Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

As seen in my last few posts, although my cousin Betty Goldschmidt and her husband (and our cousin) Jacob Goldschmidt had eight children, I only have adult records for one of them, their son Berthold. Berthold and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein had seven children, but their son Siegfried Goldschmidt was the only child of the seven to live long enough to marry and have a child of his own; Siegfried and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless had one child, a son Max born November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Siegfried and his wife were among the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but their young son Max, the last known remaining descendant of Betty and Jacob, survived. Max was only eight years old when Hitler came to power and not yet eighteen when his parents were deported in 1942. How had he survived? At first all I knew was that he had immigrated to the US from Israel in 1948, but thanks  to the generous assistance of Elan Oren of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I have been able to piece together much of the story of Max’s life.

Elan located Max’s file in the Israeli archives, which revealed that Max had escaped to Switzerland at some point during the Nazi era. After the war, Max sailed on the ship Plus Ultra from Barcelona, Spain, to Haifa, arriving in Haifa on June 19, 1945.

From Max Goldschmidt Israeli immigration file: Ship manifest for the Plus Ultra from Barcelona to Haifa, arriving June 19, 1945. Max is on line 94. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

Max’s file in the Israeli archives did not reveal how or when he got to Switzerland or to Barcelona, but Max’s A-file—his US immigration file—from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) revealed further details.1 According to a German police certificate included in Max’s application to the US Consul in Palestine for an immigration visa in 1947, Max lived in Warburg, Germany, from April 1927 until September 1936. That is also where his parents were residing during that time, according to records  at Yad Vashem.

On Max’s 1947 US visa application he stated that he’d immigrated to Switzerland in January 1939. He was only fourteen at that time. He lived in Basel, Switzerland, from January, 1939, until May, 1945, when he must then have left for Barcelona and ultimately Palestine. As for how he escaped from Germany in 1939, Elan Oren suggested that a Zionist youth group such as HeHalutz  might have helped him get out of Germany.

After arriving in Haifa, Max was transferred to Atlit, a detention camp built by the British, who were then in control of what was then Palestine. With the help of Elan Oren and his translation of Max’s Israeli naturalization file, I learned that Max left Atlit and first lived in Petach Tikvah and then moved to Tel Aviv to live with the Laks family. (More on them in a bit.)

Document that states that Max moved from Petah Tikvah to Tel Aviv where the Laks family lived. Translated by Elan Oren. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

But Max decided not to settle permanently in Israel. Max left Haifa on January 29, 1948, and arrived in New York on February 14, 1948. The manifest lists Max’s occupation as a gardener, his primary languages as English and Hebrew, his last residence as Tel Aviv, Palestine, and his birthplace as Frankfort [sic], Germany.

Max Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7546; Line: 19; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The second page of the manifest lists a friend named Pinil Laks as the contact person from Max’s prior residence of Tel Aviv and an uncle “Bernh Laks” of Blackwood, New Jersey, as the person he was going to join in the United States.

So who were the Laks? Bernhard Laks, also known as Bernhard Lachs, Berek Laks, and Bernard Laks, was married to Rosa Pless,2 who must have been a sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother, since Max identified Bernard as his uncle and Rosa as his aunt on various documents.  Moreover, Bernard Laks (then spelled Bernhard Lachs) was one of the witnesses on the marriage record for Max’s parents, Siegfried and Frieda.

Bernhard Lachs as witness on the marriage record of Siegfried Goldschmidt and Frieda Fanny Pless. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

When Max arrived at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948, he was denied admission to the United States because he did not have in his possession the immigration visa that he had been granted by the US consul in Palestine on November 17, 1947. A hearing was held on February 18, 1948 before a Board of Special Inquiry, at which Max testified that he had last seen his visa on the day he embarked from Haifa while at customs, that he had left it with his other papers in his baggage, and that while at sea he’d discovered that the visa was missing.

Max also testified that he had no relatives living outside of the US and no money. He stated that he was coming to the US in order to join his relatives, the Laks family of Blackwood, New Jersey, and that his uncle Bernard Laks had paid for his ticket from Haifa. In addition, Max presented an affidavit from Bernard and Rosa Laks in which they, as “his sole surviving relatives,” promised to “receive and care for [Max] and …not permit him to became a public charge.”

Although the Board of Special Inquiry found that Max had a valid Palestinian passport with a stamp indicating that a visa had been issued to him by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, they concluded that he was not admissible without possession of the actual visa. On February 20, 1948, however, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) recommended that the decision to deport Max be deferred for ninety days to give him time to locate the visa or to obtain a certified copy.

