Of DNA Testing and The Magic of Photographs: Who is That Woman?

As many of you know, I have not had much success using DNA as a genealogy research tool. Because I have thousands of matches on each of the major DNA testing sites (Ancestry, 23andme, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage), finding a true match—not one just based on endogamy—is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Over time I have found some “real” matches, but I usually only know they’re real because I’ve already found those cousins through traditional genealogical research. Finding that the DNA confirms what I already knew is nice, but not really helpful in terms of advancing my research. Even when I look at the matches that cousin shares with me, I am not making progress because our shared matches also number in the hundreds if not thousands.

Nevertheless, I periodically check my matches on each of the sites to see if any truly close matches have appeared. A couple of weeks ago I checked with 23andme and discovered a new third cousin match, Alyce, who also shared a family surname that appears on my tree—Goldfarb. Since the Goldfarbs are related to my Brotman line, I was quite excited. My Brotman line is one of my biggest brickwalls. I cannot get beyond the names of my great-great-grandparents.

Some background: my maternal grandmother’s parents were Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod. But sometimes Joseph’s surname is listed as Brod, sometimes Bessie’s is listed as Brotman. Family lore is that Bessie, Joseph’s second wife, was his first cousin. Various US records revealed that Joseph’s parents were Abraham Brotman and maybe Yette Sadie Burstein; Bessie’s parents were Joseph Brod and Gittel Schwartz. But I have no records from Poland where they once lived to verify those names, nor can I get any further back to determine if Joseph and Bessie were in fact first cousins.

Then years later I discovered the Goldfarb cousins after seeing the names Joe and Julius Goldfarb and Taube Hecht in my grandfather’s address book and my aunt’s baby book.

After much digging, I learned that my great-grandmother Bessie Brod had a sister Sarah Brod (or Brotman) who married Sam Goldfarb. Joe and Julius Goldfarb were two of their sons, my grandmother’s first cousins. And Taube Hecht was my grandmother’s half-sister Taube Brotman, daughter of Joseph Brotman and his first wife. Taube’s daughter Ida had married Julius Goldfarb.

Through more research I was able to locate cousins descended from the Goldfarb line and from the Hecht line—Sue, a granddaughter of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, and Jan, a descendant of Taube Brotman Hecht line through her son Harry. They tested, but the results didn’t help me advance my research. I still couldn’t determine if my great-grandparents were in fact first cousins, and I still hadn’t found anything to expand the reach of my Brotman/Brod family tree.

Then a few weeks ago I found Alyce, a granddaughter of Joe Goldfarb and his wife Betty Amer and thus a pure Goldfarb (non-Hecht) cousin. She connected me with a few other Goldfarb cousins—descendants of Joe or one of his siblings. That’s a lot more DNA to work with, and I am hoping that I can get someone who’s more expert at parsing these things to help me use the DNA of these new cousins to advance my research. So far all I can do is stare at chromosome browsers and see overlaps, but I have no idea how to parse out the Goldfarb (Brod) DNA from the Hecht (Brotman) DNA to get any answers.

All of this I will return to at some point when I have more to say about what the DNA reveals. For now I want to talk about the photographs that Alyce shared with me of my Goldfarb relatives. Alyce sent me over twenty photographs. She was able to identify the people in many of them, but unfortunately a number are unlabeled. Also the quality of some of the photos is quite poor. I won’t post them all, but I will post a few today and more in a later post.

First, in Alyce’s collection was this photograph she labeled “I think this is Grandpa’s mother Sarah Brothman. I could be wrong.” (Brothman was yet another variation on how Joseph, Bessie, and Sarah spelled their surname.)

“Sarah Brothman” Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

I almost fell off my chair. I had that exact same photograph, but in our collection the photograph was said to be of my great-grandmother Bessie Brod Brotman.

My great-grandmother Bessie Brotman (or so I was told)

I wasn’t sure who had the right label for the photograph, but just the fact that Alyce and I had in our possession copies of the same photograph seemed to confirm what the DNA and all my research had already told me—we were cousins!

Alyce had other photographs of her great-grandmother Sarah, and when I saw those I thought that in fact that first photograph was of Sarah, not Bessie. Here are her other photographs of Sarah, all courtesy of Alyce, and then another photograph I had of my great-grandmother Bessie.

Sarah Brod/Brotman Goldfarb and her son Leo Goldfarb. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman

It seems to me that Bessie had a rounder and softer edged face than the woman seated in front of the grocery store, so I think that woman was indeed Sarah, Bessie’s sister.

So somehow my family ended up with a photograph of Bessie’s sister Sarah. And we never would have known if I hadn’t found Alyce and she hadn’t shared her copy of the photograph.

I slowly flipped through the rest of Alyce’s photos, noting the faces of my grandmother’s Goldfarb first cousins Joe and Leo and their wives and children, hoping I could identify some of the unknowns in Alyce’s collection, when I came to this photograph. This time my jaw dropped.

Rose Goldfarb, Joe Goldfarb, Gussie Brotman

Alyce labeled this photograph, “Grandpa Joe. I think that could be Aunt Rose [the youngest child of Sarah Brod and Sam Goldfarb] on the left. Not sure who’s on the right.”

But I knew who was on the right. I had no doubt. That woman was my grandmother, Gussie Brotman Goldschlager, posing with two of her first cousins, Joe and Rose Goldfarb. I was blown away. How could Alyce, who until just a few days earlier was unknown to me, have a photograph of my grandmother—a photograph I’d never seen before?

I sent the photograph to my brother for confirmation, and he agreed. I ran the photograph through Google’s face identification software, and Google agreed. Here are some other photographs of my grandmother.

Gussie Brotman

Goldschlagers 1935

Jeff and Gussie c. 1946

I think you also will agree.  Alyce, my third cousin, had a photograph of her grandfather Joe and my grandmother Gussie together. Wow.

More Photos of My Double Cousin Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Her Family

I recently posted photos that my cousin Bruce Velzy sent me of his great-great-grandmother Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah is one of the relatives whose lives most fascinate me. Her parents were both related to me. Her father Simon Goldschmidt was my four-times great-uncle, and her mother Fradchen or Fanny Schoenthal was my three-times great-aunt. Simon and Fanny were recent immigrants from Germany to the US when Hannah was born in 1848. And then Hannah lost her mother shortly after Hannah’s second birthday.

Hannah and her brother Henry then moved with their father Simon to Washington, Pennsylvania, where they lived with Hannah’s half-brother Jacob Goldsmith and his wife and children. Then when she was just eighteen, Hannah married Joseph Benedict, a rag dealer who was fourteen years older, and moved to Pittsburgh; her father moved with her. Hannah and Joseph had five children, but only three survived infancy: Jacob (1870), Herschel (1871), and C. Harry (1876).

