Selig Goldschmidt, Part III, 1888-1896: The Deaths of Clementine and Selig

By 1888, Selig Goldschmidt and his wife Clementine Fuld were living a good life. Their five daughters were all married, and there were numerous grandchildren filling their family’s life with lots of love and shared experiences. Selig’s business was thriving, and as we saw from the excerpts from the Selig Goldschmidt book, Selig was adored not only by his family but also by his community.

And then on March 6, 1888, Selig lost his beloved wife Clementine. She was only 51 years old, and her death was unexpected and sudden.

Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10411, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

In a eulogy delivered by Professor A. Sulzbach in honor of Clementine, after extolling her many virtues—her modesty despite her wealth, her commitment to charity and to helping children and others in need, and her compassion, he stated:1

Another comfort to us at this time is the knowledge that her life was a happy one. She was fortunate to live at the side of a beloved husband, highly appreciated by his fellow citizens, among a flourishing group of children who adored her, and she was spared the worries that so frequently disturb the happiness of man.

After loyally fulfilling all her duties, she passed away before life could disappoint her with its grievous and distressing changes. She passed away immediately after one of the greatest Mitzvoth which a woman of middle age, a grandmother, rarely has an opportunity to perform. She had intended to go out, but as an affectionate daughter, did not like to leave the house without wishing her mother a very good night. It was to be her last parting greeting in life. She was then called away. 

Her son Meyer also wrote words of praise in his mother’s honor:2

A year before my wedding, occurred the death of my unforgettable and beloved mother who was universally admired. The radiant sun of our happiness changed to deepest darkness. A life full of love, tenderness, unity and harmony of outlook was terminated. For us this was like being hurled from the brightest summit of life into the darkest depth. 

Further insight into the character of Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt was provided by her husband Selig’s decision to turn down an offer by their synagogue to dedicate a ner tamid, an eternal light, in Clementine’s memory. Instead, Selig donated 7800 Marks to the synagogue and asked that they establish a scholarship for three students at the high school in Clementine’s name. He wrote:3

In her lifetime, my late wife, with her characteristic modesty, rejected all public expressions of gratitude for her efforts and endeavors. Therefore, it would surely be even now her wish to refuse the distinction intended for her. 

This portrait of Clementine appears in the Selig Goldschmidt book:

Less than six months after Clementine’s death, her daughter Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild had a third child, born August 30, 1888, in Frankfurt. They named her Clementine for her grandmother, the first of many descendants to be named in her memory.

Clementine Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9047, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

In August 1888, in a letter that Selig wrote to the children of his daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer, he described a vacation he was having with his son Meyer Selig, his daughter Helene, her husband Leon, and their son Giacomo in Ostend, Belgium:4

My dearly beloved good Rosa, my good and obedient Max, my good and wild Sally, and my good and beautiful Lena,

My dear good children, I have a strong desire to see you. …It is a pity that you cannot be with us because here in Ostend starts the big ocean where we bathe every day. There is plenty of sand on its shores where children can play nice games. They build houses and castles in the sand, which are later swept away by the water. It is great fun for young children. When I come here again another time, you must come too with your parents.

I loved this letter because it showed that Selig was very much involved in the lives of his married daughters and their children and that despite his loss, he was finding joy with his family.

Just over a year after Clementine’s death, Clementine and Selig’s only son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt was married on March 24, 1889. He married Selma Suzette Cramer, the daughter of Salomon Cramer and Therese Oppenheimer and the first cousin of Hirsch Hermann Cramer, the husband of Meyer’s sister Hedwig. Selma was born on May 24, 1868, in Furth, Germany.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 9477, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Meyer and Selma moved into Selig’s home at his request. Meyer wrote:5

My father greatly appreciated the spiritual and mental qualities of my beloved wife, while she surrounded him with utmost devotion and childlike admiration and affection….It gave us great joy and satisfaction to see how our dear father revived and once again enjoyed a happy life, almost as he did when our good mother was still with us. 

Meyer and Selma’s first child Harry was born on May 24, 1890, in Frankfurt.

Harry Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9074, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Meyer shared this sweet incident that occurred when Harry was a baby.  The baby’s room was next to Selig’s room, and concerned that the baby’s crying would disturb Selig’s sleep, Meyer and Selma offered to move him to another room. But Selig refused to let them do it. According to Meyer, Selig’s response was, “If I am awakened at night by the crying of the child, I enjoy listening to it. For me that is the most beautiful music imaginable.”6

Meyer and Selma’s second child Arthur was born on October 3, 1891, in Frankfurt.

Arthur Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9091 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their third child Clementine, obviously another grandchild named for Selig’s wife, was born on October 5, 1893, in Frankfurt.

Clementine Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9123, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The extended family suffered another terrible loss when Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer’s youngest daughter Caroline died on July 16, 1893. She was only seven years old.

Caroline Cramer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10464, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Just  three months later, Hedwig gave birth to her fifth child, Herbert, born on October 30, 1893. So she was six months pregnant with Herbert when she lost Caroline.

Herbert Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9124 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The last-born grandchild of Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt was Meyer and Selma’s daughter Alice, who was born on July 9, 1896, in Frankfurt.

Alice Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9170, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Unfortunately, Selig Goldschmidt did not live to see the birth of his last grandchild Alice. He died six months before on January 13, 1896, in Frankfurt. He was sixty-seven years old and was survived by his six children and eighteen of his twenty grandchildren, Martha Schwarzchild and Caroline Cramer having predeceased him as had his wife Clementine.

Selig Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10493 Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Selig Goldschmidt was greatly loved and revered by his children and by his community. The book dedicated to his memory by his son Meyer and then translated and published by his later descendants includes many tributes and obituaries devoted to Selig Goldschmidt. I cannot include them all, but will attempt to provide an overview that reveals why this man was so respected and adored in my next post.

Gravestones of Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt
Courtesy of Rafi Stern

  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 129. 
  2. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 6. 
  3. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 87. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 47 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 6 
  6. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies). p. 7. 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part II, 1867-1887: Weddings and Grandchildren

By 1867, Selig and Clementine (Fuld) Goldschmidt had six children, five girls and one boy, and were living comfortably in Frankfurt, Germany, where Selig owned a successful art and antique business.

Selig was adored by his family and also by many in the Frankfurt community, as his son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt wrote in the preface to the Selig Goldschmidt book:1

My father had a tall, wonderful figure and a distinguished bearing. He was full of energy and creativity. His participation was sought everywhere. Be it our community, business activities, public organization or for the benefit of an individual, he attended every cause with great warmth and without losing his cheerful manner and inner calm. His actions personified his frequent quote, “If you want to be happy, try to make others happy and glad.” Both in the home and outside he was the focal point—honoured, respected and loved. Wherever he went he was soon surrounded by friends and admirers, happy to join his circle.

In a later chapter in the Selig Goldschmidt book, “The Emerging Personality,” Meyer further elaborated on his father’s personality:2

A flourishing wit and a refreshing sense of humour developed in him and made him the natural centre of any pleasant social gathering. Above all, for his close family this cheerfulness became a true comfort and refuge. His ability to pacify, to heal and reduce any pain and to sympathise with all suffering, whether due to serious and oppressive anguish of adults, or insignificant troubles which appeared overwhelming in children. At all times he showed himself as a brave and cheerful master of worldly matters and fateful events.

Meyer’s words describe a man who was a much-adored father, and his role in the lives of his children did not end when they married. He then took on caring about their spouses and the grandchildren who followed as well as the widow and children of his brother Jacob. That is reflected in the many letters Selig wrote to his children after they had left home and started families of their own.

By the beginning of 1888, all of Selig and Clementine’s daughters were married and had children. Helene, the oldest child, was the first to marry. She married Leon Tedesco on June 9, 1876, in Frankfurt. Leon was born in Paris, France, on February 1, 1853, to Jacob  Tedesco and Therese Cerf. He was, like the Goldschmidts, an art dealer, his family owning Tedesco Freres, a famous and important art gallery in Paris. 

Helene Goldschmidt marriage record, roll: 31067_04G024 Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902

Helene Goldschmidt marriage record, Certificate Number: 578
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helene and Leon would have one child, a son Giacomo born in Paris on July 28, 1879.3

Flora Goldschmidt was the next to marry; she married Emil Schwarzchild on March 22, 1878, in Bornheim, Germany, a district of Frankfurt. Emil was also a native of Frankfurt, born there on March 16, 1856, to Emanuel Schwarzschild and Rasel Frenkel.

Flora Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland Description Year Range: 1878 Source Information Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Flora and Emil’s first child Siegfried was born January 21, 1879, in Frankfurt.

