Escaping from Germany, Part VII: Children Separated from their Parents

This is the final chapter in the story of my cousin Sarah Goldschmidt, daughter of my fourth great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt. These last seven chapters about her descendants’ struggles during and for the most part survival of the Nazi era have been an inspiration to me during this pandemic. We need to remember that human beings have survived many other challenges as we continue to fight this one.

The youngest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern was their son Mayer. As we have seen, Mayer was married to Gella Hirsch, and they had two children, Elsa (1891) and Markus Kurt (1895)(later known as Kurt Marco).

As of 1930, Mayer and Gella were living in Frankfurt. Their daughter Elsa had been married to her second cousin Jacob Schwarzschild, with whom she’d had a daughter Elizabeth (1915). That marriage ended in divorce, and in 1920, Elsa had married Alfred Hirsch, with whom she had three children in the 1920s. Kurt Stern was married to Rhee Mess; they had no children.

With the rise of Hitler, the family began to disperse. Kurt and Rhee left Germany first. From 1918 to 1923, Kurt had worked as an art dealer in Frankfurt with his father and Goldschmidt relatives in the firm of I & S Goldschmidt (more on them to come). He and Rhee had then moved to Paris, where he became an independent art dealer.1 Then they immigrated to the US, arriving in New York on October 4, 1934. Kurt declared his intention to become a US citizen on February 19, 1935, four months after arriving in New York.

Kurt Marco Stern declaration of intention, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1256
Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350
Ancestry.com. New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944

Kurt registered for the US draft on April 26, 1942, at which time he was a self-employed art dealer, living in New York City.

Kurt Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Kurt’s parents Mayer and Gella Stern also left Germany around that time. According to Mayer Stern’s immigration papers, he and Gella arrived in Palestine on April 12, 1935. Sadly, Gella died less than two months later on June 1, 1935, in Haifa. She was 71 years old. Mayer remained in Haifa and became a Palestinian citizen on August 24, 1938.2

Mayer Stern, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62

But Mayer did not live much longer. He died on September 15, 1939, in Haifa, where he is buried. He was 78.

The grave site of מאיר שטרן. Cemetery: Haifa Mahane David – Sde Yehoshua Cemetery, Location: Haifa, Haifa District, Israel. Birth: 7 Jan 1861, Death: 15 Sep 1939. Found at https://tinyurl.com/whnye25 Photographer  Nadezda

As for Mayer and Gella’s daughter Elsa Stern Schwarzschild Hirsch, she and her husband Alfred Hirsch and three children also immigrated to Palestine, arriving in 1938, according to their immigration file.3

The file includes letters indicating that two of Elsa and Alfred’s children returned to Europe after arriving in Palestine, one to Antwerp to study, the other to Italy for health reasons. Alfred requested that the two children be granted Palestinian passports expeditiously because they each had limited visas from those countries that would expire before they could return to Palestine to sign their new passports.

Alfred received a response that the Palestinian officials would ask the British consul to issue Palestinian passports to the two children once Alfred himself was naturalized. Alfred and Elsa were naturalized on August 14, 1938. Alfred was working as the general manager of the Palestine Milling & Trading Company at that time.4

Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq

I assume the two children were able to return soon thereafter to Palestine to join their family. But can you imagine the anxiety experienced by them all, thinking that the two young teenagers might be stranded in Europe as the Nazi persecution of Jews intensified in 1938, culminating in Kristallnacht just a few months after Alfred and Elsa received their naturalization certificate?

One of their children immigrated to the US as early as 1940 and was residing without any family members in New York City at the YMHA on the 1940 US census;5 his uncle Kurt was, however, residing in New York at that time, where he was the owner of an “art shop,” according to the census.6

The rest of the family joined them in the US after the war. Alfred and Elsa arrived in New York on December 24, 1946.7 Alfred died less than two months later on February 6, 1947; he was only 56 years old.8 Elsa outlived him by over forty years; she died in Dallas, Texas, on October 4, 1988.  She was 97 years old.9

Elsa’s brother Kurt Stern unfortunately did not have his sister’s longevity. He died on April 16, 1962 at the age of 67 after a long illness, according to his obituary.10 He was survived by his wife Rhee, who died in August 1986 at the age of 91,11 and his sister Elsa and her three children.

Thus ends not only the story of Mayer Stern, but that of his parents Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern. Their story is overall a story shared by so many German Jews. They went from being successful merchants living in comfort and security, raising children and grandchildren in a country that they saw as their home, to being refugees from the worst kind of persecution and violence anyone can imagine.

Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants were, however, among the more fortunate ones. Out of all of Sarah’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Germany during the Nazi era, only one, little Margot Fulda, just thirteen years old, was murdered by the Nazis. The rest were uprooted from their homes and torn from the comfort they’d known, but were able to escape to Palestine, to England, and to the United States. Their descendants live among us today in places all over the world. How fortunate and blessed we are that they do.

Next I will turn my attention to Sarah’s younger brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and his family.


  1. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  2. Mayer Stern, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62 
  3. Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Stephen Hirsch, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02663; Page: 83B; Enumeration District: 31-1658, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Kurt M. Stern, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-1368, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Alfred and Elsa Hirsch, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7250; Line: 1; Page Number: 10,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  9. Else Hirsch, Social Security Number: 119-36-5922, Birth Date: 4 Jan 1891
    Issue year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 75219, Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, Death Date: 4 Oct 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Kurt M Stern, Birth Date: 28 Jan 1895, Death Date: 16 Apr 1962, Claim Date: 17 Aug 1962, SSN: 060070787, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  11.  Rhee Stern, Social Security Number: 065-52-1280, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1895
    Issue year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1986, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Escaping from Germany, Part V: Being “Enemy Aliens” in England

Having completed the stories of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern’s daughters Lina and Keile, we now turn to her son, Abraham Stern and his family and what happened to them during the Holocaust. Abraham died in 1925, but was survived by his widow Johanna, who was also his first cousin, and two of their children, Alice and Sittah Sarah, and numerous grandchildren; two of his children had predeceased him, Clementine and Siegfried,  

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Abraham’s widow (and first cousin) Johanna Goldschmidt Stern and their surviving children and grandchildren were still living in Germany. Johanna died on June 2, 1937; she was 69 years old.1

Her gorgeous headstone, matching those of her husband and son, was beautifully translated by a member of Tracing the Tribe. What a lovely and loving inscription.

Johanna Goldschmidt Stern’s gravestone. Courtesy of her great-grandson, Rafi Stern

Here lies buried Mrs Hindla known as Johanna, daughter of Mr Zelig Goldschmidt, wife of Mr Asher Avraham, known as Adolf, Stern, the memory of the righteous is a blessing,
A generous daughter to her parents and a trusted help to her husband,
She was known as a wise woman,

Her heart directed with intelligence and insight,
She educated her children in the paths of faith,
Only good and kindness, she pursued all her life,
Until she rested in peace next to the husband of her youth on 23 Sivan 5697.
May her soul be bound in the bond of life.

This post will tell what happened to the families of two of Abraham and Johanna’s children, Siegfried and Sittah Sarah. The next post will focus on the families of their other two children, Clementine and Alice.

The Children of Siegfried Stern

Siegfried Stern had died in 1921, leaving behind his wife Lea Hirsch and two young sons, Erich (1913) and Gunther (1916). Thanks to Aaron Knappstein, I now have the birth records for Erich and Gunther, and they show that in 1922, their birth records were amended to add their father’s name Siegfried to theirs.

Erich Stern birth record

Gunther Stern birth record

Siegfried’s widow Lea married Ernst Schwarzschild in 1924 and relocated to Cologne with Erich and Gunther where she and Ernst had two additional children.

After Hitler came to power, Lea and Ernst Schwarzschild escaped to England with Erich and Gunther Stern and the two children they had together. According to Gunther’s son Rafi, the family was able to take a fair amount of money out of Germany and first lived in the Golders Green neighborhood of London. In 1939 they were living in Chesham, England, a town about 30 miles northwest of London. Ernst was working as a non-ferrous metals merchant while Lea was engaged in “unpaid domestic duties.”

