Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part XII: The Mystery of His Stepmother Francis

Will you help me solve a mystery?

The next page in Milton Goldsmith’s family album was devoted to his stepmother, Francis (sometimes spelled Frances) Spanier Goldsmith. But his story about her background and childhood left me with quite a mystery.

Milton was fifteen when his father remarried, and from this tribute to Francis, it is clear that he was extremely fond of and grateful to her.

Francis Spanier Goldsmith, the second wife of Father, Abraham Goldsmith, was born in Germany in 1854. Left an orphan at an early age, she was brought up in the home of Rabbi Krimke of Hanover, Germany. At the age of 20 she came to America, and having an Uncle, Louis Spanier, living in Washington, D.C. she went there for a while but soon settled in Baltimore, and became friends with our cousins, the Siegmunds. It was there that father met her, having been introduced by Mr. S. Father had been a widower for two years with five young children to bring up, and was looking for a wife, a lady with no relatives. He fell in love with Miss Spanier, proposed after two days and married within two months. She was 22 and he past forty. She was an attractive girl, dark-eyed, brunette, speaking a cultivated German but very little English;- of an amiable disposition. Father’s greatest mistake was to keep the parents of his first wife in the house. This naturally led to friction. A brother, Julius Spanier soon came in our home and lived there for a while. Later a sister, Rose, came from Hanover and also lived with us for several years. She eventually married and lived in Birmingham, Ala, where her brother also made his home. Within a year the oldest son, Alfred was born, and within five years there came Bertha, Alice and Louis. The later years of father’s life were embittered by sickness, loss of money and finally a stroke, rendering him helpless. He suffered for 12 years before he passed away in 1902. During that time Francis was an untireing [sic] nurse and faithful companion. She died of a stroke in Philada, 1908.

[handwritten underneath] She was distantly related to Heinrich Heine.]

I found this essay heartwarming, but also sad. Francis was orphaned, married a man  with five children who was more than twenty years older than she was, had to put up with his first wife’s parents, raise five stepchildren plus four of her own, and tend to Abraham when he suffered financial and medical problems. What a hard life! But how much of Milton’s essay was true?

When I first wrote about Francis over a year ago, I noted that I’d been able to find very little about her background, so finding this essay was very exciting because it provided many clues about Francis’ background. I’ve placed in bold above the many hints in Milton’s essay about people and places that I thought might reveal more about Francis.1

For example, who was Rabbi Krimke who allegedly brought up Francis? Was he just some rabbi from Hanover, or did Milton provide such a specific name because he was a well-known rabbi? It turns out that it was the latter. In Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und großpolnischen Ländern 1781-1871 (Michael Brocke, Julius Carlebach, Carsten Wilke, Walter de Gruyte, eds. 2010)( p. 549), there was this short biography of Rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke of Hanover:

Here is a partial translation:

Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, born in Hamburg in 24 June 1824, died in Hannover 20 Nov 1886. From orthodox school, 1857 third foundation rabbi at the Michael Davidschen Foundation School in Hannover, at the same time teacher at the Meyer Michael Foundation School and lecturer at the Jewish Teacher seminary, around 1869 first Foundation Rabbi. at the Michael Davidschen Foundation. Married to Rosa Blogg (died 1889), daughter of the Hebrew scholar Salomon Ephraim B.  ….  Was buried in the Jewish cemetery An der Strangriede. The tombstone for the foundation rabbi Isaac Jakob Krimke is preserved; it is adorned with a Magen David and also decorated with strong oak leaves….

I then fell into a very deep rabbit hole when I tried to track down Louis, Julius, and Rose Spanier, Francis’ uncle, brother, and sister, respectively. I was able to find a Joseph Spanier living with his wife and family in Birmingham, Alabama, on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census reports.2  But Joseph Spanier was born in England, according to all three census records. I was skeptical as to whether this was Julius Spanier, the brother of Francis Spanier Goldsmith living in Birmingham, as mentioned in Milton’s essay.

Jos. Spanier and family, 1910, US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

But when I searched further for Julius Spanier, I found this page from the 1861 English census:

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census

This certainly appears to be the same man described in Milton’s essay and found on the census records for Birmingham, Alabama, as he was the right age, born in England, and had two sisters, one named Frances, one named Rose. Could it just be coincidence? Also, my Francis was the same age as the Frances on the 1861 English census. This certainly appeared to be the same family as the Spanier family described in Milton’s essay about his stepmother.

What really sealed the deal for me were the names of Joseph Spanier’s children in Birmingham, Alabama. His first child was Adolph; Julius Spanier’s father on the 1861 census was Adolphus. Julius Spanier’s mother was Bertha. Joseph Spanier also had a daughter named Bertha.

