Although my cousin Richard and I had learned that Max Blumenfeld died in Merano, Italy, in 1936, we still didn’t know where and when his wife Anna died. We had some hints, but nothing definite. Her son Fritz’s marriage record in 1940 seemed to suggest she was still living in Italy. But her daughter Edith’s failure to list her mother on the 1946 ship manifest as her nearest relative in Italy, the place Edith had last resided, seemed to indicate that either Anna had died by then or had left Italy.
We were hoping that one of Max and Anna’s grandchildren might know the answers, and so I turned to locating those grandchildren. We knew that Max and Anna’s daughter Edith had two children with her husband Joseph Bermann, so I started to search for them. They all appear together on the 1950 US census, living in New York City. Joseph was practicing medicine, and Edith was working as a secretary for a general export business. Their two children Margherita (spelled Margaret on the census) and Max were 14 and 12.1 As of 1958, Edith and Joseph were still living in New York City.
According to FindAGrave, Joseph died on May 1, 1966; he was 68.2 Edith died two years later on August 12, 1968. She was only 61.3 They were both buried in Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. They were survived by their two children. Their daughter Margherita died on August 21, 2008;4 she was 72. Max, however, was as best I could tell, still living.
After using Google and other online tools, I finally located what I assumed was Max Bermann’s Facebook page. I noticed that he had a Facebook friend named Omri Bar Sadeh. You may recall that Hermann Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s older brother, had a son Hans who had changed his name to Hanan Bar Sadeh after immigrating to Israel/Palestine. I used the Google Translate tool and learned that “sadeh” means a cultivated field. So Bar Sadeh means son of a cultivated field. Since Blumenfeld translated from German as field of flowers, it made sense that Hanan had adopted a name that meant he was the son of a cultivated field, or a field of flowers, or a “Blumenfeld.”
So when I saw that Max Bermann had a Facebook friend with the surname Bar Sadeh, I assumed that this other person must be a descendant of Edith’s first cousin, Hanan Bar Sadeh. But David Lesser had reported that Hanan had no children, so I was not certain. Was it just a coincidence that Edith’s son Max had a friend with that surname? Or was this Facebook friend one of his cousins?
On Omri Bar Sadeh’s Facebook page, there was a video in Hebrew. I could not understand it, but I could translate the comment that had been included with the post, and it indicated that the video was about Omri Bar Sadeh’s brother Gideon Bar Sadeh. When I googled that name, I found this page:
Son of Moses HaKohen and Devorah. He was born in Ein Harod on June 16, 1942, and completed his twelfth grade at the Kibbutz Ha-Meuchad School there. He had a penchant for drawing and found talent in his paintings. He would decorate his notebooks and make handsome posters and posters. He was quiet and humble in his ways. Was an animal breeder and loved them. Was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in October 1960. On October 18, 1962, he fell in the line of duty and was brought to eternal rest in Ein Harod.
I knew that Edith Blumenfeld Bermann had listed her brother Fritz on her ship manifest in 1946 indicating that he was residing in “En Charod,” Palestine. Could Gideon have been Fritz’s son, I wondered? Fritz had married a woman named Devorah so that fit the puzzle. But then why did it say Gideon’s father was named Moses?
Then I remembered seeing on the IGRA website that in 1942 Fritz Blumenfeld, residing in En Harod, had been identified as “Moshe (Fritz) Blumenfeld, son of Max.” And given that Max’s father’s name had been Moses, it made sense that Fritz’s Hebrew name was Moshe and that he was named for his grandfather and adopted that name as his primary name in Israel.
With that additional insight, I realized that I had found the family of Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld and that Fritz, like his cousin Hanan, had changed his surname from Blumenfeld to Bar Sadeh for the same reasons. Just to be sure, I asked David Lesser if he would watch the video posted on Facebook about Gideon, and he confirmed that the video says that Gideon’s parents were Fritz and Devorah.
I sent messages to both of the surviving grandsons of Max and Anna (Grunwald) Blumenfeld, hoping that I would eventually learn what happened to Anna and the rest of the story of their family. Much to my delight, I heard from both of them.
Max Bermann, Edith’s son, was born in Merano, Italy, where his father Giuseppe (later Joseph) Bermann was born. That’s where the family was living (along with Anna) after Joseph left for the US in 1939. Although the family was originally supposed to follow once Joseph was settled, the war intervened, and they could not leave Italy. Max was just a toddler at the time. His grandmother Anna became the primary caregiver for his sister and him because their mother Edith was often away. Max later learned from his sister that Edith was acting as a courier for the partisans during the war.
