Moritz Werner and Family Revisited, Part I

I will return to the Blumenfeld saga soon, but first I want to share another chapter in my Goldschmidt family history. In early May I received a comment on my blog from a woman named Joyce who turned out to be my fifth cousin on the Goldschmidt branch of my family tree. Since finding my blog, Joyce and her sister Judith have both been in touch and have been incredibly generous in sharing the stories and many photographs of their branch of the Goldschmidt family tree.1

Joyce and Judith and I are all descended from Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann, our mutual four-times great-grandparents. Joyce and Judith are descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. This chart shows our relationship to each other with my line of descent to my father John Cohen on the left and Judith and Joyce’s line of descent to their father Max Werner on the right.

I was particularly pleased to hear from Joyce and Judith because I had, as the title of this post reveals, many unanswered questions about their grandfather Moritz Werner and his family. To recap what I did know, as you can see in greater detail and with citations and images in my earlier posts, Helene Katzenstein, the daughter of Amalie Goldschmidt, had first married Moritz Brinkmann, son of Susskind Brinkmann, who had founded the successful knitwear company LS Brinkmann. Moritz and his brother Levi Brinkmann were also partners in LS Brinkmann. (Levi Brinkmann was married to Lina Stern, daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt, Amalie Goldschmidt’s sister, so Levi and Moritz married two women who were first cousins.)

Joyce and Judith shared these photographs of Susskind Brinkmann, Levi Brinkmann, and Moritz Brinkmann.

Susskind Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Levi Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Moritz Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Sadly, Moritz Brinkmann died just six years after marrying Helene on September 8, 1878, at the age of thirty-two. Three years later on February 7, 1881, Helene married Max Werner, who was also partner in LS Brinkmann.

Helene and Max had five children, and Joyce and Judith’s grandfather Moritz, born in 1888, was their fourth child and first son and was named, according to the family, in honor of Helene’s first husband Moritz Brinkmann. I find that an incredibly generous and loving gesture on the part of Max Werner—to have his own son named in memory of his wife’s first husband. But obviously Max had also worked with Moritz Brinkmann and thus had his own relationship with him.

Mortiz Brinkmann and Max Werner, the two husbands of Helene Katzenstein  Courtesy of the family

Helene Katzenstein Werner died on December 31, 1912, when she was 58. Here are a few photographs of Max and Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner, courtesy of their great-granddaughters.

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

Helene Katzenstein Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Helene and Max’s youngest child and second son Karl was killed on September 25, 1916, fighting for Germany in World War I, as I wrote about in greater detail here. Joyce and Judith shared this wonderful photograph of Karl in uniform (far right) with his parents Max and Helene and one of his sisters sitting in a carriage.

Karl Werner, far right. Max and Helene Werner in rear seat. Driver and a Werner daughter in front. Courtesy of the family

They also sent me these photographs of Karl’s gravestone and the memorial notice published in his memory by his parents.

Joyce translated the memorial notice as follows:

On 25th September our hopeful and beloved son, our brother, nephew, uncle and in-law, our pride and joy, went on patrol.

Underofficer

Karl Werner

Of the defence and infantry regiment

 

At the young age of barely 23 years died a hero’s death for his fatherland.

He was a son full of life, a faithful comrade. Those who knew him know what we have lost.

His sorely tried and bereft

(father)

Max Werner

Reading that conveys so painfully even after 106 years what the family lost and how heartbroken they were by this loss.

What I did not know before Joyce contacted me was that Max and Helene’s only other son, Moritz, also served in the German army during World War I, and he suffered grievous injuries during his service. Joyce was not certain about how he was injured, but he suffered a crushed hip perhaps from being run over by a tank or the wheels of a gun carriage while serving in France. He was physically impaired for the rest of his life, relying on crutches and later a wheelchair to get around.

Here are some photographs of Moritz before his injury and then afterwards.

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner after suffering injuries in World War I Courtesy of the family

But before he was sent off to fight for Germany, Moritz had met a young woman named Jenny Kahn and fallen deeply in love. As Moritz’s granddaughters Joyce and Judith tell the story, Jenny’s father Moses Kahn arranged for Jenny to meet eligible men, but warned her not to make any commitments until after the war, fearing that the man she chose would be severely injured during the war. He allowed her to meet Moritz Werner since he came from a respectable Orthodox family and was a friend of Jenny’s brother.

Well, according to Joyce and Judith, Jenny and Moritz fell in love at first sight. She was taken by his good looks and his piercing dark eyes, and when he proposed that very afternoon, she accepted, ignoring her father’s request that she hold off making any commitments until after the war.

And then Moritz went off to war, and as Moses Kahn had feared, suffered a devastating injury. He wrote to Jenny from the field hospital, releasing her from their engagement and telling her to keep the ring and find someone else. According to Joyce, Jenny’s response was something like, “The engagement is off when I say it’s off!”

And so they were married on August 19, 1918. Joyce and Judith shared a photograph of their wedding. You can see that Moritz has a cane in his hands. According to his granddaughters, he had to be carried to the chuppah.

Wedding of Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn 1918 Courtesy of the family

Four years later on September 5, 1922, Jenny gave birth to their only child, Max Werner, named for his grandfather Max Werner, who had died on October 2, 1919, a year after his son’s wedding. Here is a photo of Jenny, one of Max, and one of the entire family.

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1926  Courtesy of the family

Moritz, Jenny, and Max Werner c. 1928

Of course, the world would change for this family like so many in the 1930s. I wrote a bit about that in my earlier post, but there were many questions I could not answer that Joyce and Judith have now answered. More on that and more photos in my next post.

 


  1. All references to the stories shared by Joyce and Judith came in several emails exchanged during May and June 2022. 

11 thoughts on “Moritz Werner and Family Revisited, Part I

  1. Thank you to Joyce and Judith for sharing these wonderful photo’s with you, with us. There is just so much that could be said about each photo. I am always amazed by the amount of WW1 photo’s that have survived too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I’ve never heard of a man agreeing to name his son after his wife’s first husband, friend and business partner or not. There must have been something special about both Moritz and Max both. That story about waiting until after the war was also special because so many don’t uphold their bargain through a war–and she not only did, but didn’t need to and took on something many others would not have done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Moritz Werner and Family, Part II: From Comfort to Escape 1922-1945 | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  4. Pingback: Moritz Werner And Family, Part III: After The War | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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