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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Emily Kahn, Gunther, and Helmut Rapp c. 1926 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

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

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Betty Schnadig Cohen’s Heartbreaking Story, Part I

As we saw, Betty Schnadig married Bernard Arie Cohen from Holland, and they had four children born in Groningen in Holland: Arnold, Anita, Simona Hedda, and Adolf. Bernard Arie Cohen was a merchant in the rag, scrap metal, and paper business in Groningen.

I was very fortunate to connect with my fifth cousin Betty, Betty Schnadig Cohen’s granddaughter and namesake, who kindly shared the family photographs I’ve included in this blog post. Thank you also once again to Bert de Jong and also to Rob Ruijs who found many of the notices from Dutch newspapers and introduced me to the Delpher.nl website for Dutch research.

Here, for example, is a May 7, 1903, wedding announcement for Betty and Bernard, thanking everyone for their kind wishes.

Nieuwsblad van het Noorden 07-05-1903 (May 7, 1903), 
found at https://tinyurl.com/y6enc386

In this photograph, Betty and Bernard are dressed in costume to celebrate Purim:

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

This adorable little boy in the sailor outfit is their first-born child, Arnold, probably taken in Groningen when he was about three or four, or in about 1908:

Arnold Cohen c. 1908 Courtesy of Betty de Liever

This is a newspaper notice announcing Arnold’s bar mitzvah in February, 1917.

Centraal blad voor Israëlieten in Nederland
02-02-1917
found at https://tinyurl.com/y6fl8gsa

This is a lovely photograph of all  four children probably taken in the early 1920s.

Arnold, Anita, Adolf, and Simona Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

And here is an announcement of Adolf Cohen’s bar mitzvah in 1929:

Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad
August 9, 1929 found at https://tinyurl.com/y66damno

The family that celebrated these joyous occasions was destroyed just fifteen years after Adolf’s bar mitzvah.

According to a Stolpersteine website devoted to the Cohen family, when World War II started in 1939, Bernard very quickly realized the dangers ahead. After a swastika was painted on the front of their home in Groningen along with the word “Jood,” he knew they had to go into hiding.

House of Bernard and Betty Cohen in Groningen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

But their efforts to hide were not ultimately successful. Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen did not survive; they were arrested on November 11, 1942, and sent to the detention camp at Westerbork, from which they were then deported to Sobibor on May 18, 1943, and immediately gassed to death upon arrival.

Betty Schnadig Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Of their four children, only two survived. One was their older daughter Simona Hedda. I located a card for her in the Arolsen Archives showing she was registered with the Judenrat in Amsterdam. The card has very little information other than Simona’s name, birth date, and address, and it’s not dated, but it appears that Simona was living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations /
1.2.4.2 Index cards from the Judenrat (Jewish council) file in Amsterdam /
Reference Code 124200009/ ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Somehow Simona avoided deportation and survived the war. On August 29, 1946, in Groningen, Simona married Jan de Jong, who was born on March 22, 1914, in Ooststellingwerf. Simona (apparently known as Mona) and Jan had a son Bernard de Jong (presumably named for Simona’s father) born November 4, 1948, but he died two and half months later on January 12, 1949.1 Sadly, Simona’s marriage to Jan did not long survive the loss of their child. They were divorced on April 28, 1950, in Groningen.

Thank you so much to Rob Ruijs, who found most of this information about Simona and her family, including these two newspaper notices for the birth and death of Simona and Jan’s infant son Bernard.

De waarheid 08-11-1948

Thanks to Rob, I also know that Simona moved to Amsterdam after her divorce and worked for the city, eventually becoming the bureau chief. She died on February 5, 2005, in Amsterdam at the age of 93. As far as I can tell, she did not remarry or have more children. Simona was blessed with a long life.

UPDATE: Another reader, N. Aronson, found Simona’s Amsterdam residency card, which showed that she lived in Groningen until 1953, then in Nunspeet, and then in 1954 she moved to Amsterdam. Thank you!!

