My Fifth Cousin Matthew, Ruth Blumenfeld Friedman’s Grandson

Happy 2023, everyone! For today’s post I am updating a post I wrote back in April 2022. Thank you to my cousin Matthew Steinhart for making this post possible.

Back on April 22, 2022, I wrote about the children of Meier Blumenfeld III and Emma Oppenheim and the teamwork it took to locate their three daughters, Gertrud, Ruth (also known as Bertha), and Hanna. Meier, my second cousin, three times removed, was the son of Giedel Blumenfeld, Isaak’s daughter, and her first cousin, once removed, Gerson Blumenfeld I (not to be confused with Giedel’s brother Gerson Blumenfeld II, whose story I just completed.)

Meier and Emma and their family were destroyed by the Holocaust. Of the five of them, only Ruth managed to escape from Germany in time to survive the Holocaust. The others were all murdered by the Nazis.

Ruth immigrated to the US and settled in New York City, where she married Leo Friedman on March 21, 1942, as I wrote about here. Ruth and Leo had two children, and I was recently contacted by one of Ruth and Leo’s grandsons, Matthew Steinhart, son of Eileen Dinah Friedman Steinhart.

Matthew works in video production and is the manager of the video production team at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Washington, DC.1 He created three short videos about his search to learn more about his grandparents and their families. With his permission and courtesy of the USHMM, I can provide links to those three videos. They are very touching, and I highly recommend you spend the time watching them.

Matthew also shared some wonderful photographs of his grandmother and her family and generously has allowed me to share them on the blog. He also shared some family stories and other information to fill in some of the holes in the story of Ruth and her family that were left unanswered in my April 22, 2022 post.

One of those unanswered questions involved the fate of Ruth’s sister Gertrud. Yad Vashem reported that she had been killed in the Holocaust, but an Arolsen Archive document indicated that she and two children had left for the US. Which was true? Sadly, Matthew confirmed for me that the Yad Vashem information was accurate. He wrote that “the story I was told of Gertrud was that she and her husband and children intended to leave but Erwin, her husband, had an eye condition which prevented him from emigrating. Gertrud refused to leave without him, and eventually all four were deported to Lodz. All four perished.”2

I also asked Matthew about Ruth’s younger sister Hanna because again there were records that suggested she had escaped the Holocaust because she had a visa for Cuba. But Matthew had to confirm that Hanna was in fact killed in the Holocaust. He wrote that he was told that “she and her husband [Siegfried Levi] took a train to Portugal with the intent to emigrate to Cuba. In fact, Hanna had sent some of her furniture and clothing to Ruth in anticipation for her eventual arrival to the US. Apparently, this train was stopped and turned around to France. Both were put into slave labor camps. Hanna was eventually deported to Auschwitz and died. Her husband survived and emigrated from Luxembourg.”3

Matthew’s grandmother Ruth was sponsored by her aunt Bella Oppenheim Marx, her mother’s sister, and was the only one who was able to leave Germany and get to the US safely.4

Matthew has a large collection of old photographs of the family, but unfortunately, he has been only able to identify the people in a limited number of those photographs. I am sharing only those he could label with certainty. Most of those are of his grandparents, Ruth Blumenfeld and Leo Friedman.

Here are two photographs of Ruth, one as a baby and the other as a toddler.

Ruth Blumenfeld, c. 1920. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth Blumenfeld, c. 1922 Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

These two photos show Ruth as a younger adult, but are undated. They may have been taken in the US since Ruth was nineteen when she immigrated, but they also might have been taken in Germany. We do not know who the woman is on the left in the first photo or who the child is in the second.

Ruth Blumenfeld on right. Date and place unknown. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth Blumenfeld with unknown child. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

The next photograph is of Ruth and Leo with Ruth’s aunt, Bella Oppenheim Marx, the woman who sponsored Ruth when she left Germany in 1940. I am sorry the image is so small.

Bella Oppenheim Marx, Leo Friedman, and Ruth Blumenfeld Friedman. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

This next group of photographs were taken in 1972 when Ruth and Leo visited their respective hometowns in Germany. Unfortunately we cannot identify who the couple is standing with Ruth or where these photos were taken—presumably either Bad Hersfeld, where Ruth grew up, or Crailsheim, Leo’s hometown.

