The Magic of Finding Family Connections: Guest Post by My Cousin Ellen Mandelberg

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about the family of Moritz Blumenfeld, my second cousin, three times removed, and concluded at the end that none of his five children had had any children and that therefore there were no descendants. But I concluded that post by saying, “there is always the possibility that I just haven’t found those descendants yet.”

Well, a year later I heard from one of those descendants. A woman named Ellen Mandelberg contacted me and told me that she was the granddaughter of Moritz’s Blumenfeld’s daughter Flora Blumenfeld  Vorchheimer. You can imagine my delight. Moritz did have descendants. And Ellen shared with me several stories about Flora. I’ve invited her to tell those stories in her own voice as well as to share some of her photos. So today’s post is by my newly found fifth cousin Ellen.

Through the Google galaxy, and a spur-of-the-moment decision to see if there was anything out there written about my paternal grandmother, Flora Blumenfeld Vorchheimer, I found Amy’s blog earlier this year. I saw that she did not know that Flora had descendants and contacted her to share the good news. I am one of those descendants.

Flora Blumenfeld did have family; by marrying recent immigrant Felix Viktor Vorchheimer in late 1940 and raising his motherless son Umberto (who became Bert in Vineland, NJ, in the 40s), Flora became a wife, mother, constant helpmate on a chicken farm in Vineland, NJ, and, later, a deeply kind and loving grandmother to two little girls, my sister and me.

Flora Blumenfeld Vorchhiemer Courtesy of the family

Felix Vorchheimer Courtesy of the family

Here is a photograph of young Bert with his father Felix and maternal grandmother before Felix and Bert left for America in 1940; it was the last time he saw her. Flora’s father, Moritz, had suffered early maternal loss, as had Flora, and this must have made her especially sensitive as she raised young Bert. 

Umberto V. on left (age 7); Karolina Schild Kahn, Umberto’s maternal grandmother in middle; Felix V. on right.
Courtesy of the family

Flora became a loving Oma in 1958 and 1960, when Bert and his wife had two daughters, my sister and me.

Flora, Ellen, and Felix Vorchheimer c. 1958
Courtesy of the family

Flora cooked wonderful German-Jewish dishes, kept a candy dish of dark chocolates on the table for all guests, and was observant in a quiet and accepting way. Each time her family came to visit, before they left, she would bless us girls, placing her hands on our heads, whispering quietly in Hebrew a prayer that she never shared in English with us. At 4’10”, she would place her hands on our heads and murmur the blessing, making us feel protected and loved.

Flora blessing Ellen c 1970
Courtesy of the family

After Felix died, at age 69, in 1965, Flora lived with her older sister Gerda in an apartment in Washington Heights until her death in 1974 at age 75. Flora continued to be the epitome of chesed, or lovingkindness. Her memory is always a blessing.

Flora and Felix Vorchheimer in Vineland, New Jersey
Courtesy of the family

Years later, in 1996, a surprising encounter brought connections to my extended Blumenfeld family and much joy into my life. That year, my husband and I, after living in West Hartford, CT, for 14 years, and having belonged to a chavurah, decided we needed to join a synagogue that would provide a Hebrew school for our kids, who were 11 and 7 at that time. We decided to join Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh in Bloomfield, CT, which had been founded by German-Jewish refugees.

On Simchat Torah, with the music and everyone swirling about in small circles, I asked an “older” woman to dance; pulling people into the circle is something I’ve always done. The woman hesitated and asked me if I was Israeli.

Something possessed me to blurt out, “No, I’m not Israeli; I’m half-German, and my maiden name is Vorchheimer.”

The woman blurted out, “Vorchheimer, I know that name….I made the shidduch!”

I asked her, “Really? Tell me!”

So she continued, “Well, there was a widower with a little boy who had just come to America, and I matched up my cousin with him! I was at the wedding! In 1940!”

It felt like time stood still, and I said, “Was your cousin’s name Flora Blumenfeld?”

She said, “Well, yes, how do you know?!”

I pointed to my son, then 7, born on 2/4, my father’s birthday, and said, “Look, my son is the same exact age my father was when you last saw him in 1940! And that widower was my Opa Felix. Your cousin was my beloved Oma Flora, whom my daughter is named after!”

That woman, Grete Simon Spanier, was my grandmother Flora’s second cousin, as I later learned from Amy. They were both great-granddaughters of Isaak Blumenfeld and Gelle Strauss.

It was a remarkable and life-affirming moment. What are the odds? What if I’d just pulled Grete into the circle, and said, no, I’m not Israeli!?

Grete had been lost to my family for 56 years until that moment. Grete told me how Julius Vorchheimer, my grandfather’s brother, part of the Washington Heights community, had asked her if she had a relative who might be a suitable match for his recently-arrived brother Felix, and she’d thought of her cousin Flora.

Grete married Erwin Spanier shortly after attending my grandfather’s wedding to Flora and moved to West Hartford. She lost touch with Flora; Flora was very busy working on a chicken farm and raising a little boy who had been through much loss, and she was married to a man who had also seen too much loss, in both his native Germany and the place he moved to after he fought in WWI for the Germans, Milan, Italy, before emigrating to America in 1940.

The only part of this story I knew all my life was that my grandfather Felix had gotten his older brother Julius out of Dachau in 1934/35, going to the Nazis with some line (and probably money) about “How dare you imprison the brother of an Italian citizen?”

Felix freed his brother in 1934/5; Julius returned the favor by being a matchmaker in 1940. It was that chance Simchat Torah dance that brought Grete back to my family.

It felt like a curtain was pulled back on mystery, allowing me to see the invisible hand of fate in life.

Getting to know Grete and her daughters was an unexpected and wonderful gift. Grete’s memory is always a blessing.

I am so grateful to Ellen for finding me and sharing her story and photographs on my blog. The magic of family connections continues to inspire me to keep searching for all my long lost relatives.



Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, Part II: Leaving Germany and Life in Brazil

As we saw in my prior post, I had learned more about Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, thanks to connections made through her granddaughter Gabriela. I learned that after spending four years in New York working as a German-English translator, Hilde decided to return to Germany in 1932 for what was initially supposed to be an extended visit with her family. But then she met and married her husband Ludwig Meinrath and decided to stay longer. She found employment as a translator and secretary for the American author, William March.

But everything began to change after Hitler came to power.