Bruce is descended from Hannah’s son Jacob and shared these photos, which I’ve previously posted:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of the family and edited by the Photo Restoration Facebook group.

Sons of Hannah Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict, c. 1890. Courtesy of the family

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

One of the things that makes Hannah’s story so remarkable is the success of her son C. Harry Benedict and of his two sons, Manson Benedict and William Benedict, as I wrote about here and here. They all were Ivy League graduates who pursued highly successful careers in science and engineering.

A few weeks ago I heard from Manson’s Benedict’s daughter Mary, She found my blog and commented as follows:

My father was Manson Benedict, son of C.Harry Benedict. Manson played a large part in the successful development of the atomic bomb. His contribution was developing a process to separate the isotopes of Uranium at a plant in Oak Ridge Tennessee. After the war he became the first professor of nuclear engineering at MIT, and was active in research on peaceful uses for atomic energy, such as nuclear power. I got a Master’s degree in chemistry, doing research on radiation chemistry. My granddaughter, Kirsten Benedict Sauer, earned a PhD in geology and is now employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she is developing ways to safely dispose of radioactive waste from reactors.

I emailed Mary and learned that she and her granddaughter are not the only ones carrying on the Benedict tradition in the sciences. Both of Mary’s sons are scientists as are her daughter-in-law and some of her grandchildren, and her daughter majored in psychology. It’s amazing to see how the DNA carries certain interests and skills from one generation to another.

Mary also shared three photographs with me, including this one taken at the celebration of Hannah Goldsmith’s 90th birthday in 1938. The photo includes Hannah’s three sons Jacob, Herschel, and C. Harry, her grandsons Manson and William, her daughters-in-law and granddaughter-in-law, and her great-granddaughter Mary.

Celebration of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s 90th birthday in 1938. Standing in rear Jake, C. Harry, Manson, Herschel, and William Benedict. Seated Marjorie Allen Benedict, Lena Manson Benedict with Mary Benedict Sauer, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

Mary also sent me two wedding photographs. This one is of her grandparents C.Harry Benedict and Lena Manson on their wedding day, February 7, 1902.

C. Harry Benedict and Lena Manson, 1902. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

And this one is from Mary’s own wedding in 1959. Mary and her husband Myran Charles Sauer, Jr. are standing with Mary’s grandparents, C Harry Benedict and Lena Manson Benedict.

Mary Benedict, Myran Charles Sauer, Jr., Lena Manson, and C.Harry Benedict, 1959. Courtesy of Mary Sauer.

Once again, I am so drawn to the story of Hannah Goldsmith and so grateful to her descendants for sharing the stories and photographs they have of her.

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Etta Wolfe Wise: Photo Analysis Part III

In this third and final post devoted to photographs of Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and her daughter Etta, I will look at two more photographs that my cousin Alan sent me and try and identify the others in the photo.

In this photograph, I’ve assumed Amalie is on the left and possibly Etta on the right. Then who are the three young women?

I don’t know. But Amalie had four granddaughters: Flora’s daughters Helen and Marjorie, Lee’s daughter Ruth, and Etta’s daughter Florence. My guess is that this is three of those four.

Here are some photos of Florence. This one is of Etta and her six children; Florence, her only daughter, is seated on our right.

Etta and her children. Courtesy of the family.

Here are another two of the children of Etta and Max Wise:

Do you see Florence in the photo above? Is she the tall girl standing between Amalie and Etta? I don’t think so, but am not sure. And as for the other two girls in the forefront? I have no idea. So maybe they are Helen, Marjorie, and/or Ruth. Or maybe not!

Finally, there is this photograph, which I will refer to as the living room photo:

The Wise Family Courtesy of the family

Seated in the middle rear are Etta, Amalie, and Max. The girl sitting right in front of Etta is her daughter Florence, and the four little boys on the floor and the little boy sitting on the lap of the man next to Max are the five sons of Etta and Max: Irving (Bud), Richard, Max, Jr., Robert, and Warren. From the ages of the children, I would guess that this photograph was taken in the early 1920s since Warren was born in 1920, Robert in 1919. You can compare the children to those in the photo of Etta surrounded by her children, probably taken a year before, and see the similarities.

So who are the other people in the living room photograph? Are they other relatives of Amalie and Etta? Or are they relatives of Max Wise? This photograph of Etta and Max with Max’s brothers and their wives shows what two of his brothers looked like. Alan agreed with me that the Wise brothers are not in the living room photograph with Etta’s children.

I think therefore that these are Etta’s relatives in the living room photo. Maybe the three older men are three of Etta’s four brothers: Maurice, Lee, Ira, and Herbert.  Maurice was living in Middletown, Ohio in 1920, as were Etta and Max, so it’s likely he is in the photograph.In 1920 Lee was in Pittsburgh, and Herbert in Detroit. Ira was living in Illinois in 1920 and died in 1924.

As for the two women sitting to Etta’s right, perhaps one is a sister-in-law, maybe both are. Perhaps one is Flora’s daughter Helen or her daughter Marjorie. And maybe the younger man perched on a table on our far left is Flora’s son Leroy. Or maybe her son Donald.

At this point it’s far too much speculation, but perhaps a cousin will find me who knows the answers. I am open to suggestions!

And please, everyone, label your photographs and spare some future family member from doing all this impossible guesswork.

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Etta Wolfe Wise: Photo Analysis Part II

Looking back at my prior post, let’s assume for purposes of this post that I have correctly identified Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and her daughter Etta Wolfe Wise in the two photographs below.

Etta Wolfe Wise to far right, upper. Courtesy of the family

Courtesy of the Family

Then who are the other people in these two photographs? Are they other relatives of mine, relatives of Amalie and Etta?

Starting with the first photograph, which I will refer to as the porch photo, I am assuming that the older woman standing on the porch is Amalie and Etta is to her left. Who is the woman on the other side of Amalie, and who are those five adorable little children in front of them?

Looking at the second photograph, which I will refer to as the formal photograph, I identified the older woman as Amalie and the woman standing in the rear next to her as Etta. So who is the other woman? Is she the same woman as the woman standing on the porch with Amalie and Etta in the other photo?

When I compare those two women, I believe they are the same woman, and my guess is that she is Etta’s only sister and Amalie’s only other daughter, Flora Wolfe Goldman.

The hair and how it is parted and the mouth seem so similar that I think they are the same person. What do you think?

I think the formal photograph was taken some years before the porch photograph, and that the two children in the formal photograph are mostly likely two of Flora’s children. Flora had four children: Leroy (1901), Helen (1903), Donald (1905), and Marjorie (1908). I am guessing that the little boy in the photo is Leroy and the little girl is Helen. My guess is that the photo was taken between 1904 and 1905 and perhaps Flora was pregnant with Donald when it was taken.

So that brings me to the next question: Who are those five little children in the porch photograph?

