Rosa Abraham Zechermann: A Story for Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah! Today’s post is in many ways fitting for Hanukkah, the holiday that commemorates the survival of a small number of Jews, the Maccabees, against all odds and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after their victory. It is a story thus about Jewish survival against persecution and the struggle for freedom and so in many ways is the story of Rosa Abraham Zechermann.

Back on October 31, 2017, I wrote about my search for Rosa Abraham, my third cousin, once removed, and the aunt of Fred and Martin Abrahams. Through the amazing connections I made on Facebook, I’d been able to establish that Rosa had married Isidor Zechermann and that both of them had immigrated to Santiago, Chile, to escape Nazi Germany in the 1930s. At the end of that post I mentioned that I was requesting a copy of their naturalization application and other files from the archives in Hesse, hoping to learn more about Rosa and Isidor, including when and where they had married.

I have now received the files, and unfortunately, I still do not have the answer to those last two questions, but the files I received did shed light on Rosa and Isidor and their lives before and during the Nazi era and have helped me narrow down the possible years and places where Rosa and Isidor married.

The file that was described as a naturalization file was actually Isidor and Rosa’s application for repatriation as German citizens. It was filed in 1952. From the notes at the bottom of this letter, we can see that they left Germany together as a married couple on December 13, 1938.

In his letter, Isidor wrote, “We have been living in Santiago de Chile since 1939, but we never applied for the Chilean citizenship because we could not give up the faith one day to become citizens of our German homeland again. Upon request, the local German Consulate confirmed to me that repatriation is possible, and I would be particularly grateful for fulfilling my request.”

After all that they must have experienced and lost during the Nazi era, Isidor and Rosa still considered Germany their homeland and wanted their status as German citizens restored.

The government granted their request, concluding that they were among those who were denied citizenship for political, racial, or religious reasons during the Nazi era:


Two years later, Rosa applied for reparations from the German government for damages she suffered during the Nazi era. I am very grateful to Irene Newhouse of the Jekkes group on Facebook for her generous help in translating Rosa’s letter and the government’s response.

Rosa wrote:

Santa Rosa 160 Dep. E.

Vitae curriculum

I had, in Frankfurt/Main, a women’s couture boutique and in the years 1932 to 31 July 1938, earned 600 Marks monthly.

I had to give up my skilled trade, as we, as Jews were victimized by the chicanery of the Nazis and the Gestapo, and the latter forced us to emigrate with threats. Relatives supported us from 1939 to 1942, until I succeeded to wring out a small independence with my needlework.

From the year 1943 to 1946, I earned about 1000 pesos a month, from 1947 to 1952, about 1500 pesos per month.

Since 1952, I’m unable to work due to gout, and am supported by my relations in the USA.

Rosa then requested compensation for her emigration expenses and the loss of her business and of her other assets.

In response the government awarded her 2,830.20 Deutsche marks as reparation for the damages she had suffered.

According to this website, in 1955 there were 4.2 marks to a US dollar, meaning that the award to Rosa was worth in 1955 about $673.  Allowing for inflation, $673 in 1955 would be worth about $6,100 today, according to this calculator. Somehow that doesn’t seem like a very generous award for someone who had been forced to emigrate and sacrifice her business and her home.

Although I did not learn exactly when Rosa married Isidor, it is clear from these papers that they were married before they left Germany and had been living together in Frankfurt at the time of their emigration from Germany.  Also, now that I know that Rosa had a business as a “Damenschneider” in Frankfurt beginning in 1932, I can assume that this is her listing in the 1932 Frankfurt directory:

That means she was married to Isidor as of 1932, probably earlier if she is listed this way in the 1932 directory. But where and when were they married?

Since Isidor’s first wife died on August 23, 1924, Isidor and Rosa must have married between then and 1932. Searching the Frankfurt directories before 1932, I found that Rosa was listed in the 1928 and 1931 directories as Rosa Abraham, not Zechermann, meaning that she must have married Isidor sometime between 1930 and 1932.

I have written to the registry in Frankfurt to see if they can find a marriage record, but it is also possible that Rosa was married in her birthplace, Niederurff. At any rate, I have narrowed down the possible range of years when they must have married.

Beginning in 1933 Isidor and Rosa are listed together, first living on Oberlindau Strasse and then beginning in 1935 at 15 Bohmerstrasse, the address given on their application for repatriation in 1952. Rosa (listed as Rosel) had her shop at 13 Bohmerstrasse. Living down the street were Jakob and Frida Zechermann, who presumably were Isidor’s relatives. Frida was named as Rosa’s representative in her request for reparations. Jakob and Isidor are both identified as “Kaufman,” or merchant. The Erdg indicates that Isidor and Rosa were living on the ground floor, and the T followed by a series of numbers was their telephone number.

1935 Frankfurt directory Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974 [database on-line]

In 1939 there is no separate listing for Rosa, just for Isidor. I assume by that time Rosa had been forced to close her business. And in 1940, neither Isidor nor Rosa is listed, of course, as they had departed for Chile.

Although I am still hoping to find a marriage record for Isidor and Rosa, I am now more satisfied that I have been able to put together a fuller picture of the life of my cousin Rosa Abraham Zechermann. And from Simon in the Jekkes group, I learned that Rosa and Isidor were an active part of the Jewish community in Santiago.  They had struggled and they had survived to enjoy their freedom.

Thank you again to Irene Newhouse for translating Rosa’s reparations papers and also to the members of the German Genealogy group on Facebook for helping me decipher some of the abbreviations in the Frankfurt directories.

And happy Hanukkah to all!




Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander: Mystery Solved!

Back on October 24, 2017, I wrote about Regina Katzenstein, the daughter of Mina Katzenstein and her husband Wolf Katzenstein. Mina Katzenstein was a daughter of Jacob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion and was the niece of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein. Her daughter Regina was thus my paternal grandmother’s first cousin.

Regina married Selig Alexander of Frankenau, and they had seven children, but only four lived to adulthood: Bertha, Rosa, Mina, and Samuel. I learned that Regina, Seligman, and three of their children had escaped to South Africa in the 1930s, but I had no luck finding out what had happened to their oldest daughter Bertha. I knew she had married Julius Simon of Pohl-Goens in 1922, but that was it. I didn’t know whether they had any children or whether they had survived the Holocaust. They just seemed to have disappeared.

I asked Aaron Knappstein if he could help, and he soon sent me this wonderful photograph of Julius Simon taken when he was serving in the German military during World War I. But I’d given up on ever finding out what had happened to Julius and Bertha after 1922.

And then last week Aaron shocked me by emailing me that he had learned what had happened to Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander. Aaron had written to Dr. Dieter Wolf, the head of the museum and archives for the city of Butzbach, Germany, and Dr. Wolf had responded with detailed information about Julius and Bertha. Now I have closure on one of the most perplexing mysteries in my research of the Katzenstein family.

Dr. Wolf relied on a review of documents including address books from Pohl-Goens but primarily on a book written by Werner Reusch in 1998 entitled Wäi the Bimbel noach ean Polgies gehale hoat. Pohl-Göns in the 20th century (Selbstverlag Butzbach-Ebersgöns 1998). [I have no idea what that title means, and neither did Google Translate.  Does anyone?] UPDATE: See the comment from Michael Zorn below. Michael lives in Pohl-Gons and informed me that the title means “When the Steam Train Stopped in Pohl-Gons.” Thank you, Michael.

The book not only includes information about the family of Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander; it includes several photographs of them. Here is one of Julius and Bertha with both Bertha’s parents and Julius’ parents taken in 1923; I believe the young boy was Julius’ nephew.

Back row: Bertha Alexander, Regina Katzenstein Alexander, Selig Alexander, and Julius Simon in 1923 (found at p. 263 of Werner Reusch’s book, Wäi die Bimbel noach ean Polgies gehale hoat. Pohl-Göns im 20. Jahrhundert.  Selbstverlag Butzbach-Ebersgöns 1998

According to Dr. Wolf and Werner Reusch, Bertha and Julius had two children, a daughter Senta, born in 1926, and a son Martin, who died before his first birthday. He was born on September 9, 1928, and died on January 9, 1929; Martin is buried in Pohl-Goens.  According to Werner Reusch, the Simon family was a distinguished family in the town.

