Did Jenny Blumenfeld marry Siegmund Warburg? A Brick Wall Tumbles

As I wrote in my last post about the family of Salomon Blumenfeld, Roberto Meinrath, my fifth cousin and the younger son of Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, left Brazil in 1960 after being selected by his congregation in Rio de Janeiro to spend a year in Israel in a leadership training program. I was hoping that Roberto might be able to provide information to answer questions I had about his mother’s sister Jenny Blumenfeld, who had immigrated to Israel (then Palestine) to escape Nazi Germany.

Back in May 2022, I wrote that many trees on Ancestry and elsewhere “report that … Jenny, married Siegmund Rudolf Warburg on July 25, 1933, and that Siegmund was born in Berlin on May 26, 1896, to Otto Warburg and Bertha Cohen.” I found Siegmund’s birth record, but I could find no record attaching Siegmund and Jenny; I had found “a Siegmund Warburg with a different wife, Ilse, and two children, Gabriel and Thomas, sailing from Hamburg to New York on August 31, 1933.” But was that the same Siegmund who supposedly married Jenny?

Siegmund Warburg birth record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Laufendenummer: 95, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Births, 1874-1908

Warburg family, ship manifest, Month: Band 417 (Aug 1933), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 417; Page: 2211; Microfilm No.: K_2000
Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Ancestry.com

My cousin Richard Bloomfield then found what we believe is Jenny’s gravestone on Billiongraves based on the birth date on the stone, and it has her name as Jenny Warburg; Richard also found a 1950 list of registered voters in Haifa, Israel, that listed Jenny Warburg and Siegmund Warburg together. But none of that definitively proved that it was Jenny Blumenfeld who married Siegmund Warburg.

Jenny Warburg, Yekhi’am cemetery, Akko, Israel, found at Billiongraves.com at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%92%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%92/22732522

So I asked Roberto what he knew about his aunt Jenny, and he was able to provide further evidence that she had married Siegmund Warburg because while living in Israel in 1960, Roberto spent time with his aunt Jenny and her husband Siegmund. Thus, Roberto was able to confirm that in fact that Jenny had married Siegmund. Roberto also said he knew “for sure” that Jenny and Siegmund did not have any children. Roberto also informed me that his grandmother Malchen/Amalie had gone to Israel after Salomon Blumenfeld died and was living at the same kibbutz as Jenny and Siegmund.1

Roberto wasn’t certain, but he thought that Siegmund may have had a son from a prior marriage also living in Israel. I thought that that might explain how Siegmund appeared on a ship manifest in 1933 with a wife named Ilse and two children, traveling to the US. Perhaps he and his family with Ilse had later immigrated to Palestine/Israel.

I decided to search on the Israel Genealogy Research Association website and found several relevant records. In 1938 Siegmund Warburg, son of Otto (so the same Siegmund born in Berlin on May 28, 1896) is listed with Ilse Warburg on the Haifa registered voters list, proving that the Siegmund who was sailing with Ilse and their children to the US in 1933 had immigrated to Palestine/Israel with Ilse by 1938. Then I found Ilse and Sigmund listed together as Haifa registered voters in 1941.2

Voters List Knesset Israel 1938 (פנקס הבוגרים של כנסת ישראל בחיפה 1938), part of the Voters Knesset Israel 1938 (בוגרים של כנסת ישראל 1938) database, system number גל-7408/5, line 42, IGRA number 12178. The original records are from Israel State Archives found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

But in 1942 Sigmund is listed without Ilse, and we know from Richard’s research that in 1950 Siegmund and Jenny were listed together as Haifa voters.3

Voters List – Local (רשימת הבוחרים למועצה המקומית), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1942 (בוחרים למועצות המקומיות 1942) database, document number 297, page 8946, IGRA number 32087. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

What does all this mean? It means that although I have no marriage record for Jenny Blumenfeld and Siegmund Warburg, one can presume that Siegmund came to Israel/Palestine with his wife Ilse and their children sometime before 1938, eventually divorced Ilse, and married Jenny sometime before 1950. I could not prove it, but I was persuaded that that’s what happened based on the circumstantial evidence.

I decided to post on the Tracing the Tribe group page on Facebook to see if someone knew where I might find a marriage record for Jenny and Siegmund, and I was surprised to receive a comment from my fifth cousin Simeon Spier, whose mother Gisela Spier I wrote about here. Simeon not only knew that Jenny had married Siegmund Warburg—he knew Jenny well as she and his mother Gisela had been very close.

Simeon wrote that Siegmund Warburg’s father Otto Warburg was an important early Zionist as well as a renowned botanist—something that I had not realized while searching for information about Siegmund. I found more information about Otto and his life and career from his obituary here and from other articles here and here.4

Simeon also told me that Siegmund’s marriage to Jenny was his second marriage; it was Jenny’s first marriage. So that corroborated both what Roberto remembered and what I found in my research. Simeon also confirmed that Siegmund had three children from his first marriage.

Simeon shared these two photographs of Jenny with Siegmund.

