Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part VI: Her Daughter Rebecca Strauss Meyer

The youngest of the children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss to survive to adulthood was their daughter Rebecca Strauss Meyer. Although her name was spelled Rebekka on her birth record and on the ship manifest and Rebecka on her naturalization papers and on her son’s draft registration, she ultimately adopted the more typical American spelling of her name, Rebecca, as seen on her Social Security application and her gravestone as well as the 1940 and 1950 census records. For purposes of simplicity, I will also use that last spelling in this post.

Rebecca was a 57 year old widow when she arrived in New York in 1938, a year after her children Rudolph and Ilse had immigrated. In 1940, Rebecca was working as a maid for Julius and Selma Katz in New York City.

Rebecca Strauss Meyer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02673; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 31-2010, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

I could not locate her son Rudolph on the 1940 US census, but on October 16, 1940, when he registered for the draft, he was living in Albany, New York, and listed his mother Rebecca as his contact person; she was residing in New York City. Rudolph was working for Cotrell & Leonard, a manufacturer of graduation caps, gowns, and hoods in Albany. They were considered the original American manufacturers of those items. The 1941 Albany directory lists Rudolph as a presser for Cotrell & Leonard.1

Rudolph Meyer, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York State, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Rudolph enlisted in the US Army on September 6, 1943.2 He petitioned for naturalization two months later in December, 1943, and at that time he was already married to Ruth Leah Cohn. I don’t have a marriage record for them, but Ruth was born in New York City on September 26, 1908, to Benjamin Cohn and Hilda Lesser. She and her family were living in Albany in 1930 where her father was a tailor.3

Rudolph Meyer petition for naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Description, Description: Petitions For Naturalization, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992

Rudolph and Ruth had one child in the 1940s, and Rudolph was discharged from the army on October 31, 1945.4 In 1950, they were living in the Bronx, and Rudolph was now an accountant for motion pictures distributors. Ruth was an elementary schoolteacher.  Rudolph’s mother Rebecca and Ruth’s father Benjamin were also living with Rudolph and Ruth and their child, and Benjamin was working as a tailor.

Rudolph Meyer and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: 2831; Sheet Number: 21; Enumeration District: 3-1173
Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Rudolph’s sister Ilse Meyer was working as a nursemaid for a family in New York City in 1940. On August 31, 1941, she married Friedrich/Frederick Scheer in New York City.5 He was born in Regensburg, Germany, on November 2, 1906, to Markus and Hanna Scheer, and had immigrated to the US on May 9, 1937. Friedrich entered the US Army on November 16, 1942.6 Ilse and Friedrich (using Fred after the war) had one child born in the 1940s. In 1950 they were living in New York City, and Fred was an accountant for the Comptroller of the City of New York.7

Ilse Meyer, 1940 US census, ear: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02640; Page: 63A; Enumeration District: 31-732, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Sadly, Ilse died just six years later on December 23, 1956, at the age of 46. She left behind her husband Fred Scheer and their child, who was only eight years old.8

Three years later, Ilse and Rudolph’s mother Rebecca died on September 22, 1959; she was 78.9 Rebecca had survived her husband Albert, who’d died young in 1928, raised her two children alone, immigrated at 57 to the US, and then survived the death of her daughter Ilse. She was survived by her son Rudolph and her grandchildren.

Rudolph died on August 28, 1984; he was 76 and was survived by his wife Ruth and their son.10 Ruth outlived Rudolph by eighteen years; she was 94 when she died on December 6, 2002.11

Thus ends the saga of the family of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss and their children. Their children all left Germany in time and survived the Holocaust, but there was still some tragically early deaths in the family. But fortunately there are numerous living descendants of Dusschen and Isaac.


I will be taking next week off to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. When I return, I will write about Dusschen’s younger brother and the fifth child of Isaac Blumenfeld and Gelle Strauss, their son Meier. Unfortunately, his story does not have many happy endings.

In the meantime, I wish all who celebrate (and everyone else) a sweet and healthy New Year! Shana tova!

 

 