Ruth Blumenfeld and Leo Friedman, 1972, in Germany. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth and Leo in Germany, 1972 Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth with unknown couple, 1972, in Germany. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Speaking of Bad Hersfeld, here is a postcard depicting the town sent to the family of Leo Friedman in Forest Hills, New York, from someone named Minna.. I can’t decipher the date on the postmark, but it must have been written after June 1, 1963, because that is when the US adopted zip codes.

Thank you to Simone Simiot of the GerSIG Facebook group for translating the message on the card; she said that Minna wrote that she had moved and gave her new address. She said it was fine that she moved because Dudenstrasse had become too busy and noisy. She also said that she could have moved in with her son Josef but she doesn’t want to be away/move from her pretty Bad Hersfeld. And she sent regards to Tante Bella—Aunt Bella Oppenheim Marx. I don’t know who Minna is, but if she was a relative, she must have been related to Ruth’s mother.

Since there are so many other photographs that Matthew cannot provide labels for, I have suggested that he contact Ava Cohn a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the photogenealogist, for help in identifying the people in the other photographs. I hope that he has success doing that.

I am very grateful to my cousin Matthew for sharing his videos, his photographs, and his stories with me. It is always good to be able to have faces to put with the names and answers to questions, but it is especially meaningful to be able to connect with a new cousin who can share all this with me.


  1. Email from Matthew Steinhart, September 24, 2022. 
  2. Email from Matthew Steinhart, October 11, 2022. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. I will be writing more about Bella in an upcoming post. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Final Chapter: Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg and Her Family

This is the final chapter in the story of the children of Gerson Blumenfeld II, son of Isaak Blumenfeld I. It completes the story of the family of Gerson’s daughter, Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg. Thank you to my cousin Michael, Katinka’s grandson, and his uncle, Henry, Katinka’s son, for sharing their family’s story.

Michael shared this adorable photograph of Katinka’s three sons, Guenther, Heinz, and Walter, taken in 1931 when they were still in Germany. Walter was ten, Guenther five, and Henry two years old.

Guenther, Heinz, and Walter Rosenberg, 1931. Courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

Michael also provided me with scans of his grandmother Katinka’s German passport, which included photographs of Katinka and her two younger sons, Guenther and Heinz.

As we saw, the family arrived in the US in early 1940, and when the 1940 US census was taken, Katinka and her husband Emanuel (known primarily as Emil) Rosenberg and their three sons, Walter, Guenther, and Heinz, now Henry, were living in Manhattan, and Emanuel was a salesman for a retail grocery business. Walter, then 19, was a machine operator in a watch factory. Gunter (14) and Henry (11) were in school.

Katinka filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on July 5, 1940, as did her husband Emanuel. Their son Walter filed his two weeks later on July 20, 1940.

The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Walter Rosenberg declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 596) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 468501-469500), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Walter registered for the draft on February 15, 1942. Although the official records from the National Archives and Records Administration show that Walter enlisted on November 27, 1942,1 his petition for naturalization dated April 21, 1945, states that he joined the US Army on December 5, 1942. His petition was granted, and Walter became a US citizen that day in Alexandria, Louisiana, where he was stationed. Because he knew German, he worked as a translator interrogating German POWs.

Walter Rosenberg, 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

Walter Rosenberg petition for naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration – Southeast Region (Atlanta); Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1922-1964; Series Number: 648598; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21 Naturalization Petitions, 1944-1945, Ancestry.com. Louisiana, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1836-2001

On his eighteenth birthday, July 7, 1943, Guenther Rosenberg registered for the draft. He was then working for his cousin, Kurt Simon, son of his aunt Meta Blumenfeld Simon, and living in Wayawanda, New York, where Kurt was also living, as we saw. Guenther entered the US Army on June 28, 1944, and on September 15, 1944, he became a US citizen in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was stationed. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 5, 1944,2 after his foot was injured by a hand grenade.3

Guenther Rosenberg, 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

Guenther Rosenberg, petition for naturalization, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, Ga; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, 1880-1975; NAI Number: 2111793; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21
 Jacksonville Petition and Records, Oct 1944 – Jan 1945 (Roll 190), Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1847-1995

Henry (now using that name), the youngest son, also registered for the draft shortly after his eighteenth birthday; he filed his registration on August 22, 1946. He was living at home with his parents in New York and was a student. Fortunately, by that time World War II had ended.