Siegfried Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8927 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their second child Helene Schwarzschild was born April 20, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Helene Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8968 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

For a while I thought they’d only had those two children. But then I found a letter in the Selig Goldschmidt book that suggested there was a third child. On August 14, 1882, Selig wrote to Flora and Emil from Marienbad which ends, “Kiss Siegfried, Helenchen, and Rosa for me, as well as all relatives and friends.” 4 Siegfried was three, Helene a few  months old. But who was Rosa?

I searched for other children of Flora and Emil, and sadly I did find one, but she could not have been the Rosa mentioned in Selig’s letter because her name was Martha, and she wasn’t born until December 21, 1886, four years after Selig wrote the letter. Tragically, Martha died at age two on June 6, 1889, in Frankfurt.

Martha Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10422, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

So who was Rosa? Perhaps she was Hedwig’s daughter Rosa, who was born, as we will now see, on March 16, 1881. Or perhaps she was just another Rosa who happened to be with Flora and Emil at that time. Maybe Selig was referring to Flora’s mother-in-law, Rasel Frenkel Schwarzschild? I don’t know.

One other possible clue is in another letter written by Selig, this one on February 25, 1883, from Paris, where he was visiting Helene, Leon, and Giacomo Tedesco. It’s a letter to his daughter Hedwig and her husband (here referred to as Hermann, otherwise known as Hirsch), wishing Hedwig a happy birthday. In that letter, Selig wrote, “I hope that dear Flora and Emanuel have found comfort. I have often thought of them and felt for them, but whatever G-d does is good.” 5 I assume that he is referring to his daughter Flora and that Emanuel must be a reference to Emil, perhaps his Hebrew name. And it certainly sounds like Flora and Emil/Emanuel suffered a loss. Had the child Rosa referred to in the August 1882 letter died between that date and February 25, 1883?

If so, I have not been able to locate either a birth or a death record for that child.

Selig and Clementine’s third daughter Hedwig married Hirsch (Hermann) Cramer on March 5, 1880, in Bornheim, Germany. Hirsch was the son of Jakob Cramer and Karoline Fuerth and was born in Thundorf, Germany, on October 12, 1852.

Hedwig Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hedwig and Hirsch had five children, four before 1888. Rosa was born in Frankfurt on March 16, 1881.

Rosa Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8954 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Max (Meier) was born on September 4, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Max Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8970 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Salomon (Sally) was born June 22, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Sally Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8994 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Caroline (known as Lena) was born June 8, 1886, in Frankfurt.

Caroline Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9018 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The fourth daughter of Selig and Clementine, Recha, married Alfred Schwarzchild on October 21, 1881, in Bornheim. Alfred was born in Frankfurt on May 14, 1858, to Isaac Schwarzchild and Rosalie Kulp. One question I’ve not been able to answer is whether Alfred was related to his brother-in-law Emil, husband of Recha’s sister Flora. They had different fathers and different grandfathers and different great-grandfathers, so if they were related they were at best third cousins.

Recha Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Recha and Alfred had two sons by 1888. Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild was born on February 12, 1885, in Frankfurt.

Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9003, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

His brother Robert Meier Schwarzschild was born August 7, 1886, in Frankfurt.

Robert Meier Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9019 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna, the fifth and youngest daughter of Selig and Clementine, married her first cousin Abraham Stern on June 24, 1887, as discussed here, and they had five children, also already discussed.

Thus, by the beginning of 1888, all five of Selig and Clementine’s daughters were married and had children. Selig and Clementine had been blessed with numerous grandchildren from their five daughters.

But then on March 22, 1888, the family suffered a major loss. More on that in my next post.


  1. “Preface,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 4-5. Selig had lost his brother and business partner Jacob Meier Goldschmidt on January 20, 1864, when Jacob died at age 39, as I wrote about here
  2. “The Emerging Personality,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 26. 
  3. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 41. 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 42. 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part I: Loving Son, Husband, and Father

If you have a really, really good memory and have been reading this blog for over a year, you may remember that back in October 2019—before COVID!—I wrote my first blog post about my 4x-great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt, and relied heavily as a source of information about Meyer and his family on a book created in honor of his son Selig Goldschmidt.

The book, Selig Goldschmidt: A Picture of A Life,  was published in Israel by Selig’s descendants in 1996 (hereinafter referred to as the Selig Goldschmidt book),1 and it includes remembrances, letters, and obituaries that were originally compiled by Selig’s son Meyer and that were then translated from German to English by the later generation in order to preserve and honor the memory of Selig Goldschmidt.

Last year I relied on the Selig Goldschmidt book to tell the story of Selig’s parents, Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein, and about the childhood of Selig and his siblings, but now I am returning to the book to focus more exclusively on what it reveals about Selig himself as he grew from a child and spent his adult life in Frankfurt, Germany.

First, some background. Selig was born on March 16, 1828, in Grebenstein, Germany, the fifth child and second son of his parents Meyer and Lea. (I have already written about the first four: Ella, Sarah, Jacob, and Amalie.)

Selig Goldschmidt birth record, Arcinsys Hessen, HHStAW, 365, 375 Jüdische Personenstandsregister von Grebenstein: Geburtsregister der Juden von Grebenstein, p. 36

As described in the book, the family was quite poor when Selig was a child, and his father Meyer suffered from poor health, exacerbating the precariousness of their financial position. Then Selig’s mother Lea Katzenstein Goldschmidt died on September 28, 1839 (after having given birth to two more sons after Selig, Joseph, who died when he was six in 1836, and Falk, who was born in 1836). Selig was only eleven years old, and as I wrote about here, he and his siblings had to take on a lot of responsibility for each other and for the youngest sibling, Falk, who was only three.

Once the older siblings began to marry and have households of their own, the financial pressure was reduced. After the youngest sister Amalie married Juda Katzenstein in 1853 and her father Meyer moved with them to Eschwege, Selig and his brother Jacob sold the family home in Grebenstein and moved to Frankfurt,2 where the two brothers established the firm J&S Goldschmidt, which grew to be one of the most famous and successful art and antique dealerships in Germany and perhaps in Europe. More on that to come. But it’s important to remember that Selig and his siblings grew up in poverty before building their business to what must have been unimaginable success.

According to the civil record below, on May 27, 1857, Selig married Clementine Fuld in Frankfurt. She was born in Frankfurt on January 8, 1837, to Herz Fuld and Caroline Schuster, and, as I noted in my prior post, she was the sister of Salomon Fuld, who would later marry Selig’s niece Helene Goldschmidt, daughter of Selig’s brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Marriage of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, Certificate Number: 30
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

However, it appears that Selig and Clementine had been married under religious law nine months earlier. The Selig Goldschmidt book includes a facsimile of their ketubah as well as a translation in English of their marriage contract, and it indicated that they were married on August 20, 1856.3

A letter written by Selig to Clementine on August 31, 1856, reveals that this was a love match; it also suggests how busy Selig was and how often he had to travel for work. Selig, who was away on business in Dinkelspiel at that time, wrote in part:4

Dearest Clementine

I have received your most welcome letter just after my arrival here. [He then described how he spent Shabbos in Dinkelspiel.]… The afternoon passed pleasantly in conversation until after the evening service in the synagogue when I was alone once again. I missed you very much, dear Clementine, and would have gladly paid a lot of money in exchange for half an hour’s conversation with you, if that could have been instantly arranged. Since that was impossible, I did the same as Friday night and went to bed at eight o’clock. I dreamed I was with you, dear Clementine, and I had such a pleasant talk with you and was so happy to be near you that the time passed very quickly. [Selig then wrote that he would be delayed returning to Frankfurt because of business.] … However, early in the following week, please G-d, the happy day of our reunion will arrive. Then, dear Clementine, we will enjoy ourselves and chat enough to compensate for everything we have missed. Yet that joy can only last for two or three days because then I must set out on my journey to Leipzig. Thus man’s happiness is always limited, just as his existence is only brief. However, of what use is such nonsense? After all, that is part of my occupation and you yourself have told me not to neglect my business. We must utilize properly the short time allotted to us, for such is life! If only one would use this time assigned to oneself well, surely the whole world would be a happier place. …

Dear Clementine, please accept sincere greetings and kisses from your affectionate and faithful


Selig and Clementine had six children—five daughters and one son, all born in Frankfurt. First born was Helene, born on February 28, 1858.

Helene Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8812, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

A year later Flora was born on March 17, 1859.

Flora Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8814, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Hedwig was born two years later on February 27, 1861.

Hedwig Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8818 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Recha followed two years after Hedwig. She was born on June 11, 1863.