When Julius received a warning that he was going to be arrested by the Nazis in early 1936, he and Bertha and Senta left immediately, first going to Frankfurt for a short time and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, where Bertha’s parents and siblings also settled as well as many of Julius’ relatives. This is a photograph from Reusch’s book of Senta, Julius, and Bertha in 1940 in Johannesburg.

Senta Simon, Julius Simon, and Bertha Alexander Simon, 1940 Johannesburg. Found in Werner’s Reusch’s book Wäi die Bimbel noach ean Polgies gehale hoat. Pohl-Göns im 20. Jahrhundert. Selbstverlag Butzbach-Ebersgöns 1998, p. 264

In 1966, Bertha, Julius, and Senta left South Africa and moved to Israel, where they settled in Rehovoth. Julius died there in January 1987; my cousin Bertha Alexander Simon lived to 101, dying in February 1995. Here is a photograph of her celebrating her 100th birthday in Israel.

Bertha Alexander Simon celebrating her 100th birthday in Israel. Found on p, 264 in Werner Reusch’s book, Wäi die Bimbel noach ean Polgies gehale hoat. Pohl-Göns im 20. Jahrhundert. Selbstverlag Butzbach-Ebersgöns 1998

In addition to their daughter Senta, Bertha and Julius were survived by two granddaughters.

Thank you once again to Aaron Knappstein, who has proven time and time again that he is an excellent and persistent researcher and a good friend.





Last but Not Least, Levi Katzenstein and His Heroic Great-Grandson, Arye Katzenstein

How painful it must have been for this family to lose a son to terrorism in Germany in 1970 after escaping from the Nazis in Germany less than forty years before.  This is the story of the family of Levi Katzenstein, the youngest child of the nine children of my three-times great-uncle Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion. With this post I will have covered as best I can at this point the lives of all the descendants of Scholem Katzensten, my 4-times great-grandfather.

In some ways Levi’s story reflects the stories of all his siblings; there are children who died young or who were stillborn. There are children who were killed in the Holocaust. And there are children who escaped from Nazi Germany and whose descendants are alive today in various places in the world. And in this family, there was a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect other people.

Levi was born on May 29, 1851, in Jesberg. He married Jeanette Bendheim on August 13, 1878.  Jeanette was born July 17, 1858, in Friedberg, Germany, daughter of Wolf Bendheim and Johanette Schering or maybe Schwarz (the mother’s birth name is very hard to read; these were the possibilities given by members of the Jekkes group on Facebook. I can’t read it at all.).

Marriage record for Levi Katzenstein

Marriage record of Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 924; Laufende Nummer: 546

Levi and Jeanette had six children, four sons and two daughters. Their firstborn was Kathinka, born on November 25, 1879, in Jesberg.

Kathinka Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3810

Then came two sons, Jakob and David. Jakob was born February 25, 1882, six years after the death of his grandfather Jakob for whom he must have been named.

Jakob Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3813

David was born two years later on March 3, 1884.

David Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3815

Sadly, the fourth child did not make it to her first birthday. Sara was born July 14, 1886, and died on May 11, 1887.

Sara Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3885

The last two children were boys. Sally Katzenstein was born on April 10, 1890, and Max Katzenstein was born on May 15, 1893.

Sally Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3821

Max Katzenstein birth record
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3824 Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1893, S. 29

Thanks to Barbara Greve, I can share this photograph of the house in Jesberg where Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein raised their children:

Home of Levi Katzenstein in Jesberg

Four of the five children of Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein married and had children. Kathinka married Meier Bamberger on August 8, 1905, in Jesberg. Meier was born on June 8, 1878, in Holzheim, Germany, the son of Joseph Bamberger and Settchen Meier.

Kathinka Katzenstein and Meier Bamberger marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3860

Kathinka and Meier Bamberger had one child who survived, a daughter Gertrud born in Holzheim on May 7, 1910, and also had a stillborn child on December 9, 1915.

stillborn child of Kathinka and Meier Bamberger
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 905; Laufende Nummer: 796

Kathinka’s brother Jacob married Auguste Wallach on February 11, 1908, in Oberaula, Germany. Auguste was the daughter of Manus Wallach and Roschen Stern, and she was born on August 7, 1882, in Oberaula.

Marriage record of Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6351

Jacob and Auguste had one child, a son named Benjamin Willi born in Jesberg on November 18, 1908, according to the research done by Barbara Greve.

David Katzenstein married Gertrude Spier on January 7, 1912 in Merzhausen, Germany. Gertrude, the daughter of Juda Spier and Jeanette Rothschild, was born in Willinghausen, Merzhausen, Germany, on December 10, 1887.

Marriage record of David Katzenstein and Gertrude Spier
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 8870

David and Gertrude had a stillborn baby on October 27, 1912, and then three more children: Heinz (1913), Erich (1919), and Ursula (1923). Here is David Katzenstein’s house, as provided to me by Barbara Greve:

David Katzenstein’s house in Jesberg

The fourth surviving child of Levi and Jeanette was Sally Katzenstein. He married Gretha Nussbaum on December 24, 1913, in Wurda, Germany. She was the daughter of Joseph Nussbaum and Rickchen  Stein, born in Rhina, Germany, on August 5, 1991.

Marriage record of Sally Katzenstein and Gretha Nussbaum
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 907; Laufende Nummer: 6935

Sally and Gretha had two daughters, Elfriede (1914) and Ruth-Rika (1924).

The youngest child of Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim was their son Max. Tragically, Max was killed fighting for Germany in World War I on June 4, 1915. According to Barbara Greve’s research, Max served as a musketeer in the Third Company of the 7th Infantry, Regiment No. 142. He was 22 years old. Given what happened to some of his siblings, his sacrifice for Germany is especially tragic.

Max Katzenstein death record
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3913 Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1915, S. 27

Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein had thus already lost two of their children—their daughter Sara and their son Max. Then on May 17, 1921, they lost yet another child, their only other daughter Kathinka Katzenstein Bamberger. She was only 41 years old and left behind her husband Meier and their eleven year old daughter Gertrud.

Kathinka Katzenstein Bamberger death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 905; Laufende Nummer: 797

Meier remarried seven months later on December 23, 1921; his second wife was Zerline Kahn, stepmother to little Gertrud.

After Kathinka’s death, Levi and Jeanette had only their three sons Jakob, David, and Sally surviving as well as their grandchildren. Levi died on April 3, 1929, and Jeanette died a year later on July 22, 1930.

Levi Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3920

Jeanette Bendheim Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3921

They are both buried in Jesberg, as seen in this photograph I took while in Jesberg in May:

Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim Katzenstein, Jesberg cemetery

Levi and Jeanette’s remaining family did not get to stay in their ancestral town of Jesberg. According to Barbara Greve, David Katzenstein was forced to sell his home and farm after the Nazis came to power. He and his family left for Palestine in 1934. His brother Jakob left three years later in 1937.

Jakob and David and their families survived the Holocaust and settled in Palestine where, as these documents reveal, they became naturalized citizens.

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and
Gertrude Spier

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and Gertrude Spier

Palestine Application for Naturalization for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach

Palestine Citizenship Order for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach

Their younger brother Sally and his wife Gretha as well as their niece Gertrud Bamberger and her father and stepmother were not as fortunate.  They were all murdered by the Nazis. Gertrud Bamberger, her father Meier Bamberger and stepmother Zerline Kahn Bamberger were deported to the concentration camp at Treblinka on September 30, 1942, where they were killed. (The links are to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

The fate of Sally Katzenstein and his wife Greta Nussbaum Katzenstein and their two daughters was described in detail on this website describing the Stolpersteine for the village of Minden, Germany. I will quote from this website, which tells in chilling terms the story of this Katzenstein family:

Sally Katzenstein was a teacher and a preacher. He taught in an Israeli school in Breitenbach, North Hessen, from 1911 and from 1921 until 1934 at the state school in Soest. At both schools he also had the responsibility for teaching four hours each week at a school for further education. In Soest he was [a] preacher to the Synagogue congregation.

Shortly after the National Socialists took over power on the 7th April, 1933, the law for the Reinstatement of the Career Civil Servants was passed. This was to enable the removal of unwanted officials, especially Jews, from governmental posts. Sally Katzstein also fell foul of this law and on 29th March, 1934, lost his occupation as a teacher.

On 1st September, 1935, the family moved to Minden and found a home in Wilhelmstrasse 18. Sally Katzenstein became the local representative for the National Association of Jews in Germany and later preacher to the Synagogue Community. As Jewish children were banned from State schools he held lessons in private rooms.