As Hilde reported in her Shoah Foundation interview,  her employer William March was attacked by Nazi youths because he was mistakenly identified as Jewish and ended up in the hospital. He decided to leave Germany and urged Hilde to leave before it was too late; he invited her to come and work for him in New York. .1

Meanwhile, a month after Hitler came to power in April 1933, Hilde’s husband Ludwig, who had  been working as a representative for German companies making ribbons and wool products, lost his job as a sales agent because he was Jewish.. So Hilde and Ludwig agreed it was time to leave Germany.2

But Hilde and Ludwig disagreed about where to go, according to their son Roberto. Hilde wanted to return to New York, but Ludwig feared that he would be unable to make a living there with only a high school education. He had a cousin Helmut in Rio de Janeiro who persuaded him that life was wonderful there, so they went to Brazil in 1934, even though neither of them knew any Portuguese.3

HIlde and Ludwig Meinrath ship manifest, Month: Band 424 (Mär 1934)
Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Hilde continued to be a true go-getter. Roberto wrote:

Upon arrival in Rio by ship, and literally one block from the harbor, was Rio’s largest high rise of the day (some 20 stories).  On top of the building was a large advertising poster for US Steel.  My mom walked right into the building to find out whether US Steel would be interested in a German/English secretary, not knowing that at that time Brazilian secretaries were mostly male.  Of course, at that time, Rio was Brazil’s capital and … home to the president of US Steel, who immediately hired her at a salary that was higher than what cousin Helmut was then earning, after a year in Rio.  Anyway, due to my mom’s high salary, my father was able to dedicate his time to learn Portuguese and to become a wholesale textile salesman for several companies.

Hilde and Ludwig’s first child (Gabriela’s father) Pedro John Meinrath was born in 1936; according to Roberto, his mother insisted that Pedro have an American/English middle name, presumably because of her fond memories of living in the United States.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, conditions worsened for Hilde’s parents and her sister Gretel and her family. After Kristallnacht in November, 1938, Salomon Blumenfeld and his son-in-law David Katz were arrested and sent to Buchenwald.4 After they were released, Hilde used her connections and borrowed money to bring her parents to Brazil. Hilde stated in her Shoah Foundation interview that when her parents arrived in Brazil, her father looked emaciated  from his time in Buchenwald, despite the fact that his son-in-law had given Salomon half of his own rations so that Salomon would survive.  5

Hilde’s parents lived with her and her family in Rio for a short time, but according to Hilde, the climate there didn’t agree with them, so she and Ludwig purchased a small house in Petropolis, a city in the mountains north of Rio for her parents, and they moved out of their apartment in Rio and moved to a rented room. When the war in Europe started, Ludwig’s import business suffered, so Hilde had to work full-time to help support the family. Pedro, who was just a four year old at the time, stayed with his grandparents in Petropolis, and Hilde and Ludwig would come on the weekends to be with them all. 6

Here are two photographs that Gabriela shared with me of Pedro with his maternal grandparents Salomon and Malchen Blumenfeld:

Malchen Levi, Pedro Meinrath, and Salomon Blumenfeld c. 1939 Courtesy of the family

Pedro Meinrath with his parents and maternal grandparents c. 1940 Courtesy of the family

Ludwig and Hilde’s second child Roberto came along five years later in 1941—he was, as he wrote, “a surprise baby.” Hilde’s job at the US Embassy ended up being important in saving Roberto’s life.  When Roberto contracted diphtheria when he was three years old, his mother Hilde was able through her job at the American Embassy to obtain life-saving penicillin, which was not otherwise readily available in Brazil at that time because of the war.7

Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath with her sons c. 1941 Courtesy of the family

Pedro Meinrath, Salomon and Malchen Blumenfeld, Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, Roberto Meinrath 1944 in Petropolis Courtesy of the family

According to Roberto, after the war ended in 1945, Ludwig was able to restart his import business, and Hilde and Roberto moved to Petropolis. But Hilde’s parents at that point decided to leave Brazil because there was no kosher food or orthodox synagogue in Petropolis; they went to New York where Hilde’s sister Gretel was living. Hilde and her sons stayed in Petropolis until 1950 when Hilde and Roberto moved back to Rio. Pedro stayed in Petropolis where he went to boarding school until he graduated and went to university.

Malchen and Salomon Blumenfeld USA 1953 Courtesy of the family

Roberto described his life in Rio as an idyllic adventure for a young boy; he sadly described the changes that came to Rio in the 1960s:

I basically grew up as a single child in Rio, right in between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.  Once or twice a week, I helped fishermen bring in their nets with piles of fish and, as compensation, got a free take home fish.  At that time, Rio had trees everywhere, few cars, cobblestone streets and tramways (which I took every day to school).  With the advent of the car industry in Brazil in the sixties, Rio’s streets were asphalted and widened, trees had to be cut down as most of the buildings had been built without garages and cars had to park on streets and sidewalks.  I miss old Rio, new Rio is sort of a tourist mecca only because of the beaches and the largest city park in the world.

Hilde and Ludwig belonged to a liberal Jewish synagogue in Rio, and Hilde insisted that Roberto attend after school classes in Hebrew and Jewish history. Roberto described an experience that ended up being a turning point in his life:

Because our synagogue was not very large, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services were held in the headquarters of one of Rio’s great soccer teams… and while watching the team practice during the 1959 Yom Kippur service, I was asked whether I would be interested in representing our congregation in the year-long youth leadership training program in Israel.  I jumped at that, as I sought personal freedom from what I felt to be a fairly strong-willed mom.

Roberto’s trip to Israel in 1960 allowed him to meet and get to know Hilde’s sister Jenny and her husband Sigmund Warburg. And thus he was able to give me information about Jenny and Sigmund and answer the questions I’d been hoping to answer when I wrote the blog post about the three sisters back in May, 2022. More on that in my next post.

But first a photograph that Gabriela shared with me of Hilde and her sons taken at her 100th birthday party in 2011. She died six years later in 2017 at the age of 106. She was truly a remarkable woman.

Pedro Meinrath, Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, and Roberto Meinrath 2011 Courtesy of the family





  1. The references in this post to the interview of Hilde Meinrath and the information contained therein are from her interview with the Shoah Foundation, March 18, 1998, which is in the archive of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. For more information:  Roberto, Hilde’s son, also told me this story in his emails to me. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. All the information in this post attributed to Roberto Meinrath as well as the quotations were shared through emails sent between February 11 and February 16, 2023. 
  4. Phone conversation with Michael Katz, March 9, 2023. 
  5. See Note 1, supra. As we will see in a later post, William March helped get Gretel and David Katz out of Germany and into the US. 
  6. See Notes 1 and 3, supra,
  7. See Note 3, supra

More Cousins Discovered: The Family of Sigmund Livingston, Founder of the ADL

One of the other cousins whose name always stays with me is my third cousin, twice removed, Sigmund Livingston, the founder of the Anti-Defamation League, as I wrote about here as well as about his earlier years and his family here, here, here, here, and here.

Sigmund was related to me through our mutual ancestors Abraham and Geitel (Katz) Blumenfeld, as shown on this chart. He was my father’s third cousin, once removed:

To briefly summarize what I’d learned about Sigmund: he was born in Giessen, Germany, in 1872, to Meyer Loewenstein (later changed to Livingston) and Dora (Dusschen) Blumenfeld. He was only nine years old when his family immigrated to the United States in 1882 and settled in Bloomington, Illinois, where his father’s relatives had already established themselves as successful entrepreneurs. Sigmund ended up going to law school and practicing law in Bloomington. He married Hilda Freiler in 1918, and they had one child, Richard, born in 1920. The family later moved to Chicago where Sigmund continued to practice law.

