Moritz Blumenfeld’s Children and His Sister Berta Blumenfeld: Escape from Germany

As I slowly return to my genealogy work after losing my mother, I am weighted down by the world itself as well as other matters. I hope to get back to my regular posting schedule, but I am taking it slowly for now.

With that note, I will return to the history of my Blumenfeld family, picking up where I left off with the family of my second cousin, three times removed, Giedel Blumenfeld and her husband, Gerson Blumenfeld, my first cousin, four times removed, and Giedel’s first cousin, once removed.


When their mother Giedel Blumenfeld Blumenfeld died in 1883 at the age of 38, there were nine surviving children. Moritz, the oldest, was 16 when his mother died, and Franziska, the youngest, was just days shy of her first birthday. Their lives all took different directions, some living their whole lives in Germany, others immigrating as young adults to America, others coming to the US in the 1930s after Hitler came to power. Those choices had huge consequences for them and for their descendants. I will tell their stories separately while trying to keep in mind the bigger picture. This post will tell the story of the two oldest surviving children, Moritz and Berta (or Bertha).

Moritz was married to Blanka Bauer in 1895, according to the history of the Strauss family compiled by by Rabbi Isaak Strauss and Salomon Koppel Strauss, entitled Anleitung zum Stammbaum der Familie Strauss, and printed in 1910 by L. Schwann in Dusseldorf. I have not yet been able to locate an actual birth or marriage record for Blanka, but her death and burial records indicate that she was born in Merlau, Germany, on May 9, 1868, to Loeb Bauer and Fradchen Blumenfeld.1

Moritz and Blanka had four children. Gerda was born on June 16, 1896, in Kirchhain, Germany.

Gerda Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4997. Year Range: 1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Flora was born on June 9, 1898, in Kirchhain.

Flora Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4999, Year Range: 1898, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Gustav was born January 5, 1900, in Kirchhain.

Gustav Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5001, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

A fourth child, Herbert, was born on May 9, 1904, according to Anleitung zum Stammbaum der Familie Strauss by Rabbi Isaak Strauss, and Salomon Koppel Strauss.  I could not locate an actual birth record for Herbert, but that is consistent with his age at death as listed on his death record.2

After giving birth to these four children, Blanka died on January 17, 1909, when she was 40 years old, assuming the accuracy of her burial record on JewishGen. Her death record says she was 38 years old. Either way, she was very young and left behind her husband Moritz and their four young children. Thus, like their father Moritz, those four children grew up without their mother.

Blanka Bauer Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5094, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Moritz remarried on April 18, 1911, in Frielendorf, Germany. His second wife was Friedericke Plaut, who was born in Frielendorf on February 20, 1876, to Abraham Plaut and Betti Moses.

Marriage record of Moritz Blumenfeld and Friedericke Plaut, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 1591, Year Range: 1911, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Various sources indicate that Moritz and his second wife Friedericke had one child together, a son named Alfred born on August 2, 1912, but he is not listed in the 1910 Strauss Stammbaum book cited above since it predated his birth. The only record I’ve been able to locate for an Alfred Blumenfeld born on that date is a 1935 list of Jewish students at a school in Frankfurt in the collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum; it indicates that he was from Marburg and that he had left for South America.3 There is nothing that ties this record to Moritz and Friedericke, but, as we will see, there is one piece of evidence that indicates that there was a son named Alfred who ended up in South America.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Washington, DC; Nazi Documentation-Munich Municipality (M.1.DN), 1925-1948; Record Group: RG-68.094M; File: rg-68.094m.0004.00000103, Ancestry.com. Munich, Germany, Nazi Documentation Regarding Jews, 1919-1946 (USHMM)

On May 1, 1922, Moritz’s son Herbert Blumenfeld died; he was only seventeen years old. I don’t know his cause of death, but how tragic to lose a son at such a young age.

Herbert Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5107, Year Range: 1922, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Just ten years later, Moritz Blumenfeld himself died January 20, 1932, in Kirchhain, at the age of 65, according to a burial record listed on JewishGen.

When Moritz died, not one of his surviving children was married. The first to marry was Gustav Blumenfeld, who married Paula Blum on August 26, 1934, in Kassel, Germany. Paula was born in Mellrichstadt, Germany, on March 7, 1901, to Michael Blum and Ida Gutmann.4 Gustav and Paula did not have any children.