After the November Pogrom of 1938 Sally Katzenstein was required to pay 1.400 Reichsmark tax on his fortune. These taxes were cynically called ‘Jewish Punishment Tax’. With this money the Jews had to pay for damage that had been done to their property, by others, during the Pogrom.

In 1939 the family tried to emigrate to Palestine but only their daughter, Ruth Rika, was given permission to leave. Her sister, Elfriede, had emigrated in 1936. In 1941 Sally and Gretha submitted an application to emigrate to the USA and permission was granted but then was foiled by the USA entering the war.

In 1941 the Katzensteins were forced to leave their home and to move into the so called Jewish house in Kampstrasse 6, The Jewish community house together with lots of other Jews, in very cramped conditions.

In the spring of 1943 Sally and Gretha Katzenstein were the last Jews living in Minden but they were arrested and taken to Bielefeld and from there were deported to Teresienstadt. From there they were taken separately to Auschwitz where they were both murdered in October 1944.

Fortunately, both of Sally and Gretha’s daughters survived. Elfriede, their older daughter, married to Siegfried Berliner, settled in Palestine, now Israel, where she died on December 8, 2011, according to this obituary. She was 97 years old and had three children.  Her sister Ruth Rika Katzenstein married Harold Rosenberg and settled in Scotland where Ruth was registered as a nurse for many years. I have not yet found a death record for Ruth nor do I know whether she had any children.

There is one final tragic story to tell about the descendants of Levi Katzenstein. As noted above, two of his sons, Jacob and David, immigrated to Palestine in the 1930s. David and his wife Gertrude had three children: Heinz, Erich, and Ursula. Heinz had a son named Arye born in Haifa, Israel, in 1937.

On February 10, 1970, Heinz was seriously injured and Arye was killed during a terrorist attack on a bus that was supposed to take them from the Munich Airport terminal to an El Al jet they were planning to board. The details were described in a September 6, 2015, obituary for Uriel Cohen, an El Al pilot who had tried to stop the attack:

The attack in Germany occurred on February 10, 1970, at 12:50pm. An El Al plane on Flight 435 from Israel had landed at the airport shortly before. Some passengers intended to continue to London, [and] were on their way to a bus that would take them to a connecting flight. A scream was suddenly heard and three young Arab men came from the direction of the transit hall stairs, shouting and running towards the bus, ordering passengers to put their hands up.

The captain tackled the assailants, but they managed to toss two hand grenades at the bus. One of the terrorists pulled out a gun, and another grenade was thrown. Arye Katzenstein of Haifa, 32 at the time, was on the bus with his father and sprinted towards one of the grenades. He used his body to prevent other passengers from being wounded. He died at the scene and his father was severely wounded.

Arye Katzenstein, my fourth cousin, was a hero. His family had left Germany to escape from the Nazis, and almost forty years later he was killed in Germany while trying to protect others from a terrorist attack.

It does make me wonder whether hate will ever end.  It also makes me realize that there will always be good people who will fight that hate and provide us all with hope and inspiration.


Pauline, Baruch, and Meier: Heartbreaking Stories

I am now more than half way through the nine children of  my three-times great-uncle Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion; there are four more to go, and this post will cover three of them: Pauline, Baruch, and Meier. Special thanks to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for her help in translating some of the records in this post.

Sadly, I have very little to report about Pauline. She was born on May 12, 1841, in Jesberg, and died in Jesberg 61 years later on December 27, 1902. She did not marry or have children and presumably lived in Jesberg all her life.

Death record of Pauline Katzenstein
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3900 Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1902, S. 49

As explained to me by Cathy Meder-Dempsey, the marginal notation refers to the fact that Pauline died without an occupation. She is buried in the cemetery in Jesberg, where I took this photograph of her gravestone.

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein

I am sorry that I do not know more about her life.

Baruch, the seventh child of Jakob and Sarchen, was born April 30, 1844, in Jesberg, and died there when he was 75 on March 26, 1920.

Baruch Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3915

I also know very little about his life. Although I could not locate a marriage record, it appears that Baruch married Auguste Bertha Schlesinger, according to her death record.  She was born in Gladenbach in 1850 and died in Jesberg on November 2, 1890. She was the daughter of Feitel Schlesinger and Gelle Wolf, according to her death record.

Death record of August Bertha Schlesinger wife of Baruch Katzenstein
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3888

I was able to photograph the headstone for Baruch Katzenstein in Jesberg, but I don’t know where Auguste was buried. She died thirty years before Baruch and before the “new” Jesberg cemetery was being used. She should have been buried at Haarhausen cemetery, where the other Katzenstein family members were buried before Jesberg opened its own cemetery. But there is no record of her burial there on the LAGIS website, nor can I find a record of her burial at any of the other Hesse region Jewish cemeteries. Also, as far as I can tell, she and Baruch did not have any children.

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein

Fortunately I have a little more information about Jakob and Sarchen Lion’s eighth child, Meier, but it is a very sad story.  Meier was born April 26, 1849. Sometime before September 1876, he married Auguste Wolf, who was born on October 27, 1851, in Gladenbach, Germany, to Folk Wolf and Ester Stern.

On September 13, 1876, Auguste Wolf Katzenstein gave birth to a son, August Felix Katzenstein.

August Felix Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3807

Six days later, Auguste Wolf Katzenstein died on September 19, 1876, leaving behind her husband Meier and her infant son. She was not yet 25 years old.

August Wolf Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3874

How Meier raised the baby for the next year and half is unknown, but then he married again. On May 19, 1878, he married Bertha Spier, daughter of Moses Spier and Roschen Fackenheim. Bertha was born in Raboldshausen on May 13, 1853.

Marriage record of Meier Katzenstein and Bertha Spier
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3833

Bertha gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son named Julius, on March 18, 1879, in Jesberg.

Birth record of Julius Katzenstein
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3810

A second child was born on July 2, 1880, a daughter named Ida.

Birth record of Ida Katzenstein
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3811 Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1880, S. 56

Ida only lived ten months; she died on April 1, 1881.

Death record of Ida Katzenstein
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3879 Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1881, S. 26

Her mother Bertha died one week after her baby daughter on April 8, 1881.  She was 27 years old.

Death of Bertha Spier Katzenstein
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3879

It seems too cruel to imagine that in the space of less than five years Meier lost two young wives and a ten-month-old child. He died just three years after Ida and Bertha on September 10, 1884, in Jesberg. He was 35.

Here is his gravestone; unfortunately I did not find it when we were at Haarhausen, so this is from the LAGIS website:

According to the LAGIS website, the inscription reads as follows: “Here lies a righteous man, and upright in all his works, who strove for peace every day of his life. This is Meier, son of Jacob ha-Kohen, from the holy community of Jesberg.”

Meier left behind his two sons, August Felix Katzenstein, who was only eight years old when orphaned, and Julius Katzenstein, his half-brother who was only five years old. Where did these two little boys go after losing both of their parents? Did they go to live with their aunts or uncles who lived in Jesberg or nearby? I don’t know.

In fact, I have no further record for Julius Katzenstein—no marriage record, no death record. I wonder if he was adopted by a relative or another person and took on a new surname. Or did he also die as a child without a recorded death? I don’t know.

As for August Felix Katzenstein, his tragic story has already been told. He married his first cousin, once removed, Rosa Bachenheimer. August Felix was the grandson of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion through their son Meier, and Rosa was their great-granddaughter through their daughter Gelle Katzenstein Ruelf and granddaughter Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer.

August and Rosa had two children: Margaretha Grete Katzenstein (1901) and Hans Peter Katzenstein (1905). All four of them, as well as Margaretha’s husband Rudolf Loewenstein, were deported on April 22, 1942, to a concentration camp in Izbica, Poland, where they were all murdered: RosaAugustMargaretha, Rudolf, and Hans-Jacob. (All links are to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

Thus, unless Julius Katzenstein survived, there are no descendants of these three children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. Not a single soul alive to pass on the genes and the stories of Pauline, Baruch, or Meier Katzenstein.

That leaves only one more child of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, their youngest child, Levi. Because he had six children, I will tell his story in a separate post.



Klara Maas: A Survivor and American Idol Fan

As I said, many of the stories in this line of the family do not have happy endings. And it doesn’t get better with the next child of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, their fifth child and fourth daughter, Johanna. But there is hopefulness in this story as well.

