Moritz Werner And Family, Part III: After The War

After the war Max Werner, now 25 years old, married Klara Reiss on January 5, 1947, in London, England.1 Klara (known by the family as Klari) was born in Vienna, Austria, on September 27, 1920, to Ida Spergel and Salomon Reiss. According to his granddaughter Joyce:2

Salomon Reiss had made a fortune in Vienna and was a well-known multi-millionaire. After the Anschluss (March 1938) [he] was arrested at the seder table [and] stripped of his Austrian wealth, and the family managed to escape to Prague (not at the time under German control and where my grandfather owned assets).

Klara’s brothers were able to immigrate to Palestine, but Klara didn’t want to leave her parents so stayed with them in Prague. But as things became more dire, she was able to obtain a visa to go to England, as seen on her exit visa from Prague shown below. As Joyce noted, Klara left Prague “quite late in August 1939. Her entry Visa in Dover is stamped 30st August. The curtain came down [two days later started on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and World War II started.]”

Klara Reiss 1939 visa for travel to England

Klara’s parents were, however, stuck in Prague once the war started and unable to escape. They were eventually deported to Theriesenstadt and then from there on one of the last transports from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.3

Klara met Max Werner eight years later in England. As Joyce tells the story,

Our parents met at a friend of Moritz and Jenny on a Shabbat afternoon in 1946. The couple were cousins of Klari’s father and, apparently, when [Max] got home, he told his parents he had met the girl he was going to marry. He was two years younger than Klari, involved with Klari’s cousin, and Klari told him to go away. Repeatedly. My father did not take no for an answer and pursued her relentlessly. She gave in and went on a date with him. The rest is history.

Judith provided these additional insights:

My mother liked my Dad when they met but felt that as a sophisticated dress designer she was way too old for the very young looking Max. She had a career path that she had worked very hard to carve out for herself and was in line to go to Paris for her firm.  She wasn’t interested in marriage at that point in her life especially after learning what happened to her parents. I believe her long range plan was to join her brothers in Israel. When however my Dad persisted, she relented…. They were married 6 months later on 5th January, 1947.

Joyce and Judith shared these photographs of their parents Max and Klara:

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

At the time of his marriage, Max was working for his father Moritz in the Benlo company in London. In 1949, Moritz was able to buy back LS Brinkmann from the man who purchased it. As his son Max told the story (and as I previously shared here),

A Catholic named Rhode from Kassel, who produced goods for the armaments industry, had bought L.S. Brinkmann. After the war, when Rhode was terminally ill, he developed feelings of remorse and tracked down my father Moritz in England. Mr. Rhode asked for a visit and my father and he made a contract, i.e. my father bought the company back – that was at a time when there was no official reparation! In 1949 the takeover was perfected. …

When my father had celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company in 1931, the staff had donated a bronze plate with a dedication and two knitting hands for him. During the forced sale [1939] the plate suddenly disappeared.

In 1949, when my father was sitting in his office again for the first time, there was a knock at the door and a small delegation of employees came in… They struggled to carry a box containing this bronze plate. Before taking over the company, these employees had fastened the plate in the chimney with strong wires and thus hidden it.

Joyce and Judith shared this photograph of the plaque that had been given to honor Moritz in 1931 and then hidden by his employees to keep it safe from the Nazis.

Moritz and Jenny did not remain in Germany, but Moritz did continue to oversee LS Brinkmann from England. He gave a large share of the business to his sister Elsa Werner Loewenthal, wife of Julius Loewenthal, whom I wrote about here.

Meanwhile, according to Judith, there were problems within the partnership of Benlo; contrary to an informal agreement between Moritz and his partner, the partner brought a new partner into the business, and together they took over control of the business and away from Moritz. Eventually, the two other partners drove Moritz out of the business and moved his son Max from company headquarters in London to a sales job, which he found to be unsatisfying and a dead end position.

Here is a photograph of Max and Klara in the early 1950s:

Max and Klara Werner c. 1953 Courtesy of the family

Thus, in 1953, Max decided to move to Germany and take over LS Brinkmann after his father Moritz retired. By that time, both Judith and Joyce were born, and Judith was already in school. Max, Klara, and Joyce went to Eschwege, and Judith stayed behind with her grandparents Moritz and Jenny in England to continue her schooling. Under Max’s leadership, LS Brinkmann once again became a highly successful knitware company.

But after a relatively short time, Klara and Joyce returned to England as Klara was not happy living in Eschwege, where there was no longer a Jewish community after the Holocaust. Max would come to England periodically, usually for Jewish holidays, and Klara and their daughters would spend the summers in Eschwege.

Joyce and Judith have wonderful memories of spending summers in Eschwege. Judith wrote:

Part of the perks of working for LSB was reduced rental flats on the factory property. It was great fun for us children of the workers. Every afternoon and early evening when the workday was over we would gather in the courtyard and play all kinds of games, including hide and seek and different ball games.