  1. Rudolph Meyer, Residence Year: 1941, Street Address: 41 Steuben, Residence Place: Albany, New York, USA, Occupation: Presser, Publication Title: Albany, New York, City Directory, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  2. Rudolph Meyer, enlistment record, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 05872; Reel: 251, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Ruth L Cohn. Birth Date: 26 Sep 1908, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 51794, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Birth Index, 1878-1909; Benjamin Cohen and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Albany, Albany, New York; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0044; FHL microfilm: 2341137, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  4. See Note 2, supra. 
  5. Ilse Meyer, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marriage Age: 31, Birth Date: Aug 1910
    Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1941, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 241 W. 101 St., Occupation: Nurse, Father: Albert Meyer Mother: Rebecca Meyer, Spouse: Friedrich Scheer, Certificate Number: 15061, Current Marriage Number: 0, Witness 1: Mrs.rRebecca Meyer Witness 2: Mr. Fred Gaertner, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  6. Frederick Scheer, Petition for Naturalization, he National Archives at Fort Worth; Fort Worth, Texas; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Title/Description: Naturalization Petitions, 1943, pt 2, Ancestry.com. Texas, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1852-1991; Friedrich Scheer
    Gender: Male, Race: White, Marriage Age: 34, Birth Date: 2 Nov 1906, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Affidavit Date: 25 Aug 1941, Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1941, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 241 W. 101 St., Residence Place: New York City, Occupation: Stock Clerk, Father:
    Markus Scheer, Mother: Hanna Scheer, Spouse: Ilse Meyer, Certificate Number: 15061
    Current Marriage Number: 0, Witness 1: Mrs.rRebecca Meyer, Witness 2: Mr. Fred Gaertner, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  7. Fred Scheer and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4376; Sheet Number: 3; Enumeration District: 31-2172, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  8. Else [sic] Scheer, Age: 46, Birth Date: abt 1910, Death Date: 23 Dec 1956, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 27062, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233510287/ilse-scheer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Ilse Scheer (1910–1956), Find a Grave Memorial ID 233510287, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551). 
  9. Rebecca Meyers [sic], Gender: Female, Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1881, Residence Place: New York, USA, Death Date: 22 Sep 1959, Death Place: New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 64679, New York State Department of Health; Albany, Ny, Usa; New York State Death Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, U.S., Death Index, 1957-1970;   Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/233491260/rebecca-meyer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Rebecca Strauss Meyer (1881–1959), Find a Grave Memorial ID 233491260, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551). 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36600273/rudolph-meyer: accessed 29 August 2022), memorial page for Rudolph Meyer (1908–1984), Find a Grave Memorial ID 36600273, citing Forest Green Park Cemetery, Morganville, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by Kat (contributor 19409629). Rudolph R Meyer, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 17 Mar 1908, Death Date: 28 Aug 1984, SSN: 129055912, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 27 Sep 1943, Discharge Date: 31 Oct 1945, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010. 
  11. Ruth L Meyer, Age: 94, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1908, Death Date: 6 Dec 2002
    Death Place: New Jersey, USA, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; New Jersey Death Index, 2001-2017, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Death Index, 1848-1878, 1901-2017 

Duschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part IV: Her Son Hermann and His Family

As we saw last week, five of the six children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaak Strauss survived the Holocaust and were living in the US by 1940. Last time we looked at the two oldest children, Bertha and Moritz. Today I turn to their third surviving child, Hermann.

We’ve already seen that Dusschen and Isaak’s third surviving child, Hermann, his wife Julchen, and their three children Sally (Robert), Max, and Ilse were all safely in the US by 1934, Sally (Robert) having arrived years before on his own in 1926.

In 1940, Hermann and Julchen (here listed as Julie) were living in New York City, and Hermann was working as a shipping clerk for a mail order house. Living with them was their son Max, a route salesman for a laundry, and Max’s wife Betty, a beautician. Max had married Betty (born Heinemann) on May 7, 1939, in New York. She was born in Giebelstadt, Germany, on November 20, 1912, and had immigrated to the US on February 5, 1937.1

Hermann Strauss 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 31-2031A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

In addition to their son Max and his wife Betty, Hermann and Julchen also had their daughter Ilse and her husband William Wurzburger living with them in 1940. Ilse was even more recently married than her brother Max. She married William on January 14, 1940, in New York City. William, born Wilhelm, was the son of Zachariasz Wurzburger and Bertha Wimpelfheimer and was born in Hirschhorn, Germany, on June 23, 1912. He had immigrated to the US on January 25, 1938,2 and was working as a clerk in a mail order house as was Ilse. I assume that Hermann, William, and Ilse were all working in the same mail order house.

In 1950, Hermann and Julchen were living with William and Ilse in New York City along with William and Ilse’s three-year-old child. William was now the building manager of a woman’s department store. Hermann had no occupation listed; he was now 78 years old.3

Max Strauss and his wife Betty had moved to their own apartment by 1950, but were still living in New York City. They had two children born in the 1940s, and Max was the owner of a retail furniture store. By 1952, the family had relocated to Los Angeles, California.4

Hermann and Julchen’s son Sally, known in the US as Robert Sally Strauss, had married Frances Fitzgerald on November 28, 1935.5 Frances was born November 3, 1906, in Rock Island, Illinois, the daughter of Michael and Anna Fitzgerald. She had been previously married and had one child from that earlier marriage.6

Robert and Frances had a child Robert Alexander Strauss born on April 17, 1938, in Rockford, Illinois, who died just three months later on July 14, 1938, in Sycamore, Illinois.7 By the time their second child, Deborah Ann Strauss, was born on February 21, 1940, Robert and Frances were living in San Diego, California.8 The 1940 census shows them living there along with Frances’ daughter from her prior marriage. Robert listed his occupation as “manager” for “motion pictures.” A 1945 directory for San Diego lists him as the manager of Tower Theater, so I assume he managed a movie theater.9 The family was still living in San Diego in 1950, and Robert continued to be a theater manager.10

