Marcel Goldschmidt’s Children: The Two Who Survived

Marcel (born Mayer) Goldschmidt, the fourth child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, died in 1928 and was survived by his wife and first cousin, Hedwig Goldschmidt, and their four children, Jacob, Nelly, Else, and Grete. Hedwig and two of those children, Jacob and Grete, would survive the Holocaust. Nelly and Else were not as fortunate. This post will tell the story of Hedwig and the two children who escaped.

Grete and her husband Berthold Heimerdinger and their daughter Gabrielle were the first to leave Germany. They arrived in New York on June 22, 1934, and were going to Berthold’s brother Leonard Heimerdinger in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger and family, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 101, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Two months later Berthold declared his intention to become a US citizen.  He was working as a securities dealer at that time, and the family was residing at 1212 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger, Declaration of Intent, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, (Roll 478) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 355901-357000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Grete’s mother Hedwig came to visit them in New York in April, 1935, for a four month stay, listing her son Jacob as the person to contact back in Frankfurt,1 but Hedwig returned to Germany after her visit. She returned for another visit two years later on October 29, 1937, but this time listed her residence as Zurich, Switzerland, where her contact person was a friend named Julius Wolf.2

Sometime thereafter Hedwig must have left Switzerland because when she arrived in England on March 18, 1938, she listed her last address as Amsterdam.3 I don’t know where she was during World War II. More on that in a later post. By 1952, she was living in the United States.

Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 [

In 1940, Grete, Berthold, and Gabrielle Heimerdinger were living in Queens, New York, and Berthold was working as a jewelry dealer.4 According to Berthold’s draft registration for World War II, he was self-employed.

Berthold Heimerdinger, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Grete’s brother Jacob arrived in New York on August 30, 1941, from Lisbon, Portugal, with his last residence being Nice, France. On his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Jacob listed his occupation as an art dealer, like so many of his extended family members from Frankfurt.

Jacob Goldschmidt, Declaration of Intent, 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 Description: (Roll 644) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 512901-513900) Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

According to his World War II draft registration completed the following year, Jacob was living at 26 East 63rd Street in New York and listed Herman Goldschmidt as the person who would always know where he was. Herman was his cousin, the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene Goldschmidt II, and was living at the same address, 26 East 63rd Street.

Thus, Jacob was living with his cousins, not his sister Grete. Jacob did not list an occupation on his draft registration, but listed his place of business as the same address as his (and his cousins’) residence, 26 East 63rd Street. (Note also that on the naturalization index card for his mother Hedwig above, she also listed 26 East 63rd Street as her address in 1952.)

Jacob Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Jacob had reported on his declaration of intent that he was not married and had no children. However, David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research reported that Jacob married in France on June 20, 1940, and thereafter had two children born in France, one in December 1941 and one in 1952. Although I have no documentation of the marriage or the births of the children, I did find airline documents showing that the wife and two children visited Jacob in New York City during the 1950s.[^5] By 1964, Jacob had relocated to France, presumably to be closer to his family.5

Gabrielle Heimerdinger, Grete and Berthold’s daughter, married Erwin Vogel on September 8, 1943, in New York City.6 Erwin was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 23, 1921, to Kurt and Edith Vogel, and had immigrated to the US with his family in 1937, coming from Antwerp, Belgium. They settled in Chicago, where they were living in 1940.7

On his 1942 draft registration for World War II, Erwin was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, and working for the Stevens Institute of Technology, from which he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1944. Gabrielle and Erwin had four children.8

Erwin Vogel, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 686
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Thus, Hedwig and her son Jacob and her daughter Grete and Grete’s family all survived the Holocaust. Grete’s husband Berthold Heimerdinger died in June 1961 at the age of 71.9 Hedwig died on December 9, 1964; she was 87.10 Jacob Goldschmidt died in October 1976 in France. He was eighty years old.11

Grete was the last surviving child of Marcel and Hedwig Goldschmidt. She lived a long life, dying on January 2, 2003, in New York at the age of 98.12 She had outlived her daughter Gabrielle Heimerdinger Vogel, who died January 19, 1990, in Rockville, Maryland, where she and her family had relocated in 1972.13 Gabrielle was 65 and was survived by her husband Erwin and their four children.

Grete and Jacob were fortunate to have left Germany when they did. The other two siblings, Else and Nelly, faced tragic deaths at the hands of the Nazis, as we will see in my next post.

 

 

 


  1. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 80, Ship or Roll Number: Albert Ballin, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest 1938, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1158, Month: Mar, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 
  4. Berthold Heimerdinger and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02732; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 41-614, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. This information came from his mother’s death announcement in the December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  6.  Gabrielle J Heimerdinger, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 8 Sep 1943, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Erwin Vogel, License Number: 21889, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Kurt Vogel and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00934; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-447, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. “Unconventional Aeronautics Engineer Erwin Vogel, 88, Dies,” The Washington Post, October 28, 2009, found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102703825.html 
  9.  Berthold Heimerdinger, Social Security Number: 085-28-3608, Birth Date: 10 Sep
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Jun 1961, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  11.  Jacob Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 085-28-0743, Birth Date: 1 Jul 1896
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Greta Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1904, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 2 Jan 2003, Father: Marcel Goldschmidt
    Mother: Hedwig Goldschmidt, SSN: 064167857, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Gabrielle Joan Heimerdinger, [Gabrielle Vogel], Birth Date: 16 Dec 1924, Birth Place: Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 19 Jan 1990, Father: Berthold Heimerdinger, Mother: Grete Goldschmidt, SSN: 102185390
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Leni and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Their Sons: Escaping from Germany

 

Julius Goldschmidt, my second cousin, three times removed, died on January 5, 1932, in Bad Homburg, Germany; he was seventy-three.  Bad Homburg was “an internationally fashionable spa”  not far from Frankfurt (about eleven miles), and it appears from the death record that Julius was living there at the time of his death.

Bad Homburg, M. Jacobs, Frankfurt a. Main / Public domain

He had been preceded in death by two of his children, Mimi and Amalie, and was survived by his wife Elise Seligmann, their daughter Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt, and Leni’s husband (and cousin) Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and their two sons, Felix and Hermann; their son Jacob Goldschmidt; and their daughter Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children.

Julius Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 908; Laufende Nummer: 1585, Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Jacob (Julius) Goldschmidt only survived his father by two years. According to David Baron and Roger Cibella, he died at the age of 44 in Paris, France, on November 28, 1934. That left Leni Goldschmidt Goldschmidt and Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger as Julius and Elise’s only surviving children.