Ernst and Lea (Hirsch Stern) Schwarzschild, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2110H, Enumeration District: DVIH, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Although not listed on this register, Erich Stern was living with his mother and stepfather in Chesham at some point in 1939 and working as a clerk in a travel agency; like his stepfather Ernst, he was exempted from being interned as an enemy alien.

Ernst Schwarzschild, Enemy Alien Exemption, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/83
Piece Number Description: 083: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Schw-Scu
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Erich Stern, Enemy Alien Exemption, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89
Piece Number Description: 089: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Steinf-Stern
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Gunther, however, was not as fortunate. According to his son Rafi, Gunther was unable to obtain a permanent visa to live in England and was forced to go back and forth every three months between Antwerp, where an uncle lived, and England. Fortunately, in 1939 when the war broke out, he was living in England with his mother, stepfather, and brother in Chesham, working as an apprentice to a wood importer, and was initially exempted from internment as an enemy alien.

But as the document below reveals and as his son Rafi reported to me, Gunther was later interned. He spent time at three different internment centers: Preece Heath, Shropshire, and the Isle of Man. He was eventually released because of poor health and found employment with a manufacturing company where he worked for the rest of his career.

Gunther Stern, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/197
Piece Number Description: 197: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Spirg-Stern
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Both Erich and Gunther married after the war and had children. Their mother Lea died in 1970 in England.2 Erich died in England in May 2001,3 and his brother Gunther died a year later in June 2002 in Israel, where his son Rafi had immigrated.4

Sittah Sarah Stern and Abraham Mainz and Their Children

Sittah Sarah Stern was married to Abraham Mainz, and they had two children, Marguerite (1913) and Helmut (1918); they were living in Frankfurt in the 1920s.

Like the family of her older brother Siegfried Stern, Sittah Sarah Stern and her husband Abraham Mainz and their children eventually safely immigrated to England, but faced some difficult challenges in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, as reported by a letter written by Erich Stern, Sittah’s nephew, on November 13, 1938, to his brother Gunther:5

Unfortunately we have very bad news from Frankfurt. Uncle Siegfried [Oppenheimer], who wanted to travel to Palestina on Sunday with his family, was arrested on Friday, as well as Aunt Sittah, Marguerite and Helmut [Mainz]. Aba [Abraham Mainz] has fled and no one knows to where. Really horrible conditions.

Where had Abraham gone? And how long were Sittah and her children detained? I don’t know, but I do know that by 1939 they were living in London along with Abraham’s parents. Abraham (also known as Albert) was working as a wool merchant and his daughter Marguerite was a student.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/235D
Enumeration District: AKAN, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Although he is not listed as living with his family on the 1939 register, Helmut Mainz was also in England by 1939, as seen in his Enemy Alien registration form. Like his father, he was a wool merchant and was exempted from internment.

Helmut Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/58
Piece Number Description: 058: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Ma-Man
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Abraham Mainz6 and his daughter Marguerite were also exempted from internment. At the time of her exemption, Marguerite was working as a secretary.

Marguerite Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/222
Piece Number Description: 222: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Eastw-Fey
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

The family was thus all safe and living in England, and Marguerite married Arthur Feuchtwanger in 1944,7 with whom she had three children.

But the family suffered terrible losses soon thereafter. Abraham Albert Mainz died on November 3, 1944; he was 61.8  Less than four months later his wife Sittah Sarah Stern Mainz died on February 26, 1945; she was only 53. Had their lives been cut short by the stress of living through the Nazi era?

Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

The family’s tragedies did not end there. Helmut Mainz married Carla Adler in July 1948,9 and they had three children in the next five years. But then Carla died in July 1957 when she was only thirty years old, leaving behind three very young children and her husband Helmut.10

Within just a few years Helmut had lost both of his parents and his wife. But he lived a full life, dying at the age of 87 in Yorkshire, England, on September 13, 2005.11 His sister Marguerite died March 22, 2001, in Netanya, Israel.12

Headstones for Carla Adler Mainz and Helmut Mainz, Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 02 March 2020), memorial page for Carla Adler Mainz (8 Sep 1926–3 Jul 1957), Find A Grave Memorial no. 185877700, citing United Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, Gildersome, Metropolitan Borough of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England ; Maintained by leedspyeman (contributor 47407284) . Courtesy of Leedspyeman.

The families of Siegfried Stern and of his sister Sittah Sarah Stern Mainz fortunately escaped from Germany to England in time and were not murdered by the Nazis, but were treated as “enemy aliens” by England. Their descendants, including my cousin Rafi who shared so much of his family’s story with me, continue to honor their memories and prove that the Nazis did not prevail.

UPDATE: Steve Mondros from TTT posted this article from the May 17, 1940 London Times that sheds some light on the internment process in England.

Enemy Aliens article London Times May 17, 1940 from Steve Mondros on FB

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Name: Johanna Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 18 Dec
    Birth Place: Frankfurt Main, Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Death Date: 2 Jun 1937, Father: Seelig Goldschmidt. Mother: Cllementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342033, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  2. Lea Schwarzschild, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 10 Apr 1892, Registration Date: Oct 1970, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-DecRegistration district: Paddington, Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5d, Page: 1148, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 1148, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3. Erich Stern, Death Age: 88, Birth Date: 29 May 1913, Registration Date: May 2001
    Registration district: Bury, Inferred County: Greater Manchester, Register Number: A54B, District and Subdistrict: 0031A, Entry Number: 283, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  4. As per Rafi Stern, Gunther’s son. 
  5. Letter made available to me by Rafi Stern, Gunther’s son. 
  6. Abraham Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/234, Piece Number Description: 234: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Loeb-Melo, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  7.  Marguerita V Mainz, Registration Date: Jan 1944, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Knaresborough, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding
    Spouse: Arthur Fenchtwanger, Volume Number: 9a, Page Number: 229, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9a; Page: 229, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  8.  Abraham A Mainz, Death Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1883, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1944, Registration district: Knaresborough, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Volume: 9a, Page: 107, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9a; Page: 107, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  9.  Helmut Mainz, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun 1948, Registration district: Claro
    Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Spouse: Carla Adler, Volume Number: 2c, Page Number: 320, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 2c; Page: 320, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  10.  Carla Mainz, Death Age: 30, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1957, Registration district: Claro, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Volume: 2c
    Page: 66, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 2c; Page: 66, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  11.  Helmut Walter S Mainz, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 23 Apr 1918, Registration Date: Sep 2005, Registration district: North Yorkshire. Inferred County: North Yorkshire,
    Register Number: A9, District and Subdistrict: 650/1A, Entry Number: 265, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. 
  12. As per Rafi Stern and a Feuchtwanger family tree he shared with me. 

Escaping from Germany, Part IV: Helene and Martha Loewenthal, An Unfinished Research Project

I am really torn. Do I post about my family history in these times when we are all so anxious and focused on the present and the future, not the past? I prepared this post a few weeks ago, and in re-reading it now, I decided that reading about how others faced serious threats to their lives and their family’s lives might provide hope and strength to some who read it. So I am going forward.


Thus far we have seen what happened to three of Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s children and their children during the Holocaust. This post will report on the two youngest siblings, Helene and Martha, and their families. How did their lives change as a result of the Holocaust?

We saw that Helene Loewenthal’s first marriage to Edward Feuchtwanger had not lasted and that in 1913 she had married Oscar Friedrich August Heinrich Maximilian Schultze. They had one child, Elisabeth Auguste Aloysia Schultze, born on December 3, 1914, in Coblenz, Germany, where she was baptized on May 12, 1915. Thanks to my dear friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have Elisabeth’s birth record.

Notice that it indicates that her religion was evanglische, i.e., Protestant.
Elisabeth Schultze, birth record, Coblenz

Oscar Schultze died on September 6, 1931, in Hanover, Germany. (Thank you again to Aaron Knappstein for obtaining this death record for me.) He was survived by his widow Helene and daughter Elisabeth.

