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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

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

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part II

In the last post we saw that after Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer died in 1918 and then her husband Nathan Sondheimer died in 1933, there were three children left orphaned: Manfred, Erich, and Augusta. They were still just teenagers at the time. But fortunately for them their grandmother Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and their extended family in Frankfurt cared for them as did their stepmother Anna.

All three were able to escape from Nazi Germany in time. We saw that  Augusta ended up in the US in early 1939 and lived with her stepmother Anna and her aunt Selma Ettlinger Oppenheimer until she married Walter Levy in 1942.

As for Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich, by 1939, they were living in England, according to the 1939 England and Wales Register. The Sondheimer brothers were living in Surrey with a couple named Friedrich and Ruth Hirsch, who were not much older than they were; Friedrich was a metal broker. Manfred was working as the secretary and Erich as a clerk for a company identified as Messrs. Tonerde on their enemy alien registration cards (see images below). That was the same company where their cousin Ernst Bodenheimer was employed.

Manfred and Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1938C, Enumeration District: DNEA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Manfred married another Frankfurt native, Ruth Blumenthal, on June 16, 1940, in the Hendon district of London; Ruth was born on June 4, 1920, to Samuel Blumenthal and Gutta Spangenthal. She had come to London after finishing school in Germany.1 Their daughter, my fifth cousin Daniela, kindly shared a scan of their marriage registration:

Marriage certificate of Manfred Sondheimer and Ruth Blumenthal

Both Manfred and Erich were eventually interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Here is Manfred’s enemy alien registration card showing that he was then living in Surrey and working for Messrs. Tonerde. Although he was originally found to be exempt from internment, he was later interned on the Isle of Man, where he was put in charge of one of the barracks,2 and released on September 8, 1940.

Manfred Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Manfred’s brother Erich Selig Sondheimer also was interned on the Isle of Man. According to his enemy alien registration card, he was living with his brother Manfred in Surrey at the time of  registration and was also working for Messrs. Tonerde. But he also was later sent to the internment camp where he was the chauffeur to the commander of the camp.3 Eric was  released from the camp on September 7, 1940, the day before his brother Manfred.

Erich S Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On September 9, 1940, Ruth and Manfred and Erich all left England for Cuba. They had decided they would go wherever they first got a visa, and although Ruth would have preferred to go to Palestine where her parents and sister were living, the visa for Cuba came through first.4

On the same ship were their cousins Ernst and Clementine (Eisemann) Bodenheimer, who had also been interned on the Isle of Man. According to their daughter Daniela, Ruth and Manfred had a religious wedding ceremony aboard the ship to solemnize the civil ceremony they had had in London in June.5

Ernst and Clementine Bodenheimer, Manfred and Ruth Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer, ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On February 17, 1941, Manfred and Ruth arrived in Miami, Florida, from Cuba. Manfred reported that the person they were going to at their destination was Anna Sondheimer in New York City. Manfred stated that he was a merchant who last permanently resided in London. He could speak five languages: German, English, French, Dutch, and Hebrew.

Manfred Sondheimer, Ancestry.com. Miami, Florida, U.S., Index to Alien Arrivals by Airplane, 1930-1942

By the time Manfred filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on September 12, 1941, he and Ruth were living in New York City. Manfred listed his occupation as the vice-president/secretary of an importing business.

Manfred Sondheimer, 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 630) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 500201-501100), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On his World War II draft registration, he identified that company as Campro, Inc. Manfred and Ruth had two children born in New York after the war, their son Adrian and their daughter Daniela, who has generously shared so much of her family’s story with me.

Manfred Sondheimer World War 2 draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s marriage to Ruth Blumenthal ended in divorce in 1966, and in 1968, he married another Ruth—Ruth Darmstadter Grunebaum.6 He became the vice-president of the Hugo Neu Company, a business that, as described on its website, “is a privately held company with deep experience in investing, building and managing businesses in recycling, real estate and related industries.” Manfred worked there for fifty years. One of his favorite charities was the Bibleland Museum in Jerusalem, and he worked hard to provide support and to obtain support from others for that institution.7

Manfred died on January 8, 2006, at the age of 91. He was survived by his children and grandchildren as well as his brother Erich. Those descendants have carried on the Goldschmidt commitment to Jewish education as both of Manfred’s children and all of his grandchildren have attended or are attending Jewish day school.8

Instead of going directly to the US from Cuba like his brother Manfred, Erich Sondheimer agreed to stay in Cuba so that another relative, one of his Sondheimer cousins, could leave for the US. Because he was unable to get a visa to the US, Erich ended up living for some years in Ecuador,9 where he married his wife Joan Charlotte Salomon on October 26, 1943. She was born in Berlin on March 31, 1912, to Herman and Gertrud Salomon.10

Erich and Joan immigrated to the US on August 22, 1946, arriving in Miami, Florida. On an information sheet filed with INS upon his arrival, Erich indicated that they were heading to Long Beach, New Jersey, where Anna Sondheimer, his stepmother, was living. (This is probably a mistake and should have been Long Beach, New York, according to Erich’s niece Daniela.) Erich described his occupation as “industrial” and noted that he, like his brother Manfred, was able to read five languages: German, Dutch, French, Spanish, and English.

Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2788537; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 133, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963

Erich (later spelled Eric in the US) and Joan settled in New York and made several trips to South America as well as other destinations over the years. They did not have children. Joan died November 22, 2009; she was 97 years old.11 Eric died March 8, 2010, less than four months after Joan. He was 94.12

Eric worked for many years for the Melanol Corporation, an oil trading business, but his niece Daniela said that his real passion was his volunteer work for an organization called Selfhelp Community Services that Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer was also involved in developing.13 Selfhelp describes itself on its website as follows:

Selfhelp Community Services was founded in 1936 to help those fleeing Nazi Germany maintain their independence and dignity as they struggled to forge new lives in America. Today, Selfhelp is one of the largest and most respected not-for-profit human service agencies in the New York metropolitan area, with 46 programs offering services throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Westchester. Selfhelp provides a broad set of services to more than 20,000 elderly, frail, and vulnerable New Yorkers each year, while remaining the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America.

In a death notice published in The New York Times on March 9, 2010, Selfhelp paid tribute to Eric Sondheimer and his long and dedicated service to their organization:14

Selfhelp Community Services deeply mourns the passing of the esteemed elder statesman of our Board, Eric S. Sondheimer. For over fifty years, Mr. Sondheimer demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Selfhelp’s historic mission of supporting life with dignity to survivors of the Holocaust. His passion for independent living is evidenced by Selfhelp’s six residences, built under his guidance and direction, which house 1,000 seniors. Mr. Sondheimer will be lovingly remembered as a true gentleman whose exceptional kindness and wit was matched only by his insightful wisdom and vision. He left an extraordinary legacy for which he will always be remembered.

Thank you to my fifth cousin Daniela for sharing her family stories and photographs, including these two of her Sondheimer family. First, a photograph of Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Daniela’s mother, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan Sondheimer’s brother Fritz, and Joan Charlotte Salomon Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer’s wife:

Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family

This last photograph is of four of the Sondheimer siblings and their spouses. It includes Manfred and Eric Sondheimer’s half-siblings, Fred (previously known as Fritz) and Marion. Their sister Augusta had already died when this photo was taken.

Robert Couturier, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Fred Sondheimer, Marion Sondheimer Couturier, Ruth Grunenbaum Sondheimer, Manfred Sondheimer, Eric Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family.

Reading about Manfred and Eric and their sister Augusta and how successful and well-loved they all were was reassuring and uplifting. Here were three children who lost their mother as preschoolers and their father as teens and then had to escape from Nazi Germany. Eric and Manfred were both interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Both brothers then escaped to Cuba because they couldn’t get into the US as quickly due to visa issues and quotas. And then finally they both settled in New York and lived very long and productive lives.