But Betty and Bernard’s other daughter Anita Cohen did not survive. She married Abraham Jacob van Dam on December 23, 1935, in Groningen, Netherlands.2 Abraham was born in Groningen on June 24, 1898, the son of Jakob van Dam and Netje Kisch.3 Abraham and Anita had two children, a son Jacob Abraham van Dam, born on July 3, 1938, and a son Bernard, born December 24, 1939. The photo below depicts Anita and her two little sons probably in 1941.

Jakob van Dam, Bernard van Dam, and Anita Cohen van Dam c. 1941. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Anita, Abraham, and those two little boys in this photograph were murdered by the Nazis.

Just stop and think about that. Little Jacob van Dam was four years old, his brother Bernard not yet three. They and their mother Anita were murdered at Auschwitz on November 2, 1942. Their father Abraham survived until March 31, 1944, when he also died at the hands of the Nazis. Although it always takes my breath away when I discover yet another family member who was killed in the Holocaust, finding the Pages of Testimony for my cousins Jacob and Bernard, sweet innocent little boys, just sent me reeling.

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Cohen’s son Adolf married Henriette Sara Barnstijn on March 12, 1942.4 They both were murdered at Auschwitz before their first anniversary. Henriette was killed on December 15, 1942; Adolf was killed two months after his new bride on February 28, 1943. Henriette was 22, Adolf was 26.

Thus, Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen and two of their children, Anita and Adolf, were murdered by the Nazis as were Anita and Adolf’s spouses and Anita’s two little boys. Betty and Bernard’s first born child Arnold survived, but not without tragedy. His story merits a separate post.


  1.  Bernard de Jong, Age: 2/12, Birth Date: abt 1948, Birth Place: Groningen
    Death Date: 12 jan 1949, Death Place: Groningen, Father: Jan de Jong, Mother: Simona Hedda Cohen, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten), Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  2.  Anita Cohen, Gender: Vrouwelijk (Female), Age: 28, Birth Date: abt 1907
    Marriage Date: 23 dec 1935, Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen
    Mother: Bettij Schnadig, Spouse: Abraham Jakob van Dam, BS Marriage,
    Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  3.  Abraham Jakob van Dam, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 37
    Birth Date: abt 1898, Marriage Date: 23 dec 1935, Marriage Place: Groningen
    Father: Jakob van Dam, Mother: Netje Kisch, Spouse: Anita Cohen
    BS Marriage, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  4.  Adolf Cohen, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 25, Birth Date: abt 1917
    Marriage Date: 12 mrt 1942 (12 Mar 1942), Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, Spouse: Henriëtte Sara Barnstijn
    BS Marriage, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 

Tragedy and Escape: The Story of Helene Schnadig Cohn and Her Children

We saw in the last post that Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig’s youngest child Elsa survived the Holocaust as did her husband Salomon Cats and their two sons. Elsa’s two older sisters Helene and Betty were not as fortunate.

Elsa’s sister Helene Schnadig and her husband Emil Cohn were both murdered by the Nazis. According to their residency registration cards at the Amsterdam archives, Helene and Emil moved from Hamburg to Hilversum in the Netherlands on January 2, 1939, and then to Rotterdam on September 11, 1939, ten days after the start of World War II. They then returned to Hilversum on November 9, 1940. Eventually they returned to Amsterdam on July 17, 1942.

Source reference Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 721 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22schnadig%22%7D, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

According to a Judenrat card found in the Arolsen Archives, Emil and Helene were taken to the detention camp at Westerbork on January 8, 1943. From there they were taken to the concentration camp in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, on January 20, 1944. Then on October 28, 1944, they were taken from Terezin to the death camp at Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Emil was 74, Helene 63.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.1 Camps and Ghettos / 1.1.42 Theresienstadt Ghetto /
1.1.42.2 Card File Theresienstadt / 4966533/ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Miraculously, however, Helene and Emil Cohn’s four children all survived, although my information about them is somewhat limited. Meta, their oldest child, was married to Salomon Pregers, who was born in Rotterdam on October 8, 1885, son of Salomon Pregers and Isabelle Therese de Groot.1 Meta and Salomon were married in Hamburg on May 14, 1926, according to their Amsterdam residency card.