Katinka became a citizen on December 6, 1945.

Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg certificate of naturalization. Courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

After Walter was discharged from the US army, he returned to New York and opened up a grocery store with his brother Guenther in 1947, located on Broadway at 163rd Street in Washington Heights and  called Rosenberg Brothers Dairy.4

On July 10, 1949, Walter Rosenberg married Margot Scharlack in New York City. They met when she came into his grocery store.5 Margot was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on May 24, 1924, to Max Scharlack and Recha Hirsch,6 and had immigrated to the US with her family on November 1, 1937.7 In 1940, she and her family were living in San Antonio, Texas, where her father was a bookkeeper for a music store.8

In 1950, Walter and Margot were living in New York City where Walter owned a retail grocery store and Margot was a radio assembler.9 Walter and Margot would have two children, including my cousin Michael.

Michael shared with me these photographs taken in the early 1950s, one of him as a baby with his Uncle Henry and the other with his grandparents Katinka and Emil, and one of his grandparents alone.

Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg, Michael Rosenberg, Emil Rosenberg. Courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

Michael Rosenberg and Henry Rosenberg. Courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

Katinka and Emil Rosenberg   Courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

Meanwhile, Katinka, Emanuel (using Emil here), and their other two sons Guenther, here listed as George, and Henry were also living in New York City in 1950, not too far from Walter and Margot. Emil listed his occupation as a shipping clerk for a wholesale grocery store and George reported that he was the proprietor of a retail grocery store, the store he owned with his brother Walter. Henry had no occupation listed.

Emil Rosenberg 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 7; Enumeration District: 31-2292, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

On June 17, 1951, Guenther/George married Lottie Rosenthal in Napa, California.10 She was the daughter of Frederick Rosenthal and Bella Lorch and was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on May 8, 1929.11 She came with her parents to New York on November 11, 1937,12 but then sailed from New York to San Francisco, California, on November 27, 1937, arriving there on December 13, 1937.13 Lottie and her parents settled in Napa, California, where her father worked as a power machine operator in a garment factory in 1940.14

According to Lottie’s obituary, “[i]n 1950, she traveled to New York City to visit family, and, in turn, met her future husband, George. Married in 1951, they continued in the family business of Rosenthal’s Fresh Ranch Eggs, which later changed to the Rosenthal’s Dried Fruit and Nut business, which is now known as Napa Nuts. In 1953, both Lottie and George along with several other families co-founded Congregation Beth Shalom, where she was an active member for more than 50 years.” George and Lottie had two children born in the 1950s.15

Henry Rosenberg married Victoria Hammerschlag in 1963. Victoria was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1937, after her parents immigrated there from Germany. Victoria is the second cousin, once removed, of Vera Hammerschlag, who later married Milton Hamburger, Henry’s first cousin, once removed. Henry and Victoria have three children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.16

A year after Henry married Victoria, Emil Rosenberg died at age 79 on August 1, 1964.17 Katinka survived her husband by less than three years; she died on April 19, 1967, at the age of 75.18

Photo courtesy of Michael Rosenberg

Their son Guenther/George also did not live to see his eightieth birthday. He died on October 27, 1998, in Napa, California; he was only seventy-three.19 Fortunately, both of his brothers have had greater longevity. Walter Rosenberg was 94 when he died on November 28, 2014, in New York.20 And Henry Rosenberg, with whom I had the great pleasure of speaking, is still alive and well at 94.

Thank you again to my cousins Michael Rosenberg and Henry Rosenberg for sharing their stories, memories, and photographs.