As reflected on Reverend Bach’s report on the family of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, Johanna/Hanna was born on December 28, 1838, in Jesberg.

She married Simon Maas, who was five years younger than Johanna and born in June 1843 in Mardorf. According to Barbara Greve’s research, Johanna and Simon married on December 3, 1873. If so, Johanna was 35 and Simon 30.

Their first child was born on April 26, 1875, in Mardorf, a daughter named Gidel, also known as Auguste.

Birth record for Auguste Gidel Maas
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5870

Their second child was a son, Jacob Levi, born on September 28, 1876.

Jakob Levi Maas birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5871

Johanna died on March 18, 1892; she was 53 years old.

Johanna Katzenstein Maas death record
Standesamt Mardorf (Amöneburg) Sterbenebenregister 1892 (HStAMR Best. 915 Nr. 5971)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortMardorf (Amöneburg)

Her husband Simon Maas died on April 22, 1910, at age 66.

Their son Jakob married Rosa Goldenberg on July 26, 1907 in Kestrich, Germany. Rosa was the daughter of Dobel Goldenberg and Lina Baer. Rosa Goldenberg was also the sister of Nathan Goldenberg, whose wife Regina Katz was the granddaughter of Rahel Katzenstein, who was the sister of Jakob Maas’ grandfather Jakob Katzenstein. Thus, Rosa married a descendant of Jakob Katzenstein and her brother Nathan married a descendant of Rahel Katzenstein. Jakob and Rosa had one child, a daughter Klara born in 1921.

Marriage record of Jakob Levi Maas and Rosa Goldenberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 921; Laufende Nummer: 515

Neither of the two children of Johanna Katzenstein and Simon Maas survived the Holocaust.

On March 15, 1939, their daughter Auguste was sent to the Jakoby Institute in Sayn-Bendorf, at one-time a well-regarded psychiatric hospital for Jews that was warped into a facility used by the Nazis to mistreat Jewish patients.

According to this website,

During the first years of National Socialism the Jacoby Institute was left in relative peace; probably as an acknowledgement of the fact that it was an important employer for Sayn and the region. ….A circular decree issued by the Ministry of the Interior on 12th December 1940 decreed that “mentally ill Jews” were only to be accommodated in Sayn because “a cohabitation of Germans and Jews is not acceptable in any length of time” (illustr. 7). The option of concentrating all the patients in one location served as preparation of their deportation. In the course of five transports (between March and November 1942) 573 people were taken to the death camps in the East. 142 Jews died from 1940 till 1942 and were buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Sayn; most of them had already been seriously ill when they arrived in Sayn and not fit to travel. From 1940 to 1942 the graves in the Jewish Cemetery could not be marked with stones…

Auguste Gidel Maas is buried in one of those unmarked graves in Sayn-Bendorf. She died on October 29, 1941, according to the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). She was 66. .

Her brother Jakob Levi Maas was arrested on May 6, 1941, and imprisoned at a forced labor camp in Breitenau. Two months later on July 18, 1941, he was sent to the Sachensausen concentration camp, where he died on May 16, 1942, according to Yad Vashem. His wife Rosa was also killed by the Nazis. She was sent to Theriesenstadt on September 7, 1942, and then to Auschwitz on January 23, 1943, where it is presumed she was murdered.

The only descendant of Johanna Katzenstein and Simon Maas who was not killed by the Nazis was Klara Maas, their granddaughter and the daughter of Jakob Maas and Rosa Goldenberg. Klara arrived in the United States on May 4, 1940. According to the ship manifest, she was going to New York City to her uncle Julius Goldenberg, brother of her mother Rosa and her uncle Nathan Goldenberg.

Klara Maas ship manifest 1940
Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6466; Line: 1; Page Number: 34

On April 9, 1941, Klara filed a Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen; she was working as a houseworker at the time and living in Forest Hills, New York. She was not yet twenty years old.

Klara Maas declaration of intention
New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Petitions for naturalization a

On August 2, 1945, Klara petitioned for naturalization; at that time she was working as a nursemaid and living back in Manhattan on Fort Washington Avenue. Her petition was supported by statements from two people, including Liselotte Goldenberg, the wife of Klara’s uncle Julius Goldenberg, who was also living on Fort Washington Avenue although at a different house number.

Petition for Naturalization “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014)

Klara was sworn in as a US citizen on February 18, 1946.

After that, I lost track of her. In 1946 she would have been 25 years old.  If she married after that, I could not find her in the NYC marriage index or elsewhere.

But then I went back to look at the documents I had to see if there were any clues I’d missed. And there was one: when she’d petitioned for naturalization, she’d petitioned to change her name from Klara to Claire.  I really didn’t think that this would make a difference in my search results since I knew that in my searches for Klara on both Ancestry and FamilySearch the search engines picked up women named Clara and Claire as well. But I figured, what the heck, let’s search for Claire Maas.

And this time Ancestry turned up something new, something important. It was an entry in the New York City Marriage License Index, 1907-1995, database that indicated that a Claire Maas had married a John Lind on March 21, 1949. Could it be my cousin Klara? I wasn’t sure. I had the names, date, and license number, so I contacted Allan Jordan, who generously offers to retrieve NYC documents for just his travel costs and the cost of the document. He said he hoped to get to the Clerk’s Office in the next week.

Claire Maas in NYC marriage license index
New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 10  Year Range : 1949 New York City, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995

While waiting for the marriage license file, I spent hours and hours searching for John Lind, Claire Lind, Claire Maas, and any other combinations I could dream up on,, Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Google. And the only real clue I came up with was a 2015 story about a group of senior citizens living in a Jewish nursing home in New Jersey who called themselves the Senior Jax Pack because they had become avid fans of a contestant on American Idol known as Jax.

One of the women in the Senior Jax Pack was named Claire Lind. She was 93 years old, and the article stated that she had escaped from “pre-war Germany as a child.”  Klara Maas would have been almost 94 in 2015, and she had been a teenager when she left Germany in 1940. Could this be my Klara Maas?

I wasn’t sure, and the article gave no more details except to mention that Claire Lind had recently passed away. I found an obituary for Claire Lind, who died on July 29, 2015, but it did not provide her birth name, her birth date, or the names of her spouse or survivors. I called the cemetery where she was buried and learned that she must have been the Claire Lind who married John Lind because he is also buried there.  I found a few other articles about the Senior Jax Pack that mentioned Claire Lind, but they also did not reveal any additional information about Claire’s identity.

And so I waited for Allan to send me the marriage license documents. While I waited, I watched the videos of Claire Lind from the first article I’d found and fell in love with her, hoping she would prove to be my cousin. Listen to her sing in the first one, and listen to her advice to Jax in the second.

And then Allan sent me the marriage certificate:

Marriage license for Claire Maas and John Lind


There it was—Claire Maas Lind was the daughter of Jakob Maas and Rosa Goldenberg. She was born in Giessen, Germany on October 22, 1921. The woman who had married John Lind was my cousin; my cousin Klara/Claire Maas Lind was the woman who at age 93 was a member of the Senior Jax Pack.

A little research into John Lind revealed that he also had been a recent German refugee when he married Claire Maas in 1949. He was born Hans Levi in Luenen, Germany on February 27, 1913, and was the son of Emil Levi and Helen Herzberg (the family had changed its surname from Levi to Lind after arriving in the US). He died in 1977.

And so Klara Maas, whose parents had been murdered in the Holocaust, making her the sole surviving descendant of Johanna Katzenstein and Simon Maas, had lived a full life in the US. She became Claire Lind—singing into the last days of her life despite the heartbreak she must have experienced as a young woman.

I am so glad I found her story.










Two of The Less Fortunate Children of Jakob Katzenstein: Schalum and Rebecca

I will now return to the children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. I had already discussed their first two children and their descendants: Gelle and Mina.

Mina Katzenstein’s children and descendants were remarkably fortunate in many ways. They survived the Holocaust by escaping from Germany during the 1930s. Some went to the United States, some to South America, and some to South Africa. I don’t mean to say they were lucky. They were all torn from their homes and all that they knew and undoubtedly subjected to harassment and discrimination before they left and some painful adjustments after they left. But they did survive.  As we’ve seen, that was not true for many of the descendants of Mina’s sibling Gelle.

Now we can explore the fate of the other seven children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. Unfortunately, many of them do not have happy endings.