Judith shared this photograph of the LS Brinkmann grounds along with this description:

On the far left are the worker residences including ours. Bottom right is the green house. The larger tree in front of the white knitting operation was a delicious pear tree under which our pet dog Cracky was buried. The other greenery were apple, pear, plum, and cherry (not seen) trees. We had all kinds of berries that I used to spend many hours picking and eating. In the distance is the very picturesque town of Eschwege.

LS Brinkmann factory grounds Courtesy of the family

Joyce added this memory:

I also remember those holidays as a time of freedom. We played with local children as Judy said and were left largely to our own devices. Judy and some of the older kids would take me along to the local swimming pool or they Iet me trail along and join in with whatever they did. My own age group was a group of dare-devil boys. In the foreground (front left side) [of the photograph] is a grey roof above the dustbins [trash cans] with a drop of about 6 to 7 feet to the rear exit road below. All the boys and I used to play a ‘chicken’ type game jumping off with as much bravado as possible.

By 1958, Moritz Werner’s health had declined, and he and Jenny decided to leave England for a better climate and move to Lugano, Switzerland. He died eight years later in 1966 at the age of 78. This photograph of Moritz was taken at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of LS Brinkmann’s founding in 1965.

Moritz Werner 1965 Courtesy of the family

Jenny kept the apartment in Lugano and remained there, although she spent the first year after Moritz’s death living with Klara and the girls in London. Eventually, when she could no longer live alone, she moved to an assisted living facility in Zurich, where she died in November 1987 at the age of 93. Here is a beautiful photograph of Jenny:

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner eventually retired from LS Brinkmann and returned to England. Judith shared this memory with me:

My father had a fantasy of living in Devon, England on the coast. He had fallen in love with the Devon and Cornwall coastline when he was a very young man. So when he was about 55 [about 1977], he sold [the home in] London and bought a house in Devon. He proceeded to knock most of it down and rebuilt it to his own specifications. This home was on the top of the hill that he owned overlooking the channel. On this hill he had an area for a pool and a rock garden. And when we swam in this pool, you could overlook this beautiful seaway.

Max Werner and his wife Klara died within eight months of each other. Klara died at age 90 in April 2011 in Devon, England, and Max died in December of that year, also in Devon, England. He was 89.4

I am so deeply grateful to Judith and Joyce for sharing their family’s stories and photographs. The story of their grandparents and parents is one of persistence and strength despite being subjected to harassment, theft of their business, and loss of their home and their homeland. Somehow they rebuilt their lives and their business and found ways to survive both before, during, and after World War II.


  1.  Max H Werner, Registration Date: Jan 1947, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss, Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. As with the two prior posts, most of the information in this post came from a series of emails exchanged among Max and Klara’s daughters Judith, and Joyce and myself during May and June, 2022. 
  3. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4788092&ind=1; https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4783626&ind=1 
  4. These dates came from Max and Klara’s daughters Joyce and Judith. 

Moritz Werner and Family, Part II: From Comfort to Escape 1922-1945

When Max Werner II was born on September 5, 1922, in Eschwege, Germany, to Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn, his paternal grandparents Max Werner I and Helene Katzenstein had both passed away. His father Moritz was one of the owners of the LS Brinkmann Knitwear Company, and the family was living a very comfortable life.

Max’s daughter Joyce described her father as “an indulged only child from a wealthy local family.” Her sister Judith noted that their father “was an only child, and he was a very solitary child. His main companions were the chauffeur Petach and his dog.”1

Here are some photos of Max as a child including two with the dog, two in the garden of the family’s home in Eschwege, and one with his nurse or nanny.

Max Werner with nurse Courtesy of the family

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max and his dog Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1934

But everything changed with the rise of the Nazis. Joyce and Judith both shared what they knew about the way life changed for their father and grandparents. Judith wrote, “Things became more and more difficult at school for my father, but he never complained to his parents. Except one day the kids from his school surrounded him with knives, and my father was seen fending them off with his leather satchel by friends of my grandparents.”

Joyce shared additional details about that incident:

Our father, a tall, strong pre-teen, was having terrible trouble at school. Not only did he face taunting and attacks from boys in the Hitler Youth, but teachers also joined in the Jew baiting. I recall that he told me on one occasion that another Jewish boy (small and reedy) had been beaten up by some classmates and the child made the mistake of telling the teacher. The teacher got out his strap and announced to the class, ‘Now I will show you how you should beat a Jew.’ Our father in general held his own well and was known to be strong and aggressive, and classmates generally steered clear of him. However, the incident Judy described was a final straw – especially as during the ensuing fray which took place on the school stairwell after class, he picked up the lead troublemaker and hurled him down a few stairs causing a broken nose. At home, he couldn’t hide the marks of the fight, confessed all and was sent that same night to Zurich to his Aunt Rosa [Werner] Wormser [sister of their grandfather Moritz Werner].

