etc.—and how many had no idea what was coming and were caught totally off guard. I am currently reading a book about a Viennese family who tried to escape after the Anschluss. Many of them were able to do so after many obstacles were cleared, but tragically some could not get a way to escape and were murdered.

      Of course, Hugo, Sophie, and Rosa left long before Hitler. Ernst, their nephew, was the one who stayed until the 1930s and then was able to get out, probably because he had relatives in the US who were American citizens and thus could sponsor him and his family.

      Like

      • Thanks for throwing additional light on this horrible time period, Amy! The Von Trapp family made famous by the Sound of Music movie is a good example for Jewish people who had the financial means means and who were reading the signs of the coming disaster were able to escape the holocaust.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course, the von Trapps were not Jewish and had lots of money and political connections. And the assistance of others to helps them escape. Most Jewish families could never have pulled that off. The ones who could escape had money and connections—a very small percentage overall. Thanks, Peter.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I was thinking about the dates on Sophie becoming an American. Things must have moved a little faster in those days than today. Our bureaucratic machinery is grinding down slower and slower. Imagine how emotional at each step of the way she must have felt as she moved through the process.

    Liked by 1 person

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