Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss and Her Seven Children, Part I: Three Who Went to America

I have been busy with moving to a new house, but will now return to the Blumenfeld branch of my family tree and to Dusschen Blumenfeld, the fourth child of Isaac Blumenfeld, who was the second child of Moses Blumenfeld I, my four-times great-uncle. As I wrote about here, there were two granddaughters of Moses Blumenfeld I with the name Dusschen Blumenfeld, the other being the daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA. To keep them straight, I am referring to Abraham’s daughter as Dora and Isaac’s daughter as Dusschen, although Isaac’s daughter was also sometimes known as Dora.

Dusschen Blumenfeld was born on December 25, 1848, in Momberg, Germany.

Dusschen Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Neustadt 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628)

She was 21 when she married Isaac Strauss on May 19, 1870, in Amoeneburg.  Isaac was born in Amoeneburg on January 23, 1839, to Samuel Strauss and Jettchen Rosenbaum,1 and he was Dusschen’s first cousin since his father Samuel Strauss and Dusschen’s mother Gelle Strauss were brother and sister.

Marriage record of Isaac Strauss and Dusschen Blumenfeld, Archives of Hesse, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 50, p. 12

Isaac had been previously married.2 His first wife, Bettchen Reis, died on April 17, 1869, in Amoeneburg3 after giving birth to their second child Emanuel, who was born on April 12, 1869, and died two weeks later on April 26, 1869.4 Isaac was left to raise his daughter Jettchen Strauss, who was not yet three years old when her mother and infant brother died. Isaac married Dusschen a year after losing his first wife Bettchen.

Dusschen and Isaac had seven children together, the first five all born in Amoeneburg.

Their first born was Bertha, born on July 20, 1871.

Berta Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Hesse Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49 p 11

Second was Moses, also known as Moritz, born on January 19, 1873.

Moses Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Hesse Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49, p. 11

Then came Kathinka, born December 18, 1874.

Kathinka Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 173, Year Range: 1874, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The fourth child was Hermann, born October 1, 1876.

Hermann Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 175, Year Range: 1876, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Maier, also known as Max, came next; he was born on February 12, 1879.

Maier Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 178, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The sixth child was Rebekka, and she was born in Wetter, Germany, on February 8, 1881, so the family must have relocated from Amoeneburg by that time.

Rebekka Strauss birth record, Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9521, Year Range: 1881, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Finally, the seventh and last child born to Dusschen and Isaac was their son Sali, born May 29, 1885, also in Wetter.

Sali Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9525, Year Range: 1885, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Several of Isaac and Dusschen’s children left for the United States in the late 19th century. Just four years after his youngest sibling Sali’s birth in 1885, the oldest son Moritz left Germany for the United States. He was only sixteen when he arrived in New York City on May 30, 1889.5 On June 7, 1896, Moritz Strauss married Therese Wolff, daughter of Israel Wolff and Sarah Lion, in New York. Therese was also an immigrant from Germany; she was born in Nalbach, Saarland, in 1873.6

Moritz and Therese had two children born in New York. Blanche was born on April 8, 1897.7 In 1900, the family was living in New York City, and Moritz, now known as Morris, was working as a butcher. Their second child Irving was born  on August 24, 1901.8

Morris Strauss 1900 US Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1097; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0340; FHL microfilm: 1241097, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

On August 5, 1904, Morris became a naturalized citizen.9 By 1910, Morris and his family had moved to the Bronx, and Moritz owned his own butcher shop. He must have felt that he had achieved the American dream.

Morris Strauss 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 30, New York, New York; Roll: T624_996; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 1405; FHL microfilm: 1375009
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Then tragedy struck when Irving Strauss, just thirteen years old, died on February 7, 1915. According to his death certificate, Irving died from acute osteomyelitis of the humerus, “cause unknown.” The humerus in the long bone in our arms, and osteomyelitis is inflammation of a bone or bone marrow caused by an infection. Pyemia, or blood poisoning from bacteria, was a contributory cause; my guess is that the infection spread from the blood stream to his bone. Even today such an infection is not a simple one to treat, but it’s much less likely that young Irving would die from it today than in 1915.

Irving Strauss death certificate, Certificate No. 919, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Bronx; Year: 1915

In 1920, the surviving members of the family, Morris, Therese, and Blanche, were living in the Bronx, and Morris was still working as a butcher.10 Blanche, now 22 years old, was working as a teacher in the New York City public schools. Blanche was still living with her parents in the Bronx and teaching in 1930, and her father Morris was still working as a butcher at that time.11

Moritz was not the only child of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss to come to the United States. Moritz’s older sister Bertha also came to New York City.  She married Morris Herz there on January 27, 1901. Morris was born on February 18, 1875, in Bonn, Germany. He was the son of Max Herz and Susanna Weber.12 I don’t know when he or Bertha arrived in New York. Their first child Henrietta was born in New York on November 14, 190113, but their second child, Manfred Edgar Herz, was born on February 18, 1909, in Frankfurt, Germany.14 So Bertha and Moritz must have returned to Germany between the births of their two children, and, as we will see, they remained there until the 1930s.

But the third oldest son of Dusschen and Isaac Strauss, like his brother Moritz, came to the US to stay.  Maier (also spelled Meier or Meyer and later known as Max) Strauss arrived in New York on June 7, 1903. He was 24 and had last been living in London. He was working as a baker when he filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen four years later on November 19, 1907.

Max Meier Strauss declaration of intention, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Vol 021-023 19 Oct-23 Nov 1907 (No 9985-11484), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Max Meier married Augusta Schoenmann in New York on October 7, 1914. Augusta was born in Odenheim, Germany, on June 13, 1888, to Elias Schoenmann and Karolina Mannheimer.15

Meier and Augusta’s first child, Irving, was born February 8, 1917.16 When Meier registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918, he owned his own bakery in New York, and his family was living at the same address as the bakery.