Max spent four or five years living away from his parents in Zurich. Although he was generally happy and became very close to his cousin Julius Wormser during those years, Joyce described the deeper impact these experiences had on Max:

The experience was formative for him. Although he had many good memories of his life in Zurich, he was separated from his home, parents, and his former life. I think the main lesson he learned was ‘fight back’. Sadly (in my opinion) he also learned that, in reality, ‘might is right’. I believe it was this which affected his personality. Used to getting his own way as an adored (and unexpected) child, seeing the brutality of life in Germany and the fact that bullies get what they want and the weak suffer, he made a decision there and then. It shaped him as a person who was determined and uncompromising. He was logical and intelligent, but when he was crossed or disagreed with someone, he could be very aggressive – both verbally and physically.

Meanwhile, Max’s parents Moritz and Jenny were still in Eschwege, Germany. Judith wrote that:

My grandfather was generous with everybody and was always ready to help those in need whether Jewish or not. He and my grandmother for many years helped to support and educate a young boy whose father had died and whose mother needed assistance. In the 1930s, my grandfather … was helping members of the family and others leave Germany but he himself did not believe that Nazism would survive in Germany. My grandmother, on the other hand, was ready in 1933 and packed. But they did put a lot of money into antiques and Old Master pictures. They were aware that they were not allowed to take much money but were allowed to take personal possessions.

Joyce also described the way their grandparents differed in their reactions to the rise of Hitler:

Our grandmother Jenny was alert to the danger Hitler posed from the very start. She believed his rhetoric and said that if he came to power, he would enact every threat against the Jews he had scapegoated for Germany’s ills. Our grandfather Moritz, like so many, believed such things would never happen in the ‘fatherland’ for which he had fought at great personal cost and for which his brother had given his life.  Consequently, she quietly prepared for emigration by investing in ‘movable assets’ e.g. art and antiques.

Here’s a photo of their grandmother, Jenny:

Under Hitler’s Aryanization program, Moritz was forced to sell LS Brinkmann in 1938, as I wrote about here. According to Judith, shortly before World War II started in September 1939,

The Bishop of the area came to my grandpa and told him it was time for him to leave. That it was too dangerous for him to stay. … So after that my grandfather went to the area comandante in Kassel in order to get a pass to exit the country. This person happened to be somebody who had served in the first World War under my grandfather in the cavalry. So this gentleman gave my grandfather a bit of a problem, and my grandfather, who had the use of a stick, banged it on the man’s desk and gave him a thorough dressing down. He got his pass. Then my grandparents took the chauffeur driven car up to either Hamburg or Bremen and took a ship to England.

Max soon thereafter joined his parents in England and attended school and then Leeds University, where he studied engineering. Moritz and Jenny were able to sell some of the art and antiques they took with them from Germany not only to support themselves, but to invest in a new company in England. Joyce wrote:

My grandfather – with extraordinary energy and determination in my opinion – found a couple of partners and started a new company ‘Benlows’ selling cigarette lighters. It became so successful that after the war it became a public company floated on the Stock Exchange.

Thus, Moritz, Jenny, and Max were able to escape from Nazi Germany and survive the Holocaust. But not without enduring a forced sale of their successful business, harassment and violence, displacement from their home in Eschwege, and a long separation of Max from his parents. As Joyce wrote, this had a lasting impact on Max and presumably also on Moritz and Jenny.

In the next post, Joyce and Judith will share the story of what happened to the family after World War II ended in 1945.

 


  1. Again as in the last post, the quotes, photos, stories, and information from Joyce and Judith came from a series of emails we all exchanged during May and June, 2022.  I am so grateful for all their help and generosity. 

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. 

Another Update from Another Cousin! The Story of Karl Gutmann

Once again, I have been very fortunate because another cousin found my blog and connected with me, sharing information and photographs of members of my ever-growing family tree. This time it was my fifth cousin, once removed, Jennifer, the granddaughter of Karl Gutmann, who has enriched my understanding of my family history. The information in this post, except where otherwise noted, came from my email correspondence with Jennifer, as did all the photographs.

You can read more about Karl and his family here and here, but let me provide a brief overview. Karl, born in 1923, was the only child of Moritz Gutmann and my cousin Nelly Goldschmidt; Nelly was the daughter of Hedwig Goldschmidt and Marcel Goldschmidt who themselves were first cousins, the grandchildren of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle.

Jennifer shared with me this photograph of her grandfather Karl with his mother Nelly as well as the one that follows of Karl as a young boy.

