Charles Bloch Redux, Part II: A Surprising Twist in the Family Tree

Although I ran into a brick wall trying to learn more about the time Charles Bloch spent in France during World War II, in the course of that research I discovered another twist in the Goldschmidt family tree.

First, I learned that Charles Bloch had a sister. Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg, parents of Charles Bloch, had a daughter named Johanna Bloch born in 1879.

Johanna Bloch, birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8931, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna married a man named Ludwig Dannheisser in 1900.

Johanna Bloch marriage record to Ludwig Dannheisser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a beautiful photograph of Johanna taken in 1921 in Frankfurt when she was 42:

Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, 1921, Frankfurt, Germany. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Tragically, both Johanna and Ludwig were killed at Auschwitz on May 22, 1944, after being deported from the Netherlands.1

Page of Testimony for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas

But their son Paul Dannheisser escaped from Germany to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to the US in 1940, settling in New York with his wife Dora Anni (known as Anni) nee Rosenthal and their son Ralph.2

This is a photograph taken at Paul and Anni’s wedding in October, 1932.

Wedding of Paul and Anni Dannheisser, October, 1932. Front row: Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, Anni Rosenthal Dannheisser, Paul Dannheisser, and Bertha Kaufmann Rosenthal. Standing behind Anni is her father-in-law Ludwig Dannheisser. Behind Paul to the right is Max Rosenthal.  Others are not identified. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

When I saw the name Dannheisser, I knew something was familiar about it. Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, was known as Elizabeth Dannheisser near the end of her life, according to the Social Security Claims and Applications Index.3 I had not found a marriage record for Elizabeth showing a marriage to someone named Dannheisser, only records showing a Paul Dannheisser married to Anni, but when I saw that Charles Bloch had a brother-in-law Ludwig and a nephew Paul with that surname, I wondered if there was a connection.

Fortunately, I was able to find and connect with Paul Dannheisser’s son Ralph, and he confirmed that in 1973, his father Paul Dannheisser had married my cousin Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Saly Stern and Alice Rapp. He even shared a copy of the marriage certificate I couldn’t locate.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Paul was 72 at the time, and Elizabeth was 54. Paul was a widower, his wife Anni having died the year before, and Elizabeth had divorced her first husband Gerhard Hirsch in 1950.4  Paul and Elizabeth had been introduced to each other by Ilse Bloch, known in the US as Helen Bloch, the daughter of Amalie Meyer and Charles Bloch.

Helen was Elizabeth’s second cousin; they were both great-granddaughters of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn:

Helen Bloch was also Paul Dannheisser’s first cousin; they were both the grandchildren of Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg:

First cousins, Helen Bloch and Paul Dannheisser, 1961. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

So Elizabeth Stern, the granddaughter of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, married the nephew of Charles Bloch, who was the husband of Amalie Meyer, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. Regina was Helmina’s older sister. Here’s another chart to show the connection.

Ralph, Paul Dannheisser’s son and the great-nephew of Charles Bloch, was thus the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth (known as Elsbeth). He also knew Charles and Amalie (whom he called Ama) Bloch. He often visited them in their New York City apartment on West 56th Street. He and his parents would go for monthly Sunday dinners. Ralph would listen to the radio or be entertained by Charles and Amalie’s daughter Helen while his parents and Charles and Amalie played bridge. Helen, who was an avid photographer, would show Ralph her photography magazines.

Ralph described Charles as a heavy-set bald man and Amalie as a handsome woman who wore her hair in a bun, and he said they were both very kind to him, as was Helen. In fact, he stayed close to Helen for many years, bringing his own children to visit her often. Unfortunately, however, Ralph was not able to tell me any more details of how Charles Bloch spent the years he was in France.5

Ralph shared the certificates of naturalization issued to Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth Stern; these were particularly exciting to me because they included photographs of each of them. He also shared a collage of photos including one of Walter Stern, Elizabeth’s brother.

Ralph was very fond of Elizabeth Stern, his father’s second wife. He described her as a lovely woman who was very warm and wonderful to him and to his father. Ralph was very pleased when his father married her (he was already an adult by that time). Sadly, Elizabeth developed a terrible illness not long after she married Paul Dannheisser and spent many of the years at the end of her life in a nursing home, dying in February 1997.6

Her brother Walter Stern also endured difficult times. Ralph had a file filled with letters written to or about Walter that revealed much about his character and his work history and ethic. In Germany, Walter was a very well-regarded employee of a book dealer named J. Kauffmann before he immigrated to the US, and then for some time after he immigrated, he worked for a jewelry company in Washington, DC, where he was living when his parents and sister Elizabeth immigrated to the US. His employer at the jewelry company had written a letter in April 1939 to the American Consul in London (where his family was then living), extolling Walter’s virtues. My hunch is that this was a character reference to support the Consul’s issuance of a visa to Saly, Alice, and Elizabeth Stern so they could immigrate to the US.7

Walter returned to New York after his family arrived in March 1940 and worked for a company called Tonerde Incorporated, as listed on his World War II draft registration in October 1940. He left there on December 8, 1941, and received another positive letter of recommendation. But that draft registration hinted that something else was going on with Walter:

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

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

Why was he “under care”? Family lore, according to Ralph, is that Walter was mugged and suffered a brain injury from which he never recovered. But as late as 1944, Walter received letters of thanks from the Treasury Department for his efforts in selling war bonds. 8

Ralph and I couldn’t put together the whole picture of what happened to Walter. In a December 1946 letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to Alice Rapp Stern, Walter’s mother, there is a reference to a warrant for Walter’s arrest that was being cancelled. My hunch is that once Walter’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen had expired after seven years, or in August, 1945, and he had not yet become a naturalized citizen, he was subject to deportation. How Alice Rapp Stern persuaded INS to close the case and cancel the arrest warrant is a mystery yet to be solved. I have filed a request for documents from the USCIS to see if I can learn more.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

What we do know is that by the end of 1947, Walter was institutionalized at the Rockland State Hospital and later at Brooklyn State Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his life, dying in October 1996, just a few months before his sister Elizabeth.9

I still have no details about how Charles Bloch survived the war in France, the original question that led me down this ambling path. But what an adventure the search for answers to that question has been: learning about the ITS document request process, thanks to Barbara; making the connection to Danny, who spent so much time helping me find French records; and then finding Ralph, my distant cousin by marriage, who brought to life some of the people I’d been researching.  All these connections and discoveries have made this a wonderful experience. I may not have all the answers, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


  1. Entry for Ludwig Dannheisser in Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y5s4hkjj; Entry for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas 
  2. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 22, 2020. 
  3. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch] [Elizabeth Dannheisser] Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern, Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714
    Notes: Mar 1942: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH STERN; Jul 1943: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTHHENRIETTA HIRSCH; Oct 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH DANNHEISSER; Dec 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUT DANNHEISSER; 22 Feb 1997: Name listed as ELIZABETH DANNHEISSER, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Ralph has a copy of Elizabeth’s Mexico divorce decree, dated August 5, 1950, as well as copy of her “get,” the Jewish divorce decree, dated July 3, 1952. 
  5. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 29, 2020 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 

Charles Bloch Redux: A Lesson in French Genealogy Research

A few weeks ago I published my second post about Charles Bloch, searching for information about the time he spent in France during World War II. Charles was married to Amalie Meyer, granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. He wasn’t related to me except by marriage, but I can’t seem to let go of his story. So this is my third Charles Bloch post. And there will be one more.