Once again I am inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of people to survive terrible losses and displacement and yet go on to find joy and meaning in life.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Jun 1920, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1996
    Father: Samuel Blumenthal, Mother: Gutta Spagenthal, SSN: 060405088, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Volume Number: 3a
    Page Number: 2220, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 2220, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Divorce documents provided by Daniela Sondheimer Klein. Ruth Grunebaum
    Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 1968, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Manfred Sondheimer, License Number: 2434,
    New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Death notices for Manfred Oppenheimer, The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2006, Section C, Page 17. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  8. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Manfred Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 051-18-3476, Birth Date: 27 Oct 1914, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Jan 2006, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  10. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 25 Feb 1952
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  11. Joan Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 094-24-2094, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 22 Nov 2009, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12.  Eric Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 070-24-6828, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1915
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Mar 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  14. Death notice for Eric Sondheimer, The New York Times, March 9, 2010. 

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part I

As mentioned in an earlier post, Meyer Selig and Selma (Cramer) Goldschmidt’s daughter Clementine married Nathan Sondheimer in 1913 and had three children: Manfred born in 1914, Erich in 1915, and Auguste in 1918. I was very fortunate to connect with Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, daughter of Manfred Sondheimer, who generously shared with me family stories and photographs, including this wonderful photograph of the three Sondheimer children with their mother.1

Erich, Manfred, Auguste, and Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, c. 1917. Courtesy of the family

Tragically, Clementine died on October 29, 1918, leaving behind three young children, Manfred, (four years old), Erich (three), and Auguste (one), and her husband Nathan Sondheimer. Clementine was only 25 years old and was a victim of the 1918 flu epidemic like her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer and millions of others. According to Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, Clementine was pregnant with her fourth child at the time of her death.

Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10793, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Daniela shared with me that after their mother died, her father Manfred and his siblings were raised in large part by their maternal grandmother, Selma Cramer Goldschmidt, the wife of Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, who himself died in 1922. The entire Goldschmidt extended family was extremely close and lived near each other, so there was a great deal of support for Clementine’s three young children. That was especially important when Auguste came down with tuberculosis and was extremely ill and in and out of sanitoria. Fortunately she eventually recovered and regained her strength.2

Here are three more photographs of the Sondheimer children, two of just the three of them and one with the extended family:

Manfred, Auguste, and Erich Sondheimer, c. 1921 Courtesy of the family

Manfred, Erich, and Auguste Sondheimer, c. 1923 Courtesy of the family

Members of the extended Goldschmidt and Sondheimer families at the North Sea, c. 1927. At far right in the first row is Nathan Sondheimer. To his right is Manfred and then Auguste with Erich behind them. Courtesy of the family

In 1928, ten years after Clementine’s death, her widower Nathan Sondheimer remarried, and he had two more children with his second wife, Anna Ettlinger, a doctor who graduated from the University of Heidelberg, according to my cousin Daniela. Anna was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on May 28, 1894, to Kaufmann Ettlinger and Dora Frankel.3 She was likely a distant cousin of Nathan through his mother Auguste Ettlinger as both were originally from Karlsruhe, Germany. I traced them both back four generations without finding a direction connection, but I assume there is one there.

Nathan Sondheimer and Anna Ettlinger marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Then just five years after he married Anna, Nathan died on May 13, 1933, in Washington, DC. According to his granddaughter Daniela, Nathan had traveled to Washington to promote his business. While there he secured a life insurance policy. Then, without warning, he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54.4

Nathan and Clementine’s three children were now teenaged orphans. Manfred was eighteen, Erich was seventeen, and Auguste was fifteen. Clementine’s children had lost both of their parents before reaching adulthood just as had happened to the children of her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer. It also left Nathan’s second wife Anna a widow with their two little children, Fritz and Marion, both under the age of five.

Fortunately, Nathan had successfuly secured that life insurance policy just days before his death, and the proceeds proved to be enough to get his body back to Germany for burial in Frankfurt and to get his widow Anna and his five children out of Germany.

According to the website of the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and smuggled eighteen sapphires out of the country by sewing them into the clothing of the family. Some of those sapphires are now in the museum’s collection.

It appears that Anna and her two children Fritz and Marion escaped to Holland. A ship manifest shows her sailing to the US with her sister Kate Ettlinger in June 1938; Anna listed her last permanent residence as The Hague, Holland, and indicated she intended to stay in the US permanently.5 Then in September 1938, she sailed from the US to England, listing her last residence as the US.

Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1165, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

On February 11, 1939, Anna returned to the US with Fritz and Marion and her mother, who had all been living in Holland. Anna and her children listed as the person they were going to in the US an A. Sondheimer—identified as Anna’s daughter and the sister of her two children, living at 1359 51st Street in Brooklyn, New York. (See the third image below.)

Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, with children and mother, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 33 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island),

I first assumed that A. Sondheimer was Auguste Sondheimer, who was Anna’s stepdaughter and her children’s half-sister. But I found two manifests—one an outgoing manifest from England, the other an arrival manifest in New York—showing that Auguste sailed from England to New York in August 1939, six months after Anna’s arrival back to the US in February. Auguste was  accompanied by  Selma Sondheimer, who was the widow of Fritz Sondheimer, Nathan Sondheimer’s brother. Both of those manifests show that Auguste had been living in England, not in Brooklyn. They also reveal that Auguste was a photographer.6

I searched for any other A. Sondheimer who could have been living in Brooklyn at that time. Nathan did have two brothers who came to the US. One, Arthur, had died in New York in 1905;7 the other, Albert, arrived in the US in April 1939, so months after Anna’s arrival.8

And then the lightbulb went on. The “A. Sondheimer” they were going to in Brooklyn was Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer herself. Anna listed her last residence as Brooklyn on that February 1939 manifest. The poor shipping company clerk who entered the data must have been so confused. Look at how he crossed out the relationships in the first column for the person left behind, another A. Sondheimer, this one probably Albert Sondheimer, Nathan’s brother. And he also listed the A. Sondheimer they were going to as the daughter of both Anna’s mother and of Anna herself.

In any event, the 1940 US census shows that Augusta (spelled here with a A at the end, not an E) was then living in New York City with Anna, Fritz, Marion, Anna’s mother Dora Rudlia Frankel Ettlinger, and Anna’s sister-in-law Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan’s brother Fritz and Nathan’s first cousin. Anna was practicing medicine.

Augusta Sondheimer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02638; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 31-626, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Auguste married Walter James Levy in New York in April, 1942.9 Walter was also a refugee from Germany; he was born in Hamburg on March 21, 1911, to Moses Levy and Bertha Lindenberger.10 Walter arrived in the US on March 19, 1941, and filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on August 6, 1941, listing his occupation as statistician and his last residence as England.11 He also by that time had registered for the World War II draft, listing his occupation as writer, statistician, economist. Most interestingly, he listed as his contact person a “friend,” Augusta Sondheimer. They were both living at 41 Central Park West in New York City. Less than a year later, they were married.

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

During the war, they moved to Washington, DC, where Walter ran the petroleum section of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Walter’s obituary in The New York Times:

After the war, he guided the petroleum sector of the Marshall Plan. In 1948 he became chief of the petroleum, oil and lubricant division of the Economic Cooperation Administration, which administered the plan to mend Europe’s shattered economies and provide the political stability for democratic institutions to thrive. He filled that job until 1949 and continued to advise the E.C.A. until it ended its mission two years later.