After experiencing anti-Semitic stereotypes and slurs during a vaudeville show in the early 1900s, Sigmund decided to do something to fight back against anti-Semitism. He founded an organization in Bloomington that eventually grew to become known as the Anti-Defamation League, an international organization that still exists today, fighting against all forms of discrimination, including but not only anti-Semitism. When I learned that I was related, albeit very distantly, to the founder of the ADL, I felt incredibly proud to have that connection. Today the ADL continues to be at the forefront of those fighting against hatred and prejudice.

Recently I was thrilled to hear from two of Sigmund’s grandchildren, Richard and Laurie, who found me through my blog. Richard has done a great deal of genealogical research also and provided me with more information about the Livingston/Loewenstein side of his family tree. Richard and Laurie have also given me some additional new cousins on the Blumenfeld side of our family tree to contact, which I plan to do in the near future. And Richard caught two errors in my tree that I’ve now corrected both on the tree and on my blog; I am so grateful that Richard found those mistakes and told me.

But I was most excited to see additional photographs of Sigmund and his family and to learn a little more about his life and the life of his family. I particularly enjoyed seeing this photograph of Dora Blumenfeld and Meyer Loewenstein/Livingston:

This is the house where Sigmund was born in Giessen, Germany, in December 1872:

Birthplace of Sigmund Livingston in Giessen, Germany Courtesy of the family

Here are several photographs of Sigmund from age 20 up to age 47:

Sigmund Livingston, 1893 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1903 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1914 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1918 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1920 Courtesy of the family

Here is Sigmund’s diploma from law school:

Sigmund Livingston diploma at McClean County Historical Museum Courtesy of the family

Finally, this photograph shows the family in about 1918-1919: Dora (Meyer had passed away in 1915) and her children and their spouses:

Back Row (left to right): Sigmund Livingston, Alfred Livingston, Eva Siegel Livingston (married to Alfred); Irvin Livingston; “Gramma” Dora (Dusschen) Blumenfeld Livingston; Dorothy Ensel Livingston (married to Herman); Herman Livingston, Rosalie Livingston Livingston; Harold Livingston (in back); Albert Livingston (cousin who married Rosalie); Maurice Livingston; Sol Salzenstein (married to Gussie). Front Row (left to right): Helen (Cubby) Baer(?) Livingston (married to Irwin); Hilda Freiler Livingston (married to Sigmund); Bertha August Livingston (married to Maurice); and Gussie (Gutschen) Livingston. Courtesy of the family

Richard shared what he knew about his grandfather Sigmund’s career after leaving Bloomington and moving to Chicago in 1928:1

When Sigmund left Bloomington in 1928, he gave his share in his local law practice to a young cousin, Herb Livingston; and joined a major Chicago law practice with his brother-in-law Charles Lederer. Charles was married to Hilda’s [Sigmund’s wife Hilda Freiler] older sister Florence. The firm was known as Lederer, Livingston, Kahn, and Adler or similar until approx. 1958; at which time its name became Arnstein and Lehr. Lederer & Livingston were Sears Roebuck & Co.’s legal counsel during its heyday.

Richard also filled me in on how his father Richard, who was known as Dick and who was born in Bloomington and then moved with his parents to Chicago when he was a boy, had ended up living in the suburbs of New York City as an adult:

My father Dick attended Duke University and was supposed to be class of ’42; but joined the US Army Air Corp for 5 years of WWII around his junior year. He was an airplane instruments technician or mechanic and trained pilots to read and understand the gauges and dials in a cockpit; but never was a pilot himself and fortunately never was stationed overseas or faced combat during the war. After the army, he returned to Duke University, graduating in Spring, 1947. Following graduation, he returned to Highland Park, IL, living with his mother Hilda (as best we know) and not sure if he was employed or not.

In February 1948, Hilda and Dick were vacationing at the Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood Beach, Florida. Dick met a recent Wellesley graduate from New York City named Mimi Spector. They fell instantly in love and were soon thereafter married on May 30, 1948. Dick and Mimi moved into Mimi’s parent’s Manhattan apartment for a while before getting their own place. Dick initially worked in sales for his father-in-law’s business.

In the 1950s Dick and Mimi and their family moved to Westchester County in the suburbs of New York City, eventually settling in Scarsdale, less than five miles from where I lived and went to high school. Richard and Laurie and I were tickled to learn that we had all grown up not far from each other and went to neighboring high schools and even knew some of the same people. We likely crossed paths many times without knowing we were distant cousins.

It has taken over 50 years since high school before we finally connected. And I am so grateful that Richard and Laurie found my blog and reached out to me and have shared their stories and photographs.

  1. The quotes and other information from Richard Livingston were from emails dated from February 11 to February 21, 2023. 

Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter and Her Family, Part I: A Son Killed in Battle

Having told the stories of seven of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA’s eight children,1 I now turn to his youngest child, his daughter Gelle. She was born on July 16, 1857. Later records refer to her as Caroline (or Karoline) and so I will refer to her by that name was as well.2

Birth record of Gelle Blumenfeld, Arcinsys Hessen Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 5

Caroline married Simon Hoxter on November 30, 1882, in Neustadt, Germany. Simon was born in Gemunden, Germany, on August 26, 1852, to Anselm Hoxter and Betty Blumenthal. (Hoxter is spelled with an umlaut or an “oe” in German, but for simplicity purposes, I am just going to spell it Hoxter.)

Jettchen Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich (Female),Age: 25, Birth Date: 16 Jul 1857
Marriage Date: 20 Nov 1882, Marriage Place: Neustadt, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
Civil Registration Office: Neustadt (Hessen), Father: Abraham Blumenfeld, Mother: Güdel Blumenfeld, Spouse: Simon Thoxter, Certificate Number: 16, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6492, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Thank you to my cousin Peter Keibel, great-grandson of Caroline and Simon, for sharing these two photographs of his great-grandparents.

Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Simon Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Caroline and Simon had four children, one son and three daughters. Their son Siegmund was born on December 5, 1883, in Gemuenden.

Siegmund Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4110, Year Range: 1883, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their daughter Toni was born on October 14, 1885, in Gemuenden.

Toni Hoxter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4112
Year Range: 1885, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Betty, born August 3, 1889, in Gemuenden.

Betty Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4116, Year Range: 1889, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Finally, Gerda, the youngest child, was born June 7, 1895, in Gemuenden.

Gerda Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4122, Year Range: 1895, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

I am grateful to my cousin Peter Keibel for sharing this wonderful photograph of the four children of his great-grandparents Simon Hoxter and Caroline Blumenfeld: Betty, Siegmund, Gerda, and Toni.

Betty, Siegmund, Gerda, and Toni Hoxter, c. 1910. Courtesy of the family

Toni married Sally (later Sol) Goldschmidt on July 6, 1910. He was born on July 4, 1881, in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, to Isaak Goldschmidt and Malchen Greif.