Robert Strauss 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: San Diego, San Diego, California; Roll: m-t0627-00451; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 62-59, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Julchen Alexander Strauss, Hermann’s wife and mother of Robert, Max, and Ilse, died in New York on July 26, 1959; she was 78 years old.11

Having already suffered one devastating loss when their infant son died in 1938, Robert Strauss and his wife Frances were forced to endure another tragedy when their nineteen-year-old daughter Deborah died in Tijuana, Mexico on January 3, 1960, not even six months after Robert had lost his mother Julchen. According to the coroner’s report, Deborah died from “traumatic shock, hemorrhage and cerebral edema.”

Deborah Strauss death certificate, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.; NAI Number: 302021; Record Group Title: General Records of the Department of State; Record Group Number: Record Group 59; Series Number: Publication A1 205; Box Number: 349; Box Description: 1960-1963 Mexico I – V, Ancestry.com. U.S., Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974

This article from the January 4, 1960, issue of the San Diego Union revealed that Deborah was killed in a car accident.

“Car Wreck Kills S.D. State Coed,” San Diego Union, January 4, 1960, p. 13

A subsequent article reported that a memorial fund had been established in her memory at the Interfaith Foundation at San Diego State University; Deborah had participated in Hillel, part of the Interfaith Foundation.12

The following year Hermann Strauss, aged 84, died in New York on May 16, 1961.13

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/208983046/hermann-strauss: accessed 24 July 2022), memorial page for Hermann Strauss (1 Oct 1876–16 May 1961), Find a Grave Memorial ID 208983046, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551).

Two months later, Robert Sally Strauss, who had already lost an infant son in 1938 and then his mother Julchen in 1959, daughter Deborah in 1960, and his father Hermann in May 1961, then lost his wife, Frances Fitzgerald Strauss, on July 28, 1961, at the age of 54.14

Robert himself died just four years later on November 3, 1965, in San Diego, California. He was only 58 years old and was survived by his siblings Max and Ilse and their spouses and children. Could his early death have been precipitated by suffering so many losses in such a short period of time? According to an article in The San Diego Union, he died suddenly from an apparent heart attack.15 Robert Sally Strauss has no descendants.

Fortunately, his siblings lived much longer lives. Max died at age 90 on May 28, 2000, in California;16 his wife Betty had predeceased him by five years. She died on December 26, 1995, at 83.17 Ilse Strauss Wurzburger died on February 23, 2006; she was 91 years old.18 Her husband William had died twelve years before on May 15, 1994; he was 81.19 Max and Ilse and their spouses were survived by their children and grandchildren.

 

 

 