During the 1940s, Walter and Augusta (as she later spelled it in the US) had two children, Robert and Susan. They returned to New York where Walter established his own international consulting business, Walter J. Levy Consultants Corporation, where he “helped renegotiate oil leases between states that wanted to tap their own resources effectively and companies that feared outright nationalization.”12

Augusta Sondheimer Levy died on September 19, 1981, in Westport, Connecticut; she was 64 years old.13 Her son Robert died only twelve years later on April 20, 1993; he was only 47.14 Walter Levy died at age 86 on December 10, 1997, in New York; he was described as “the dean of United States oil economists” in his obituaries.15 Sadly, Augusta and Walter’s remaining child also died relatively young; Susan Levy died on November 15, 2003, Altamonte Springs, California; she was 54.16 All four family members are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, where many other Sondheimer relatives are also buried. As neither Robert or Susan had children, there are no living descendants of Augusta Sondheimer Levy.

But Augusta survived the loss of her mother, her father, and then her homeland. Her name and her story should not be forgotten.

What about Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich?

To be continued.


  1. My fifth cousin Daniela Sondheimer Klein and I exchanged numerous emails in November and December and also spoke by Zoom on December 1, 2020. All references to matters in this post that I was told by Daniela came from those emails and that conversation. 
  2. See also Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem), pp. 15-18. 
  3. Anna Ettinger, Gender: weiblich (Female), Birth Date: 28 Mai 1894 (28 May 1894)
    Birth Place: Karlsruhe, Baden (Baden-Württemberg), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Karlsruhe, Father: Kaufmann Ettinger, Mother: Dora Frünkel, Certificate Number: 968, Signatur: 3_B_A_I_47, Bestand: 3/B, Title: Enthält: Einträge Nr. 938 – 1875, Date: 1894, Lange: 20, Laufende Nummer: A/I/47, Zahlung Gesamter Bestand: 47, Ancestry.com. Karlsruhe, Germany, Births, 1870-1904. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  4.   Nathan Sondheimer, Gender: männlich (Male), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Death Date: 13 Mai 1933 (13 May 1933), Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70367447, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  5. Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 2, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  6. Auguste and Selma Sondheimer, ship manifests, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960, and Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 149, Ship or Roll Number: Champlain, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27BT-FK8 : 3 June 2020), Arthur Sondheimer, 1905. 
  8. Albert Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 15; Page Number: 26, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  9.  Auguste Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Apr 1942, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Walter Levy, License Number: 7458, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  10. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. Walter J Levy, Declaration Number: 496713, Box Number: 370, 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,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  12. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  13. State File #: 19446, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  14. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  15. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80079636/robert-levy 
  16. Susan Beatrice Levy, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 23 Sep 1949, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 1 Nov 2003, SSN: 065384544, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt’s Descendants Scattered Across the World

As we’ve seen, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt and his wife Selma Cramer Goldschmidt had three children who survived them as well as a daughter Clementine who predeceased them. This post will report on the three who outlived them and also survived the Holocaust: Harry, Arthur, and Alice.

Harry Goldschmidt

Meyer and Selma’s oldest child Harry, his wife Fanny Steindecker, and their son Walter Selig Goldschmidt had moved to Paris, France, by 1933. Harry is listed on a ship manifest to New York, his occupation as an antiquary, and his marital status as married.1 But by 1936 when Harry is next listed on a ship manifest, his marital status is listed as single.2

Both Fanny (returning to her birth name Steindecker) and their son Walter Selig Goldschmidt immigrated to the US on February 18, 1942. Walter listed his occupation as bank clerk on the ship manifest. Fanny reported that she was divorced. They listed their last residence as Cassis, France, a community near Marseille in the south of France. I wonder if they’d been hiding there, waiting for a ship and visa to get to the US, as by February, 1942, the Nazis were occupying northern France and southern France was controlled by the Vichy government, considered a mere puppet government of the Nazis or even their allies and collaborators.

Fanny Steindecker, Walter Goldschmidt ship manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Newport News, Virginia; NAI Number: 2877802; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 10, Ancestry.com. Virginia, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1904-1963

On her 1942 declaration of intention Fanny reported that she was divorced from Harry Goldschmidt and that Harry was living in Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Perhaps he was hiding from the Nazis. Also, Fanny reported that her last residence was Cairo, Egypt, and that she had sailed from Casablanca, Morocco. Her travels show how difficult it was for people to get out of Europe by 1942.

Fanny Steindecker, 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 657) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 525001-525900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Interestingly, her son Walter’s declaration of intention differed in some details from that of his mother, even though they were on the same ship. Walter listed his last residence as Cassis and said he emigrated from Marseille. Had Fanny left for Cairo and then Casablanca and met Walter on the ship? Unfortunately the ship manifest above does not name from which port the ship departed.

Walter Selig Goldschmidt, 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 660) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 527701-528600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On his World War II draft registration filed in May, 1942, Walter reported that he was employed by the Filtered Water Service Corporation, and both he and his mother were living at 21 West 86th Street in New York City. He also listed his citizenship as French.

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

Walter married Nicole Meyer in New York on February 6, 1946.3 She was born in Paris on June 12, 1923, to Emile Meyer and Georgette Hagenauer.4 Walter became a naturalized US citizen on July 15, 1948, and was still living in New York City at that time.5  Walter and Nicole had two children born in the 1950s, one in France and one in New York, and by 1959 the family was living in Paris and Walter was now claiming that his nationality was French, not American.6

According to David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research, Harry Goldschmidt died in Paris on November 12, 1970. His son Walter Selig Goldschmidt died in Paris in October 1982,7 and Walter’s mother Fanny Steindecker also ultimately returned to France where she died on November 15, 1987, at the age of 95.8

Arthur Goldschmidt

Meyer and Selma Goldschmidt’s second oldest child was their son Arthur Goldschmidt, and I have very little information about his life. I’ve not been able to find a ship manifest or any other record for Arthur between his 1924 marriage record to Martha Mitterhauser Widmer and his World War II draft registration dated 1946. By that time Arthur was living in New York City and self-employed.

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

He did not list Martha as his contact person, and in fact in 1955 he married Anna Maria Kelsen9 so his marriage to Martha had obviously ended sometime between 1924 and 1955. Anna Maria Kelsen was born on February 7, 1907, in Berlin.10

I don’t have any other details about Arthur except that he died while traveling in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 22, 1960, from pneumonia and heart failure. The report on his death indicates that his address was in New York City, but that his widow Anne Marie Kelsen Goldschmidt with whom he’d been traveling also had an address in Paris. From the passenger card for Anne Marie traveling to Paris in April 1960, it appears that Arthur and Anne Marie had residences in both cities.11 I have found no evidence that Arthur had any children with either of his wives.

Arthur Goldschmidt death record, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.; NAI Number: 302021; Record Group Title: General Records of the Department of State; Record Group Number: Record Group 59; Series Number: Publication A1 205; Box Number: 399; Box Description: 1960-1963 Switzerland A – L, Box Number: Box 0399: 1960 – 1962
Ancestry.com. U.S., Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974

Alice Goldschmidt Eisemann

Whereas Harry had immigrated to France and Arthur to the US, Meyer Selig and Selma’s youngest child, their daughter Alice, and her husband Heinrich Eisemann escaped to England. They are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register residing in London. Heinrich was working as a dealer in books of antiquity. They are not listed with any of their children, although there is one line blacked out that could be one of their six children. (I do not think that Berta Goldschmidt, their cook and housekeeper, was a relative.)

Heinrich and Alice Eisemann, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/564D, Enumeration District: AWAD, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alice and Heinrich became British citizens, as indicated on a 1952 ship manifest for a visit to New York.12 Alice died in London on January 18, 1965 when she was 68 years old;13 her husband Heinrich survived her by eight years, dying in 1973 in England.14

Alice and Heinrich might have been visiting their daughter Clementine Eisemann Bodenheimer on that 1952 trip to New York. Clementine, who was born in Frankfurt on October 16, 1920,15 was married to Ernst Bodenheimer. Ernst was born on December 5, 1905, in Frankfurt,and is listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register as a manager of a chemical company. 16  According to David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research, Ernst and Clementine married on the Isle of Man where they must have been interned as enemy aliens. Ernst’s registration as an enemy alien indicates that he was released on September 7, 1940, and heading to Cuba.