The third child of my great-great-grandfather’s brother Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion was their first son, Schalum Abraham Katzenstein, named for his grandfather, Jakob’s father and my three-times great-grandfather, Scholem Katzenstein. Jakob and Sarchen’s son Schalum was born in February, 1834, in Jesberg, according to the report of Reverend Bach provided to me by Barbara Greve.

Reverend Bach family sheet for Jakob Katzenstein

Schalum only lived to be 25. He died on July 7, 1859, in Jesberg. He is buried at Haarhausen cemetery, where I visited in May and took this photograph of his gravestone:

Jacob Katzenstein’s son, Schalum Katzenstein

The inscription was very faded, but it had been transcribed years ago on the LAGIS site from Hebrew to German, and Barbara Greve translated the German translation of inscription on the headstone for me into English. It describes Schalum as “a lovable youth of a beautiful stature who avoided evil and was attached to the good. He was quick and nimble in his work in the short time of his work. And there came death, and gathered him there in the blossom of his youth.” How bittersweet.

Jakob and Sarchen’s fourth child was Rebecca Katzenstein. According to her death certificate and the report of Reverend Bach, Rebecca was born on July 6, 1836. I was not able to locate a marriage record for Rebecca, but sometime before August, 1866, Rebecca married Wolf Lamm of Ober-Gleen, Germany. According to his death record, Wolf was the son of Joseph Lamm and Hanna Goldschmidt and was born in Ober-Glenn in about 1833.

Rebecca and Wolf had two children, Karoline, born August 4, 1866, in Ober-Gleen, and Joseph (obviously named for his paternal grandfather), born July 9, 1870, in Ober-Gleen.

Wolf died before either of his children married.  He died on March 13, 1897, in Ober-Gleen. He was 64 years old.

Wolf Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Their daughter Karoline married Seligmann Hoexter on March 3, 1908, in Ober-Gleen; he was born February 7, 1858, in Gemuenden, Germany, and had been previously married and widowed. Karoline was 41 when she married Seligmann, and he was fifty. They did not have any children.

Karoline Lamm andSeligmann Hoexter marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 921; Laufende Nummer: 715

Joseph Lamm, Karoline’s brother, married Bertha Baum on November 24, 1901. Bertha was born June 10, 1877, in Gielhausen, daughter of Abraham Baum and Gretchen Kaiser.

Marriage record of Joseph Lamm and Bertha Baum
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 905; Laufende Nummer: 317

Joseph and Bertha had two sons, Willi, born November 15, 1902, in Ober-Gleen, and Nathan, born December 21, 1903, also in Ober-Gleen.

Rebecca Katzenstein Lamm lived to see her children marry and her two grandsons born. She died on February 20, 1915, in Ober-Gleen at age 74.

Rebekka Katzenstein Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Just three years later, Rebecca’s daughter Karoline died on January 11, 1918, making her husband Seligmann a widower for the second time. Karoline was only 51 years old.

Karoline Lamm Hoexter death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 4233

Seligmann Hoexter died twenty years later on October 12, 1938. He was eighty years old and died at the Jewish community hospital in Frankfurt.

Unfortunately, all but one of the remaining family members were killed in the Holocaust. Joseph Lamm and his wife Bertha Baum Lamm were deported first to Theriesenstadt on September 1, 1942. Joseph was then taken to Treblinka, where he was murdered on September 29, 1942. Bertha died at Theriesenstadt on December 17, 1942.

Their older son, Willi, was killed at the concentration camp in Majdanek, Poland, on July 16, 1942. He was thirty-nine years old. Thanks to Linda Silverman Shefler, who is also related to the Lamm family of Ober-Gleen, I was able to learn that Willi had married Berta Dub, and she also was killed at Majdanek.  Neither Linda nor I have been able to find any children born to Willi and Berta, although I did find Berta’s sister’s family and hope to learn more from them. (The links are all to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

The only descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm to survive the Holocaust was their younger grandson, Nathan, Willi’s brother. Nathan had left Germany before Hitler even came to power. He had arrived in New York on November 27, 1927, reporting that he was a tailor and that he was going to a friend in Buffalo named Henry Geissler, who had been in the US since 1923 and was also from Ober-Gleen.

Nathan Lamm 1927 passenger manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4175; Line: 1; Page Number: 35 Description Ship or Roll Number : Roll 4175 Source Information New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

At first I had no luck finding Nathan on the 1930 census, but then I found his naturalization papers, which indicated that he was using the name Max Nathan Lamm:

Nathan Max Lamm naturalization papers
The National Archives at Atlanta; Morrow, Georgia, USA; 2217062; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description : Greenville Petitions 1911-1965 (Box 6)
Source Information South Carolina, Naturalization Records, 1868-1991

Using the name Max Lamm to search for him, I found him in Buffalo in 1930, working as a laborer in a bakery and living as a boarder with two other men who were also working in the bakery:

Max Lamm 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: 1428; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0182; FHL microfilm: 2341163

In 1940, Max Lamm was still in Buffalo, living in a large guest house and working as a laborer in building construction.

Max Lamm 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: T627_2824; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 64-73

He enlisted in the US Army on December 1, 1942, and while in the army, he petitioned for citizenship, as the document above reveals. He was apparently stationed in South Carolina when he filed his petition.

After serving in the military for the United States during World War II, Max Nathan Lamm returned to Buffalo, New York; he is listed in Buffalo directories for 1957 and  1960, working as an employee of the Red Star Express, a trucking company.

Max Nathan Lamm died in 1968 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. He was 64 years old. It does not appear that he ever married or had children, and he had lost his brother and both his parents during the Holocaust. He was the only surviving descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm, and he died without survivors.

Courtesy of Jay Boone
Find A Grave Memorial# 82841920

Thus, neither Schalum or Rebecca Katzenstein has any living descendants.

The fifth child of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion was their daughter Johanna. Her story is covered in my next post.









Sisters and Cousins

This is a brief addendum to my last post (which I have also updated). I wanted to share two new images I received from Martin Abrahams after he read the post about his aunt Mali Katz Baumann and her family.

First, Martin sent me his mother Senta’s passport from Germany. The photograph of Senta reveals the strong family resemblance between Senta and her sister Mali in the 1930s:

Mali Katz Baumann Courtesy of her grandchildren

Senta Katz Abraham Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

The second photograph was taken before the families left Germany in the 1930s.  In the front row are Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, and Margot Baumann, first cousins. After leaving Germany, the Baumanns lived in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the Abrahams in New York City.

Front row: Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, Margot Baumann. Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

Such happy, innocent children whose lives were about to be changed forever.

My Cousins in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Before I return to the remaining children of Jakob Katzenstein, I am tying up a few loose ends about some of the Katzenstein families I have already discussed.  This post involves the family of Mali Katz.

Mali was the great-granddaughter of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, the granddaughter of Moses Katz and Malchen Wetterhahn, and the daughter of Markus Katz and Minna “Nanny” Wallach. She was the sister of Maurice Katz and Senta Katz, both of whom had immigrated to the United States, Maurice in 1925 to Oklahoma, Senta in 1937 to New York. Senta was married to Julius Abraham(s), and they were the parents of Fred and Martin Abrahams, the two brothers with whom I have been corresponding.

Amalie (Mali), Senta, and Moritz (Maurice) Katz, 1908
Courtesy of the Abrahams family

But I knew very little about the third sibling, Mali.  I knew that Mali had married Siegfried Baumann on April 17, 1930, in Jesberg.  Siegfried was born in Lauterbach, Germany, in 1893. I knew from Martin, Mali’s nephew, that Mali and her family had been unable to get permission to immigrate to the United States and that they had ended up in Brazil, but Martin knew nothing more than that. And I could not find anything else.

There was, however, one tree on Ancestry that provided some more information, but without sources.  It had Siegfried Baumann married to a woman named Maly with one daughter named Margot Baumann. Those were the only names revealed, and the only information attached to Siegfried, Maly (no birth name given) and Margot were their birth places as Germany and places of death as Porto Alegre, Brazil. There were no birth dates for Siegfried or Maly, but there were dates of death for Siegfried, Maly, and Margot.    I wrote to the tree owner, but did not hear back.

By Googling “Margot Baumann Porto Alegre,” however, I found the Facebook page for SIBRA— Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência, or the Brazilian Society for Jewish Culture and Charity. On that page was a long post that detailed the eighty year the history of the organization, written by Grete Blumenthal Bejzman and posted by the rabbi for the SIBRA synagogue on their Facebook page on August 29, 2016. Siegfried Baumann and his two daughters Margot and Eva were all mentioned in this post.

