As I turn to Meier Blumenfeld, Giedel Blumenfeld’s youngest son to survive to adulthood, the first thing I want to do is thank my cousin Richard Bloomfield for all his help in finding the children of Meier Blumenfeld and researching their fates. This was a true example of teamwork in the best sense. Richard is fluent in German and was able to read documents and contact people in a way that I never could have. He is also an extraordinary researcher—thorough and reliable. Together we’ve solved some perplexing mysteries, but I give him the bulk of the credit in pulling this one together. I hope this post will inspire others to find those with whom they can collaborate on their research. Two heads are definitely better than one.
Meier Blumenfeld (labeled as Meier III on my tree) was born on November 2, 1879, in Kirchhain, Germany, to Giedel Blumenfeld and Gerson Blumenfeld.
On April 5, 1905, Meier married Emma Oppenheim, in Hersfeld, Germany. Emma, the daughter of Aron Oppenheim and Hannchen Klebe, was born in Wehrda, Germany, on September 8, 1883. 1
So far, so good. But finding Meier and Emma’s children was much more challenging.
According to numerous unsourced trees on Ancestry, Meier and Emma had only one child, a daughter Giedel Trudchen, born in Kirchhain on March 2, 1905, a month before Meier and Emma married. I was very skeptical of these trees at first since I could not find any records for this child; in addition, the date of birth seemed unlikely.
However, with substantial help from my cousin Richard Bloomfield, we have enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that a woman named Gertrud Blumenfeld was the daughter of Meier Blumenfeld and Emma Oppenheim. According to this marriage record, a Gertrud Blumenfeld was born on March 2, 1906 (eleven months AFTER Meier and Emma were married) in Gotha, Germany. Unfortunately, the marriage record does not name the parents of the bride and groom, and the birthplace of Gotha initially threw Richard and me as Meier was from Kirchhain and Emma was born in Wehrda and lived in Hersfeld at the time of their marriage.
But a closer look at the marriage record for Gertrud indicates that although she was living in Hersfeld when they married, she was born in Gotha.
And a closer look at Meier and Emma’s marriage record revealed that Meier was living in Gotha at the time of their marriage in 1905.
This, and more evidence described below, led me to conclude that Gertrud Blumenfeld, born in Gotha on March 2, 1906, was very likely the daughter of Meier and Emma.
Meier, Emma, Gertrud, and Erwin were deported on October 20, 1941, from Frankfurt to the Lodz ghetto in Poland, where Erwin was killed on December 3, 1942, Emma on January 10, 1943, and Meier on February 2, 1943. No date of death was given for Gertrud. The fact that Gertrud and Erwin were deported from the same place (and living on the same street in Frankfurt) and to the same destination as Meier and Emma on the same day further supported the conclusion that Gertrud Blumenfeld Mayer was their daughter.
So I am convinced that Meier and Emma did have a daughter Gertrud. But was she killed in the Holocaust? Yad Vashem says she was. But there are some Arolsen Archives documents that suggest otherwise.
This document dated October 2, 1950, says that Erwin’s wife “ausgewandert nach USA”—emigrated to the USA.
And even more surprising, this one says she emigrated with “2 kinder”—two children.
Was Yad Vashem wrong? Had Gertrud survived? I did find two documents indicating that she had been in the Lodz concentration camp, but nothing about her surviving the war or coming to the US.2 Had she had two children who immigrated with her to the US? So far I cannot find any evidence of Gertrud in the US or of two children.
But much to my surprise, Richard soon discovered that Meier and Emma had two more daughters after Gertrud, two daughters who did not appear on those Ancestry trees that show only one child, Gertrud, for Meier and Emma.
First, Richard found an Arolsen Archive document for a single woman named Ruth Blumenfeld, born August 17, 1920, who’d been residing at the same address as Meier and Emma in Frankfurt, 11.1 Beethovenstrasse. Emma would have been 37 when Ruth was born, so an older mother, but certainly not inconceivable (no pun intended). This document indicated that Ruth was in the US.
And then Richard located records showing a Bertha Blumenfeld who had immigrated to the US on March 4, 1940. The ship manifest reports that she was nineteen years old, born in Hersfeld, and a nurse. More revealing is that she listed her father Meier as the person in her prior residence and an uncle Herman Bloomfield as the person she was going to in the US. I wrote about Herman here, an older brother of Meier. This certainly corroborated the conclusion that Bertha was the daughter of Meier and Emma Blumenfeld.