Nelly Goldschmidt Gutmann and her son Karl Gutmann, c. 1927-1928 Courtesy of the family

Karl Gutmann Courtesy of the family

Nelly’s sister Else was married to Siegfried Gutmann, brother of Moritz Gutmann. Else and Siegfried, like Nelly and Moritz, had only one child, a son named Hermann Gutmann, later known as Dennis Goodman. I wrote about Dennis and his experiences here and here. Thus, Karl and Dennis were first cousins, and according to Jennifer, the two boys were very close growing up in Germany. They were both born in 1923, Dennis in February, Karl in May. They must have been like brothers to each other.

Tragically, Karl and Dennis were separated from each other because of the Nazis. As I wrote in my earlier post, Karl’s father Moritz came to the US in 1936, leaving his wife Nelly and Karl behind. What Jennifer shared with me was that her great-grandmother Nelly had long suffered from mental illness and had been institutionalized for some time before the Holocaust. Moritz, who resented the fact that her family had failed to disclose her mental health issues before they married, filed for divorce once he was in the United States. Jennifer shared this photograph of her great-grandfather Moritz Gutmann, whom she described as a very difficult man.

Moritz Gutmann Courtesy of the family

Meanwhile, Moritz and Nelly’s son Karl was living in Amsterdam as were his grandmother Hedwig Goldschmidt and his aunt Else Goldschmidt and uncle Siegfried Gutmann.  His cousin Hermann (Dennis) was sent in 1936 to England where he attended a Jewish boarding school, and the following year Karl went to the US.

From the apparent age of Karl in this photograph (he appears to be at least thirteen), I would guess that this photograph was taken either in Amsterdam or after he came to the US. I don’t know who the other boy was.

Karl Gutman and friend Courtesy of the family

What I did not know until Jennifer shared it with me was that Karl’s father Moritz traveled to Amsterdam to get his son and bring him back to the US; I now was able to locate Moritz on the same ship as the one that brought Karl to the US. Moritz, however, was sailing in a second class cabin whereas his fourteen-year-old son was sailing third class in a separate cabin (last line on second image below).

Moritz Gutmann, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 124,  Statendam, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Karl Gutmann (last line), Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 143,  Statendam, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Karl earned money selling newspapers when he first got to the US, but then enlisted in the US Army in 1943. By that time he had joined his father in the art dealing business and brought art work back and forth between Europe and the US during the war. Karl became one of the Ritchie Boys, the elite espionage unit made up of German Jewish refugees who used their knowledge of Germany and German to spy on the Nazis and obtain critical military intelligence for the Allies. Here is Karl in uniform during World War II.

Karl Gutmann, c. 1945 Courtesy of the family

But it was too late to save his mother Nelly, who was killed by the Nazis in 1940. Tragically, both of Dennis Goodman’s parents were also murdered in the Holocaust. Karl and Dennis’s grandmother Hedwig Goldschmidt, however, miraculously survived after hiding in the Netherlands during the war, as described here. Jennifer shared this photograph of Hedwig, taken after she had safely immigrated to the US after the war.

Hedwig Goldschmidt Gutmann  Courtesy of the family

When Karl returned to the US after the war, he married Joan Fenton. What I had not known before Jennifer contacted me was that Joan, her grandmother, was the best friend of Karl’s first cousin Gabrielle Heimerdinger, the daughter of Greta Goldschmidt, Karl’s aunt, his mother Nelly’s sister. Gabrielle introduced Joan to Karl, and together they had three children. Jennifer, Karl and Joan’s granddaughter, has many memories of visiting her relatives in New York, including her grandfather’s first cousin Gabrielle, whose children I wrote about here. Karl went into the television repair business after the war and became quite successful.

While serving overseas as one of the Ritchie Boys, Karl had run into his cousin Dennis, Karl fighting the Nazis for the US, Dennis fighting the Nazis for England. Once the two cousins reconnected, they remained close for the rest of their lives, traveling back and forth between England and the US after the war many times. Thanks to Jennifer, I can share this photograph of Karl and Dennis joyfully reunited after the war. The other man on the left is their paternal cousin John Gutmann, and the woman is Karl’s second wife Gisela.

John Gutmann, Karl Gutmann, Gisela Bartels Gutmann, and Dennis Goodman Courtesy of the family

Jennifer remembered her grandfather Karl as a man with a strong work ethic and one who never wanted to talk about his past. But through her grandmother Joan and other family members, Jennifer was able to learn more about her grandfather’s story and the tragedies that her other relatives suffered during the Holocaust. I am so grateful that she shared their stories and her photographs with me.

 

 

The Homestead Restaurant in Northampton: Another Small World Story

Once again the genealogy gods are playing with my mind and convincing me that I must somehow be related to everyone I know.

This past weekend I was texting my friend Marlene to make plans to get together for dinner. We were going back and forth, trying to find a restaurant that has outdoor seating and that will take a reservation. Then Marlene texted, “I have a cousin who owns a restaurant in Northampton. I’ve never been there though.”