According to Bejzman’s post, SIBRA was founded eighty years before, i.e., on August 29, 1936, to assist the German Jewish refugees who were arriving in Brazil. The society obtained a building with a hall for a synagogue and rooms for social and cultural meetings. SIBRA became a place of comfort for the new immigrants, a place where they could learn Portuguese and Brazilian culture, a place to pray and a place to receive assistance with finding work and homes, and a community of people who helped in times of illness or other emergencies. In this post, Siegfried Baumann is mentioned as a synagogue leader, and his daughters Margot and Eva are mentioned in the context of a trip to Ipanema organized by SIBRA.

From this Facebook post I learned that the Baumann family was very involved in SIBRA and the Porto Alegre Jewish community. I left a message on the SIBRA page and sent a message through their website, asking how I might contact members of the family, but I did not hear back. Perhaps the fact that I don’t know Portuguese made it hard for them to understand my inquiry, or perhaps they were being protective of the privacy of the family. But at least I had the names of the two daughters and their married names (Margot was identified as Margot Baumann Leventhal and Eva as Eva Baumann Dorfman) and could search for them on my own.

I decided to post a question to the LatAmSIG on JewishGen, asking for advice on how to contact the Baumann family.  I received two very helpful responses, one pointing to a Geni page for Eva’s family and one from someone who was a good friend of Margot’s son and who gave me his email address and the names of his siblings. Based on this additional information, I also found several of Mali’s grandchildren on Facebook, and one of them, Margot’s daughter Iara, responded with great enthusiasm.

Iara has now shared with me not only information about her family, but also her grandparents’ passports and several family photographs. With her permission, I can now complete the story of Mali Katz Baumann and her family.

Mali and Siegfried lived in Lauterbach, Germany, where Margot was born on April 30, 1931, and Eva was born on September 24, 1933, according to Iara.   Siegfried was in the leather business with his brother Max.

The Baumann family left Germany in 1936 and settled in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  Porto Alegre is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sol, the state in Brazil where most of the German Jewish refugees came in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany, according to Iara. Siegfried Baumann’s brother Max was already there when Siegfried, Mali, and their daughters arrived.

Here are the passports of Siegfried Baumann, Mali Katz Baumann, and their two young daughters showing their departure from Germany and their immigration to Brazil.  It’s wonderful that Iara shared these with me because not only do they provide descriptions of Siegfried and Mali, there are also photographs of Mali, Margot, and Eva.

First, Siegfried’s passport, which also included the little girls:

Here is Mali’s passport:

UPDATE: Martin Abrahams, son of Senta Katz Abraham, sent me the images of his mother’s passport after seeing this post. Here is her photograph.  The resemblance between Senta and her sister Mali is striking:

Senta Katz Abraham passport-page-003

Martin also shared this photograph of the four cousins (plus two older cousins in the back row). In the front are Eva Baumann, Fred Abraham(s), Martin Abraham(s), and Margot Baumann before they all escaped from Germany.

Eva Baumann, Fred Abraham, Martin Abraham, Margot Baumann JPG

Front row: Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, Margot Baumann. Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

Iara told me that her grandparents Mali and Siegfried always held on to their Jewish identity and traditions after settling in Brazil. They were among the leaders of the SIBRA synagogue and celebrated Shabbat and all the Jewish holidays. Iara described her grandmother as strong and energetic and her grandfather as “too gentle.”  They lived in the same building with their daughter Margot for their entire time in Porto Alegre. Iara told me that Mali’s brother Maurice/Moritz and his wife came to visit them in Brazil and that Mali often spoke with her sister Senta by telephone.

Their daughter Margot Baumann married Julio Leventhal, a business owner in Brazil, on March 27, 1960. Here is a photograph of Margot and Julio’s wedding:

Margot Baumann’s wedding to Julio Leventhal. Courtesy of Iara Leventhal.

Margo worked in a business importing and exporting leather until her children were born. Margot and Julio had three children, including my cousin Iara, her brother Luis David, and sister Liana.

Eva Baumann was a physiotherapist who worked in hospitals in Porto Alegre.  She married Raul Dorfman, who taught at the University of Rio Grande do Sul, on February 28, 1962. They had two children, Mauro and Adriana.

Siegfried died on July 14, 1981, and Mali died on December 21, 1987. Eva died on May 8, 2001. Margot died on August 21, 2006, and her husband Julio died on December 20, 2015.   They are all buried in the Jewish cemetery in Porto Alegre.

Mali Katz and Siegfried Bauman and their daughters Margot and Eva are survived by the five children of Margot and Eva and many grandchildren. Iara pointed out to me that the first names of her siblings, her first cousins, and herself spell out the name MALI (sometimes spelled Malli) (Mauro, Adriana, Luis/Liana, Iara). They all are determined to carry on the proud legacy that they have inherited from their grandmother Mali, their grandfather Siegfried, and their parents.

Iara also shared with me a number of photographs of Eva and Margot and their children and grandchildren, and with her permission I am posting two of them here.

Margot Baumann Leventhal and Eva Baumann Dorfman Courtesy of Iara Leventhal

Wedding of Iara Leventhal and Jaime Aronis with Julio Leventhal on the left and Margot Baumann Leventhal on the right Courtesy of Iara Leventhal

I feel very fortunate to have found Iara and to have learned so much more about her family—another family that escaped from Nazi Germany and was forced to start life over in a whole new country with a whole new language and culture. Another family that is evidence that Hitler did not prevail.

From A to Z: Adventures in Chile

Once again I found myself taking quite a rollercoaster ride in my genealogy research-this one involving one of the children of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham.

As I wrote in this post, I had very little information about their oldest daughter, Rosa.  All I knew about her was her birth date and place (November 20, 1892 in Niederurff); the only other document I had was a passenger card from a 1961 flight from Santiago, Chile, to Miami, Florida. The birth date and place matched what I knew about Rosa, and the card listed her as Rosa A. Zechermann, so the middle initial could have referred to Abraham. But that wasn’t enough to know for sure whether this Rosa was in fact Rosa Abraham, even though the circumstantial evidence made it seem very likely.

Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

And who was Mr. Zechermann? And why were they in Chile? Rosa’s nephew Martin remembered that one of his father’s sisters had ended up in Chile, but that was all he remembered. He didn’t remember a husband named Zechermann or anything else. But his memory and the passenger card led me to believe that I had to search for Zechermanns in Santiago, Chile.

Unfortunately, there are no documents on for Chile after 1920, and although FamilySearch does have some cemetery records up through 2015 for Chile, there were no Zechermanns listed in that database. I wasn’t able to find any other websites or databases that might help.

I turned to Facebook and specifically to the Jekkes group on Facebook. Jekke (pronounced Yekkie) is a term used to refer to German Jews or more broadly, German-speaking Jews. I thought that this group might know about Jews of German background who had settled in South America, so I asked for help at 8 am one morning. First, a woman named Hanna responded within a half hour of my post and mentioned that she had known a woman named Ilse Dahlberg who had immigrated from Frankfurt to Chile. She didn’t know if Ilse was still alive, but thought she might be worth contacting.

When I googled Ilse Dahlberg, a Geni result came up for an Ilse Dahlberg whose birth name was Zechermann! I didn’t know whether Hanna had mentioned her for that reason or whether it was just a coincidence, but obviously Zechermann is not a common name so I thought it possible if not likely that  Ilse Dahlberg was somehow related to Rosa A. Zechermann.

Geni listed Ilse with a brother named Erich Zechermann and a father named Isidor Zechermann, but Ilse’s mother’s name was Amalia Zechermann, born Dahlberg, and not Rosa Abraham. (Ilse married one of her mother’s relatives, Nathan Dahlberg, thus ended up with a married name that was the same as her mother’s birth name. Just to confuse genealogists, I am sure.)

I found an immigration card for Erich that confirmed that his mother was also Amalia Dahlberg:

Erich Zechermann, Brazil immigration card Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: “Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965”. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013.

And I found the record of Isidor Zechermann’s marriage to Mali Dahlberg in Worms in 1905:

Marriage of Isidor Zechermann to first wife

Marriage of Isidor Zechermann to Amalie Dahlberg Worms, Germany, Marriages, 1876-1923 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Personenstandsregister Eheregister, 1876-1923. Stadtarchiv Worms.

