Gerson Blumenfeld II: His Surviving Son Friedrich and His Family in America, Keeping Tradition Alive

I have been very fortunate to connect with four more Blumenfeld cousins, Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie, four of the grandchildren of Friedrich Blumenfeld, the last surviving son of Gerson Blumenfeld II. Alan has generously shared with me some wonderful family photographs, including the first I’ve seen of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Alan’s great-grandfather.

Gerson Blumenfeld II. Courtesy of his family.

Alan also shared these photos of his grandparents Friedrich and Lina and their two children, Gretel and Guenther (later spelled Gunter).

Fritz Blumenfeld as a young man. Courtesy of the family.

Lina Neuhas and Fritz Blumenfeld at their wedding, October 26, 1921. Courtesy of the family

Guenther and Gretel Blumenfeld, c. 1928 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich (also known as Fritz) and his wife Lina and their two children Gretel and Guenther were safely in the US by 1939 and were living in the Bronx, according to the declaration of intention to become US citizens that Friedrich filed that year.

Friedrich Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, 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 Roll 567) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 444001-444900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Alan also shared this photograph of his father Guenther’s immigration card:

Guenther Blumenfeld immigration card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

By 1941 when Gretel filed her own declaration of intention, the family was living in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. Gretel was then eighteen and working as an “operator.” According to her sons, she was working for a company manufacturing army blankets.1

Gretel Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, 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 (Roll 622) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 492901-493800), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Her brother Gunter (now using that spelling) registered for the draft on February 23, 1944; they were still living in Washington Heights, and he was a high school student at that time and had just turned eighteen. He enlisted in the US Army on January 30, 1945, and served until August 28, 1946.2

Gunter Blumenfeld, 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

Alan shared this photograph of his father Gunter in uniform during World War II:

Gunter Blumenfeld, c. 1945. Courtesy of the family

Gretel Blumenfeld married Joseph Hamburger on January 18, 1946.3 Joseph was born in Heuttengesass, Germany, on February 4, 1915, son of Simon Hamburger and Bertha Adler,4 and had immigrated to the US on April 2, 1936.5 According to his sons Steven and Milton, Joseph would have left earlier, but had to wait until he was twenty-one to leave without his parents’ consent; he had wanted to leave three years earlier when the Nazis prohibited Jews from being butchers, Joseph’s livelihood, but his parents refused. Gretel and Joseph met before the war, but waited to marry until after he came back from serving in World War II.6

In 1950, they were living in New York City, and Joseph was the owner of a kosher butcher shop. Gretel and Joseph had three children.

Joseph Hamburger 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 71; Enumeration District: 31-2292, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gretel’s parents Friedrich and Lina and her brother Gunter were also living in New York City in 1950, and Friedrich was working as merchandise distributor for a clothing manufacturer. Gunter was working as a television mechanic.

Friedrich Blumenfeld 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 73; Enumeration District: 31-2289, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gunter took out a marriage license to marry Hilde Hes on August 14, 1951.7 Hilde was born on April 8, 1931, in Bremen, Germany, and immigrated with her parents Paul Hes and Gertrude Wolff on September 14, 1939.8 Gunter and Hilde would have two children.

The extended family all lived close by in Washington Heights and were very close; Debbie and Alan lived in the same apartment building as their grandparents Fritz and Lina and saw them all the time, including regular shabbat dinners. Debbie shared that Lina was an excellent cook, and she has many warm memories of growing up with her cousins and other relatives.9

Alan shared this photo of Friedrich and Lina at the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1971:

Lina Neuhaus and Friedrich Blumenfeld, 1971. Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina and their two children all lived relatively long lives and remained in New York City for the rest of their lives. Friedrich was 88 when he died in New York on November 14, 1977.10

Fritz Blumenfeld death notice, Aufbau, November 25, 1977, p. 28, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau431977germ/page/n677/mode/1up?view=theater

Lina died three years later on December 15, 1980. She was 86. 11

Lina Blumenfeld death notice , Aufbau, Jan 2 1981, p. 24, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau471981germ/page/n11/mode/1up?view=theater