Source reference Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 159 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22meta%20cohn%22%7D, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

That residency card indicates that Salomon and Meta came from Hamburg to Hilversum on June 3, 1926, a few weeks after their wedding. They remained in the Netherlands, eventually moving to Amsterdam in February 1943, not long after Meta’s parents were taken to Westerbork.

Salomon and Meta were registered with the Judenrat in Amsterdam, as reflected on these three cards. It appears that Salomon had been a teacher at a Jewish school. I can’t decipher much more than that.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations / 1.2.4.2 Index cards from the Judenrat (Jewish council) file in Amsterdam / Reference Code 124200008/ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations / 1.2.4.2 Index cards from the Judenrat (Jewish council) file in Amsterdam / Reference Code 124200008/ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations / 1.2.4.2 Index cards from the Judenrat (Jewish council) file in Amsterdam / Reference Code 124200008/ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

UPDATE: Bert de Jong pointed out that both these cards have the designation “gesperrt,” meaning that Meta and Salomon had been marked as exempt from deportation by the Judenrat, Salomon because of his former occupation as a teacher and his education, and Meta based on her husband’s exemption.

UPDATE from Rob Ruijs: Rob examined these three cards very carefully and provided some analysis. One interesting observation he made about Salomon Pregers was that he may have grown up in poverty and achieved success through higher education.  Rob also deciphered much of that third card with three entries for February 2, 1943. It appears that Salomon (and presumably Meta) were moving between Amsterdam and the town of Den Bosch, which is about an hour south of Amsterdam or that there was some confusion about where they were living.

The Amsterdam residency cards above indicate that both Meta and Salomon left for Germany (Duitschland) in March 1945. I would think that means they were deported then since I cannot imagine that any Jew would have gone to Germany willingly in March, 1945, but I have no record of any deportation, and I know that they survived the war.  Meta was listed as a person searching for relatives in an article in the June 15, 1945, issue of Aufbau. The words at the top translate as:

“The following list which we have received from the ITA [the International Tracing Agency] only reveals a part of the Jews found in Holland after the final liberation who are looking for relatives. In cases in which a closer address of the searcher is not given, they can be reached through the Red Cross.”

Meta Cohn Pregers in Aufbau June 15, 1945, p. 25, http://archive.org/stream/aufbau111945germ#page/n387/mode/1up

Although Meta and Salomon thus survived the war, it was not for very many years. Meta Cohn Pregers died on March 21, 1952, in Hilversum.2 Her husband Salomon Pregers died a month later on April 22, 1952, in Hilversum.3 He was 66 when he died, Meta was only 51. I have been unable to find a record of any children.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rob Ruijs for alerting me to the fact that there were death notices for Meta and Salomon that I could find on Delpher.nl. Given that neither death notice mentioned children, it appears that they did not have any.

New Israelite weekly
28-03-1952

New Israelite weekly
April 25, 1952

Meta’s younger brother Siegbert immigrated to Brazil in 1939; he arrived with his four-year-old daughter Ursula. I could not locate a woman traveling with him who might have been his wife, nor I have I yet found any further records for Siegbert or Ursula.

Siegbert Cohn, Digital GS Number: 004542471, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

The third child of Helene and Emil Cohn, their daughter Hertha Johanna, married James Horwitz, a kosher butcher, on February 21, 1928, in Hamburg. James was born on November 10, 1895, in Hamburg, the son of Hermann Horwitz and Johanna Tannenberg.4 James and Hertha immigrated to Rotterdam inthe Netherlands from Berlin on March 15, 1939, and to Amsterdam in March of 1940.