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt1 and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992;2 according to Cibella/Baron, Siegfried had died in France in 1949. Regina filed Pages of Testimony with Yad Vashem for family members who were killed in the Holocaust, as we have seen and as we will see in future posts.

The remainder of this post will focus on Leni (Helene II) and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and their sons.

I will start in a strange place to tell their story: Leni’s husband,Julius Falk Goldschmidt, who was also her father Julius’ first cousin. Focusing on the in-law is not usually what I would do, and it would have made more sense to wait and tell his story when I get to Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s younger brother Falk, who was Julius Falk Goldschmidt’s father. But because we are telling Leni’s story now and her story is entwined with that of her husband, I can’t delay the story of Julius Falk Goldschmidt.

Some of my readers may recall how I found an obituary for Julius Falk Goldschmidt in one of Milton Goldsmith’s family albums, attached to a page that included a replica of an ancient ketubah, and I had wondered why it was there and how Milton knew this distant cousin well enough to refer to him as “beloved” and include his obituary in an album otherwise devoted to Milton’s closest relatives, his immediate family. I also was puzzled by the ketubah reproduction included on that page.

I decided to see if I could locate the source of this tribute to Julius Falk Goldschmidt. I noticed that it was written by someone named John Pope-Hennessy, who I learned was a British art historian and at one time the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.3 By Googling his name and Julius F. Goldschmidt, I was able to locate the source of Pope-Hennessy’s tribute to Julius. It was published on December 1, 1964, in The Times of London on page 12.

Pope-Hennessy included this background information about Julius in that tribute:

Born in Frankfurt in 1882, Goldschmidt as a young man became a member of the celebrated firm of J.M.S. Goldschmidt, which had been founded in 1859 by his father [Falk Goldschmidt] and two uncles [Selig and Jacob Goldschmidt] and which numbered among its clients the Tsar, the German Emperor and members of the Rothschild family. His interests from the first were canalized in sculpture, and especially bronze statuettes, and after 1905, when a branch of the first was established in the United States, he played an active part in the formation of the Pierpont Morgan, Altman, Widener and Bache collection.

Thus, Julius Falk Goldschmidt had been traveling back and forth to the US long before Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, I found a 1909 passenger manifest showing him traveling to the US with Leni and her brother Jacob, as mentioned in the prior post.

Year: 1909; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1381; Line: 1; Page Number: 120 Description Ship or Roll Number: Roll 1381 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Moreover, Julius Falk filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on January 16, 1924, after “immigrating” on November 21, 1923.

Julius F Goldschmidt 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 249) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 124581-125078), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

That explains how Julius Falk and Milton Goldsmith may have become closely acquainted as Milton was living in New York City at that time. As for the ketubah reproduction, the Goldschmidt firm also specialized in Judaica, so perhaps this was a reproduction of a ketubah that the firm had collected.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt did not, however, follow through on his declaration of intention, but returned to Frankfurt, where he remained a resident until 1935. According to Pope-Hennessy (see above), Julius Falk moved that year to London and continued his work for the Goldschmidt firm. Records indicate that Julius Falk Goldschmidt, his wife Helene, and their older son Felix were all residing in England in 1939, as was Helene’s mother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt.4

Julius, Leni, and Felix Goldschmidt, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/420B, Enumeration District: APDK, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Julius F. and Helene’s younger son Hermann left for the United States on September 2, 1939, the day after World War II began. He was 26 at the time.5 His declaration of intention to become a US citizen, which was filed on December 21, 1939, indicated that his last place of foreign residence was Paris and that he had immigrated from Montreal into the US at Rouses Point, New York, which is the first town over the US border from Canada about 45 miles south of Montreal. At the time he filed his declaration, Hermann was living in New York City.

Hermann Goldschmidt 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 572) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 448201-449000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

I couldn’t find Hermann on the 1940 US census, but I did find his draft registration dated October 24, 1940; he had dropped the second N from his first name and registered as Herman Goldschmidt. (Later he became Herman Goldsmith.) At that time he was living in New York City and working for Julius Kayser & Company, a large manufacturer of women’s gloves, hosiery, and silk underwear, today known as Kayser-Roth.

Herman Goldschmidt, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Meanwhile, Herman’s brother Felix and parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and grandmother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt were living in England. Both Julius Falk and his son Felix were interned as enemy aliens on June 21, 1940, although both had previously been found exempt from internship on November 28, 1939. It appears they were released just two months later on August 28, 1940. Helene and her mother were spared from internment. Julius listed his occupation as art dealer, and Felix reported that he was a “company director and art dealer” for his father’s firm. All four family members were living at the same address in London.

Julius F Goldschmidt, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/174
Piece Number Description: 174: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Ga-Gom
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Felix Goldschmidt, enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/109
Piece Number Description: 109: Canada Internees 1939-1942: G-H, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt died in 1943 in London; she was 79 years old and was survived by her daughter Helene, son-in-law Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and two grandsons, Felix and Herman.6

After the war Felix joined his brother Herman in the US, where he married and had a child.7 Herman never married. Their parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt remained in England for the rest of their lives. Julius Falk Goldschmidt died on November 18, 1964, in London.8 Pope-Hennessy opined that with the death of Julius Goldschmidt, “the London art world loses one of its most warmly regarded personalities.” It went on to describe his interests, his appearance, and his personality. It’s quite a poetic and beautiful obituary.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt was survived by his wife Helene, who died in London six years later in 1970,9 and their two sons, Felix and Herman, and one grandchild. Felix died on March 10, 1989, in Greenwich, Connecticut; he was 78.10 His brother Herman lived until October 7, 2016; he was two months shy of his 104th birthday when he died.11

Here was another family that survived the Holocaust, but lost their homeland with the sons living on one continent, their parents on another. Herman Goldsmith’s incredible longevity is quite a testament to the strength of this family.

 

 


  1. Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Frankfurt am Main, 1937, Ancestry.com. German Phone Directories, 1915-1981 
  2. Regina Rosenberger, Burial Date: 27 Feb 1992, Burial Plot: 53-F-23, Burial Place: North York, Ontario, Canada, Cemetery: Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  3. John Russell, “Sir John Pope-Hennessy, 80, Art Expert, Dies,” The New York Times, November 1, 1994, p.36. 
  4.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/226, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5. Ship Name: Empress Of Britain, Shipping Line: Canadian Pacific
    Official Number: 162582, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  6. Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 1a, Page: 23, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 23, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7.  Arrival Date: 8 Feb 1949, Port of Arrival: Buffalo, New York, USA
    Arrival Contact: Brother Herman Goldsmith, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1480; Roll Number: 045, Ancestry.com. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960 
  8.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 198, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 198, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  9.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5d, Page: 1218, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 1218, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  10. Feliz A Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 10 Sep 1910, Death Date: 10 Mar 1989
    SSN: 061264467, Death Certificate Number: 05428, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=herman-goldsmith&pid=182198098 

Ferdinand and Friederike Meyer: Why Did She Stay Behind?