On March 3, 1948, the ninety day stay was granted, and Max was also granted parole during that period, meaning that on March 4, 1948, he was allowed to enter the country though he was required to report in writing on a monthly basis to the Deportation and Parole Section at Ellis Island. Max had thus been detained for eighteen days at Ellis Island before his parole.

On March 18, 1948, his attorney wrote to INS to notify them that the American Consulate in Jerusalem had confirmed that Max had been granted a visa on November 17, 1947, and that the Visa Division in Washington, DC, had been so notified.  On April 8, 1948, the State Department submitted a certified copy of the visa. However, it was not until four months later on August 11, 1948, that an order was entered to re-open Max’s case. A new hearing was scheduled for September 15, 1948.  Fortunately, Max had better luck at this hearing, and he was granted legal admission into the country on September 15, 1948, more than seven months after arriving at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948. (I assume Max had received extensions of the 90 day parole period initially granted in March, 1948.)

Then began the next chapter of his life and more experiences with the slowly grinding wheels of American bureaucracy. He started the process of becoming a US citizen on October 1, 1948, just two weeks after entering the country officially.  But before Max’s papers could be processed, he was inducted into the US Army on January 1, 1949, the very day the government had scheduled a meeting to discuss his citizenship application. He amended his address to reflect that he was now stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey as a member of the 9th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 2, 1951, and on March 11, 1955, a certification of his service was issued to INS. His formal petition for naturalization was filed on October 14, 1955, with Bernard and Rosa Laks attesting to his character.

On January 24, 1956, the government received reports from the army that on January 2, 1951, while serving in the army, Max had “stated in substance … that if the Army is an example of democracy, he would take communism” and that on June 4, 1951 while giving a training lecture to his unit, “he introduced the Crusades as an illustrative example in this history of warfare, and then proceeded to interject his own thoughts on the persecution of Jews by Christians at the time of the Crusades, allegedly making rather strong remarks about the Roman Catholic Church. [Max] has at various times in the past tried to turn a topic of conversation into ‘making a case’ for Zionism.”

I suppose Max took the meaning of the First Amendment more literally than the US Army thought appropriate. Whether this had any impact on his citizenship application is not clear. On a page of examiner’s notes dated November 9, 1956, the examiner gave Max a final rating of “deny,” but then that was crossed out, and on May 17, 1957, his application was granted and he was finally issued a certificate of naturalization; he also changed his name to Goldsmith at that time. Despite his service in the US Army, it had taken almost eight years to complete the process of becoming a citizen.

Two months later in July 1957, Max married Shirley Larve in Trenton, New Jersey.3 Shirley was born in Trenton on May 29, 1923, to Joseph and Anna Larve.4 She was 34 when they married, and Max was 32. They did not have any children.

Shirley died at age 70 on July 24, 1993, in Broward County in Florida.5 Her obituary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on August 15, 1993, filled in some of the gaps in their lives between 1957 and 1993.  Here are some excerpts:

…Shirley worked during WWII for the U.S. Army Finance Dept. and later for 25 years for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State of NJ, retired supervisor in 1985. Married Max Goldsmith July, 1957, an immigrant to the U.S.A. They resided at various locations throughout the U.S.A. … Her life was devoted to her husband, being a true companion to him who had lost his family of 68 members during the Nazi era.

She served two terms as President of the Ladys Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 697 in Levittown, PA. A life member in the American Red Star of David for Israel. In 1989 she received the Lady of the Year award of the Star-Faye Post 672. She was very mild mannered, yet forceful. A lady in her own right. Always unpretending with an inherent sense of justice. She had her golds [goals?] and she never let go until accomplished. She had little patience for people who sat around and complained. Although small in stature yet big in ability and courage.

Shirley and Max thus lived in or near Trenton, New Jersey until 1985 when she retired after 25 years working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Levittown, Pennsylvania, is less than eight miles from Trenton.) By 1990, they had moved to Pompano Beach, Florida.6

I am troubled by the reference in her obituary to 68 members of Max’s family being killed in the Holocaust. Who were those 68 people? How were they related to Max? Were they his mother’s relatives? Or were they Goldschmidts I just haven’t found? It haunts me.

Max died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eleven years after Shirley on July 2, 2004, at age 80.7  He’d endured a great deal in his life—fleeing from his homeland and his family as a young teenager, the murder of his parents, the move to Palestine and then to the US, and all the hassles he endured to become first a legal resident and then a  citizen of the United States.