Assuming that is Flora in the porch photograph, it had to have been taken before September 30, 1910, when Flora died. She died from puerperal fever—a fever caused by a uterine infection after childbirth.1 Since Flora does not look obviously pregnant in the porch photograph and since it looks like the weather must have been relatively warm or at least not wintry, I am going to assume that the photograph was taken no later than the fall of 1909, but after 1905 or so when the formal photograph was taken.

At the time Flora died, her mother Amalie had six grandchildren. Flora’s four, Leroy, Helen, Donald, and Marjorie, and Amalie’s two grandchildren through her son Lee: Lloyd, born in 1902, and Ruth, born in 1905.

I would guess that the children in the photograph range in age from about fifteen months old to four years old. If the photograph was taken in 1906 or so, Flora’s children would have been five, three, and one (Marjorie would not yet have been born).  Lee’s two children would have been four and one in 1906.  Since there are only five children in the photo, maybe they are Flora’s older three (Leroy, Helen, and Donald) and Lee’s two (Lloyd and Ruth). And although they all look like girls, I know that little boys often wore dresses back in those days.

So I have no idea. Maybe they’re cousins from another branch of the family or neighbors. Without more photographs and information, I am grasping at straws!

But I do feel pretty comfortable identifying Etta, Flora, and Amalie.

I have a few more Etta/Amalie photographs to analyze. Maybe they will shed more light.




  1. There was no death certificate for a baby born in 1910 to Flora Wolfe Goldman so I assume the baby was stillborn or perhaps was miscarried. If Flora had an early miscarriage that led to a uterine infection, I suppose the photograph might have been taken in the spring of 1910. 

Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Her Daughter Etta Wolfe Wise: Some Photo Analysis

I have already written about Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe, the sister of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. Amalie was born in Sielen, Germany, in 1847, and came to the US as a young woman in 1867. In 1872 she married Elias Wolfe, and together they had six children, including her daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1883.

A few weeks ago I heard from Alan, one of Etta’s descendants, and he shared with me numerous photographs of the family, including two that were labeled in part “Etta’s mother.” I was excited to see photographs of Amalie.

Alan said this one was labeled as Etta’s mother Amalie on the right:

And that this one labeled Etta’s mother Amalie as the woman on the left:

I can see that the two older women in these two photos are the same person—do you agree? The shape of their chins and their cheekbones are the most obvious similarities.

This is Amalie’s daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin. It might have been taken on her wedding day, June 2, 1910:

Etta Wolfe Wise, c. 1910. Courtesy of the family

And this is her husband, Max Wise, perhaps taken around the same time:

Max Wise Courtesy of the family

Knowing what Etta looked like made it easy to identify her in other photos, such as this one. That looks like Etta standing in the rear to our right.

Etta Wolfe Wise to far right, upper. Courtesy of the family

I think that the older woman standing next to Etta is the same woman as the older woman in the first two photos above and so presumably Amalie.

And I think Amalie is also the woman sitting between Etta and Max Wise in the next photo, Max sitting highest on the chair fourth from the left, then Amalie to his right, and then Etta to Amalie’s right.

The Wise Family Courtesy of the family

Here are closeups of the four faces of the older woman cropped from those photographs:

What do you think? Are these all the same woman?

That left me puzzled about the people in the other photos of Amalie. For example, in this one, is that Etta standing next to her? At first glance I thought so, but then I wasn’t sure.  Etta has such distinctive deep-set eyes, and the eyes of the woman in this photo looked different.

Here are some closeups of Etta from the known photos and from this one:

The more I look, the more I think it is Etta. And is this Etta in the more recent photo showing Amalie on the far left?

I think so, although the glasses and her squint make is hard to be sure. She certainly looks like the woman in the last of the cropped photos above.

So…what do you think? Is that Amalie in all those photos? Have I correctly identified Etta in the photos?

If so, then I need to figure out who the other people are in those photographs. To be continued…

New Year’s Eve 1919-1920 in Frankfurt, Germany

Two weeks ago I said I was taking a break, trying to figure out where to go next with my research and clearing my head. Well, my head is still not clear, and I still am on the fence about what to do next.

But while I was taking that breather, I heard from multiple new cousins as well as new communications from cousins I’d already found. New photos, new stories, new people. These include new DNA matches on my Brotman line, new photos for my Schoenthal line, new photos for my Seligmann line, a new connection from a Seligmann cousin who also appears to be a Goldschmidt cousin, a new Katzenstein cousin, a set of documents sent by a man living in Oberlistingen about the Goldschmidts, and numerous other questions, comments, or requests coming from my blog, Facebook, or email.  I will blog about many of these once I get my arms wrapped around the details.

All of this has given me a shot in the arm (and yes, I now am fully vaccinated against COVID as well) that I sorely needed. It’s so hard to transition from one research project to another, especially after three years. So these smaller, more focused projects are what I need right now. Especially since I also want to spend some time promoting my new book, Santa Fe Love Song.

Today I want to share an amazing photograph that my cousin Greg Rapp sent me. He cannot identify anyone in the photograph, but Greg is a Goldschmidt cousin (a descendant of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt), and the photo was labeled “New Year’s Eve 1919-1920.” Whether or not we can ever identify anyone in the photograph, it is nevertheless worth sharing. It captures German society during the Weimar Republic. The young women smoking cigarettes evoke that era as does the energy, the expressions, and the postures of all the young people in the picture.

If anyone can identify anyone in this photograph, please let me know.

Two Cousins Whose Lives Tell the Overall Story of the Goldschmidts

As I draw to the close of my Goldschmidt family history project, it seemed quite appropriate that I recently received photographs of two members of that family who  exemplify two very different stories of this family’s history, my cousins Herman Goldsmith and Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah was born in America in 1848 and lived until 1939, and Herman was born in Germany in 1912 and lived until 2016.

First I received this photograph of Herman Goldsmith and my cousin Susan and her husband Richard. Susan said it was taken in June 2013 when Herman was 100 years old. He would turn 101 on December 6, 2013, and live until October 27, 2016, just a little over a month before he would have turned 104.

Richard and Susan (Vogel) Neulist and Herman Goldsmith, June 2013. Courtesy of Susan Neulist

I wrote about Herman here. He was the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt. Julius Falk Goldschmidt was the son of Falk Goldschmidt, and Leni Goldschmidt was the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Since Falk and Jacob Meier were brothers, Julius and Leni were first cousins, once removed, making Herman his own cousin.

After escaping from Nazi Germany to the US in the 1930s, Herman settled in New York City where so many Goldschmidt family members ended up. He remained in touch with his Goldschmidt relatives. Susan said he visited her grandmother, Grete Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, every week for many years.

Grete was also a double cousin as she was the daughter of Marcel (Maier) Goldschmidt, son of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and Hedwig Goldschmidt, daughter of Falk Goldschmidt. Hedwig and Marcel were first cousins, and so like Herman, Grete was her own cousin.