As noted in my earlier post, Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer’s four oldest children had varying experiences during the Holocaust. Alfred appears to have escaped to France, but I don’t know where he was thereafter. Jacob died in 1928, but his wife and children escaped to England and Argentina in the 1930s; Max had his family ended up in Argentina. And Siegfried was killed at the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt in 1943. Their youngest child Amalie escaped to England and then the US. Today I will tell the story of their son Ferdinand.

Ferdinand Meyer had married Friederike Jaenecke, a non-Jewish woman, in 1920, and they had two children, Eleanore and Erich.  Even though Friederike was not born Jewish and her children were only half-Jewish, it appears that they faced persecution as Jews.

Friederike herself is included on a document from the Arolsen Archives that lists the “Deutsche Juden,” German Jews, living in Frankfurt. For Friederike, it records that the “Daten d. Austellung d. Urkunden,” the date of exhibiting certificates, was in 1939. What I didn’t understand is why Friederike was listed here, but not her husband or children.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Description, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

Also, she was still classified as Aryan (Arisch) on this document found in the Arolsen Archives:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1
Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947.
Original data: Arolsen Archives. Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees by Public Institutions, Social Securities and Companies (1939-1947). Bad Arolsen, Germany. 2.1.1.1 American Zone; Bavaria Hesse; 2.1.1.2 American Zone: Bavaria, Wurttemberg-Baden, Bremen; 2.1.1.3 American Zone; Bavaria, Hesse (Children).

How do I reconcile this? And where was the rest of her family?

From several other documents I was able to piece together some of what happened. Ferdinand escaped to England some time before November 14, 1939, when he was initially exempted from being interned as an enemy alien. His record, however, indicates that he was interned as an enemy alien from June 21, 1940, until September 16, 1940.

Name: Ferdinand Meyer, Gender: Male, Nationality: German, Internment Age: 54, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1886, Birth Place: Germany, Internment Date: 21 Jun 1940, Discharge Date: 16 Sep 1940
The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/187, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On October 31, 1940, Ferdinand left England and immigrated permanently to the US, arriving in Boston on November 16, 1940. The ship manifest recorded that his daughter E. Meyer was the person he left behind in England and that he was going to his son, E. Meyer, who resided at 627 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Thus, Erich was already in the US.

Ferdinand Meyer, ship manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943; NAI Number: 4319742; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: T843; NARA Roll Number: 451 Description Month or Roll: 451  Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1963

Erich had arrived on March 9, 1940, from England, so he also had escaped from Germany to England, presumably with his father and sister. He was only sixteen when they then put him on a ship for the US. Interestingly, the ship manifest indicates that he was heading to Niagara Falls, New York, as his permanent destination after landing in New York. Handwritten on the manifest it names August Kuhlman of Niagara Falls, New York as the person at his destination, but it also says that he was headed to an aunt, Lotto Karlmuller, who was living at 627 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.1 That is the same address his father gave eight months later as Erich’s residence, so it appears that Erich did not end up going to Niagara Falls.

Erich Meyer, ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6452; Line: 1; Page Number: 78, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Ferdinand filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on March 15, 1941. On that declaration he indicated that his daughter Eleanor was in England and his son Eric was in Boston. Friederike must have still been outside of the US because the line indicating when she entered the country is crossed out. The 1941 Boston directory lists his address as 348 Beacon Street and his occupation as “atndt,” attendant, I assume. (He had listed no occupation on his declaration of intention.)2

Ferdinand Meyer, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Petitions and Records of Naturalization , 8/1845 – 12/1911; NAI Number: 3000057; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Description: Declaration of Intention, V 501 No 295271, 2 Dec 1940 Breedy – V 503 No 297720, 17 Mar 1941 Oberg, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950

Friederike finally arrived in the US on August 9, 1941. Her declaration of intention to become a US citizen was filed on December 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor. She indicated that her prior residence had been Frankfurt, Germany, so it appears she had not left when her husband and children did, and that explains why only she was listed on the Nazi record that appears above.  Her declaration also states that Eleanora (spelled with the A here) was still in England.

Friederike Meyer, declaration of intention, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Petitions and Records of Naturalization , 8/1845 – 12/1911; NAI Number: 3000057; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: Declaration of Intention, V 512 No 305021, Oct 1941 Rydar – V 514 No 307480, Jan 1942 Patturelli, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950

Ferdinand and his son Eric both registered for the draft in the US. Ferdinand listed his address as 99 Norway Street in Boston and also reported that he was self-employed at 152 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts. That caught my eye because for six years from 1975 to 1981 we lived in Arlington less than a mile from that address. I was very curious as to what Ferdinand might have been doing there since he lived in Boston, not Arlington, but I had no luck figuring that out.

Ferdinand Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2090, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Erich registered for the draft, changing his name from Erich Adalbert Meyer to Eric Albert Meyer. He was living at the same address as his father Ferdinand, 99 Norway Street in Boston, and was working for Universal Tire and Auto Supply Company in Boston.

Eric Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Massachusetts, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 662, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

He enlisted in the US Army on June 23, 1944, for the duration of the war.3 While he was in the service and stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, he petitioned for naturalization.

Eric Meyer, petition for naturalizaiton, The National Archives at Atlanta, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, compiled 1880 – 1975; NAI Number: 2111793; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description: Jacksonville Petitions 1895-1975 (Box 09), Ancestry.com. Florida, Naturalization Records, 1847-1995

Ferdinand Meyer did not live long after his immigration to the United States. He died in 1946 in Arlington, Massachusetts.4 He was only sixty years old. His wife Friederike survived him by close to thirty years. She died in September, 1974; her last residence was Yonkers, New York.5

Eric A. Meyer survived his parents. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering and married Carol Zimmerman in 1953.5 In 1960 they were living in Cortlandt, New York, where Eric was working as a project engineer for Trinity Equipment Company.6 Eric died in February 1987 in Alabama at 63, only three years older than his father had been at his death;7 his wife Carol died in 2010.8 They were survived by eight children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Northeastern University; Year: 1950b
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

I’ve been able to connect with one of Ferdinand and Friederike’s grandchildren, and she told me that Eleanore Meyer remained in England. She married a man named Francis Alban Cowper in 1948 in Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, England, and they had five children.9 Thanks to my newly found cousin, I now have an obituary for Eleanore; she died on December 23, 2013, in Chaddesley Corbett, and was survived by her children and grandchildren. She was 94 years old.10

Unfortunately, my newly found cousin was unable to answer some of the questions that remain unanswered. For example, she didn’t know why Friederike did not leave Germany when her husband and children left. Did Friederike think that she  would be safe because she was not born Jewish? Had Friederike stayed behind for health reasons or to protect the family’s property? We don’t know, and we don’t know what her life was like between the time Ferdinand and her children left and her own departure from Germany.