This declaration of intention tied Ruth and Bertha together as one person and confirmed her birthdate and birthplace as August 17, 1920, in Hersfeld.
Ruth Blumenfeld, as she was known in the US, married Leo Friedman on March 21, 1942. According to the New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 on Ancestry, the transcription of their license lists Ruth’s parents as Meier and Emma Blumenfeld. Leo was born August 4, 1909, in Crailsheim, Germany, to Louis and Dina Friedman.3 I don’t know whether Ruth and Leo had children. They settled in Queens, New York; Leo died in November 1982,4 and Ruth in February 1984.5
Perhaps the 1950 census will reveal whether they had children. I tried searching on the archives.org site, but there were just too many entries and the artificial intelligence used to scan the names is too imprecise to be able to do a search on a common surname. So I have to wait until the census is better indexed on Ancestry or FamilySearch.
UPDATE! Now that the 1950 census is partially indexed on Ancestry, I was able to find Leo and Ruth and learned that in fact they did have two children born in the 1940s. Now to find them and learn more.
But Richard also found a reference on Geni to a third daughter of Meier and Emma Blumenfeld, a daughter named Hanna born between Gertrud and Bertha Ruth in 1910 in Hersfeld. But we could find no records or other sources for Hanna.
And then I located a website for the Stolpersteine laid in Hersfeld that opened up more avenues for research. Richard transcribed and translated the German text pertaining to the family of Meier (Max) and Emma Oppenheim Blumenfeld:
Max Meier Blumenfeld was born on 2 November 1879 in Kirchhain. About 1910 he took up residence on Dudenstreet, which at that time was the Kaiserstrasse. In house number 16, which belonged to his father-in-law Aron Oppenheim, he opened a shop for “raw products” [I assume “groceries”]. Later he expanded his assortment to include textiles and tobacco products. He was also active in the Jewish Congregation in Hersfeld and was its president for many years.
M. Blumenfeld was from a family that had lived in Kirchhain for generations at Brieselsstrasse 12. In the center of the city the Blumenfelds possessed a stately home which served his [Max] brother Gustav until the end of 1938 as dwelling and place of business ….
Emma Blumenfeld (born 9 September 1883) had lived with her husband and daughter Gertrud (born 2 March 1906) in Gotha before moving to Hersfeld. Emma née Oppenheim was born in Rhina on 9 September 1883, in the house at Oberland 14.
Max and Emma Blumenfeld left Bad Hersfeld on 19 December 1938, hoping to find some protection from the daily discrimination in the anonymity of the big city of Frankfurt. After having lived in the house at Beethovenstrasse 11 for just short of three years, they had to board the first train with deportees from Frankfurt on 20 October 1941 which carried over 1100 Jews to the Ghetto at Lodz. …
Emma’s date of death is recorded as 10 January 1943. The last sign of life from Max Blumenfeld is dated 2 February 1943. Blumenfeld’s daughter Gertrud and her husband Erwin Mayer also died in the Ghetto at Lodz. Daughter Hanna, born 1910, who had moved to Saarland in 1932, was murdered at Auschwitz. Only the youngest daughter Bertha Ruth, who had moved at a 16-year-old to Frankfurt, survived the Holocaust.
This passage confirmed that Meier, Emma, Gertrud, and Erwin had died in Lodz. It also confirmed that Bertha Ruth had survived, and it reported that there was a middle daughter Hanna who had been killed at Auschwitz after moving to Saarland, Germany, in 1932.
Richard then located a second site devoted to Stolpersteine installed in Hersfeld, and that one included this additional information about Hanna, the middle daughter of Meier and Emma:
Siegfried, the youngest child [of the family Levi] (born 1908…) moved 1932 with his wife Hanna née Blumenfeld (from Duden Street) to Merzig/Saar. Siegfried Levi had attended teachers’ college in Würzburg.
Now we knew that Hanna had married Siegfried Levi and moved with him to Merzig, Saarland, Germany, in 1932.
Although the Stolperstein biography indicated that Hanna Blumenfeld Levi had been killed at Auschwitz, there is no entry for a woman with that name listed at Yad Vashem. However, there is a listing for a Hannah Blumenfeld with the birth name Levi, and she was born in Hersfeld on July 18, 1910. Richard and I both feel that the married name and birth name was transposed in the listing and that this is in fact Hanna Blumenfeld Levi, the middle daughter of Meier and Emma Blumenfeld. According to Yad Vashem, she had lived in Luxembourg and France during the war and had been deported from Drancy, France, on September 7, 1942, to Auschwitz, where she was killed.