Recha Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8824 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Selig and Clementine’s only son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt was born on October 6, 1865. He was obviously named for his grandfather Meyer.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8830 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The last child, Johanna, was born on December 18, 1867. Johanna grew up to marry her first cousin Abraham Stern, the son of Selig’s sister Sarah, and her story has already been told in great detail when I wrote about Abraham and their family so I will not tell it again.

Johanna Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8837 Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

In the preface to the Selig Goldschmidt book, Selig’s son Meyer described what his childhood was like and how the family was bound in love:5

The ideals of children, grandchildren and the wider family circle were all in tune; thus an incomparable, blissful harmony prevailed in our family. It was constantly sustained by love, affection and enthusiasm for all that is noble and good which emanated from the head of our family. Before meals on Friday evening in winter and on Shabbos evenings after the meal, a large number of the more distant family would assemble in our home. There were so many people that it is difficult to understand, in view of the relatively small size of the rooms, how comfortable and happy everyone felt. It may have been due to a certain simplicity which was deliberately cultivated there. In the main room a big bowl of fruit stood on the table at which we sat, and anyone who wished could help himself.

Imagine if all children were as blessed as the six children of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld and able to grow up surrounded by so much joy and love.

This portrait of Selig and Clementine’s children appears on page 37 of the Selig Goldschmidt book. It appears to have been taken in 1872 based on the ages of the children (the daughters are identified by their married names).

Selig Goldschmidt’s children




  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies) 
  2. “The Story of A Ring,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p.22 
  3. “The Man,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 34-39 
  4. “The Man,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 32-33. 
  5. “Preface,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 4-5. 

A Survivor’s Story

Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, the daughter of Julius Goldschmidt, granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, was my third cousin, twice removed, and I first wrote about her here and here, but now need to update those posts.

The earlier post established that Regina was born in Frankfurt on March 7, 1900, and married Siegfried Rosenberger on March 10, 1921, in Frankfurt, and had two children in the 1920s. In my second post about Regina, I wrote:

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992…

And that was all I knew. Until a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from a sixth cousin named Mark Isenberg. I had first heard from Mark a few years back when he contacted David and Roger regarding his research establishing that his paternal four-times great-grandfather Joseph Falk Neuwahl and Roger’s and my four-times great-grandfather Jacob Falk Goldschmidt were probably brothers.

This time Mark was writing about his relationship to Siegfried Rosenberger, husband of Regina Goldschmidt. Siegfried was Mark’s third cousin, once removed, on his maternal side. Mark had seen my blog post quoted above and kindly alerted me to the fact that Siegfried and Regina’s daughter Ruth had done an interview with the Shoah Foundation in 1997. I’ve now watched the two and a half hours of her testimony and can report in much greater detail what happened to Regina, Siegfried, and their two daughters Ruth and Margo during the Holocaust. All the information below except where otherwise noted comes from that testimony of Ruth Rosenberger Steinert.1

Ruth Rosenberger was born in Frankfurt on December 6, 1922. Her sister Margo was born almost exactly two years later on December 19, 1924. Ruth described their childhood in Frankfurt in idyllic terms. They lived in a very large apartment with a nanny, cook, and other servants, and were surrounded by their Goldschmidt grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, having regular shabbat dinners with the extended family as well as holidays. Their father Siegfried was a successful stockbroker. He was very proud of being a German and of his service to Germany in World War I, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross.  Their mother Regina lived a good life, playing tennis daily, socializing with friends, and overseeing the household staff. The family was very observant, and Ruth and Margo went to an Orthodox day school in Frankfurt. Watching Ruth talk about her childhood was very moving; she so well expressed how safe and loved she felt.

Khal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue attended by the Goldschmidt family.

Everything was destroyed once the Nazis came to power. Ruth said that until 1936, she and her sister were fairly unaware of what was happening because the adults did not talk about the Nazis in front of the children. She knew that there were restrictions, mentioning as an example that they were not allowed to sit on the park benches, but she nevertheless felt safe.

But after 1936, it became impossible to hide what was happening from the children. Her father lost his stockbroker business because Jews were no longer allowed to engage in business. Ruth talked about how devastated her father was when they came and stripped away the telephones he needed for the business. The nanny, cook, and other servants had to leave the household because non-Jews were no longer allowed to work for Jews. Their mother Regina became terribly depressed.

Fortunately, Siegfried was able to secure another job with an international metals company called Lissauer. The position required him to travel to France and to Holland and enabled the family to continue to live fairly comfortably. As Ruth described it, this job ultimately saved their lives. Siegfried would never have left Germany despite all the oppression and fear. But in September 1938 while traveling for work in Paris, he was unable to return to Germany. Finally he agreed that the family should leave Germany, and through his business connections, he was able to obtain papers for them to immigrate to the Netherlands.

Ruth, not yet sixteen years old, took charge of packing and getting them ready to leave. They took a train to Paris, and Ruth put on lipstick so that she would look older. When they got to the French-German border at Emmerich, the German border guards gave them trouble with their papers, but fortunately a cousin was able to straighten matters out, and the next day they arrived in Paris. They remained in Paris for a few days, and then the whole family spent about ten days at the beach in the Netherlands. Ruth remembered it as a wonderful time and one of the very last times all four of them were together as a family.

Siegfried returned to Paris for work and would travel back and forth to Amsterdam. Regina and her daughters were living in a very nice apartment on the canal in Amsterdam. Margo attended high school, and Ruth spent a year at an art academy, learning design.  For a year life was fairly normal.

As one uncle had said to the family when they arrived in Paris, they had, however, gone from “the rain into the storm” because war was brewing, and no place was really safe. After the war started in September 1939 and then Holland and France were occupied by the Nazis in the spring of 1940, Siegfried could no longer travel to Amsterdam. From that point on, things went downhill.

Ruth recalled standing on a corner in Amsterdam with a crowd of other people from the neighborhood as the Germans marched into Amsterdam.

Nazi troops and supporters in front of De Bijenkorf, Dam Square, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1941 (crop of original 1941 public domain photo). 47thPennVols, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

But even on that dark day, the family found a silver lining. A man named Benot Hess was also standing on that corner and engaged Regina and daughters in conversation. Hess was married to a non-Jewish Swedish woman, and because Sweden was neutral during the war, he was given some extra protection based on that marriage. Hess and his wife became close friends with the Rosenberger women—like family, according to Ruth. He made sure that they had enough money by helping Ruth obtain work, sewing and then manufacturing travel kits and other items. The products sold well, giving the family an economic cushion.

By 1942, however, conditions worsened. Jews were required to wear the yellow stars with Jood to mark them as Jews. Ruth said that they lived in a constant state of angst for all their waking hours. Eventually they were forced to move into what Ruth described as a ghetto where all Jews were forced to live, and SS men on trucks barreled through the neighborhood every night, coming to arrest people and take them to Westerbork, the detention camp outside of Amsterdam.

At that point, they had to make a choice: stay and see what would happen or go into hiding. Ruth favored going into hiding, but her mother was not willing, and Margo did not want to leave their mother. For some time they remained safe from deportation as both Ruth and Margo had positions assigned by the Judenrat (the Jewish council) that kept them protected. Once the SS came to their apartment, and Ruth managed to convince them that they were not Jewish. She claimed that because of her light hair and coloring and straight nose, she was able to fool them.

But when the SS arrived a second time, Ruth was not successful, and in March 1943, Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger was arrested and taken to Westerbork. Ruth described it as the worst moment in her life, watching her mother being taken away. She said that at that time they did not know about the death camps, only about what were being referred to as work camps. Soon thereafter Margo lost her position with the Judenrat and was also taken to Westerbork where she joined her mother.

Ruth contacted her father to see if he could arrange false identification papers for her, which he was able to accomplish, and Ruth went to Bussum, a town in Holland, and hid with a family there for the duration of the war. She was almost caught once when the SS came to look for hidden Jews, but again was smart enough and lucky enough to convince them that she was not Jewish.

Meanwhile, Regina and Margo had been taken from Westerbork to Terezin. Once again, Benot Hess came to their rescue. He also was imprisoned at Terezin, and when he learned that Regina and Margo were to be placed on the next train to Auschwitz, he intervened, using the Honduran passports that Siegfried had obtained for them, and Regina and Margo were taken off the list.

Jewish prisoners’ cell, Terezin (c) A Cohen 2015

When the war ended in Europe in April 1945, Ruth was reunited with her mother and sister, and they all moved to Bussum. Margo married her fiancé, Robert Engel, who had been at Westerbork throughout the war period, and Ruth met and married Otto Steinert. In 1950, Otto was offered a job in Canada through the family’s connections to another family, and Ruth and Otto and soon thereafter Regina, Margo, and her husband all moved to Canada.