  1. Betty Heinemann, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marital Status: Single, Marriage Age: 26, Birth Date: Nov 1912, Birth Place: Giebelstadt, Germany, Marriage Date: 7 May 1939, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 507 West 86 St., Residence Place: Manhattan, Occupation: None, Father: Lawrai Heinemann, Mother: Lina Heinemann, Spouse: Max Strauss
    Certificate Number: 5322, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1939, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940; Betty Strauss, Naturalization petition, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1322, Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1322) Petition No· 379529 – Petition No· 379960, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944 
  2. William Wurzburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marriage Age: 27, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1912, Birth Place: Hirschhorn, Germany, Marriage Affidavit Date: 16 Dec 1939, Marriage Date: 14 Jan 1940, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 875 W. 180 St., Residence Place: New York City
    Occupation: Clerk, Father: Zacharas Wurzburger, Mother: Bertha Wurzburger, Spouse:
    Ilse Strauss, Certificate Number: 18293, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1940, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940; William Wurzburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1912, Birth Place: Hischhom Nic, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 15 May 1994, Father: Zacharas Wurzburger, Mother: Bertha Wimpfleimer
    SSN: 130098186, Death Certificate Number: 125442, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007;  William Wurzburger
    [Wilhelm Wuerzburger], Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1912, Birth Place: Hirchborn, Germany, Arrival Date: 25 Jan 1938, Arrival Place: New York, New York
    Petition Place: New York, USA, Spouse: Ilse, Petition Number: 412637, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  3. William Wurzburger and household, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4376; Sheet Number: 72; Enumeration District: 31-2173, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  4. Max Strauss and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4377; Sheet Number: 7; Enumeration District: 31-2195, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  5. Robert S Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 27 Nov 1935, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Frances Carr
    License Number: 27028, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 11, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018; Frances R Carr, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 28 Nov 1935, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Robert S Strauss, Certificate Number: 27100, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937. 
  6. “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQ45-XZV : 25 April 2022), Francis Fitzgerald in entry for Robert Alexander Strauss, 1938; Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/225439197/frances-ann-strauss: accessed 23 July 2022), memorial page for Frances Ann Fisher Strauss (3 Nov 1906–28 Jul 1961), Find a Grave Memorial ID 225439197, citing Cypress View Mausoleum and Crematory, San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA; Maintained by Lot Lzrd (contributor 49252771); Frances Fitzgerald, 1920 US Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Byron, Ogle, Illinois; Roll: T625_398; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 83, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  7. Robert Alexander Strauss, Birth Date: 17 Apr 1938, Birth Place: Rockford, Illinois,
    Death Date: 14 Jul 1938, Death Place: Sycamore, DeKalb, Illinois, Burial Date: 17 Jul 1938, Burial Place: Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois, Death Age: 2 Months 27 Days, Race: White, Gender: Male, Residence: Sycamore, DeKalb, Illinois, Father Name: Robert S Strauss, Father Birth Place: Welter, Germany, Mother Name: Francis Fitzgerald, Mother Birth Place: Rock Island, Illinois, FHL Film Number: 1818884, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  8. Deborah Ann Strauss, Birth Date: 21 Feb 1940, Gender: Female, Mother’s Maiden Name: Fitzgerald, Birth County: San Diego, Ancestry.com. California Birth Index, 1905-1995 
  9. San Diego, California, City Directory, 1944-1945, Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 
  10. Robert Strauss and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: San Diego, San Diego, California; Roll: 1329; Sheet Number: 11; Enumeration District: 72-87, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  11. Julia Strauss, Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1881, Death Date: 20 Jul 1959, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 16429, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965. 
  12. “Fund to Honor Girl Auto Victim,” San Diego Union, January 6, 1960, p. 13. 
  13. Herman Strauss, Age: 84, Birth Date: abt 1877, Death Date: 16 May 1961, Death Place: Bronx, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 5452, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  14. Frances A Strauss, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 3 Nov 1906, Birth Place: Illinois
    Death Date: 28 Jul 1961, Death Place: San Diego, Mother’s Maiden Name: Ward, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  15. Robert S Strauss, Social Security #: 348104868, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 3 Jul 1907, Death Date: 3 Nov 1965, Death Place: San Diego, Mother’s Maiden Name: Alexander, Social Security: 348104868, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997; “R.S. Strauss Dies; Managed Theaters Here,” San Diego Union, November 4, 1965, p, 23. 
  16. Max Strauss, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 28 May 1910, Death Date: 28 May 2000,
    Claim Date: 5 Feb 1972, SSN: 065094423, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  17. Betty Strauss, [Betty Heinemann], Social Security #: 092160555, Gender: Female
    Birth Date: 20 Nov 1912, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 26 Dec 1995, Death Place: Los Angeles, Mother’s Maiden Name: Baumberger, Father’s Surname: Heinemann, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  18. Ilse Strauss, [Ilse Strauss Wurzburger], [Ilse Wurzburger], Gender: Female
    Race: White, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 23 Feb 2006, Father: Herman Strauss, Mother: Julia Alexander
    SSN: 059077009, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19. William Wurzburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1912
    Birth Place: Hischhom Nic, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 15 May 1994
    Father: Zacharas Wurzburger, Mother: Bertha Wimpfleimer, SSN: 130098186
    Death Certificate Number: 125442, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part III: Her Children Bertha and Moritz and Their Lives in America

By 1940, the five surviving children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss—Bertha, Moritz, Hermann, Meier (Max), and Rebekah—were all living in the US. Their children were also safely in the US as were their spouses (although Rebekka’s husband Albert Meyer had died in 1928). It almost seems like a miracle that not one of Dusschen’s children had been killed in the Holocaust. In this post and the next three I will continue the stories of each of those children. This post is about the oldest child, Bertha Strauss Herz and her family and about the second oldest child Moritz Strauss and his family.

Bertha, the oldest child, was living with her husband Morris Herz and their daughter Henrietta (Henny on the 1940 census), their son-in-law Alfred Gaertner, and granddaughter Ingeborg in New York City where both Alfred and Morris were working as tailors, Alfred for a mail order house and Morris for a retail tailor shop.

Herz and Gaertner family 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 31-2030, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Morris and Bertha’s son Manfred Edgar Herz had changed his name to Fred Edgar Herz and registered for the World War II draft under that name on October 16, 1940. At that time Fred was living in Charleston, West Virginia, and working for the Interstate Home Equipment Company.

Fred Herz, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for West Virginia, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 216 Description Name Range: Hern, Author-Hess, William Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

He enlisted in the US Army on June 21, 1943, and was honorably discharged on October 12, 1945.1 By that time, he had obtained a license to marry Zelma Anderson Risher, as announced in the March 22, 1945, issue of the Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel. Both Fred and Zelma were residing in Charleston, West Virginia, at that time.2 They did not have children, although Zelma had a daughter from a prior marriage.