Meier Strauss, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

A second child, Herbert, was born to Meier and Augusta on September 26, 1919, in New York.17 In 1920, the family was still living at the address of the bakery listed on Meier’s draft registration, and Meier was still working as a baker.18 But by 1930, the family had moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Meier, now listed as Max, was still a baker.19

Back in Germany, meanwhile, the rest of the family of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss was also expanding during these years.


  1. Isaac Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49, found at https://arcinsys.hessen.de/arcinsys/digitalisatViewer.action?detailid=v1510942 
  2. Marriage of Isaac Strauss and Bettchen Reis, Trauregister der Juden von Amöneburg 1824-1893 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 50) p.11 
  3. Death record of Bettchen Reis Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse,  HHStAW Fonds 365 No 51, p. 8 
  4. Birth record of Emanuel Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse,HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 49, p. 10; Death record of Emanuel Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 51, p. 8 
  5.  National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: US District Court for the Eastern District of New York (058-059), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  6. Moritz Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 7 Jun 1896, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Therese Wolff, Certificate Number: 9594, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937; “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997Z-4HVD : 21 June 2022), Entry for Moritz Strauss and Theresa Wolff, 1896. 
  7. Blanche Strauss, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 8 Apr 1897, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 17565
    Father: Moritz Strauss, Mother: Theresa Strauss, Mother Maiden Name: Wolf, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Birth Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1897, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909 
  8. Irving Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 24 Aug 1901, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, New York, USA, Residence Address: E. 10 Str 364, Certificate Number: 33487, Father: Maurice Strauss, Mother: Theresa Strauss
    Mother Maiden Name: Wolff, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Birth Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1901, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909 
  9. Moritz Strauss, Petition Age: 31, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 19 Jan 1873, Birth Place: Germany, Arrival Date: 30 May 1889, Arrival Place: New York, New York
    Petition Date: 5 Aug 1904, Petition Place: Kings, New York, USA, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  10. Morris Strauss, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 5, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1137; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 286, Enumeration District: 0286; Description: Bronx, Assembly District 5, Tract 121 (part) bounded by Westchester Ave, Whitlock Ave, E 165th, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. Morris Strauss, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0625; FHL microfilm: 2341222; Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997C-9L4Q : 21 June 2022), Entry for Morris Herz and Bertha Strauss, 1901. 
  13. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:9979-QK94 : 11 February 2018), Entry for Henrietta Hertz, 14 Nov 1901; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 44441 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,983,411. 
  14. Manfred Edgar Herz, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 18 Feb 1909, Birth Place: Frankfurt Am Main, Germany, Arrival Date: 28 Jul 1939, Arrival Place: New York NY, Naturalization Place: Tennessee, USA, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.c.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992 
  15. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997C-CG23 : 21 June 2022), Entry for Meier Strauss and Auguste Schoemann, 1914. Mrs Augusta Strauss
    Gender: Female, Age: 35, Birth Date: 13 Jun 1888, Birth Place: Odenbeim Bei Bruchal, Baden, Germany, Residence Place: New York, Passport Issue Date: 21 Mar 1924
    Spouse: Max Strauss, Has Photo: Yes, Certificate Number: 381929, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2449; Volume #: Roll 2449 – Certificates: 381850-382349, 21 Mar 1924-22 Mar 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  16. Irvin Strauss, Race: White, Age: 23, Relationship to Draftee: Self (Head). Birth Date: 8 Feb 1917. Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA. Residence Place: Washington, District of Columbia, USA, Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: Washington, District of Columbia, USA,Next of Kin: Max Strauss, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 221, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  17. Herbert Milton Strauss, Race: White, Age: 21, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1919, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: New York City, Bronx, New York, Next of Kin: Augusta Strauss, 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, ncestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  18. Meier Strauss and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 957, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  19. Max Strauss and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Hoboken, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0262; FHL microfilm: 2341084,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 

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. 

Finding Max Blumenfeld, Part III: Finding His Grandsons

Although my cousin Richard and I had learned that Max Blumenfeld died in Merano, Italy, in 1936, we still didn’t know where and when his wife Anna died. We had some hints, but nothing definite. Her son Fritz’s marriage record in 1940 seemed to suggest she was still living in Italy. But her daughter Edith’s failure to list her mother on the 1946 ship manifest as her nearest relative in Italy, the place Edith had last resided, seemed to indicate that either Anna had died by then or had left Italy.

We were hoping that one of Max and Anna’s grandchildren might know the answers, and so I turned to locating those grandchildren. We knew that Max and Anna’s daughter Edith had two children with her husband Joseph Bermann, so I started to search for them. They all appear together on the 1950 US census, living in New York City. Joseph was practicing medicine, and Edith was working as a secretary for a general export business. Their two children Margherita (spelled Margaret on the census) and Max were 14 and 12.1 As of 1958, Edith and Joseph were still living in New York City.

Joseph Bermann, passenger manifest, The National Archives At Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Manifests of Airplanes Arriving At San Juan, Puerto Rico; NAI Number: A3534; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Puerto Rico, U.S, Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1901-1962

According to FindAGrave, Joseph died on May 1, 1966; he was 68.2 Edith died two years later on August 12, 1968. She was only 61.3 They were both buried in Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. They were survived by their two children. Their daughter Margherita died on August 21, 2008;4 she was 72. Max, however, was as best I could tell, still living.

After using Google and other online tools, I finally located what I assumed was Max Bermann’s Facebook page. I noticed that he had a Facebook friend named Omri Bar Sadeh. You may recall that Hermann Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s older brother, had a son Hans who had changed his name to Hanan Bar Sadeh after immigrating to Israel/Palestine. I used the Google Translate tool and learned that “sadeh” means a cultivated field. So Bar Sadeh means son of a cultivated field. Since Blumenfeld translated from German as field of flowers, it made sense that Hanan had adopted a name that meant he was the son of a cultivated field, or a field of flowers, or a “Blumenfeld.”

