As we saw, Gerson Blumenfeld II died on July 29, 1919, in the aftermath of losing two of his sons—Moritz and Isaak—during their service to Germany in World War I. He was survived by his wife Berta, one remaining son Friedrich, and his three daughters, Mina, Katinka, and Sida, as well as Mina’s husband Albert Simon, and their children.
Fortunately, the family continued to grow after the war. Katinka married Emanuel Emil Rosenberg on November 7, 1919. Emanuel was born on June 19, 1885, in Rosenthal, Germany, to Joseph Rosenberg and Fanni Stiebel. He was also the nephew of Mendel Rosenberg, who was married to Katinka’s aunt Rebecca Blumenfeld, her father Gerson’s sister.
Katinka’s older brother Friedrich married Lina Neuhaus on October 26, 1921, in Braach, Germany. She was born on September 19, 1894, in Braach (sometimes listed as Baumbach, which is less than two miles from Braach) to Samuel Neuhaus and Bertha Wallach.
Sida Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Gerson II and Berta, married Siegfried Spier on December 29, 1924, in Momberg. Her name is spelled Sitta on the marriage record, and I will use that spelling going forward. Siegfried was also a native of Momberg; he was born there on May 14, 1887, to Michael Spier and Veilchen Nussbaum. He was the owner of a matza factory.6
Momberg was like a storybook village of gingerbread cookies and green rolling hills. Her family had lived there since the 17th century. Her father, Siegfried Spier, owned a matza factory started by her great grandfather. Her mother, Sida, was a deeply religious woman. Her paternal grandmother lived in her house and her maternal grandmother lived across the street. It was a world of German folk songs and Jewish religion. She played soccer with her brother and cousins, attended the village school and went to the tiny village shul on Shabbos.
I also had the great pleasure of speaking to Katinka’s son Heinz (now Henry) Rosenberg just a week or so ago. He also spent his early childhood years in Momberg. He pointed out that since Gisela’s father Siegfried Spier owned a matza factory that employed many of the town’s residents, even after Hitler first came to power in 1933, no one bothered the Jews in Momberg at first because they were grateful to have jobs in the factory.10
That idyllic life would soon come to an end with Kristallnacht in November, 1938. Simeon Spier described what happened in Momberg to his mother and her family:11
On the 9th of November 1938 her world was destroyed by the Nazis during the Kristallnacht. The synagogue was burned down and the men were taken to concentration camps. Her brother’s Bar Mitzvah could not take place later that month as there was not a minyan of 10 adult Jewish men in the village. This saddened her all her life since her brother had been practicing his parsha and haftorah for months. She too knew the words and could recite them the rest of her life.
Jews were kicked out of the village school and Gisela and her brother were sent to an orphanage in Frankfurt. There, away from her family at 10 years old she would spend countless hours in the school’s gymnasium on the horizontal bar. Her love of sports helped her escape what was happening. She lived on Pfingsfeid Strasse near the zoo. Jews were not allowed in the zoo so all she could see was the head of the giraffe. She was forced to wear a yellow star.
Heinz/Henry Rosenberg also was unable to go to school for two years and still clearly remembers seeing the destruction of the Momberg synagogue on Kristallnacht. He shared with me the moving story of his family’s rescue of a Torah scroll that had belonged to his grandfather Gerson Blumenfeld and had been damaged during the violence of Kristallnacht. They brought that scroll with them to the US, and Henry read from it at his bar mitzvah in 1941 as did his grandson over seventy years later.
Fortunately, like that Torah scroll, almost all of Gerson Blumenfeld’s children and grandchildren got out of Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. Almost all.
- Walter Joseph Rosenberg, Gender: Male, Petition Age: 24, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1920
Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Petition Number: 1788, National Archives and Records Administration – Southeast Region (Atlanta); Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1922-1964; Series Number: 648598; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Louisiana, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1836-2001 ↩
- Guenther Rosenberg, [George G Rosenberg], [George Rosenberg], Gender: Male
Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Jul 1925, Birth Place: Frankfurt MA, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1998. Father: Emil Rosenberg. Mother: Katinka Blumenfeld, SSN: 093129735, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 ↩
- Heinz, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration., Birth Date: — 1928, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Father: Emanuel Rosenberg, Box Number: 338, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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, Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943. Because Heinz/Henry is still living, I am not disclosing his exact birth date. ↩
- Gretel Blumenfeld, [Grethe Blumenfeld], Gender: Female, Race: White, Declaration Age: 18, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922
Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 493628, Box Number: 366, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 ↩
- Gunter Blumenfeld, Petition Age: 19, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Departure Place: Momberg, Germany, Petition Place: Augusta, Augusta-Richmond, Georgia, USA, Ship: Hansa
Description: Augusta Naturalization Petitions 9/1943-12/1953 (Box 2), National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1909 – 1970; ARC Number: 2143321; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Georgia, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1794-1993 ↩
- “In Loving Memory of Yael Gisela Spier Cohen,” by Simeon Spier, published February 28, 2016, found here. ↩
- Manfred Spier, Nationality German or Austrian, Birth Date 29 Nov 1925, Birth Place Momberg, Prior Residence Momberg, Street Address Marburg a. d. L., Arrival Date 10 Oct 1944, Arrival Country Germany, Death Date 18 Apr 1945, Prisoner Number 115317
Arrival Notes 10 Oct 1944 from Auschwitz, Disposition Notes died 18 Apr 1945, Description prisoner German or Austrian Jew, Page 5440/Bg., Original Notes (desc. / arr. / dis.) Sch. DR. J./ 10 Oct 1944 v. Au./ gest. 18 Apr 1945, JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 ↩
- Giesela Sara Spier, Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1928, Birth Place: Momberg, Last Residence: Momberg, Residence Place: Momberg, Marburg an der Lahn
Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews
Reference Number: 02010103 oS, Document ID: 85950815, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 22.214.171.124, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 ↩
- See Note 6, supra. ↩
- Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022. ↩
- See Note 6, supra. ↩