Meanwhile, Fred’s mother Bertha, the oldest of the siblings, died at age 71 in New York on October 31, 1942.3 She was survived by her husband Morris and children Henrietta and Fred and granddaughter Ingeborg. Morris outlived Bertha by almost twelve years; he died on January 8, 1954, at the age of 78.4

Henrietta’s husband Alfred Gaertner died in December 1968,5 and she followed him fifteen years later on August 2, 1983.6 They were survived by their daughter Ingeborg and her family. Fred Herz and his wife Zelma both died in Palm Springs in 1987, she on January 20,7 and Fred on June 9, 1987.8

Bertha’s brother Moritz (Morris in the US) Strauss, who had been in the US since 1889 when he was a teenager, was living in the Bronx with his wife Therese in 1940. He was now retired.9

Their daughter Blanche had married between 1930 and 1940; her husband was Irving Heller, and he had lost his first wife, Frances Lippmann, on July 13, 1937.10 Although I cannot find a marriage record for Blanche and Irving, I assume they married sometime between July 13, 1937, and April 17, 1940, when the 1940 census was enumerated, as they appear together on that census as husband and wife, living in New York City with Irving’s son Lester. Irving was the owner of a wholesale egg business, and Blanche was still a teacher in the New York City public schools.

Irving Heller 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02674; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 31-2063, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Morris Strauss died on October 20, 1947, in New York; he was 74.11 He was survived by his wife Therese and daughter Blanche.

In 1950, Therese was living with Blanche and her husband Irving Heller in New York, where Irving still had the egg business and Blanche was still teaching.

Irving Heller 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4378; Sheet Number: 83; Enumeration District: 31-2222, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Therese died three years later at the age of 80 on October 22, 1953.12 Irving Heller died on February 19, 1970; he was 78.13 Blanche lived another twelve years; she died on March 15, 1982, at the age of 84.14 As Blanche had had no children of her own with Irving, there are no biological descendants of Morris and Therese, although Irving’s son from his first marriage may have been adopted by Blanche.

My next post will be about Bertha and Moritz’s next oldest sibling, Hermann Strauss, and his family’s life in the United States.


  1.  National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 09895; Reel: 51, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946; Manfred Edgar Herz, Gender: Male,Birth Date: 18 Feb 1909
    Death Date: 9 Jun 1987, SSN: 235266471, Enlistment Branch: ARMY, Enlistment Date: 5 Jul 1943, Discharge Date: 12 Oct 1945, Page number: 1, Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  2. The Knoxville News-Sentinel – 22 Mar 1945 – Page 8. 
  3. Bertha Herz, Age: 71, Birth Year: abt 1871, Death Date: 31 Oct 1942, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 21563, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  4. Date obtained from the Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, NJ, where Morris and Bertha are buried. 
  5.  Alfred Gaertner, Social Security Number: 052-07-5367, Birth Date: 9 Aug 1895
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1968, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Henrietta Gaertner, Social Security Number: 094-46-9690, Birth Date: 14 Nov 1901
    Issue Year: 1969, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1983, Sociial Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7. Zelma A Herz, [Zelma A Anderson], Social Security #: 234303318, Gender: Female
    Birth Date: 1 Apr 1906, Birth Place: West Virginia, Death Date: 20 Jan 1987, Death Place: Riverside, Mother’s Maiden Name: Snyder, Father’s Surname: Anderson, Place: Riverside; Date: 20 Jan 1987; Social Security: 234303318, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  8. See Note 1, supra. 
  9. Morris Herz, 1940 US Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02467; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 3-251A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Frances Heller, Age: 40, Birth Year: abt 1897, Death Date: 13 Jul 1937, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 16513, Wills and Probates: Search for Frances Heller in New York Wills & Probates collection, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948; Frances Lippman, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 8 Mar 1925, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA
    Spouse: Irving Heller, Certificate Number: 7528, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  11. Morris Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marital Status: Married, Age: 74
    Birth Date: 19 Jan 1873, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 150 Bennett Ave, Residence Place: New York,Death Date: 20 Oct 1947, Hospital: Beth Abraham Home, Death Place: New York City, Bronx, New York, USA, Death City Ward: 9
    Cause of Death: Cerebral Thrombosis, Old Right Side Hemiplegia General, Arteriosclerosis, Burial Date: 22 Oct 1947, Burial Place: Union Field Cemetery
    Occupation: Butcher, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany
    Father: Isaac Strauss, Mother: Duse Strauss, Spouse: Theresa Strauss, Informant: Theresa Stauss, Informant Gender: Female, Informant Relationship: Wife, Executor: Therese Strain, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 10219, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Bronx; Year: 1947, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  12. Theresa Strauss, Age: 80, Birth Date: abt 1873, Death Date: 22 Oct 1953, Death Place: Bronx, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 10571, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  13.  Irving Heller, Social Security Number: 093-10-9363, Birth Date: 5 Dec 1891, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1970, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. Blanche Heller, Race: White, Age at Death: 84, Birth Date: 8 Apr 1897, Death Date: 15 Mar 1982, Death Place: Dade, Florida, United States, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Death Index, 1877-1998 

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part II: Escaping from Germany

I know it’s been a while since my last genealogy post. Between the death of my cat Smokey and all the chaos involved with moving, I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination. But now I am dipping my toe back in genealogical waters.