Siegfried was never reunited with the family. He remained in Paris, where he died not long after the war. Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger lived a long life, dying in Canada in February 1992 when she was almost 92 years old.

Her two daughters also lived long lives. Ruth Rosenberger Steinert died at the age of 93 on December 22, 2013, in Montreal. Her sister Margo Rosenberger Engel died just this past June 30, 2020, in Toronto; she was 95. They are survived by their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Watching Ruth’s testimony was a moving, inspiring, and heartbreaking experience. Despite everything she had experienced—all the losses, the fear, the separation, the loneliness—she remained a strong, optimistic, and loving woman who spoke about her parents, her husband, her sister, her children and grandchildren with so much affection and warmth. She was not going to be defeated by what happened around her—not while it was happening and not afterwards. How blessed we are to have this testimony to remember what happened and to inspire us all.

  1. Steinert, Ruth. Interview 35432. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1997. Accessed 1 October 2020. 

Was Moritz Oppenheimer Forced by the Nazis to Divorce His Wife and Declare Bankruptcy?

I have written several posts about my cousin, Moritz Oppenheimer, the nephew of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman. Moritz was an extremely successful business owner and also racehorse breeder and owner who ended up committing suicide as a result of the persecution he experienced by the Nazis.

Emma Neuhoff and Moritz James Oppenheimer
photo courtesy of Angelika Oppenheimer

My cousin Wolfgang Seligmann recently discovered additional information about Moritz and his family, including an application filed in 1966 in Wiesbaden by Moritz Oppenheimer’s widow Emma Neuhoff, seeking compensation for the harm done to her husband and the financial losses suffered.

Emma Neuhoff Oppenheimer 1966 application for reparations

In reviewing those documents (with invaluable help from Wolfgang), I focused on two questions that had been raised by readers who commented on my earlier posts about Moritz Oppenheimer. First, were Moritz and his non-Jewish wife Emma forced to divorce by the Nazis in 1936, or did they choose to divorce? Second, was Moritz forced into bankruptcy by the Nazis in 1933, or were his businesses already failing before the Nazis came to power?

The first question is addressed by the court in its opinion approving the settlement between Emma and the government. The court recognized that Emma and Moritz had only divorced to protect Emma and their two children, who were not Jewish.

Court notes on divorce of Emma and Moritz Oppenheimer in decision approving settlement of Oppenheimer 1966 reparations claim

I used DeepL to translate this language and for the other translations in this post:

The marriage of the applicant with the persecuted person was divorced by judgment of the regional court Giessen 2 R 51/1935 of June 25, 1936 through his fault. In the judgment of the regional court Giessen 4 R 585/50 dated 6 October 1950 it was determined that the divorce judgment was incorrect because the divorce had actually taken place in order to protect the non-Jewish wife and children from persecution — but its legal validity remained unaffected.

With respect to Emma’s application for compensation, the court concluded that even if Emma was no longer legally married to Moritz at the time of his death and thus not technically his widow, she was nevertheless entitled to pursue her claim for compensation for the harm done to her husband and her family.

The applicant is entitled to claim. It can be left open whether she is the widow of the deceased, … or this is treated as a blameless divorced wife.

Thus, Emma and Moritz chose to divorce to protect Emma and their two children. It was a decision based on love, not a lack of it.  Although the Nazis did not require the Oppenheimers to divorce, the circumstances the Nazis created compelled the couple to divorce.

The question regarding the bankruptcy is more complicated. Emma contended that Moritz was forced into bankruptcy by the Nazis when he was arrested in September, 1933, the first of many arrests that eventually drove him to suicide in 1941, as has been described in earlier posts. Emma wrote in the third paragraph of her statement in support of her application for compensation in 1966:

Emma Neuhoff Oppenheimer statement filed in support of her 1966 application for reparations

In the prison in Hammelgasse, my husband was forced to file for bankruptcy on his property. In my opinion, this was pure Nazi harassment. There was never a reason for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was actually carried out afterwards.

But a man named August Hartmann filed an accusation against Moritz with the Nazi party in which he claimed that Moritz had defrauded a family from Frankfurt out of almost one and a half million Reich Marks;  these fraud claims were never fully litigated because Moritz died before that could happen. Hartmann also claimed that the businesses owned by Moritz were heavily in debt and that Moritz was a flight risk.

Statement of August Hartmann regarding claims against Moritz Oppenheimer

Here is the DeepL translation of Hartmann’s statement:

The well-known industrialist and racing stable owner Consul Moritz Oppenheimer has lived for many years only on credit fraud. In the years 1931 and 1932 he swindled a very respectable Frankfurt family out of the round sum of one and three-quarter million Reichsmark in cash under false pretences. This case is all the more blatant because this amount of money came from assets confiscated during the war in America. That was only released at the end of 1929 and taken to Germany by the family, out of national interest in making this large amount of money available to the ailing German economy.  Despite the fact that this fraudulently damaged creditor has known for half a year now how the finances of Consul Oppenheimer are, he has now refrained from taking radical steps which were in his personal interest, in order not to make more than 250 German workers unemployed. But because of the great expenses of Mr. Consul O., for example maintenance of the Erlenhof Stud Farm, which requires a monthly subsidy of about 15,000, financial conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that bankruptcy is only a question of time, the strong suspicion arises that this Jew wants to run off to a foreign country where he in all probability has stashed a considerable fortune.

It was this letter from August Hartmann that led to the arrest of Moritz Oppenheimer in September 1933 and then to his alleged forced bankruptcy. Thus, Moritz may have been pushed into bankruptcy proceedings, but if Hartmann’s letter is true, Moritz was already in serious financial trouble.

Moritz’s son Walter Oppenheimer, in his affidavit in 1966, admitted that his father had incurred a great deal of debt by 1929, but argued that he would have been able to overcome these financial reversals but for the Nazis. He wrote in part (and translated as best I could, with help from DeepL and Google Translate):

Portion of the letter Walter Oppenheimer filed in support of 1966 reparations claim

If my father’s business got into financial difficulties in the years after 1929, it was because the racing stable required unexpectedly large sums. My father was the founder of the stud and racing stable Erlenhof, which he had also created out of nothing and brought to world fame. The most successful German racehorses were bred at Erlenhof. Erlenhof was also the first German stud farm which was able to export breeding horses to the United States, and to which, for example, the stud farm of the English king sent mares.

The economic crisis at that time hit the paper trade particularly hard, so that the whole industry was in dire straits. But without the advent of National Socialism, my father could have certainly overcome these difficulties perfectly. The President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Honorary Professor Karl Heinrich August Luhr, himself an economic expert of his time, admitted that without the advent of National Socialism, my father could have overcome all the financial difficulties of the time far beyond the borders of Germany, thanks to his organizational gifts and, above all, thanks to his enormous expertise. … So that if a so-called standstill agreement was maintained, the companies could have recovered quickly from the good economic developments that had already begun and had brought large profits. Especially the last months from the middle of 1932 onwards showed this very clearly in the business development of my father’s factories. Professor Luhr also told Mr. Allecke, who was an accountant at the time, very clearly that it was only for political reasons that it became impossible to put things back on a level playing field.

Where the truth lies is impossible to determine. It certainly appears that Moritz was having serious financial troubles before 1933, but were they serious enough to require bankruptcy? Would the business have recovered if he had not been arrested and persecuted by the Nazis? If he had been given more time, could he have turned around his companies’ financial situation?

In the end, the 1966 court approved a settlement that provided Emma with some compensation for the loss of her husband and the suffering he endured as well as for her own economic losses. It was less than what she wanted, but it did recognize that despite the divorce, she was entitled to compensation, implicitly recognizing that they had not freely chosen to divorce. But the settlement did not compensate her for the failure of her husband’s businesses.

Almost twenty years later in 1984, the descendants of Moritz and Emma Oppenheimer filed another claim, this time with the District President in Darmstadt, seeking compensation for the economic damage sustained to the business of Moritz Oppenheimer, according to another set of documents that Wolfgang discovered in the Wiesbaden archives. As Wolfgang explained to me, the Germany government adopted new laws over time that updated the process for obtaining reparations by those who suffered harm because of the Nazis. This new claim was presented under a statute called Bundesentschadeugungsgesetz-Schlussgesetz or Federal Compensation Act-Final Act.