So when I saw that Max Bermann had a Facebook friend with the surname Bar Sadeh, I assumed that this other person must be a descendant of Edith’s first cousin, Hanan Bar Sadeh. But David Lesser had reported that Hanan had no children, so I was not certain. Was it just a coincidence that Edith’s son Max had a friend with that surname? Or was this Facebook friend one of his cousins?

On Omri Bar Sadeh’s Facebook page, there was a video in Hebrew. I could not understand it, but I could translate the comment that had been included with the post, and it indicated that the video was about Omri Bar Sadeh’s brother Gideon Bar Sadeh. When I googled that name, I found this page:

Bar-Sadeh, Gideon

Son of Moses HaKohen and Devorah. He was born in Ein Harod on June 16, 1942, and completed his twelfth grade at the Kibbutz Ha-Meuchad School there. He had a penchant for drawing and found talent in his paintings. He would decorate his notebooks and make handsome posters and posters. He was quiet and humble in his ways. Was an animal breeder and loved them. Was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in October 1960. On October 18, 1962, he fell in the line of duty and was brought to eternal rest in Ein Harod.

I knew that Edith Blumenfeld Bermann had listed her brother Fritz on her ship manifest in 1946 indicating that he was residing in “En Charod,” Palestine. Could Gideon have been Fritz’s son, I wondered? Fritz had married a woman named Devorah so that fit the puzzle. But then why did it say Gideon’s father was named Moses?

Then I remembered seeing on the IGRA website that in 1942 Fritz Blumenfeld, residing in En Harod, had been identified as “Moshe (Fritz) Blumenfeld, son of Max.” And given that Max’s father’s name had been Moses, it made sense that Fritz’s Hebrew name was Moshe and that he was named for his grandfather and adopted that name as his primary name in Israel.

Record located on the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

With that additional insight, I realized that I had found the family of Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld and that Fritz, like his cousin Hanan, had changed his surname from Blumenfeld to Bar Sadeh for the same reasons. Just to be sure, I asked David Lesser if he would watch the video posted on Facebook about Gideon, and he confirmed that the video says that Gideon’s parents were Fritz and Devorah.

I sent messages to both of the surviving grandsons of Max and Anna (Grunwald) Blumenfeld, hoping that I would eventually learn what happened to Anna and the rest of the story of their family. Much to my delight, I heard from both of them.

Max Bermann, Edith’s son, was born in Merano, Italy, where his father Giuseppe (later Joseph) Bermann was born. That’s where the family was living (along with Anna) after Joseph left for the US in 1939. Although the family was originally supposed to follow once Joseph was settled, the war intervened, and they could not leave Italy. Max was just a toddler at the time. His grandmother Anna became the primary caregiver for his sister and him because their mother Edith was often away. Max later learned from his sister that Edith was acting as a courier for the partisans during the war.

Max shared with me this photograph of Merano, where he and his father were born, as well as this photograph of his father and his father’s father, Max Bermann, both of whom were doctors at the Waldpark Sanitorium in Merano. The elder Max Bermann is the man with the long black beard and his son Joseph/Giuseppe Bermann, the younger doctor in the white coat, is standing next to him.

Dr Max Bermann and his son Dr Joseph Bermann in Waldpark Sanitorium, Merano, Italy. Courtesy of the family

When the war ended, Edith brought her children to the US, but Anna went to live with her son Fritz and his family in Ein Harod in Palestine. Neither Omri nor Max knew exactly when Anna immigrated, but as I was doing some of the final edits for this post, Richard emailed me with new information he’d found online—a database of information about the Jews of Merano.

There was an entry for Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld that reported that “Anna Grünwald-Blumenfeld came from Berlin and lived in Merano since 23.4.1936. On 22.8.1938 she was recorded in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities as permanently resident in Merano. On 13.2.1939 her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. On 1.4.1939 she fled to an unknown place, according to the registration office of the municipality of Merano. Later, April 1939 is given as the date of the flight abroad.”5 Thus, it would appear from this record that Anna left Merano for Palestine in April, 1939.

But as noted by Max and by my reader Teresa, this cannot be accurate. Max knows that his grandmother did not leave in 1939 because she cared for him during the war years. It appears more likely that these Merano records are inaccurate and that Anna was in Italy at least until the end of the war.

Now that I knew that Anna had survived the war and had immigrated to Palestine, I searched again on the Israel Genealogical Research Association website and found this record:

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld died on September 7, 1946, in Ein Harod; she was only 61 years old. She had survived the move from Germany to Italy, the loss of her husband Max in 1936, World War II, and then a move from Italy to Palestine. She was survived by her daughter Edith and her family and her son Fritz and his family.

Anna and Max Blumenfeld’s grandson Max Bermann shared these lovely photographs of his family. First, some photographs of Anna and Max:

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld and Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

This photograph is of Max and Anna’s children Fritz and Edith as well as, on the right, Fritz’s wife Dora Salpeter Blumenfeld.

Fritz Blumenfeld, Edith Blumenfeld Bermann, and Dora Salpeter Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

And this final photograph from Max shows him and his sister Margherita with a soldier they met when they visited Palestine (now Israel) with their mother after the war.

Margherita and Max Bermann in Italy shortly after the end of World War II with a soldier from Palestine. Courtesy of the family

Omri also shared some photographs, including this one of his grandmother Anna’s gravestone.

Anna Blumenfeld, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

In addition, he shared photographs of the gravestones of his parents Fritz (Moshe) and Dora/Devorah and his two brothers Gideon and Hillel.

Gideon, as we saw, died fighting for Israel on October 18, 1962.