But I was very comforted after reading Shirley’s obituary; I assume that Max wrote it himself. It is clear from his words that he loved her very deeply and that he felt loved and taken care of by her.  It is wonderful to know how devoted they were to each other, especially after all he’d been through in the first 32 years of his life.

Max Goldsmith, my third cousin, once removed, was a true survivor.  As best I can tell, he was the only and last surviving descendant of  his great-grandparents, Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt, two first cousins who married each other, both grandchildren of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents. By remembering Max, I hope to honor not only him, but all those who came before him.

 

 

 


  1. The references in this post to documents relating to Max’s immigration to the US are all from his A-file from USCIS, copies of which are in my possession. References to his immigration to Palestine and his time there are from the Israeli archives here
  2. On the 1937 passenger manifest for Berek and Rosa Laks, the person they named as their closest relative living in their former residence of Frankfurt was E.Pless, identified as Berek’s mother-in-law and Rosa’s mother. From this I inferred that Rosa’s birth name was Pless and that she was the sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother.  Laks family, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6022; Line: 1; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Certificate Number: 21705, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1957; Surname Range: L – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  7.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 

Looking Back and Looking Forward: A Story for the New Year

For Rosh Hashanah this year, I want to share a story about one of my cousins. His life is a true example of how we as human beings are capable not only of inconceivable evil but more importantly of boundless love and undying hope and gratitude.

When we talk about the Holocaust, the number six million is both overwhelming and numbing. Our minds can’t grasp what six million people looks like—what six million of anything would look like. Visiting the camps makes that number somewhat more comprehensible; when we visited Auschwitz in 2015 and saw the huge piles of eyeglasses, of shoes, of suitcases, each representing one of those six million killed, it made the scope of the horror more visceral. It gave us a concrete, visual way of imagining each of those killed. This video also helps to illustrate the immensity of that number:

 

But for me, it is the individual stories of those people who were killed that leave the biggest impact. If we read one story about one of the six million who were killed each day for our entire life, we still would hardly make a dent in the total numbers. Assuming we read a story a day for eighty years, we would still have read fewer than 30,000 stories—learned about only 30,000 of the six million who were killed. And that doesn’t even include the horrifying stories of many of the survivors—those who survived the camps, those who spent the years in hiding, those who escaped but who had lost their families and homes forever.

This is the story of a cousin whose life was forever changed because of the Nazis. He wishes to remain anonymous, so I will refer to him simply as J. J is my fifth cousin, another descendant of Jakob Falcke; his family left Oberlistingen, Germany at the end of the 19th century and moved to the Netherlands, where for many generations the men were butchers and cattle traders or worked in the textile and clothing business. J’s father was a butcher.

Their quiet lives were forever altered after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May, 1940. J’s father was taken to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was killed in October, 1941. J, who was just a young boy, and his mother and younger sister were left behind. When it became clear that the Nazis were going to start deporting all the Jews in Holland to concentration camps, J’s mother placed her two children in an orphanage in Utrecht, believing that the Nazis would not deport children because they would be too young to work. J’s mother and her sisters went into hiding with a non-Jewish family.

Description: Jewish Memorial in Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Austria main courtyard. 
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mauthausen-Jewish_memorial.jpg
Photographer: Gianmaria Visconti
Year: 2002

But then in December, 1942, those living in the orphanage were moved from Utrecht to the ghetto in Amsterdam, and J’s mother realized that her children were in imminent danger. She tried to get her children released from the orphanage, but it was impossible. Instead, a cousin who was working at a hospital in Amsterdam somehow managed to kidnap the children and bring them to a safe place in Amsterdam where J and his sister could then be placed in hiding.

At that point J’s mother relinquished her spot in the home where she and her sisters had been hiding so that her son, my cousin J, would have a safe place to hide. His sister was hidden somewhere else. J’s mother moved to different hiding places, but she was eventually discovered by the Nazis in the fall of 1943. She was deported to Auschwitz where she was murdered in October 1943. As J expressed it to me, she had given everything so that her children would survive.

Deportation of Jews from Amsterdam
By Anonymous (National Archives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

J and his sister survived the war in their hiding places. After the war, his sister immigrated to Israel, where she still lives. J stayed in the Netherlands and continued to live with the brave couple who had kept first his mother and aunts safe and then kept him safe. He described them as being like grandparents to him. They made it possible for him to go to college, where he trained to become a veterinarian.