1984 decision on the application for reparations by the heirs of Moritz and Emma Oppenheimer

As with the claim filed back in 1966, this claim for compensation for the financial losses suffered by Moritz’s business was rejected. The district president found that Moritz would not have been able to sell the stables or racehorses to cover his business losses, given the economic conditions of that period and the extent of his business liabiltiies.  Thus, he concluded that the economic damage was not the result of Nazi persecution. In addition, the district president concluded that Moritz’s medical condition disabled him from seeking other employment, not the Nazis, so there would be no compensation for lost income from such potential employment.

Of course, Moritz’s medical condition could very well have been and probably was caused by or at least exacerbated by his arrest and persecution. And no one can know with absolute certainty that he would not have been able to rescue his business but for that arrest and persecution. But at least two different decision-making bodies concluded otherwise and rejected the family’s claims.

The Cohen Family Photograph: Who Are These People?

Ordinarily finding a large collection of photographs would be cause for much celebration, but when almost none of those photographs is labeled, it can be cause for much frustration.

That is the case with the collection of photographs my cousin Ken inherited from his great-grandparents, Lilian Katz and Isaac S. Cohen. Isaac S. Cohen was my grandfather’s first cousin. Isaac’s father Joseph Cohen was my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s older brother. Thus, Ken and I are third cousins, once removed, both descended from Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs, my great-great-grandparents. (All photos in this post are courtesy of my cousin Ken except where noted.)

Fortunately, some of the photographs in Ken’s collection were labeled. Most important to me was this photograph labeled “Cohen Family.” Ken and I assumed that the couple sitting second and third from the left  in the front row are Joseph Cohen and his wife Caroline Snellenburg Cohen, parents of Isaac S. Cohen, and that Isaac was one of the other men in the photograph.

Joseph Cohen and Family c. 1915-1917

“Cohen Family” Courtesy of Ken Newbury

To help us identify the people in the photograph, I once again retained the services of Ava Cohn a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the Photogenealogist. She concluded that the Cohen Family photograph was likely taken around 1915-1916 based on the clothing. Joseph Cohen would have been 67 in 1915, and the man who is sitting second from the left in the front row could be in that age range.

The other three men in the Cohen Family photograph all resemble each other, but who are they? Here are closeups of those three. You can see that they all have similar hairlines, long noses, and similar mouths and ears. To me, they look like brothers, although the third looks much younger than the first two, who have graying hair.

My hunch was that these three men were three of Joseph Cohen’s five sons who were still living in 1915. In 1915 the five living sons were Jacob, who would have been 43, Isaac, who would have been 41, Nathan, who would have been 39, and Samuel and Morris (the twins), who would have been 28.

I found a passport photograph of Jacob Cohen taken in 1922 when he was 51, and I do not see a resemblance to the men in the photograph. He has more hair and a different shaped head. Ava agreed that Jacob is not in the Cohen Family photograph.

So that leaves Isaac, Nathan, and the two twins Samuel and Morris. Since the photograph was in Isaac’s possession, Ken and I assumed that Isaac was in the photograph, and we knew what Isaac looked like from other photographs in Ken’s collection.

For example, this photograph is of Isaac S. Cohen and Lilian Katz and their son Jac, Ken’s grandfather, who was born in April 1907. Ava estimated that this photograph was taken in about 1908, when Isaac would have been about 34.

Isaac, Jack, and Lillian Cohen, c. 1908

Isaac, Jac, and Lillian Cohen, c. 1908

Ava opined that Jac was about nine years old in this photograph of Isaac, Lillian and Jac, meaning it was taken in about 1916.

Isaac S., Jac, and Lillian Katz Cohen. c. 1917

Jac is also in this photograph, sitting at the piano, and Ava thought he  was about six or seven when it was taken, meaning it dates to about 1913. A closeup of Isaac from this photograph appears below it.

Isaac S Cohen, c. 1913

These two profile shots were snipped from two other photographs also taken around the same time. One was from a large photograph of men promoting the sale of war bonds for World War I; the other from a photograph that Ava dated as about 1915  of Isaac with Lillian and Jac and Lillian’s father Leo Katz.

Here’s a lineup of three of the photographs of Isaac and the closeup of the man on the left in the second row in the Cohen Family photograph. Based on all the above photographs, Ava concluded that the man on the left in the second row of the Cohen Family photograph was Isaac S. Cohen, Ken’s great-grandfather.

But who are the other two men in the family photo? Ava did not have enough information to reach a conclusion on that question. I have no photographs of Joseph’s son Nathan, so we have no way to identify him in the photograph. And I have no photographs of Morris, one of the twins, so cannot identify him either.

I was able to obtain two photographs of Samuel Cohen from his grandson Sam, but they were taken when Samuel was older. Even so, Ava and I both concluded that Samuel Cohen had ears that were closer to his head than any of the men in the Cohen Family photograph as well as a different shaped nose and thus was not in this photograph.

So without photographs of Joseph’s other sons, it’s impossible to make any identifcation of the other two men in the Cohen Family photograph.

And what about the women in the photograph? Assuming that Caroline Snellenburg Cohen is sitting next to Joseph, who are the other four women? They certainly appear to be much younger than Caroline. Joseph and Caroline Cohen had four daughters, and Ava thought it was likely that the four women are their daughters. In 1915 Bertha would have been 42, Sallye 38, Fannie 33, and Julia 31. The woman seated on the far right is the spitting image of Caroline. I’d be shocked if she was not her daughter.  So this could be a photograph of Joseph and Caroline, their four daughters, and three of their five sons. But we can’t be certain.

The other mystery is….who was cut out of the photograph?  Ava focused on the sleeves and the size of the hands and concluded that it was a woman. But who could she have been?

One possibility is that it was Lillian Katz, Isaac S. Cohen’s wife. Why, you ask, would she have been cut out of the picture?

Well, it appears that sometime between 1915, when they were living together in Atlantic City, and 1919, Isaac and Lillian separated and then filed for divorce in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in April 1919. They were divorced on February 20, 1920, on grounds of desertion. In 1920 Lillian was living with her parents in Pittsburgh with her son Jac (incorrectly listed here as John) and listed as divorced, and Isaac was living in Philadelphia with his sister Julia and her husband.1

Lillian Katz Cohen, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 550 1920 United States Federal Census

Isaac Cohen 1920 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 38, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1635; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1328 1920 United States Federal Census

Ken told me that  when his grandfather Jac was a boy, he was run over by a trolley car while sledding; as a result, he lost an arm. We have the hospital record from Jac’s accident, and it’s dated January 6, 1917.  Ken wondered whether the injury to their son caused a rift between Isaac and Lillian, as sadly often happens when a child is seriously sick or injured and upset parents find it difficult to deal with the tragedy.

But the story has a happy ending. On August 12, 1921, Isaac and Lillian applied for a marriage license in Philadelphia and were remarried:

And records suggest that they remained married for the rest of their lives.

But maybe someone cut Lillian out of the family picture during the brief period when she and Isaac were divorced. It would seem odd that Lillian saved a photograph from which she had been removed, but stranger things have happened. But as Ava said, we really have no idea who was cut out or why. It’s just speculation.

In the end, we still have many questions but at least a few answers about the Cohen Family photograph. It’s a good reminder that I really should do my descendants a favor and go label all those photos from my own life.

Thank you to my cousin Ken for sharing the photographs and to Ava Cohn, aka Sherlock Cohn the Photogenealogist for her invaluable insights and her determination to get this right!


  1. Isaac listed his marital status as married; the divorce didn’t take effect until February 20, 1920, and the census was enumerated on January 17, 1920. Obviously Lillian was already considering herself divorced. 

The “Disappearance” of Arthur Cohen, My Grandfather’s First Cousin

Way back in July, 2014, I wrote about my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s youngest sibling, his brother Abraham, the thirteenth child of my great-great-grandparents Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs. What I reported was that Abraham, born in Philadelphia on March 29, 1866, had married Sallie McGonigal in 1886, and they had five children, but three of those children died in childhood. Only two children survived—their son Leslie, their second child, and their son Arthur, their fifth and youngest child. There were almost twenty years between the two boys: Leslie was born in 1889, Arthur in 1907.  They lost their mother Sallie to the dreadful flu epidemic on March 14, 1919.

Gravestone for Sallie and Abraham Cohen, courtesy of Michael DeVane

Abraham Cohen remarried in 1920, and I was able to trace Abraham and his son Leslie up through their deaths, as described here.

But Arthur’s story was unfinished. The last record I had for him was the 1930 census when he was living with his father Abraham and stepmother Elizabeth in Philadelphia and working in a gas station. He was 23 at the time. After that, he disappeared. I could find other Arthur Cohens who matched in some ways, but not in others. Thus, I was unable to find anything after 1930 that was definitely about my Arthur Cohen.