All I knew at the time of that second post was that Charles was still in Germany as of December, 1938, when he was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that he arrived in the US from Toulouse, France, in 1946. I knew that his wife, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and his daughter Ilse Bloch, had both left Germany and were in the US by 1941, at which time Amalie reported on her declaration of intention that her husband Charles was in France.  But despite receiving additional documents from the International Tracing Service, I still didn’t know when Charles arrived in France or where or how he spent those war years.

I received a few suggestions from readers for additional research, but the most significant help came from a member of Tracing the Tribe named Danny Breslow. Danny has expertise in French genealogy research and was incredibly generous with his time helping me to find information.

First, he noticed something I should have noticed. On Charles’ ship manifest coming to the US in 1946, he listed as the person left behind in his former place of residence a person named Gaston Bloch, residing at 27 “Pomme St.” in Toulouse.

Charles Bloch, passenger manifest p. 2, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Fort Royal
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Danny then searched the 1936 Toulouse census (the most recent one available online) and discovered that in 1936, a couple named Gaston and Alice Alexandre lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse.

City of Toulouse, Municipal Archives, Call Number 1 F94, p. 301 (1936)

Could Charles have mistakenly referred to Gaston Alexandre as Gaston Bloch? Possibly, but not necessarily, as you will see.

Danny discovered that a boy named Jean Bloch had also lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. He was born in Marseilles, and according to an article Danny found in a French publication about the Jewish children of Toulouse, Jean Bloch was living in Toulouse with his grandmother and his older brother in 1944. Jean was only fourteen when he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Drancy and then to Auschwitz on March 24, 1944. He survived Auschwitz, but was later killed on a death march on April 17, 1945.

TOULOUSE-MÉMOIRE DES ENFANTS JUIFS DÉPORTÉS, September 2014

A profile on Geni managed by Jean Bloch’s nephew’s wife Hanna revealed that Jean Bloch was the son of Lucie Alexandre and Georges Bloch and that Lucie Alexandre was the daughter of Gaston and Alice Alexandre. Thus, young Jean Bloch had a grandfather named Gaston. Was this the “Gaston Bloch” living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that Charles Bloch named on his manifest? Connecting those dots proved challenging.

Danny and I tried to find some link between the lineage of Georges Bloch, whose in-laws lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme, and the lineage of Charles Bloch. According to Geni, Georges Bloch, Jean’s father, was the son of Albert Fortun Salomon Bloch, who in turn was the son of Joseph Bloch.1

Danny’s knowledge of French genealogy came in handy as he located a birth record for Jules Bloch, Charles Bloch’s father, showing he was born in Scherwiller, France, in 1855. (That explained why Charles was identified as French on the ITS documents even though he was born in Frankfurt; his father was French-born.)

Birth record of Jules Bloch, 1885, Scherwiller – Etat civil – Registre de naissances 1855 – 4 E 445/5  found at http://archives.bas-rhin.fr/detail-document/ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585#visio/page:ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585-3028132

As seen on Jules Bloch’s birth record, he was the son of Meyer Bloch and Sarra Weill. I’ve tried to dig back further to see if I could find a tie between the Scherwiller Blochs and the Marseilles Blochs, but without success. With Danny’s help and my discovery of a Scherwiller Bloch family tree on Ancestry, a tree that is well sourced, we were able to trace Charles Bloch’s lineage back to the 1700s without finding a link to the Marseille Bloch family.

I also contacted Hanna, the manager of that Geni profile of Jean Bloch and  the daughter-in-law of Jean Bloch’s brother Michel; Michel had survived the war and immigrated to Israel. Hanna did not know of any connection to Charles Bloch and pointed out that there had been another Bloch family also living at 27 Rue de la Pomme who were not related to the Alexandre family. I’ve yet to find any records for that family though.

In addition, Danny discovered that a young Jewish woman named Nicole Bloch Klein, a resistance activist in France, also once lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. Perhaps Bloch was a common enough name and 27 Rue de la Pomme was a big enough building that it’s purely coincidental that Charles Bloch ended up knowing people living in that building who also happened to be named Bloch?

I went back to look at the 1936 census again and counted five households living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that year. I don’t know what the odds are that, ten years later in 1946 when Charles Bloch reported a Gaston Bloch living at that address, there would have been another family named Bloch, unrelated to the family of Jean Bloch, living at that address.

So I cannot prove that there was a familial tie between Georges Bloch, the son-in-law of Gaston and Alice Alexandre of 27 Rue de la Pomme, and Charles Bloch, who listed the same address on his ship manifest. And I still don’t know how Charles survived the war. Who did he live with? How did he avoid deportation? Why did he wait a year after the war ended before joining his wife and daughter in the United States?

I still don’t know. But, in the course of researching the Bloch family, I discovered another interesting twist in the family tree.

To be continued…


  1. There were no records on Geni to support this, but since the profile is managed by a close family member, I assume that it is reliable. 

Searching for Helene Rapp Lehmann and Her Family: A Genealogy Adventure

Helmina Goldschmidt’s oldest child, her daughter Helene Rapp Lehmann, was harder to trace than her two younger siblings, Arthur and Alice. I knew that Helene, her husband Sally, their daughter Else Berta, and their son Ludwig all eventually ended up in the United States because all four are listed in the Social Security Death Index. But it was hard to find information about their departure from Germany and about their eventual arrival and life in the US and the years in between.

This document from the Arolsen Archives on Ancestry provided the first clues. It shows that Sally Lehmann was a dentist and that Else Berta, daughter of Helene and Sally Lehmann, had immigrated to Palestine.

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

I then found Else’s immigration papers showing that she first entered Palestine on February 21, 1939, when she would have been only seventeen. She became a naturalized citizen of Palestine on June 25, 1941. She was unmarried at that time and a hair dresser. (These papers are located at the Israel Archives website located here.)

I assumed that since Else was so young, the rest of her family might have immigrated to Palestine also around the same time, but I could at first not find any Palestinian immigration papers for her parents Helene and Sally or for her brother Ludwig.

At the same time I was researching them all, I received an email from someone in Israel who had questions about one of my other relatives, and so I asked him for advice about finding more information about those who had left Europe for Israel in the 1930s and 1940s. He recommended that I become a member of IGRA—the Israel Genealogy Research Association. I had seen their website many times before, but had hesitated to spend the money to become a member. This time I bit the bullet and joined.

And I am so glad that I did because a quick search uncovered two records for Sally Lehmann. Sally was listed in a 1940 and a 1946 Tel Aviv directory of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other medical professionals. Thus, I know now that he had immigrated to Israel by 1940.

In addition, I found a 1948 divorce record for Else Berta Lehman, daughter of Shlomo (Sally), from Leopold Ickelheimer, suggesting that Else was likely still in Israel in 1948.

Finally, the IGRA website had a file indicating that a Ludwig Lehmann had changed his name to Yehuda in April 1936. I couldn’t be certain that this was the same Ludwig Lehmann, but if it was, that would mean that the Lehmann family, or at least Ludwig, was in Palestine as early as 1936.

And then, you know how sometimes you search and search and find nothing, and then you return to the same source days later and suddenly a record appears? That’s what happened here. I returned to the Israel Archives website where the Palestinian immigration records are available, and this time found Sally and Helene (Rapp) Lehmann’s immigration and naturalization. The file revealed that Sally and Helene had first arrived in Palestine on July 4, 1938, and that they became naturalized citizens on June 17, 1941.