StadtAH_1_NR_3_08_2_1057_1920_1931 Oscar Schultze death certificate

Despite the fact that Elisabeth was raised as a Christian and that her mother Helene had married a Christian, both Elisabeth and Helene were enumerated as minorities on the 1939 Minority Census in Germany, living in Hannover.1 Helene died three years later on November 28, 1942, according to this document found in the Arolsen Archives. She was 65. It incorrectly lists her birth name as Loewenstein, not Loewenthal, but this is definitely my cousin Helene.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations /
1.2.4.1 “Reichsvereinigung der Juden” Card File / 12673184 – HELENE SCHULTZE. ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

I don’t know what happened to Elisabeth during the Nazi era after 1939. She would have been considered a “Mischling” of the first degree since her mother was born Jewish as were her mother’s parents, and not as a Jew because she was not disqualified from being a Mischling under the criteria enumerated by the Nazis, that is, she was not raised as a Jew nor was she married to one before 1935. Whether she faced any persecution or not is not clear, but we’ve seen that other Mischlings were persecuted.

But Elisabeth did survive the war. As indicated on the annotation to the birth record shown below, Elisabeth married in Hamburg in 1955 and died in Bad Krozingen in 1991. Aaron Knappstein is now looking to see if he can find her marriage and death records. Since it appears that Elisabeth married when she was 41, I assume she did not have children.

Annotation to birth record of Elisabeth Schultze

As for Martha Loewenthal, I have mostly secondary information from my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron and numerous unsourced family trees on Ancestry and Heritage, but I will report what I can as best I can to do honor to these cousins. We’ve seen already that she married Jakob Wolff and that they had three children in the first decade of the 20th century: Anna, Hans Anton, and Hans Walter.

UPDATE: Thank you once again to Aaron Knappstein, who has located the marriage record for Anna Wolff and Simon Wittekind. They were married on June 7, 1929, in Frankfurt. Simon was the son of Wilhelm Wittekind and Fanny Mendele, and he was born in Bad Kissingen on December 10, 1892. He had served in World War I for Germany.2 He was a doctor.

Less than a year after witnessing her daughter’s marriage, Martha Loewenthal Wolff died on May 19, 1930, in Frankfurt, as we saw.

Her widower Jakob Wolff immigrated to Palestine on August 21, 1934. By that time Jakob had remarried; his second wife was Ilse Gruenebaum, born October 27, 1901, in Maden, Germany. They became naturalized citizens of Palestine on July 21, 1938.3

Naturalization Certificate of Jacob and Ilse Wolff found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680e4ea29

MyHeritage reports that Jakob and Martha (Loewenthal) Wolff’s children all also ended up in Palestine/Israel, where they married and had children and have descendants still living in Israel. Their father Jakob died on October 14, 1953, in Israel. He was 77.4

If and when I find more documentation for Elisabeth Schultze and the descendants of Martha Loewenthal Wolff, I will update this post. For now, that brings to a close the stories of the children of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern’s daughter Keile and her husband Abraham Loewenthal. Next I will turn to the families of Keile’s brother Abraham Stern and his wife and cousin, Johanna Goldschmidt, and their fate during and after the Nazi era.

 

 


  1. Helene and Elisabeth Schultze, German Federal Archives, Abteilung R (Deutsches Reich), List of Jewish Residents of the German Reich 1933-1945, found at https://tinyurl.com/tyzfaab and at https://tinyurl.com/tjfhud3 
  2.  Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 20351. Kriegsstammrolle, Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File of Jacob and Ilse Wolff, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/r7524xh 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/regavyr 

Escaping from Germany, Part III: A Family Divided Across the World

The story of my cousin Siegfried Loewenthal is the story of how one family ended up separated and spread all over the world in order to escape Nazi Germany.

Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s younger son Siegfried and his wife Henriette Feuchtwanger had five children, as we have seen: Rosel (or Rosa) (1908), Albert (1909), Louise (1910), Grete (1913), and Lotte (1914).

Rosa Loewenthal married Justin Held in Frankfurt on August 24, 1928. Justin was born in Kulsheim, Germany on October 18, 1900.

Marriage record of Justin Held and Rosa Loewenthal, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903. Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Justin had two daughters born in Germany, one in 1929, one in 1930.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Siegfried and Henriette’s family began to disperse. First, their son Albert Loewenthal went to Palestine on March 26, 1934.1 I do not have a marriage record for Albert, but my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron report that he married Hilda Weingarten in Jerusalem on June 12, 1935. Hilda was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 10, 1911. I do know that they were married by the time they applied to become naturalized citizens of Palestine in April 1938, and they had a son born in Jerusalem in 1937.2 According to Cibella/Baron, Hilda died in Switzerland in 1954, Albert in 1995 in Jerusalem (after marrying two more times and having several more children).

Naturalization certificate for Albert and Hilda Loewenthal, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd584e

By 1939, the rest of Siegfried’s family had also left Germany. Siegfried and Henriette themselves arrived in Palestine on March 20, 1939, and became naturalized citizens in 1941.3 Unfortunately, Siegfried died just a year later in Tel Aviv on February 25, 1942. He was 62 years old and survived by his wife and all five of his children.4

Naturalization certificate of Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

And those children were all over the world by then. Rosa Loewenthal and Justin Held and their children left for England in 1939 and then immigrated to the United States in 1940.5 They ended up living in New York and becoming naturalized citizens.6 Justin died in 1980,7 Rosa in 1993.8

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/243J
Enumeration District: AKCZ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Louise Loewenthal had married Walter Meier Strauss in Basel, Switzerland. Walter was native to Frankfurt, where he was born on December 18, 1909.9 I was fortunate to find a long biography of Walter written by one of his grandsons and posted on the family genealogy website.  According to this document, Walter was employed by a woolen factory in Frankfurt when he was a teenager, and when he was in his early twenties or in the early 1930s, the company moved to Switzerland, and the owner asked Walter to come with them, which he did. By that time he had been dating Louise Loewenthal for seven years, and they soon married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. According to the grandson’s biography of Walter:

During the War, friends from home that were now in the concentration camps sent him letters about the atrocities that were going on in the War and specifically in the Camps. Trying to help, he established a group consisting of himself… and a few other men from Basel. The group would send very small care packages periodically to the people in the camps. The packages consisted of food such as salami, sardines, and any other small items that the people requested or needed and was small enough that it could be sent. Every sunday they would load up the packages in a car and drive all over Basel putting them in many different mailboxes, for if they were all dumped in one mailbox they would surely not arrive at the camps.

Thus, Louise and Walter were able to survive the Holocaust; Walter’s parents and brother were, however, murdered at Sobibor.10

In 1946, after the war ended, Louise and Walter Strauss and their two children immigrated to the US; Max Stern, husband of Louise’s first cousin Hilda, helped them get a visa. The ship manifest listed Justin Held, Louise’s brother-in-law married to her older sister Rosa, as the person they were going to in the US.11 They settled in New York where Walter once again got a job with a woolen factory. Walter died in 1990 while on a business trip in Switzerland and was buried in Israel.12 Louise died in New York on August 11, 2003; she was 92 and was survived by her two children and her grandchildren.13

Grete Loewenthal immigrated to Palestine, arriving on April 6, 1936. She became a naturalized citizen on November 29, 1938. She was working as an assistant pharmacist at the time and was unmarried.14

Cibella/Baron report that she married Fritz Altar in 1948, but I have no records to verify that fact. I did find two ship manifests, one outgoing from England, one arriving in New York, in May 1958, that list Grete and Fritz Altar, residents of Austria and working as hotel managers.15 The English manifest indicates that they were headed to the US as “the country of intended permanent residence.” But I have found no records showing that Grete and Fritz lived in the US. Fritz died in Vienna on January 30, 1993, and is buried there.16 Unsourced trees on Geni and MyHeritage report that Grete died on September 27, 1995, also in Vienna. I have no verification of that fact.

Lotte Loewenthal also had left Germany by 1939. She and her husband Erich Posen are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register showing residence in England by 1939. Erich was working as an optical goods salesman.