Abe Cohen and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0505; FHL microfilm: 2341874 1930 United States Federal Censu

Until, that is, about a month ago when I received a comment on the blog from someone named Michael DeVane, who wrote, “I came across your blog while searching for information on Abraham Cohen, my grandfather. My father was Arthur Cohen. You really helped me fill in some of the missing information on my family. If you want to reach out to me, I will gladly help fill in some missing information to our family tree.” I immediately wrote back to Michael, and we arranged to chat by telephone a few days later.

To prepare for the conversation, I went back to all the research I’d done about Abraham and his family. One thing puzzled me. If Michael’s father was Arthur Cohen, why was his surname DeVane? Well, that clue led me to find more information, and then my conversation with Michael confirmed what I’d uncovered and added more insights. There was a very good reason that I’d not been able to find Arthur Cohen after 1930. By 1931, he’d changed his name to Arthur DeVane.

Once I knew that Arthur had in fact changed his name to DeVane, I located a marriage in the Philadelphia marriage index for Arthur DeVane and Ruth Bussard dated 1931. 1 Michael found in his family records the following document that confirmed that this marriage record was indeed for his father, born Arthur Cohen. It is his father’s baptismal certificate under the name Arthur Cohen with his parents identified.

On the reverse, it notes that Arthur changed his name to DeVane and that he married Ruth Bussard on September 30, 1931, at St. Agnes Church in Philadelphia. Michael thought he might contact the church authorities to see if the record for the name change can be located.

Michael had understood that his father changed his name from Cohen to avoid anti-Semitism, but now we both wonder whether it also had to do with the marriage to Ruth Bussard. Perhaps she didn’t want to take on such an obviously Jewish name. As you can see from the headstone above, both of Arthur’s parents identified as Catholic and are buried in a Catholic cemetery, so Arthur was neither raised Jewish nor identified himself as Jewish.

In any event, the marriage to Ruth did not last. In September 1939, Ruth filed for divorce, and in February 1940, divorce was granted.2 Ruth remarried later that year.3

On the 1940 census, Arthur was living as a lodger with a family, listing his marital status as single and his occupation as a signal man for the railroad.4

On January 8, 1942, Arthur DeVane enlisted in the US armed services and served during World War II until September 5, 1945, including almost two and a half years serving overseas.5 During that time, while stationed in England , he met his second wife, Nellie Keep. Nellie was born April 1, 1917, in Oxford, England to Edward Keep and Nellie Massey. She and Arthur were married in New Hampshire on December 18, 1947. Like Arthur, Nellie had been previously married and divorced.

Marriage record of Arthur Devane and Nellie Keep, New England Historical Genealogical Society; New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire, Ancestry,com. New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947

The record for their marriage is interesting. Arthur reported that his father’s name was Leslie DeVane, not Abraham Cohen, the true name of his father. He also reported that his father had been a jeweler, when in truth, like so many of my Cohen relatives, Abraham had been a pawnbroker. Michael wasn’t sure whether Arthur did this to hide his background from his new wife or for some other reason, but Nellie did at some point know the truth of Arthur’s family background because she revealed it to Michael.

Part of the family lore is that Arthur had hoped to take over his father’s pawnbroker business, but that his father Abraham lost the business when his second wife Elizabeth died in 1939 and her family acquired it and apparently pushed Abraham out. That is why, as noted in my earlier post, Abraham’s death certificate in 1944 listed his occupation as elevator operator—a job he’d had to take after losing his business.

Abraham Cohen death certificate.

That meant Arthur also lost the business. Instead, Arthur ended up rejoining the military and spent most of his career serving his country in the US Air Force, as has his son Michael. Arthur was stationed over the years in England, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. He retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force after twenty years of service.

Arthur DeVane, born Arthur Cohen, died on April 16, 1976, in Burlington, New Jersey. He was sixty-eight years old.6  He was survived by his wife Nellie, who died in 2005, 7 and their three children and their grandchildren.

Michael kindly shared with me the following photograph of his father as a boy.

Arthur Cohen (later DeVane). Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I saw some similarity between young Arthur and his first cousin, once removed, my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., as a little boy, but it could just be the haircut.

John Cohen Sr as a baby

Michael also shared the following photograph of his father Arthur in 1948:

Arthur DeVane, 1948. Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I don’t see many resemblances here to either my father or my grandfather, except perhaps around the mouth and the large forehead.

John N. Cohen, Sr., 1921

John N. Cohen, Jr. c. 1945

I am so grateful to my cousin Michael, my father’s second cousin, for finding me and sharing his father’s story and photographs with me.



  1. Arthur J DeVane, Gender: Male, Spouse: Ruth H Bussard, Spouse Gender: Female
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1931
    Marriage License Number: 606549, Digital GSU Number: 4141671, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  2. The Philadelphia Inquirer – 27 Feb 1940 – Page 11, found at 
  3. Ruth Devane, Gender: Female, Spouse: Marturano, Spouse Gender: Male
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1940
    Marriage License Number: 716706, Digital GSU Number: 4141873, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  4.  Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03723; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 51-1118, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Arthur J DeVane, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907, Birth Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Gender: Male, Residence Date: 2 May 1950, Residence Place: Upper Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania, USA, Pennsylvania, World War II Veteran Compensation Application Files, 1950-1966 
  6. Arthur Devane, Social Security Number: 182-10-8245, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 08016, Burlington, Burlington, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: Apr 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Nellie A Devane, Social Security Number: 144-38-3406, Birth Date: 1 Apr 1917
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New Jersey, Death Date: 26 Jun 2005, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

My Three-Times Great-Grandfather Hart Cohen, Witness for the Prosecution

Imagine being able to read the testimony your ancestor gave in a case back in 1831. Thanks to Teresa of the Writing My Past blog, I found a case where my three-times great-grandfather Hart Levy Cohen was a critical eyewitness to a crime.

Teresa wrote on her blog about the Proceedings of Old Bailey Online Project. As described on the project website, “The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 [is a] fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”1 Teresa had found a number of interesting cases involving her English ancestors, and on a lark, I decided to search to see if I could find any references to my Cohen relatives who lived in London from about 1800 until 1851.

Old Bailey, photograph by Ben Sutherland from Crystal Palace, London, UK / CC BY (

Lo and behold, I found one case—an 1831 case in which Hart Cohen was a witness, not the defendant or the victim, fortunately.2  The case involved an alleged theft of money from a man named Michael Hart by a man named Isaac Isaacs. As described in the testimony recorded in the transcript of the trial, Michael Hart was a recent immigrant to England from Amsterdam and was courting Isaac Isaacs’ sister. According to Michael Hart, Isaacs grabbed Dutch notes worth 500 guilders from his hand and ran off with the money.

My three-times great-grandparents were present in the room when Isaacs took Michael Hart’s money, and Hart Cohen testified to the fact that he saw Isaacs snatch the notes. One witness, Mary Isaac (not a relative of the accused) testified that Michael Hart willingly gave the money to Isaacs. But the court found Isaacs guilty and sentenced him to “transportation for life,” meaning he was permanently exiled from England. I don’t know where Isaacs ended up, nor do I know where Michael Hart ended up.

UPDATE: Thank you to Teresa for pointing me to this site, which reveals that Isaac Isaacs was shipped of to what was then Van Diemen’s Island, now known as Tasmania.

In the testimony, Isaac Isaacs is referred to as “the prisoner” and Michael Hart is referred to either as “the prosecutor” or by his surname Hart. In the brief excerpt from the transcript below, I have added “the prosecutor” to any references to Michael Hart to prevent any confusion with my 3x-great-grandfather Hart Cohen. I also have highlighted a few relevant portions that I comment on below.

MICHAEL HART (through an interpreter.) I am a native of Amsterdam; I came to England nine or ten weeks ago, …. – I became acquainted with the prisoner, slightly, about a fortnight after I came to this country; I was courting his sister, and do so now. On a Monday morning, about eight o’clock, I met the prisoner in the neighbourhood, and went with him up the street to Whitechapel; we went into a public-house, and there had two quarterns of gin together- we then went back to the prisoner’s lodging: before we got there he asked me if I had my notes about me, and asked why I did not change them, as I could get English money for them; I said that at present I was not in need of money, and thought of saving them a little longer – I had them in my pocket at the time; they were two Amsterdam notes, for three hundred and two hundred guilders- he asked me to come home, and I went to his lodgings in Goulston-street, Whitechapel – when we got up stairs he asked me to let him look at the notes; I took them out of my pocket, intending to show them to him – I held them in my own hand; the prisoner took them out of my hand with one hand, and gave me a blow with his other hand – he went down stairs; I did not follow him immediately –[Hart] Cohen, his wife, and the prisoner’s wife and sister were in the room…. I went that evening to the Police-station, and told the inspector, who sent a Policeman with me, and he took the prisoner; I had a man with me, who interpreted for me – I have not seen or heard of my notes since – a guilder is worth 20d.