Gideon Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

Omri’s father Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh died December 12, 1977 in Ein Harod; he was 67. Devorah Salpeter Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh, outlived her husband by almost 23 years and died at 92 on November 27, 2000, in Ein Harod.

Dora and Fritz Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

Fritz and Devorah’s middle child, their son Hillel, died from cancer on December 30, 1996, in Ein Harod. He was only 50 and left behind a wife and four children.

Hillel Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

I am so grateful to my fifth cousins Max and Omri for sharing their family’s stories and their own stories and their photographs with me and allowing me to share them with you. I now have answers to all the questions I had when I first started searching for what happened to Max Blumenfeld after he married Anna Grunwald in 1906, thanks to the incredible help of Richard Bloomfield, David Lesser, Max Bermann, and Omri Bar Sadeh.


  1. Joseph Bermann family, 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: 5665; Sheet Number: 72; Enumeration District: 31-675, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  2. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690239/joseph-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Joseph Bermann (unknown–1 May 1966), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690239, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690238/edith-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Edith Bermann (unknown–12 Aug 1968), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690238, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  4.  Margherita M. Bermann, Social Security Number: 085-30-0023, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1935, Issue Year: 1954-1956, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 12550, Newburgh, Orange, New York, Death Date: 21 Aug 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5.  There were also entries for Max and for their two children Fritz and Edith. Max’s entry confirmed that he died on March 7, 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Merano. Edith’s entry reported that she had “married Josef Bermann on January 30, 1935. After a stay in London in the spring of 1935, she lived in Merano from April 8, 1935. On August 22, 1938, Edith Bermann was included in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities. On February 13, 1939, her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. Edith Bermann, who stayed in Milan again and again, fled to Milan.” Fritz’s entry in the Merano Jewish database reported that he “had lived in Merano since October 3, 1936, where his sister was married to the doctor Josef Bermann. On August 22, 1938, Fritz Blumenfeld was recorded by the fascist authorities as permanently residing in Merano in the census of “Jews” living in Italy. According to the registration office of the municipality of Merano, Fritz Blumenfeld fled to Palestine on May 15, 1939.” 

The Search for Max Blumenfeld, Part II: Finding His Daughter Edith

There were several questions that remained unanswered even after Richard and I learned that Max Blumenfeld had died in Merano, Italy, on May 8, 1936. What happened to his wife Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld after he died? Did Max and Anna have any children other than their son Fritz? And are there living descendants of Max and Anna? With continued research, Richard and I, along with additional help from David Lesser from Tracing the Tribe, were able to find some answers to these questions.

First, Richard saw on MyHeritage that Max and Anna did have another child, a daughter Edith. According to that page, Edith was born on February 16, 1907, in Graudenz, Germany. There was even a birth announcement attached to her profile on this MyHeritage page. 

That tree on MyHeritage also had an announcement for Max and Anna’s engagement in 1905.1

Now that we knew there was a daughter born to Max and Anna, I started to look for information about Edith. Although I could not locate a birth record, based on the dates given on MyHeritage and the birth announcement, I was able to narrow down the search. I also knew from the MyHeritage profile that Edith was reportedly married to a doctor named Joseph Berman and had two children.

With that information to get my research started, I soon located numerous documents that appeared to be related to Edith Blumenfeld, daughter of Max and Anna. Putting together what I’d found in chronological order, Edith at 22 sailed from Hamburg to Antwerp on August 9, 1929. I assume that this was a pleasure trip, not an immigration move.

Edith Blumenfeld, 1929 passenger manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 370; Page: 1843; Microfilm No.: K_1977, Month: Band 370 (Aug 1929 – Sep 1929), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

According to the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 index on Ancestry, Edith married Giuseppe Bermann in the first quarter of 1935 in England. Richard, however, found a wedding announcement in the February 13, 1935 issue of the Alpenzeitung that indicates that they married on February 3, 1935, in Berlin. We are not sure whether there were two weddings or whether there is some other explanation for the inconsistency.2

Edith next turned up as Edith Bermann on a ship manifest sailing with her two children from Naples, Italy, to New York, arriving on February 20, 1946. She reported her last residence had been Naples, Italy. How did I know this was the right Edith? Because she named her brother Fritz Blumenfeld living in “En Charod, Palestine” as the person she left behind and her husband Joseph Bermann as the person she was going to in New York, where he was residing at 752 West End Avenue. In addition, she was 39 years old in 1946, meaning she was born in about 1907, and her birth place was given as “Grundzias” in Poland. Since Graudenz was located in a region that was given to Poland after the war, these additional facts convinced me that this was Edith Blumenfeld.

Edith Berman and children, 1946 ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 34, Ship or Roll Number: Gripsholm, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The manifest form asked for the name and address of the “nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came, or if none there, then in country of which alien is a citizen or subject.” The fact that Edith gave the name of her brother Fritz who was living in Palestine at that time raised a few questions for me. If Edith was last living in Milan, Italy, why would she name a relative living in Palestine?

Second page of manifest seen above.

To me that suggested that her mother Anna was no longer living in Italy or Edith would have named her, given that Edith’s last residence was Italy. Whether or not Anna was deceased or living elsewhere is not known. Secondly, Edith listed her nationality as Italian on the manifest, not as a “citizen or subject of Palestine,” yet she listed Fritz in Palestine, who was neither in the place she last lived or in the place where she was a citizen. Did the authorities simply allow her to list Fritz because he was the only relative or friend she could name even though he was not in Italy? I don’t know.

Since Joseph apparently had arrived in New York before his wife Edith and their two children, I looked and located a ship manifest for his immigration to the US. I found him on a manifest for a ship sailing from Genoa, Italy, to New York, arriving on November 17, 1939, five and a half years before Edith and the children arrived and a month and a half after World War II started. He sailed as Giuseppe Bermann and gave his birthplace and last residence as Merano, Italy, and his occupation as “medical.” Interestingly, his passport had been issued in September, 1939, from Jerusalem. Although I searched both the Israel State Archives and the IGRA website, I could not find any record establishing that Joseph or Edith ever was in Palestine before 1946.