So many questions left to answer, as there always are.


  1. There is an August Kuhlman in Niagara Falls on the 1930 and 1940 census who was born in about 1900 in Kansas; his mother Clara and his wife Irma were born in Germany. I don’t know how they were connected to Erich Meyer. I could not find anyone named Lotto Karlmuller or even with just the surname Karlmuller in Boston or anywhere else. 
  2.  Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A. 
  4. Ferdinand Meyer, Death Date: 1946, Death Place: Arlington, Massachusetts, USA
    Volume Number: 2, Page Number: 231, Index Volume Number: 109, Reference Number: F63.M363 v.109, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980 
  5.  Eric A Meyer, Marriage Date: 26 Dec 1953, Marriage Place: Manlius, New York, USA, Spouse: Carol M Zimmerman, Certificate Number: 53763, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Marriage Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 
  6. Cortland, New York, City Directory, 1960, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7.  Eric Meyer, Social Security Number: 028-16-9998, Birth Date: 30 Jan 1924,
    Issue State: Massachusetts, Last Residence: 35226, Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, USA, Death Date: Feb 1987, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Carol Z. Meyer, Social Security Number: 278-22-7901, Birth Date: 2 May 1927
    Issue State: Ohio, Last Residence: 35048, Clay, Jefferson, Alabama, Death Date: 24 Aug 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Eleanore Meyer, Registration Date: Jan 1948, [Feb 1948], [Mar 1948],
    Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Kidderminster, Inferred County: Worcestershire, Spouse: Frances A Cowper, Volume Number: 9d, Page Number: 315
    General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9d; Page: 315, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  10. https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/announcements/deaths/deaths/10702391.Eleonore_Cowper/ 

Amalie Meyer Bloch: Where Was Her Husband During the War?

Although I said I was going to write next about Ferdinand, Regina Goldschmidt Meyer’s youngest son, I have just connected with one of his descendants and hope to get more information before I post. So I am skipping ahead to the youngest of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer’s children, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and will return to Ferdinand in a later post.

Amalie Meyer was married to Charles Bloch and had one child, their daughter Else, born in 1913. They escaped from Nazi Germany in time and ended up in England and then the US.

By 1939, Else, now spelling her name as Ilse, was living in England, working as a domestic servant.

Ilse Bloch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1599D, Enumeration District: DEBC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Registe

But she left England for the US and arrived in New York on July 29, 1940. When she filed her declaration of intention on September 2, 1941, she was living in New York City and working as a factory worker.

Ilse Bloch, 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 628) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 498401-499300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Her mother Amalie had arrived on August 9, 1941. On the ship manifest she was sailing without Charles and indicated she was heading to her daughter Ilse in New York and leaving behind her husband’s cousin, “Friedrike Meyer,” who, I believe, must have also be the same Friederike who was married to Amalie’s brother, Ferdinand.1

On her declaration of intention, Amalie wrote that her last residence had been Lisbon, Portugal.

Amalie Meyer Bloch, declaration of intent, 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 641) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 510101-511000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But where was her husband Charles? She still listed him as her husband, but she had not listed him on the passenger manifest as the person she was leaving behind. It would appear he was still living, but not in Germany or Portugal. So where was he?

This document, prepared by the occupying forces after the war, indicates that Charles, here identified as Carl, had most recently been living in Paris while Amalie had gone to the US.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

This one identifies him as Charles:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

I was also able to locate a ship manifest dated April 12, 1946, listing Charles Bloch going to his wife Amalie in New York. According to the manifest, he had last resided in Toulouse, France, and this was his first time in the United States. It also indicated this his wife had paid his fare and that he was coming permanently.

Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7093; Line: 7; Page Number: 40, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

But I still don’t know exactly where Charles spent the years during the war or why he and Amalie ended up in separate countries or where he was for the year after the war ended in Europe until he left on April 12, 1946. Perhaps a displaced persons camp.

The good news, however, is that Amalie, Charles, and Ilse all survived and were living in New York City by the end of April, 1946.

Charles died eleven years later on November 11, 1957; he was 76.2 Amalie survived him less than four years; she died on May 31, 1961, at the age of 69.3 Ilse, who appears to have gone by her middle name Helen in the US, lived to 91, dying on November 28, 2004.4 It appears that she never married or had children.

Thus, there are no descendants of Amalie Goldschmidt Bloch to answer my questions about her husband’s whereabouts during World War II. Maybe there is a relative out there who will knows the answer. Or maybe a reader will have some suggestions for how to learn the answers.

 

 


  1. Amalie Bloch, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6568; Line: 6; Page Number: 80, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Name: Charles Bloch, Age: 76, Birth Date: abt 1881, Death Date: 11 Nov 1957, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 24005, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  3. Amalie Bloch, Age: 69, Birth Date: abt 1892, Death Date: 31 May 1961, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 12285, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  4. Helen I Bloch, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 30 May 1913, Death Date: 28 Nov 2004
    SSN: 100121080, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Regina Goldschmidt’s Children: Did They Escape in Time or Not?

When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, Regina Goldschmidt Meyer had already outlived her husband Aaron Meyer, who had died in 1902, and two of her seven children, Sally having died in childhood and Jacob in 1928. Her other five children—Alfred, Max, Siegfried, Ferdinand, and Amalie— were still living as well as a number of grandchildren.

But Regina died in Frankfurt on October 7, 1938, just a month before Kristallnacht. She was 83 years old.

Regina Goldschmidt Meyer, death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11076, Year Range: 1938, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Some of her five surviving children fared better than others during the Holocaust. For some, I ran into brick walls when I tried to learn more about their lives during or after the war. For others, I discovered tragedy. This post will focus on her four oldest children and their families.