That completes the story of Gerson Blumenfeld II and his family. Tomorrow morning I will be participating in a Blumenfeld Hanukkah Zoom with some of Gerson’s descendants as well as many descendants of other Blumenfeld ancestors. I will be sure to report on that next week.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

 

 


  1. Walter J Rosenberg, Race: White, Marital Status: Single, with dependents (Single)
    Rank: Private, Birth Year: 1920, Nativity State or Country: Danzig or Germany, Citizenship: Not Yet a Citizen, Residence: New York, New York, Education: 2 years of high school, Civil Occupation: Semiskilled occupations in manufacture of clocks, watches, jewelry, and articles of precious metals, Enlistment Date: 27 Nov 1942
    Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, Service Number: 32645393, Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA, Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
    Source: Civil Life, Height: 66, Weight: 114, 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: 05442; Reel: 208, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  2. Guenther G Rosenberg, Race: White, Marital Status: Single, without dependents (Single), Rank: Private, Birth Year: 1925, Nativity State or Country: Danzig or Germany
    Citizenship: Not Yet a Citizen, Residence: New York, New York, Education: 2 years of high school, Civil Occupation: Skilled occupations in the manufacture of miscellaneous products, Enlistment Date: 28 Jun 1944, Enlistment Place: Camp Upton Yaphank, New York, Service Number: 42138415, Branch: No branch assignment, Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source: Civil Life, 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: 15088; Reel: 20, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Email from Michael Rosenberg, November 30, 2022. 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Ibid. See also Walter J Rosenberg, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 5 Jul 1949, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Margot Scharlack, License Number: 18136, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 26, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  6. Margot Scharlack, [Margot Rosenberg], Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 24 May 1924, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 3 Apr 2005, Father: Max Scharlack Mother: Recha Hirsch, SSN: 461261953, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  7. Margot Scharlack, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 15; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Scharlack family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: San Antonio, Bexar, Texas; Roll: m-t0627-04206; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 259-149, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  9. Walter Rosenberg, 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 71; Enumeration District: 31-2291, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  10. Guenther G Rosenberg, Gender: Male, Estimated Birth Year: abt 1926
    Age: 25, Marriage Date: 17 Jun 1951, Marriage Place: Napa, California, USA
    Spouse: Lottie Rosenthal Spouse Age: 22, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Marriage Index, 1949-1959. 
  11. Napa Valley Register (August 19, 2014) , obit for Lottie Rosenberg, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/14FD71AE3A70B180-14FD71AE3A70B180 : accessed 2 December 2022) 
  12. Rosenthal family, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 15; Page Number: 171, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  13. Rosenthal family, ship manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving At San Francisco, California; NAI Number: 4498993; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1959 
  14. Rosenthal family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Napa, Napa, California; Roll: m-t0627-00269; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 28-12A, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  15. See Note 11, supra. 
  16. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg on October 30, 2022. Email from Michael Rosenberg, November 30, 2022. 
  17.  Emanuel Rosenberg, Social Security Number: 092-16-4853, Birth Date: 29 Jun 1885 Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Aug 1964, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  18. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/236669638/katinka-rosenberg: accessed 02 December 2022), memorial page for Katinka Rosenberg (1891–1967), Find a Grave Memorial ID 236669638, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA; Maintained by dalya d (contributor 46972551) . (Headstone has date.) 
  19. Guenther Rosenberg, [George G Rosenberg], [George Rosenberg], Gender: Male
    Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Jul 1925, Birth Place: Frankfurt MA, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1998, Father: Emil Rosenberg Mother:  Katinka Blumenfeld, SSN: 093129735, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  20. Information from Michael Rosenberg, email dated December 21, 2022. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II: His Surviving Son Friedrich and His Family in America, Keeping Tradition Alive

I have been very fortunate to connect with four more Blumenfeld cousins, Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie, four of the grandchildren of Friedrich Blumenfeld, the last surviving son of Gerson Blumenfeld II. Alan has generously shared with me some wonderful family photographs, including the first I’ve seen of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Alan’s great-grandfather.

Gerson Blumenfeld II. Courtesy of his family.

Alan also shared these photos of his grandparents Friedrich and Lina and their two children, Gretel and Guenther (later spelled Gunter).

Fritz Blumenfeld as a young man. Courtesy of the family.

Lina Neuhas and Fritz Blumenfeld at their wedding, October 26, 1921. Courtesy of the family

Guenther and Gretel Blumenfeld, c. 1928 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich (also known as Fritz) and his wife Lina and their two children Gretel and Guenther were safely in the US by 1939 and were living in the Bronx, according to the declaration of intention to become US citizens that Friedrich filed that year.