Ernst Bodenheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/167
Piece Number Description: 167: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Berk-Bohr
Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

This ship manifest shows that Ernst and Clementine did in fact leave England for Cuba on September 9, 1940.

Ernst and Clementine Bodenheimer ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

As we will see in a post to follow, Clementine (Eisemann) and Ernst Bodenheimer were on the same ship as Clementine’s first cousins, Manfred and Eric Sondheimer, the sons of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondenheimer, Clementine Eisemann’s aunt, her mother’s sister.

On July 1, 1941, Ernst Bodenheimer registered for the World War II draft. He and Clementine were living in Brooklyn, and Ernst was employed by Tonerde, Inc.17 Clementine and Ernst had three children in the 1940s, all born in New York.

Ernst Bodenheimer died at the age of 94 on September 12, 2000.18 Clementine Eisemann Bodenheimer died seven years later on December 21, 2007. She was 87. They are survived by their children and other descendants.19

The other children of Alice Goldschmidt and Heinrich Eisemann are either still living or have living spouses so in the interest of privacy, I will not be writing about them. Suffice it to say, Alice and Heinrich have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in many parts of the world.

 


  1. Harry Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1933; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 26; Page Number: 6, Description Ship or Roll Number: Ile de France, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Harry Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 16; Page Number: 8, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Walter S Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 29 Jan 1946
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Nicole Meyer, License Number: 3469, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. The marriage date itself comes from Baron and Cibella. 
  4. Nicole Estelle Meyer, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 92, Birth Date: 12 juin 1923 (12 Jun 1923), Birth Place: Paris-14e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 22 mars 2016 (22 Mar 2016), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 366, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-2016.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018. Original data: Fichier des personnes décédées. France: data.gouv.fr. https://www.data.gouv.fr/fr/datasets/fichier-des-personnes-decedees/:accessed 15 October, 2020. Parents’ names are from Baron and CIbella. 
  5. Walter Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Age: 33, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  6. Walter Goldschmidt, Nationality: French, Arrival Age: 44, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915
    Birth Place: Frankfurt/Main, Arrival Date: 4 Feb 1959, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Destination: New York, Airline: PAA, Flight Number: 115/03, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 140, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  7. Walter Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 108-18-8193, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France, Last Benefit: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France
    Death Date: Oct 1982, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. See also FindAGrave entry at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/185496471/walter-goldschmidt 
  8. Fanny Steindecker, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 95, Birth Date: 11 déc. 1891 (11 Dec 1891), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 4 nov. 1987, Death Place: Saint-Maur-Des-Fosses, Val-De-Marne, France, Certificate Number: 678, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Ancestry.com. Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018. Original data: Fichier des personnes décédées. France: data.gouv.fr. https://www.data.gouv.fr/fr/datasets/fichier-des-personnes-decedees/:accessed 15 October, 2020. 
  9.  Arthur Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1955, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Anne Kelsen, License Number: 24215, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  10. Anne Marie K Goldschmidt, Nationality: American, Arrival Age: 53, Birth Date: 7 Feb 1907, Birth Place: Berlin Germany, Arrival Date: 1 Apr 1960, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Destination: New York, Airline: Air France, Flight Number: 0707
    Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  11. Ibid. 
  12. Alice and Heinrich Eisemann, ship manifest, Year: 1952; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 228, Ship or Roll Number: Queen Mary, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  13. Alice Eisemann, Death Date: 18 Jan 1965, Death Place: London, England
    Probate Date: 5 Apr 1965, Probate Registry: London, England, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  14.  Heinrich Eisemann, Death Age: 82, Birth Date: 7 Aug 1890,
    Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1973, Registration District: Islington
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5c, Page: 1806, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5c; Page: 1806, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  15.  Clementin E. Bodenheimer, Social Security Number: 059-40-5773, Birth Date: 16 Oct 1920, Issue Year: 1964, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10952, Monsey, Rockland, New York, Death Date: 21 Dec 2007, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16. Ernst Bodenheimer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1884A, Enumeration District: DMFQ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  17. Ernst Bodenheimer, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  18. Ernst L Bodenheimer, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 5 Dec 1905, Death Date: 12 Sep 2000, Claim Date: 4 Feb 1971, SSN: 050184990, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19.  Clementin E. Bodenheimer, Social Security Number: 059-40-5773, Birth Date: 16 Oct 1920, Issue Year: 1964, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10952, Monsey, Rockland, New York, Death Date: 21 Dec 2007, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild’s Family: From Frankfurt to England

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

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

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family.

Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

Recha and Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

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

Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1906 Courtesy of the family

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

Jacob, Robert, and Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1907

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

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

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

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

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

Zacharias Hackenbroch Courtesy of the family

Zacharias Hackenbroch. Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

Irene Hackenbroch c. 1922
Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob/Jack Schwarzschild

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

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

Sonja died in England on September 9, 1950.8

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

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

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

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Untermainkai 34 before the war

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

After the war with the top floors of the building rebuilt


  1.  Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch, Birth Date: 17 Mai 1910, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main
    Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 3, Fränkel, Werner – Hartmann, Hermann,
    Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  2.  Yvonne Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1912, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  3.  Irene Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1918
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Robert Boris Schwarzschild,
    Birth Date: 20 Okt 1921, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 8, Schafranek, Lizzi – Stern, Moritz, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  5. Recha Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1863
    Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany, Death Date: 3 Mrz 1929 (3 Mar 1929), Father: Seelig Goldschmidt, Mother: Clementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342026, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  6. Alfred Isaac Schwarzschild, Gender: Male, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 14 Mai 1858 (14 May 1858), Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Death Date: 15 Mai 1936 (15 May 1936), Father: Isaac Schwarzschild, Mother: Roslaie Kulp, FHL Film Number: 342021, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  7. J A Schwarzchild, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 12 Feb 1885
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Cambridge Gate, Residence Place: St Pancras, London, England, Occupation: Stockbroker on Half Cou, Line Number: 23, Schedule Number: 151, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: ASAY, Borough: St Pancras, Registration district: 9/1., Inferred Spouse: Sonia Schwarzschild, Household Members Age, J A Schwayschild 54, Sonia Schwayschild 39, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/473D, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  8. Sonia Schwarzschild, Death Date: 9 Sep 1950, Death Place: London, England
    Probate Date: 14 Feb 1951, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  9. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  10. Robert Boris Shields, Electoral Date: 1947, Street Address: 27, Ward or Division/Constituency: Finchley East, County or Borough: Finchley, England
    London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Electoral Registers, Ancestry.com. London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 
  11. Robert B Schwarzschild, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1955, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Ullmann, Volume Number: 5e
    Page Number: 1475, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1475, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  12. Robert Boris Shields, Residence Date: 1962, Residence Place: York, Ontario, Canada, Electoral District: York East, Occupation: Chartered Accountant, Reference Number: M-5044, Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980, Ancestry.com. Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 
  13. Jack Alfred Schwarzschild, Death Date: 11 Dec 1978, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 23 Mar 1979, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  14. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/168107310/robert-boris-shields 
  15. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  16. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Zoom conversation with Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  17. Clementine Hackenbroch, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1946, Registration District: Hampstead, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Harry Cahn, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 1447, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 1447, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  18. Harry Cahn, Gender: männlich (Male), Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1899, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt/Main, Mainzerlandstrasse 4, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Father: Albert Cahn
    Mother: Idlli Wolf, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70346089
    Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1,
    Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  19. Lucie R Hackenbroch,Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1939, Registration District: Kensington, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Elliot E Philipp, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 291, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 291, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020; conversation with Alan Philipp on December 14, 2020. Alan said that Lucie had known Elliot’s family for a while, but really only got to know Elliot the month before their March 22, 1939, civil ceremony. 
  20. Elliot E. Philipp, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1915
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 58 Residence Place: Harrow, Middlesex, England
    Occupation: Medical Student (Final Year), Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 65
    Sub Schedule Number: 5, Enumeration District: BIDH, Borough: Harrow, Registration district: 130/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/788F, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  21. Ibid. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  22. Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography,” (unpublished), p. 54. 
  23. Clementine Cahn, Death Age: 95, Birth Date: 30 Aug 1888, Registration Date: Jun 1984, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: London, Volume: 15
    Page: 1838, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 1838,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  24. Harry Cahn, Death Date: 19 Jan 1988, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 6 May 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  25. Lucie Ruth Philipp, Death Date: 4 Jul 1988, Death Place: York Gate London, Probate Date: 12 Dec 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  26. Irene Maximiliane Hackenbock, Death Date: 9 Nov 1987, Death Place: East London, Probate Date: 12 Feb 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 

Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer’s Three Sons: Can You Help Me Find More Records?

In the last post we saw that Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer’s daughter Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer died young, her grandson William Oppenheimer died very young, and her son-in-law Arthur Oppenheimer also died young. But Rosa and Arthur’s three remaining children survived those losses and also survived the Holocaust.

This post will look at Hedwig’s three sons, Max, Sally, and Herbert Cramer, and their families in the 20th century. Unfortunately, there are many places in this post where I had to rely on secondary sources, which I am always reluctant to do, but I was unable to find many primary sources for the Cramer sons and their descendants. If anyone has suggestions—especially for finding Israeli birth, marriage, and death records and some English death records—please let me know.

UPDATE: Thank you to the many people who reached out to help, including Yehuda  from Tracing the Tribe, Anne from the German Genealogy Group on Facebook, Shirley, my cousin by marriage and friend, and a blog reader BRegenstein. I am updating this post with some of the new information and records I’ve received from them.

I was, however, able to learn more about the three Cramer sons from the book written by their nephew Arnold Selig Oppenheimer, and that source provided more inisghts into these three men. It also included some wonderful images including these portraits of Selig Goldschmidt and his wife Clementine Fuld and two photographs of their daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer:

From Arnold S Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

From Arnold S Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

Now, the story of Hedwig’s sons in the 20th century.

Max Cramer

From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

Max Cramer married Sidonie Charlotte Gestetner, the daughter of David Gestetner and Sophie Lazarus, in 1908.1 Sidonie was born in Islington, England, on March 12, 1888,2 and that’s where the two married.

Max and Sidonie settled in Frankfurt where their first child Ilse Caroline Cramer was born on September 17, 1909.3 Her sister Ellen was also born in Frankfurt, two years later on September 21, 1911.4 A third daughter Hilda was born on February 3, 1916,5 followed almost exactly two years later by Max and Sidonie’s fourth daughter Nelli Else, born February 13, 1918.6

When the Nazis took power in Germany, Max and his children all left Germany. Max went to Palestine. According to his Palestinian immigration papers, Max Cramer and his first wife Sidonie divorced in May, 1935, and Sidonie returned to England. Max then went to Palestine on October 21, 1935, first as a visitor, but he ultimately decided to stay and become a citizen. In 1949, he married Elfriede Sachs Gluecksohn in Israel.7 Max died in Jerusalem on July 22, 1952, according to his profile on Geni.

UPDATE: Thank you to Yehuda from TTT for locating Max’s headstone on Gravez, which confirms his date of death.

Max Cramer, Palestine Immigration File, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680ee723e

As for the children of Max and Sidonie, their oldest daughter, Ilsa Caroline Cramer, was the only one who did not immigrate to England, according to various secondary sources. According to the research of David Baron and Roger Cibella, Ilsa married Marcel Fruchter Peri in Palestine in 1939, had one child, and died on March 21, 1954, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Profiles on My Heritage list her husband as Walter Skotzki and with no children, but with the same year of death. I’ve been unable to locate any primary source to verify any of these facts other than other profiles on My Heritage, Geni, and Ancestry.

Max and Sidonie’s three other daughters ended up in England with their mother Sidonie, who married Hans Feibusch, an artist, in 1935 right after her divorce from Max Cramer.8  The 1939 England and Wales Register lists Sidonie, Hans, and the three Cramer daughters in one household living in London. Hilda was working as a secretary-copywriter, Nelli was not employed, and Ellen was a studio photographer, listed under the surname Kay.

Sidonie Cramer Feibusch and family , The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/467I, Enumeration District: AROJ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

According to Baron and Cibella, Ellen Theresa Cramer had married Leo Knoepfelmacher in Prague, Czechoslovakia (today, the Czech Republic) on April 15, 1933. Leo was born on October 23, 1904, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. I have no marriage record for Ellen and Leo. They had two sons born in the 1930s, one in Vienna, one in Tel Aviv.9

I located a ship manifest for Ellen and her two sons dated September 21, 1936, showing that she and her sons were residents of Palestine, sailing to England to become permanent residents. It also indicates that she and her sons were Czech citizens. Leo was not sailing with them.

Ellen Cramer Knoepfelmacher, ship manifest, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1110, Month: Sep, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

So by 1939, as suggested by the 1939 England and Wales Register shown above, Ellen and Leo were apparently no longer together and she had changed her suname to Kay. But where were her sons on the 1939 register? And where was Leo?

He married a second time in England in 1942 to Elizabeth Irvine,9 but died less than four years later in England in January 1942 when he was only 41.10 Ellen Cramer Kay died June 28, 1962, in England; her listing on the probate calendar names her sisters Nelli and Hilda, but not her sons.11 I cannot find any record for either of them after that 1936 ship manifest.

UPDATE: Shirley located a marriage listing for one of the sons, showing he married in 1961. Since he may still be living, however, I won’t publish the specific details. Thank you, Shirley!

As for Ellen’s two sisters who survived her, Nelli and Hilda, Hilda married Frank Werth in London on March 24, 1950.12 They had two children in the 1950s. Frank died December 2, 1990.13 I’ve not been able to locate any record of Hilda’s death. Perhaps she is still living at 104.

UPDATE: Thank you to Anne from the German Genealogy Group on Facebook for alerting me to the fact that the General Register Office in the UK had updated its listings for births and deaths. Anne located Hilda Werth’s death on that index as being registered in the first quarter of 2013. To know the exact date, I need to order a copy of the record itself. I also searched for a death notice in The Gazette, as BRegenstein suggested, but unfortunately have not found one.

Nelli Cramer, the youngest of Max Cramer’s daughters, married Alfred Bozwiecki, who according to Baron and Cibella was born in Warsaw, Poland, on February 18, 1899.14 Alfred died in London on September 30, 1971,15 and Nelli died five years later on February 4, 1976, also in London.16 She was 57. As far as I can tell, Nelli and Alfred had not had children.

Sally Cramer

From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

As with Max Cramer, I am missing many records for his brother Sally. I’d love help tracking them down. For example, I have no marriage record, only information from his nephew Arnold Oppenheimer’s book and from Baron and Cibella. Like his older brother Max who married a woman from England, Sally Cramer married a woman from a foreign country. Baron and Cibella report that on January 29, 1911, he married Felicitas Weil in Strasbourg, France. Felicitas was born in Strasbourg on August 10, 1889.17 According to Arnold Oppenheimer, Felicitas became nearly blind after a failed operation, but had a “vivacious educated personality and played the piano well.”18

Like Max, Sally returned to Germany, and Sally and Felicitas had two children born there. A daughter Marion was born in Frankfurt on April 3, 1913,19 and a son Robert was born December 29, 1918, in Bad Neuheim, Germany.20

By 1939, Sally and Felicitas had escaped from Nazi Germany and were living in London. On the 1939 England and Wales Register, Sally described his occupation as a “veterinary preparations maker.” I have absolutely no idea what that means!