Max shared with me this photograph of Merano, where he and his father were born, as well as this photograph of his father and his father’s father, Max Bermann, both of whom were doctors at the Waldpark Sanitorium in Merano. The elder Max Bermann is the man with the long black beard and his son Joseph/Giuseppe Bermann, the younger doctor in the white coat, is standing next to him.
When the war ended, Edith brought her children to the US, but Anna went to live with her son Fritz and his family in Ein Harod in Palestine. Neither Omri nor Max knew exactly when Anna immigrated, but as I was doing some of the final edits for this post, Richard emailed me with new information he’d found online—a database of information about the Jews of Merano.
There was an entry for Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld that reported that “Anna Grünwald-Blumenfeld came from Berlin and lived in Merano since 23.4.1936. On 22.8.1938 she was recorded in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities as permanently resident in Merano. On 13.2.1939 her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. On 1.4.1939 she fled to an unknown place, according to the registration office of the municipality of Merano. Later, April 1939 is given as the date of the flight abroad.”5 Thus, it would appear from this record that Anna left Merano for Palestine in April, 1939.
But as noted by Max and by my reader Teresa, this cannot be accurate. Max knows that his grandmother did not leave in 1939 because she cared for him during the war years. It appears more likely that these Merano records are inaccurate and that Anna was in Italy at least until the end of the war.
Now that I knew that Anna had survived the war and had immigrated to Palestine, I searched again on the Israel Genealogical Research Association website and found this record:
Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld died on September 7, 1946, in Ein Harod; she was only 61 years old. She had survived the move from Germany to Italy, the loss of her husband Max in 1936, World War II, and then a move from Italy to Palestine. She was survived by her daughter Edith and her family and her son Fritz and his family.
Anna and Max Blumenfeld’s grandson Max Bermann shared these lovely photographs of his family. First, some photographs of Anna and Max:
This photograph is of Max and Anna’s children Fritz and Edith as well as, on the right, Fritz’s wife Dora Salpeter Blumenfeld.
And this final photograph from Max shows him and his sister Margherita with a soldier they met when they visited Palestine (now Israel) with their mother after the war.
Omri also shared some photographs, including this one of his grandmother Anna’s gravestone.
In addition, he shared photographs of the gravestones of his parents Fritz (Moshe) and Dora/Devorah and his two brothers Gideon and Hillel.
Gideon, as we saw, died fighting for Israel on October 18, 1962.
Omri’s father Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh died December 12, 1977 in Ein Harod; he was 67. Devorah Salpeter Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh, outlived her husband by almost 23 years and died at 92 on November 27, 2000, in Ein Harod.
Fritz and Devorah’s middle child, their son Hillel, died from cancer on December 30, 1996, in Ein Harod. He was only 50 and left behind a wife and four children.
I am so grateful to my fifth cousins Max and Omri for sharing their family’s stories and their own stories and their photographs with me and allowing me to share them with you. I now have answers to all the questions I had when I first started searching for what happened to Max Blumenfeld after he married Anna Grunwald in 1906, thanks to the incredible help of Richard Bloomfield, David Lesser, Max Bermann, and Omri Bar Sadeh.
- Joseph Bermann family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 5665; Sheet Number: 72; Enumeration District: 31-675, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census ↩
- Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690239/joseph-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Joseph Bermann (unknown–1 May 1966), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690239, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . ↩
- Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690238/edith-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Edith Bermann (unknown–12 Aug 1968), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690238, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . ↩
- Margherita M. Bermann, Social Security Number: 085-30-0023, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1935, Issue Year: 1954-1956, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 12550, Newburgh, Orange, New York, Death Date: 21 Aug 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩
- There were also entries for Max and for their two children Fritz and Edith. Max’s entry confirmed that he died on March 7, 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Merano. Edith’s entry reported that she had “married Josef Bermann on January 30, 1935. After a stay in London in the spring of 1935, she lived in Merano from April 8, 1935. On August 22, 1938, Edith Bermann was included in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities. On February 13, 1939, her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. Edith Bermann, who stayed in Milan again and again, fled to Milan.” Fritz’s entry in the Merano Jewish database reported that he “had lived in Merano since October 3, 1936, where his sister was married to the doctor Josef Bermann. On August 22, 1938, Fritz Blumenfeld was recorded by the fascist authorities as permanently residing in Merano in the census of “Jews” living in Italy. According to the registration office of the municipality of Merano, Fritz Blumenfeld fled to Palestine on May 15, 1939.” ↩