Marriage record of Toni Hoxter and Sally Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5625, Year Range: 1910, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Toni and Sally had two children, a daughter Miriam born on April 23, 1911, in Hersfeld,3 and a son Arthur born on August 9, 1913, in Hersfeld.4

The family’s life was cruelly disrupted when Caroline and Simon’s son Siegmund was killed while fighting for Germany in World War I. He was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres on May 8, 1915. His death record says that he was the Vizefeldwebel (vice-sergeant) of the Königlich-Preussisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 46 No. 234, 8. Kompanie and died in Wieltje, Belgium. He was one of over 35,000 German soldiers killed in that battle; the Allies lost roughly 59,000 troops, making this one of the costliest battles in World War I. It is perhaps mostly remembered as the first time the Germans used chlorine gas in combat on the Western front, explaining why so many more Allies died as compared to the German losses.[5]

Siegmund Höxter, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1884, Death Date: 8 Mai 1915 (8 May 1915)
Death Place: Marburg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Marburg, Father: Simon Höxter, Mother: Karoline Höxter, Certificate Number: 331, 
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5705, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Caroline and Simon thus lost their oldest child and only son fighting for Germany in the war. Here is a beautiful photograph of Siegmund wearing his World War I uniform, courtesy of Peter Keibel and the family.

Siegmund Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Five months after Siegmund’s death, his sister Betty married Max Oppenheimer on October 5, 1915. Max, a doctor, was born on August 28, 1886, in Hadamar, Germany, and was the son of Adolf Oppenheimer, a teacher, and Johanna WInkelstein.5

Betty and Max had two children, Lotte and Franz Siegmund. Lotte was born on January 29, 1917, in Posen in what was still a province of Germany at that time and  is now part of Poland, as it became in the aftermath of World War I.6 Franz Siegmund, presumably named in memory of Betty’s brother, was born on February 17, 1920, in Friedberg, Germany.7 I don’t know why Betty and Max’s children were born in two different cities, one quite far from the Hesse region where both Betty and Max were from.

Betty’s younger sister and Caroline and Simon’s youngest child Gerda married Adolf Goldschmidt on May 8, 1922, in Marburg, Germany. Adolf was the son of Louis Elieser Goldschmidt and Sophie Adler and was born on March 11, 1885, in Eldagsen in the Hanover region of Germany. Adolf Goldschmidt and Toni’s husband Sally Goldschmidt were first cousins, both grandsons of  Feist Goldschmidt and Minna Wallach.8

Marriage record of Gerda Hoxter and Adolf Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5640, Year Range: 1922, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Gerda and Adolf’s grandson Peter shared this beautiful photograph of his grandparents:

Gerda Hoxter and Adolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gerda and Adolf had two daughters. Inge was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1923, and Lore was born three years later on March 23, 1926, in Elberfeld, a section of Wuppertal not far from Dusseldorf where Adolf now owned a department store.9 This adorable photo of Inge (later Jane) and Lore (later Alice) was provided by Jane’s son, my cousin Peter.

(Alice) Lore Goldschmidt and (Jane) Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Thus, by 1926, Caroline Blumenfeld and her husband Simon Hoxter had six grandchildren. They had tragically lost their son Siegmund during his service for Germany in World War I, but I hope they were finding joy in those grandchildren and with their three daughters in the years after Siegmund’s death.

Of course, the family’s life would change drastically in the 1930s.

To be continued.

  1. As mentioned earlier, the sixth child Rebecca died when she was four years old, and the seventh child Heinemann married my cousin Caroline Katzenstein and their story and that of their children was told when I was writing about my Katzenstein family line. 
  2. Her marriage record refers to her as Jettchen Blumenfeld, but I don’t see that name used on any other records. 
  3.  Miriam Lauter, Social Security Number: 112-05-7561, Birth Date: 23 Apr 1911
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 7 Jan 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. Arthur Goldschmidt, 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, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  5. The marriage date came from Peter Keibel, grandson of Toni Hoxter and Sally Goldschmidt, and thus the nephew of Betty Hoxter Oppenheimer. Peter also provided me with some other information, as will be noted. Max’s birth and parent information was found on his birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 912; Laufende Nummer: 1832, Year Range: 1886, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901. Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group for helping me to decipher Adolf’s mother’s birth name. 
  6. Lotte’s birth information was found in her immigration file at the Israel State Archives, which can be found by searching for her name at 
  7. Franz Siegmund’s birth information was found in his father’s immigration file at the Israel State Archives, found by searching for his name at 
  8. The familial connection between Adolf and Sally Goldschmidt was pointed out to me Peter Keibel; I then found the marriage records of their respective parents, which corroborated that their fathers were both the sons of Feist Goldschmidt and Minna Wallach. 
  9. Inge is still living, so I will not reveal her exact birth date; Lore’s birth information came from U.S., Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 2. Inge (later Jane)’s son Peter provided the information about his grandfather’s store in Wuppertal. 

Another Update from Another Cousin! The Story of Karl Gutmann

Once again, I have been very fortunate because another cousin found my blog and connected with me, sharing information and photographs of members of my ever-growing family tree. This time it was my fifth cousin, once removed, Jennifer, the granddaughter of Karl Gutmann, who has enriched my understanding of my family history. The information in this post, except where otherwise noted, came from my email correspondence with Jennifer, as did all the photographs.

You can read more about Karl and his family here and here, but let me provide a brief overview. Karl, born in 1923, was the only child of Moritz Gutmann and my cousin Nelly Goldschmidt; Nelly was the daughter of Hedwig Goldschmidt and Marcel Goldschmidt who themselves were first cousins, the grandchildren of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle.

Jennifer shared with me this photograph of her grandfather Karl with his mother Nelly as well as the one that follows of Karl as a young boy.

Nelly Goldschmidt Gutmann and her son Karl Gutmann, c. 1927-1928 Courtesy of the family

Karl Gutmann Courtesy of the family

Nelly’s sister Else was married to Siegfried Gutmann, brother of Moritz Gutmann. Else and Siegfried, like Nelly and Moritz, had only one child, a son named Hermann Gutmann, later known as Dennis Goodman. I wrote about Dennis and his experiences here and here. Thus, Karl and Dennis were first cousins, and according to Jennifer, the two boys were very close growing up in Germany. They were both born in 1923, Dennis in February, Karl in May. They must have been like brothers to each other.

Tragically, Karl and Dennis were separated from each other because of the Nazis. As I wrote in my earlier post, Karl’s father Moritz came to the US in 1936, leaving his wife Nelly and Karl behind. What Jennifer shared with me was that her great-grandmother Nelly had long suffered from mental illness and had been institutionalized for some time before the Holocaust. Moritz, who resented the fact that her family had failed to disclose her mental health issues before they married, filed for divorce once he was in the United States. Jennifer shared this photograph of her great-grandfather Moritz Gutmann, whom she described as a very difficult man.

Moritz Gutmann Courtesy of the family

Meanwhile, Moritz and Nelly’s son Karl was living in Amsterdam as were his grandmother Hedwig Goldschmidt and his aunt Else Goldschmidt and uncle Siegfried Gutmann.  His cousin Hermann (Dennis) was sent in 1936 to England where he attended a Jewish boarding school, and the following year Karl went to the US.

From the apparent age of Karl in this photograph (he appears to be at least thirteen), I would guess that this photograph was taken either in Amsterdam or after he came to the US. I don’t know who the other boy was.