The fate of Regina’s oldest child, Alfred Meyer, is somewhat unclear. I found only two documents for him after his birth record. First, I found this card in the Arolsen Archives:

With help from the German Genealogy group, I learned that this card says that Alfred was a widower and that he had no occupation. The final column indicates that Alfred was still living in Frankfurt on April 24, 1939, and then left for France and was there until November 3, 1939.

The second card, also from the Arolsen Archives, came up through a search on Ancestry.com:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

According to the description on Ancestry, this document was prepared after the war by the American forces occupying West Germany as an attempt to document the Jews who had been persecuted by the Nazis. This particular document lists those who had become or were French citizens. Under the last category, “Aufenthaltsdaten,” or dates of stay, it says April 24, 1939, to November 3, 1939. This appears to be consistent with the other card from the Arolsen Archives.

But what happened to Alfred after November 3, 1939? Did he return to Frankfurt and survive? Was he killed? He does not appear in either the Yad Vashem database or the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum database. There are many other post-war records for men named Alfred Meyer, but the name is so common and the records so vague in identification information that I have no idea what happened to my cousin Alfred Meyer. Cibella and Baron say he died in a concentration camp, and I fear that that is probably the case even though I can’t find him at Yad Vashem.

As noted above, Alfred’s brother Jacob Meyer had died in 1928, leaving his wife Elli and their children to survive him. I was able to find records for Elli showing that she had immigrated to England by 1939; she and her son Arthur are listed together on the 1939 England and Wales Register.

Ellie and Arthur Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/416H, Enumeration District: APCA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Arthur also registered as an enemy alien in 1939; at that time he was working as an apprentice shirt cutter for Harrod’s. Note that his address is 28c Maida Avenue.

Arthur Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/187, Piece Number Description: 187: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Mayer-Morgens, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Also living at 28c Maida Avenue in 1939 when she registered as an enemy alien was Arthur’s sister Hilde Meyer, who was a student and an unemployed domestic worker.

Hilde Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/61, Piece Number Description: 061: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Mer-Mid, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On the 1939 England and Wales Register, Hilde was working as a parlor maid and living elsewhere, so she must have found work by the time that was enumerated.1

As for the third child whom Cibella/Baron identified as a child of Jacob and Elli Meyer, Lotte Henriette Meyer, I did not have much luck locating records. Cibella/Baron report that she married Helmut Leopold Wallach in Frankfurt on April 27, 1934, and that they had twin daughters born in 1935, but I could not find a marriage record or birth records for the twins. I did find a 1937 ship manifest for a Lotte Wallach with two daughters born in 1935, heading from England to Argentina2 and a separate 1937 manifest for a Helmut Leopold Wallach heading to Uruguay,3 but nothing more specific to tie Lotte to Jacob and Elli Meyer or to Helmut Wallach.

Elli Loeser Meyer lived the rest of her life in England, dying there on April 18, 1966. The listing for her in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar names “Arthur Meyers, company director,” as one of the executors.4 I have been unable so far to find any other later records for any of her children. Thus, I do not know when or where they died, whether or not they married or had children, or anything else.

Max Meyer and his family escaped from Nazi Germany to Argentina. It appears that their son Arnold had immigrated there in July, 1936, but had been living in Basel, Switzerland prior to heading to Buenos Aires:

Arnold Meyer, Ancestry.com. Swiss Overseas Emigration, 1910-1953. Original data: Schweizerisches Auswanderungsamt und Auswanderungsbüro. Überseeische Auswanderungen aus der Schweiz, 1910-1953. Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv (National Archives of Switzerland). E 2175 – 2.

According to Cibella/Baron, Arnold’s parents Max and Anna also both immigrated to Buenos Aires and died there, Anna in 1941 and Max in 1952. Unfortunately, I have no records for these events or for Arnold’s death in 1959.

Siegfried Meyer met a tragic end. He immigrated to the Netherlands, but on April 21, 1943, he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he was murdered on November 23, 1943, and cremated.5

Arolsen Arhives, 1 Incarceration Documents / 1.1 Camps and Ghettos / 1.1.42 Theresienstadt Ghetto /1.1.42.2 Card File Theresienstadt /Ghetto Theresienstadt Card File, Reference Code
11422001

Thus, for Regina’s four oldest children, I have mixed results. Jacob’s family ended up in England and possibly Argentina; Max’s family ended up in Argentina. Tragically, Siegfried was murdered by the Nazis, and Alfred probably was also.

The next post will report on Regina’s youngest son, Ferdinand, and his family.


  1.  Hilde Meyer, Gender: Female, Marital status: Single, Birth Date: 21 Nov 1912, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 24, Residence Place: Yiewsley and West Drayton, Middlesex, England, Occupation: Parlourmaid, Schedule Number: 167, Sub Schedule Number: 3, Enumeration District: BZAA, Registration district: 127/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/994A, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  2. Lotte Wallach, Gender: Female, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1906, Departure Date: 16 Oct 1937, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ship Name: Almanzora, Shipping Line: Royal Mail Lines Limited, Official Number: 136353, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  3. Helmut Wallach, Gender: Male, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1906, Departure Date: 5 Feb 1937, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: Montevideo, Uruguay, Ship Name: Arlanza, Shipping Line: Royal Mail Lines Limited
    Official Number: 132021, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  4. Elli Meyer, Death Date: 18 Apr 1966, Death Place: London, England, Probate Date: 6 Jun 1966, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. Siegfried Meyer, entries at Yad Vashem:  https://tinyurl.com/yazazrxa and https://tinyurl.com/y6v946fm 

German Jewish Refugees as Enemy Aliens in the UK during World War II: Some Resources

A number of readers have asked questions about the internment of German Jews by England during World War II. It does seem so cruel to take people who had just escaped from Germany for being Jewish and imprison them for being German, but war does bring out the worst in human nature. In our own American history, there are many examples, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II for no reason other than their Japanese roots.

To answer some of the questions and to provide links to more information, I am providing a link back to a post I published almost four years ago when I first learned about the English internment of German Jews. I hope this post and the links it includes will answer some of those questions.  It only addresses the internment on the Isle of Man, only one of the many places where England sent “enemy aliens.”

https://brotmanblog.com/2016/09/21/imprisoned-on-the-isle-of-man/

In addition, for more information in general about the internment of enemy aliens, here are some other links:

Enemy Aliens scholarly article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a6651858.shtml

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/12/shining-a-light-on-the-enemy-aliens-of-the-second-world-war

This article was sent to me by another reader. It is a contemporary news report from The London Times of May 17, 1940.

There are many other articles and websites devoted to this topic, which is too large for me to do justice to on the blog. I hope this will help those who are interested find some of the answers to their questions.