Friedrich Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 567) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 444001-444900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Alan also shared this photograph of his father Guenther’s immigration card:

Guenther Blumenfeld immigration card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

By 1941 when Gretel filed her own declaration of intention, the family was living in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. Gretel was then eighteen and working as an “operator.” According to her sons, she was working for a company manufacturing army blankets.1

Gretel Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 622) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 492901-493800), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Her brother Gunter (now using that spelling) registered for the draft on February 23, 1944; they were still living in Washington Heights, and he was a high school student at that time and had just turned eighteen. He enlisted in the US Army on January 30, 1945, and served until August 28, 1946.2

Gunter Blumenfeld, 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

Alan shared this photograph of his father Gunter in uniform during World War II:

Gunter Blumenfeld, c. 1945. Courtesy of the family

Gretel Blumenfeld married Joseph Hamburger on January 18, 1946.3 Joseph was born in Heuttengesass, Germany, on February 4, 1915, son of Simon Hamburger and Bertha Adler,4 and had immigrated to the US on April 2, 1936.5 According to his sons Steven and Milton, Joseph would have left earlier, but had to wait until he was twenty-one to leave without his parents’ consent; he had wanted to leave three years earlier when the Nazis prohibited Jews from being butchers, Joseph’s livelihood, but his parents refused. Gretel and Joseph met before the war, but waited to marry until after he came back from serving in World War II.6

In 1950, they were living in New York City, and Joseph was the owner of a kosher butcher shop. Gretel and Joseph had three children.

Joseph Hamburger 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 71; Enumeration District: 31-2292, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gretel’s parents Friedrich and Lina and her brother Gunter were also living in New York City in 1950, and Friedrich was working as merchandise distributor for a clothing manufacturer. Gunter was working as a television mechanic.

Friedrich Blumenfeld 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 73; Enumeration District: 31-2289, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gunter took out a marriage license to marry Hilde Hes on August 14, 1951.7 Hilde was born on April 8, 1931, in Bremen, Germany, and immigrated with her parents Paul Hes and Gertrude Wolff on September 14, 1939.8 Gunter and Hilde would have two children.

The extended family all lived close by in Washington Heights and were very close; Debbie and Alan lived in the same apartment building as their grandparents Fritz and Lina and saw them all the time, including regular shabbat dinners. Debbie shared that Lina was an excellent cook, and she has many warm memories of growing up with her cousins and other relatives.9

Alan shared this photo of Friedrich and Lina at the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1971:

Lina Neuhaus and Friedrich Blumenfeld, 1971. Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina and their two children all lived relatively long lives and remained in New York City for the rest of their lives. Friedrich was 88 when he died in New York on November 14, 1977.10

Fritz Blumenfeld death notice, Aufbau, November 25, 1977, p. 28, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau431977germ/page/n677/mode/1up?view=theater

Lina died three years later on December 15, 1980. She was 86. 11

Lina Blumenfeld death notice , Aufbau, Jan 2 1981, p. 24, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau471981germ/page/n11/mode/1up?view=theater

Gretel Blumenfeld Hamburger died on July 25, 2008, when she was 85;12 her husband Joseph had predeceased her, dying on December 18, 2004, when he was 89.13  Gunter Blumenfeld died on July 16, 2010; he was 84.14

Perhaps some of my favorite photographs of those shared by Alan are these three that show the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) that had been rescued by Friedrich Blumenfeld during Kristallnacht while the Momberg synagogue was burning and then safely brought to the US from Momberg by the family.15 The photographs were taken at Alan’s son’s bar mitzvah and show Gunter, Alan, and his son Sandy honoring that Sefer Torah during the bar mitzvah service.

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina are survived by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. I was privileged to connect with four of their five grandchildren—Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie (and will be talking to the fifth, Kenny, soon during a Blumenfeld family zoom).  Thank you all for sharing  these fabulous photographs and your stories with me and for keeping alive the memories, traditions, and legacy of your family.