Karl Gutman and friend Courtesy of the family

What I did not know until Jennifer shared it with me was that Karl’s father Moritz traveled to Amsterdam to get his son and bring him back to the US; I now was able to locate Moritz on the same ship as the one that brought Karl to the US. Moritz, however, was sailing in a second class cabin whereas his fourteen-year-old son was sailing third class in a separate cabin (last line on second image below).

Moritz Gutmann, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 124,  Statendam, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Karl Gutmann (last line), Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 143,  Statendam, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Karl earned money selling newspapers when he first got to the US, but then enlisted in the US Army in 1943. By that time he had joined his father in the art dealing business and brought art work back and forth between Europe and the US during the war. Karl became one of the Ritchie Boys, the elite espionage unit made up of German Jewish refugees who used their knowledge of Germany and German to spy on the Nazis and obtain critical military intelligence for the Allies. Here is Karl in uniform during World War II.

Karl Gutmann, c. 1945 Courtesy of the family

But it was too late to save his mother Nelly, who was killed by the Nazis in 1940. Tragically, both of Dennis Goodman’s parents were also murdered in the Holocaust. Karl and Dennis’s grandmother Hedwig Goldschmidt, however, miraculously survived after hiding in the Netherlands during the war, as described here. Jennifer shared this photograph of Hedwig, taken after she had safely immigrated to the US after the war.

Hedwig Goldschmidt Gutmann  Courtesy of the family

When Karl returned to the US after the war, he married Joan Fenton. What I had not known before Jennifer contacted me was that Joan, her grandmother, was the best friend of Karl’s first cousin Gabrielle Heimerdinger, the daughter of Greta Goldschmidt, Karl’s aunt, his mother Nelly’s sister. Gabrielle introduced Joan to Karl, and together they had three children. Jennifer, Karl and Joan’s granddaughter, has many memories of visiting her relatives in New York, including her grandfather’s first cousin Gabrielle, whose children I wrote about here. Karl went into the television repair business after the war and became quite successful.

While serving overseas as one of the Ritchie Boys, Karl had run into his cousin Dennis, Karl fighting the Nazis for the US, Dennis fighting the Nazis for England. Once the two cousins reconnected, they remained close for the rest of their lives, traveling back and forth between England and the US after the war many times. Thanks to Jennifer, I can share this photograph of Karl and Dennis joyfully reunited after the war. The other man on the left is their paternal cousin John Gutmann, and the woman is Karl’s second wife Gisela.

John Gutmann, Karl Gutmann, Gisela Bartels Gutmann, and Dennis Goodman Courtesy of the family

Jennifer remembered her grandfather Karl as a man with a strong work ethic and one who never wanted to talk about his past. But through her grandmother Joan and other family members, Jennifer was able to learn more about her grandfather’s story and the tragedies that her other relatives suffered during the Holocaust. I am so grateful that she shared their stories and her photographs with me.



Who Was That Baby? A Question Answered!

You never know when you publish a blog post asking a question when, if ever, that question will be answered. And I’ve learned never to give up hope. Just recently I learned the answer to a question I posed over four years ago on this post about Jake Katz, the Oklahoma cousin who started the Katz Department Stores in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and who eventually helped to rescue several of his cousins who were still living in Germany during the Nazi era.

Included in that post was a photograph of the three children Jake had with his wife Sophia Salzenstein: Albert Jerome, Margaret, and Helen.

Albert Jerome Katz in rear, Helen Katz and Margaret “Babe” Katz seated with unknown cousin on laps
Courtesy of the Goldman family

Under that photograph I posed this question:

Perhaps some Katz family member can identify the two unknown little cousins? Since we know Albert Jerome died in 1919, I am assuming this photo was taken in about 1918, meaning the two young children were likely born in 1916-1917. I am thinking one might be the daughter of Lester Katz and Mayme Salzenstein, Mildred “Bobbie,” since she was born in January 1916 and was related to Jake and Sophia on both sides, Lester being Jake’s cousin and Mayme being Sophia’s sister.

I didn’t get any answers when I published this post, but on September 19, 2021, I received this comment on that blog post from a reader named Jerry Richards:

Hi Amy, I have the same picture you do of Helen, Margaret and Jerome Katz. The two babies are, as you guessed, on the left Mildred Henderson nee Katz, born 1916, two years old. The baby on the right is Peggy (Mary Carolyn) Richards nee Salzenstein, born 8/6/1917. She is my mother.

I emailed Jerry and learned that his grandfather Solomon Wolf Salzenstein was the brother of Sophia Salzenstein, Jake Katz’s wife. Thus, Jerry is the grandnephew of Sophia and grandnephew-in-law of Jake.

And now I can correct the caption under the photograph:

Albert Jerome Katz in rear, Helen Katz and Margaret “Babe” Katz seated, left to right. Mildred Katz Henderson and Peggy (Mary Carolyn) Salzenstein Richards sitting on their cousins’ laps, left to right.
Courtesy of the Goldman family

Another reminder that you never know when a question you never thought would be answered will in fact be answered! Thank you, Jerry!

A Survivor’s Story: The Shoah Foundation Testimony of Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, Part II

By the time she turned sixteen on April 13, 1945, Inge Goldschmidt had been to three concentration camps and beaten by Nazi youth in Kassel and by guards at the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Oederan. She had been separated from her brother, who was sent to the US in October 1938, and then from her parents in 1944 when she was sent from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz. She had no idea whether her parents were alive and assumed that they were not.1

The day after her sixteenth birthday, she and the others imprisoned at the Oederan camp were transported in cattle wagons away from the Eastern front where Russia was making headway into Germany. They stopped at many camps, and finally on April 21, 1945, Inge and the others were dropped off at Theriesenstadt, the place where she had last seen her parents, Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt. She had not seen them in close to a year and did not expect to find them alive. They also assumed she had been killed at Auschwitz.

Someone recognized Inge as she entered Theriesenstadt, and when she told Inge that her parents were still alive and still at Theriesenstadt, Inge passed out. Inge was dangerously sick with typhoid, weighing only sixty pounds. Her mother didn’t recognize her when she saw her. Slowly Inge was nursed back to health and joyfully reunited with her parents.

The war ended, and the Russians took over Theriesenstadt. Even though they were no longer at war, the people had nowhere to go and no way to get anywhere because of the destruction of the train lines and roads by Allied bombing during the war. Inge and her parents stayed at Theriesenstadt until July 1945 when they then returned to Cologne, where they were provided with an apartment.

Transit card from Terezin, Elfriede Goldschmidt, 1945. Courtesy of the family

You can see from their eyes and expressions in this photograph taken after the war some of the effects of their experiences during the Holocaust.

Elfriede, Rudolf, and Inge Goldschmidt c. 1945 Courtesy of the family

Inge joined a youth group of other Jewish survivors; most did not have any family members who survived, and her parents helped many of them, becoming like surrogate parents to her friends. Here is a photograph of her with some of her friends in post-war Cologne.

Inge Goldschmidt and friends in Cologne, c. 1947-1948. Courtesy of the family

These two photographs of Inge taken in post-war Cologne show some of the rubble caused by the bombing of Cologne.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1947-1948, Cologne. Courtesy of the family

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1949 Courtesy of the family

Inge’s brother Gunther sent her this photograph for her nineteenth birthday in April, 1948.