Fortunately, all the children of Moritz Blumenfeld left Germany in time to escape the Holocaust. Gerda and Flora left together, arriving in New York on April 4, 1935. They both changed their surnames to Bloomfield.5

Flora and Gerda Blumenfeld passenger manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 107, Ship or Roll Number: Washington, 
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Their brother Gustav and his wife Paula arrived two years later on July 30, 1937, along with Berta Blumenfeld, Gerda, Flora and Gustav’s aunt and the sister of  their father Moritz Blumenfeld.  She was 69 years old at that time.6

By 1940, all three siblings were settled in New York. Gustav and Paula were living with his sister Gerda and with his aunt Berta (now Bertha) Blumenfeld in the Washington Heights neighborhood where many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s. Gustav was working as a salesman in a retail store, Paula as an operator for a manufacturer, and Gerda as a nurse for a private family.

Blumenfelds 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02676; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 31-2115, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Flora Blumenfeld was working as a governess and living with a family with a five-year-old boy in the Bronx.7 Later that same year, Flora married Felix Viktor Vorcheimer. Felix was born in Thuengen, Germany, on May 4, 1896, to Adolf and Ida Vorcheimer,8

Bertha Blumenfeld died on December 16, 1944, in New York. She was 76 years old. She never married so has no descendants.9

Her nephew Gustav Blumenfeld died on April 2, 1945, in New York. He was only 45 years old.10 His widow Paula remarried in Detroit, Michigan, on April 14, 1951; her second husband was Moritz Marx.11

Flora and Gerda died within two months of each other. Flora died on March 17, 1974,12 and Gerda on May 19, 1974. 13 They were 76 and 78 years old, respectively.

As for Alfred Blumenfed, the youngest child of Moritz Blumenfeld, his son with his second wife Friedericke Plaut, as mentioned above, I have no official records that I can definitively tie to him. But this lovely death notice for Flora and Gerda certainly indicates that they had a brother named Alfred and that he, as the school register mentioned above indicated, had gone to South America. When he placed this death notice in the Aufbau newspaper, “Alfredo” was living in Cordoba, Argentina.14

Aufbau Newspaper, May 31, 1974, p. 25

The text translates as:

My sister, our cousin Gerda Bloomfield (Blumenfeld) (formerly Kirchheim/Kassel) was released from her long and patiently endured suffering on May 19, 1974, in the 78th year of her life. She followed her beloved sister Mrs. Flora Vorchheimer, née Blumenfeld, who died in the 76th year of her life after a short illness on March 17, 1974. We shall cherish their memory. Alfredo Blumenfeld, Cordoba, Argentina, and cousins.

The good news about this family is that they all escaped from Nazi Germany in time. But the sad news is that I’ve not located any descendants living today. Bertha Blumenfeld had no children. None of the children of her brother Moritz Blumenfeld and his first wife Blanka appear to have had children, and it appears from the obituary for their daughters Flora and Gerda that their half-brother Alfred also did not have any children as he only mentioned cousins, not nieces and nephews, among the mourners of his two sisters. But as I learned from my experiences with Albert Kaufmann, there is always the possibility that I just haven’t found those descendants yet.

 

 