Sally Lehmann and Helene Rapp Palestinian immigration file found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680bf6119

However, no one in the Lehmann family remained permanently in Israel. I found a 1955 manifest for a ship sailing from Haifa, Israel, to New York, that lists Sally and Helene Lehmann as passengers and as Israeli citizens.1

I also found one for an Else B. Spitzer, arriving April 24, 1953, that I thought might be Else Berta Lehmann, but wasn’t sure. There was no age or other identifying information, and she was listed as a German citizen, not an Israeli citizen. 2 But then I located this naturalization index card that shows an Else Berta Spitzer with the same birth date as Elsa Berta Lehmann, residing at 550 West 172nd Street in New York City.

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

I used that address to search for Spitzers in the 1959 New York City directory living at 550 West 172nd Street and found a Kurt Spitzer living at that address, so now I knew that Else’s second husband was Kurt Spitzer.3 I also found his naturalization index card:

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

Unfortunately I cannot find any records showing Else with Kurt except for these two cards that show that they were living at the same address at the time of their naturalization. I did, however, find a record for Kurt’s enlistment in the US military on October 28, 1942, in New York, showing that he was a barber, beautifician, or manicurist, meaning he and Else were both in the hair dressing field. Kurt was already at that time a US citizen;4 he was born in Wurzburg, Germany, and immigrated to the US in 1925.5

Else’s brother, Sally and Helene’s son Yehuda Ludwig Lehmann, was particularly hard to locate with much certainty, After searching under all possible combinations of his names, I found a manifest with a Yehuda L. Lehmann coming to the US on December 29, 1952, from Cannes, France. He identified himself as divorced and as an Israeli citizen. He was 44 years old, and that would be consistent with the 1908 birth date I have for Ludwig Lehmann.

Yehuda Lehman, passenger manifest, Year: 1952; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 137, Ship or Roll Number: Constitution
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Thus, all the members of Sally and Helene’s family had left Israel for the US in the 1950s. I don’t have much information about their lives after their arrival, although records show that Yehuda married in 1954, was divorced in 1956, and remarried in 1965.  I don’t know whether either Yehuda or Else had children in any of their marriages.

Their mother Helene Rapp Lehman died when she was 82 on September 17, 1969, in New York;6 her husband Sally was 94 when he died three years later in 1972.7 Their son Yehuda Louis Ludwig Lehmann died October 7, 1989, when he was 81.8 And Else Berta Lehmann Spitzer died on March 15, 2008, at age 86.9 According to her listing in the SSDI, her last residence had been in Berlin, Germany.

Thus, Helene Rapp Lehmann was among the fortunate ones who escaped Nazi Germany along with her husband and her children, first to Palestine/Israel, and then to the US. In fact, her siblings Arthur and Alice and their families as well as their mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp were also among those who safely escaped. That is quite remarkable.


Having completed the story of the family of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, I have now written about all the children of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn. Next I will turn to Jacob’s younger sister Malchen Goldschmidt, the fourth of the seven children of Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein and their youngest daughter. But first some updates to prior stories.


  1. Sally Lehmann and Helene Lehmann, passenger manifest, Year: 1955; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 149, Ship or Roll Number: Jerusalem, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Else B. Spitzer, passenger manifest, Year: 1953; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 347, Ship or Roll Number: Ryndam, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Manhattan, New York, City Directory, 1959, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  4.  Kurt B Spitzer, Marital status: Single, without dependents (Single), Rank: Private
    Birth Year: 1908, Nativity State or Country: Danzig or Germany, Citizenship: Citizen
    Residence: New York, New York, Education: Grammar school, Civil Occupation: Barbers, beauticians, and manicurists, Enlistment Date: 28 Oct 1942, Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, Service Number: 32610147, Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA, Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source: Civil Life
    Height: 66, Weight: 149, 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: 05392; Reel: 203, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  5. Kurt Spitzer, Born: 1 Feb 1908, Birth Place: Wuerzburg, District: Lower Franconia
    Father: Josef, Mother: Karoline (Lina) nee STRAUSS, Last Residence: New York, NY
    Occupation: Merchant, employee, Naomi Teveth, comp. Germany, Jews in Würzburg, 1900-1945; Kurt Spitzer, ship manifest, Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 197, Ship or Roll Number: Luetzow, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Helene Rap Lehmann, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 25 Aug 1887, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Claim Date: 21 Mar 1966, Father: Leopold Rapp
    Mother: Hermine[sic] Godschmidt, SSN: 076424080, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7.  Sally Lehmann, Social Security Number: 057-38-7312, Birth Date: 2 Sep 1877
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10474, Bronx, Bronx, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Lou Ludwig Lehman, [Lou L Lehman], Gender: Male, Race: White
    Birth Date: 9 Feb 1908, Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 7 Oct 1989, Father: Sally Lehmann, Mother: Helene Rapp
    SSN: 120280768,nAncestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9.  Else B. Spitzer, Social Security Number: 109-28-8645, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1922
    Issue Year: 1952-1954, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 702, (U.S. Consulate) Berlin, Germany, Death Date: 15 Mar 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Arthur Rapp and Family: From Germany to England to Brazil to New York

In my last post, we saw that Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp and her daughter Alice Rapp Stern, son-in-law Saly Stern, and their daughters Elizabeth and Grete had first escaped to England from Nazi Germany, with Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth later immigrating to the US where their son Walter had already settled. Today’s post is about Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son Arthur Rapp and his family.

Arthur and his wife Alice and their sons Helmut and Gunther also were in England by 1939. Arthur reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a retired telephone salesman. (The two black lines are presumably for Helmut/Harold and Gunther/Gordon, who must still have been living when the document was scanned.)

Arthur Rapp and Family,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6823F, Enumeration District: WFQC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

But like his sister Alice, Arthur did not stay in England. First, in 1940, he and his family immigrated to Brazil. I love having these photographs of Arthur and his family. Gunther is particularly adorable. But then I remember that these people had to leave their home in Frankfurt and then uproot themselves again to go from England to Brazil.

Arthur Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004816338, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Alice Kahn Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Helmut Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004871140, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Gunther Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

But a year later on February 27, 1941, they uprooted themselves again and left Brazil for New York where they settled in Forest Hills, New York, as seen on Arthur’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen.

Arthur Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur reported on his declaration of intention that he was unemployed, but his son Helmut, now using the name Harold, reported on his declaration that he was a watchmaker.

Harold (Helmut) Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur and Alice’s younger son Gunther, who became Gordon, was sixteen when they immigrated; on his World War II draft registration in 1943, he was living in Monmouth, New Jersey, working for Modern Farms.

Gordon (Gunther) Rapp, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 539
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Arthur’s daughter from his first marriage, Henriette Rapp, also ended up in the US. She had married Siegmund Schwarz in Berlin on May 6, 1929, and they were living in Kirtof, Germany, in 1935.

Henriette Rapp marriage record to Siegmund Schwarz, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, 1929 (Erstregister)
Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

They immigrated to the US in 1937 and in June 1938 when Henriette, now using Rita, filed her declaration of intention to become a US citizen, they were living in San Francisco.