So how did Rosa fit into this picture? Had she married Isidor’s brother or some other Zechermann who also ended up in Chile?

Then I found a record of Mali Dahlberg Zechermann’s death in Frankfurt on August 23, 1924:

Amalia Dahlberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_10891

Thus, Isidor was a widower as of August 1924 and might have married Rosa Abraham sometime thereafter. But I could find no record of a second marriage for Isidor or any marriage for Rosa.

The first document I located that possibly linked Isidor Zechermann to Rosa Abraham was this passenger manifest listing Isidor and Rosa Zechermann traveling together in April 1952 on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York:

Isidor and Rosa Zechermann, 1952 passenger manifest
Year: 1952; Arrival: Idlewild Airport, Idlewild, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8139; Line: 1; Page Number: 164 New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

It listed their destination address as 41-15 50th Avenue, Long Island, New York. That address did not mean anything to me, and Google identified it as an apartment building in Queens, New York.

The manifest listed Isidor’s occupation as a “rentista,” which translated to a person of independent means or a stockholder or financial expert. Rosa also had an occupation listed—“bussinesm,” which didn’t translate to anything, but I assume meant she was in business. But there was no birth name given for Rosa to link her to Rosa Abraham.

I also searched for descendants of Isidor Zechermann, hoping that one of them might be able to help. Eric Zechermann had eventually immigrated to the United States, and I was able to find the names of his children and grandchildren. One of them was on Facebook, a woman named Deborah, and I left a private message explaining who I was and asking her to get in touch.

And then I sat back and waited.

No, not really.  I kept desperately trying to figure out where to turn next.

Around 3 in the afternoon of that same day, I received a Facebook notification that a man named Simon had commented on my post in the Jekkes group. Simon lives in Santiago, and his first comment was to tell me that “most of the German Jews know and knew each other in Chile.”

And he then blew me away by telling me that not only had he known Ilse Zechermann Dahlberg, but that he remembered and knew Rosa as well and remembered her sitting in synagogue with Ilse. But Simon did not know Rosa’s birth name or what had happened to either Isidor or Rosa.  He did not believe that Isidor and Rosa had children of their own and called his mother to check.  She agreed that Rosa and Isidor did not have children, but she also did not know what had happened to Isidor and Rosa, nor did she know Rosa’s birth name. Simon gave me several suggestions for websites and people to contact in Santiago, and I followed up with his suggestions.

Later that same afternoon I also heard back from Deborah, Isidor’s great-granddaughter.  She was excited about my work and interested in what I had learned, but unfortunately she didn’t know anything about Rosa.

So that’s where I was on Rosa. I knew that there was a Rosa A. Zechermann whose birthdate and place matched those of Rosa Abraham and a Rosa Zechermann who had traveled to New York with Isidor in 1952. I was 90% certain that this had to be my cousin, the daughter of Pauline Ruehl and Hirsch Abraham. But there was that nagging 10% of doubt.

I contacted Fred and Martin Abrahams, Rosa’s nephews, to report on what I’d found and to see if I could stir up any other stories or memories. Fred had no memory of an aunt named Rosa; he wrote that he only remembered three of his father’s sisters—Meta and Recha and Adele.

Adele, I said? I hadn’t found a sibling named Adele in researching the Abraham family. I had written a long blog post about the Abraham siblings, and neither Fred nor Martin had previously mentioned an aunt named Adele despite having had several communications back and forth among us.

Fred wrote that Adele’s married name was Trier and that she had lived in Queens.  So back to Ancestry I went to look for this missing sibling, Adele Abraham Trier. And it wasn’t hard to find her. She had arrived in the US on on October 10, 1936, with her husband Alfred Trier. I knew this was the right person because her birth place was Niederurff, and they were going to Meta Abraham and Recha Abraham, the sisters of Adele Abraham.

Alfred and Adele Trier 1936 passenger manifest
Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5890; Line: 1; Page Number: 120 New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-195

Other US documents revealed that Adele was born on December 21, 1903; now I knew why I hadn’t found her before. The Hesse records on Ancestry stop in 1901, and there are no birth records on the LAGIS website for Niederurff for 1903 either. If Fred hadn’t mentioned Adele, I’d never have known there was another sibling.

In 1940, Adele and Alfred Trier were living in the apartment next to Adele’s sisters Meta and Recha. I’d seen this census before, of course, but had not had any reason to see the connection between the two households.

Alfred, Adele and Paul Trier on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2643; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-809

The next records I found for Adele and Alfred related to their deaths—entries in the Social Security Death Index and on FindAGrave. Both lived long lives. Adele died in March 1993 at age 89, Alfred in 1996 at age 108! Alfred died in New Jersey, but Adele had died in Queens. They are buried at Mt. Zion cemetery in Queens.

And then I recalled that Rosa and Isidor had listed a Queens address on the 1952 manifest. I decided to see if I could find Alfred or Adele in any directories or databases for Queens. And I found this:

City: Long Is City; State: New York; Year(s): 1993 1994
Source Information U.S. Phone and Address Directories, 1993-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: 1993-2002 White Pages. Little Rock, AR, USA: Acxiom Corporation.

Adele Abraham and Alfred Trier had lived at 41-15 50th Avenue in Long Island, New York—-the very address that Rosa and Isidor Zechermann had listed as their destination in 1952. I was now 99% sure that Rosa Zechermann was the sister of Adele Abraham Trier as well as Meta, Recha, and Julius Abraham and that she was the aunt of Fred and Martin Abrahams. And thus she was my third cousin, once removed.

The final piece of the puzzle came from a tip from a researcher in Germany named Kari, whom Fred Abrahams had recommended. She found two files in the Arcinsys website for Hesse, one for Isidor Zechermann and one for Rosa Zechermann geb Abraham. Although the files themselves are not accessible online, the descriptions of the files made it clear that this was my cousin Rosa and that she was married to Isidor Zechermann:

The birth date and place matched, her birth name was Abraham, and she was married to a Zechermann.  And I learned that Rosa was a “modistin,” a milliner.

I contacted someone at the archives to see what was in the file. The archives responded that there were four files in the Hesse archives relating to Isidor and Rosa Zechermann, including two lengthy files relating to their claims for compensation and one nine page file that included their naturalization application.

I have requested the naturalization papers (the other two files would be very costly to obtain), but from just the label on the file, I now have confirmation that Isidor Zechermann (born February 25, 1878) was married to my cousin Rosa Abraham (born November 20, 1892).

My search for Rosa Abraham Zechermann was over. It had truly been a search from A (Abraham) to Z (Zechermann).




The Search for Jakob David: A New Story Discovered

Before I move on to the remaining children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, I want to tie up some loose ends from the stories of other descendants.

There was a loose end in the story of Rebekka Ruelf, and in trying to tie up that loose end, I learned a great deal more about Rebekka’s son Hugo David. He was a brave and adventurous man.

As I wrote in my earlier post, Jakob David married my distant cousin Rebekka Ruelf, daughter of Gelle Katzenstein, my great-grandmother’s first cousin. Jakob and Rebekka had one child who survived to adulthood, Hugo. The David family lived in Moringen, Germany, where they owned a textile business. Hugo married Berta Loeber of Alten-Buseck, Germany, and they had a daughter named Margot.

From my research, I knew that Rebekka had died in Moringen in 1929 and that at some point in the 1930s the family had left Moringen for Abbazia, Italy, and then for the United States, where they had settled in Rhode Island in 1940.

What I did not know was the fate of Jakob David. There was no death record for him in Moringen, but also no immigration record for him. Had he died elsewhere in Germany? Where was he buried? I hate loose ends, and although Jakob was only my relative through his marriage to Rebekka Ruelf, I wanted to know what had happened to him.

Although I still don’t have all the answers, I have many. Through the magic of Facebook, I was able to connect with Jakob’s great-grandson Andy. Andy told me that his grandfather Hugo had been quite outspoken in his criticism of Hitler and the Nazis even before Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and as a result was forced to leave Germany. First, he went to Saint-Raphael, France, which is on the southeast coast of France not far from Cannes. His brother-in-law Martin Loeber was already living there, and together they ran a hotel. Within a year, Hugo’s family joined him, including his father-in-law Jakob, wife Berta, and daughter Margot. In 1935 the French government refused to renew the visas of foreign-born Jews, and so the David family left France for Italy.