Gunther Goldschmidt, 1948. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede and Rudolf desperately wanted to get to the US and be reunited with their son Gunther, but because Cologne was in the British Sector, they could not get permission to do so. So for three and a half years they waited until Gunther was able to get his parents out, and then once they arrived in the US, Elfriede and Rudolph were able to get Inge out. Apparently children could get visas for parents and vice versa, but siblings could not get them for siblings.

Rudolf and Elfriede Goldschmidt in Bremen, leaving for the US, 1949. Courtesy of the family

Finally in July 1949, the family was reunited. Inge was now twenty years old. Her parents were working at a hotel in the Catskills and had no money.

Rudolf and Elfriede Goldschmidt in the Catskills (Fleishmans) in the summer of 1949. Courtesy of the family

Inge got a job in a factory in New York, and in the fall her parents joined her in New York also where they all lived in a furnished room together. Gunther was in school in Boston; although he came and lived with his family for some period of time, he remained closest to his foster family, never fully recovering from the long separation from his parents and sister. But this photograph captures Gunther and Inge in a joyful moment together.

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt c. 1950-1951 Courtesy of the family

Inge married Ernst Oppenheimer on October 14, 1950.2 Ernst was born in Augsburg, Germany, on October 17, 1919, to David Oppenheimer and Maria Kraus.3 Ernst had been sent to Dachau Concentration Camp in November 1938  after Kristallnacht, and after he was released, he was immediately sent to England, where he was in the Kushner displaced person camp until he left for the US in March, 1940. He then served in the US Army, where he was stationed at Fort Knox. He also worked on the Manhattan Project.4 Ernst and Inge had two children. Inge, who had been forced to end her formal education at age ten, passed her GED test and went to college and received not only her bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree. She became a teacher and a librarian and worked in the New York City schools for many years.

Ernst Oppenheimer and Inge Goldschmidt, 1950 Courtesy of the family

I also learned from Gunther Goldschmidt’s daughter Lisa more about his life after World War II. He married Barbara Cohen on May 16, 1959. They had three children and had moved to southern California by 1962, eventually settling in Encino. Gunther started his own advertising business there and was very successful; more importantly, Lisa described him as a devoted father.He remained close to his foster family for the rest of his life.1

Gunther and Inge’s father Rudolf Goldschmidt died on February 25, 1960, in New York; he was 73 years old.5

Tragically Gunther died from a heart attack when he was only 47; he died on November 30, 1972, in San Francisco, and was survived by his wife and young children.6

Inge and Gunther’s mother Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt made the surprising decision to return to Germany when she grew older. She wanted to live in a Jewish home for the elderly there and not burden her daughter. She died there on May 20, 1986; she was 85 years old.7

Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, who gave this interview in 1996, died twenty years later on January 24, 2016, at the age of 86.8 She was survived by her children and grandchildren, her husband Ernst having died on July 2, 2010,9 when he was ninety years old.

We should all be forever grateful to Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer and those like her who shared their stories and allowed us all to understand not only the cruel side of human nature, but also the strength and resilience of human nature. Inge’s will to survive as a young teenager under the worst of circumstances was remarkable, and her ability to move forward—to marry and have children, to go back and receive a college education and to pursue a career as a teacher and librarian—is an inspiration and a lesson in hope for all of us.

  1. The information in this post, except where otherwise noted, is from the Shoah Foundation interview with Inge Oppenheimer. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. The photographs are all courtesy of Marsha Eidlin.
  2. Ernst Oppenheimer, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1950
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Ingeborg Goldschmidt, License Number: 26365, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Email from Marsha Eidlin, daughter of Ernst and Inge Oppenheimer, August 31, 2021. 
  3.  Ernst Oppenheimer, Declaration Age: 24, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1919, Birth Place: Rugsburg, Bavaria, Germany, Declaration Date: 13 Jan 1944
    Declaration Place: Jackson, Mississippi, USA, Court District: U.S. District Court for the Jackson Division of the Southern District of Mississippi, Petition Number: 400, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, Georgia; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Mississippi, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1907-2008. Name: Max Oscar Oppenheimer
    [brother of Ernst Oppenheimer], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 19 Apr 1915
    Birth Place: Schrobenhaus, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 16 Oct 2006
    Father: David Oppenheimer, Mother: Maria Kraus, SSN: 092147186, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  4. Email from Marsha Eidlin, daughter of Ernst and Inge Oppenheimer, August 31, 2021. 
  5. Rudo Goldschmidt, Age: 73, Birth Date: abt 1887, Death Date: 25 Feb 1960
    Death Place: Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 4206, New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  6. Gunther Goldschmidt, Social Security #: 488207584, Gender: Male
    Birth Date: 17 Jul 1925, Death Date: 30 Nov 1972, Death Place: San Francisco, Place: San Francisco; Date: 30 Nov 1972; Social Security: 488207584, California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  7. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  8. New York Times obituary at; Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 12 September 2021), memorial page for Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer (unknown–24 Jan 2016), Find a Grave Memorial ID 214436745, citing Beth-El Cemetery, Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Lauren A. Hubberman Cohen (contributor 49135178) Burial Details Unknown. 
  9. Ernest Oppenheimer, Social Security Number: 094-14-0365, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1919, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Last Benefit: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 2 Jul 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

  1. Email from Lisa Goldschmidt, September 25, 2021. Gunther Goldschmidt, Spouse: Barbara Anne Cohen, Marriage Date: 2 Sep 1958, Recorded county: Clark, Page: F01, Nevada, U.S., Marriage Index, 1956-2005 

A Survivor’s Story: The Shoah Foundation Testimony of Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer

Antonie Blumenfeld and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 and thus were spared seeing that their daughter Margot and her husband Gustav Neuhaus were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and killed there in September 1942 and that their granddaughter Edith Neuhaus Kempner was killed at Auschwitz just two months later.

They were also spared knowing that their son Julius and his wife Ilse and son Werner were forced to leave Germany in 1939 to escape Hitler, but eventually survived and settled in the United States.

And they were spared knowing the terrible ordeals endured by their youngest child Elfriede and her husband Rudolf Goldschmidt and their children Gunther and Inge.

But we must remember their experiences and honor their memories. Thanks to the Shoah Foundation, we now have extensive interviews with many of the Holocaust survivors, including one with Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, my fifth cousin.

I was privileged to listen to Inge’s interview and will attempt in my own words to tell her story. I am grateful to the Shoah Foundation for allowing me to do so. Except where noted, all the information below came from Inge’s interview.1 All the photographs are courtesy of Inge’s daughter Marsha.

Inge was born to Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt on April 13, 1929, in Kassel, Germany, just four years before Hitler came to power. She had almost no memory of life in Germany before the Nazis took control. She and her family lived in Kassel until 1938 when they moved to Cologne. Her memories of life in Kassel were terrible because of the persecution and harassment they faced as Jews. She and her brother Gunther went to a Jewish school and were often beaten up on the way home by Nazi youth members. As a result of incidents like that, the school decided to close fifteen minutes before the non-Jewish schools so that children could get home safely.