National Archives at Riverside; Riverside, California; NAI Number: 594890; Record Group Title: 21; Record Group Number: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009
Description: Petitions, 1943 (Box 0247), Ancestry.com. California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999

On the 1940 census, Rita and Siegmund, now going by Henry, were living in Los Angeles, and Henry reported no occupation, but Rita reported that she was a dressmaker.1 When Henry filed his World War II draft registration in 1942, he was still living in Los Angeles, but listed Alfred Kahn, not Rita, as  the person who would always know where he was, so perhaps they were no longer together.2 Rita did remarry on April 14, 1956, in Los Angeles, to Max Altura.3

Arthur Rapp died in New York on January 10, 1951, at the age of 66.4 He was survived by his wife Alice and his three children, Rita, Harold, and Gordon. Alice survived him by 26 years; she died in May 1977 at 82 years old.5

Rita died in Los Angeles on June 10, 2003; she was 94. According to her obituary in the June 13, 2003 The Los Angeles Times, Rita was a “life member and generous benefactor of Hadassah, Rita was devoted to Israel and the Jewish people.”6

Arthur Rapp’s two sons also lived long lives. Harold Rapp, who had started his career as a watchmaker, became the president of Bulova International in Basel, Switzerland, for many years and was 93 when he died on February 11, 2016.7

His brother Gordon died the following year at 92. According to his obituary, he graduated from Cornell University and received a master’s degree from Purdue University. His early interest in agriculture stayed with him. He had a career in poulty genetics before spending twenty years as a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation . His obituary described him as follows: “He was known for his kindness, creativity, humor, wisdom, and talent as a prolific artist, photographer and writer. He was a Renaissance man of many interests, including tennis, tai chi and chess. He enjoyed museums and classical music concerts in New York City and later in Chapel Hill, NC.”8

I was struck by the fact that Harold and Gordon both continued to work in the same fields where they had started as young men, Harold in watches, Gordon in agriculture. Harold Rapp and Gordon Rapp were survived by their widows, children, and grandchildren.

Although Arthur Rapp did not have the blessing of a life as long as those of his three children, he was blessed with the good fortune of escaping with them from Nazi Germany and thus giving them the security and safety to live those long lives, during which they each made important contributions to their new homeland and left a legacy of their accomplishments and future generations to carry on the Rapp name.

 

 


  1. Rita and Henry Schwarz, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00403; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 60-828, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. Henry Schwarz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1619,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Rita H Rapp, Estimated birth year: abt 1909, Age: 47, Marriage Date: 14 Apr 1956
    Marriage Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Spouse: Max D Altura, Spouse Age: 55
    Ancestry.com. California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959 
  4. Arthur Rapp, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1885, Death Date: 10 Jan 1951
    Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 481
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  5.  Alice Rapp, Social Security Number: 105-36-2290, Birth Date: 24 Feb 1895
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Rita H. Altura, Social Security Number: 555-16-5231, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1908
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: California, Last Residence: 91335, Reseda, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 10 Jun 2003, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Obituary can be seen at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=rita-altura&pid=1083894 
  7. I could not find Harold Rapp in the SSDI or any obituary, just this listing on FindAGrave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/159069023 However, I found numerous articles about his work at Bulova, and this wedding announcement for his son that mentions his career at Bulova. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/fashion/weddings/shelley-grubb-and-kenneth-rapp.html?searchResultPosition=2 
  8. Gordon Rapp, The New York Times, December 26, 2017, found at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=gordon-d-rapp&pid=187633991 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part II: Leaving Germany with Alice Rapp Stern

As we saw, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child Helmina was widowed as a young woman and raised her three children alone from an early age. By the 1920s all three of those children were married and had children of their own.

When the Nazis came to power, Helmina and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany before it was too late. Today’s post will look at Helmina and her youngest child Alice and their escape from Germany.

By 1939, Helmina, her daughter Alice and son-in-law Saly and their daughter Grete were living in Harrow, Middlesex, England. Saly reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a refugee and thus not allowed to do business. Grete was a secretary for a leather goods manufacturer. All four family members were living in one household along with a housemaid.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/799H
Enumeration District: BIHB, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alice and Saly Stern’s son Walter Stern had instead immigrated to the United States. According to his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, he arrived from Germany to New York on May 16, 1938, and was working as a shipping clerk when he filed his declaration on August 2, 1938.  He was living on Wadsworth Avenue in New York City in the Washington Heights neighborhood where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. (In yet another small world coincidence, my husband lived on Wadsworth Avenue in his early childhood, although his parents were not German Jewish refugees.)

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 539) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 417601-418600)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Although I cannot find any record showing that Alice and Saly’s daughter Elizabeth was with them in England, I believe she must have been living there because on March 27, 1940, Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth all joined Walter in the United States. Strangely, this ship manifest shows all three sailing to New York, but Saly is listed separately and with a different English address.

Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On their US ship manifest, Alice and her daughter Elizabeth are again listed together, but Saly is listed on a different page. They all, however, were on the same ship arriving at the same time. And Alice’s declaration of intention shows that she and Saly arrived together and were residing together in New York on Ft. Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights neighborhood where Walter had been residing in 1938.

Alice Stern, 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,  (Roll 590) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 463201-464100), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But the ship manifests for Alice, Elizabeth, and Saly report that by the time of their arrival in the spring of 1940, Walter was living in Washington DC.

However, when Walter registered for the World War II draft in October 1940, he was back living in New York. His registration card has three New York City addresses, all crossed out, but lists his father Saly as his contact person, residing on Ft. Washington Avenue.

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

Saly Stern’s draft registration, filed on April 26, 1942, two years after that of Walter, shows that he was then self-employed as a salesman and living at 612 West 188th Street in New York with his wife Alice.

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

The following year their younger daughter Elizabeth Stern married Gerhard Hirsch, another German Jewish refugee, on March 28, 1943, in New York. Gerhard was born on September 24, 1908, in Berlin, and immigrated to the US in 1938.1

Meanwhile, Saly and Alice’s older daughter Grete Stern remained in England, as Alice reported on her naturalization papers, as did Alice’s mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp. Helmina died in England in July 1941, not long after her children in England had all left for the US.  She was 77 years old.2

Saly Stern died in New York on December 7, 1946.3 He was 69 years old. He had lived long enough to see most of his family settle safely in the US, except for his daughter Grete, who’d remained in England. Unfortunately he did not live to see Grete’s wedding. In 1948, Grete Stern married Kurt Lissauer, who was also a German Jewish refugee. He was born in Luebeck, Germany, on January 10, 1909. They were married in England.4

Elizabeth Stern’s marriage to Gerhard Hirsch did not last very long. She remarried in 1973 when she was 54; her second husband was Paul Dannheisser, a widower who was also a refugee from Germany.

Alice Rapp Stern outlived her husband by almost thirty years. She died in New York on January 28, 1974, at the age of 83.5 She was survived by her three children, Grete, Walter, and Elizabeth, all of whom died within a year of each other. Grete and Walter both died in October 1996; Grete was 85,6 Walter was almost 79.7 Their younger sister Elizabeth died just four months later on February 13, 1997.8 She had just turned 78. None of the three siblings had children, so there are no descendants.

The next post will tell the story of Alice Rapp Stern’s brother and Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son, Arthur David Leopold Rapp, and his family.

 


  1.  Elizabeth Stern, Marriage License Date: 24 Mar 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Gerhard Hirsch, License Number: 5751, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Also, Elizabeth’s declaration of intention, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-2S59?cc=2060123&wc=M5P7-PTY%3A351618501 : 14 August 2019), Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1945 box 1026, no 515801-516050 > image 728 of 983; citing NARA microfilm publication M1972, Southern District of New York Petitions for Naturalization, 1897-1944. Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 – 2009, RG 21. National Archives at New York. 
  2.  Helmina Rapp, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1863, Registration Date: Jul 1941
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Volume: 3a, Page: 656, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 656, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3.  Saly Stern, Marital status: Married, Age: 69, Birth Date: 26 Nov 1877, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 612 W 188 St, Residence Place: New York
    Death Date: 7 Dec 1946, Death Street Address: 612 W 188th St, Death Place: New York City, Manhattan, New York, USA, Occupation: Clerk Stock’s, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Marcus Stern, Mother: Francisca Stern, Spouse: Alice, Informant: Alice Stern, Informant Relationship: Wife
    Executor: Alice Stern, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 25862
    New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  4. Greta Stern, Registration Date: Apr 1948, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Kurt Lissauer
    Volume Number: 5e, Page Number: 1260, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1260, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Kurt Lissauer, Enemy Alien Registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56, Piece Number Description: 056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5.  Alice Stern, Social Security Number: 051-18-8391, Birth Date: 4 Oct 1890
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York,Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jan 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Grete Lissauer, Death Age: 85, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911, Registration Date: Oct 1996, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London, Register Number: A41C, District and Subdistrict: 2351A, Entry Number: 108, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Walter Stern, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 1918, Death Date: 9 Oct 1996
    Claim Date: 2 Dec 1970, SSN: 056162574, Death Certificate Number: 350302
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch], [Elizabeth Dannheisser]
    Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern
    Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Gaps in the Story: How Did Amalie and Charles Bloch Escape from Nazi Germany?