Source reference Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 367 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22james%20horwitz%22%7D, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

On July 17, 1940, they were both taken to the detention camp in Westerbork. According to entries in the Terezin Memorial database, both James and Hertha were deported to the Terezin concentration camp on September 4, 1944. James was then taken from Terezin to Auschwitz on September 29, 1944, but Hertha was not. The Terezin Memorial entry indicates that she was liberated from Terezin and survived.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.1 Camps and Ghettos / 1.1.42 Theresienstadt Ghetto /
1.1.42.2 Card File Theresienstadt /Ghetto Theresienstadt Card File
Reference Code 11422001/ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

As for James’ fate, the records conflict. Some say he was killed at the death camp in Mauthausen in Austria on April 6, 1945.5 One nephew filed a Page of Testimony saying he was shot near Berlin in March 1945 as the camp inmates were being marched out of Auschwitz.  In either event, James Horwitz was murdered by the Nazis in the spring of 1945 right before the war ended.

In 1957, Hertha was living in Rotterdam when she traveled to Brazil, presumably to visit her brother Siegbert. She listed her marital status as “casada” or married, and the surname Van Thijn was added to her name, so Hertha must have remarried after the war. That is the only information I’ve found about her at this point.

UPDATE: Thank you to Rob Ruijs for reminding me to check Delpher.nl where I found a death notice for Salomon van Thijn published by H. J. van Thijn-Cohen, obviously Hertha. The death notice reads in part, “With sadness I announce the passing of my beloved caring husband Salomon van Thijn in his 87th year, March 18, 1982.” This death notice does not mention children or refer to Salomon as a father so I assume they, like Meta and Salomon Pregers, did not have children.

NRC Handelsblad
20-03-1982

Digital GS Number: 004916498, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Lissy Sitta Cohn, the fourth and youngest of the Cohn siblings, ended up in England during the war. In 1939 she was living in Birmingham, working as a domestic servant.

Lissy Cohn, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/5600D, Enumeration District: QBUI, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Lissy Cohn, enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/14
Piece Number Description: 014: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Cohn-Cz
Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

She may have returned to Germany after the war because in 1946 she immigrated to Brazil and listed her last residence as Hamburg and her nationality as Alema or German. However, her passport was issued from London. She indicated that her intention was to stay in Brazil permanently and that she was a nurse (enfermeira). As with her siblings, I have no further details about Lissy’s life.

Digital GS Number: 004542185
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Thus, although the Nazis murdered Helene Schnadig and Emil Cohn, they did not murder any of their four children. But the stories of those four children are not entirely complete. I do not know whether there are living descendants of Helene and Emil, so there is still much work to be done.

 

 


  1.  Salomon Pregers, Birth Date: 1885, Birth Place: Rotterdam, Father: Salomon Pregers, Mother: Isabelle Therese de Groot, Stadsarchief Rotterdam; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917. Original data: BS Geboorte. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. Child:
    Salomon Pregers, Mother: Isabelle Therese de Groot Father: Salomon Pregers
    Date of birth: 8-10-1885, Birthplace:  Rotterdam Access number: 999-01 Civil Registry Rotterdam, birth certificates, Inventory number: 1885D, Folio number: d045v Deed number: 1885.3822 
  2.  Meta Cohn, Age: 50, Birth Date: abt 1902, Birth Place: Hamburg, Death Date: 21 mrt 1952 (21 Mar 1952), Death Place: Hilversum, Father: Emil Cohn, Mother: Helene Schnadig, Noord-Hollands Archief; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten), Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  3.  Salomon Pregers, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1886, Birth Place: Rotterdam, Death Date: 22 apr 1952, Death Place: Hilversum, Father: Salomon Pregers, Mother: Isabella Therese de Groot, Noord-Hollands Archief; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten), Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  4. James Horwitz birth record, Year Range and Volume: 1895 Band 06, Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Births, 1874-1901. Original data:Best. 332-5 Standesämter, Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg, Deutschland. 
  5. James Israel Horwitz, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1895, Birth Place: Hamburg, Mauthaus #: 134330, Nationality: staatenlos (Stateless), Arrest Reason: Jude (Jew), Night and Fog: No, Profession: Fleischer (Butcher), Death Date: 6 Apr 1945, Arrival Date: 26-Feb-45
    Source: AMM E/13/12/9; Y/36;Mauthausen Gedenkstätte. Austria, Mauthausen/Gusen Concentration Camp Death Record Books , 1938-1945. The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Microfilm: A3355; ARC: 596972; Title: Lists and Registers of German Concentration Camp Inmates, 1946 – 1958; Record Group: 242; Record Group Title: National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958, Record Description: Records on Prisoners, Gat-Ji, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. Germany, Concentration Camp Records, 1946-1958. Also, some records at Yad Vashem show that James Horwitz was at Mauthausen. His Stolpersteine in Berlin also says that he died at Mauthausen. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arthur Rapp, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