But then Richard and I were confused by a listing on Ancestry from the Jewish Holocaust Survivor List from the files of World Jewish Congress, 1918-1982 database that includes Hanna Levi, born in Hersfeld on July 18, 1910, and states that she had a visa for Cuba.6 After Richard consulted with the author of the Hersfeld Stolpersteine site, we concluded that although Hanna may have had a visa for Cuba, she never actually immigrated and was killed at Auschwitz. Her husband Siegfried, however, did survive and ended up immigrating to the US after the war.7
Thus, from starting with my doubts about whether Meier and Emma Blumenfeld had any children, I am now persuaded by the documents that Richard and I found that they had three daughters. The youngest, Bertha Ruth, escaped to the US. The middle child Hanna was killed at Auschwitz. And the oldest Gertrud was also most likely killed in the Holocaust. Why the Arolsen Archives document says she and two children escaped to the US remains an unanswered question. I hope that that document is correct, but all other evidence suggests otherwise.
On that sad note, I now have completed the saga of Giedel Blumenfeld, who died so young and left nine children behind. Two of those children left for America as young adults (Markus/Max and Sara/Sadie). The oldest child Moritz had died in 1932, but his children escaped to the US in time. Two of Giedel’s other daughters came to the United States in the 1930s (Bertha and Franziska) as did her son Hermann, his wife, and two of their sons. Hermann’s other two sons escaped to South Africa where they died as young men.
- Emma’s father Aron later married Franziska Blumenfeld, Meier III’s second cousin, after his first wife Hannchen Klebe died. Franziska Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich, (Female), Age: 34, Birth Date: 3. Nov 1870 (3 Nov 1870), Marriage Date: 10. Okt 1905 (10 Oct 1905), Marriage Place: Marburg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
Civil Registration Office: Marburg, Spouse: Aron Oppenheim Father: Meine Blumenfeld,
Mother: Sarchen Blumenfeld, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5620, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 ↩
- Lodz, Name: Gertruda Mayer, [Gertruda Blumenfeld], Gender: F (Female)
Birth Date: 20 Mar 1906, Profession: Sekretaerin, Address: 97 Flat 2a Muhl Gasse
Residence: Lodz, Poland, Deportation Date: 20 Apr 1943, JewishGen.org Volunteers, comp. East Europe, Registers and Listings from Ten Jewish Ghettos, 1939-1942. Gertruda Mayer, Gender: weiblich (Female), Birth Date: 2 Mrz 1906 (2 Mar 1906)
Apartment Number: 68, Street Address: Hanseaten 4, Residence Place: Litzmannstadt, Polen (Poland), Occupation: Sekretär, Previous Address: Frankfurt, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Washington, DC; Poland, Lódz Ghetto Register Books, 1939-1944; Record Groups: RG-15.083M; File Name: rg-15_083m_0219-00000393, Ancestry.com. Poland, Łódź Ghetto Register Books, 1939-1944 (USHMM) ↩
- Ruth Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marriage Age: 21, Birth Date: Aug 1920, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Date: 21 Mar 1942, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 564 W. 160 St.
Residence Place: New York, Manhattan, Occupation: Factory, Father: Meier Blumenfeld
Mother: Emma Blumenfeld, Spouse: Leo Friedman, Certificate Number: 5247
Current Marriage Number: 0, 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 ↩
- Leo Friedman, Social Security Number: 064-12-5373, Birth Date: 4 Aug 1909
Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1982, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩
- Ruth Friedman, Social Security Number: 102-14-8791, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1920
Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1984, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩
- Hanna Levi, Birth Date: 1910-07-18, Birth Place: Hersfeld, Last Residence: Ettelorueck, Luxembourg, Comments: Passport reference: Allem. 474/40, Visa to: Cuba
Source: Luxembourg, immigrants to Americas via Bayonne, France, ca. 1945-1946 (Liste des Luxembourgeois a Bayonne, n.d.), Record Set, Page: D51.12,5, JewishGen. Jewish Holocaust Survivor List from the files of World Jewish Congress, 1918-1982 ↩
- E.g., see Siegfried Levi, 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 ↩