Back in May, I wrote about Amalie Meyer Bloch, the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. One question that lingered was how Amalie and her daughter Ilse ended up separated from Amalie’s husband Charles Bloch.

I knew from one of the Arolsen Archives document available through Ancestry that Charles had gone to Paris, and I knew that he eventually rejoined Amalie and Ilse in the US in 1946, reporting that his last address had been in Toulouse, France. But what I didn’t know was when Charles had gone to Paris and where he was in France during the war after Germany’s invasion of France in 1940.

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

Barb276, one of my readers, suggested that I contact the ITS (International Tracing Service) and file a request for more information about Charles since not all of their documents are available through the Arolsen Archives. I did as she suggested back in May and was told that it would take ten months to complete the investigation and report back. I prepared myself for a long wait.

You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so ago I received a report back from ITS with more documents about Charles. Those documents don’t really answer my questions, unfortunately, but they did reveal one more piece of the puzzle.

Charles was one of the thousands of Jewish men who were rounded up during and after Kristallnacht in November 1938 and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He was released in December 1938.

My working hypothesis is that upon his release, he left Germany for France. One of the ITS documents, a property inventory prepared after the war in 1950, described Charles as a “französischer Jude,” a French Jew. I wasn’t sure what to make of that since Charles was also documented as German-born—born in Frankfurt in 1881. That same document also states that Amalie is “gilt als staatenlos,” considered stateless. So maybe the reference to Charles as a French Jew meant that he had become a citizen of France after immigrating there.

It would make sense that Charles would leave Germany in early 1939 after his experience at Buchenwald. As seen in my earlier post, his daughter Ilse had gone to England by 1939. But it seems that Amalie was not in England or France at that point. On her November 27, 1941, declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Amalie reported that Charles was at that time residing in France, Ilse was residing in New York, and that Amalie herself had last resided in Lisbon, Portugal.

Amalie Meyer Bloch, declaration of intent, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21
Description: (Roll 641) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 510101-511000)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

My hunch is that Amalie stayed behind in Germany longer than her husband and daughter and then somehow escaped to Portugal after the war started. But I could be wrong. My other hunch is that Charles escaped from Paris after the Nazis invaded and somehow survived the war in southern Vichy-controlled France, finally arriving in the US a year after the war. Although I don’t know more about Charles’ time there, I did find a Jewish Telegraphic Agency news release dated April 29, 1941, reporting that Jewish refugees had been expelled from Toulouse. I’ve no idea, however, how that impacted Charles Bloch.

Unfortunately, the ITS documents do not reveal anything about Charles’ time in France during or after the war. Nor do I have any more information about how Amalie ended up in Portugal or when. And since they have no living descendants, I fear I can only rely on my hunches and speculation to fill in these gaps.

 

Four Years of Learning German

Just about four years ago in the summer of 2016, I decided to learn German. It’s been an interesting and mostly enjoyable challenge. First, I used the app Duolingo for almost a year. I learned a fair amount of German vocabulary. I was disciplined and practiced every day. It was fun.

But then I tried to read some simple texts written in German, and I realized Duolingo was fine for vocabulary building, but it wasn’t enough if I really want to read, write, and speak German.  We were going to Germany in the spring of 2017 and I wanted to be able to speak to the people in their own language, so I bought a few German textbooks to learn how to conjugate verbs and some other basic grammar.

But that also wasn’t enough. That became glaringly obvious when I tried to speak German on our trip. I couldn’t string together a grammatically correct sentence, and often I would get blank stares when I tried to ask a simple question in a German store or restaurant. And if someone answered me in German? I had no idea what they were saying. So in the fall of 2017, I signed up for a German class offered by a local adult education program.

That course was good for grammar. Lots of grammar. Lots and lots of grammar. Rules, rules, rules. But no conversation and no opportunities to read texts or ask questions. So I formed a German conversation group with people from the class. That’s been lots of fun, but I remain the worst German speaker in the group. My reading has improved, my writing is coming along (with help from Google Translate), but it still is very hard for me to speak or understand spoken German. Mark Twain was right. Learning German is not for the faint of heart.

Mark Twain By Mathew Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why am I writing about this now, you may wonder?

Well, I’ve had reason recently to reminisce about why I started learning German. Why did I want to learn German? Of course, it was related to genealogy. My paternal roots in Germany are deep and wide. Knowing German would therefore be helpful. But to be honest, most of what I need to know for genealogy purposes can be reduced to some very basic terms: geboren (born), heiratet (married), gestorben (died). Really, you don’t need to know much more than that to read German vital records for basic information. And even knowing those terms won’t help much unless you can also read German script. Which I can’t.

No, it wasn’t a desire to read German vital records or even longer letters or texts that motivated me to learn German. It was rather a particular book that I very much wanted to read: Die Alte und Die Neu Welt, written by my cousin Mathilde Gross Mayer in 1951, as I discussed here.

Mathilde was born in Bingen, Germany, in April 1869. Mathilde’s grandmother Martha Seligmann and my three-time great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann were sister and brother, so we were second cousins, three times removed, both being direct descendants of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer. Mathilde left Germany in 1937 to escape from Nazi persecution when she was almost 68 years old and a grandmother; she lived over thirty years in the United States after leaving Germany, dying in September, 1969, when she was a hundred years old.  I was fascinated by her life and wanted to read her book. So I started learning German.

But despite studying for four years and having a fairly decent basic German vocabulary, every time I picked up Mathilde’s book, I got frustrated. I still had to look up so many words that I could not just read this book. It was exhausting and too time consuming. Using Google Translate to translate one letter is one thing, but a whole book? So I gave up.

And then? Then my cousin Elizabeth found me this spring. Elizabeth is Mathilde Mayer’s great-granddaughter. She found my blog and contacted me. We exchanged a number of emails, finding many common interests and places in our lives as well as our shared family roots. And in the course of those emails Elizabeth shared with me that she had an ENGLISH version of Mathilde’s book in pdf format. And that she would send it to me. Which she did.

So one day a couple of weeks ago I sat at my computer and read Mathilde’s book in English. And I am so glad that I did rather than ruining it by trying to read it in German. It is just a wonderfully touching book—full of colorful portraits of many of my Seligmann cousins and warm and loving anecdotes about Mathilde’s life growing up in Bingen and then raising a family in Bingen. She shares the tragedies and challenges her family suffered as well as many of their joys and successes. I never would have been able to get the feel for her personality if I’d suffered through reading her book in German.

Sure, if I were fluent in German, that would have been even better—to read it as she wrote it. But to butcher it by reading it all chopped up would have been a terrible mistake. Elizabeth has asked me not to share the book on the blog, and so, of course, I am respecting her wishes. But I am so grateful that she shared the English version with me. Mathilde’s story will now always be with me.