  1. Blanka Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 40, Birth Date: abt 1869
    Death Date: 17. Jan 1909 (17 Jan 1909), Death Place: Kirchhain, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Kirchhain, Father: Löb Bauer
    Mother: Fratchen Bauer, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5094, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Herbert Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5107, Year Range: 1922, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Washington, DC; Nazi Documentation-Munich Municipality (M.1.DN), 1925-1948; Record Group: RG-68.094M; File: rg-68.094m.0004.00000103, Ancestry.com. Munich, Germany, Nazi Documentation Regarding Jews, 1919-1946 (USHMM) 
  4. Gustav Blumenfeld, Declaration of Intention, he 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, Description: (Roll 529) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 407701-408700),
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943. Paula Marx [Paula Blumenfeld] [Paula Blum] Gender: Female, Birth Date: 7 Mar 1901
    Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Nov 1992, Claim Date: 29 Dec 1965 Father: Michael Blum Mother: Ida Gutman  SSN: 07812568, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. E.g., Gerda Blumenfeld/Bloomfield Petition for Naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: (Roll 1302) Petition No· 371676 – Petition No· 372046, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  6. Gustav and Paula Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 41, Ship or Roll Number: Hansa, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Berta Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 7; Page Number: 62, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  7. Flora Blumenfeld, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02466; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 3-235B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  8. Flora Bloomfield [Flora Blumonfeld] Gender: Female Race: White Marriage Age: 42
    Birth Date: Jun 1898 Birth Place: Kirchhain, Germany Marriage Date: 14 Aug 1940
    Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 630 W. 122nd St., Occupation: None Father: Moritz Blumonfeld Mother:
    Blanka Blumonfeld Spouse: Felix Viktor Vorchheimer Certificate Number: 11414, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1940, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  9. Name: Bertha Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marital status: Single
    Age: 76, Birth Date: 27 Dec 1867, Birth Place: Germany-Kinschhain, Residence Street Address: 245 Ft Washington Ave, Residence Place: New York, Years in US: 7 1/2 Years
    Death Date: 16 Dec 1944, Death Street Address: 245 Fort Wahington, Death Place: New York City, Manhattan, New York, USA, Burial Date: 17 Dec 1944, Burial Place: Cedar Park Cem,N J, Occupation: Retired Housework, Father’s Birth Place: Germany
    Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Gerson Blumenfeld, Mother: Gudel Blumenfeld
    Certificate Number: 26617, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1944, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  10. Gustav Blumenfeld, Age: 45, Birth Year: abt 1900, Death Date: 2 Apr 1945
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 7811, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  11. Paula Blumenfeld [Paula Blum] Gender: Female Race: White Age: 49
    Birth Date: abt 1902, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage License Place: Wayne
    Marriage Date: 14 Apr 1951, Marriage Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA
    Residence Place: Detroit, Michigan, Father: Mike Blum Mother: Ida Gutman
    Spouse: Moritz Marx, County File Number: 802137, State File Number: 480889
    Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 377; Film Title: 82 Wayne 479850-483199; Film Description: Wayne (Dates TBD), Ancestry.com. Michigan, U.S., Marriage Records, 1867-1952 
  12. Flora Vorchheimer Social Security Number: 095-42-4853 Birth Date: 9 Jun 1898
    Issue Year: 1964 Issue State: New York Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Mar 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Gerda Bloomfield, Social Security Number: 081-14-2849, Birth Date: 16 Jun 1896, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. This also indicates that all those trees that say that Alfred died in Frankfurt in 1933 are not correct. 

27 thoughts on “Moritz Blumenfeld’s Children and His Sister Berta Blumenfeld: Escape from Germany

  1. Hi, Amy –   I’m sorry for the loss of your mother.  She lives on through her raising of a good daughter.Stay safe -jane

    janestrauss.weebly.com

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Amy,

    My continuing condolences for your recent loss. I KNOW you are younger than I (just turned 77) but I somewhat envy thise peers and friends who have gotten to experience having a parent live past 70. I know it can be a ‘mixed bag’ but it must have so many special & extra-special moments!

    AND, as we watch our fellow World citizens suffer, flee and die at the hands of ‘yet another monster’ who is being followed and obeyed – the unreasonable destruction of towns, homes, lives, records….it is parallel to our own histories. Everytime I see a woman and her one/two bags of ‘everything’, I do wonder: ‘what would I take’? How would I decide? Where would I go? Who would be there for me?

    Your work ties together the strings of time and family, Amy. It’s pretty fascinating and I encourage you to proceed and enjoy.

    As I think I mentioned recently, I have a few new notes for you from my recent visit to Donald Baum. I need to unpack and get to the more pressing issues but…soon!

    Sue Baum

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sue. I am not quite 70 yet, but still feel incredibly blessed that I had both my parents deep into my 60s.

      I can’t begin to imagine how these people are coping. I see them standing near their decimated buildings and cities and feel overwhelmed. How do people go on?

      Enjoy being home! I enjoyed following your AZ travels.