And since Hedwig Goldschmidt, Grete’s mother, and Julius Falk Goldschmidt, Herman’s father, were siblings, Grete and Herman were first cousins, both the grandchildren of Falk Goldschmidt.

But they were also both descended from Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, Herman’s great-grandfather and Grete’s grandfather, so they were also first cousins, once removed, through Herman’s mother Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt and Grete’s father Marcel Goldschmidt. Oy vey! No wonder they were so close! Susan described Herman as “quite the gentleman and full of wonderful stories.” I wish I knew more of his stories.

I also received a wonderful photograph from my cousin, Bruce, the great-great-great-grandson of Fradchen Schoenthal, sister of my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and also the great-great-grandson of Simon Goldschmidt, brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt.

So Bruce is my double cousin. He’s my fourth cousin, once removed, through our Schoenthal side and my fifth cousin through our Goldschmidt side.

Isn’t Jewish genealogy fun?

Anyway, Bruce’s great-great-grandmother was Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, daughter of the above-mentioned Simon Goldschmidt. Hannah and her brother Henry were the first Goldschmidts born in the US, Henry in 1847 and Hannah in 1848. I’ve written much about Hannah and her family—here and here and here  and here and here and here and here. Hannah married Joseph Benedict in 1867, and they had five children, including Jacob Benedict, Bruce’s great-grandfather. Jacob had two daughters with his wife Clara Kaufman: Helen, born in 1907, and Marian, born in 1908. Helen was Bruce’s grandmother.

Bruce told me that this photograph was dated August 24, 1908, and shows Hannah Goldsmith Benedict with her husband Joseph and their two granddaughters Helen and Marian. At that time Jacob Benedict and his family were living in Paducah, Kentucky, and Hannah and Joseph were living in Pittsburgh. Jacob’s brother Herschel was living in Pittsburgh, and his brother Harry was living in Michigan by 1910.  But the photograph was apparently taken in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I wonder how that happened….

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

Another mystery to solve. But seeing one of my earliest American-born relatives with her granddaughters is very exciting.

It’s so fitting to close my Goldschmidt family blog posts with photographs of these two members of the family. Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith were first cousins, twice removed, since Hannah’s father Simon Goldschmidt and Herman’s great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt were brothers.

Hannah was born in the United States when the country was still very young. She lived through the Civil War, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression, dying in November 1939 while her German cousins were being persecuted and fleeing from Nazi Germany. She was 91 years old.

Just two months before Hannah died, her cousin Herman arrived in the US as one of those cousins escaping from Germany. Herman Goldsmith was born in 1912 in Frankfurt, Germany, and had grown up in the comfort of the large and well-to-do Goldschmidt family. Unlike Hannah, his life was radically changed by the events of the 1930s. But like Hannah, he saw so much in his lifetime, living until he was almost 104. He not only lived through World War I, the Weimar Republic years, the Depression, and World War II—he saw the radical changes that came after the war—the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the moon landing, the gay rights movement, the rise of the internet, 9/11, and the election of the first Black man to serve as president of the US.

Can you imagine the stories Herman and Hannah could tell each other as well as us?  They lived such different lives in such different places and times, overlapping in time between only 1912 and 1939, but on different continents. But together the lives of Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith tell us so much not only about the richness of the Goldschmidt family’s story, but also about the history of Jews in America and in Germany.

Thank you to Susan and to Bruce for sharing these photographs. And thank you to each and everyone of my Goldschmidt cousins who have helped me understand and appreciate our shared history.


The Diaries of a Young Boy: An Update on the Family of Arthur Rapp

Before I move on to the last child of Meyer Goldschmidt, his son Falk, I have two updates that relate to Meyer’s two other sons, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Selig Goldschmidt. Today’s involves descendants of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Once again I have had the good fortune of connecting with a Goldschmidt fifth cousin, my cousin Greg. Greg is the great-grandson of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, the youngest child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Greg’s grandfather was Helmina’s son Arthur Rapp, and his father was Gordon (born Gunther) Rapp.

Greg shared with me numerous photographs and documents, including his father’s diaries written during World War II when he was a teenager. Greg also put together a timeline of his family’s travels from Germany to Italy to England to Brazil and finally to the US, all between the years of 1934 to 1941 or from when his father was eight years old until he was sixteen. In other words, the Rapp family lived in five countries in the span of seven years.

Although I have already written most of the skeleton of the Rapp family story in my earlier post, after reviewing the materials Greg shared and speaking with him, I want to supplement that post because I can now better describe the family’s life in Frankfurt and the journey that finally brought them to the US in 1941.

Arthur Rapp and his wife Alice Kahn were married in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. This photograph might be their wedding photograph, but Greg wasn’t certain.

Wedding of Alice Kahn and Arthur Rapp 1921. Courtesy of Greg Rapp

It was Arthur’s second marriage, and he had a daughter Rita from that first marriage who was born in 1908. Then Arthur and Alice had two sons, Helmut, born in 1923, and Gunther, born in 1925. These photographs of the family in the years before they left Germany in March 1934 illustrate their comfortable lifestyle with family vacations to the shore and to the mountains. I don’t have exact dates for these photographs but can only estimate from the presumed ages of Helmut and Gunther.

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp with unknown woman c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

During these years Arthur was working for the H. Fuld Telephone company as a director and salesman. H. Fuld was started by Arthur’s first cousin Harry Fuld, about whom I wrote in this blog post.

Gunther Rapp started school in Frankfurt on April 6, 1932, when he was six, and spent two years in school in Frankfurt, ending on February 23, 1934, as seen on this report card his son Greg shared with me. His first year was at the Holzhausen School, and his second year was at the Philanthropin School.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Then, one year after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, the Rapp family left their comfortable life in Frankfurt and moved to Milan, Italy, where on March 2, 1934, Gunther was enrolled in a Swiss school in Milan, as seen in this report card:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The family lived in Milan until about December 1937. Greg wasn’t sure what his grandfather was doing at that time but speculated that since the H. Fuld Telephone Company was international, he was continuing to work for that company during this time.

I think these photographs were probably taken during the time they were in Italy from March 1934 until December 1937, or from the time Gunther was eight until he was twelve; on the other hand, they might have been taken in England, their next home:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

Then the family moved again, this time to London. Gunther was now twelve, his brother Helmut was fourteen. Having learned Italian and studied French while in Milan, the boys now had to learn a fourth language, English. When he started school in England in January 1938 at the Normandie Preparatory School in Bexhill-on-the-Sea, Gunther knew only three words: please, thank you, and yes.2

Gunther’s report card a year later in December 1938 showed just how much progress he had made in English and in school in general (despite the comment about how he was doing in Scripture). Perhaps most telling is the comment at the bottom: “He is losing his shyness and beginning to talk more readily.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah that December as well, delivering his bar mitzvah speech in German, which he later translated to English. His speech was primarily an expression of gratitude to his parents and his grandmother for the way they instilled joy and love into all their lives. A note at the bottom contained Gunther’s admission (possibly added years later) that the rabbi wrote most of his speech (something that may be true for many bar/bat mitzvah students).