Giuseppe Bermann, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 63, Ship or Roll Number: Saturnia, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Joseph settled in New York City, and in 1940 he filed a Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen, listing his family back in Italy and noting that they were now living in Milan. From this document I also learned that Joseph and Edith were married in London, England, on January 31, 1935, as also confirmed by the entry in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 on Ancestry.3 I wonder when they arrived and for how long they lived in England.

Joseph Bermann, Declaration of Intention, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 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, Description: (Roll 579) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 453801-454600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

In 1942, Joseph registered for the World War II draft. He was living at 121 West 77th Street and practicing medicine. He listed his mother Caroline Ullmann Bermann as his contact person.

Joseph Bermann, 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

And then finally in February, 1946, he was reunited with his family. Joseph had left Edith and two very young children in Italy in November, 1939, probably assuming they would be able to follow him in the reasonably foreseeable future. Instead, the war intervened, and they were separated for five and a half years. Joseph missed all those years when his children were young, and Edith had to raise them alone for all that time. It must have been a joyous reunion when Edith and the children finally arrived in February, 1946.

Of course, there were more questions. How did Edith and the children stay safe during the war? Italy was after all an ally of Germany in World War II. The US Holocaust Museum has this information on its website about the fate of Jews in Italy during World War II.

Despite its alliance with Germany, the Fascist regime responded equivocally to German demands first to concentrate and then to deport Jews residing in Italian occupation zones in Yugoslavia, Greece, and France to killing centers in the German-occupied Poland. Italian military authorities generally refused to participate in mass murder of Jews or to permit deportations from Italy or Italian-occupied territory; and the Fascist leadership was both unable and unwilling to force the issue.

Italian-occupied areas were therefore relatively safe for Jews. Between 1941 and 1943, thousands of Jews escaped from German-occupied territory to the Italian-occupied zones of France, Greece, and Yugoslavia. The Italian authorities even evacuated some 4,000 Jewish refugees to the Italian mainland. Incarcerated in southern Italy, these Jewish refugees survived the war.

But that situation changed for the worse after there was a vote of no-confidence in Mussolini after many military defeats in North Africa, and the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel III, removed Mussolini as prime minister and named Pietro Badoglio to replace him. Badoglio negotiated a secret surrender to the Allies on September 8, 1943. At that point Germany took action.

The Germans, who had grown suspicious of Italian intentions, quickly occupied northern and central Italy. ….The German occupation of Italy radically altered the situation for the remaining 43,000 Italian Jews living in the northern half of the country. The Germans quickly established an SS and police apparatus, in part to deport the Italian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In October and November 1943, German authorities rounded up Jews in Rome, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Trieste, and other major cities in northern Italy. ….In general, these operations had limited success, due in part to advance warning given to the Jews by Italian authorities and the Vatican, and in part to the unwillingness of many non-Jewish Italians…to participate in or facilitate the roundups.

Germany ended up deporting almost 9000 Jews to the concentration camps, and over a thousand survived. All in all, 40,000 Jews in Italy survived the Holocaust. Was Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld one of them? I still didn’t know.

But her two children survived, Fritz in Palestine, which soon became Israel, and Edith in the US. More on them and their children in my next post. And the answers to my questions about Anna.

Stay tuned.

 


  1. That announcement confused me since it says Anna’s parents were J. Grunwald and Rosa Israel, and I had from her birth record that their names were Isidor Grunwald and Nanny Braun. But Richard found a passage in Inge Lassel’s book about the Jewish orphanage in Pankow, Berlin, that explained the discrepancy; it revealed that Isidor’s first wife Nanny had died in 1903 and that he had then married Rosa Israel. Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001), p. 24. 
  2.  General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 861, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. 
  3. Giuseppe Bermann, Registration Date: Jan 1935, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Edith N Blumenfeld, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 861, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 861, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 

The Search for Max Blumenfeld: It Took A Village, Part I

The search for what happened to Max Blumenfeld, son of Moses IIB, was not an easy one. It was a lesson in persistence and in the value of working with other researchers. My cousin Richard Bloomfield contributed a great deal to the research of the life of Max Blumenfeld as did David Lesser, my new research friend from Tracing the Tribe.

Finding Max’s birth and marriage records was easy. As I’ve already written, he was born in Kirchhain on June 13, 1880, and married Johanna Grunwald in Berlin on March 16, 1906.

But finding out what happened next was not as easy. Did they have children? Did Max and Johanna survive the Holocaust? Neither was listed in Yad Vashem, so I felt hopeful that they did. But I couldn’t find them anywhere else either. There were no records in the Arolsen Archives. There were no US immigration records or other records placing them in the US. There were no Palestinian immigration records for them either. Where else could they have gone? Did they die before the Nazi era? If so, I couldn’t find any German death records.

When I looked at other trees on Ancestry and at Geni and MyHeritage, there were similar holes in the information for Max and Johanna—-there was nothing after their marriage in 1906. I only found one tree that had more information, and fortunately for me, it was the tree of my fifth cousin and fellow researcher Richard Bloomfield. According to Richard’s tree, Max had emigrated to Italy in 1933 and died there, Johanna had died in Israel sometime after 1947, and they had a son named Fritz who died in about 1977 in Israel.

I contacted Richard to ask where he’d gotten the information, and he said he’d gotten the information from someone else’s tree. So he and I began to see if we could verify any of that information.