Lotte Loewenthal and Erich Posen, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/980H, Enumeration District: BXHY, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Unfortunately I have no marriage record for Lotte and Erich, but I know this is the correct person because after the war when she and Erich had their first child in January 1946, Lotte had serious complications and her mother Henriette had to get permission to leave Palestine to go to England for a few months to help Lotte with the new baby.16

Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

Lotte was not destined for a long life. She died at the age of 52 in 1967 in England, survived by her husband Erich and two children.17 Her mother also survived her; Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal died at the age of 93 in Israel, according to the work of Roger Cibella and David Baron.

Despite the lack of sources for some of the stories of Siegfried Loewenthal and his family, there is enough information to conclude that he, his wife, and all five of their children and their grandchildren escaped Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. In doing so, they ended up spread across three continents and three different countries.

There are always costs to these relocations and disruptions. Siegfried’s early death in 1942 certainly could have been just one of those costs.

Gravestone of Siegfried Loewenthal, photograph by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015, found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

Gravestone of Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal photo by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015 , found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

 

 


  1. Immigration and Naturalization File for Albert and Hilda (Weingarten) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/w33mluf 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/u3jsyyc 
  5. Rosa and Justin Held and family, passenger ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6459; Line: 16; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Name: Rosa Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 20 Nov 1947, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. Justin Held, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900, Age: 47, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. 
  7.  Justin Held, Social Security Number: 092-14-6607, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900
    Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Rose Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Death Date: Mar 1993, SSN: 095144557,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Walter Meier Strauss, Birth Date: 18 Dec 1909, Naturalization Date: 24 Mar 1952,
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. “My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Walter Meyer Strauss,” Jonathan Strauss, found at https://tinyurl.com/ttlo7rl 
  11. Walter and Louise Strauss and children, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7161; Line: 1; Page Number: 267, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See footnote 10. Walter M Strauss, Death Date: 15 Oct 1990, SSN: 065246257,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Louise Strauss, Death Date: 11 Aug 2003, SSN: 122285989, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. Immigration and Naturalization File for Grete Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/v5mxvs9 
  15. Fritz and Grete Altar, ship manifest, 15 May 1958, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA, Ship Name: Ryndam
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Grete and Fritz Altar, ship manifest, 24 May 1958, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Ship: Ryndam, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2990227; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4115; NARA Roll Number: 447, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  16. See multiple letters in Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  17. Lottie V Posen, Death Age: 52, Registration Date: Jul 1967, Registration district: Hampstead, Inferred County: Greater London, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 583, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part II: Julius Loewenthal’s Family

Although the story of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s family had happy endings in that the entire family safely left Germany and made new lives for themselves in the US, the story of Selma’s brother Julius is more complicated and more heartbreaking.

Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa Werner had four children, as we have seen: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918. Ruth had married Leonhard Fulda on March 16, 1928, in Eschwege, where her family lived.

Marriage Record of Ruth Loewenthal and Leonhard Fulda, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1913
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On September 21, 1930, Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Margot Fulda, in Mainz, Germany.1

That happy event was followed by the marriage of Julius and Elsa’s younger daughter Hilda Loewenthal to Max Stern on July 25, 1934, in Hamburg.

Hilda Loewenthal and Max Stern marriage record (found in a biography of Max Stern posted on Ancestry)

Max Stern was born in Fulda, Germany, on October 22, 1898, to Emanuel and Caroline Stern,2 and had immigrated to the United States in 1926.3 He brought with him a shipment of five thousand singing canaries he’d accepted as repayment for a debt4 and started a bird store, as seen on the 1930 census. That business eventually grew into the highly successful pet and pet food company, Hartz Mountain Corporation.

Max had returned to Germany to marry Hilda Loewenthal, and then he and his bride returned to New York in August 1934.5 They visited Germany in 1935,6 but returned to New York, where their three children were thereafter born.

Max Stern, 1930 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0270; FHL microfilm: 2341293, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, during these years, Hitler had taken power in Germany, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews had begun by the time Hilda and Max married in 1934. Herbert Loewenthal, Julius and Elsa’s second child and older son, left Germany and arrived in New York on February 22, 1935, with the intention of remaining permanently. He filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen on September 20, 1935, describing his occupation as international clearing and barter.

Herbert Loewenthal, 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, Description: (Roll 489) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 367301-368300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius and Elsa came to New York to visit their children in February, 1936, but only for sixty days, according to the ship manifest.7

To learn more details about what happened to the family of Julius Loewenthal thereafter, I was fortunate to find the award and decision of the Claims Resolution Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the “Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion”) issued in response to a claim filed in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation by Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl Werner Loewenthal, also known as Garry Warner-Loewenthal .

According to the official website for the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation:

In 1996 and 1997, a series of class action lawsuits were filed in several United States federal courts against Swiss banks and other Swiss entities, alleging that financial institutions in Switzerland collaborated with and aided the Nazi Regime by knowingly retaining and concealing assets of Holocaust victims, and by accepting and laundering illegally obtained Nazi loot and profits of slave labor. All of the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“the Court”). ….

The lawsuits were filed because in the decades after the Holocaust, Swiss financial institutions had failed to return deposits to the Nazi victims (or their relatives) who had entrusted their assets to the banks. Although the issue of these bank accounts had been raised many times during the decades after the Holocaust, in the late 1990s, the banks’ behavior came under scrutiny of a type that Switzerland had not experienced before.

The litigation was settled in 2000, and a special master was appointed to establish a process for distributing compensation to claimants. Garry Warner-Loewenthal filed a claim for the account of his father, and the tribunal’s full decision on his claim can be found here. It details the facts alleged by Julius’ son in support of his claim, for which he was awarded 47,400 Swiss francs.

According to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, Herbert Loewenthal moved from the US to Zurich, Switzerland before 1937. Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda were planning to move to the US and in the fall of 1937, they went to visit Ruth’s brother Herbert in Switzerland before immigrating, accompanied by Ruth and Herbert’s father Julius Loewenthal. Central to the claim was the allegation that Julius had deposited money in a Swiss bank while in Zurich.

Tragically, Ruth and Leonhard were killed in a terrible automobile accident on October 3, 1937, while returning to Germany from Switzerland. Julius was seriously injured, but survived. Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot, orphaned at seven years old, went to live with her father’s parents, Isaak and Joanna Fulda in Mainz.

In November 1937, just a month after the accident that killed their daughter and son-in-law, Julius and Elsa again visited New York for a limited time but returned to Germany.8 I have to wonder whether at this point they wanted to immigrate, given what was happening in Germany. Perhaps they could not get a visa allowing them to stay permanently. According to information given to Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, after the Nazis confiscated Julius’ business, he and Elsa fled to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to London. Finally, in May 1939, they were able to immigrate permanently to the United States.9

Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest from England to New York, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 . Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

By the time the 1940 census was enumerated, Julius and Elsa were living in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Neither listed an occupation.10 Their daughter Hilda and her family were living in Manhattan, and Max Stern listed his occupation as a bird food merchant.11

Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl had fled to England in 1938, according to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion. In November, 1939, Karl was found exempt from being interned as an enemy alien. He was working as a trainee in a hosiery factory in Leicester.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56,  056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

During the war Karl joined the British Armed Forces and was advised to change his name to Garry Charles Warner “for his own protection.”  When he immigrated to the United States after the war in August, 1946, he added “Loewenthal” back to his name and was known as Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, as described in the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion.

It might seem that Julius Loewenthal’s family was relatively fortunate as Julius, Elsa, Hilda and her husband Max Stern, Herbert, and Karl/Garry all survived the Holocaust and the war. Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed, but not by the Nazis; they died in a car accident. Of course, Ruth and Leonhard might never have been involved in an accident if they hadn’t gone to Switzerland to visit Herbert, who had been forced to leave Germany because of the Nazis.