Here is a photograph of Inge with her brother Gunther taken in about 1934.

Gunther and Inge Goldschmidt. c. 1934-1935. Courtesy of the family

Inge’s father Rudolf was a veteran of World War I and had suffered a serious head injury while fighting for Germany. As a result, he eventually became paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. The family was living on the pension he received for his service in the war while also being forced to endure the anti-Semitism promoted by the government. Rudolf was very well-informed and followed the news on a radio tuned to the BBC, and although he wanted to leave Germany, his disability and their limited resources made that impossible.

Here is a photograph of Rudolf in uniform during World War I.

Rudolf Goldschmidt, c. 1914-1918. Courtesy of the family

Instead the family decided to leave Kassel and move to Cologne in 1938, believing that in the larger city they would be safer and also that life would be easier because it was less hilly than Kassel and thus easier for Elfriede to push Rudolf’s wheelchair. Here are two photographs of Inge from around this time.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1938-1939. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Rudolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gunther celebrated his bar mitzvah in Cologne in the summer of 1938, and a few months later in October his parents registered him for a children’s transport out of Germany to the United States. He ended up in St. Louis living with a foster family for many years. He was only thirteen. Inge was only nine and too young for those transports, so she stayed in Cologne with her parents. The photograph below shows the family at the train station in Cologne the day Gunther left for the US.

Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Gustav Neuhas, Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, unknown man. 1938. Courtesy of the family

Although things were initially better in Cologne than they had been in Kassel, after Kristallnacht and then once the war started in September 1939, conditions worsened. Their phones were taken, then their bicycles, and they lived in constant fear of being arrested. Then when the Allies started bombing Cologne in the early 1940s, they lived in fear of the bombs and poison gas as well. They moved frequently from one apartment to another and were later rounded up with other Jews and taken to a temporary camp outside of the city. By then they were required to wear the yellow star to identify them as Jews. Inge had hers pinned instead of sewn on as required so that she could sneak out of the camp and shop for the family, removing her star to do so without revealing that she was Jewish.

The star Inge Goldschmidt wore in Germany. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt identity card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

Then in 1942 the family was deported to Theriesenstadt. Inge and her mother Elfriede were in one of the barracks together, and her father Rudolf was in a separate men’s barrack. Interestingly, he was living with other men who were disabled World War I veterans. Inge speculated that but for his service in World War I he never would have been allowed to survive at all, given his physical disability.

Inge’s memories of life in Theriesenstadt are horrendous. She was scared and hungry all the time and often very ill. Her knee became infected, and she had to have it drained in the camp hospital without receiving anesthesia. They lived with bed bugs, lice, and a lack of sanitary facilities. They had no news of what was happening in the war or outside the camp itself.

Inge lived at Theriesenstadt for two years, and then in 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz and separated from her family. She was now fifteen years old and sick with typhus. Despite being sick, she knew enough not to let on and so did not get transported with those who were ill and were instantly killed when they arrived at Auschwitz. The train to Auschwitz was a nightmare—all of them standing packed into the cars with no food and sleeping standing up with only a bucket for a toilet.

She remembered vividly her arrival at Auschwitz. They arrived at night, and it was bitterly cold. The Kapos (Jewish prisoners forced to act as guards and agents for the Nazis) were screaming at them all to move out of the train while armed Nazi guards surrounded them. Inge went with the other women into one large room where they were forced to strip and have their heads shaved. They took cold showers and were disinfected and given rags to wear. She recalled one woman going into labor and giving birth during this ordeal and remembered hearing the women around her screaming when they realized they would never see their children again.

Inge was only at Auschwitz for a few weeks, but her memories of that time and place were seared in her memory. She recalled standing for hours each day in the snow for inspection while the guards selected those who would go to the gas chambers. Once she needed to urinate so badly that she just squatted on the ground and was beaten by the guard for doing so. At one point she was so despondent that she was going to run into the electric fence and kill herself, as she’d seen others do. But a kind woman convinced her not to, and so she survived.

After a few weeks she was selected to be sent to another camp near Leipzig, Germany, called Oederan. Oederan opened in September 1944; three transports brought five hundred women from Auschwitz to work in a munitions factory in a converted thread factory. Inge worked in the munitions factory making bullets; she recounted how she and the other prisoners tried to do things to sabotage the machines, although they knew they could be killed if they were caught. While at Oederan, she saw bright lights in the distance and asked innocently if that was the sun. It was in fact the fires from the Allied bombing of Dresden, which was about 35 miles away. A guard, thinking she was being disrespectful, punched her in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth.

On April 12, 1945, the day before her 16th birthday, Inge heard that FDR had died, and she was bereft, believing that America was their one hope for survival and that FDR was a hero. But the news about the war was also starting to break through, and there were rumors that the Russians were coming to liberate them. What would she do if she survived to be liberated? What would she learn about the fate of her parents?

To be continued…

  1. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

July 2021: Scenes of the Outer Cape

I will be taking a break for the first two weeks in August, so I will leave you with some of the highlights of July in Wellfleet. See you soon!

Low tide at Indian Neck Beach:

A hike over Uncle Tim’s Bridge to Cannon Hill

My garden:

My cats:

After the storm:

Long Nook Beach in Truro, the ocean beach we frequented when I was a child:

That’s it for now. See you in August when I will return with stories about a whole new branch of the family tree!

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Family: Some Tragic Times

When the 1930 census was taken, the Hecht family was divided between Brooklyn and Jersey City. Taube and Jacob were living with David, Ruth, and Evelyn in Jersey City. Jacob was not working, but the three adult children were all employed. Ida Hecht and her husband Julius Goldfarb and their four daughters were also in Jersey City as were Jean Hecht and her husband Louis Gross and their daughter and Etta Hecht and her husband Nathan Schwartz. Brooklyn was home to Harry Hecht, his wife Sophie Slotnick, and their children and to Shirley Hecht and her husband Louis Tushinsky.

Unfortunately, 1930 did not end well for the Hecht family. Jacob Hecht died on October 21, 1930; he was 67 years old.1 The family remembers him not only as a fine tailor who sewed beautiful clothing for his daughters but also as a “bucher,” a learner or student.2

The next major lifecycle event for the family was Evelyn Hecht’s marriage to Samuel Oshinsky in 1938.3 Samuel was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 25, 1912, to Harry and Dora Oshinsky. He grew up in Brooklyn, and his father was an operator in a coat factory just as Evelyn’s father Jacob had been.4 In 1930 Samuel was working as a shipping clerk in a wholesale house.5

Here are two sweet photographs of Samuel and Evelyn, courtesy of their son Jerry.

Evelyn Hecht and Samuel Oshinsky. c. 1938 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Samuel Oshinsky and Evelyn Hecht, c. 1938. Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

After marrying, Evelyn and Samuel moved into the same building where her mother Taube was living with David and Ruth (formerly Rose) in Jersey City. According to the 1940 census, Samuel was working as a bartender in a tavern, Evelyn was a clerk in a pencil factory, and Evelyn’s sister Ruth was an assistant in a doctor’s office. David was not employed.  On his World War II draft registration, Sam Oshinsky reported that he was self-employed.6  There was no World War II draft registration for David.