 

My Cousin Anna Seghers: Activist, Author, and Survivor

The youngest child of Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld was their daughter Hedwig, born in 1880 and married to Isidor Lutz Reiling. They had one daughter, Netti, born in Mainz, Germany, in 1900. Hedwig was my third cousin, twice removed, and her daughter Netti was my fourth cousin, once removed. Their stories are those of tragedy and triumph.

Hedwig did not share the good fortune of her older siblings. She and her husband Isidor were still living in Mainz in 1940 when Isidor died on March 10 at the age of 72.

Isidor Reiling death record, Year Range: Sterberegister 1940, Band 1
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Deaths, 1876-1950. Original data: Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950. Mainz Stadtarchiv.

Hedwig did not get out of Germany in time. She was deported to the ghetto in Plaski, Poland, on March 21, 1942, and was murdered sometime thereafter by the Nazis. The record on Yad Vashem has no date or place of her death.

This Page of Testimony filed by her cousin Regina Blanche Rosenberger1 indicates that she was killed in a concentration camp, but does not name which one or when. Thus, Hedwig was one of the millions of Jews whose deaths were not recorded by the Nazis, but who were murdered by them.

Hedwig Fuld Reiling, Page of Testimony, Yad Vashem at https://tinyurl.com/t6vr4dg

Hedwig and Isidor’s daughter Netti did survive. If you look at the Page of Testimony above, you will see that Hedwig was identified as “mother of the author Anna Seghers.” Anna Seghers was Netti Reiling’s pseudonym, and she was a well-known author. Because of her renown, I was able to find a treasure trove of material about Netti including some old photographs.2

Isidor Reiling was an art expert and antique dealer like so many of his Goldschmidt in-laws. His daughter Netti developed an interest in art history, and in 1920 she moved to Heidelberg to attend the university there. She wrote her doctoral thesis on “Aspects of Jews and Jewishness in the Work of Rembrandt.”

It was while she was at the university in Heidelberg that she joined a group of left-wing intellectuals and met her husband, Laszlo Radvanyi. Laszlo was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 13, 1900. He studied economics and philosophy at the University of Budapest in 1918 and became interested in radical politics. He eventually ended up at the University of Heidelberg and continued his studies there.

In August 1925, Netti and Laszlo were married. Each had adopted a pseudonym for their writings. Netti became Anna Seghers, inspired by a Dutch artist Hercules Seghers whom she had studied at the university. Laszlo’s pseudonym was Johann Lorenz Schmidt after an 18th century German theologian. They had two children, Peter (later known as Pierre)(1926) and Ruth (1928) and were living in Berlin in 1928.

Seghers published her first novel The Revolt of the Fisherman in 1928, the same year she joined the Communist Party in Germany. She published a second book of short stories about poor workers in 1930 and two more books in 1932 and 1933.

Her left-wing views resulted in her books being banned when Hitler came to power in January, 1933, and she was even briefly arrested, according to some sources.  According to her son Pierre, he was sick with scarlet fever at the time, and his mother had taken him to a children’s home in the Black Forest to recover. When she heard of the Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933, she returned to Berlin. The Nazis claimed that communists had set the fire, and Netti/Anna was denounced by a neighbor. The police showed up at their home to arrest her. According to Ruth, the police did not remain long because they were afraid of catching scarlet fever. Whether or not Netti/Anna was ever taken into custody seems unclear.

The family left Germany soon thereafter and escaped to France. They lived in Paris for seven years where Laszlo started a free university for German refugees; he continued to work on anti-fascist, left-wing causes; Netti/Anna published several books during this time and also spent some time in Vienna and in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

As a Hungarian and known communist, Laszlo/Johann was interned as a “suspected national” by the French in a camp in southern France. When the Nazis invaded France and occupied Paris in the spring of 1940, Netti/Anna and the children hid in Paris until they were able to escape to Marseilles. They were eventually able to free Laszlo and leave France on March 24, 1941, when the family sailed to the US and ultimately Mexico, where they settled.

During their time in Mexico, Anna Seghers wrote her best known book, The Seventh Cross, about seven political prisoners who escape from a Nazi concentration camp. It was first published in the United States and Mexico in 1942 and became the basis of a 1944 film of the same title starring Spencer Tracy, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Agnes Moorehead.

The New York Times review of the film in 1944 is quite interesting. The reviewer, Bosley Crowther, found Spencer Tracy’s performance “splendid” and Jessica Tandy’s “emotionally devastating.” He described the plot as “hair-raising” and the production as filled with “crackling tension and hard-packed realism” and as preserving the “monstrousness” of Segher’s book.3

But Crowther found reason to criticize the film as being too soft on the Germans:

Without in the least overlooking the bestiality of the Nazi brutes nor the miserable self-surrender of German citizens to their black regime, this film … visions a burning zeal for freedom in some German rebels and a core of decency in common folk. …[T]he basic theme…is that in men—even in Germans—there is an instinct for good that cannot be destroyed.….

The big reservation which this writer holds with regard to this film is that regarding the discretion of its theme at this particular time. Without any question, it creates a human sympathy for the people of a nation with whom we are at war and it tends, as have others, to load Germany’s crimes on Nazi backs. Obviously this film can make sentiment for a “soft” peace. It looks as though we are getting a dandy “thriller” at a pretty high price.

I have not yet read the book nor seen the film, but hope to do one or the other while being confined during this pandemic. There are more current reviews of the book, including this one from The New York Review of Books written upon the publication of a new translation of the book in 2018:

The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful, popular, and influential novels of the twentieth century, a hair raising thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany and that is no less exciting today than when it was first published in 1942. … Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism.

Anna Seghers wrote a number of other books while living in Mexico. It was also during this time that she learned that her mother had been killed by the Nazis. Nevertheless, after the war she and her family returned to Germany, first West Berlin, later East Berlin. She continued to be a left wing and communist political activist and to write books based on her political views for the rest of her life. She was a loyal supporter of the Soviet Union and East Germany.

Laszlo Radanvanyi died on July 3, 1978, in Berlin. Like his wife, he had remained a political activist as well as a professor. Netti/Anna died five years later on June 1, 1983, in Berlin.

Rüdiger Wölk,  Münster,  CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

On November 19, 2000, the German publication Der Welt published an interview with Netti and Laszlo’s two adult children, Pierre and Ruth, which revealed a more personal perspective on their mother. Ruth described her as “very warm, a normal mother,” and Pierre said she was “a very intuitive, extremely sensitive, even compassionate woman.”