Sally Cramer and family, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/827H, Enumeration District: BKEN, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

There is one line blacked out on the register, which I assume was for their son Robert. I only have two records for Robert. One is the card from the index of those whose German nationality was nullified by the Nazis, and the other is the card exempting him from being interned as an enemy alien by England in 1939. That card shows that Robert was training with the Modern Telephone Company and was living at the same address—26 Eagles Lodge—as his parents in 1939. Robert would marry Elizabeth Rosenberg in London in 1950, and they had two children born in London.21

Robert Cramer, 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

Marion, Sally and Felicitas’ daughter, was already married and living in New York by 1939. She had immigrated to New York on September 2, 1937, and married Fritz Ludwig (Fred) Wolf in New York two and a half weeks later on September 19, 1937. Fritz was born on October 23, 1911, in Hamburg, Germany.  On her declaration of intention, Marion’s occupation is listed as interpreter/housewife. That was also true on her ship manifest, where she indicated that Fritz Wolf, her fiance, was the person she was traveling to in New York.22

Marion Cramer Wolf, 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 529) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 407701-408700), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1940 census, Marion and Fritz were living in Queens, New York, and Fritz was working as a “customer man” for a stock brokerage and Marion as a private secretary for an architect. Marion indicated that she had been living in Hamburg in 1935 while Fritz said he’d been living in Paris. He and Marion had two children born after the 1940 census.23

I don’t have much information about Sally and his family after 1940.  According to the English Probate Calendar, Sally died on June 12, 1951, in London, but Arnold Oppenheimer wrote that he died in the US while visiting his daughter Marion24. His widow Felicitas died on October 24, 1983.25 I could not find any record of deaths for either of their children. Marion and Robert would both be over one hundred years old now.

UPDATE: Thank you to Anne from the German Genealogy Group on Facebook for pointing out that I misread this! Sally’s probate notice does say he died in the US.

UPDATE: I went back and found an obituary for Marion Cramer Wolf. She died on July 26, 2017, at the age of 104. Death notice, New York Times, August 4, 2017. The notice described Marion as “Former Guggenheim museum reading room librarian. Lover of the arts, books and everything beautiful.” It can be found here.

Herbert Cramer

From Arnold S Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

The youngest child of Hedwig Goldschmidt and Hirsch Cramer, Herbert, volunteered for the German army in World War I and served at the front. After the war he opened a small art gallery in Frankfurt.25 He married Elsa Seligmann on August 6, 1920, in Frankfurt. Elsa was the daughter of Leopold Seligmann and Anna Bockmann and was born on July 11, 1894, in Frankfurt.

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

Herbert and Elsa had one child, a daughter Ruth born in Frankfurt, on August 14, 1921.26

In the 1930s Herbert organized the first exhibit of Chagall paintings in Frankfurt. Then in 1933 he and his family left Germany for Italy.27 From there they immigrated to Palestine on March 2, 1939, and became naturalized citizens of Palestine on April 16, 1941. He listed his occupation as manager of the Society of the Friends of the Jewish National Museum on his application for Palestinian citizenship.

Herbert Cramer, Palestine Immigration File, Israel Archives, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b58628

Sadly, Herbert died just six years later on April 24, 1947, in Jerusalem, according to a profile on My Heritage. His nephew Arnold Oppenheimer wrote that Herbert was killed when a convoy he was traveling with was ambushed by Arabs.27 His widow Else and daughter Ruth and Ruth’s husband Charles Taubes moved to Australia where Else died in 198328 and Ruth in 2011.29 They were survived by Ruth’s daughter.

UPDATE: Thank you to Yehuda from TTT for locating Herbert’s gravestone on Gravez and Ruth Cramer’s marriage record.

Thus, Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer’s children and descendants ended up spread all over the world—to Israel, England, the United States, and Australia. Now if I only could find more records for them.

UPDATE: Once again, thanks to those who helped. I am still looking for the birth records for Max Cramer’s children born in the 1920s in Frankfurter, marriage records for Ilse Cramer, Max’s daughter, a marriage and death record for Robert Cramer, who may have died in Israel or in England. I will keep looking.

 


  1. Max Meyer Cramer, Registration Year: 1908, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration District: Islington, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1b, Page: 707
    Max Meyer Cramer, Sidonie Charlotte Gestetner, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915 
  2. Sidonie Charlotte Gestetner, Registration Year: 1888, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, Registration District: Islington, Inferred County: London
    Volume: 1b, Page: 394, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915. Sidonie Feibusch, Gender: Female, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 12 Mar 1888, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Westminster Court, Residence Place: St Marylebone, London, England, Occupation: Unpaid Domestic Duties, Line Number: 15
    Schedule Number: 8, Sub Schedule Number: 2, Enumeration District: AROJ, Borough: St Marylebone, Registration district: 7/3, Inferred Spouse: Hans N Feibusch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/467I, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  3. I have no actual biirth records for any of Max Cramer’s children, but had to rely on secondary sources.  MyHeritage profile, https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-1-217644591-1-543485/ilse-caroline-skotzki-born-cramer-in-myheritage-family-trees 
  4.  Ellen Theres Kay, Gender: Female, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1911, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Westminster Court, Residence Place: St Marylebone, London, England, Occupation: Studio Photographer, Line Number: 19
    Schedule Number: 8, Sub Schedule Number: 6, Enumeration District: AROJ
    Borough: St Marylebone, Registration district: 7/3, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/467I, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register. 
  5.  Name: Hilde Clementine Cramer, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1916
    Birth Place: Frankfurt a/M, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/220,
    Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  6.  Nelli Cramer, Birth Date: 13 Feb 1918, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 2, Brüll, Erna – Fränkel, Werner, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  7. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem), p. 5. 
  8.  Sidonie C Cramer, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Marylebone, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Hans N Feibusch, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 1783, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 1783, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  9.  Leo Knopfelmacher, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Bradford, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Spouse: Elizabeth E Irvine, Volume Number: 9b, Page Number: 267, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9b; Page: 267, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  10.  Leo Knoppelmacher, Death Age: 41, Birth Date: abt 1905, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Pancras, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1b, Page: 75, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1b; Page: 75, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  11.  Ellen T Kay, Death Age: 50, Birth Date: abt 1912, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, 1962 Registration District: Paddington, Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d
    Page: 122, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 122,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. Ellen Theresa Kay, Death Date: 28 Jun 1962, Death Place: London, England, Probate Date: 12 Oct 1962, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  12. Ancestry.com. England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976; Hilda C Cramer, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1950, Registration District: Marylebone
    Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Frank E Werth Or Wertheimer, Volume Number: 5d, Page Number: 713, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 713, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  13.  Frank Edward Werth, Death Age: 72, Birth Date: 26 Apr 1918, Registration Date: Dec 1990, Registration District: Camden, Inferred County: Greater London., Volume: 14
    Page: 1849, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 14; Page: 1849, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007; Frank Edward Werth, Death Date: 2 Dec 1990, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 25 Jun 1991, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  14. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. 
  15. Alfred Norbert Wit Bzowiecki, Death Date: 30 Sep 1971, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 21 Nov 1972, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  16. Nellia Elsa Bzowiecka, Death Date: 4 Feb 1976, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 4 Feb 1976, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  17.  Felicitas Fanny Cramer, Birth Date: 10 Aug 1889, Birth Place: Straßburg, Elsass (Alsace), Last Residence: Hamburg, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 2, Brüll, Erna – Fränkel, Werner, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  18. Oppenheimer, note 7, p. 5. 
  19. Marion Wolf, [Marion Cramer], Gender: Female, Declaration Age: 24, Record Type: Declaration, Birth Date: 3 Apr 1913, Birth Place: Frankfurt a/m Germany
    Arrival Date: 2 Sep 1937, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Declaration Date: 13 Jan 1938, Declaration Place: New York, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Spouse: Fritz, Declaration Number: 408397, Box Number: 273
    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, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  20. Robert Cramer, Birth Date: 29 Dez 1918, Birth Place: Bad Nauheim
    Last Residence: Hamburg, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 2, Brüll, Erna – Fränkel, Werner, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  21. Baron and Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. 
  22. Marion Cramer, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 4; Page Number: 4, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  23. Fritz and Marion Wolf, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02725; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 41-242,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  24. Salomon Sally Cramer, Death Date: 12 Jun 1951, Death Place: Lancashire, England, Probate Date: 20 Dec 1951, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. See also Oppenheimer, note 7, p. 5. 
  25. Oppenheimer, note 7, p. 6. 
  26. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report 
  27. Oppenheimer, note 7, p. 6. 
  28. The Sydney Morning Herald – 1 Dec 1984 – Page 136 
  29. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145293304/ruth-tadmore 