[Goulston Street was the street where my Cohen relatives were living on the 1841 English census. I tried to find a familial connection between Isaac Isaacs and my relatives but was unable to do so. I believe he was just a neighbor.]

New Goulston Street today

HART COHEN . I was in the prisoner’s room when he and the prosecutor came in, between eight and half-past eight o’clock in the morning – they spoke in Hebrew, which I understood, but did not notice what they were talking about; I saw [the prosecutor] Hart open his pocket-book, and take out some papers – the prisoner snatched them out of his hand, gave him a push, and ran down stairs; I could not see what the papers were, but [the prosecutor] Hart called out in Hebrew, “I have lost five hundred guilders;” I had seen him in possession of a three hundred and two hundred guilders Amsterdam notes; I have not seen them since.

[I found it interesting that Hart understood Hebrew—an indication that he was connected to Judaism and Jewish traditions.]

[Cross-examination of Hart Cohen]:  Who was in the room? A. My wife, the prisoner’s wife, his sister, and children: he being an intended brother-in-law, I did not like to interfere – I did not call Stop thief! my wife was alarmed – the prosecutor was standing up; he could have followed him down stairs if he chose – I had merely called there because the children were ill with the measles; I saw two men carrying the prisoner home, drunk, about two o’clock; the prosecutor went to Brighton, and my son went with him as an interpreter, and I wrote to him, directing my letters “Lewis Cohen,” which was my son’s name – the prisoner was to inquire at the post-office for a letter in that name; my wife is too ill to be here.

[When Hart testified “he being an intended brother-in-law,” I at first thought he meant that Isaacs was to be married to either his sister or his wife Rachel’s sister, but Isaacs was already married. On rereading, it was clear to me that Hart Cohen was referring to the fact that Michael Hart was courting Isaacs’ sister and thus was his intended brother-in-law.” It’s clear from this comment and the one that follows that Hart had not wanted to get involved in this dispute.]

[It was the mention of his son Lewis that helped to convince me that this was my Hart Cohen. Lewis would have been eleven years old at that time.]

[Witness for Isaacs] MARY ISAAC . I was at the prisoner’s house, between eight and nine o’clock, when this gentleman came up stairs, and he gave Mr. Isaacs the notes – I live there as servant to the prisoner; I am not related to him; Mr. and Mrs. Cohen. Mr. and Mrs. Isaacs, and I were in the room, nobody else – I cannot speak Hebrew; I saw the prosecutor give the prisoner the notes; he put them into his pocket, had his breakfast, shaved himself, and went down – before he went down the prosecutor took out his pocket-book, and wrote down on a piece of paper, how many guilders there were, and how much they would come to – I did not read the paper; he wrote it in numbers – I understand numbers; the prisoner then went down – Mr. Cohen went down directly after.


HART COHEN . I did not notice [Mary] Isaac there, and do not suppose that she was – it is a middling sized room, and has a bed in it.3

[This testimony effectively undercut Mary Isaac’s testimony. Hart made it clear that there was no way that he would not have seen her if she were in the room, given the size of the room.]

There were other witnesses and testimony, but I was primarily interested in the role my relative played in this dispute. And what did I learn? That my three-times great-grandfather was a man who did not initially want to get involved, but did his civic duty and testified to the facts he observed, that he knew Hebrew, and that my great-grandparents were neighbors who would come check on sick children. Given that I’d known nothing about his personality beforehand, these are wonderful insights.

Take a look at the Old Bailey project website if you ever had relatives living in London. It could provide interesting insights into their lives.

  1. Tim Hitchcock, Robert Shoemaker, Clive Emsley, Sharon Howard, and Jamie McLaughlin, et al., “Home page.” The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674-1913 (, version 7.0, 24 March 2012).
  2. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 8.0, 04 October 2020), October 1831, trial of ISAAC ISAACS (t18311020-149. 
  3. Ibid. Emphasis and annotations added. 

Meier Katzenstein: The One Who Left Home

Having discussed the three daughters of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein—Helene, Fredericke, and Henriette—and their families, we now finally reach their last child and only son, Meier Katzenstein.1  And his story is far different from that of his sisters, all of whom lived almost all their lives in Germany, not far from where they were born in Eschwege, and whose descendants either were killed by or escaped from the Nazis.

Meier was born on August 6, 1860, in Eschwege, as we have seen, but in 1888 he immigrated to the United States, changing the path of his life as well as that of his descendants. According to his passport application (depicted below), he arrived in New York on October 10, 1888, and settled there.

Meier Katzenstein, 1903 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 623; Volume #: Roll 623 – 13 May 1903-18 May 1903 U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

I love the physical description of Meier on his application: five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face. He sounds quite adorable.

Meier married Emma Bacharach in New York on October 27, 1891.2 Emma, the daughter of Jakob Bacharach and Sophia Pfann, was also a recent immigrant. She was born in Mainz, Germany, on July 5, 1869,3 and came to the US on November 5, 1889, accompanied by someone named Isaac Bachrach who was 48 years old. I’ve not been able to identify Isaac’s connection to Emma, but presumably he was an uncle or cousin.4

Emma and Meier had one child, a daughter Sophia (presumably named for Emma’s mother Sophia Pfann), born on August 19, 1892, in New York.5 Emma must have taken little Sophia back to Germany during her first year to meet her family because I found a ship manifest showing them sailing together from Hamburg to New York in the summer of 1893.

Sophia and Emma Katzenstein, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 085; Page: 958; Microfilm No.: K_1750, Month: Direkt Band 085 (1 Jul 1893 – 31 Aug 1893), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Meier became a naturalized citizen of the United States on May 4, 1894.

“New York Naturalization Index (Soundex), 1792-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 4 February 2015), Roll 128, K324-K400 (Kutzelmann, Adam J-Klee, Johannes) > image 348 of 5224; citing NARA microfilm publication M1674 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

In 1900, Meier, Emma, and Sophia were living in New York City with another family. The head of household was Rosenthal (first name not legible); living with him was his wife Ida Rosenthal and their son Julian Rosenthal, two servants, and Meier, Emma, and Sophia.

Meier Katzenstein, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0862; FHL microfilm: 1241119, Enumeration District: 0862; Description: City of New York, 31st Assembly Dist; 22nd Election District (pt) bounded by E 129th, Park Ave, E 126th, Madison Ave, 1900 United States Federal Census

I was thrown off by this census record because it identifies Emma as the daughter, Sophia as the granddaughter, and Meier as the son-in-law of the head of household.  If Emma’s birth name was Bacharach and her parents were Jakob and Sophia, how could she be the daughter of Ida Rosenthal and her husband? It took a couple of hours to sort out that Ida Rosenthal was born Ida Pfann and was the sister of Sophia Pfann, Emma’s mother. Thus, Emma was Ida Rosenthal’s niece, not her daughter.

Meier’s occupation on the 1900 census is extremely hard to read as it is very faint, but I think I can discern the word “Sales” and perhaps “Linens,” the same occupation listed above for Emma’s cousin Julian Rosenthal. His passport application in 1903, depicted above, is more specific. He listed his occupation there as “manufacturer and importer of embroideries.”

By 1910, Meier and his wife and daughter had their own home in Manhattan, and Meier’s occupation this time is easily read as Manager, Fancy Linens. They also had a servant living with them.

Meier Katzenstein, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1024; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0622; FHL microfilm: 1375037 1910 United States Federal Census

The family did some traveling in 1911—to Hong Kong and to Hawaii. Meier must have been doing well in his business, having a servant and traveling to exotic locations.6

His daughter and only child Sophia Katzenstein married Elias Lustig on February 19, 1914, in New York.7 Like Sophia, Elias was a native of New York City, born there on May 31, 1890, and the son of David and Rachel Lustig.8 Elias and Sophia’s first child David Miles Lustig was born on August 22, 1916, in New York.9

Unfortunately, Meier Katzenstein did not live to see the birth of his grandson; on February 20, 1916, at the age of 55, he died in New York City, just six months before his grandson’s birth. My guess is that his grandson’s middle name Miles was in Meier’s memory.10

In his will, Meier left everything to his wife Emma and then to his daughter Sophia in the event Emma did not survive him. Interestingly, he provided that in the event that Emma predeceased him and Sophia was still a minor, his “brother-in-law Max Werner of Eschwege” was to be her guardian. Max was married to Meier’s older sister Helene Katzenstein Werner. But why would Meier have appointed someone living in Germany to be the guardian of his daughter in New York? Imagine how Sophia’s life would have been different if in fact her parents had both died before she reached adulthood and she had moved to Germany?