Ruth Radanyi died on July 18, 2010 at the age of 82. Her brother Pierre, an author and physicist, is still living as far as I can tell. At this link, you can hear him read one of his mother’s poems.

The story of Netti Reiling/Anna Seghers and her family is yet another example of the literary talents of the Goldschmidt family as well as another example of the courage and resilience of the human spirit in the face of devastating hatred and danger. Although it may be hard to understand how Netti could support the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union, I cannot judge her for her views, given what she endured and what she lost as a young woman.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-P1202-317 / Sturm, Horst / CC-BY-SA 3.0 / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)


  1. Regina Blanche Rosenberg was born Regina Blanche Goldschmidt, and she was the daughter of Julius Goldschmidt, younger brother Helene Goldschmidt Fuld, Hedwig Fuld Reiling’s mother. That is, she was Hedwig’s first cousin. Regina immigrated to Canada and died in 1992. More on Regina when I get to her father’s story. 
  2. Since I don’t know when these works were first published, I can’t determine whether they are in the public domain—even though many of them were taken before 1923. See https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2012/03/06/copyright-and-the-old-family-photo/  Thus, I won’t be posting them, tempting as it might be to do so. But if you follow some of the links in the post, you will be able to see the photos. 
  3. Bosley Crowther, “The Seventh Cross, Anti-Nazi Drama, with Spencer Tracy, at Capitol,” The New York Times, September 29, 1944, p. 18. 

Escaping from Germany to Brazil and Israel: Brick Walls

 

We’ve already seen that Helene Goldschmidt Fuld’s second child, Minna Fuld, who was born in 1875, had a complicated marital history. First, she married Leo Offenstadt in 1894 when she was eighteen, and that marriage ended in divorce in 1904. She and Leo had had one child, Flora, in 1894. Then Minna married Ladislaus Polacovits in 1906, and he died in 1913; Minna had one child with Ladislaus, Lisolette, who was born in 1907.

Finally, Minna married Hermann Heinrich Karl Reuss in 1923, with whom she had no children. Hermann is listed in the 1940 Frankfurt directory1 and died in Frankfurt on September 27, 1947.

Hermann Reuss death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 225
Year Range: 1947, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

His death certificate indicates that he was a widower at the time of his death. I have no record for Minna’s death, but unsourced trees indicate that she died in Tel Aviv on May 3, 1944. Had Hermann gone with her to Palestine and returned to Germany after she died? Or had Hermann never left Germany?  I don’t know.

As we saw, Minna’s daughter Flora Offenstadt2 married Hermann Durlacher in 1918 and had two children with him, Siegfried Julius Thomas (known as Thomas) and Ulla Louise Sara. Flora and the two children immigrated to Brazil in 1939, as seen in these immigration cards.

Flora Offenstadt Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004764836
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Siegfried Julius Thomas Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004916940
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Ulla Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004916940
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

I could not locate any further records for Hermann Durlacher, but several unsourced trees indicate that he died in Sao Paolo, Brazil, on November 15, 1954, so perhaps he also immigrated to Brazil either before, with, or after his family. I don’t know what happened to Flora or her two children after they immigrated to Brazil in 1939. An unsourced tree on Geni reports that Thomas died in Sao Paulo on December 23, 2007.

Minna’s second daughter, Liselotte Polacovits, married Wilhelm Strauss-Reich on June 5, 1928, and had one child, as discussed here. I was not able to find information about their whereabouts during the 1930s, but by 1942 Liselotte and Wilhelm both had Palestinian passports that they renewed in 1947. I was able to locate a marriage record for their son (who may still be living) in England, so perhaps they also ended up in England or maybe they stayed in Israel.

Liselotte Strauss-Reich, Israel Archives, at https://tinyurl.com/wwdy88x

Thus, there is much to do to learn more about Minna and her descendants. So far, however, I’ve hit dead ends and brick walls. Searching online for answers in Brazil and Israel has led me nowhere. Not knowing how to read either Portuguese or Hebrew (except some basic terms) makes the task even more difficult. If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know.

 

 

 


  1.  Title: Amtliches Frankfurter Adressbuch, Deutsche National Bibliothek; Leipzig, Deutschland; Publisher: August Scherl; Signatur: ZC 811; Laufende Nummer: 1, Ancestry.com. Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974 
  2. Flora’s father, Minna’s first husband Leo Offenstadt, died at Theriesenstadt concentration camp on January 9, 1943. See his entry at Yad Vashem at https://tinyurl.com/tz3gz73. 

Escaping from Germany: Another Splintered Family, the Cramers

Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld’s oldest child, Clementine II, was born in 1874 and married David Cramer in 1892. They had two children, Sally David Cramer (1893) and Caroline Lilly Cramer (1894).

Let’s review where each member of the family was as of 1933 when the Nazis came to power and then learn where they were up through the end of World War II.

Sally David Cramer

Sally married Margarete Steinberg in 1921 and they had two sons, Hans Clemens and Peter Andreas, born in the 1920s.

Peter died as an eight-year-old on February 14, 1932, in Frankfurt.

Peter Cramer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11001
Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Sally and Margarete then had a third child, a daughter, born July 15, 1933, in Frankfurt,1 just months after Hitler’s rise to power.

Fortunately, they left Germany by 1939 and were living in England where Sally was working as a “company director.”2

Their family suffered another terrible tragedy when their oldest son Hans Clemens, then known as John Denis Cramer, was killed on March 23, 1943, while serving in the British army during World War II; he was only 21 and was the second child of Sally and Margarete to predecease them.3

Thus, leaving Germany had not saved young Hans/John from danger.

Hans Clemens aka John Denis Cramer, probate listing, ncestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

Caroline Lilly Cramer Drey

We saw that Sally’s sister Lilly (as she was known) married Arthur Drey in 1919, and they had three children born in Frankfurt in the 1920s: Dorothy, Claude, and Elizabeth. Arthur Drey was a known Expressionist poet and playwright in Germany. You can read a collection of his poems (in German, but easily translated by Google Translate) here.

Lilly and Arthur got out of Germany not long after Hitler came to power. According to this website devoted to the works of his son Claude Drey, Arthur feared he would be denounced for his anti-Nazi activities, and in 1933, he and his family left Germany and settled in Milan, Italy, for six years.

Then when Mussolini began to collaborate with Hitler in the late 1930s, Lilly and Arthur decided to leave Italy. They arrived in the United States on May 22, 1939 after first going to England, according to their naturalization papers. That was the same day that Hitler and Mussolini signed their Pact of Steel, forging a military alliance and paving the way to World War II.