But that is not the end of the story. Recall that Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot had gone to live with her paternal grandparents, the Fuldas, in Mainz after losing her parents in October 1937. The Fulda family—Isaac and Johanna, their son Ernst and his wife Emma, and Margot, Ruth and Leonhard’s orphaned daughter—all escaped to Amsterdam in 1939. But they were ultimately deported from there to Sobibor, where every single one of them was murdered by the Nazis in 1943, including little Margot, who was not yet thirteen years old.12

Julius Loewenthal had survived a terrible car accident that caused him serious harm, the deaths of his daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard in that accident, the confiscation of his business, the loss of his homeland, the escape first to the Netherlands, then England, and finally to the US, and, worst of all, the murder of his granddaughter Margot. Having survived all that, he died not long after the war ended on November 20, 1946, at the age of 72.13

Four years later, his daughter Hilda divorced Max Stern. She would marry again, but that marriage also did not last.14 Her mother Elsa Werner Loewenthal died in 1961 in New York at the age of 77,15 and then her brother Herbert died in Zurich in 1962; he was only 53 and had never married.16 Hilda Loewenthal Stern Duschinsky died on July 29, 1980; she was 68 and was survived by her children and grandchildren.17

That left only Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal. He had married after the war and had one child.18 I could not find much other information about Garry, but we do know that just a few years before he died when he was already in his eighties, he filed a claim in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation and received some compensation for all that his family had lost. Garry died at the age of 87 in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 1, 2005.19

The story of the family of Julius Loewenthal serves as a painful reminder that even those who survived the Holocaust suffered greatly and lived with those scars forever after.

 

 

 

 


  1. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.,
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897, found at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu 
  2. Birth record of Max Stern, Familien- und Geburtsregister der Juden von Fulda 1748-1899 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 345)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 202. 
  3.  Staats Archiv Bremen; Bremen, Germany; Bremen Passenger Lists; Archive Number: AIII15-18.08.1926-2_N, Ancestry.com. Web: Bremen, Germany, Passenger Lists Index, 1907-1939 
  4. “Max Stern, Founder of Hartz Mountain,” The Herald-News
    Passaic, New Jersey, 21 May 1982, Fri • Page 31 
  5. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5526; Line: 1; Page Number: 118, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island) 
  6. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5683; Line: 1; Page Number: 8,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5769; Line: 1; Page Number: 4, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6081; Line: 25; Page Number: 48, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6328; Line: 1; Page Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02746; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 41-1374B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Max and Hilda Stern and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02642; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 31-774, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897 at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu  Also, see the entries at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/ts3xacc 
  13. Certificate Number: 9313, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  14. Divorce Date: Mar 1950, County: Elmore, Ancestry.com. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Original data: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Montgomery, AL, USA: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Marriage of Hilda Stern to Eugene Duschinsky, License Number: 609, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Death Date: 22 Mar 1961, Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 3535, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  16. See Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion 
  17.  Social Security Number: 057-38-8878, Birth Date: 22 Oct 1911, Death Date: Jul 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  18.  License Number: 650, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Queens, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  19. Death Date: 1 Mar 2005, SSN: 056244639, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part I: Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s Family

As discussed in an earlier post, by the late 19th century, the city of Frankfurt had the second largest Jewish population in Germany. During the early decades of the 20th century, that community continued to grow and prosper, as described in this source, the February 2005 issue of Hadassah Magazine:

As the 20th century got under way Frankfurt’s Jews were at the peak of their influence. They were bankers, brokers, manufacturers, retailers, lawyers and doctors. They fought in World War I under the Kaiser and Frankfurt became a center of learning in the Weimar Republic. Jewish Frankfurters were active in politics, and in 1925 Ludwig Landmann became the city’s first Jewish mayor.

And this source added to this picture of the thriving Jewish community in Frankfurt during the first three decades of the 20th century:

Before 1933, Frankfurt am Main had the largest percentage of Jewish citizens in Germany, and its Jewish community was the second largest in Germany following Berlin. In finance, education, science, and through numerous associations and foundations, Jewish citizens influenced the city of Frankfurt in a distinct way.

It is quite evident that Frankfurt was a comfortable place for Jews to live and do business in those early decades of the 20th century.

All that changed, of course, in 1933 when Hitler came to power. And certainly by 1935 with the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, life became miserable for Jews all over Germany. Thus, it is not surprising that Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants began to leave Germany, some for the United States, some for England, and some for what was then Palestine, today’s Israel.

The next series of posts will tell the story of what happened to the descendants of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Stern during and after the Holocaust. This post will tell the story of Kiele Stern Loewenthal’s oldest child, Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher, and her children, Alice, Julius, and Gerhard, and their children.

Selma’s three children all went to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power, as did her grandchildren. Selma’s youngest child Gerhard Schwabacher had in fact left for the United States before Hitler came to power. According to his naturalization papers, he arrived in the United States on February 9, 1927, and by September 6, 1927, had declared his intention to become a United States citizen.

Gerhard Schwabacher, Petition for US Citizenship, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 67-69, petition no 17330-17847
Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Gerhard married Alice Ferron, a Connecticut native, on September 4, 1931.1 Alice was born on April 18, 1905 to Charles J. and Alice Ferron.2 Gerhard and Alice were living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1933 when he filed his petition for citizenship, and Gerhard was working as an electrical engineer for General Electric.3

On September 8, 1934, his mother Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher (who was a widow) arrived in New York to stay with Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest listed Berlin as her place of residence  and indicated that she only planned to stay in the US for six months.4  It appears that Selma did not stay in the US;  the research done by my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron indicates that she died in Berlin on February 20, 1937.

Julius Schwabacher arrived in the US on September 30, 1935. Like his mother, he indicated that Berlin was his place of residence in Germany and that he was going to see his brother Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest reports that Julius was a reporter and that he was going to stay only 30 days,5 and it appears he also returned to Germany. But on November 14, 1937, Julius sailed from Havana, Cuba, to Florida, ultimately heading to Bridgeport where his brother lived. This time Julius indicated he intended to stay in the US permanently and that his occupation was a journalist.

And on September 20, 1938, he filed his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen.

Julius Schwabacher, 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, (Roll 541) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 419501-420500)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius’ daughter Eva Lore Schwabacher arrived two years later on July 29, 1940, heading to New York where her father, now using the surname Wenton, was living. Eva Lore had been residing in London before immigrating to the US.6  Julius and Eva Lore’s mother Margarete had divorced in 1928, as Julius’s declaration indicates, and tragically, Margarete did not leave Germany and was murdered at Auschwitz.7

Selma’s daughter Alice Schwabacher Weinstein and her husband David and son Wolfgang also left Germany in time. Wolfgang left first; he arrived in the US on December 7, 1935, heading to his uncle Gerhard in Bridgeport.8 He filed his Declaration of Intent the following year and by that time had changed his surname to Wenten.

Wolfgang Weinstein (Wenten), Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 100-103, petition no 25563-26184, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Wolfgang’s parents Alice and David arrived on March 28, 1939,9 and like their son Wolfgang and Gerhard, settled in Bridgeport. David would also change his surname to Wenten and filed a Declaration of Intent for them to become US citizens in 1940.

David Wenten, Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Declaration of intention, no 38436-40677, 1938-1940, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Thus, in 1940, all of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s children and grandchildren were safely settled in the US. The 1940 US census shows Gerhard living with his wife and two American-born young sons in Bridgeport, working as an electrical engineer.10 His sister Alice and her husband David were also living in Bridgeport where David was in the real estate business. Their son Wolfgang was living with them and working as a shipping clerk for a novelty store.11

I could not locate Julius or his daughter Eva Lore on the 1940 US census, but in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft, Julius was also living in Bridgeport, working for the Surgical Shears Company.

Julius Wenteo, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Connecticut; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Unfortunately, the story of the Selma’s children’s transition to the United States ends on a sad note. David Weinstein aka Wenten died on September 25, 1941, at the age of 55.12 One must wonder whether the stress of leaving his homeland and adjusting to life in a new country contributed to his death.

As for the other members of the family, they safely survived the war in the United States. Gerhard Schwabacher remained in Bridgeport for the rest of his life, working as an engineer for General Electric. He died on July 26, 1971, at the age of 69.13 His wife Alice died the following year.14 They were survived by their two sons.