  1. Zoom call with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Gunter Blumenfeld, Race White, Marital Status Single, without dependents (Single)
    Rank Private, Birth Year 1926, Nativity State or Country Danzig or Germany, Citizenship Not Yet a Citizen, Residence New York, New York, Education 3 years of high school, Enlistment Date 30 Jan 1945, Enlistment Place New York City, New York, Service Number 42205064, Branch No branch assignment, Component Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source Civil Life, Height 80, Weight 995 [??], 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: 15188; Reel: 30, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Gretel Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 18 Jan 1946, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Joseph Hamburger License Number: 2005, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  4. Joseph Hamburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Huettengesae, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Father:
    Simon Hamburger, Mother: Bertha Adler, SSN: 077073405, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. Joseph Hamburger, passenger manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 20; Page Number: 39, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. See Note 1, supra. 
  7. Gunter Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1951, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Hilde M. Hes, License Number: 21506, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  8. Paul Hes, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 569) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 445801-446600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  9. Email from Debbie Salamon, December 7, 2022. 
  10. Friederich Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 065-12-8954, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1888, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. Lina Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 119-18-7181, Birth Date: 19 Sep 1894, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Gretel Hamburger, Social Security Number: 081-12-7517, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 28 Jul 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Joseph Hamburger, Social Security Number: 077-07-3405, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. Gunter Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 081-20-7923, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 16 Jul 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Email from Alan Blumenfeld, December 6, 2022. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part IV: Leaving Germany

Three of the four surviving children of Gerson Blumenfeld II made it out of Germany in time to escape from the Nazis.

The family of Mina Blumenfeld Simon were the first descendants of Gerson Blumenfeld II to leave Germany. Mina’s son Josef arrived in New York on February 5, 1937. He listed his occupation as a butcher and his prior residence as Wetzlar, a town near Hermannstein where he was born.

Josef Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 35, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Ancestry.com

His brother Kurt arrived eight months later on October 1, 1937; he listed his occupation as a merchant and last residence as Wetzlar.

Kurt Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 38, 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

The rest of the family—Albert, Mina, and Grete—arrived the following year on August 18, 1938. They also had been living in Wetzlar where Albert was a merchant.

Albert Meta Grete Simon passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 12; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Washington
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Mina had officially changed her name from Mina Blumenfeld Simon to Meta Simon by the time she filed her Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on January 24, 1939.

Meta Blumenfeld Simon declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 549) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 427401-428300), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

The family was reunited and living together as of the 1940 US census. They were living in New York City, and Albert and his two sons Kurt and Joseph (as spelled here) were working as butchers.

Albert Simon and family 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 31-1895, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Friedrich Blumenfeld and his family, including his mother Berta Alexander Blumenfeld, were the next family members to arrive in the US. They left shortly after Kristallnacht.

I had the great pleasure of Zooming with two of Friedrich’s grandsons last week, Steven and Milton, and they shared with me a story about their grandmother Berta’s reaction to Kristallnacht. Apparently when the Nazis came around to arrest Jewish men in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, Berta was so angry that she took the medals awarded to the family in honor of  Moritz and Isaak, the two sons who died fighting for Germany in World War I, and threw them at the Nazi soldiers, yelling that she had lost two sons already. According to the family, the soldiers backed off and left the family alone. Soon thereafter the family was able to get visas to leave Germany.1

Friedrich, Berta, and their two children arrived in the US on January 13, 1939. Friedrich’s occupation on the ship manifest is listed as shoe manufacturing, but his grandsons told me he was actually a dry goods salesman in Momberg.

Friedrich Blumenfeld and family passenger manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 23; Page Number: 150, Ship or Roll Number: Hansa
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot locate them on the 1940 census, but on October 16, 1939, they were all living together in the Bronx, according to Friedrich’s Declaration of Intention filed on that date. Friedrich was unemployed at that time.

Friedrich Blumenfeld declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 567) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 444001-444900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg was the last of the children of Gerson Blumenfeld II to escape Nazi Germany in time. Their departure was delayed because, as I learned from Katinka’s son Heinz/Henry, after Kristallnacht, Katinka’s husband Emanuel and son Walter were taken to Buchenwald where Walter spent two months and Emanuel spent five weeks. After they were released in early 1939, the family was determined to leave, but it was very difficult to find a sponsor to help them get permission to immigrate to the US. Finally a stranger from Texas who was not even related to the family came forward with an affidavit and sponsored the family. They took a train to Italy and sailed to the US from Genoa. As Henry and I discussed during our conversation, it is somewhat miraculous that they were to get out of Germany after World War II had started since for so many the borders closed after September 1, 1939.2

Katinka, her husband Emanuel Rosenberg, and their three sons Walter, Guenter, and Heinz arrived in New York on February 1, 1940. Emanuel listed his occupation as a trader, and Momberg was their last residence.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family passenger manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 37, Ship or Roll Number: Conte Di Savoia, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Henry said they at first lived with cousins in the Bronx, but soon moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. Henry quickly learned English and soon was able to not only catch up with his classmates but to excel in school.3

When the 1940 US census was taken a few months after their arrival, the Rosenbergs were all living in New York City. Emanuel was working in a grocery store, and Walter was a machine operator in a watch factory.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family 1940 US census,Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1887, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Thus, Mina, Friedrich, and Katinka and their families were able to escape to the US in time and survived the Holocaust.