Jenny Blumenfeld and Siegmund Warburg Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Siegmund Warburg and Jenny Blumenfeld Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Simeon also shared two photographs of Jenny with his own family. The first one shows Jenny with her cousin Gisela Spier Cohen and Gisela’s children Sitta and Simeon in Haifa in 1965.

Sitta Cohen, Gisela Spier Cohen, Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg, Simeon Spier (Cohen) in Haifa, 1965 Courtesy of the family

This one shows Jenny with Simeon and his sisters when they visited her in Israel in 1974.

Jenny Blumenfeld with the children of Gisela Spier Cohen 1974   Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Simeon has fond memories of visiting Jenny in Israel and when she visited them in Toronto. He described her fondly as a “very orderly and proper woman.” He wrote:4

Jenny had a tiny but well-appointed apartment on the Carmel in Haifa. … The small living room was filled with Sigmund’s books and his furniture from Germany.  She used the covered balcony as her dining room.  She was an exquisite cook and she was proud of it!!  In fact, we have a saying in our family: “Jenny, I think I’ll come again.”  Jenny would taste her delicious cooking before serving it and comment: “Jenny, I think I’ll come again!”

You can see Sigmund’s large collection of books in the first photograph above. Unfortunately, we can’t sample Jenny’s cooking. But we can imagine it.

Jenny’s marriage to Siegmund was further confirmed when I connected with her great-nephew Michael Katz, the grandson of Jenny’s sister Gretel. Michael also met Jenny in Israel. So that was a third confirmation of the marriage.

And then, as yet another confirmation, I received the translation of Hilde’s Shoah Foundation testimony by Manuel Steccanella and Richard Bloomfield.5 In her testimony, Hilde said that Jenny left Germany and first went to England, where she met Siegmund Warburg and his family. They did not marry, however, until they were in Palestine/Israel. Hilde also stated that she herself went to Israel sometime after the end of the war and worked at a kibbutz for two months as arranged by Siegmund Warburg’s children.6

I have searched for a record showing that Jenny was in England before immigrating to Palestine/Israel, but so far have not located any. And I am still hoping someday to obtain an actual marriage certificate for Jenny and Siegmund (I’ve written to the kibbutz where they lived in 1960, but have gotten no response yet), but I am now convinced based on the statements of four witnesses, Roberto, Simeon, Michael,  and Hilde, as well as the photographs shared by Simeon that Jenny Blumenfeld was married to Siegmund Warburg, the son of Otto Warburg.

Thank you to my cousins Gabriela, Roberto, Simeon, and Michael for helping to break down this brick wall. Special thanks to Richard Bloomfield and Manuel Steccanella for translating Hilde’s Shoah Foundation testimony.


  1. Email from Roberto Meinrath, February 11, 2023. 
  2. Voters List – Local (רשימת הבוחרים למועצה המקומית), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1941 (בוחרים למועצות המקומיות 1941) database, system number 6/272, page 14, IGRA number 743. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  3. Voters’ Ledgers Haifa Municipality 1950 (פנקס הבוחרים לעירית חיפה 1950), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1948-1953 (בוחרים רשויות מקומיות 1953-1948) database, list קלפי 26, page 1, line 169, IGRA number 21461. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/.  I also found on the IGRA website an index of a record for the 1947 marriage of Hanna Warburg, twenty-one year old daughter of Zigmund Warburg, in Haifa, and one for the marriage of  Gavriel Warburg, son of Ilza and Shimon Warburg, dated February 23, 1949. He was 21 at the time, so born in about 1928. 
  4. Email from Simeon Spier, February 23, 2023. 
  5. The references in this post to the interview of Hilde Meinrath and the information contained therein are from her interview with the Shoah Foundation, March 18, 1998, which is in the archive of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. For more information: http://dornsife.usc.edu/vhi 
  6. Ibid. 

20 thoughts on “Did Jenny Blumenfeld marry Siegmund Warburg? A Brick Wall Tumbles

  1. Good work tumbling this brick wall, Amy. Is it possible that a marriage record from the 1940s might not be available due to privacy laws in Israel? A newspaper announcement of the engagement or marriage might confirm the word of mouth and knowledge of others of the marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cathy. I know I have seen other marriage records from that time period on the IGRA website. I am hoping the kibbutz will eventually get back to me. And I’d need someone who can research in Hebrew to do a search for a newspaper announcement. But that’s a good idea. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man. I just had a small nightmare trying to leave a comment. I was going through Facebook. They blocked me from verifying through Google. Now I forgot what I was going to say. Anyway, I hope you find the marriage record. Without it this is subjective and circumstantial because there are cases where everyone thinks someone is married and they are not. Most likely they were, of course. Do you know Ilsa didn’t die?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Were you trying to comment on the blog itself or on Facebook? That’s weird.

      According to numerous secondary sources, Ilsa died in 1987. I have no primary source for that just like I have no primary source for Jenny’s marriage to Siegmund. I probably would need to hire someone in Israel to find an actual record, but that’s not happening…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  4. Pingback: Update on Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg from World Jewish Relief, A New (to Me) Research Tool | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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