And then nine months later on September 1, 1939, World War II started. The headmaster of Gunther’s school wrote to his parents, trying to persuade them to keep Gunther at the school.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Two things are of particular interest: first, the fact that the school had built a trench so that the students never had to go outside. And secondly, the letter assured Gunther’s parents that the fact that he was German-born would not be an issue, noting that, “We all know that you have exactly the same feelings as an Englishman about the tyrant in Germany….”

But the Normandale School was on the south coast of England on the English Channel, and the Rapps decided that boys would be safer elsewhere. Gunther and his brother Helmut were sent to High Bullen Farm in Lynton, Ilkerton-Devon, on the west coast of England. The farm had no electricity, only kerosene lamps, and water had to be pumped by hand. The Rapp brothers helped on the farm—milking cows, hunting rabbits, and watched the slaughtering of a pig.3

Starting in January 1940, Gunther began to keep a diary. The three months of the first year of his diaries are, interestingly, written in German, not English; many of the entries simply say he went to school or he was sick in bed or he played football (soccer, I assume) or hockey or golf.  In April 1940, he switched to English, which I found noteworthy. I wonder whether England being at war against Germany had anything to do with that or whether he just finally felt fluent enough in English to use it. There is no mention of the war, however, until May 8, 1940, when he included a small news clipping about the war after entering his activities for that day: “Go to school. Play cricket. Became a prefect.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

But his parents were already looking to get out of England:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

From then on, Gunther made occasional entries about the progress of the war or entered news clippings, but mostly he reported on going to school and engaging in sports. In June 1940, he and Helmut left Devon and returned to the family home in Stanmore where their parents had built a house with a bomb shelter in the backyard to keep them safe.4

On June 26, 1940, Gunther wrote the following brief entry: “Pa is interned at 10 o’clock. Mu [his mother, I assume] is very worried. Read. Mu goes to Consuls and tries to get a visa.” On Friday, August 2, 1940, Gunther wrote, “We get a ‘phone call that we will shortly get the visa.” On August 16, he spoke of men coming to pack and of an air raid warning. There are then several more references to air raid warnings, and on August 29, he noted that his diary had been checked by a censor as the family was preparing to leave England.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

And then on September 6, 1940, he described their departure from England, commenting in part that “We are all very pleased. Pa came out of the internment camp.” They were headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gunther’s fourth country in six years. He was not yet fifteen years old.

From his description of the trip from England to Brazil, you would think he was on a pleasure cruise with his diary entries repeatedly saying, “Lie on deck. Read and play,” with an occasional reference to learning Portuguese—his fifth language after German, Italian, French, and English.

The Rapp family’s time in Brazil was relatively short, and Gunther’s diary entries mostly refer to learning Portuguese, going to the museum, exploring Sao Paulo, and engaging in some project with marble blocks. He also commented on Helmut’s fascination with watches and clocks and his work at a clock repair store. Then in December he started school and commented, “I hardly understand anything the teachers say.” But that same week in December, 1940, Gunther wrote about going with his parents to the American consul to get a visa to travel to the US.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The 1941 diary began by noting that he was going to school each morning to learn Portuguese and taking typing lessons in the afternoon. But meanwhile the family was preparing to sail to the US. Helmut continued to repair watches. On his last day at the school in Brazil, January 31, 1941, Gunther wrote, “I’m glad I don’t have to go there any more because I didn’t like it there.”  Overall, he seemed not to be the least bit sad when they left Brazil on February 5, 1941, and sailed to the United States.

On February 17, 1941, the ship arrived in New York harbor. Gunther wrote on that day:

“We are getting nearer our destination. On our left and our right, we can see strips of land, with a blanket of snow on it. Hardly visible through the fog is the imposing statue of liberty, which guards the entrance of the N. York harbor. … We step ashore at 330 and are welcomed at the quay by aunt Alice [Rapp, his father’s sister] and [her husband] Sally and one or two other friends. It’s snowing and terribly cold. …. We go with Uncle Sally and Mr. Drey to the Whitehall Hotel by U-ground, which isn’t as nice as in London [ed.: that is still true today]. I haven’t seen much of N.Y. yet, but from what I have seen, I think I’m going to like it.”

He in fact lived the rest of his life in the greater New York City area, moving only as far as New Jersey in the mid-1970s.

Gunther (who became Gordon in the US) continued to keep his diaries through 1945, and when I have time I hope to read through more of them. But for now I have told the part of the story I wanted to share—the story of a boy who left his homeland at eight for Italy, then at twelve moved to England, at fourteen left for Brazil, and finally in February 1941 when he was fifteen, moved to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life.

As I wrote in my earlier post about the Rapp family, both Gunther/Gordon and his brother Helmut/Harold lived long and successful and productive lives in the US—Harold rising from doing watch repairs to becoming the president of Bulova International, Gordon obtaining degrees from Cornell University and Purdue University and becoming a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation.

From reading the diaries, looking at the photos, and reading the letters written about him by his teachers, it truly seems that Gunther Rapp’s bar mitzvah speech was truthful—even if the rabbi wrote much of it. Gunther seems to have always felt safe and secure with his parents and brother, well-loved and filled with joy, despite all the turmoil and changes going on in his external circumstances.

Thank you so much to my cousin Greg for sharing this incredible archive of photographs, diaries, and other documents. By doing so, he has brought his father to life for me and, I hope I have been able to honor the memory of this man whose boyhood was interrupted, but who never seemed to lose his joyfulness or his desire to succeed.

  1. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  2. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  3. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020
  4. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild’s Family: From Frankfurt to England

Once again I’ve been fortunate to connect with one of my fifth cousins, this time a great-grandson of Recha Goldschmidt and Alfred Schwarzschild. My fifth cousin Alan and I exchanged emails and chatted by Zoom earlier this week, and he has greatly enriched my understanding of his family history by sharing family stories and photographs.

Selig Goldschmidt’s third daughter Recha and her husband Alfred Schwarzschild were living a good life in Frankfurt with their three children as the twentieth century began. Here are some wonderful photographs of Recha and Alfred that my cousin Alan shared with me as well as a copy of their wedding invitation and menu:

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family.

Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

Recha and Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their daughter Clementine, Alan’s grandmother. It appears that this is a graduation photograph, taken perhaps in around 1906:

Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1906 Courtesy of the family

And here are their three children, Clementine, Robert, and Jacob, taken in around 1907:

Jacob, Robert, and Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1907

Sadly, their son Robert Meier Schwarzschild died as a young man, just 22, on July 12, 1909, in Frankfurt. Alan believes that he died from appendicitis.