As seen in my last Blumenfeld post, three of the seven children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss left Germany in the late 19th, early 20th century for the United States. Moritz, the oldest son, left in 1889 and married there and had two children. Bertha, the oldest daughter, married in New York in 1901 and had her first child there, but returned to Germany by 1909 when her second child was born. And Meier, the third son and fifth child of Dusschen and Isaac, immigrated to the US in 1904 and remained, marrying and having two children born in the US.

During that same period, most of Dusschen and Isaac’s children who were still in Germany also married and had children. But unfortunately, the youngest child of Dusschen and Isaac, their son Sali (spelled Sally on this gravestone), died at a young age. He was only twenty years old when he died on February 12, 1906.

Hermann, the second son and fourth child, married Julie (Julchen) Alexander in Wetter on June 22, 1906. Julchen was born to Abraham Alexander and Roschen Rosenblatt on May 30, 1881, in Waltersbruck, Germany.

Marriage record of Hermann Strauss and Julchen Alexander,Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9573, Year: 1906, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hermann and Julchen had three children. Sally (later Robert) was born in Wetter on July 3, 1907.1 He was presumably named for Hermann’s brother Sally who had died the year before. A second child Max was born to Hermann and Julchen on May 28, 1910, in Wetter.2 And their daughter Ilse was born in Marburg on February 3, 1915.3

Dusschen and Isaac’s sixth child Rebekah married Albert Meyer on May 14, 1907, in Bonn, Germany. Albert was born in Bonn on July 18, 1872.4 Rebekah and Albert had two children: Rudolph Raphael, born in Bonn on March 17, 1908,5 and Ilse, born in Bonn on August 20, 1910.6

Thus, by 1915, Dusschen and Isaac had nine grandchildren with two more to be born between 1916 and 1920. Four of those grandchildren were in the US with their parents, and the others were all in Germany.

Sadly, Isaac Strauss did not live to see the births of those last two grandchildren. He died on October 2, 1916, in Wetter.7 He was survived by his wife Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, who died twelve years later on October 11, 1928. They were survived by six of their seven children, four of whom were still living in Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933.

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 9652; Laufende Nummer: 915
Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Fortunately, three of those remaining in Germany were lucky to leave in time to escape being killed in the Holocaust. Hermann, the only surviving brother who was still in Germany, arrived in the US on November 28, 1934, with his wife Julchen and daughter Ilse. Their younger son Max had preceded them by nine months, immigrating to the US on February 5, 1934.8

Hermann Strauss ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 11; Page Number: 83,Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Their older son Sally had immigrated years before, arriving on October 28, 1926, when he was nineteen. When he filed a Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on October 19, 1927, he was using the name Sol, working as a salesman, and living in New York City.9 He became a naturalized citizen in 1933 in Rockford, Illinois, and changed his name to Robert Sally Strauss.

Robert Sally Strauss naturalization record, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85  Description: Index to Naturalization Petitions, S-352 H· to S-362 Vyncenz, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Hermann’s sister Bertha Strauss Herz, who had previously lived and married in New York, returned to the US with her husband Morris (Moritz on the manifest) Herz on August 16, 1936. Their daughter Henrietta arrived on the same ship with her husband Alfred Gaertner and their eleven-year-old daughter Ingeborg. Both Alfred and Morris listed their occupations as tailors on the ship manifest. Alfred, who was born in Brohl, Germany, on August 9, 1895, had married Henrietta in Bonn on July 29, 1923, and their daughter Ingeborg was born on February 22, 1925.10

Herz and Gaetner families, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 47, Ship or Roll Number: Britannic
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Bertha and Morris Herz’s son Manfred Edgar Herz did not immigrate until July 28, 1939. On the ship manifest he listed his occupation as auto mechanic and his last residence as Frankfurt.11

Rebekka Strauss Meyer was the last sibling to come to the US, arriving on March 25, 1938.12 She had lost her husband Albert on May 26, 1928, in Bonn. Rebekka’s children had arrived before her, Rudolph on April 12, 1937, listing his occupation as an insurance agent,13 and Ilse on May 9, 1937. Ilse was working as a nursemaid in New York when she filed her declaration of intention on August 4, 1937.14

Only one sibling remained in Germany as of 1939, the third child of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss, their daughter Kathinka, who had never married. She died on November 8, 1940, in the Krankenhaus Judische Kultusvereinigung (the Jewish Religious Association Hospital) in Frankfurt from a bile duct obstruction and jaundice. She was 65 years old. Kathinka was survived by her five surviving siblings and their children.