Richard noted that on Max’s marriage record his occupation was given as “Waisenhausinspektor” or orphanage inspector and that he was living in Graudenz at the time of his marriage. But since Max and Johanna were married in Berlin, Richard had a hunch that Max had become the Waisenhausdirektor for the Jewish orphanage in Berlin and decided to search old Berlin directories. He found Max listed as the Waisenhausdirektor in those directories for a number of years, including 1934, 1935, and 1936. Thus, we knew that Max had not immigrated to Italy in 1933, but was still in Berlin at least until the 1936 directory was compiled.1

Max Blumenfeld, Title: Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für Berlin und Umgegend, 1936, Ancestry.com. German Phone Directories, 1915-1981

On a very recent trip to Berlin, Richard took and shared these photos of the building where the Judische Waisenhaus once stood.

Judische Waisenhause building in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Richard and I then started to see if we could find any evidence of Fritz Blumenfeld, the supposed son of Max and Johanna. Richard located a record on the IGRA website that indicated that a Fritz Blumenfeld, son of Max, born in 1910,was registered as a voter in Palestine in 1939 and living in En Harod.

Found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/index.php

Then I located a Fritz Blumenfeld who had Palestine immigration papers at the Israel Archives website. Fritz was born in Graudenz, Germany, on July 13, 1910, the same town where Max had been living when he married Johanna in 1906. He was married to Dora Salpeter and working as a locksmith. He had first entered Palestine on June 28, 1937.

Fritz Blumenfeld and Dora Salpeter immigration file found at Israel State Archives at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Richard found directories for Graudenz that listed Max as a teacher there in 1905, as a teacher and orphanage inspector in 1907, and as the Waisenhausinspektor there in 1909, 1911, and 1913. Thus, Max and Johanna were living in Graudenz when Fritz Blumenfeld was born. This certainly seemed to be their son.2

And then I found the record that definitely tied Fritz to Max and Johanna. Returning to the IGRA website, I located Fritz Blumenfeld’s marriage record. Fritz married Devorah on August 15, 1940, in Israel, and his marriage record indicated that he was a locksmith, which was consistent with his Palestinian citizenship application. On those Palestinian immigration papers, I learned that Devorah’s name was originally Dora Salpeter.

Most importantly, Fritz’s parents were listed as Max and Hanna, confirming for me that this was the son of Max Blumenfeld and (Jo)hanna Grunwald. Since it appears that Johanna was better known as Hanna or Anna, I will use the name Anna to refer to her going forward.

That marriage record gave me two other critical pieces of information. It said the groom’s parents lived in Italy—although it took help from Tracing the Tribe for me to learn that the Hebrew I was reading as Atelah was in fact Italia in Hebrew. The marriage record also indicated that Anna was at home, but Max was deceased. Thus, we now knew that Max had died sometime before Fritz married on August 15, 1940, and presumably had died in Italy.

Fritz Blumenfeld marriage record, found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

I didn’t think we would get any further than that since I had no idea how to research deaths in Italy. But once again Richard came to the rescue. He found two more sources. One was a German book, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001) by Inge Lammel, about the Jewish orphanage in Berlin where Max had been the Waisenhausdirektor. Lammel’s book included this passage, as translated by Richard:3

When Isidor Grunwald [Johanna’s father] died in February 1925, his son-in-law, Max Blumenfeld, took over the directorship of the house. Martin Davidsohn [long-time teacher at the Second Jewish Orphanage] says that he brought a more liberal spirit into the educational process, democratic structures, such as an opportunity to utter grievances and a trainees’ adjudicatory council elected by secret ballot, which gave the trainees more self-confidence.

Richard paraphrased the information about Isidor Grunwald that he found in the book:4

Max’s father-in-law had been an officer in the army and carried the army’s manner of doing things over into his work at the orphanage. He patrolled the large dormitory hall carrying his ring of large keys to enforce discipline. He had the boys line up each night in front of his apartment in the house according to height, shook their hands and wished them good night. In addition to physical education, he had the boys do drills led by a drill sergeant and sometimes accompanied by flute and drum music

Here is a photo from the book showing Max standing with some of the children and staff at the orphanage in about 1933; he is the man in the dark suit in the foreground.

From Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow, 2001

In addition to obtaining a copy of this book, Richard also located Max’s obituary, which not only provided us with the date and place of Max’s death (March 8, 1936, in Merano, Italy), but also more information about his life:

“Max Blumenfeld,” Gemeindeblatt der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, March 15, 1936, page 7

Richard translated the obituary as follows:5

Last Sunday the director of the Second Orphanage of the Jewish Congregation in Berlin, Max Blumenfeld, died in Merano [Italy] where he was taking time for rest and recreation. Blumenfeld died young at the age of 56. He was originally a teacher whose excellent teaching abilities drew the attention of leading personalities, and when his father-in-law [Isidor Grunwald] died about ten years ago, Max Blumenfeld became his successor as director of the Jewish Orphanage in Pankow. Blumenfeld dedicated himself to the traditional task of the institution of training its students as craftsmen. Blumenfeld demonstrated a personal interest in each of the youth in his care, each of them could recon with his support and encouragement. He combined with kindness and friendliness decisiveness and consistence in the execution of his task.

These two documents discovered by Richard Bloomfield have given us a much fuller picture of our cousin Max Blumenfeld. He certainly left his mark and obviously was a kind and generous person.

Unfortunately, the obituary did not include information about his survivors. Was Fritz their only child? Did Johanna stay in Italy, as their son Fritz’s 1940 marriage certificate suggests? Did she return to Berlin? Immigrate to Palestine?

Well, the story of Max Blumenfeld doesn’t end here nor does the story of the collaboration it took to find the rest of that story.

More to come.


