The Family of Ernst Blumenfeld Escaped to America (And His Widow Married My Cousin from Jesberg)

The Nazis altered the fates of all seven of the grandchildren of Moses Blumenfeld IIA. Whereas the two children of his daughter Antonie Blumenfeld Katz safely escaped to Palestine and his grandson Albert Kaufmann, son of Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann, escaped to Brazil, his granddaughter Anna Kaufmann Leyser and her husband and sons were murdered at Sobibor in 1943.

As for the family of Ernst Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Moses Blumenfeld IIA, although he died at 42 in 1935, leaving behind his young widow Bella and their three young children, Bella and their children all ended up escaping Nazi Germany by coming to the US on December 5, 1939, and settling in New York City, where in 1940 they were living with Bella’s parents Levi and Rosa (Katz) Tannenbaum.1

Bella Blumenfeld and children on passenger manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 132, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Two years later Bella remarried. Her second husband was Gustav Katz,2 born in Jesberg, Germany, on October 24, 1893, to Josef Katz and Roschen Stern.3 When I saw Katz and Jesberg, I speculated that somehow Gustav was related to my Katz and Katzenstein relatives from Jesberg, and sure enough, Gustav was my fourth cousin, twice removed! My five-times great-grandfather Schalum Katz was Gustav’s three times great-grandfather.

Gustav arrived in the US just a few weeks after Bella and her children on December 22, 1939, listing his occupation as textile merchant.4 But on his Declaration of Intention filed on July 8, 1940, he reported that he was a laundry worker,5 a sign of how challenging it must have been for some middle-class German Jews who escaped Nazi Germany to adapt to life in the US. Gustav died in February 1964; he was seventy.6 Bella outlived her second husband by 23 years. She died March 11, 1987 at the age of 87.7

Bella was survived by two of her three children with Ernst Blumenfeld, her son Paul having predeceased her by less than ten months on June 13, 1986, at the age of 54.8 I wonder whether Paul’s death hastened Bella’s demise so soon afterwards. Paul was married to Edith Stark, a Baltimore native, who was born there on March 27, 1933, and died there on April 12, 2014.9 Paul and Edith are survived by their four children and their grandchildren.

Ernst and Bella’s daughter Lore Blumenfeld married Manfried “Fred” Oppenheim in 1947.10 Fred was also a German refugee; he was born on June 12, 1920 in Kassel, Germany to Hermann Oppenheim and Esther Lehrberger.11 Fred came to the US on March 12, 1938, and in 1940 was living with his parents in New York and working as a waiter.12 His World War II draft registration shows that he was working for the Jones Beach Catering Corporation.

Manfred Oppenheim, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [

Fred enlisted in the US Army on September 21, 1943, and served until June 8, 1946.13  Lore Blumenfeld Oppenheim died on November 14, 1991; she was 64.14 Her husband Fred Oppenheim died the following year on March 31, 1992.15 They were survived by their children.

Finally, Ernst and Bella’s other son Franz became Frank in the US. When he registered for the draft, he was living in New York with his mother and stepfather and working at Volume Dress Company. Frank married Rita Rae Nelkin, a native of Houston, on December 16, 1956.16 They had three children. Frank died when he was 73 on March 22, 200217. According to his obituary, “He was proud to be an American, having served in the First Infantry Division in his birthplace, Marburg. He moved to Houston in 1955 where he met his wife. In 1957 he founded Formcraft, Inc., the largest independently owned business forms company in Houston. He was known to have a kind and generous heart, a winning personality and a great sense of humor as well as being an avid fisherman, shrewd businessman and a lover of classical music.”18

Franz Blumenfeld, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Fortunately Moses Blumenfeld IIA has many living descendants today in Israel and in the United States because the children of his children Antonie Blumenfeld Katz and Ernst Blumenfeld all left Germany in time, but tragically his daughter Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufman has no living descendants since her son Albert had no children and her daughter Anna and her husband and their two children were wiped out by the Nazis. How cruel is fate that allowed some to escape and others to face a brutal death.

UPDATE: I received an email today (1/5/22) from the daughter of Paul Blumenfeld. I learned from her that Albert Kaufmann did have a daughter named Inge and that Inge had two sons. So Albert Kaufmann, and thus his mother Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann, do have living descendants!