Kathinka Strauss death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 11114; Laufende Nummer: 903, Year Range: 1940, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

All five of those siblings and all the grandchildren of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss were safely out of Germany by that time and survived the Holocaust. More on their lives in the US in the next two posts.


  1. Sol Strauss, Declaration of Intention, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description
    Description: (Roll 379) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 248601-249750), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  2. Max Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marital Status: Single, Marriage Age: 28
    Birth Date: 28 May 1910, Birth Place: Walter Germany, Marriage Affidavit Date: 2 May 1939, Marriage Date: 7 May 1939, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 4520 Broadway, Residence Place: New York, Manhattan, Occupation: Route Salesman, Father: Hermann Strauss, Mother:
    Julie Strauss, Spouse: Betty Heinemann, Certificate Number: 5322, Current Marriage Number: 0, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1939, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  3. Ilse Strauss, [Ilse Strauss Wurzburger], Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 23 Feb 2006, Father: Herman Strauss, Mother: Julia Alexander, SSN: 059077009, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Rebecka Meyer, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  5. Rudolph Raphael Meyer, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 17 Mar 1908
    Birth Place: Bonn, Prussia, Germany, Arrival Date: 12 Apr 1937, Arrival Place: New York NY, Naturalization Place: Tennessee, USA, Spouse: Ruth Cohn Meyer, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.c.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992 
  6. Ilse Meyer, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 20 Aug 1910, Birth Place: Germany
    Arrival Date: 1937, Residence Place: New York, USA, Petition Date: 4 Aug 1937, Petition Place: New York, USA, Court: District Court, Court District: Southern District, New York, Description: (Roll 1449) Petition No. 433501 – Petition No. 433836, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1449, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944; Rebecka Meyer, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  7.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 9640; Laufende Nummer: 915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8. Max Strauss ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 120, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. See Note 1, supra. 
  10. Alfred Gaertner, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 514) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 392101-393200), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  11. Manfred Herz, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 19; Page Number: 37, Description Ship or Roll Number: New York, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See Note 4, supra. 
  13. See Note 4, supra. 
  14. See Note 5, supra. 

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

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

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

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

Max Werner with nurse Courtesy of the family

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

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

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

Max and his dog Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1934

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

Joyce shared additional details about that incident:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a photo of their grandmother, Jenny:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

Finding Max Blumenfeld and His Family: A Postscript

Yesterday I Zoomed with four of my Blumenfeld cousins—Richard, whose been my research partner for quite a while now, his first cousin Jim, who is also a wonderful genealogy researcher, and the two surviving grandchildren of Max Blumenfeld, Max and Omri. We spanned three continents—Omri in Israel, Richard in Switzerland, and Max, Jim, and I in New England. We chatted for an hour, but could have gone on much longer and hope to continue the conversation another time.

During our conversation, we uncovered the answer to a question we still had been unable to answer despite all our research: when did Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s widow and Omri and Max’s grandmother, leave Italy and immigrate to Israel/Palestine? The records that Richard had obtained from Merano said she’d left in 1939, but Max had pointed out that that wasn’t possible since he and his sister were cared for by their grandmother Anna during World War II while their mother Edith worked with the Italian Resistance. Their father Josef had immigrated to the United States on November 1939.

For our Zoom, Omri had prepared a wonderful slide show of family photographs, some of which I’ve already shared on this blog, and some that were new to me. Among those photographs was one that helped to answer the question of when Anna arrived in Palestine. The photograph shows Anna in Palestine with two of her grandsons, Omri’s brothers Gideon and Hillel. Anna was holding Hillel, who was just a very small baby, and the photo was inscribed in Hebrew with the words, “Hillel is born! Oma [Anna] arrives! 29 May 1946.” So now we knew that Anna had only recently arrived in Palestine in May of 1946.

Here is another photo taken the same day showing Anna with Gideon and Hillel and their parents Fritz and Dora.

But then how do we explain the records that said Anna had left Merano in 1939? Well, Max had the answer to that question. Max explained that Anna and her daughter Edith and the two grandchildren, Max and his sister Margherita, all left Merano in 1939 and moved to Milan. Max has no memories of life in Merano since he was only a toddler when the family moved. But that would explain why the Merano records report that Anna left that place in 1939.

Max and his family stayed in Milan for several years, and then when Italy adopted laws persecuting the Jews in about 1942, his mother Edith was able to use her connections to obtain permission to leave Milan and move to the countryside outside of Milan.  The family remained there for the duration of the war, hiding the fact that they were Jews. They spoke Italian (although they all could also speak German) so that they could pass as Italian, and Max and his sister went to church on Sundays. In fact, Max and Margherita were not aware of the fact that they were Jewish and also didn’t know that their father was still alive—all to prevent the children from accidentally revealing the fact that they were Jews.