Arthur Drey, Declaration of Intent, 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,  (Roll 566) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 443101-444000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1940 census, they were living in New York City, and Arthur was working as a director for an “electric firm.”4 His World War II draft registration identified him as self-employed by the Filtered Water Service Corporation in New York City.

Arthur Drey, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Their son Claude was also working for his father’s company:

Claude Drey, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

This biography of Claude provides greater details about his life:

During his first years in New York, Claude dedicated his time to studying English and engineering. He attended City College at night, and worked in the family’s water cooler rental business by day. He also began a lifetime pursuit of analytical psychology.  Claude worked with analysts under the school of Carl Jung.

In 1943, Claude’s older sister Dorothy married Rudolf Gerd Hamburger,5 who later changed his surname to Harvey.6 Rudolf was born in Berlin, Germany, on September 8, 1909, to Leo Hamburger and Johanna Borchardt.7 Dorothy and Rudolf had two children together.

Clementine Fuld and David Cramer

Meanwhile, Sally and Lilly’s parents Clementine and David Cramer had been living in Nice, France,  They arrived in New York on October 27, 1941, after the Nazis had occupied France.

David Cramer, 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 649) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 517601-518500), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the ship manifest as well as the declaration of intent, they named both their children, Sally in England and Lilly in New York.

David and Clemetine Cramer, passenger manifest, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6588; Line: 1; Page Number: 114
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Thus, the whole family had left Germany in time and escaped the Nazis, but Clementine and David had lost their grandson Hans/John in the fight against the Nazis.

After the War

The family suffered two losses in the first years after the war. David Cramer died in New York on February 8, 1946 just five years after his arrival in the US and six months after the end of World War II; he was 84, and he was survived by his wife Clementine, their two children Sally and Lilly, and their grandchildren.8

Then on June 17, 1948, Dorothy Drey’s husband Rudolf was killed in a plane accident in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania.  He was one of 43 people killed when a United Airlines DC-6 tried to make an emergency landing and hit a 60,000 volt electrical tower and burst into flames.9 Dorothy was only 26 when she lost her husband; their two children were just preschoolers.

Rudolph Harvey, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

According to Cibella/Baron, Dorothy remarried a few years later and had another child with her second husband.

But not all the family news was bad after the war. Elizabeth, the youngest Drey sibling, married Eric Harry Caspari in September 1949, in New York City.10 Eric was the son of Leo Caspari and Margarete Meyer and was born on April 6, 1914, in Berlin, Germany. 11  Elizabeth and Eric had three children together.

In the 1950s, Claude Drey developed an interest in photography. The website devoted to his works included this comment:

As with so many other pursuits he was determined to bring it to a professional level. He studied under several photographers and was influenced by Edward Weston.  Most of his work was in black and white; he did all of his own development.  Claude was successful in having his work exhibited in several gallery shows including a one-man exhibit at the Image Gallery. His works was sold to publishers for use in advertising and appeared in several books.  

Most of Claude’s photography focused on nature. He took many pictures of animals, plants and flowers. He traveled to California and did a series on Point Lobus.  Claude’s family and friends were models – especially his young wife Grace.  His photography related in many ways to his psychological studies and particularly in his pictures of people, he tried to capture a part of their spirit.

A more unusual series of photographs Claude created was on car “graveyards” and on a slaughterhouse.  For some the pictures of the animals being killed and butchered may be disturbing.

I would imagine that that series of disturbing photographs was somewhat inspired by the experiences he had as a teenager and young man running from the Nazis and Fascists in Europe and then learning what had happened to those who had not been fortunate enough to leave in time. You can see some of Claude’s photography here.

Clementine Fuld Cramer survived her husband David by sixteen years; she died at 87 on March 30, 1962.12

Her son-in-law Arthur Drey died on July 1, 1965; he was 72.13 And his wife Lilly Cramer Drey followed him almost exactly a year later. She died on June 23, 1966, at the age of 71.14 They were survived by their three children and eight grandchildren. Their daughter Dorothy died on February 10, 1972, in New York, 15 Claude Drey died on November 7, 1989,16 and the youngest sibling Elizabeth died on July 8, 2005.17

Clementine’s son Sally Cramer, who had outlived his two sons as well as his parents and sister Lilly, died in London at the age of 87 on March 9, 1977;18 his wife Margarete died ten years later on December 10, 1987.19 She was 89. They were survived by their youngest child.

Clementine Fuld Cramer’s story is another story of German Jews who escaped in time and ended up contributing much to their new homeland. Claude Drey’s photographs are worth examining to see the beauty that he could find around him despite having had such a difficult and disrupted boyhood.

 

 

 


  1. FHL Film Number: 004909566m Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  2. Sally David Cramer and family, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/868A, Enumeration District: BOAA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 April 2020), memorial page for Pvt John Denis Cramer (unknown–23 Mar 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 151392819, citing Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, Willesden, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) . 
  4. Arthur Drey and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02647; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-964, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5.  Name: Dorothy Drey, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 26 May 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Rudolph F Hamburger, License Number: 10550, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  6. See his World War II draft registration at Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. 
  7. Rudolf Harvey death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  8.  Certificate Number: 3719, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  9. There are many news articles about the crash, which was the second worst in US history at that time. For example, “DC-6 Wreck Hides Cause of Tragedy,” The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18 Jun 1948, Fri • Page 1 
  10.  Elizabeth H Drey, Marriage License Date: 9 Sep 1949, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Harry E Caspari, License Number: 24292, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 35, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  11. Eric Harry Caspari, Birth Date: 6 Apr 1914, Birth Place: Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 6 May 1975, Father: Leo Caspari, Mother: Margarete Meyer
    SSN: 168126664, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. Certificate Number: 7231, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  13.  Arthur Drey, Social Security Number: 094-14-0864, Birth Date: 9 Sep 1890
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1965
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Lilly Drey, Social Security Number: 068-24-9127, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1894
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1966
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Dorothy Schaefer, Birth Date: 30 Mar 1921, Death Date: Feb 1972
    SSN: 130142475, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  16. Claude Clemens Drey, Birth Date: 13 Nov 1919, Birth Place: Francfort PR, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 7 Nov 1989, Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 072127096, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  17. Elizabeth Helen Drey, [Elizabeth Helen Caspari]Birth Date: 22 Jan 1926
    Birth Place: Frankfurt Yi, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 8 Jul 2005
    Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 076202437, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Sally Cramer, Registration district: Westminster Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 15, Page: 2123, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 2123, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  19. Margarete Cramer, Death Date: 10 Dec 1987, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 11 Oct 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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