Robert M Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10651
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Recha and Alfred’s youngest child Clementine Schwarzschild married Zacharias Max Hackenbroch, son of Maximilian Hackenbroch and Getta Neuberger, on December 24, 1908, in Frankfurt; he was born on December 3, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Clementine Schwarzschild marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Zacharias Hackenbroch was, like his Goldschmidt in-laws, an art collector and dealer. Here are two photographs of him, one in uniform during World War I and one of him in his study. Zacharias received the Iron Cross for his service for Germany during the war and was at one point the attache to the Crown Prince of Germany, according to his grandson Alan.

Zacharias Hackenbroch Courtesy of the family

Zacharias Hackenbroch. Courtesy of the family

Clementine and Zacharias had three daughters. Lucie was born on May 17, 1910,1 Yvonne was born April 27, 1912,2 and Irene was born June 23, 1918.3 All were born in Frankfurt. This lovely photograph is of Clementine with her daughter Lucie, taken in 1910:

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch and her daughter Lucie Hackenbroch, c. 1910 Courtesy of the family

Here are two photographs of the Hackenbroch daughters, one of Irene Hackenbroch and one of Lucie and Yvonne:

Irene Hackenbroch c. 1922
Courtesy of the family

Lucie and Yvonne Hackenbroch. c. 1922 Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their home at Untermainkai 34 in Frankfurt before World War II:

In 1911, Recha and Alfred’s son Jacob Schwarzschild married Elsa Stern, his second cousin, as I discussed here. Jacob and Elsa had one child, Elizabeth, born in 1915, but their marriage did not last. They were divorced in 1920, and Jacob married his second wife, Sonja Hepner, in Rome, Italy later that year, and they had one child together, Robert Boris Schwarszchild, born October 20,1921.4 According to my cousin Alan, Sonja’s father was a very wealthy sugar merchant from Russia who escaped from that country after the Revolution.

Jakob Schwarzschild and Elsa Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild died on March 3, 1929, in Frankfurt. She was sixty-five.5 Her husband Alfred Schwarzschild died on May 15, 1936, in Frankfurt.6 They were survived by their two surviving children, Jacob and Clementine.

Both Jacob and Clementine and their families escaped to England in about 1938.

Jacob/Jack Schwarzschild

Jacob Schwarzschild and his second wife Sonja Hepner were living in London in 1939, and Jacob was working as a stockbroker.7 Jacob (known as Jack in England) was interned for some time as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, but released on September 19, 1940 and granted an exemption.

Jacob Schwarzschild enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/195
Piece Number Description: 195: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Schmil-Seer
Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Sonja died in England on September 9, 1950.8

I didn’t know where Jack and Sonja’s son Robert Boris Schwarzschild (presumably named in part for his uncle Robert but known as Boris) was living in 1939 when the English census was taken, but Alan told me that Boris left Germany in about 1937 and went to school in Switzerland and later came to England and went to boarding school there, so he was not living with his parents in 1939. He served in the British army during World War II, fighting against his former homeland.9

In 1947 Boris was living in England, using the name Robert Boris Shields.10 In 1955 he married Elizabeth Ullmann11 with whom he had two children. He and his family had moved to Canada by 1962 and were living in Ontario.12

His father Jack died December 11, 1978, in England.13 He was 93 years old. Robert died in Canada in 2014.14

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch

Clementine’s husband Zacharias Hackenbroch died on August 9, 1937, in Frankfurt, where they were still living. Alan didn’t know the precise medical cause of death, but many  believe that the stress of Nazi persecution contributed to his early death. He was fifty-two.15

Zacharias Hackenbroch death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11062 Description Year Range: 1937 Source Information Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

After Zacharias died, the family lost their home to the Nazis, which turned it into the headquarters for Nazi youth. Once she had a visa for England in September 1938, Clementine packed up much of her furniture and art and left Germany with her daughter Irene. Her daughter Yvonne was already living there. Alan said that Yvonne had received a doctorate in art history from Munich University in December 1936 or January 1937 and had then done research in Italy before arriving in England in May 1938. In 1939 Clementine was living with her two younger daughters Yvonne and Irene in London, although they were in Sussex at the time the 1939 Register was enumerated. Yvonne was working at the British Museum in their medieval antiquities department.16

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2600C, Enumeration District: EMKJ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alan, Clementine’s grandson, described Clementine as having a wonderful personality, always finding the silver linings even in the loss of her home in Germany, for example, noting that because of the Nazis, she learned to cook, having had a cook in her home in Frankfurt.

Clementine remarried after the war. Her second husband was Harry Cahn, also a refugee from Frankfurt, Germany.17 He was the son of Albert Cahn and Lilly Wolff and was born on November 25, 1899, in Frankfurt.18

Clementine’s oldest daughter Lucie had been to England many times before the war, starting as early as 1928 when she went to improve her English. She stayed in England several times in the 1930s on visitor visas that expired; she would leave and return on a new visa. Then she met Elliot Elias Philipp on February 18, 1939, and the two fell madly in love. They were married in a civil ceremony on March 22, 1939, which enabled Lucie to obtain a British passport. Lucie and Elliot then had a religious wedding ceremony on May 19, 1939, in Paris. 19

Elliot was born in London on July 20, 1915, the son of Oscar Philipp and Clarissa Weil.20  The Royal College of Surgeons of England website provides this biographical information about Elliot’s background:

Elliot Philipp was an eminent gynaecologist and obstetrician, author of numerous popular and technical medical works, and a committed religious and charitable Jew. He was born on 20 July 1915 to Oscar Isaac and Clarisse Philipp (née Weil) in Stoke Newington, London. He was educated at Warwick House and St Paul’s School. His father, a metal dealer from Hamburg, had come to England in 1908 to open an office, which in due course became the hub of a large and internationally successful operation. Elliot settled on a different career, deciding by the age of seven he would be a doctor, and went on to study at Cambridge University.

….At the start of the Second World War, only a month after qualifying, Elliot left his first appointment at Middlesex Hospital to join the RAF. He joined Bomber Command in East Anglia, where he was responsible for the medical centres at Feltwell and Mildenhall, and by the end of hostilities held the rank of squadron leader. He was offered a long term commission in the RAF to stay as a doctor and medical researcher, but declined, returning to Middlesex Hospital and Addenbroke’s, where he had been a clinical student.

Subsequent appointments included St Thomas’, Royal Free and University College hospitals. During this time, Elliot was writing books and newspaper articles. His first, for which he had help from his distant relative, Sigmund Freud, was The techniques of sex (London, Wales Publishing Company), first published in 1939 under the pseudonym ‘Anthony Havil’. At a time when such guides were few and far between, it became a bestseller, with numerous editions over the next 40 years. …. He married Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch in 1939, five weeks after meeting her.