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 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

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. https://www.digitalpanopticon.org/life?id=obpt18311020-149-defend1043

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 (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0, 24 March 2012).
  2. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 04 October 2020), October 1831, trial of ISAAC ISAACS (t18311020-149. 
  3. Ibid. Emphasis and annotations added. 

Unanswered Questions: Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner

Although I was able to learn a fair amount about two of the children of Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner, Elsa Werner Loewenthal and Henriette Werner Cohen, it was much more difficult to find information about their other two children, Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner. I can only report what I’ve learned, primarily from secondary sources, and hope that perhaps by publishing this, someone who knows more about these relatives of mine will find this and provide me with more information and sources. This may be my worst sourced post ever!

Rosa Werner, as we saw, married Josef Wormser in Eschwege in 1908.  According to entries on My Heritage, Rosa and Joseph had four children, Esther (1909), Raphael (1911), Julius (1914), and Helene (1917), all born in Zurich, Switzerland, where Rosa and Joseph had relocated after marrying. It also appears that Rosa and Josef remained in Zurich during the Nazi era and survived, but I have no records of their lives there during that time. According to the information on My Heritage, Josef died in 1940 in Zurich, Rosa thirteen years later in 1953, also in Zurich.

As for their children, three of the four immigrated to Palestine/Israel. I have seen documents1 showing that Esther Wormser immigrated to Palestine, where she married Max Leo Koplowitz, who had immigrated there as early as March 28, 1932, and became a naturalized citizen of Palestine on November 19, 1937. Max was born on March 29, 1907, in Strasbourg when it was under German control before World War I (later and currently part of France). He was an agricultural worker in Palestine. According to a document in his immigration file, he and Esther Wormser married on May 21, 1939, in Petach-Tikvah, and she became a Palestinian citizen by virtue of her marriage to Max Koplowitz.

UPDATE: Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey of Opening Doors in Brick Walls for finding the Strassbourg birth record for Max Koplowitz, which can be located here.

I do not have any further information yet for Esther, although David Baron and Roger Cibella reported that she and Max had two sons born in the 1940s. Max died October 26, 2006, in Israel, according to his gravestone at BillionGraves.com. There was no date or place of death reported for Esther.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for ישראל מקס קופלוביץ (1907 – 2006), BillionGraves Record 19495247 כפר הרא”ה, Central District, Israel

Update: Thank you to Aaron Knappstein who located Esther’s grave memorial on Billion Graves. She died on 8 Iyar 5739 or May 5, 1979, in Israel.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for אסתר קופלוביץ (), BillionGraves Record 18779827 כפר הרא”ה, Central District, Israel

Raphael Wormser also immigrated to Israel at some point. My Heritage reports that he married Greta Aufsasser in 1954. According to his gravestone at BillionGraves, he died August 5, 1973.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for רפאל וורמסר (), BillionGraves Record 12700234 Holon, Central District, Israel

As for Helene Wormser, My Heritage shows that she married Dr. Herman Halberstadt and that they had two children; in addition, My Heritage reports that she died in Jerusalem, but did not provide a date of death.

Update: Thanks again to Aaron Knappstein, who found this entry at Gravez, showing that Helene Wormser Halberstadt died on June 22, 2007, in Israel.

The only Wormser child who did not immigrate to Palestine/Israel was Julius. He remained in Zurich where he married Betty Loewenthal and had several children, according to Baron/Cibella. Julius died in Zurich on May 11, 1989, according to My Heritage.

Thus, my information about the Wormser family is quite thin and based almost completely on My Heritage profiles. I’ve sent a message to the manager of those profiles, but have not heard anything back.

That brings me to Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner’s youngest surviving child, Moritz. We saw that Moritz married Jenny Kahn in Frankfurt in 1918 and that they had a son, Max, born in 1922. The only records I have for Moritz and Jenny after their marriage record are the 1939 England and Wales Register and their exemptions from being deemed enemy aliens in England. Thus, they had immigrated to England by 1939. Unfortunately part of the of the right margin of the 1939 Register is not visible, but it looks like Moritz was the director of London Win(dow?) Display Ltd.

Moritz and Jenny Werner,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/828B, Enumeration District: BKER, Ancestry.com

He was exempted from being interned as an enemy alien; on this form he described his occupation as the company director of manufacturing company.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Here is Jenny’s exemption documentation:

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

This quotation, found on Moritz Werner’s Geni profile and translated by DeepL, from a book written by Anna Maria Zimmer, Juden in Eschwege:Entwicklung und Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinde, von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (1993), p. 272, provides some touching details about Moritz Werner and his life during and after the Nazi era:

Moritz Werner was – like his father Max Werner – a partner and manager of the important textile factory Brinkmann since 1916. Because of the National Socialist persecution, Moritz Werner was forced to sell the company and flee to England.

His son Max Heinz Werner recalls this:

“In mid 1938 the purchase was perfected. A Catholic named Rhode from Kassel, who produced goods for the armaments industry, had bought L.S. Brinkmann. After the war, when Rhode was terminally ill, he developed feelings of remorse and tracked down my father Moritz in England. Mr. Rhode asked for a visit and my father and he made a contract, i.e. my father bought the company back – that was at a time when there was no official reparation! In 1949 the takeover was perfected. …

When my father celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company in 1931, the staff donated a bronze plate with a dedication and two knitting hands for him. During the forced sale [1939] the plate suddenly disappeared.

In 1949, when my father was sitting in his office again for the first time, there was a knock at the door and a small delegation of employees came in… They struggled to carry a box containing this bronze plate. Before taking over the company, these employees had fastened the plate in the chimney with strong wires and thus hidden it.”

My Heritage reports that Moritz died in Lugano, Switzerland, on April 27, 1966, and that Jenny died in Chile (no date provided). When had Moritz and Jenny moved from England? Why did he die in Switzerland, she in Chile? So many unanswered questions.

I cannot find their son Max on either the 1939 Register or on an enemy alien registration. Max would have been a teenager at the time. Where could he have been? All I could find for Max was an entry in the England & Wales, Marriage Index on Ancestry for his marriage in 1947 to Clara Amalia Reiss,2 and I know nothing more about Clara or Max except what I found on My Heritage and on David Baron and Roger Cibella’s family report: that Clara was born in Vienna on September 27, 1920, that she and Max had two children, that Clara died on April 6, 2011, and that Max died eight months later on December 9, 2011. According to their profiles on My Heritage, both Max and Clara are buried in Jerusalem.