Saint Raphael, France
By Tobi 87 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

I knew from Hugo’s naturalization papers that the family had resided in Abbazia, Italy, before immigrating to the US in 1940, but when I googled Abbazia in Italy, there were a number of places in Italy with that name, and I had no idea how to find out which was the correct Abbazia.  I googled a number of phrases, but the one that finally worked was “Abbazia Jewish refugees 1930s.” I found this website, written by a man named Federico Falk, who was born in 1919 in Rijeka, a port city in Croatia. [1]

At first I was confused (not an unusual state). Why was a man from Croatia writing about a town in Italy? And then I received one of those wonderful benefits of doing genealogy research—-I learned something new about European history. The province in what is now Croatia that includes the two port cities of Rijeka and Opatija were once under Italian control and were then known as Fiume and Abbazia. That is, the Abbazia where my David relatives lived was at that time in Italy, but today is part of Croatia and known as Opatija.

According to the official website for Rijeka, that city was originally settled in prehistoric times and then further developed in the Roman Empire era because of its favorable location: “Given its location on gentle slopes and a narrow coastal zone, abundant with fresh water springs, secluded by a bay having the properties of a natural port, this settlement possessed all the predispositions required for development into a major seaport and trading town.” Then in medieval times, the Croatian people moved into the region.

As the city became more and more strategically and economically important, it also became a focus for conquest by various European nations. At various times the region was under the control of the French, the Hungarians, the Austrians, the Croatians, and then in 1924 in the aftermath of World War I, the Italians. Thus, when Federico Falk was growing up, Rijeka was known as Fiume and was an Italian city. After the war it became part of Yugoslavia and today is in Croatia.

Rijeka or Fiume in 1937
By SpeedyGonsales (self-made from postcard from 1937.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Less than ten miles east from Rijeka/Fiume, also on the coast, is the now-Croatian town of Opatija, known as Abbazia during the time the region was part of Italy. Opatija is a Croatian term meaning “abbey,” and Abbazia is the Italian equivalent. The town was named for the church and monastery built there in medieval times in honor of St. Jacob. Like Rijeka, Opatija was very well situated as a port city; an Opatija travel website describes it as “Located at the edge of the Mediterranean, on the slopes of Mount Učka gently descending towards the coast of Kvarner Bay.”

By the late 19th century, Opatija had become a very popular tourist destination and it remains one today:

Director of the Austrian Southern Railway Company Friedrich Schüler and its shareholders wanted to improve passenger traffic to the south. After choosing Opatija as the region’s most promising destination, they started building the first hotel in this new bathing and climatic health resort, advertising it widely as the “Austrian Nice”.

Several important facilities were built alongside the first hotel: a pavilion with indoor pool for warm sea baths, a bathing place with separate areas for ladies and gentlemen, and the 12-kilometre-long coastal promenade from Volosko to Opatija and further to Lovran.

The hotel was opened on the 27th March 1884. Its original name was Hotel Quarnero, and it offered its visitors 60 rooms.

Kings and emperors came to Opatija as well as Isadora Duncan, Gustav Mahler, Giacomo Puccini, James Joyce, and Anton Chekhov, among others.

According to Federico Falk, “The Jews of Abbazia began to settle there at a time when the area was being undergoing a transformation, from a small coastal town into – after 1892 – an elegant holiday and health resort. They used to meet at the Breiner Pension where food was prepared according to kasherut rules. In 1922 they asked to be officially recognised by the autonomous Jewish community and inaugurated their headquarters in a building they owned (Villa Zora).”

Falk continued, “With the rise of Nazism in the ‘30s there was a considerable inflow of Jews who, having fled Germany and its neighbouring countries, were emigrating overseas. Many of them stopped temporarily in Fiume and surrounding areas and were registered as residents, but most of them continued on their journeys towards other destinations.”

And it was to this very important resort city of Opatija/Abbazia that Hugo David and his wife, child, and father came after leaving France. According to the website created by Federico Falk, Hugo David and family arrived on June 6, 1935, and Hugo became the owner of the Pensione Adria. This is the entry Falk has about the David family on his website:


With help from Google Translate, I read this as saying: “Hugo David, son of Jakob David and Rebecca Ruelf, born in Moringen on September 25, 1897, householder and trader (owner of the Pensione Adria). German citizen. In Abbazia from June 6, 1935. Married to Berta Loeber, daughter of Sigmund Loeber and Selma Katz, born in Alten Buseck on August 13, 1903, hotelier. German citizen, in Abbazia since June 6, 1935. Hugo and Berta David have one daughter named Margot, born in Moringen, March 4, 1928, a student. In Abbazia from June 6, 1935.”

Why, one might wonder, would a Jewish family go to Mussolini’s Italy? After all, we know now that Italy became Germany’s ally in World War II.

Italy had not historically been associated with much anti-Semitism, according to an article written by Mary Feltsiner, “Refuge and Persecution in Italy, 1933-1945,” (1997, Simon Wiesenthal Center).  Even after Mussolini obtained power, he did not immediately do anything to persecute the Jews in Italy.

According to Feltsiner:

After gaining power, Mussolini’s government pursued a policy of integration toward the tiny group of approximately 40,000 Jews, expecting strict political loyalty from them. Consequently, Italian Jews faced little discrimination until the mid-1930s. In 1930 the Comprehensive Law on the Jewish communities was passed; the statute assured their rights. The Union of Jewish Communities of Italy (Unione delle Comunita Israelitiche Italiane) with an office in Rome, served as the central umbrella organization. Legally there was no obstacle to providing help for other Jews who had emigrated to Italy because of persecution elsewhere.

Thus, when Hugo David and his family arrived in 1935, Italy was still a relatively safe haven for Jews. Andy’s mother Margot said that they were treated well in Abbazia; she attended school and was friendly with both Jewish and non-Jewish students.

But that changed in the fall of 1938 when Mussolini’s government enacted a series of laws that discriminated against Jews; as described by Feltsiner, “persons of Jewish origin, irrespective of their own religious affiliation, were banned from public service; forbidden to attend state schools, universities, and educational facilities; could not enter civil marriages with Aryans; and were prohibited from engaging in a significant part of their economic activity.” See also Paul Vitello, “Scholars Reconsidering Italy’s Treatment of Jews in the Nazi Era,” The New York Times (November 10, 2000) found here.

Feltsiner noted, however, that the policies were not always strictly enforced, were not generally popular among the Italian people, and were not as severe as those adopted by the Nazis.  Margot recalled that even after she was no longer able to attend the public schools, she was still able to attend a Catholic school where the nuns knew she was Jewish and allowed her to be excused from the religious part of the school curriculum.

But although there might not have been as much terror and violence as Jews were experiencing elsewhere, the Italians did start rounding up and arresting Jewish residents; Hugo David was one of those arrested. His wife Berta went to Rome and asked for help from a magistrate who had often stayed at the family’s hotel in Abbazia, and Hugo was released. But the family had to leave within 24 hours of his release, so they left Abbazia and went to Greece and then Portugal. From Portugal, they sailed to the United States, arriving on August 11, 1940, just one month after Italy entered World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany.

Hugo David and family on ship manifest
Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6488; Line: 1; Page Number: 153 New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Despite learning this additional information about the lives of the David family between 1933 and 1940, I was unable to find any record of when or where Hugo’s father Jakob David died. In his description of the David family on his website, Federico Falk does not mention Jakob at all. According to Andy, his great-grandfather Jakob David died before the family left Abbazia and was buried in a small hillside cemetery in Matulji, a small town about three miles from Opatija/Abbazia.

Roberta F. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

And then Andy sent me this precious photograph of his great-grandparents Jakob David and Rebekka Ruelf with his grandfather Hugo David. Hugo was born on September 25, 1897, so I would say this photograph was taken sometime in 1898.

Jakob David, Hugo David, and Rebekka Ruelf David c. 1898
Courtesy of their descendants

In addition, Andy scanned the back of the photograph:

Courtesy of the family

Andy’s mother Margot, the daughter of Hugo David, had written the information on the back of the photo. And it included the year that her grandfather Jakob had died: 1936.

Thus, although I did not find any official records of Jakob David’s death, I did learn where and when he died. More importanly, I learned the story of a very brave and outspoken man, my cousin Hugo David. If Hugo had not been courageous enough to speak out against the Nazis, he would not have had to leave Germany as early as he did. His outspokenness probably saved his family’s lives by forcing them to leave before the Nazis’ full terror began against the Jews in Germany.




[1] Federico Falk died only last year (2016).