Tragically, the youngest child of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, did not leave Germany in time to escape the Holocaust.  Her family’s story in my next post.


I will be taking next week off to be with my family, who are coming to visit for Thanksgiving. Have a great Thanksgiving to all my US readers!

 

 


  1. Zoom with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022 
  3. See Note 2, supra. 

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, Part II: His Three Surviving Children Were All Murdered in the Holocaust

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, who died in 1922, and his wife Sarchen, who died in 1930, were survived by three of their five children: Moses Blumenfeld III and his wife Sarah Rothschild and their son Julius; Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa Drucker and their three children, Eric, Hilde, and Liselotte; and Rosa Blumenfeld and her husband Julius Hess. As of 1933 when Hitler came to power, they were all living in Germany.

Tragically, all three of Meier IIB and Sarchen’s children were murdered in the Holocaust. Moses IIB and Sarah were deported to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in Lodz on October 20, 1941, and died sometime thereafter. Fortunately, their son Julius escaped to Argentina in 1936. I don’t know what happened to Julius afterwards, but at least he managed to avoid the fate of his parents.1

Moses IIB’s sister Rosa and her husband Julius Hess were also both killed by the Nazis. They were deported on June 11, 1942, from Frankfurt either to the Sobibor death camp and/or to the camp at Majdanek, where they were murdered.2

Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa were also murdered by the Nazis, as were their daughter Hilde and her family, despite the fact that they all had left Nazi Germany. Hilde had immigrated to Amsterdam in March 1934, and she had married Julius Seelig on April 28, 1937, in Amsterdam. Julius was born in Reichensachen, Germany, on December 10, 1908, to Joseph Seelig and Paula Wallach. Hilde and Julius had one child, a daughter Hanna born in Amsterdam on October 12, 1938. Julius and Hilde were divorced on June 9, 1942, and Julius soon remarried another woman, Margot Pauline Aharon, in July 1942.

Here are the Amsterdam registration cards for Hilde, Julius, and Hanna that report this information:

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/98533418-6d7f-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719, Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853340a-857d-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853341a-53f7-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Hilde’s parents Hermann and Elsa came to Amsterdam later than Hilde, arriving in May 1939, according to Hermann’s Amsterdam registration card.

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam
Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?sa=%7B%22person_1%22:%7B%22search_t_geslachtsnaam%22:%22Blumenfeld%22,%22search_t_voornaam%22:%22Hermann%22%7D%7D

But escaping to Amsterdam did not keep any of them safe. According to records at Yad Vashem, Hermann and Else were sent to the Westerbork Detention Camp in 1943 and from there deported to Auschwitz where they were both killed on February 11, 1944.

Hilde and her daughter Hanna were also first sent to Westerbork in August 1943 and then to Auschwitz. Hilde died on January 31, 1944, and her five-year-old daughter Hanna on February 11, 1944, according to Yad Vashem.

Fortunately, Hilde’s two siblings survived the Holocaust. Erich Blumenfeld immigrated to Palestine on September 13, 1937, and became a naturalized citizen there on December 19, 1939.3

Erich married Miriam Emerich, daughter of Robert and Hannah Emerich, on April 6, 1941.4

Erich changed his name in 1948 to Eliezer Shadmon. Shadmon means farm in Hebrew, and according to Erich/Eliezer’s application for naturalization, he was working as a farmer at Ein Harod at that time, as seen in the images above.5 Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found any further information about Erich/Eliezer.