      Like

  3. Only just discovered your blog so I haven’t read everything yet. Absolutely fascinating! We are very very distantly related – no blood relationship – always through marriage but alot of your family stories are very similar to those of my family. I have finished and really enjoyed “Pacific Street” and am donating it to the local library, and am looking forward to starting “Santa Fe Love Song”. Glad to see you are continuing with your blog, I know what you are going through (I lost my only sister last year and it has been a battle to keep going). Thank you very much. Best wishes. Niki

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your kind words about my book (and for donating it to your library) and my blog. How are we related, even if only by marriage and distantly?

      Like

    • Thanks, Cathy. It’s been a struggle. I just decided it was time to push forward. Fortunately I had several posts ready to go even before my mother died, but even so, I wasn’t really ready to post. I’ve been trying to keep up with other blogs, but even that’s been a struggle.

      I cannot imagine what it must be like to be in Europe right now. Not that I feel safe here in the US since who knows what Putin will do as he gets more and more cornered by the rest of the world. It’s all like a bad dream–except for the millions of people suffering in Ukraine. For them it’s a horrifying reality.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m also struggling to keep up with other blogs. It seems like the blocks of time I have to do genealogy are shrinking. Maybe it is my getting older or just all the things going on, but it’s harder to switch between the things I want to do and need to do.

        I’ve always felt the American people had no idea what it was like for Europeans during WWI and WWII. Yes, their sons and daughters were sent here to fight the wars but it wasn’t US soil.

        If only it were a bad dream and we could wake up tomorrow to a more peaceful world without Putin or others like him.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I know for me genealogy has been a wonderful escape during COVID (and long before, but in a different way). It doesn’t work as well right now. Do you think your interest is lagging? Or just that you are so busy with other things that (I hope) are more pleasant?

        I think you’re right that ordinary Americans (other than those in the military) have lived a pretty sheltered existence during every war we’ve been involved in after the Civil War ended. I think 9/11 shattered that sense of security as has COVID. More and more we realize that the oceans no longer keep us safe. But that psychological shift is still very different from experiencing the kinds of death and destruction going on right now in Ukraine and that has occurred many times in other parts of the world (not just Europe).

        Liked by 2 people

      • My interest in genealogy isn’t lagging. What’s missing is the motivation to stick to one research objective. I’m always getting interrupted or having to work around the schedule for our granddaughter, my mother, husband-time, or my genealogy society. Once the weather gets better we’ll be riding again and I’ll be able to clear my mind.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I get it. When I was still working, I had to work on it in small blocks of time, and it was frustrating. And I know better now not to try to do too much around holidays or vacations for the same reason. I hope your schedule loosens up a bit and you can get back on track soon. In the meantime it seems you are doing a great job going back over your old posts. I know I wouldn’t have the patience for that! I either want to move forward or not at all…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It was nice to see your posting. It really is hard to bounce back after the loss of a parent and then – well both. This was a wonderful written account of branch of Blumenfeld. So glad they were all able to escape Hitler. It feels like another has taken his place 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Amy, relieved to read your Blumenfeld ancestors had the fortitude to get out of Germany before the full Nazi regime took hold. The horrors of eastern Europe today are a reminder of history repeating itself as we watch on TV the graves being dug for servicemen not yet dead.
    It’s good to know you’re able to move forward after the loss of your dear Mother, I’ve enjoyed reading your latest post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Welcome back to your work, Amy! Good job. I know it’s hard to get going again with the world the way it is. When I read posts where your relatives went to South America (and the gardener has quite a number of DNA matches in South America) I wonder if they were part of a German-speaking community that the escaped Nazis went toward. Do you know anything about the specifics of all that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that there were some Jewish communities even before the 1930s, but many who could not get into the US because of our insane quotas went to South American instead.

      Like

  7. I’m glad you are ready to go in with your project though still grieving. Did you discover whether Moritz and Blanka were cousins (given that her mother was a Blumenfeld)?

    I do find the current situation in Ukraine horrifying and fear how this will all progress, to some extent. More worry for Europe than here. It’s difficult to fathom it in this day with such extensive global connections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve yet to find a connection. The name was not uncommon—field of flowers must have seemed like a pretty name to adopt.

      The world—it’s scary for everyone. It’s no longer safe here just because there are oceans between us and the rest of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Finding Meier Blumenfeld’s Children: The Benefits of Teamwork | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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