Gretel Blumenfeld Hamburger died on July 25, 2008, when she was 85;12 her husband Joseph had predeceased her, dying on December 18, 2004, when he was 89.13  Gunter Blumenfeld died on July 16, 2010; he was 84.14

Perhaps some of my favorite photographs of those shared by Alan are these three that show the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) that had been rescued by Friedrich Blumenfeld during Kristallnacht while the Momberg synagogue was burning and then safely brought to the US from Momberg by the family.15 The photographs were taken at Alan’s son’s bar mitzvah and show Gunter, Alan, and his son Sandy honoring that Sefer Torah during the bar mitzvah service.

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina are survived by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. I was privileged to connect with four of their five grandchildren—Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie (and will be talking to the fifth, Kenny, soon during a Blumenfeld family zoom).  Thank you all for sharing  these fabulous photographs and your stories with me and for keeping alive the memories, traditions, and legacy of your family.


  1. Zoom call with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Gunter Blumenfeld, Race White, Marital Status Single, without dependents (Single)
    Rank Private, Birth Year 1926, Nativity State or Country Danzig or Germany, Citizenship Not Yet a Citizen, Residence New York, New York, Education 3 years of high school, Enlistment Date 30 Jan 1945, Enlistment Place New York City, New York, Service Number 42205064, Branch No branch assignment, Component Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source Civil Life, Height 80, Weight 995 [??], National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 15188; Reel: 30, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Gretel Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 18 Jan 1946, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Joseph Hamburger License Number: 2005, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  4. Joseph Hamburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Huettengesae, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Father:
    Simon Hamburger, Mother: Bertha Adler, SSN: 077073405, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. Joseph Hamburger, passenger manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 20; Page Number: 39, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. See Note 1, supra. 
  7. Gunter Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1951, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Hilde M. Hes, License Number: 21506, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  8. Paul Hes, Declaration of Intention, 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, Roll 569) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 445801-446600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  9. Email from Debbie Salamon, December 7, 2022. 
  10. Friederich Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 065-12-8954, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1888, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. Lina Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 119-18-7181, Birth Date: 19 Sep 1894, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Gretel Hamburger, Social Security Number: 081-12-7517, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 28 Jul 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Joseph Hamburger, Social Security Number: 077-07-3405, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. Gunter Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 081-20-7923, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 16 Jul 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Email from Alan Blumenfeld, December 6, 2022. 

17 thoughts on “Gerson Blumenfeld II: His Surviving Son Friedrich and His Family in America, Keeping Tradition Alive

  1. How fortunate you are to gain access to these beautiful family photos, Amy!
    It is interesting how names change their spelling due to the lack of the German ‘Umlaute’ in the English language from Günther over Guenter to Gunter. The name of a former principal of the German Saturday School in Calgary originally was Köpe. After he immigrated to Canada, it was changed to Cope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that I know a bit of German, I am much more aware of how English-speaking people have changed the way words and names that were originally German are pronounced, for example, the name Peter. I am sure Guenther was tired of people misspelling or mispronouncing his name. That and the desire to not appear German in the years of and after World War II (as well as World War I) must have motivated many to de-Germanize their name.

      Like

  2. Hi Amy, well done your Blumenfeld cousins for their invaluable information into the lives of this family, especially the story about the rescued Torah scroll, they must have been so determined. I like the wedding photo, my grandparents married in 1921 and the wedding dresses were flowing but simple.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is it a coincidence that my brother Milton and his wife and my cousin, Allen Blumenfeld and the rest of his family, are once again in close proximity in Boca Raton, as we were, growing up in Washington Heights ??

    Now we will have Amy to meet when she is settled in West Palm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, Amy all these photos are wonderful, and there is something of the “tear-jerker” about the last three photos. Very very special. When I read about Joseph’s parents not giving him permission to leave, my heart caught in my chest as if it forgot to beat a couple of times. So much to think about that and what it must have been like.

    Liked by 1 person

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