Harold (Helmut) Rapp, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Escaping from Germany to Brazil and Israel: Brick Walls

 

We’ve already seen that Helene Goldschmidt Fuld’s second child, Minna Fuld, who was born in 1875, had a complicated marital history. First, she married Leo Offenstadt in 1894 when she was eighteen, and that marriage ended in divorce in 1904. She and Leo had had one child, Flora, in 1894. Then Minna married Ladislaus Polacovits in 1906, and he died in 1913; Minna had one child with Ladislaus, Lisolette, who was born in 1907.

Finally, Minna married Hermann Heinrich Karl Reuss in 1923, with whom she had no children. Hermann is listed in the 1940 Frankfurt directory1 and died in Frankfurt on September 27, 1947.

Hermann Reuss death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 225
Year Range: 1947, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

His death certificate indicates that he was a widower at the time of his death. I have no record for Minna’s death, but unsourced trees indicate that she died in Tel Aviv on May 3, 1944. Had Hermann gone with her to Palestine and returned to Germany after she died? Or had Hermann never left Germany?  I don’t know.

As we saw, Minna’s daughter Flora Offenstadt2 married Hermann Durlacher in 1918 and had two children with him, Siegfried Julius Thomas (known as Thomas) and Ulla Louise Sara. Flora and the two children immigrated to Brazil in 1939, as seen in these immigration cards.

Flora Offenstadt Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004764836
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Siegfried Julius Thomas Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004916940
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Ulla Durlacher, Digital GS Number: 004916940
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

I could not locate any further records for Hermann Durlacher, but several unsourced trees indicate that he died in Sao Paolo, Brazil, on November 15, 1954, so perhaps he also immigrated to Brazil either before, with, or after his family. I don’t know what happened to Flora or her two children after they immigrated to Brazil in 1939. An unsourced tree on Geni reports that Thomas died in Sao Paulo on December 23, 2007.

Minna’s second daughter, Liselotte Polacovits, married Wilhelm Strauss-Reich on June 5, 1928, and had one child, as discussed here. I was not able to find information about their whereabouts during the 1930s, but by 1942 Liselotte and Wilhelm both had Palestinian passports that they renewed in 1947. I was able to locate a marriage record for their son (who may still be living) in England, so perhaps they also ended up in England or maybe they stayed in Israel.

Liselotte Strauss-Reich, Israel Archives, at https://tinyurl.com/wwdy88x

Thus, there is much to do to learn more about Minna and her descendants. So far, however, I’ve hit dead ends and brick walls. Searching online for answers in Brazil and Israel has led me nowhere. Not knowing how to read either Portuguese or Hebrew (except some basic terms) makes the task even more difficult. If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know.