  1. Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für Berlin und Umgebun, 1934, 1935, 1936.  Ancestry.com. The one depicted I found on Ancestry for 1935. 
  2. I have tried to recreate Richard’s search through the Graudenz directories. He sent me to the GenWiki website section for directories, and although I found the Graudenz directories, I still need more lessons in how to search through those directories to find Max. 
  3. Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001), p. 50. 
  4. Ibid, p. 48, as paraphrased by Richard Bloomfield, attachment to email May 1, 2022. 
  5. “Max Blumenfeld,” Gemeindeblatt der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin, March 15, 1936, page 7. 

Salomon Blumenfeld: An Entire Blumenfeld Family Who Survived the Holocaust

Moses IIB’s third child Salomon Blumenfeld and his wife Malchen Levi and their three daughters all left Germany in time and avoided being killed by the Nazis and thus were much more fortunate than Salomon’s siblings, Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine, and their families.

In fact, Salomon’s middle daughter Hilde left Germany even before Hitler came to power. In May 1929, when she was only seventeen, Hilde sailed from Hamburg to New York, listing an uncle, her mother’s brother Salli Levi, as the person she was going to and her occupation as a clerk.

Hilde Blumenfeld 1929 ship manifest, Year: 1929; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 2; Page Number: 42, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

When she filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on June 2, 1931, she was living in New York City and listed her occupation as a German-English stenographer.

HIlde Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 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

But Hilde apparently never became a US citizen and did not remain in the US. Sometime before March 1934, she married Ludwig Felix Meinrath, and together they immigrated to Brazil. Ludwig was born in Cologne, Germany, in 1902, and immigrated with his parents Leopold and Anni and siblings to Antwerp, Belgium sometime before 1916.1 I don’t know whether they stayed in Belgium or where and when Ludwig and Hilde were married. But in 1934 they left for Brazil where they remained. They had at least one child, who was born in the 1930s.

Ludwig and Hilde Meinrath 1934 ship to Rio de Janeiro, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 424; Page: 385; Microfilm No.: K_2003, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Hilde’s parents Salomon and Amalie/Malchen followed her to Brazil several years later. They arrived on March 29, 1939. Salomon listed his occupation as “comerciante” or merchant.

Salomon Blumenfeld, Digital GS Number: 004909061, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Amalie Blumenfeld, Digital GS Number: 004913595, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Meanwhile, Hilde’s older sister Gretel had married David Katz on January 24, 1930, in Kirchhain; David was the son of Mendel Katz and Jettchen Levi and was born in Nenterhausen, Germany, on February 11, 1897.

Marriage record of Gretel Blumenfeld and David Katz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5058, Year Range: 1930, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

This remarkable photograph, which had a long caption labeling all those in it, was found on several Ancestry trees as well as on Geni. It was taken at Gretel and David’s wedding and shows many members of the two families. Of particular interest to my research, the middle row shows Salomon Blumenfeld on the far left next to David’s mother Jettchen, then the bride Gretel and groom David, then Gretel’s mother Amalie and at far right David’s father Mendel. In the bottom row, Salomon and Amalie’s daughter Jenny is seated second from the left, and Lilli Abraham, Salomon’s niece, is seated fourth from the left.2

Wedding of Gretel Blumenfeld and David Katz Source: Unknown

Gretel and David had one child born in 1931. They all immigrated to the US on August 18, 1939. David listed his occupation as teacher.

Katz family, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 19, Ship or Roll Number: Hamburg, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

In 1940 they were living in New York City with several lodgers, and David was working as a schoolteacher.3

In August 1946, Gretel’s parents Salomon and Amalie sailed from Brazil to New York, Salomon arriving on August 14 and Amalie on August 29. Salomon’s entry on his manifest indicates that he was going to his daughter Gretel in New York and that he intended to stay permanently. It also indicated that he needed cataract surgery and had other medical issues.4 Amalie’s manifest similarly reported that she was going to Gretel, intended to stay permanently, and had a medical issue.5

Many trees report that the other daughter of Salomon and Amalie, 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. But something doesn’t add up.

I found the birth record for Siegmund.

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

But I also found (after some searching because Ancestry had them indexed to the wrong image) a Siegmund Warburg with a different wife, Ilse, and two children, Gabriel and Thomas, sailing from Hamburg to New York on August 31, 1933. Was this a different Siegmund Warburg, also born in 1896 (37 years old) and having last lived in Berlin? Entirely possible.

Warburg family, ship manifest, Month: Band 417 (Aug 1933), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Yet I cannot find any record attaching Jenny Blumenfeld to a man named Siegmund Warburg. The only references I could find (other than the unsourced trees) was a Shoah Foundation interview with Jenny’s sister Hilde that lists a “Geny Varbuk” as her sister.6 I requested access to the interview, hoping this would answer my questions, but alas, it was in Portuguese, and I can’t understand it. I am hoping I can get a transcript and translate it, but I don’t know if that exists. Also, Richard Bloomfield found Jenny’s gravestone on Billiongraves, and it has her name (in Hebrew) as Jenny 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

But when I searched on Billiongraves at that same cemetery, I could not find anyone named Siegmund Warburg. That, of course, doesn’t mean anything since Billiongraves doesn’t include everyone, but it also doesn’t help connect Jenny to Siegmund.

Perhaps Jenny was Siegmund’s second wife, but then she didn’t marry him in July 1933. Or maybe she married someone else named Siegmund Warburg and not the one married to Ilse. I don’t know, and I am still searching for answers. Maybe someone who knows Portuguese will listen to the Shoah Foundation testimony and hear Jenny’s sister talk about Jenny’s marriage and fill me in.

In any event, Salomon Blumenfeld’s entire family escaped Germany in time and were not killed by the Nazis, unlike Salomon’s siblings Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine.

The story of the remaining child of Moses Blumenfeld IIB, Max, was harder to uncover and will be discussed in my next series of posts.