Here are two photographs of Lucie and Elliot—at their May 1939 wedding in Paris and on their honeymoon:

Lucie Hackenbroch and Elliot Philipp, 1939. From Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography” (unpublished), p. 3.

Although Alan told me that his parents bought a house in London in 1939 after marrying, Lucie and Elliot were not listed together on the England census in 1939. Lucie was listed with Elliot’s family in Sussex, and Elliot was listed in Middlesex; he was finishing his last year of medical school at that time and may have been on an emergency assignment  Alan and I speculated as to why they were living in different locations on the day the Register was enumerated. The 1939 Register was taken in late September, 1939, after the war had started. 21

And then I found the answer in Elliot Philipp’s autobiography:22

I was a medical student at the Middlesex Hospital and had been evacuated to the Harrow hospital when Mr.Neville Chamberlain made his famous announcement that we were at war with Germany. Within minutes the air-raid sirens shrilled out and no one knew what to do. Lucie and my parents were at a hotel in Brighton and within a very short time she and her mother had rented a small house in Worthing because it was thought to be safer than staying in London where the bombs were bound to drop. In fact no bombs dropped for at least nine months – the period of the ‘phoney war’.

Lucie Philipp, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2599C, Enumeration District: EMKG, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Lucie and Elliot had two children born in the 1940s.

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch Cahn lived in England the rest of her life, dying on June 26, 1984 at the age of 9523. Harry Cahn, her second husband, died four years later on January 19, 1988; he was 88.24

Lucie Hackenbroch Philipp died on July 4, 1988, in London at the age of 78;25 her husband Elliot Philipp died on September 27, 2010 when he was 95 years old after a long and well-respected career as a doctor and author of many medical articles and books.

Clementine’s daughter Yvonne Hackenbroch became an internationally renowned art curator. She had studied art in Italy and in Munich before the family emigrated from Germany. She was the last Jew to be awarded a doctorate at the University of Munich; her topic was medieval Italian enamels. After working at the British Museum during World War II, in 1946 she was sent by the British government to Canada to be responsible for curating a valuable collection of Renaissance art that had been donated to Canada, and then three years later she was invited to become a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where she spent the rest of her career.

According to an obituary in the New York Times, “Her many publications established her reputation as the world’s foremost expert on Renaissance jewelry.” Yvonne died on September 7, 2012, in London, where she had retired after leaving the Metropolitan in 1987.

Clementine’s youngest daughter Irene lived the rest of her life in England. Like her sister Yvonne, she never married or had children. She traveled frequently to the United States—perhaps to visit her sister in New York—and also traveled to Brazil, indicating on her temporary immigration card that she was a secretary. Alan said that his aunt Irene was very quiet and worked for the same company for many years. She died November 9, 1987, in London.26

I am deeply grateful to my cousin Alan for taking the time to chat with me by Zoom and for sharing all these wonderful photographs and the background about his family. One final set of photographs from Alan. These three show the Hackenbroch home in Frankfurt before, during, and after the war. Today it has been torn down and a view on Google Maps shows just a hole in the ground. What an apt metaphor for what the Nazis did to the once proud Jewish community of Frankfurt.

Untermainkai 34 before the war

During the war when it was the headquarters of Nazi Youth, showing damage from Allied bombing.

After the war with the top floors of the building rebuilt

  1.  Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch, Birth Date: 17 Mai 1910, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main
    Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 3, Fränkel, Werner – Hartmann, Hermann,
    Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  2.  Yvonne Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1912, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  3.  Irene Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1918
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Robert Boris Schwarzschild,
    Birth Date: 20 Okt 1921, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 8, Schafranek, Lizzi – Stern, Moritz, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  5. Recha Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1863
    Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany, Death Date: 3 Mrz 1929 (3 Mar 1929), Father: Seelig Goldschmidt, Mother: Clementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342026, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  6. Alfred Isaac Schwarzschild, Gender: Male, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 14 Mai 1858 (14 May 1858), Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Death Date: 15 Mai 1936 (15 May 1936), Father: Isaac Schwarzschild, Mother: Roslaie Kulp, FHL Film Number: 342021, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  7. J A Schwarzchild, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 12 Feb 1885
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Cambridge Gate, Residence Place: St Pancras, London, England, Occupation: Stockbroker on Half Cou, Line Number: 23, Schedule Number: 151, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: ASAY, Borough: St Pancras, Registration district: 9/1., Inferred Spouse: Sonia Schwarzschild, Household Members Age, J A Schwayschild 54, Sonia Schwayschild 39, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/473D, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  8. Sonia Schwarzschild, Death Date: 9 Sep 1950, Death Place: London, England
    Probate Date: 14 Feb 1951, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  9. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  10. Robert Boris Shields, Electoral Date: 1947, Street Address: 27, Ward or Division/Constituency: Finchley East, County or Borough: Finchley, England
    London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Electoral Registers, Ancestry.com. London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 
  11. Robert B Schwarzschild, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1955, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Ullmann, Volume Number: 5e
    Page Number: 1475, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1475, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  12. Robert Boris Shields, Residence Date: 1962, Residence Place: York, Ontario, Canada, Electoral District: York East, Occupation: Chartered Accountant, Reference Number: M-5044, Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980, Ancestry.com. Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 
  13. Jack Alfred Schwarzschild, Death Date: 11 Dec 1978, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 23 Mar 1979, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  14. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/168107310/robert-boris-shields 
  15. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  16. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Zoom conversation with Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  17. Clementine Hackenbroch, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1946, Registration District: Hampstead, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Harry Cahn, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 1447, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 1447, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  18. Harry Cahn, Gender: männlich (Male), Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1899, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt/Main, Mainzerlandstrasse 4, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Father: Albert Cahn
    Mother: Idlli Wolf, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70346089
    Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees,
    Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  19. Lucie R Hackenbroch,Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1939, Registration District: Kensington, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Elliot E Philipp, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 291, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 291, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020; conversation with Alan Philipp on December 14, 2020. Alan said that Lucie had known Elliot’s family for a while, but really only got to know Elliot the month before their March 22, 1939, civil ceremony. 
  20. Elliot E. Philipp, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1915
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 58 Residence Place: Harrow, Middlesex, England
    Occupation: Medical Student (Final Year), Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 65
    Sub Schedule Number: 5, Enumeration District: BIDH, Borough: Harrow, Registration district: 130/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/788F, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  21. Ibid. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  22. Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography,” (unpublished), p. 54. 
  23. Clementine Cahn, Death Age: 95, Birth Date: 30 Aug 1888, Registration Date: Jun 1984, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: London, Volume: 15
    Page: 1838, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 1838,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  24. Harry Cahn, Death Date: 19 Jan 1988, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 6 May 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  25. Lucie Ruth Philipp, Death Date: 4 Jul 1988, Death Place: York Gate London, Probate Date: 12 Dec 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  26. Irene Maximiliane Hackenbock, Death Date: 9 Nov 1987, Death Place: East London, Probate Date: 12 Feb 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco and Her Family: Hiding from the Nazis in France

When Selig Goldschmidt died on January 13, 1896, he was survived by his six children and eighteen grandchildren. In his will, he had wished them happiness and love and hoped they would live good lives, following the faith and practices of Judaism and giving back to their communities.