UPDATE: My cousin Joanne Warner-Loewenthal shared a link with me about Max Werner, her cousin. It reports that he graduated from the University of Leeds in England and became a naturalized English citizen. After the war, however, he returned to Germany to become a director of the LS Brinkmann knitwear company in Eschwege. He also developed an interest in race cars and in photographing racing, as described here.


  1. A month or so ago I saw Max’s immigration file on the Israel Archives and saved the link, but did not download the documents, figuring I’d come back later. Then the Archives shut down for several weeks. They’ve since come back online, but Max’s file is now listed as “not yet scanned.” Fortunately, I took notes on what is in that file, and when it becomes available, I will update this post. 
  2.  Max H Werner, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon
    Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss. Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21
Description: (Roll 539) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 417601-418600)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

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

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

Alice Stern, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21,  (Roll 590) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 463201-464100), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

Hermann Gutmann Becomes Dennis Goodman: An Oral History, Part II

By the spring of 1940, Hermann Gutmann was seventeen years old and had been in England and separated from his parents since the fall of 1936.  He had completed his secondary education and had been working at a leather factory in Lancashire in the north of England since February 1940 and moved to London that May.1

On July 2, 1940, at 6 am he heard a knock on his door. The police told him to pack his bags and come with them to the police station. He protested, but to no avail, and along with many other German Jewish “enemy aliens,” he was taken to a camp, Huyton Camp, and housed in a tent with other young refugees from Nazi Germany. All those who were under eighteen, including Hermann, were told they were being taken out of England. He again protested and was told by the commanding officer that those leaving England would have the best chance of survival because England was likely to lose the war.

As the internees boarded the HMT Dunera on July 10, 1940, all their personal possessions were taken and never returned. The Jewish internees were placed in the hold in the rear of the ship and kept there by barbed wire fencing. They were only allowed up on the deck for thirty minutes a day for exercise where they were barefooted and often stepping on the broken beer bottles left behind by the guards, whom Hermann described as “football hooligans.” The internees slept on the hard floor and had open toilet stalls that he described as “awful.”  Hermann described the morale of the younger internees as fairly good, but said that those who were older had a much harder time and that there were even a few suicides during their voyage. There were also Nazi and Italian internees on the ship, but they were kept in a different location.

HMT Dunera. Not stated in the AWM record / Public domain

The internees had no idea where they were going until they arrived in Australia on September 6, 1940. Once in Australia, they were sent to New South Wales and housed at the Hay Internment Camp. There were about two thousand internees kept there, many of whom had been successful professionals—doctors, lawyers, professors, and so on. They formed their own government and even printed their own money. Hermann distributed newspapers and even started a Boy Scout group that was officially recognized by the London headquarters of the Boy Scouts.

They lived in huts, about forty to a hut, and conditions were good. Hermann noted several times that as a young man (he was seventeen), he was not as uncomfortable as those who were older, and he didn’t mind some of the living conditions. When asked whether he now resented having been interned during this time, he said no—that he understood it was done without much thought based on fear when the war started and that it was an awful waste of time and money, but that he did not feel any resentment towards the British for their actions.

In the fall of 1941, Hermann volunteered to join the British military as a means of getting out of the internment camp. He left Austrialia on October 13, 1941, and arrived back in England on November 28, 1941, just over a week before Pearl Harbor. He and other Jewish refugees were given no choice as to where to serve and were assigned to the Pioneer Corps, a corps assigned “light engineering tasks [that] included building anti-aircraft emplacements on the Home Front, working on the Mulberry harbours for D-Day, and serving during beach assaults in France and Italy. Pioneers also carried stretchers, built airfields, repaired railways, and moved stores and supplies.”

Pioneer Corps clearing rubble, Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Public domain

It was during this time that his commanding officer asked him to change his name to something less German-sounding. Hermann chose the name Dennis John Goodman, his first name for a friend who had been killed in the war and Goodman as an Anglicized version of Gutmann. In the interview, he commented that he now regretted that he never returned to his birth name Hermann Gutmann as it had a very long history in his family.

Dennis was not content being in the Pioneer Corps because he wanted to be fighting the Nazis. In 1943, British policy changed, and Jewish German refugees like Dennis were allowed to serve more directly in combat. Dennis joined a tank unit and was on the beach at Normandy three days after D-Day, that is, on June 9, 1944. He ended up fighting in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and finally in Germany. He was involved in many difficult and dangerous battles, made more dangerous by the fact that the English tanks were outmatched by the German Tiger Tanks they were facing. He experienced some very close encounters with death or capture by the Germans.

The interviewer asked him how he felt when he entered Germany, his country of birth, and fought on German soil. Dennis commented that “by that time I felt more English than German” and that he had no difficulty facing his former countrymen in battle. When the war ended, he was in Berlin for the British Victory Parade on July 21, 1945.

British Victory Parade in Berlin, National Archives and Records Administration / Public domain

By that time he already knew about the concentration camps.  He was given compassionate leave to go to Amsterdam to learn what had happened to his parents and learned of the deportation to and murder at Sobibor. In the interview, Dennis mentioned that at that time he learned that his grandmother had been hidden in the northern part of Holland and had survived.

I checked to see which grandmother, and it had to be his maternal grandmother, Hedwig Goldschmidt, because his paternal grandmother had died in 1932. I have no wartime records for Hedwig after March 15, 1938, when she was a passenger coming to England from Amsterdam.2 I initially thought that meant that she had moved to England at that time, but it appears from Hermann’s information that she had returned to Amsterdam, perhaps after visiting him in England.

Dennis remained in Germany after the war and joined the Review and Interrogation staff in Neuengamme, near Hamburg, where he was involved in interrogating Nazis about war crimes. He was struck by the ordinariness of the people who committed these crimes and their weak excuses for what they did. He also found some of them very arrogant. Several times during the interview, Dennis made the point that it was well known throughout Germany that Jews were being persecuted and that those who afterwards claimed that they hadn’t been aware of what was happening were either lying or repressing what they’d known.

In 1947, Dennis was discharged from the military and returned to England. He married a Polish-born Holocaust survivor after the war and had three children. I don’t know much about his life after the war, but did find several immigration documents from Brazil, starting in 1949, suggesting he might have been involved in international business or perhaps visiting family members who had immigrated to Brazil.

Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965. Original data: “Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965”. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013.

Dennis John Goodman, born Hermann Gutmann, died in England in 2007. He had lived an extraordinary life, leaving his parents and homeland as a thirteen year old boy, being interned for over a year in Australia as an “enemy alien,” and then fighting valiantly against the Nazis for several years including post-war interrogation of war criminals. His parents had been murdered at Sobibor. He had every right to be an angry, resentful man.

But listening to his voice in the oral history interview, I detected no resentment towards his adopted country, despite the internment. Certainly he harbored anger with the Nazis for what they did to his parents and all the Jews in Europe and continuing bewilderment over the German citizenry’s acquiescence to it all. But I did not come away from the interview thinking of him as bitter or defeated; instead I heard a then 72 year old man who looked back on his life with pride in his ability to endure and succeed against all odds and in his strength and independence even as a young man. His story will stay with me forever.


  1. These facts come almost entirely from the oral history interview of Dennis Goodman, aka Hermann Gutmann, found on the Imperial War Museum website. Some of the dates in this post were found in an article written by his daughter, Naomi Levy, and published in the AJR [Association of Jewish Refugees] Journal of December 2018, on page 11, and found here
  2.  Hedwig Goldschmidt, Arrival Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1877, Port of Departure: New York, New York, United States, Arrival Date: 15 Mar 1938, Port of Arrival: Plymouth, England, Ports of Voyage: New York, Ship Name: Washington, Shipping Line: United States Line, Official Number: 232210, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1158, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960