Julius Schwabacher Wenton died a year after his brother on September 29, 1972, in Laguna Hills, California; he was 79.15 He was survived by his second wife, Elsie Simon, whom he had married in Fairfield, Connecticut on March 13, 1943,16 and his daughter Eva Lore. Eva Lore had married twice, first to Jack Stern in 1943, and then, after divorcing Jack Stern in 1946, to Henry Corton, in April, 1951.17 As far as I’ve been able to determine, she did not have children with either man. Eva Lore Corton passed away on March 3, 2003.18

Alice Schwabacher outlived both of her younger brothers. After losing her first husband David Weinstein/Wenten in 1941, she married Arthur Kingsley (originally Koenigsberger) on August 1, 1951.19 She outlived him as well; he died in January 1972.20 Alice lived to the age of 93; she died on her 93rd birthday on December 29, 1984.21 She was survived by her son Wolfgang Wenten, who was in the construction estimating business in Bridgeport. Sadly, Wolfgang did not inherit the same longevity as his mother. He died less than six years after she did on March 20, 1990; he was 76 and was survived by his wife Ruth and their two children.22

Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher still has numerous descendants living in the United States—her great-grandchildren and their children and grandchildren. She and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany in time.

 

 


  1.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968; Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  2. Charles Farron (sic) and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Bridgeport Ward 5, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: T625_175; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 26, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45 
  4. Selma Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5554; Line: 1; Page Number: 112, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Julius Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5713; Line: 1; Page Number: 128, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Eva Lore Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6485; Line: 15; Page Number: 126, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Entries for Margarete Schwabacher at Yad Vashem https://tinyurl.com/wlm399u 
  8. Wolfgang Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5739; Line: 18; Page Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. David and Alice Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6303; Line: 18; Page Number: 104, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Family of Gerhard Schwabacher, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00531; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 9-69, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Family of David Wenten, 1940 US census, ear: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00533; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 9-125,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12.  State Vital Records Office; Hartford, Connecticut; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Deaths, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Death Records, 1897-1968 
  13. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45. Social Security Number: 041-09-0962, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1902, Last Residence: 06492, Wallingford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, Death Date: Jul 1971, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. State File #: 02273, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  15.  Social Security Number: 104-10-6866, Birth Date: 17 May 1893, Last Residence: 92653, Laguna Hills, Orange, California, USA, Death Date: Sep 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  17. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher to Jack Stern, Marriage certificates 1943 vol 57A, Ancestry.com. Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008. Divorce of Eva Lore Schwabacher and Jack Stern, Ancestry.com. Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001,
    Original data: Florida Department of Health. Florida Divorce Index, 1927-2001. Jacksonville, FL, USA: Florida Department of Health. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher Stern to Henry Corton, License Number: 9785, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 14,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  18. SSN: 045121672, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19.  License Number: 20152, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20.  Social Security Number: 112-26-6899, Death Date: Jan 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  21.  Social Security Number: 044-12-5712, Birth Date: 29 Dec 1891,
    Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1984
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), 
  22. “Wenten Named to Head County School,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 28 Jul 1968, Sun • Page 66. SSN: 041105870, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

My Vogel Cousins: From Germany to Argentina

Before I return to the family of Meyer Goldschmidt, I have two more posts to share relating to other family members.

Today I want to share some wonderful photographs I received from my fourth cousin, once removed, Patricia, the daughter of Heinz Vogel, granddaughter of Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, great-granddaughter of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz.

On September 10, 2019, I wrote about this family and told the story of the escape of Sophie and Isaak and their sons Heinz and Carl to Argentina from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. It was due to the generosity of Patricia and also Carl Vogel’s daughter that I was able to share details of the Vogel’s story and how they rebuilt their lives in Buenos Aires as well as many wonderful photographs.

In November, Patricia shared several more wonderful family photographs.

This is a photograph of Rosa Katzenstein in 1887 when she was 28 and married to Salomon Feist Katz for six years. (I’ve edited these photographs a little to improve clarity.) Rosa was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s second cousin, once removed. I see a resemblance to Hilda. What do you think?

Rosa Katzenstein Katz, 1887

Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal

Taken that same year is this photograph of Salomon, who was 35 at that time. Salomon was also my cousin (and Rosa’s cousin). He was my third cousin, three times removed, through our shared ancestors, Schalum and Brendelchen Katz, my fifth great-grandparents. He was Hilda’s third cousin.

Salomon Feist Katz, 1887

Patricia also sent me images of what was on the reverse of these photographs. Can anyone read the words above their names?

UPDATE: Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the top words as Grossmutter (grandmother) and Grossvater (grandfather).

This photograph of Rosa and Salomon’s daughter Sophie Katz and her husband Isaak Vogel was taken in July, 1948, after they had immigrated to Argentina; the inscription on the reverse appears below it. Can someone decipher what it says? The second line says “63(?) Geburtstag 10 Jul 1948.”  Sophie was born on July 10, 1885, so this would have been her 63rd birthday. She and Isaak don’t look very happy, however.

UPDATE: Thank you again to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for transcribing the first word in the top line as aufgenommen, meaning “taken.” She wasn’t certain whether the next word was “bei,’ indicating where the photo was taken, or “von,” indicating who took the photo. And the third word was not legible.

SECOND UPDATE: Thank you to Eric, who commented below and was able to read that last word. It says Aufgenommen bei meinem 63rd geburtstag or Taken at my 63rd birthday. Thanks, Eric!

Sophie Katz and Isaak Vogel, 1948

Finally, Patricia shared a photograph taken at Sophie and Isaak’s 50th anniversary celebration on June 9, 1959. That adorable little girl in the center of the photograph is Patricia herself.

In the front row from left to right are Sophie Katz Vogel, Isaak Vogel, and Rosa Hamburger, Carl Vogel’s mother-in-law. Standing behind them from left to right is Carl Vogel, Gertrud Lippman Vogel (Heinz Vogel’s wife), Heinz Vogel, and Beate Hamburger Vogel (Carl’s wife).

When I look at this photograph and see the love and the smiles that permeate it and compare it to the stern expressions on the faces of Sophie and Isaak in 1948, it makes me think of how hard their adjustment to Argentina must have been, but also how fortunate they must have felt to have left Germany behind and to have made a whole new life for themselves in their new homeland.

I am so grateful to Patricia for sharing these with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie Katz Vogel and Her Family: A Brick Wall Falls in My Katzenstein Family

Back in October 2017, I wrote about a brick wall I could not break down involving the children of my cousin Rosa Katzenstein. Rosa was my second cousin, twice removed. She was the granddaughter of Jacob Katzenstein, the older brother of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

Rosa was the oldest child of Mina and Wolf Katzenstein, born on June 19, 1859, in Frankenau, Germany.

Rosa Katzenstein birth record arcinsys
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174, p. 7

She married her third cousin, once removed, Salomon Feist Katz, son of Joseph Feist Katz and Brendel Katz of Jesberg. Rosa and Salomon were married on June 28, 1881, in Jesberg. They had four daughters, one of whom died as a child, but three survived to adulthood: Sara, Sophie, and Recha.

Marriage record of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3836

I had a great deal of trouble learning what happened to two of those daughters, Sara and Sophie. I knew that Sara had married Otto Loew and had two children and that Sophie had married Isaac Vogel, with whom she’d had two sons, Heinz and Carl, but that was all I could find. Then, with incredible help from my friend Aaron Knappstein, I learned that Sara and Sophie as well as their sister Recha had all left Germany in the 1930s and escaped to Argentina.

But I did not know what had happened to the two sons of Sophie Katz Vogel, Carl and Heinz. Now, thanks to more wonderful research done by Aaron Knappstein, I not only know more about their story, I actually have photographs of the family and am in touch with two new cousins.

In April, 2019, Aaron received an email with a packet of information and photographs from Ingo Sieloff, the director of the Borken museum. Back in 2009, Carl Vogel’s daughter had exchanged emails with Heinrich Broz, then the archivist for the town of Borken, and had sent him photographs and other documents and a history of her family. Mr. Sieloff sent all of this to Aaron, and  Aaron sent them on to me. Last week I took a chance and sent Carl’s daughter an email using the email address she’d had in 2009. That same day she responded and shared it with Heinz’s daughter, and now I have two new cousins with whom to share and exchange family information.