So do I regret four years of struggling to learn German? Not one bit! I will continue studying it as best I can, and maybe someday I will actually be able to read Mathilde’s story in her native tongue.

 

 

Minna Fuld and Her Descendants: New Cousins from Sao Paulo, But A Brick Wall Remains

Back in April, I posted about the dead ends I’d reached in my research of Minna Fuld and her family. To recap, Minna was the daughter of Helene Goldschmidt and Salmon Fuld,  the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and the great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, who was my four-times great-uncle. Minna was married three times. First, she married Leo Offenstadt in 1894 when she was eighteen, and that marriage ended in divorce in 1904. She and Leo had had one child, Flora, in 1894. Then Minna married Ladislaus Polacovits in 1906, and he died in 1913; Minna had one child with Ladislaus, Liselotte, who was born in 1907. Finally, Minna married Hermann Heinrich Karl Reuss in 1923, with whom she had no children.

The first mystery was about Minna’s whereabouts during the 1930s and 1940s. I knew that her third husband Hermann was listed in the 1940 Frankfurt directory and died in Frankfurt on September 27, 1947. But several unsourced trees reported that Minna died in Tel Aviv on May 3, 1944. So had Minna gone to Palestine alone and died there? Had Hermann gone with her and returned to Germany after the war?

The second mystery was the fate of Minna’s daughter Flora Offenstadt during the Holocaust. Flora Offenstadt married Hermann Durlacher in 1918 and had two children with him, Siegfried Julius Thomas (known as Thomas) Durlacher and Ulla Louise Durlacher. I had records showing that Flora and the two children immigrated to Brazil in 1939, but no records for her husband Hermann or any information about what happened to them after they immigrated.

I also had no luck locating more information about Liselotte, Minna’s younger daughter with her second husband Ladislaus, although I knew she and Ladislaus were living in Palestine/Israel during the 1940s and that their son had married in England.

Having exhausted the usual genealogy tools and newspaper databases and Google, I turned to Tracing the Tribe to see if there was anyone with connections in Brazil who might be able to help me. And I was very, very fortunate that a group member named Jacqueline who is from Sao Paulo volunteered to help me.  She first located a marriage announcement for a son of Siegfried Julius Thomas Durlacher, which can be found here.

Then Jacqueline found a long magazine article, partly in German but mostly in Portuguese, that she summarized for me. According to the article, Thomas Durlacher started a library of German-language books in Atibaia, a town in the countryside outside of Sao Paulo; the library now has ten thousand books, some of which were Thomas’ parents’ books that they took with them out of Germany when they escaped from the Nazis and others were donated by other refugees from Germany. The article also mentioned that Thomas had two sons, one a doctor in Brazil and the other residing in Germany.

And then—the icing on the cake—Jacqueline located those sons and other members of the Durlacher family on Facebook! At that point, I took over and sent messages and friend requests to these descendants of Minna Fuld. And almost immediately two of Thomas Durlacher’s sons responded. They then connected me to their cousin Sergio, the son of Ulla Durlacher (Flora and Hermann’s daughter), who contacted me by email.

Sergio told me that his grandfather Hermann Durlacher was the first member of the family to immigrate to Brazil. When I asked him why Brazil, he explained that it was the destination of the first available ship that Hermann could take.  Hermann and Flora had already sent Thomas to the Netherlands to study; he lived with a wealthy family who were close friends of the family. Flora and her daughter Ulla remained in Germany, and Sergio said that his mother had very painful memories of those years.

Unfortunately, Sergio did not have any information about the fate of Minna Fuld, his great-grandmother, so that mystery remained unsolved.

He provided me with more contacts, however, and one of those contacts who was in fact on Sergio’s father’s side found this document about Minna:

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/73, Description, Piece Number Description: 073: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Reu-Rop, Source Information
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

I also realized that one of the documents I’d found about Hermann indicated that Minna had immigrated to England:

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

So Minna was in England in 1940. I then located her on the 1939 England and Wales Register:

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/419G
Enumeration District: APDF, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Registe

Note that she reported that her marital status was married, but Hermann was not living with her in England. That might explain why he was still listed in the 1940 Frankfurt directory. Hermann was not Jewish and may have stayed behind to protect their interests in Germany.  But I could not find any later record for Minna. Since Hermann was a widower when he died in Frankfurt in 1947, Minna must have died sometime between 1940 and 1947, but where and when remains a mystery.

On the other hand, thanks to Jacqueline, I now am in touch with several of Minna’s descendants, my cousins who grew up in Brazil after their parents and grandparents escaped there from Germany in the 1930s. Someday someone will learn what happened to their ancestor Minna.

 

Berthold Goldschmidt Revisited: His Second Family

A year and a half ago I wrote about the tragic life of my cousin Berthold Goldschmidt, who outlived not only his wife Mathilde Freudenstein but six of their seven children. Their only surviving child, their son Siegfried Goldschmidt, was murdered in the Holocaust. I believed that Berthold had only one grandchild, Siegfried’s son Max, who had no children. Thus, I believed that Berthold Goldschmidt had no living descendants.

I’ve received two updates about Berthold’s family since then. In February, my friend in Germany, Julia Drinnenberg, sent me these photographs of two of Berthold and Mathilde’s sons taken during their service in World War I, Leopold, who was killed in the war, and the above-mentioned Siegfried.

Siegfried Goldschmidt

Leopold Goldschmidt

Then back in April, I received an email from David Baron, asking if I wanted to Zoom with a cousin named Rickey Slezak. I had no idea who Rickey was or how she was related to me, but soon discovered that she is a descendant of none other than Berthold Goldschmidt.

How does he have any descendants, you might wonder?

Well, in telling Berthold’s story I totally overlooked the fact that he had remarried after Mathilde’s death and had in fact had six more children with his second wife, Rika Giesberg, Rickey’s namesake. You can imagine how embarrassing this is!

Not that this takes away from the tragedies suffered by Berthold; that is still unimaginable. But Berthold’s story is somewhat softened by the fact that he went on to have a second family. And I was delighted not only to learn about this, but to make the connection to Rickey, my third cousin, once removed. Rickey shared with me an amazing album of old photographs of Berthold’s second family. This post is devoted to their story.

After losing his first wife Mathilde in 1911, Berthold Goldschmidt was left with four surviving children from that marriage: Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig. They were all still teenagers at that time.

On August 25, 1912, Berthold married Rika (sometimes spelled Richa or referred to as Rickchen) Giesberg, daughter of Jonas Giesberg and Henriette Loewenstein, in Trendelburg, Germany. Rika was born in Trendelburg on May 29, 1882, and was little more than ten to fifteen years older than her four stepchildren.

TitelStandesamt Trendelburg Heiratsnebenregister 1912 (HStAMR Best. 909 Nr. 9383)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortTrendelburg

Here are photographs of Berthold and Rika, courtesy of their granddaughter and my cousin, Rickey.

Berthold Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt, courtesy of the family

Rika and Berthold’s first child together, Walter Goldschmidt, was born in Oberlistingen, Germany, on April 24, 1913.1 A second son Herbert was born on December 20, 1914.2

Three of Berthold’s children from his first marriage died between 1915 and 1916, as discussed here. By 1917, Siegfried was then the only surviving child of the children Berthold had with Mathilde Freudenstein.