I texted back, “That’s funny. I have a cousin who owns a restaurant in Northampton, but I’ve never been there or met him.” I couldn’t remember his name or the name of his restaurant at that moment, so I went to my Ancestry app, knowing that he was a nephew of my cousin Roger. Roger and his husband David have been tremendously helpful to me in my genealogy research, as readers of my blog know. Roger is my third cousin, once removed, on my Katzenstein-Goldschmidt line. We are both descended from Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt.

After checking my tree and finding the right name and the name of his restaurant, I texted Marlene, “My cousin is Jeremy Werther. He owns the Homestead restaurant.”

Much to my amazement, she responded, “He’s my cousin also!”

It seems Jeremy is Marlene’s second cousin, once removed, on his father’s side, and he is my third cousin, twice removed, on his mother’s side. We were just blown away. I’ve known Marlene and her husband Jim since 1982, and certainly as far as we knew, we had no relatives in common. How could it be that after almost forty years we had just discovered that she was the second cousin of the father of my third cousin, twice removed? We both just had to laugh and marvel at what a small world it is.

And, of course, that sealed the deal—we were going to Jeremy’s restaurant for dinner. We made a reservation at The Homestead, and I prepared various family tree charts to share with Marlene and with Jeremy.

It was a fabulous meal. Everything was so fresh and beautifully prepared and presented. We had two different salads, a roasted carrot dish, a bluefish dish, and two pasta dishes among the four of us. We shared most of the dishes as they are served as small plates to be shared, and it made for a very relaxed and enjoyable meal—each dish better than the last. And the service was stellar—friendly, efficient, and attentive without being intrusive.

Although I forgot to take photos of our meal, Jeremy gave me permission to include a few photos from their Facebook page. This is just a small sample of Jeremy’s artistry.

No photo description available.

But the best part was meeting Jeremy, who seemed amazed by the fact that two of his cousins had shown up at his restaurant without any warning—two women he’d never met before.  He sat with us as we explained all the connections and shared the charts with him.  He was as gracious as one could imagine—all of us sharing in the crazy joy that comes with discovering the magic of family history.

Restaurant —Homestead

My cousin Jeremy, chef and owner of the Homestead

Outside dining at the Homestead

If you live in the Pioneer Valley, or even if you don’t, be sure to visit The Homestead at 7 Strong Avenue in Northampton, Massachusetts. You won’t be disappointed.

 

The Legacy of Meier Katzenstein

Today I want to share some photographs and other documents that were shared with me by a cousin named Miles who found my blog and then generously sent me a large collection of photographs.

Miles is my fifth cousin through our shared four times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann. Miles is descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. Miles’ lineage is from Jacob Falcke to Meyer Goldschmidt to Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein to Meier Katzenstein to Sophia Katzenstein Lustig to his mother Nancy  to Miles.

I wrote about Meier and his family back on October 23, 2020 here. I will just summarize that blog post briefly in order to provide context for the photographs Miles shared with me. For more details and sources, please refer back to my original post.

Meier Katzenstein was the youngest child and only son of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Callman Katzenstein. He was born in 1860 in Eschwege, Germany, and was also the only child of Amalie and Juda to leave Germany and immigrate to the US. He immigrated in 1888, and three years later he married Emma Bacharach, also a German immigrant. They lived in New York City where their only child Sophia was born in 1892. Meier was in the business of manufacturing fancy linens.

Here are some photographs of Meier and Emma. You can see from Meier’s photographs how accurately he was described on his US passport application: “five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face.”

The first photograph was taken in Eschwege so presumably before Meier immigrated.

Meier Katzenstein in Eschwege
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier Katzenstein
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier and Emma (Bacharach) Katzenstein. Courtesy of Miles Mark

And these are some adorable photographs of Sophia Katzenstein as a girl alone and with her parents, including some taken in Germany, showing that Meier and Emma did return to visit their families back in Germany.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma and Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein in Germany Courtesy of Mark Miles

Sophia was not only a beautiful little girl; she grew up to be a beautiful woman. In 1914 she married Elias Lustig, who was a very successful hat manufacturer. Here are some photographs of Sophia as a young woman and one of Elias.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias and Sophia had two children. Their first child was David Miles Lustig, known as Miles. He was born in 1916. His grandfather Meier had died just six months before, and I assume that Miles was named for his grandfather.

Elias and Sophia’s second child Nancy was born five years later in 1921. Here are some delightful photographs of the two children of Elias and Sophia, grandchildren of Meier and Emma:

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles and Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia and Elias divorced sometime thereafter, and in 1936 Sophia married her second husband, Saul Baron. Here are two photographs of Sophia and Saul:

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died in 1941, and thus neither Meier nor Emma lived to endure the tragedy that befell their only grandson, David Miles Lustig. Miles was a 1939 graduate of Princeton University, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He enlisted in the US Army on January 17, 1941, almost a year before the US entered World War II. Here are two photographs of Miles in uniform looking so proud to be serving his country.