Hecht and Oshinsky, 1940 US census, Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 24-50, 1940 United States Federal Census

Harry Hecht and his family were also living in Jersey City in 1940, and like his brother-in-law Samuel Oshinsky, Harry was working as a bartender in a tavern.7 Were they working in the same tavern? Could it have been my great-uncle Hyman Brotman’s bar in Jersey City? Harry’s World War II registration reports that he worked at Sherman’s Bar in Jersey City. My great-uncle Hyman was known as Herman in business. His wife’s name was Sophie. I have a hunch that both Harry and Samuel were working for Hyman; he was, after all, Harry and Evelyn’s uncle, their mother Taube’s half-brother. And Harry had been working for him in 1925 in Jersey City.  But I can’t prove that’s where they were working.

Harry Hecht, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of New Jersey; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1986, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Harry’s granddaughter Jan shared this adorable photograph of her mother Helene, Harry and Sophie’s oldest child.

Helene Hecht, 1933. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

Etta Hecht and her husband Nathan Schwartz were also living in Jersey City in 1940, and Nathan was working as a salesman. But by 1942 when Nathan registered for the World War II draft, he was living in Brooklyn and working for the Drake School in New York City.8

Jean Hecht and Louis Gross had also left Jersey City for New York by 1940. They and their daughter were living on West 74th Street in Manhattan, and Louis was the owner of a liquor store at 206 West End Avenue in Manhattan, according to his World War II draft registration.9

Shirley Hecht and Louis Tushinsky and their daughter were also in New York in 1940, though in Brooklyn. Louis described his occupation on the 1940 census as a chauffeur for a taxi company.  On his World War II draft registration he reported that he had his own business.10

Evelyn Hecht and Samuel Oshinsky’s son Jerold was born in the early 1940s, giving Taube her tenth and last-born grandchild. Here is a photograph of Evelyn, Sam, and Jerold:

Sam Oshinsky, Jerry Oshinsky, Evelyn Hecht Oshinsky c. 1943 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Overall, by 1942, the family of my great-aunt Taube Brotman Hecht was doing fairly well. Taube had ten grandchildren, and her children were all living fairly close by—some in Jersey City, and no one further than New York City.

And then tragedy struck. On August 12, 1943, Taube’s daughter Evelyn Hecht Oshinsky died after a long illness, according to an obituary in the Jersey Journal; the family reports that she had leukemia. She was only 35 years old and left behind her husband Samuel and a very young child, their son Jerold.11

As often happened when a father was left with a young motherless child, Samuel turned to Evelyn’s sister Ruth, and in January 1944, Ruth and Samuel applied for a marriage license. They were married soon thereafter.12 Ruth became Jerold’s adoptive mother and, according to Jerold, raised him with as much love and devotion as if she’d given birth to him herself. In his memoir he wrote, “She devoted her life to mine, and I think that whatever value system I have today came from the unconditional love of my father Sam and my mother Ruth, the only mother I knew…”13

But that was not the end of the family’s heartbreak. In February 1944, after a snowstorm that left the sidewalks and roads slippery, Taube fell and broke her leg after falling in Jersey City.

Jersey Journal, February 12, 1944, p. 6

That in itself was not tragic. But that fall ultimately led to Taube’s death five months later on July 23, 1944. According to her death certificate, her death was caused by osteomyelitis “following injuries received in accidental fall on sidewalk.” The Mayo Clinic defined osteomyelitis as follows: “Osteomyelitis is an infection in a bone. Infections can reach a bone by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue. Infections can also begin in the bone itself if an injury exposes the bone to germs.”

Tillie Hecht death certificate, 1944 NJ Death Certificates, Microfilm 921 (Trenton, NJ: State Archives)

Taube “Tillie” Brotman Hecht was “about 71” at the time of her death, according to the informant on her death certificate, her son Harry. She had lived a challenging but, I hope, fulfilling life. She had arrived in the US from Tarnobrzeg in today’s Poland, possibly alone and as at most a young teenager. She married Jacob Hecht in 1891 and gave birth to and raised eight children to adulthood. She never became a US citizen and was never wealthy. She and Jacob raised those children on the earnings of a tailor in a sweatshop in New York City. They moved at least every few years if not more often between 1892 and 1925 or so when they moved to Jersey City.

Taube lost her husband Jacob in 1930 not many years after the move to Jersey City, and then in 1943, she lost her youngest child Evelyn, who was only 35 years old. And then less than a year after losing Evelyn, she herself succumbed from an illness caused by an unfortunate accident.

Taube was the lost sister of my grandmother Gussie Brotman for so many years of my research, discovered only by the serendipity of seeing the name “Mrs. Taube Hecht” in my aunt’s baby book from 1917. I am so glad that I found her and that I could tell her story.

  1. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 16 June 2021), memorial page for Jacob Hecht (1863–21 Oct 1930), Find a Grave Memorial ID 131974364, citing Union Field Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) . 
  2. Email from Sue Wartur, September 28, 2016. 
  3.  Evelyn Hecht, Marriage Date: 1938, Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA
    Spouse: Samuel H Oshinsky, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1938; Surname Range: A – Z; Reel Number: 36, New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Samuel H Oshinsky, Birth Date: 25 Jan 1912, Birth Place: Brookyn, New York, Death Date: 4 Jul 1991, Claim Date: 4 Feb 1974, Father: Harry Oshinsky, Mother:
    Dora Unk, SSN: 152206742, Citizenship or Alien Status: U.S. citizen, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Oshinsky family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 19, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1174; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 1159, 1920 United States Federal Census.  . 
  5. Samuel Oshinsky, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0355; FHL microfilm: 2341268, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  6. Samuel Oshinsky, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; 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: 494, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  7. Harry Hecht, World War II draft registration, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02401; Page: 62A; Enumeration District: 24-50, 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. Schwartz, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: m-t0627-02402; Page: 61A; Enumeration District: 24-58, 1940 United States Federal Census; Nat L. Schwartz, 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, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  9. Gross, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02636; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 31-572, 1940 United States Federal Census; Louis Gross, 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, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 
  10. Tushinsky, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02586; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 24-1544, 1940 United States Federal Census;  Louis Tushinsky, 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, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  11. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 16 June 2021), memorial page for Evelyn Oshinsky (unknown–1943), Find a Grave Memorial ID 130163022, citing Union Field Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) ; “Mrs. Evelyn Oshinsky,” Jersey Journal, August 13, 1943, p. 10. Unpublished memoir of Jerold Oshinsky, Part I, p. 3 (2012). 
  12.  Ruth Hecht, Marriage Date: 1944, Marriage Place: New Jersey, USA
    Spouse: Samuel Oshinsky, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1944; Surname Range: A – Z, New Jersey, U.S., Marriage Index, 1901-2016; Jersey Journal, January 27, 1944, p. 19. 
  13. Unpublished memoir of Jerold Oshinsky, Part I, p. 3 (2012)