 


  1. Bella Blumenfeld and children, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02676; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 31-2115, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2.  Bella Blumenfeld, [Bella Tannenbaum], Gender: Female, Race: White, Marriage Age: 42, Birth Date: Mar 1900, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1942
    Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 558 W. 164 St., Occupation: None, Father: Levi Tannenbaum, Mother : Rosa Tannenbaum, Spouse: Gustav Katz, Certificate Number: 17286, Current Marriage Number: 1, Witness 1: Leopold Blum, Witness 2: Herman Katz, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1942, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  3.  Gustav Katz, Gender: männlich (Male), Birth Date: 24 Okt 1893 (24 Oct 1893)
    Birth Place: Jesberg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Jesberg, Father: Joseph Katz, Mother: Röschen Katz, Certificate Number: 67, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3824, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  4. Gustav Katz, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 99, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Gustav Katz, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  6.  Gustav Katz, Social Security Number: 087-12-5580, Birth Date: 24 Oct 1893, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Feb 1964, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7. Death notice, The Evening Sun, Baltimore, Maryland
    17 Mar 1987, Tue • Page 51 
  8. Paul F Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 2 Feb 1932, Birth Place: Marbery [sic], Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Jun 1986, Father:
    Ernst Blumenfeld, Mother: Bella Tannenbaum, SSN: 105247709, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Edith S Blumenfeld, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1933, Address: 2413 Sugarcone Rd, Residence: Baltimore, MD, Postal Code: 21209-1033, Ancestry.com. U.S., Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. The Baltimore Sun; Publication Date: 8/ Nov/ 1959; Publication Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA; URL: https://www.newspapers.com/image/375160159/?article=b20a5477-efc0-41f3-948f-67ae9c33effd&focus=0.28432477,0.12329582,0.3987464,0.16311908&xid=3398,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Newspapers.com Marriage Index, 1800s-current. Obituary,The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 12 Apr 2014, Sat • Page A16 
  10. Lore Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 18 Feb 1947, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Manfred E Oppenheim, License Number: 5280, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 8, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. 
  11. Manfried Oppenheim, [Manfrede Fred Oppenheim], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1920, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 31 Mar 1992, Father: Hermann Oppenheim, Mother: Emma Lehrberger, SSN: 130128175, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. Manfried Oppenheim, Petition Age: 23, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1920, Birth Place: Kassel, Germany, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Arrival Date: 12 Mar 1938, Arrival Place: New York, New York, Petition Date: 18 Dec 1943, Petition Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, USA, Petition Number: 5477, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington D.c.; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1909 – 1991; NAI: 4522188; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Alabama, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1991. Oppenheim family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 64B; Enumeration District: 31-2035, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. Manfred F. Oppenheim, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 14938; Reel: 5, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  14. Lore Gertrude Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 13 Mar 1927, Birth Place: Marburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 14 Nov 1991
    Father: Ernest Blumenfeld, Mother: Bella Tannenbaum, SSN: 132142097, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  15. See Note 11, above. 
  16. Frank Martin Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 16 Dec 1956, Marriage Place: Harris, Texas, USA, Spouse: Rita Rae Nelkin, Document Number:  216758, Harris County Clerk’s Office; Houston, Texas; Harris County, Texas, Marriage Records,
    Ancestry.com. Texas, U.S., Select County Marriage Records, 1837-1965 
  17. Frank Martin Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1929
    Birth Place: Marburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 22 Mar 2002, Father:
    Ernest Blumenfeld, Mother: Bella Kannenbaum, SSN: 120204479, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Obituary, Houston Chronicle on Mar. 24, 2002, found at https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/houstonchronicle/name/frank-blumenfeld-obituary?id=10274095 

11 thoughts on “The Family of Ernst Blumenfeld Escaped to America (And His Widow Married My Cousin from Jesberg)

    • I was going to add some comments about Jones Beach—I went there as a teenager and with my family quite a few times—all the way from Westchester! It was an amazing beach, but SO crowded.

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  1. I can’t imagine the life of Jewish immigrants to the US in the late 30s was an easy one – I’m sure they faced discrimination and with so many immigrants from Europe trying to escape the war, employment prospects likely weren’t great either. But, in the end, still a better fate than those who didn’t escape in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s hard to understand why some family members were able to escape in time and others weren’t. Or were some feeling the risk was less severe than others? I can’t imagine having to make that decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To some extent it was money. To some extent it was whether you had a connection to the US, Palestine, England, or some other country. To some extent it was personality—how risk averse were you? How trusting were you? How flexible were you? How healthy were you? And so on. It was never just one thing. And it often came down to luck.

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  3. I really loved that update at the end!!! The connections you are making through your work are invaluable, Amy. When you discover another way your family is connected, don’t you feel as if you are going and coming at the same time hahaha?

    Liked by 1 person

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