L David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Miles was assigned to the 44th Bomber Squadron, 20th Bomber Command. Here he is with some of the men in his squadron:

David Miles Lustig, right Courtesy of Miles Mark

Tragically, while flying over China in December, 1944, the plane in which Miles’s crew was flying was shot down and crashed. Miles landed in a river and drowned, but the rest of the men on his plane survived and recorded what had happened, as described in these documents shared with me by David Miles Lustig’s namesake, my fifth cousin Miles.

The first is a letter written to the family by the members of the crew on the plane that day. It’s interesting that they called him Dave, not Miles.

45th Bomb Squad

APO 631, NY

Jan 24

Dear Mr. Lustig and Family,

Several of the boys have received letters asking about Dave so we hope you get a little bit of comfort from as much as we can tell. (The events related in this letter concern 1st Lt. David Miles Lustig, 0-416239.)

We know it must have been a terrible blow to you and you have our deepest sympathy. If there is anything we can do, please don’t hesitate to ask any favor. We all thought an awful lot of your son.

Their plane was shot down returning from a combat mission and all the crew members were forced to bail out. Dave landed in the water and was drowned. The rest of the crew remained several days in the vicinity conducting a search until he was found.

You might like to know that just before he jumped from the plane he took his navigators’ log and carried with him so he could tell the rest of the crew their location on the ground. The paper was picked up later and returned by natives and that’s how we happened to know about it. So even in the emergency, his primary consideration was to his duty to the rest of the men.

It’s as hard to write about it is to think about and I think that is as much as we are allowed to tell at this time. I’m sure that at a later date, any of his friends will be glad to give you any information you desire.

Now we can only tell you how terribly sorry we are that it had to happen.

Sincerely,

[signatures of the crew]

The second is a compilation of memories and details from various members of the flight crew. You can read it by clicking on the link below. It is too long for me to transcribe and too important to be merely paraphrased.

article on shooting down of plane David Miles Lustig

Sophia died just six years after the tragic loss of her son Miles; she was 58 when she died on November 9, 1950. She was survived by her remaining child, Nancy, and two grandsons. Nancy had married Mitchell Mark in 1943; they had two sons, Mitchell II., and Miles, the namesake of Nancy’s brother and the cousin who has shared all these photographs and documents with me. Nancy later divorced Mitchell Mark and married Saul Waldman in 1956.

The death of David Miles Lustig was not the only tragedy this family faced. In 1969, Nancy’s older son Mitchell was killed in a horrific accident when his car was crushed by an eighteen-wheeler. Mitchell II was only 25 years old. Nancy donated an ambulance to Israel in his memory. He was survived by his wife Linda and young son, also named Mitchell.

Nancy Lustig Waldman died on June 8, 2004. She was 83 years old. She was survived by her son Miles and by his children as well as her grandson Mitchell III.

I am so grateful to my fifth cousin Miles for sharing his family’s stories—both the triumphs and the tragedies—and for sharing all these beautiful photographs. He carries on the rich legacy of all his namesakes—his three-times great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt for whom his great-grandfather Meier Katzenstein was named and his uncle David Miles Lustig who was named for his grandfather Meier Katzenstein. That’s a chain going back to at least 1784 when Meyer was born to our mutual 4-times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann.

 

More Photos of My Double Cousin Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Her Family

I recently posted photos that my cousin Bruce Velzy sent me of his great-great-grandmother Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah is one of the relatives whose lives most fascinate me. Her parents were both related to me. Her father Simon Goldschmidt was my four-times great-uncle, and her mother Fradchen or Fanny Schoenthal was my three-times great-aunt. Simon and Fanny were recent immigrants from Germany to the US when Hannah was born in 1848. And then Hannah lost her mother shortly after Hannah’s second birthday.

Hannah and her brother Henry then moved with their father Simon to Washington, Pennsylvania, where they lived with Hannah’s half-brother Jacob Goldsmith and his wife and children. Then when she was just eighteen, Hannah married Joseph Benedict, a rag dealer who was fourteen years older, and moved to Pittsburgh; her father moved with her. Hannah and Joseph had five children, but only three survived infancy: Jacob (1870), Herschel (1871), and C. Harry (1876).

Bruce is descended from Hannah’s son Jacob and shared these photos, which I’ve previously posted:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of the family and edited by the Photo Restoration Facebook group.

Sons of Hannah Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict, c. 1890. Courtesy of the family

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

One of the things that makes Hannah’s story so remarkable is the success of her son C. Harry Benedict and of his two sons, Manson Benedict and William Benedict, as I wrote about here and here. They all were Ivy League graduates who pursued highly successful careers in science and engineering.