Meier Katzenstein’s will, Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York, Notes: Wills, 1021-1023, 1915-1916, New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Of course, it all was irrelevant since Emma did not predecease Meier, and Sophia was already an adult when Meier died. In 1920, Emma was living with Sophia and Elias and their son David Miles (listed here as Miles) in New York City. Elias was working as a merchant. 11 In 1921, Sophia and Elias had a second child.

I could not find Emma on the 1930 or 1940 census, but in 1930 Sophia and Elias were living in Queens in 1930 with their children, and Elias was the owner of a hat factory.12 Sometime thereafter, the marriage between Sophia and Elias ended, and in 1936 she married Saul Baron, with whom she and her children were living in New York in 1940. Saul was an attorney in private practice.13

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died on February 18, 1941, in New York; she was 71.14

Meier Katzenstein’s choice to leave Germany for the United States back in 1888 spared his family the tragedies endured by so many of his relatives back in Europe during the Holocaust, but in one way the actions of Hitler still indirectly inflicted tragedy on his descendants. His grandson David Miles Lustig, named in his memory, was killed during World War II. While returning from a mission over China in early 1945, his plane was shot down, and David drowned in a small river after bailing out of the plane. He was 28 years old and a graduate of Princeton University.15

His mother Sophia Katzenstein Lustig Baron died just nine years later at the age of 58 on November 9, 1950.16  She was survived by her husband Saul Baron, her daughter and grandchild.

Having now covered all the children of Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein, I have a few updates to other relatives to write about before turning to Amalie’s younger brothers, Selig and Falk Goldschmidt, the last two children of my 4x-great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt.

  1. The spellings of his name vary on different documents between Meyer and Meier,  but I’ve opted to use Meier. 
  2. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Meier Katzenstein and Emma Bacharach, 27 Oct 1891; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,452,198. 
  3. Emma Bacharach birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 72, Year Range: 1869, Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875 
  4. Emma Bacharach, passenger manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 15; List Number: 1524, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Sophia Katzenstein, 19 Aug 1892; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 32010 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,266. 
  6.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 02/13/1900 – 12/30/1953; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3422; Roll: 031; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, Honolulu, Hawaii, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959. 
  7.  Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 9 Feb 1914, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias Lustig, License Number: 4135, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018; Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 19 Feb 1914, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias S Lustig, Certificate Number: 5033, New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  8.  Elias Lustig, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 31 May 1890, Birth Place: New York, USA, Street Address: 601 W 162, Residence Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  9. David Miles Lustig, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1916, Birth Place: New York City, New York
    Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: New York City, New York, New York
    Next of Kin: Elias Lustig, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  10. Meier Katzenstein, Age: 57, Birth Year: abt 1859, Death Date: 20 Feb 1916
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 5960, New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  11. Elias Lustig and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1226; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 1489, Enumeration District: 1489; 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elias Lustig and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0296; FHL microfilm: 2341330, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  13.  Sophie K Lustig, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 22 May 1936, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Saul J Baron
    License Number: 10611, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Saul Baron and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 31-1351, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  14.  New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  15. David Miles Lustig obituary, Daily News, New York, New York
    07 Mar 1945, Wed • Page 352 
  16. Sophie Baron, Age: 58, Birth Date: abt 1892, Death Date: 9 Nov 1950
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 23658 New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 

The Tragedy of Bennie Cohen, Betty Schnadig Cohen’s Grandson

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen and two of their four children were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps. Their oldest child Arnold survived, but his story is also terribly tragic. Thank you once again to my cousin Betty, Arnold’s daughter, for sharing their story and the family photographs posted here.

Arnold was a traveling salesman, and he married Saartje Odenwald in Groningen, Holland, on October 18, 1936.1

Wedding of Saartje Odenwald and Arnold Cohen, 1936. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Their son, Bernard Arie, known as Bennie, was born a year later on November 15, 1937, in Den Bosch, where Arnold and Saartje had settled after marrying. Den Bosch is about 150 miles southwest of Groningen. Bennie was named in honor of his paternal grandfather, who was, however, still living at that time. Here are some photographs of Arnold, Saartje, and Bennie:

Bernard Arie “Bennie” Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard Arie “Bennie” Cohen Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Saartje, Bennie, and Arnold Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

When I started to search for what happened to Arnold and his family during the Holocaust, I was perplexed. Arnold and his wife Saartje both survived, but their son Bennie did not. He was only six years old. How could it be that he was murdered at Auschwitz and both his parents survived?

Researching that question led me to a truly devastating story that is recorded on the Stolpersteine website devoted to this family. Arnold and Saartje knew a couple who were active in the Resistance movement, Piet Toxopeus and Ellen Dwars, who arranged for a man named Geevers to take little Bennie into hiding. Geevers took three thousand guilders from the Cohens, but never in fact took Bennie into his home. Somehow instead Bennie ended up in a town called Dordrecht with a woman named Els van As, who took many Jews into her house to hide them from the Nazis. Dordrecht is 40 miles west of Den Bosch, and Bennie’s parents had no idea that that was where he had been taken.

Meanwhile, Piet and Ellen hid Arnold and Saartje in Bennekom. That placed them about 57 miles northeast of Dordrecht where their son was being hidden. In August 1942, Arnold and Saartje were then placed with an older couple, the Laars, in Ede, a town near Bennekom, where they stayed safely until after the war.

But their son Bennie was not as fortunate, as told in the Stolpersteine website:

It happened on Monday evening, October 25, 1943: the insensitive police officer Herman Gerard Feodor Wolsink from Dordrecht pulled 5-year-old Bennie Cohen into the horror of the war.

Here and there in Dordrecht, Jewish hunters had been working all day long at addresses where people might be in hiding…..In the house of the Van As family on the Vlietweg, they find a radio set and a money box with twenty thousand guilders in it. …. The Jew hunters suspect that a Jewish child is also hiding at this address. The Hague detective Cornelis Johannes Kaptein therefore orders Wolsink to take a closer look at the children who are sleeping in the attic. And then this happens, according to a maternity nurse who lived in rooms with the Van As family, and who told it after the war.

Bennie was impressed to always say his name was De Koning, and not Cohen. When Wolsink asked the boy for his name, he said: “Bennie de Koning.”

“Wolsink then asked,” said the nurse, “what his mother’s name was and then the poor child said: ‘Saartje’. To which Wolsink said: “Haha, a Jew after all!” Then he pulled down the little boy’s pajama bottoms and said, “It’s a Jew.” This child had to come along then. 

About 3.5 months later this child was dead: deported to Auschwitz via camp Westerbork and exterminated there on 11 February 1944. His life had already ended at the age of six.

I ask you to look at these photographs of this beautiful little boy. How could anyone do this to anyone, let alone a six year old child?

Bernard “Bennie” Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard “Bennie” Arie Cohen Courtesy of Betty de Liever

On November 9, 1945, Arnold Cohen posted this heartbreaking notice in the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, asking for information about his missing family members, including his son, his parents, his siblings, his nephews, and his in-laws, all of whom had been murdered by the Nazis:

Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad, November 9, 1945, found at

Arnold and Saartje somehow found the strength to go on. They had two daughters born after the war, and Arnold became a wholesaler of paper products in Groningen. Arnold died on December 15, 1967,2 and his wife Saartje on April 19, 1978.3 It’s hard to imagine how anyone finds hope after what they experienced, but having more children is certainly evidence that Arnold and Saartje believed that goodness and love can still exist and can prevail in this world.

De Telegraaf
December 16, 1967, found at

Thank you again to Bert de Jong and Rob Ruijs for all their help and especially to my cousin Betty for sharing these precious photographs and her family’s heartbreaking story. Betty lost her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins, and her brother Bennie in the Holocaust.

  1. Arnold Cohen, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 32, Birth Date: abt 1904, Marriage Date: 15 okt 1936 (15 Oct 1936), Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, Spouse: Saartje Odewald, BS Marriage, Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. accessed 24 May 2016. 
  2. Arnold Cohen, Age: 63, Birth Date: abt 1904, Birth Place: Groningen, Death Date: 15 dec 1967, Death Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten), Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. accessed 24 May 2016. 
  3. Death notice, Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad, April 21, 1978, found at