After those losses, Berthold and Rika had their first daughter, Hedwig, born June 1, 1918. She presumably was named for Berthold’s deceased daughter Hedwig from his first marriage.3

Here is a photograph of their family in about 1920 before their three youngest children were born:

Berthold and Rika (Rickchen) Goldschmidt and family, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Their third son Jacob Julius Goldschmidt (known as Julius) was born on March 17, 1921.4 Albert Goldschmidt was born on September 9, 1924.5 Finally, their sixth and final child Elfriede was born August 17, 1926.6

This is a photograph of their home in Oberlistingen:

Berthold Goldschmidt family home in Oberlistingen. Courtesy of the family

Berthold Goldschmidt died on November 8, 1927. He was survived by his son Siegfried from his first marriage and the six children he had with Rika. Those six children lost their father before they reached adulthood. Their oldest child Walter was just fourteen, and their youngest child Elfriede just a year old. Rika was herself only 45 and left to care for the six children including four who were under ten years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 [

Rika was not destined to live a long life. She died at the age of 52 in Merxhausen, Germany, on March 1, 1935.7 I wondered why she died in Merxhausen, which is about 35 kilometers from Oberlistingen, and learned that there was a hospital there.

By that time Walter was almost 22, Herbert going on 21, Hedwig was almost seventeen, Julius almost fourteen, and the two youngest were still quite young; Albert was ten, and Elfriede only nine. I wonder who took care of these children, especially the three youngest, after they were orphaned.

Here are some photographs of some of the siblings taken in Germany before their lives changed forever:

Walter Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

Hedwig Goldschmidt Courtesy of the family

Julius Goldschmidt
Courtesy of the family

By the time of Rika’s death, the Nazis had taken power in Germany, and the Nuremberg Laws were adopted six months after her death.  It’s thus not surprising that by 1937 her two oldest sons decided to leave for the United States. Herbert left first, arriving in New York on July 30, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he left behind his brother Walter in Oberlistingen and was  going to a cousin, Leighton Steele, in Detroit, Michigan.  Leighton Steele was the son of Hedwig Goldschmidt Steele, a younger sister of Berthold Goldschmidt. Thus, Leighton, who was American-born, was Herbert’s first cousin, but they probably had never met.8

Walter Goldschmidt arrived just a few months after his brother Herbert; he arrived in New York on October 1, 1937. According to the ship manifest, he was heading to New York to a “cousin” named Joseph Guhl and was leaving behind an “uncle,” Salomon Strauss in Frankfurt. Salomon Strauss was married to Jenny Giesberg, Rika Giesberg Goldschmidt’s sister. Joseph Guhl was married to Meta Giesberg, the daughter of Leopold Giesberg, Rika’s brother.9

This photograph is labeled “Leaving for America” and shows Walter in Hamburg:

Courtesy of the family

The next sibling to arrive in the US was the youngest, Elfriede. She was only twelve years old when she arrived on March 24, 1939, and was sailing with her aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss, her husband Salomon Strauss, and their son Walter. The ship manifest indicates that they all had been living in Frankfurt, so perhaps Elfriede had been taken in by her aunt after Rika died in 1935. They were leaving behind Salomon’s brother Julius and going to his cousin, Max Schoenmann, who lived at 1770 Andrews Avenue in the Bronx. I mention that only because my husband grew up down the block from there at 1940 Andrews Avenue. Small world.10

I don’t know whether or not Herbert ever went to Detroit to see Leighton Steele, but in 1940 both he and Walter were working as waiters for a restaurant in North Castle, New York, where they were both also living, according to the 1940 census.11  My cousin Rickey told me that the restaurant where they worked was a spot that became extremely popular as a music venue during the Big Band era, called Log Cabin Farms. You can see it mentioned on Herbert’s World War II draft registration.

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

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

The North Castle Historical Society published an article about the Log Cabin Farms and all the performers who came there; you can find it here. As you can see from this postcard, the restaurant had a seating capacity of 1500!

Meanwhile, their sister Elfriede was living in the Bronx with their aunt Jenny Giesberg Strauss and her family in 1940.12 Rickey told me that her father revered his aunt Jenny, at least in part because of the care she gave to his little sister.

Herbert enlisted in the US military on January 22, 1941, almost a year before Pearl Harbor.13 I don’t know anything specific about his military service, but here is a photograph of him in uniform.

Herbert Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of the family

He applied for a marriage license to marry Lilly Vogel on January 19, 1943, in New York City.14

courtesy of the family

They did not have any children. According to my cousin Rickey, her uncle Herbert died in 1963.

His brother Walter enlisted on January 29, 1943, just ten days after Herbert and Lilly’s wedding.15 According to records his daughter Rickey has, Walter served three years including a year overseas. He was decorated several times, receiving the following medals: American Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal; European African Middle Eastern Service Medal; and a World War II Victory Medal.

On February 12, 1944, Walter married Hilda Weis,16 who was born on October 8, 1922, to Siegfried Weis and Else Scheuer in Gelnhausen, Germany.17 They had one child, my cousin Rickey, the source of all these wonderful photographs. Walter died on October 4, 1991; his widow Hilda died in 2001.18 They are survived by their daughter Rickey as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hilda Weis and Walter Goldschmidt/Goldsmith
Courtesy of their daughter Rickey

Elfriede married Alvin Kruger Colin with whom she had two children. This is a picture of them taken in March 1948. Given the way they are dressed, I assume this was their wedding day.19

Elfriede Goldschmidt and Al March 1948
Courtesy of the family

Elfriede died on January 6, 2011; she was survived by her children and grandchildren.20

Here is a photograph of the three siblings who made it to the US. I’d guess it was taken sometime after the war.

Courtesy of the family

Unfortunately, two of the other children of Berthold and Rika did not leave Germany and were killed in the Holocaust. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, Jacob Julius Goldschmidt was sent to Dachau concentration camp on November 10, 1938, after Kristallnacht and was released from Dachau on December 8, 1938. He still, however, did not leave Germany. According to this document, he was living in Munich from February 18, 1940, until April 5, 1942.

UPDATE: Thank you to barb276 for finding more information about Jacob Julius Goldschmidt here. According to this page from the Munich archives, Jacob Julius had moved from Kassel to Munich by January 1, 1936, and was living there until October 26, 1940, when he went to a Hachsharah, a Zionist training camp in Steinhofel, where Jews were trained for life in Palestine/Israel. Unfortunately, Jacob Julius never got there.

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

He was then deported to Poland and murdered at some unnamed location.

Hedwig Goldschmidt was also murdered by the Nazis. She had married Horst Starsky, who was born on July 10, 1909, in Wingeruppen, Germany. According to the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, they were living in Berlin, and both were first imprisoned in a Jewish forestry labor camp in Kersdorf-Briesen. They were then deported to Auschwitz on April 19, 1943, where they were killed. As far as I’ve been able to determine, they did not have any children.

The fate of Albert Goldschmidt, Berthold and Rika’s youngest son, is less clear. My cousin Rickey believes that he ended up immigrating to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but I have no documentation showing that. Rickey also believed he married and had a child there, but again, we have no documentation. What we do have is this photograph of Albert apparently taken in front of a restaurant that has a Spanish name, I think—Coveteria Vievo Viena? Google Translate could not make sense of coveteria but translated Vievo Viena as I come Vienna. Possibly a restaurant serving Viennese (or German-style) food?

UPDATE: Thank you to my cousin Susana, who also came from Buenos Aires, for helping me to translate what this says. She said that it says “Confitería Viejo Viena” (Old Vienna tearoom) and would have been a patisserie or tearoom that likely specialized in German/Austrian pastries and cakes.

Courtesy of the family

Thus, Berthold Goldschmidt’s family with his second wife Rika endured a great deal of tragedy just as his family with his first wife Mathilde Freudenstein had. But the record must stand corrected. Berthold Goldschmidt does indeed have living descendants—his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and even some great-great-grandchildren.  And one of them is my wonderful cousin Rickey who helped me tell and illustrate their family’s story.