Here is more of the story of Sophie Katz and Isaac Vogel. Most of the information in this post came from my correspondence with their granddaughters and the documents and photographs they shared with me.

Sophie Katz married Isaac Vogel on June 9, 1909:

Sophie Katz marriage to Isaak Vogel
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5624

Their son Carl was born on March 30, 1910, in Borken, Germany:

Birth record of Carl Vogel

His brother Heinz was born two years later on July 18, 1912, also in Borken:

Birth record of Heinz Vogel. Courtesy of the Vogel family

During World War I Isaac Vogel served in the Germany military, fighting in France, and then was a city councilor in Borken in the 1920s.

Isaac Vogel (right). Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac Vogel, seated far right. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac worked with his brother Moritz as a cattle trader. It was a business that Isaac and Moritz had taken over from their father Ephraim. It was a small business, but enough to support two families adequately.

Here are three photos of Carl and Heinz and their parents taken between about 1910 to about 1924 in Borken, Germany:

Heinz and Carl Vogel, c. 1910. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Sophie, Heinz, Isaac, and Carl Vogel, c. 1917. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Vogel family, c. 1924. Courtesy of the Vogel family

According to Ingo Sieloff,  the Vogel home in Borken was located at Hintergasse 125 and included a house and a stable; the house was 105 square meters or about 1130 square feet in area. It appears to be larger than that in this photograph:

Hintergasse 125, Borken. Courtesy of the Vogel family

I don’t know when this photograph was taken or the identities of the people standing in front.

As a child, Carl Vogel was an avid reader and a good student, and his parents decided to send him to grammar school in Kassel. During the week he lived with his uncle Moritz Vogel. Carl graduated from high school and then studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. He also attended lectures at Rabbinerseminar and worked as a religion teacher.

These three photographs are labeled “Schule,” one with year 1921. I can find Carl in the Gymnasium photograph below (the third one); he is the young man standing fourth from the left in the back row. I assume that either Carl or Heinz is somewhere in the other two photos. Can you find them? I have guesses, but am not sure.

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Heinz Vogel was also a very talented boy, but his parents could not afford to send both boys to high school. Instead, Heinz completed his apprenticeship as a retail merchant in Kassel at the Tietz department store.

Until 1933, the family lived a normal life. They saw themselves as Jews and as good Germans. They lived a quiet life, although there were occasional verbal anti-Semitic attacks .  But once the Nazis came to power, the Vogel cattle business suffered because farmers were not allowed to do business with Jews. Heinz Vogel also found his livelihood affected; although he was considered the best salesman in the store, he was released from his job. He then completed an apprenticeship in a practical trade in Frankfurt to prepare for emigration.

Carl read Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and recognized that the family needed to leave Germany. Sophie’s sister Recha Katz Goldschmidt had already left  for Argentina by 1932 after her husband Julius was beaten by the Nazis.

Carl and Heinz prepared to emigrate to Palestine, but then decided to go to Argentina since they already had relatives living there. Heinz and Carl first emigrated in 1935, and one year later their parents Isaac and Sophie and Sophie’s mother Rosa Katzenstein Katz followed. They sold their home in Borken for 9113 Reichsmarks. One source says that there were 2.5 Reichsmarks to a US dollar during World War II, so the price of the house would have been about $3,645 in US currency or about $48,000 in today’s dollars, according to this inflation calculator. They settled in Buenos Aires.

In Argentina, Carl and Heinz had to start their lives all over. But the family adapted well to their life in Argentina. The philanthropic association Asociación Filantrópica Israelita or Jüdischer Hillfsverein helped the newcomers adjust to their new country. In Buenos Aires, Isaac and Sophie continued to have a traditional Jewish home and went regularly to the liberal synagogue founded by German Jews; services were conducted in German and Hebrew and in later years, also in Spanish. Isaac and Sophie never learned Spanish, but it did not matter because they were living amidst other German Jews who had escaped from the Nazis. Isaac also tutored boys for their bar mitzvahs.

In 1943 Carl Vogel married Beate Hamburger from Frankfurt; Carl was very active and well known in the Jewish community and served as a deputy rabbi and as a bar mitzvah tutor. He also taught German and Latin. Beate also was a teacher; she gave private instruction in German and English. Carl and Beate had two children.

Heinz Vogel married Gertrud Lippman from Ludwigshafen in 1943. They had one child. Heinz started work in Argentina as an industrial worker in the meat business. Then he became a white collar worker in a big Argentina-owned multinational firm called Bunge & Born. For his job he was required to travel all over the world, including a six-month stay in India in 1954. He became the General Manager of the Jute department and traveled many times to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Although Heinz lacked the formal education his brother Carl had received in Germany, his daughter described him as a “very cultured and interesting person.” She said that her parents lived a secular life and had friends from many different backgrounds; their connection to the synagogue was limited to Yom Kippur and lifecycle events for family and friends. Heinz’s daughter also told me that Heinz was very proud to be an Argentine citizen and that when he received a diploma from the Argentine government on the fiftieth anniversary of his becoming a citizen, he was very emotional.

Isaac Vogel died on April 16, 1960, in Buenos Aires;1 his wife Sophie died five years later on May 5, 1965.2  Carl died in 1981, and Heinz in 2005.

I feel so fortunate to have found the granddaughters of Sophie and Isaac and to have learned so much more about the courage and determination of Sophie, Isaac, Carl, and Heinz, who all started their lives over in a new place after being forced to escape from Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

 

 

How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part I: Emil Seligmann

Wolfgang’s second find on the newly released Arolsen Archives website was about our cousin Emil Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the son of Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr., and Anna Maria Angelika Illian. His father Emil, Sr., was the son of Caroline Seligmann and Siegfried Seligmann and the grandson of Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld. And since Emil Sr.’s father Siegfried was the son of Moritz’s sister Martha, Emil Sr., was also her grandson. Thus, Emil, Sr., was the great-grandson of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer through two of their children.

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Anyway, I digress. Emil, Sr., was born on December 23, 1863, in Mainz, Germany.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 66
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875

He married Anna Maria Angelika Illian on February 10, 1907, in Erbach, Germany. Their marriage record indicates that Anna Maria was Catholic, so theirs was an interfaith marriage.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr Marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 919; Laufende Nummer: 1109, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria had two children—Emil Jacob, Jr. and Christina. From these names, we can see that Emil, Sr., was not keeping to Jewish naming traditions, having a son who shared his name and a daughter named Christina and known as Christel.

One other observation: Emil Jacob, Jr., was born on May 27, 1901, almost six years before the date on his parents’ marriage record. 1 I wonder whether there were legal or other obstacles that prevented Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria from marrying earlier.

According to Emil, Sr.’s death certificate, he died from arteriosclerosis on August 9, 1942, at home in Wiesbaden. He was 78 years old. His wife Anna Maria had predeceased him on January 31, 1942, in Wiesbaden; she was 71. She died from heart disease.2

Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2934, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The Arolsen Archives had this registration card for Emil, Sr., dated sometime after June 30, 1941. I know this is pure speculation, but I do have to wonder whether the stress of the Nazi era contributed to their deaths.

Card “Reichsvereinigung der Juden”, Emil I. SELIGMANN, 1.2.4.1 / 12673844, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The fate of their son Emil, Jr., sheds some light on that, especially from the papers that Wolfgang located at the Arolsen Archives. There is an entire folder for Emil, Jr., of forms connected to his time at Buchenwald, and those forms reveal a great deal not only about Emil but also about the Nazi mindset. I will only post a few of the forms in the folder—those that reveal the most important information about Emil.

First is his Haeftlings-Personal-Karte or his personal prisoner’s card, which includes information about his birth, his parents, his physical characteristics, as well as other matters. Note that it asks for his religion, and he responded “R.K.,” or Roman Catholic. That is, Emil was imprisoned at Buchenwald even though his mother was Catholic and he identified as Catholic.