A few weeks ago I heard from Manson’s Benedict’s daughter Mary, She found my blog and commented as follows:

My father was Manson Benedict, son of C.Harry Benedict. Manson played a large part in the successful development of the atomic bomb. His contribution was developing a process to separate the isotopes of Uranium at a plant in Oak Ridge Tennessee. After the war he became the first professor of nuclear engineering at MIT, and was active in research on peaceful uses for atomic energy, such as nuclear power. I got a Master’s degree in chemistry, doing research on radiation chemistry. My granddaughter, Kirsten Benedict Sauer, earned a PhD in geology and is now employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she is developing ways to safely dispose of radioactive waste from reactors.

I emailed Mary and learned that she and her granddaughter are not the only ones carrying on the Benedict tradition in the sciences. Both of Mary’s sons are scientists as are her daughter-in-law and some of her grandchildren, and her daughter majored in psychology. It’s amazing to see how the DNA carries certain interests and skills from one generation to another.

Mary also shared three photographs with me, including this one taken at the celebration of Hannah Goldsmith’s 90th birthday in 1938. The photo includes Hannah’s three sons Jacob, Herschel, and C. Harry, her grandsons Manson and William, her daughters-in-law and granddaughter-in-law, and her great-granddaughter Mary.

Celebration of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s 90th birthday in 1938. Standing in rear Jake, C. Harry, Manson, Herschel, and William Benedict. Seated Marjorie Allen Benedict, Lena Manson Benedict with Mary Benedict Sauer, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

Mary also sent me two wedding photographs. This one is of her grandparents C.Harry Benedict and Lena Manson on their wedding day, February 7, 1902.

C. Harry Benedict and Lena Manson, 1902. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

And this one is from Mary’s own wedding in 1959. Mary and her husband Myran Charles Sauer, Jr. are standing with Mary’s grandparents, C Harry Benedict and Lena Manson Benedict.

Mary Benedict, Myran Charles Sauer, Jr., Lena Manson, and C.Harry Benedict, 1959. Courtesy of Mary Sauer.

Once again, I am so drawn to the story of Hannah Goldsmith and so grateful to her descendants for sharing the stories and photographs they have of her.

People Read Footnotes! Another Twist in the Family Tree

Last month when I wrote about the end (for now) of my Goldschmidt family research, I included this footnote on my blog post:

I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenewald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenewald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog.

I admit that I never expected anyone to read the footnote. After all, it was a footnote, and I wrote it just to be forthcoming and thorough in reporting an area of the Goldschmidt family story that I had not included on my blog.

But much to my surprise and delight, my cousin Ruth read the footnote and emailed me to say she thought we might be related through the Gruenewald family of Poembsen. Ruth is my fourth cousin through my Seligmann family line. Her great-great-grandfather Hieronymous Seligmann was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, the subject of my latest novel. We are both descended from Moritz Seligmann and Babette Schoenfeld. As far as I knew, Ruth was not related to me through my Goldschmidt family.

So when I received Ruth’s email, I wanted to know whether we were also related through the Gruenewalds of Poembsen. Ruth had a family tree prepared by memory by her grandfather Simon Gruenewald near the end of his life. I had only the work compiled by Alex Bernstein. Ruth sent me a copy of her grandfather’s tree, and I studied it and compared it to the information I had from Alex Bernstein’s book. I then sent it to David Baron, who had first told me about Alex Bernstein’s book. And he also studied and compared the two trees.

 

 

There were a few inconsistencies in the two trees, including most importantly that Ruth’s tree did not list Jette Goldschmidt as David Gruenewald’s first wife. I have written to a contact in Oberlistingen, hoping that there will be a marriage record for Jette and David. Alternatively we hope that there may be records of Jette’s death or of the birth or marriage of her son Jacob that will help us verify that Jette Goldschmidt was married to David Gruenewald and was the mother of Jacob Gruenewald.

Because we assume that Alex Bernstein relied on actual records whereas Ruth knew that her grandfather relied only on his memory. we think for the most part that the Bernstein tree is more reliable than Ruth’s grandfather’s tree.  And it wouldn’t be surprising if Ruth’s grandfather was confused, given that there are at least two Davids, two Simons, two Jacobs, and several Minnas on the Gruenewald tree.

So what did we conclude regarding the relationship between Ruth and Jette Goldschmidt, assuming that David Gruenewald was married to my four-times great-aunt Jette?

There is no genetic connection, only one by marriage. Here is an abbreviated family report for the Gruenewalds of Poembsen.

As you can see, Levi Jehuda had a son Moses. Moses had two sons—David Gruenewald I, who married (we believe) Jette Goldschmidt, and Ruth’s great-great-grandfather Simon Gruenewald I.

But it gets more complicated.  Simon Gruenewald I had a son David Gruenewald II. David Gruenewald II married his first cousin, Minna Gruenewald, the daughter of David Gruenewald I with his second wife, Klara Karenmeyer. Minna Gruenewald was Ruth’s great-grandmother and also the half-sister of my relative Jacob Gruenewald I, David Gruenewald I and Jette Goldschmidt’s son.