Liselotte Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Hermann III and Else, immigrated to the US and arrived in New York City on August 5, 1937. She was heading to Lexington, Kentucky, according to the ship manifest,6 and in 1940, she was living with James and Nanette Strause in Fayette, Kentucky and working as a nurse, presumably for their seven year old son. I don’t know why Liselotte chose Kentucky as her destination, but I assume there was some friend or family member living there when she immigrated or she had arranged the job before leaving Germany. (I’ve recently learned that another branch of the Blumenfeld family that I’ve yet to research settled in Kentucky long before the 1930s, so perhaps that was Liselotte’s connection. To be determined…)

On January 10, 1943, Liselotte, referred to here as Liesel Lotte Bloomfield, married Corporal Herbert Isaak in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Bloomfield-Isaak Wedding in Louisville,” Lexington Herald-Leader, January 17, 1943, p. 18

Herbert was born in Munich, Germany, on March 21, 1920, and had immigrated to the US on April 25, 1941; he’d enlisted in the US Army on January 5, 1942. His parents were Emil Charles Isaak and Therese Meyer.7 Liselotte and Herbert had one child born in the 1940s. According to his obituary, Herbert had survived the Dachau Concentration Camp and had served as a field-commissioned second lieutenant in the US  Army at the Nuremberg Trials.8

In 1950, the family was living in New York City, and Herbert was working as a traveling salesman for a “ladies suits and coats factory.”9 The family must have relocated to the South at some later date because, according to Herbert’s obituary, “he was a traveling sales representative of women’s coats in Virginia and the Carolinas and had a showroom in Charlotte, N.C.”10 Herbert died on November 18, 2001, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; he was 81. Liselotte outlived him by thirteen years; she was just a few days shy of her 97th birthday when she died on November 5, 2014. Herbert and Liselotte were both buried at Florence National Cemetery in Florence, South Carolina.11

I haven’t yet determined whether Liselotte Blumenfeld Isaak or Erich Blumenfeld/Eliezer Shadmon have living descendants. Nor have I found more information about their cousin Julius Blumenfeld, the son of Moses IIB. I am hoping that there are more descendants alive to carry on the legacy of Meier Blumenfeld IIB and his wife Sarchen Moses and their children.


  1. “Uruguay, listas de pasajeros, 1888-1980,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C33M-19T3?cc=2691993 : 30 June 2020), > image 1 of 1; Archivo General de la Nación, Dirección Nacional de Migración (General Archive of the Nation, National Migration), Montevideo. Also, see Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  2. The Gedenbuch and Yad Vashem records mention both camps. I guess the evidence of where Rosa and Julius ended up is unclear, but their ultimate fate is not. 
  3. Erich Blumenfeld, Palestine Immigration File, found at the Israel Archives website at https://www.archives.gov.il/catalogue/group/1?kw=erich%20blumenfeld 
  4. Marriage record found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website by searching for Erich Blumenfeld. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  5. Name change found at the IGRA website by searching for Eliezer Shadmon. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  6. Liselotte Brilea Ingeborg Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 21; Page Number: 37,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Herbert Jsaak [Herbert Isaak] Gender: Male Race: White Birth Date: 21 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Munich, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Nov 2001, Father:
    Emil Jsaak Mother: Therese Meyer SSN: 046143654, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Herbert Isaak, Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization , Compiled 1906-1978; NAI: 1275754; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1906-1991; Herbert Isaak, 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: 04782; Reel: 142, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  8. “Herbert Isaak,” Myrtle Beach Sun-News, November 21, 2001, p. 35. 
  9. Herbert Isaak 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: 12; Enumeration District: 31-2180, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  10. See Note 8, supra. 
  11. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138910393/liesel-isaak: accessed 21 September 2022), memorial page for Liesel Bloomfield Isaak (23 Nov 1917–5 Nov 2014), Find a Grave Memorial ID 138910393, citing Florence National Cemetery, Florence, Florence County, South Carolina, USA; Maintained by Danny & Judy Ard (contributor 47789022); Liesel Isaak, Rank: T/5, Death Age: 96, Birth Date: 23 Nov 1917, Death Date: 5 Nov 2014, Interment Place: Florence, South Carolina, USA, Cemetery Address: 803 East National Cemetery Road, Cemetery Postal Code: 29501, Cemetery: Florence National Cemetery, Section: 11 Plot: 37, War: World War II, Branch of Service: US Army
    Relative: Herbert Isaak, Comments: Wife, National Cemetery Administration; U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, National Cemetery Administration. U.S., Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019; 

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.