Prisoner Registration Card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088569, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Note also at the top that it says “Mischl. 1 Gr.”, or Mischling First Degree. “Mischling” means hybrid in German, and it was the way Nazis labeled those who were from a mixed background and not 100% Jewish in their ancestry. A Mischling First Degree meant someone who had two Jewish grandparents, as Emil, Jr. did. The First Supplementary Decree of November 14, 1935 to the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race first promulgated on September 15, 1935, established standards for defining who was a Jew for Nazi purposes and included this provision:

ARTICLE 5

(1)  A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews…

(2)  A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if:

(a)  he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later;

(b)  when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew;

(c)  he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935;

(d)  he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

There are many other sources shedding light on the definition of Mischling and the treatment thereof by the Nazis including those linked to here and here and here.

Emil did not fall into any of those disqualifying categories so was classified as a Mischling, First Degree. But what did that mean for Emil?

Well, as you can see from his card, he did not escape persecution. He was sent to Buchenwald by the Gestapo through Frankfurt, in 1944. The card says “eingewiesen am” August 21, 1944, and “eingewiesen am” translates as “instructed on,” but I assume in this context it means something more threatening than instruction. The “grund” or reason given for this action was that Emil was a “Polit. Mischl. 1 Gr,” meaning that he was arrested for political activity, not just for being a Mischling, First Degree.

Another card in the file shows that he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchewald on August 21, 1944. 3   On that card it shows what Emil brought with him: a cap, one pair of cloth pants, a shirt, a skirt (?), and two pairs of shoes—laced shoes and clogs.

Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088572, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

What the following form in the folder revealed makes the fact of Emil’s arrest and imprisonment even surprising. This is the prisoner registration form used at Buchenwald and the other Nazi concentration camps. It repeats most of the personal information Emil provided on the prisoner’s card above, but note the line that says “Kriegsdienstzeit.” That translates as military service time, and Emil reported that he had served in the infantry from 1940-1941. That is, Emil had been a soldier in the German army for two years of World War II. And now he was imprisoned at Buchenwald.

Prisoner Registration Form Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088574, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Tragically, Emil did not survive his time at Buchenwald. Less than six months after his initial imprisonment he died from a heart attack on February 14, 1945. He was 43 years old.

ITS reference card, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088580, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

According to this card, which Wolfgang translated for me, Emil had been admitted to the infirmary the day before for diarrhea. Emil must have been quite ill, likely from mistreatment and poor nutrition, to have died so young.

Extract from the Book of deceased of the prisoners’ infirmary ward of Concentration Camp Buchenwald, 1.1.5.1 / 5348508, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Just a few months later, Germany was defeated by the Allies, and the concentration camps were liberated. Emil could have lived a full life instead of having it cut short by the Nazis.

My next post will tell the story of Emil’s sister, Christine.

 

 

 


  1.   Emil’s birth date appears on several records, although I do not have an actual birth record. For example, it appears on his records from his time at Buchenwald, see at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, April 1944 – April 1945; Publication Number: M2121; Roll Number: 1, Ancestry.com. Germany, Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, 1944-1945. It also appears on the forms from Arolsen seen below. According to Wolfgang, Christel was born on July 30, 1903, so also before her parents’ marriage. Christel was the first owner of the “magic suitcase” that helped Wolfgang, his mother, and me learn so much about our shared family. More on Christel and her life to come in my next post. 
  2. Anna Maria Illian Seligmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2931, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. A different card in the file says he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchenwald on December 29, 1944. Had he been released and then re-arrested a few months later? Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088571, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives 

Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer: A Mother in Search of Her Children

For any of you who have done or are doing research about relatives who were persecuted or killed in the Holocaust, you may want to check out the newly organized database released by the Arolsen Archives in May, 2019. In the press release they issued on May 21, 2019, they wrote:

People from all over the world can now conduct research online to discover thefates of victims of National Socialist persecution: the Arolsen Archives havepublished a new online archive in partnership with the World HolocaustRemembrance Center, Yad Vashem (https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/). The database contains a comprehensive collection of documents from concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices. The more than 13 million documents featuring information on over 2.2 million people persecuted by the Nazi Regime are part of the UNESCO’s World Documentary Heritage and are a key focus of the collection of the Arolsen Archives. This database is the first of several large collections scheduled to go online in future. 

I first learned of this new resource from my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann, who emailed me on May 28, 2019, about new discoveries he’d made by searching the newly updated Arolsen Archives.

This post will be about the first—documents he found about Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer, the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and granddaughter of Moritz Seligmann, my three-times great-grandfather. Pauline was the younger sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann. So Martha was Wolfgang’s first cousin, twice removed, and my first cousin, three times removed.

Although I have written about Martha before, since I last wrote about her, additional documents have become available on Ancestry that provide more details of her life before the Holocaust. Martha was born on March 1, 1876, in Offenbach, Germany. She married Heinrich Floersheimer on September 18, 1902, in Butzbach, Germany. Together they had two children: Trude, born January 24, 1904, in Gross-Gerau, Germany,1 and Paul, born August 9, 1906, in Wiesbaden, Germany.2  Martha and Heinrich were divorced in 1913.

Martha Oppenheimer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 918; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Martha Oppenheimer marriage and divorce record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 924; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

From Yad Vashem and other family sources, I’d earlier learned that both Trude and Paul were murdered during the Holocaust. Trude was deported from Frankfurt on June 11, 1942, and sent to the Sobibor concentration camp where she was murdered; she was 38.3 Paul was deported on June 10, 1942, to the concentration camp at Majdanek, Poland, and was murdered there; he was 35.4 As for their mother Martha, she was sent to Thereisenstadt and somehow survived.

What Wolfgang found at the Arolsen Archives website were forms that Martha completed after she was liberated from Thereisenstadt in 1945. These were forms used by the International Refugee Organization to help displaced persons obtain assistance after the war. The first page in Martha’s file is a form she submitted to the International Tracing Service; it’s heartbreaking to read this because it reveals that at the time Martha filled out this form, she still had hope that her two children were still alive.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088827, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The second form is a questionnaire that the US Army asked displaced persons to complete. One question was, “Fuehren Sie de Namen irgendwelcher anderer naechster Familienangehoeriger auf, die sich zur Zeit in Deutschland aufhalten.“ In English—List the names of any other family members currently in Germany—and again, Martha listed her two children.  Since the form was created on June 1, 1946, this indicates that Martha still believed her children could be alive a year after she was released from Thereisenstadt.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The next two pages of that questionnaire ask numerous questions about Martha’s background. Of most interest here are two responses. One question asks whether she wants to return home, and she responded yes. Another question asked whether she had ever been persecuted for her race, religion, or political views, and she answered yes to race and religion; asked to describe how she was persecuted, Martha wrote that she was sent to Thereisenstadt concentration camp from September 2, 1942 until July 8, 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

In February 1948, Martha filled out a third form, this one a Request for Assistance. On this form Martha described herself as a widow and wrote that she had been living back in Wiesbaden since July 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 7908889, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The saddest part of this form is the last page where Martha was asked whether she wanted to remain in Germany, to which she answered yes, and then whether she had any relatives living in Germany. Now her answer was no. By this time she must have learned that her children had been murdered.

I don’t have any other records for Martha after this point, but what I know from my cousin Angelika Oppenheimer and the Seligmann family tree is that Martha continued to live in Wiesbaden until her death on November 16, 1967, when she was 91 years old. That she survived almost three years at Thereisenstadt when she was almost seventy years old and then another twenty-two years in Wiesbaden after losing her children is amazing to me.

But Martha was wrong about one thing when she answered the questionnaire in February, 1948. She did have relatives who survived the war. Our cousin Angelika Oppenheimer, Martha’s great-niece and the granddaughter of Martha’s brother Moritz James Oppenheimer, remembers visiting her in Wiesbaden with her family when she was a child. And Wolfgang’s father and uncle were also still alive and living not far from Wiesbaden. Perhaps in some way Martha found the strength to survive from those family members who remained.

 


  1. From the Yad Vashem website at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497651&ind=1 
  2. Paul Floersheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 926; Signatur: 333, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. See Note 1, above. 
  4. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497658&ind=1