 


  1. Walter Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Herbert Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 20 Dec 1914, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Germany, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3.  Hedwig Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 1 Jun 1918, Birth Place: Oberlistingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70442392, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4.  Julius Israel Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 17 Mrz 1921 (17 Mar 1921), Birth Place: Oberlingen, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70126154, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  5. I have no record of Albert’s birth date; this comes from the Goldschmidt family report done by Roger Cibella and David Baron. 
  6.  Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Richa Goldschmidt, Maiden Name: Giesberg, Gender: weiblich (Female)
    Age: 52, Birth Date: 29 Mai 1882 (29 May 1882), Death Date: 1 Mrz 1935 (1 Mar 1935)
    Death Place: Merxhausen, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Merxhausen, Certificate Number: 16, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 6991, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8. Herbert Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 25; Page Number: 38, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Walter Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 8; Page Number: 36, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Salomon Strauss and Jenny Giesbech [sic], Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Meta Giesberg, Marriage Date: 30 Apr 1936, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Joseph A Guhl, Certificate Number: 11992, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  10. Elfriede Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 8, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  11. Walter Goldschmidt and Herbert Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: North Castle, Westchester, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02811; Page: 3B and Page 24A, Enumeration District: 60-250, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elfriede Goldschmidt, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02497; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 3-1449, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  14.  Herbert Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 19 Jan 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Lilly Vogel
    License Number: 1202, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 1, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  16.  Hilda Weis, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Feb 1944
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA. Spouse: Walter Goldschmidt, License Number: 3826, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  17. Hilda Goldsmith, [Hildegard Weis], [Hilda Goldschmidt] , Gender: Female,
    Birth Date: 8 Oct 1922, Birth Place: Gelnhausen, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 18 Sep 2001, Father: Siegfried Weis, Mother: Else Scheuer
    SSN: 085180692, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Name: Walter Goldsmith, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 24 Apr 1913, Death Date: 4 Oct 1991, Claim Date: 6 Mar 1975, SSN: 077165081, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. For Hilda, see Note 17. 
  19.  Elfriede Goldsmith, Marriage License Date: 27 Feb 1948, Marriage License Place: Bronx, New York City, New York, USA, License Number: 1705, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Bronx, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20. Elfriede Colin, Social Security Number: 112-16-3514, Birth Date: 17 Aug 1926
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 33308, Fort Lauderdale, Broward, Florida, USA, Death Date: 6 Jan 2011, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Martha Loewenthal Wolff’s Family: An Update from Israel

One of the more elusive Goldschmidt family members to research has been Martha Loewenthal Wolff and her family. Martha was the daughter of Kiele Stern and Abraham Loewenthal, the granddaughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, and my third cousin, twice removed. Thanks to my friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have more information and documents and even photographs of Martha and her family.

Martha was married to Jakob Wolff, as discussed here, and they had three children: Anna, Hans Anton, and Walter. I was missing birth records for all three children, and Aaron was able to locate all of them.

Birth record of Anna Wolff

Birth record of Hans Anton Abraham Wolff

Birth record of Walter Wolff

Martha died in 1930, and I could not find a death record for her until Aaron located it, as I wrote about here.

After Martha’s death and the Nazi takeover of Germany, Jakob Wolff and all three of their children immigrated to Israel, as I wrote about here.

But I did not know what happened to Jakob or his children after their immigration. And then Aaron came through for me again and located Hans Anton Wolff’s son Benjamin in Israel and connected me to him and his daughter Ravid. Now I have firsthand information about Martha’s family as well as photographs, thanks to Ravid Wolff, my fifth cousin, once removed.

First, some photographs of the family taken before they left Germany.

Jacob and Martha Wolff and their first car Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff and her mother Martha Loewenthal Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff as a child Courtesy of the Wolff family

Hans Anton and Walter Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Ravid shared with me that her great-grandmother Martha was a very talented artist and sent me this image of a painting that Martha did while traveling with Jakob in what was then Palestine in the 1920s.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

According to Ravid, her great-grandparents Martha and Jakob Wolff owned two banks in Frankfurt, Germany, and were quite wealthy. After Martha died from ovarian cancer in 1930, Jakob married Ilse Gruenebaum. When Hitler came to power, Jakob recognized how dangerous he was and, as a Zionist, decided to leave Germany for Israel (then Palestine) before it was too late. He was able to obtain visas to immigrate for a thousand pounds each, an exorbitant amount of money at that time, but had to leave all his other property and possessions behind. All of it including their home in Frankfurt was confiscated by the Nazis and never returned to the family.

Ravid shared two letters with me that show that the requests for restitution of their property in Frankfurt were denied:

Google Translate helped me translate these letters. The one above translates as:

Upon your request of 17 December 1956, we will inform you: The property Leerbachstrasse 36 was registered until 17 September 1937 on:
Banker Jakob Wolff on the ideal half
Instead of his wife Martha Wolff [names of children] for ideal half in undivided community of heirs. [I am not sure what “ideal half” means.]
In the way of the forced auction, this plot of land on 17 9 1937 is given to Frau Therese Ried geb Stromer, [address]. It is still owned by them.
The owner of the Paulsplatz 14 property was the merchant Carl Seitz in Baden near Vienna in 18 1 1923 and the owner of the Paulsplatz 16 property was the Jakob Wolff & Co., Open Trade Company since 18 March 1922.
The current owner of both properties has been the municipal district of Frankfurt since August 10, 1934 bze, October 15, 1935. A piece of land at Paulsplatz 18 does not exist.

The second letter translated as:

The aforementioned property became the property of the City of Frankfurt on the basis of an additional resolution dated 2 4 1935. The compulsory auction had already started in 1932. The JRSO, which had previously asserted claims for reimbursement for the aforementioned property, accepted its application on Feb. 1, 1951. For your further information, we would like to inform you that the city has always contested a claim for reimbursement.
We hope to have served you with the above statements.

As for Martha and Jakob’s three children, Anna, the oldest, was married to Simon Wittekind when she immigrated, and they had two sons, Aharon and Baruch (as they were known in Israel) who were born in Berlin. Simon was a doctor who wanted to move to South Africa, but Anna felt safer in Israel, so she stayed there with her children.

Anna later married Herbert Feige. According to Ravid, Anna hated Germany and suffered great trauma because of what had happened there and unlike her brother Hans Anton refused to reclaim her German citizenship when that right became available to her. Her sons changed their surname to Yardeni (for the Jordan River) to identify with their new homeland. Ravid did not know exactly when Anna died, only that like her mother Martha, she died young and from cancer.

Ravid’s grandfather was Hans Anton Wolff, the second child of Martha Loewenthal and Jakob Wolff.  He married Susana Meseritz, another refugee from Germany, whom he met in Palestine. They had one child, Ravid’s father Benjamin. Hans had a doctorate in chemistry. He died from colon cancer in 1974, and his wife Susana died in 2002.

Walter, the youngest of the siblings, also married in Palestine/Israel. He owned a hotel in Jerusalem for many years. He and his wife Hedy Buller had two children. Walter died in 1968 in Jerusalem, also from cancer.

I am so indebted to Aaron Knappstein for finding the missing records of the Wolff children and even more so for connecting me to my cousin Ravid. And I am very, very grateful to Ravid for sharing her family’s story with me. Ravid, like her great-grandmother Martha and so many others in the extended Goldschmidt family, has a great interest in and great talents in art. Her photography captures in simple and yet complex ways the beauty of the world around us by using unusual perspectives and contrasting light and colors.