For the first thirty years of the twentieth century, his hopes for his children were largely fulfilled. Then everything changed. In the next series of posts I will look at each of the children of Selig and Clementine (Fuld) Goldschmidt and their lives in the 20th century, starting with their oldest child, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

As we saw, Helene Goldschmidt, the oldest child of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, married Leon Tedesco on June 9, 1876, in Frankfurt.  I was very fortunate to find and connect with Helene’s great-great-grandson Lionel, and he has generously shared with me many wonderful photographs as well as the story of his family including information about his 3x-great-grandfather, Leon’s father, Giacomo (Jacob) Tedesco.

Leon’s father Giacomo Tedesco was born in Venice, Italy, on August 27, 1799, and in 1833 he married Therese Cerf, a Parisian, and started a small art supplies store in Paris.  Giacomo provided art supplies to artists in exchange for some of their art work. From that collection, he created what grew to be the famous and extremely successful Tedesco Freres gallery. Giacomo was also a very committed Jew who helped build a modern mikvah in Paris, contributed to the development of a synagogue, founded the first kosher butcher shop in Paris, and served as a mohel.

After Giacomo died in 1870, his sons Leon and Arthur took over the business of the gallery. Leon became a close friend of the artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, the famous French landscape painter and printmaker who was considered “the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century.” The National Gallery in Washington, DC, has several works that came from the Tedesco Freres collection, including this work of Corot:

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo was born in Paris on July 28, 1879, and was obviously named for his recently deceased grandfather. Giacomo, the grandson, married Henriette Lang on February 9, 1901, in Paris; she was the daughter of Louis Lang and Louise Blum and was born in Paris on January 31, 1882.1 Giacomo worked with his family in the art gallery. He and Henriette had two daughters, Irene, born December 23, 1902, and Odette, born July 16, 1907.2

Here is an absolutely gorgeous photograph of young Odette with her mother Henriette:

Odette and Henriette Lang Tedesco
Courtesy of the Family

This wonderful photograph is of Leon Tedesco, his granddaughter Odette, her mother Henriette Lang Tedesco, and her grandmother, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

Front: Leon Tedesco, Odette Tedesco, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco. Rear: Henriette Lang Tedesco. Courtesy of the family

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo served in the French armed forces during World War I. It must have been strange to be on the opposite side of the war from his Goldschmidt family living in Frankfurt.

Giacomo Tedesco during World War I
Courtesy of the family

Odette married Mathieu Charles Weil on October 24, 1929. Mathieu was born in Strasbourg, France, on August 21, 1894, to Isidore Weil and Jeanne Levy.3 Lionel shared this beautiful photograph from their wedding day:

Odette Tedesco and Mathieu Weil on their wedding day
Courtesy of the family

Leon Tedesco died on August 7, 1932, at the age of 79.4 Lionel described his great-great-grandfather as “a strong and handsome man who looked like the King of Belgium.” This photograph of Leon with Helene certainly reflects Lionel’s description:

Leon was survived by his wife Helene, his son Giacomo, his two granddaughters and his great-granddaughter. All of them then had to face the Nazi era.

According to Lionel, the Tedesco family left Paris after the invasion of France by the Nazis in 1940. The family lost everything they had—which was substantial as Leon Tedesco’s art business had been extremely successful. Not only did they lose the business, they also lost most of the valuable art and antiques they’d owned.

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco died in Marseille, France, on August 21, 1942; she was 84 years old. Her  granddaughter Irene Tedesco died on November 12, 1942, in Oberhoffen, France, in the Alsace region. Lionel had no information regarding Irene’s cause of death, except to say that she had apparently had some health challenges since birth.5

The rest of the family survived the Holocaust and the war years by being safely hidden.  Nadine, Lionel’s mother, still remembers that between the age of 9 and 14, after fleeing from Paris, she lived and went to school in many locations in southern France: Annet, Bordeaux, Arcachon, Salles, Sariac, Cassis, Marseille, Grenoble, Villars de Lans, and Autran. Most of the time she lived with her parents and her grandmother Henriette. Her grandfather Giacomo was hiding elsewhere in France. During the war, Nadine used two different names to hide her identity as a Jewish girl: Nicole Varnier and Mady Mercier.

Mathieu Weil joined the resistance movement and is depicted in this photograph with others who were fighting against the Nazis:

Mathieu Weil, third from right, as part of the French Resistance Courtesy of the family

At one point the family was hiding in the Vercors region with a woman named Charlotte Bayle, who had known the Tedesco family for six generations. When Mathieu Weil, Odette’s husband, was very ill with typhoid, the Gestapo came to Charlotte’s door looking for him. Charlotte lied and said he had left three days ago when in fact he was lying in bed in the next room. The whole family left immediately. Lionel credits Charlotte Bayle with saving the lives of his mother, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Here is a photograph of Charlotte Bayle with Odette Tedesco Weil:

Charlotte Bayle and Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the family

After the war the family returned to Paris and began to rebuild their lives. Giacomo Tedesco died in Paris on June 29, 1950; he was seventy years old. Giacomo’s wife Henriette Lang Tedesco died on March 3, 1961, in Paris.6

Although Lionel did not know his great-grandparents Giacomo and Henriette, he knew his grandmother Odette very well. He described her as a very fine and elegant woman. He also said that although the family had been very religious before the war, their level of observance faded in the aftermath of the war. But their commitment to Judaism always remained strong and central to their lives. Odette died on July 16, 1987;7 she was predeceased by her husband Mathieu Weil on August 20, 1972.8 Both died in Paris.

Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the Family

Thank you so much to my fifth cousin Lionel and his mother Nadine for sharing these wonderful photographs and the story of his family.


  1. Giacomo Jacob Tedesco, Marriage Bann Date: 9 févr. 1902 (9 Feb 1902)
    Father’s Name: Léon Tedesco, Mother’s Name: Hélène Goldschmidt, Spouse’s Name: Henriette Lang, Ancestry.com. Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902 
  2.  Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018. Irene’s birth date came from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella. 
  3. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  4. Name: Leon Tedesco, Death Date: 7 Aug 1932, Death Place: Paris, France
    Probate Date: 8 Jun 1933, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. These dates come from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella and are also seen on the Geni profiles for Helene and Irene. 
  6. These dates come from Baron and Cibella and also from Geni. 
  7. Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  8. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018