Here are some charts, though I am not sure they really help. The first chart shows how Ruth’s great-grandparents were first cousins, Minna the daughter of David Gruenewald I, her husband David Gruenewald II the son of Simon Gruenewald I.

The second chart shows how Ruth is the step-great-great-granddauaghter of Jette Goldschmidt, my three-times great-aunt.

Thus, it appears that my four-times great-aunt Jette Goldschmidt was Ruth’s step-great-great-grandmother. Crazy, isn’t it?

And then David Baron discovered yet another connection. He wrote: “I found another connection with your families. In our Katz/Katzenstein trees we have Bertha Pes Katz daughter of Bonum Katz and Zerline Nussbaum of Jesberg who married Feist Joseph LInz. Pes and Feist Joseph had Betty LInz and Berthold Linz. Betty LInz married Albert Gruenwald and Berthold married Albert’s sister Rebecca Paula Gruenwald, Both Albert and Betty were the children of Hirsch Gruenwald and his wife Mina Gruenwald (born 1834) According to a family tree I found on My Heritage at https://www.myheritage.com/site-family-tree-550062631/fastre – Mina was the daughter of Simon Grunewald and Malchen Rose.”

I admit that I am still working on sorting through that one!

So Ruth is related to me genetically through our shared Seligmann line and also related to me by marriage, albeit distantly, through my Goldschmidt/Gruenewald line and through my Katzenstein/Katz line.

And who knows where else our family lines may have crossed.

In the meantime, Ruth’s grandfather’s tree has provided  clues as to what happened to the descendants of Jette Goldschmidt and David Gruenewald I. I have just connected with one of those descendants and hope to be able to fill out the family tree so that my four-times greataunt Jette Goldschmidt Gruenewald will no longer be relegated to just a footnote.

 

Things People Find on eBay

Back in May 2020, I wrote about Ferdinand Meyer, my third cousin, twice removed, a great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt.

As I described in that post, Ferdinand and his two children, Eleanora and Erich, both left Germany in the 1930s to escape from the Nazis. But Ferdinand’s wife Friedericke Jaenecke Meyer stayed behind and did not leave Germany until the summer of 1941, when she came to the US and settled with Ferdinand in the Boston area.

Friedericke was not born Jewish, and I wondered whether she had stayed behind to protect the family’s assets, assuming that she would be safe (though she faced some persecution in Germany for being married to a Jew or perhaps for converting). I still have no answers to that question.

Nevertheless, I was quite tickled when a blog reader commented that he had found on eBay an envelope for a letter sent by Friedericke to Ferdinand, postmarked January 24, 1941.

As you can see, Friedericke was still living in Frankfurt at the time she sent this letter to Ferdinand, who was living on Beacon Street in Boston.

Unfortunately, there was no letter inside the envelope to reveal what was going on in Friedericke’s life and what her thoughts were about what was happening in Germany. By that time the war was raging across Europe, but the US was still a year away from entering the war. What were Friedericke and Ferdinand feeling and thinking? How was Friedericke able to escape when so many Jews were trapped inside Germany by that time?

And how in the world did this envelope end up on eBay?

Life is just filled with mysteries.

New Year’s Eve 1919-1920 in Frankfurt, Germany

Two weeks ago I said I was taking a break, trying to figure out where to go next with my research and clearing my head. Well, my head is still not clear, and I still am on the fence about what to do next.

But while I was taking that breather, I heard from multiple new cousins as well as new communications from cousins I’d already found. New photos, new stories, new people. These include new DNA matches on my Brotman line, new photos for my Schoenthal line, new photos for my Seligmann line, a new connection from a Seligmann cousin who also appears to be a Goldschmidt cousin, a new Katzenstein cousin, a set of documents sent by a man living in Oberlistingen about the Goldschmidts, and numerous other questions, comments, or requests coming from my blog, Facebook, or email.  I will blog about many of these once I get my arms wrapped around the details.

All of this has given me a shot in the arm (and yes, I now am fully vaccinated against COVID as well) that I sorely needed. It’s so hard to transition from one research project to another, especially after three years. So these smaller, more focused projects are what I need right now. Especially since I also want to spend some time promoting my new book, Santa Fe Love Song.

Today I want to share an amazing photograph that my cousin Greg Rapp sent me. He cannot identify anyone in the photograph, but Greg is a Goldschmidt cousin (a descendant of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt), and the photo was labeled “New Year’s Eve 1919-1920.” Whether or not we can ever identify anyone in the photograph, it is nevertheless worth sharing. It captures German society during the Weimar Republic. The young women smoking cigarettes evoke that era as does the energy, the expressions, and the postures of all the young people in the picture.

If anyone can identify anyone in this photograph, please let me know.