  1. Louis Felix Meinrath, Birth Date: 1902, Birth Place: Keulen, Immigration Date: 1901-1915, Immigration Place: Antwerpen, Belgium, File Number: 119901, Page: 438
    FHL Film Number: 2234442, Ancestry.com. Belgium, Antwerp Police Immigration Index, 1840-1930 
  2. The photograph may have first appeared on Geni on the profile of David Katz. I have written to the manager of that profile to ask for the photo’s source, but have not heard back. 
  3. Katz family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02675; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 31-2085, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G94V-SWMS?cc=1923888&wc=MFK4-H6D%3A1030138201 : 2 October 2015), 7158 – vol 15390-15391, Aug 14, 1946 > image 1317 of 1489; citing NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). 
  5. Malchen Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 12; Page Number: 63, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Interview with Hilde Meinrath, USC Shoah Foundation; Los Angeles, California; Visual History Archive: The Holocaust, Free Access: USC Shoah Foundation, Holocaust – Jewish Survivor Interviews 

At a Crossroads: The Future of My Blog

I am at a crossroads.

I have been thinking a lot about the future of my blog lately because I am feeling a bit blocked, a bit overwhelmed. Some of my sense of being blocked comes from the fact that too much of what I have been researching recently is overwhelmingly sad. So many of the families I am now focused on were killed in the Holocaust. Each time I need to search Yad Vashem to find out what happened to some cousin, it takes something out of me. Even though these are all very distant relatives, each name is real. I feel compelled to tell their stories, but it does have a real impact on me.

Yet how dare I complain, given what so many of them experienced? I know how important it is to tell these stories and to remember what happened and to honor all of them and their lives. But it is truly wearing me down.

For almost nine years, writing this blog has been a true labor of love for me, and it’s given me the opportunity to do numerous things I love to do: research, writing, connecting with friends and family members, and connecting with fellow family historians and genealogy bloggers. I still love the research, and I still love the writing. I still love connecting with others who are interested in what I write.

But for the first time since I started blogging in 2013, I am having a hard time finishing the posts I’ve already researched and written—that is, doing the technical work where I add all the footnotes and images before hitting publish. It is very time-consuming and frankly boring.

Also, I have noticed a substantial drop in the number of people blogging about genealogy. People who used to post frequently and regularly have either stopped posting completely or are posting very infrequently. The community of genealogy bloggers has become smaller and smaller, and that is a loss for me. I enjoy reading about the work of others almost as much as I enjoy having them read about mine. And if others have lost interest in their own research, it makes sense that they will have less interest in my research also.

But I am not going away or stopping. I started the Blumenfeld branch of my tree back in August 2021, starting with my 4th great uncle Moses Blumenfeld, brother of my three-times great-grandmother Breine Blumenfeld Katzenstein. Breine had five siblings, so there are four more to do after Moses. And Moses had three children, and I am only on his second child, Isaak. And Isaak had ten children, and I am only up to Isaak’s son Moses IIB, the fourth of those ten.

So there is still so, so much to do on the Blumenfeld family. I will complete the Blumenfeld family story no matter how long it takes. I’ve made some wonderful connections recently, and I want to share those on the blog. That’s the most rewarding part of this whole endeavor.

But to help me balance all that is going on and give me a break from the constant pace of preparing posts, I’ve decided to cut back to posting about once a week instead of twice a week.

What about you, fellow bloggers? Are you feeling some burn out? How do you stay motivated?

Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham’s Family: Her Sons Escaped; She, Her Husband, Daughter, Son-in-Law, and Grandson Did Not

I have returned from my break, and unfortunately, I have another sad post to publish about my third cousin, twice removed, Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham. Clementine was the youngest child of Moses Blumenfeld IIB, and like her siblings Hermann and Bertha, she and much of her family were killed in the Holocaust.

Clementine’s daughter Lilli married Leon Gerstenhaber sometime before June 23, 1937, when their son David was born in Metz, France.1 Leon was also born in Metz, France; he was born to Simon Gerstenhaber and Dinah Beiser on November 31, 1901.2

Martin Abraham, Clementine’s older son, traveled from Germany to France in 1932, perhaps to visit his sister Lilli, and then in the spring of 1936, he immigrated to Palestine. The documents below including his German passport are from his Palestinian immigration file found at the Israel State Archives. Martin married Corinne Bloch, who was born in Trimbach, France, on May 13, 1912. She immigrated to Palestine in 1938, and they had one child together born in the 1940s.

 

Martin’s brother Walter also immigrated to Palestine, arriving just a couple of months after Martin on July 24, 1936, as seen in these documents from the Israel State Archives.

Unfortunately, Clementine, her husband Richard Abraham, their daughter Lilli, and her husband Leon and their son David did not follow Martin and Walter to Palestine. They were all killed at Auschwitz. Richard was deported from the Drancy concentration camp to Auschwitz on Transport 40 on November 4, 1942. Clementine was also deported from the Drancy Camp to Auschwitz on Transport 62 on November 20, 1943. Lilli and her family were also sent from the Drancy concentration camp in France to Auschwitz on January 20, 1944 on Transport 66.

Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=612790&ind=2

Richard Abraham Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=612794&ind=2

Lilli Abraham Gerstenhaber Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1949660&ind=2

Leon Gerstenhaber Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=13857240&ind=1

David Gerstenhaber, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1390876&ind=2

Thus, three of Moses IIB’s five surviving children—Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine—and most of their children and grandchildren were killed by the Nazis. I am totally drained by telling their stories and reading these Pages of Testimony. I am also so grateful that Israel exists to provide a sanctuary for those who escaped.

The remaining two children of Moses IIB and Sara Blumenfeld, Salomon and Max, were more fortunate than their other siblings.

 

 

 

 


  1. See Page of Testimony for David Gerstenhaber filed by Hilde Schattner at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1390876&ind=2 
  2. See Page of Testimony for Leon Gerstenhaber filed by nephew Michael Gerstenhaber at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=13857240&ind=1