After the war, Edith took her children to America so they could all be reunited with Josef, and Anna went to Palestine to be with her son Fritz and his family, as depicted in the photograph above.

We spoke of many other interesting things during our Zoom, and there were many stories and many moments of laughter interspersed. It was truly a delightful hour and one I will always cherish and remember.

Thank you to Omri, Max, Richard, and Jim—all of whom are my fifth cousins, four people I never would have known if not for doing genealogy research.

And that, dear readers, is the magic of genealogy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second page of manifest seen above.

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

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

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

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

Joseph Bermann, Declaration of Intention, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 579) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 453801-454600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

Joseph Bermann, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judische Waisenhause building in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Photo courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow, 2001

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

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

Richard translated the obituary as follows:5

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

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

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

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

More to come.


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

Salomon Blumenfeld: An Entire Blumenfeld Family Who Survived the Holocaust

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

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

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

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

HIlde Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding of Gretel Blumenfeld and David Katz Source: Unknown

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

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

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

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

Many trees report that the other daughter of Salomon and Amalie, Jenny, married Siegmund Rudolf Warburg on July 25, 1933, and that Siegmund was born in Berlin on May 26, 1896, to Otto Warburg and Bertha Cohen. But something doesn’t add up.

I found the birth record for Siegmund.

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

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

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

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

Jenny Warburg, Yekhi’am cemetery, Akko, Israel, found at Billiongraves.com at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%92%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%92/22732522

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

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

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

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


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

Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich: Another Family Destroyed in the Holocaust

Another tragic story. There are times I can barely bring myself to write about what happened to so many of my relatives. Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich was my third cousin, twice removed.

Bertha, the second child of Moses IIB and Sara Blumenfeld, was born in 1876 and married Ludwig Fernich in 1900, as we saw. They had two daughters, Jenny, born in 1904, and Else, born in 1905. Jenny had married Julius Asser in 1926, and they had two children, Kurt and Lissy, born in 1926 and 1927, respectively.

It appears that Bertha’s husband Ludwig died sometime before January 18, 1939 since he is not included in the marginal note on their marriage record made on that date, which reported that Bertha had had Sara added to her name to identify her asJewish as required by Nazi law. My assumption is that Ludwig must have died or the note would have indicated that Israel had been added to his name. But I’ve been unable to locate an actual death record for Ludwig.

Marriage record of Bertha Blumenfeld and Ludwig Fernich, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5028
Description
Year Range: 1900
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Bertha, her daughter Jenny, son-in-law Julius Asser, and grandchildren Kurt and Lissy Asser were all deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and were killed during Holocaust. Kurt and Lissy were young teenagers. Although I cannot fathom how a human being kills another human being for no reason, I find it especially hard to imagine how anyone kills innocent children who haven’t even had a chance to live life.

Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=3579289&ind=1

Jenny Fernich Asser, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1882529&ind=2

Julius Asser, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1853283&ind=1

Kurt Asser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1853448&ind=1

Lissy Asser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1797444&ind=1

But Bertha’s younger daughter Else and her husband Josef Hauswirth did escape in time. Else had married Josef on August 19, 1932, in Dortmund, Germany, where Josef was born on January 8, 1904. They immigrated to the US on June 24, 1937, and settled in New York City,1 where in 1940 they were living at 153 West 80th Street and both were working as operators in the fur trade; Else was now using the name Ellen.2 On his World War II draft registration, Josef indicated that he was self-employed, so apparently this was their own fur business. And I was lucky to find Josef and Ellen on the 1950 census, my first real research use of the 1950 census! They were still living in New York City, and Josef was the owner of a fur business.

Josef Hauswirth, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

By 1958 Ellen and Josef Hauswirth were registered to vote in Los Angeles, California.3 They both died in California, Joseph on April 16, 1987,4 Ellen on March 12, 1998.5 As far as I can tell, Josef and Ellen did not have children as none was living with them in either 1940 or 1950 or when they immigrated. Did they choose not to have children because of the Holocaust? We will never know.

Thus, Bertha Blumenfeld Fernwich has no living descendants today. Most of her family was murdered by the Nazis, and her only surviving child Else/Ellen had no children.


I will be taking a much needed break from blogging next week. I will be back on May 17.


  1. Else Fernich Hauswirth Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1440, Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1440) Petition No· 430413 – Petition No· 430800,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944 
  2. Ellen and Josef Hauswirth, 1940 US Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02636; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 31-559, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  3. Josef Hauswirth, Residence Date: 1958, Street Address: 6052 Willouchby Ave, Residence Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Party Affiliation: Democrat, California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 
  4. Josef Hauswirth, Social Security #: 123039073, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1904, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 16 Apr 1987, Death Place: Los Angeles
    Mother’s Maiden Name: Kempler, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 16 Apr 1987; Social Security: 123039073, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  5.  Ellen F. Hauswirth, Social Security Number: 119-09-1530, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1905
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 90048, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 12 Mar 1998, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014