Despite the horrible losses he experienced as a young boy, J has led a remarkably productive and happy life. In addition to achieving professional success, he has been married since 1958 and has four children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  He is another example of the resilience of human beings who, in the face of the darkest evil and the most heinous cruelty, somehow emerge into the light and are able to give and receive love and find the good and the beautiful in our world.

For me this is an appropriate story for Rosh Hashanah,  It reminds us that although we must always look back and remember, we also have to look forward with hope. We must be cognizant of all that is evil in the world, but we must embrace all that is good and beautiful.

May we all find the light of love and share all that is good and beautiful in the coming year.

L’shanah tova! A good year to you all, family and friends!

By Gilabrand (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Children of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh and Samuel Goldsmith

As we have seen, two of the children of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith died relatively young. Samuel, their youngest son, died in 1907 when he was forty, and Heloise, their oldest daughter, died in 1911 when she was fifty. Both left behind their spouses and children. Samuel’s daughter Catherine was just a baby when he died.  Heloise’s older daughter Irma was 23 when her mother died, and her sister Dorothy was only thirteen. This post is about these three granddaughters of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith.

Heloise’s children, who were my double-cousins as noted here, were living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with their father when their mother died. By 1920, however, neither daughter was living with Simon. Simon had moved in with his widowed mother, Auguste Bernheim Hirsh (my first cousin, five times removed). Simon was a merchant in gentlemen’s furnishings. He and his mother were living at 21 North Lime Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.1

His daughter Irma Hirsh was married to Daniel Manheimer by 1920 and had two children: Helene, born January 11, 1912, in Lancaster,2 and Sanford Hirsh Manheimer, born January 3, 1914, in Lancaster.3 Daniel Manheimer was born March 5, 1871, in Cassel, Germany4 and had immigrated to the US as a teenager. In 1900 he’d been living with a cousin in Lancaster and working as a traveling salesman.5 In 1920 he was in the cigar manufacturing business. Irma’s sister Dorothy was also living with Irma and Daniel and their children in 1920 at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster; she was working as a stenographer for a clothing store.

Daniel Manheimer and family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 54
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

By 1930, the family members had shifted around a bit. Simon was now living at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster with his daughter Irma and her family, his mother having died in 1922. Both Irma and her husband Daniel were now working in the life insurance business.6

Dorothy was still living with Irma and her family in 1927, according to the 1927 Lancaster directory, but by 1930, she was married. According to the 1930 census, she and Leon Jacobs had married when she was 29 or in 1927. Leon, the son of Alexander and Esther Jacobs, was born April 25, 1899, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.7 He was in the real estate business.8 Dorothy and Leon would have two children. In 1940, they were all living in Lancaster, and Leon was still in the real estate business. Irma and Daniel were also still living in Lancaster in 1940, and their children were grown by then. Daniel was still in the life insurance business.9

Leon Jacob, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1199
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Irma died from a heart attack on August 10, 1953, in Lancaster.  She was 65 years old. Her husband Daniel Manheimer had predeceased her; he died on January 3, 1951, when he was 79 years old.10 They are buried at Shomar Shaarayim Cemetery in Lancaster.

Irma Hirsh Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 069751-072450

They were survived by their children and Irma’s sister Dorothy, who was the informant on Helen’s death certificate.

The certificate states that Dorothy’s address was in Philadelphia, so Dorothy and Leon must have moved from Lancaster sometime after 1948, the last year I could find them in the Lancaster directory.  Dorothy died in Miami, Florida in January 1972,11 when she was 73. Her husband Leon also died in Miami in February 1979.12 They were survived by their children. So somewhere out there I have more double cousins, the descendants of Heloise Goldsmith and Simon Bernheim Hirsh.

As for Catherine Goldsmith, who lost her father Samuel Goldsmith before her second birthday, it appears that she and her mother lived abroad for some years after Samuel died. She and her mother are listed as passengers on a 1914 trip from Liverpool, England, to New York, giving their US address as Lawrence, New York, on Long Island.

Helen Goldsmith and Catherine Goldsmith, 1914 passenger manifest, Year: 1914; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2374; Line: 1; Page Number: 17. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

On her 1917 passport application, Helen attested that her permanent residence was in St. Paul, Minnesota, but that she had last been in the US in July 1915. She said that planned to return to the US “eventually” and to visit within two years. 13 Similarly, Catherine’s 1918 passport application attested that she had last been in the United States in July 1915 and had been living in Paris and that she planned to return to the US within six months “after the war,” i.e., World War I.  She listed her permanent domicile as New York City. She was then twelve years old.

Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

But Catherine and Helen did not return a few months after the end of World War I. Helen’s 1921 passport application gave her permanent address as Lawrence, New York, but also stated that she had lived in France since 1911, with two trips back to the US, the most recent one not since 1915. In a separate affidavit, Helen explained that the reason for her protracted absence from the US was her daughter’s education and that they expected to stay abroad “for some months yet” for her daughter to complete her education.14

In fact, it appears that Helen and Catherine lived in France for almost another twenty years. Although I do not have any records from France, from passenger manifests and other US records, I learned that Catherine married Gerard Maurice Lambert, who was born in France in about 1905. She must have married him sometime before 1934 because they had two children born in France between 1934 and 1937.15

Catherine and her children made at least two trips between France and the United States, one in 1938 for a few months16 and then in 1940, which was supposed to be for six months.17 But in fact they were still in the US  two years later, according to a document filed when Catherine and Gerard’s young son entered the US in San Diego from Mexico in November 1942. 18 I would imagine that the invasion of France by the Nazis and the persecution of Jews kept Catherine and her family from returning to France.

Gerard also immigrated to the US; he arrived in February 1942, having obtained a visa on December 8. 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor Day, the day the US entered World War II.  His passenger manifest indicates that he was an architect and that he was joining his wife in Los Angeles. In 1946 Gerard was living in Washington, DC, working for the government.19

Catherine and her children returned to France for an indefinite stay in August 1950, and at that time they were residing in Los Angeles. In 1951 they flew on a US Navy plane from England to Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Perhaps this was their return trip to the US. I am not sure where Gerard was at that point.20

Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.21 I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.

Thus ends my research on the family of my three-times great-uncle Meyer Goldsmith. Once again I am humbled by what he and all his children and grandchildren endured and experienced and accomplished. It is always such an honor to be able to learn and write about these families.  I am especially grateful to my newly discovered cousin–Meyer’s great-grandchild–who so generously shared the photographs and family stories with me.

 


  1. Simon B Hirsh, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 53. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Helene M Cohen, 1962 passenger manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at New York, New York.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 679. Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 188038636. 
  4. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  5. Daniel Manheimer, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 6, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0056. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Daniel Manheimer and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0049. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  7. Leon Jacob, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1199. Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. This is the only record that spells his name without a final S. 
  8. Leon Jacobs and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manheim, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0089. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Leon Jacobs and family, 1940 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03532; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 36-94. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  11. Number: 204-03-8654; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Number: 203-07-6982; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Helen Rau Goldsmith 1917 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 346; Volume #: Roll 0346 – Certificates: 45901-46300, 26 Jan 1917-30 Jan 1917. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  14. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1755; Volume #: Roll 1755 – Certificates: 89626-89999, 10 Oct 1921-11 Oct 1921.  Ancestry.com U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  15. Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  16.  Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 11; Page Number: 30. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  17. Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6473; Line: 27; Page Number: 24. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. 
  18. The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at San Ysidro (Tia Juana), California, April 21, 1908 – December 1952; NAI: 2843448; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004.; Record Group Number: 85; Microfilm Roll Number: 08. Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964 
  19.  Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Gerard Lambert 1946 passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  20. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 91. Ancestry.com. U.S., Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010. Original data: Records from Record Group 287, Publications of the U.S. Government; Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] and Record Group 36, Records of the United States Customs Service. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.  
  21. Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Rosa Abraham Zechermann: A Story for Hanukkah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Rosa wrote:

Santa Rosa 160 Dep. E.

Vitae curriculum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And happy Hanukkah to all!

 

 

 

Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander: Mystery Solved!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Marriage record for Levi Katzenstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home of Levi Katzenstein in Jesberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Katzenstein’s house in Jesberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim Katzenstein, Jesberg cemetery

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

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

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and
Gertrude Spier
http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and Gertrude Spier http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Palestine Application for Naturalization for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Palestine Citizenship Order for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pauline, Baruch, and Meier: Heartbreaking Stories

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

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

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

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

Pauline Katzenstein, daughter of Jacob Katzenstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baruch Katzenstein, son of Jacob Katzenstein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Klara Maas: A Survivor and American Idol Fan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to this website,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Klara Maas declaration of intention
New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-TVB7?cc=2060123&wc=M5PF-PTG%3A351624701 : 22 May 2014), Petitions for naturalization a

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

Petition for Naturalization “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-TVBP?cc=2060123&wc=M5PF-PTG%3A351624701 : 22 May 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then Allan sent me the marriage certificate:

Marriage license for Claire Maas and John Lind

 

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

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

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

I am so glad I found her story.