 

 

 


  1.  Title: Amtliches Frankfurter Adressbuch, Deutsche National Bibliothek; Leipzig, Deutschland; Publisher: August Scherl; Signatur: ZC 811; Laufende Nummer: 1, Ancestry.com. Germany and Surrounding Areas, Address Books, 1815-1974 
  2. Flora’s father, Minna’s first husband Leo Offenstadt, died at Theriesenstadt concentration camp on January 9, 1943. See his entry at Yad Vashem at https://tinyurl.com/tz3gz73. 

My Cousins in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Before I return to the remaining children of Jakob Katzenstein, I am tying up a few loose ends about some of the Katzenstein families I have already discussed.  This post involves the family of Mali Katz.

Mali was the great-granddaughter of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, the granddaughter of Moses Katz and Malchen Wetterhahn, and the daughter of Markus Katz and Minna “Nanny” Wallach. She was the sister of Maurice Katz and Senta Katz, both of whom had immigrated to the United States, Maurice in 1925 to Oklahoma, Senta in 1937 to New York. Senta was married to Julius Abraham(s), and they were the parents of Fred and Martin Abrahams, the two brothers with whom I have been corresponding.

Amalie (Mali), Senta, and Moritz (Maurice) Katz, 1908
Courtesy of the Abrahams family

But I knew very little about the third sibling, Mali.  I knew that Mali had married Siegfried Baumann on April 17, 1930, in Jesberg.  Siegfried was born in Lauterbach, Germany, in 1893. I knew from Martin, Mali’s nephew, that Mali and her family had been unable to get permission to immigrate to the United States and that they had ended up in Brazil, but Martin knew nothing more than that. And I could not find anything else.

There was, however, one tree on Ancestry that provided some more information, but without sources.  It had Siegfried Baumann married to a woman named Maly with one daughter named Margot Baumann. Those were the only names revealed, and the only information attached to Siegfried, Maly (no birth name given) and Margot were their birth places as Germany and places of death as Porto Alegre, Brazil. There were no birth dates for Siegfried or Maly, but there were dates of death for Siegfried, Maly, and Margot.    I wrote to the tree owner, but did not hear back.

By Googling “Margot Baumann Porto Alegre,” however, I found the Facebook page for SIBRA— Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência, or the Brazilian Society for Jewish Culture and Charity. On that page was a long post that detailed the eighty year the history of the organization, written by Grete Blumenthal Bejzman and posted by the rabbi for the SIBRA synagogue on their Facebook page on August 29, 2016. Siegfried Baumann and his two daughters Margot and Eva were all mentioned in this post.

According to Bejzman’s post, SIBRA was founded eighty years before, i.e., on August 29, 1936, to assist the German Jewish refugees who were arriving in Brazil. The society obtained a building with a hall for a synagogue and rooms for social and cultural meetings. SIBRA became a place of comfort for the new immigrants, a place where they could learn Portuguese and Brazilian culture, a place to pray and a place to receive assistance with finding work and homes, and a community of people who helped in times of illness or other emergencies. In this post, Siegfried Baumann is mentioned as a synagogue leader, and his daughters Margot and Eva are mentioned in the context of a trip to Ipanema organized by SIBRA.

From this Facebook post I learned that the Baumann family was very involved in SIBRA and the Porto Alegre Jewish community. I left a message on the SIBRA page and sent a message through their website, asking how I might contact members of the family, but I did not hear back. Perhaps the fact that I don’t know Portuguese made it hard for them to understand my inquiry, or perhaps they were being protective of the privacy of the family. But at least I had the names of the two daughters and their married names (Margot was identified as Margot Baumann Leventhal and Eva as Eva Baumann Dorfman) and could search for them on my own.

I decided to post a question to the LatAmSIG on JewishGen, asking for advice on how to contact the Baumann family.  I received two very helpful responses, one pointing to a Geni page for Eva’s family and one from someone who was a good friend of Margot’s son and who gave me his email address and the names of his siblings. Based on this additional information, I also found several of Mali’s grandchildren on Facebook, and one of them, Margot’s daughter Iara, responded with great enthusiasm.

Iara has now shared with me not only information about her family, but also her grandparents’ passports and several family photographs. With her permission, I can now complete the story of Mali Katz Baumann and her family.

Mali and Siegfried lived in Lauterbach, Germany, where Margot was born on April 30, 1931, and Eva was born on September 24, 1933, according to Iara.   Siegfried was in the leather business with his brother Max.

The Baumann family left Germany in 1936 and settled in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  Porto Alegre is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sol, the state in Brazil where most of the German Jewish refugees came in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany, according to Iara. Siegfried Baumann’s brother Max was already there when Siegfried, Mali, and their daughters arrived.

Here are the passports of Siegfried Baumann, Mali Katz Baumann, and their two young daughters showing their departure from Germany and their immigration to Brazil.  It’s wonderful that Iara shared these with me because not only do they provide descriptions of Siegfried and Mali, there are also photographs of Mali, Margot, and Eva.

First, Siegfried’s passport, which also included the little girls:

Here is Mali’s passport:

UPDATE: Martin Abrahams, son of Senta Katz Abraham, sent me the images of his mother’s passport after seeing this post. Here is her photograph.  The resemblance between Senta and her sister Mali is striking:

Senta Katz Abraham passport-page-003

Martin also shared this photograph of the four cousins (plus two older cousins in the back row). In the front are Eva Baumann, Fred Abraham(s), Martin Abraham(s), and Margot Baumann before they all escaped from Germany.

Eva Baumann, Fred Abraham, Martin Abraham, Margot Baumann JPG

Front row: Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, Margot Baumann. Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

Iara told me that her grandparents Mali and Siegfried always held on to their Jewish identity and traditions after settling in Brazil. They were among the leaders of the SIBRA synagogue and celebrated Shabbat and all the Jewish holidays. Iara described her grandmother as strong and energetic and her grandfather as “too gentle.”  They lived in the same building with their daughter Margot for their entire time in Porto Alegre. Iara told me that Mali’s brother Maurice/Moritz and his wife came to visit them in Brazil and that Mali often spoke with her sister Senta by telephone.

Their daughter Margot Baumann married Julio Leventhal, a business owner in Brazil, on March 27, 1960. Here is a photograph of Margot and Julio’s wedding:

Margot Baumann’s wedding to Julio Leventhal. Courtesy of Iara Leventhal.

Margo worked in a business importing and exporting leather until her children were born. Margot and Julio had three children, including my cousin Iara, her brother Luis David, and sister Liana.

Eva Baumann was a physiotherapist who worked in hospitals in Porto Alegre.  She married Raul Dorfman, who taught at the University of Rio Grande do Sul, on February 28, 1962. They had two children, Mauro and Adriana.

Siegfried died on July 14, 1981, and Mali died on December 21, 1987. Eva died on May 8, 2001. Margot died on August 21, 2006, and her husband Julio died on December 20, 2015.   They are all buried in the Jewish cemetery in Porto Alegre.

Mali Katz and Siegfried Bauman and their daughters Margot and Eva are survived by the five children of Margot and Eva and many grandchildren. Iara pointed out to me that the first names of her siblings, her first cousins, and herself spell out the name MALI (sometimes spelled Malli) (Mauro, Adriana, Luis/Liana, Iara). They all are determined to carry on the proud legacy that they have inherited from their grandmother Mali, their grandfather Siegfried, and their parents.

Iara also shared with me a number of photographs of Eva and Margot and their children and grandchildren, and with her permission I am posting two of them here.

Margot Baumann Leventhal and Eva Baumann Dorfman Courtesy of Iara Leventhal

Wedding of Iara Leventhal and Jaime Aronis with Julio Leventhal on the left and Margot Baumann Leventhal on the right Courtesy of Iara Leventhal

I feel very fortunate to have found Iara and to have learned so much more about her family—another family that escaped from Nazi Germany and was forced to start life over in a whole new country with a whole new language and culture. Another family that is evidence that Hitler did not prevail.