And consider the names of the first two children Francis Spanier had with Abraham Goldsmith: a son named Alfred, a daughter named Bertha. It all could not simply be coincidence. I hypothesized that Joseph Spanier was born Julius Spanier in England to Adolphus and Bertha Spanier and that Francis Spanier Goldsmith was his sister.

But then things got murky. Look again at the 1861 English census. It shows that Frances was not born in Germany, but in Boston—in the US. Every American record I had for Francis indicated that she was born in Germany, not the United States. How could I square that with the 1861 English census and the connection to the siblings mentioned in Milton’s essay—Julius and Rose?

And if Frances was born in Boston and living in England in 1861, is it really possible that she did not speak much English when she met Abraham in 1876, as Milton claimed in his essay?

Spanier family, 1861 English census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 243; Folio: 61; Page: 28; GSU roll: 542598
Enumeration District: 20, Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census

Then I found a birth record for Frances Spanier born in Boston to “Radolph” and Bertha Spanier on September 10, 1854. “Radolph” was clearly a misspelling of Adolph, and this had to be the same Frances Spanier who appeared on the 1861 English census.  Francis Spanier Goldsmith had a birth date of September 13, 1855, on her death certificate, so just a year and few days different from this Boston birth record (though the death certificate said she was born in Germany.)

“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XHB7-DJH?cc=1536925&wc=M61J-KNL%3A73565601 : 1 March 2016), 004023162 > image 102 of 857; Massachusetts Archives, Boston.

Frances Spanier Goldsmith death certificate
Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 006001-010000, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

I also found records showing that Francis Spanier Goldsmith’s uncle Louis was living in Boston in the 1850s.3 It certainly seemed more and more like Francis Spanier Goldsmith was born in Boston, not Germany, as Milton had written and American records reported.

What about the story that she was an orphan and raised by Rabbi Krimke? Francis’ mother Bertha died in England in 1862,4 when Francis was seven or eight years old, so she was partially orphaned as a child. But her father Adolphus died in England in 1873, so Francis was eighteen or nineteen when he died.5 But when Francis immigrated to the US in 1876, the ship manifest stated that she was a resident of Germany, not England.

Franziska Spanier, Year: 1876; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 403; Line: 1; List Number: 344, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Was Milton’s story just a family myth, or was there some way to reconcile it with these records?

Here is my working hypothesis:

After Bertha Spanier died in 1862, Adolphus was left with five  young children. Francis (then seven or eight) and at least some of her siblings were sent to Hanover, Germany, to live with Rabbi Isaak Jakob Krimke, as the family story goes. By the time Francis immigrated to the US fourteen years later, she might have forgotten most of the English she once knew, so she was speaking only German, and the Goldsmith family only knew that she was an orphan who had come from Germany so assumed she was born there, and the family myth grew and stuck.

How ironic would it be if Francis was, like Milton and his siblings, a child whose mother died, leaving her father with five young children? After all, Francis also ended up marrying a man whose first wife died, leaving him with five young children. Francis may have saved her stepchildren from the fate she might have suffered—being taken away from her father after her mother died and sent to live in a foreign country  with a stranger, who happened to be a well-known rabbi.

What do you think? Am I missing something here? Where else can I look to try and solve this mystery?

This is Part XII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part IIIPart IVPart V,  Part VI, Part VII , Part VIII,  Part IX,  Part X and Part XI at the links.

 


  1. I also spent far too much time trying to track down the Siegmund family of Washington, DC, whom Milton described as his cousins. I had no luck figuring this one out and finally forced myself to stop looking. I also resisted the temptation to try and track down the distant connection between Francis Spanier and Heinrich Heine, the great nineteenth century German-Jewish poet. 
  2. Jos. Spanier, 1910 US census, Census Place: Birmingham Ward 2, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T624_18; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0047; FHL microfilm: 1374031, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census; Joe Spanier, 1920 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Roll: T625_25; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 99, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census; Joseph E. Spanier, 1930 US census, Census Place: Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama; Page: 32B; Enumeration District: 0071; FHL microfilm: 2339762, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  3. Birth record for Clara Spanier, daughter of Louis Spanier, Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXDT-91R : 11 March 2018), Clara Spanier, 01 Oct 1855, Boston, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #p72 #3222, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1,428,236. 
  4. Bertha Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1c, Page: 147, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 
  5. Adolphe Spanier death record, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1d, Page: 577, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part V: A Love Letter

This is Part V of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV at the links.

As promised, today I am sharing a letter that Samuel Adler wrote to his beloved fiancée, Sarah Kargau, shortly before their marriage in 1837.

Once again, I am indebted to Matthias Steinke for his generous help in transcribing this letter:

Würzburg, den 6ten November 1837

Meine Geliebte!
Voll unbeschreiblicher Sehnsucht zähle ich mit dir jede Stunde. Ja, mit heisser Sehnsucht sehe auch ich dem heiligen Momente unserer Einsegnung, unserer ewigen Verbindung entgegen. Nur noch wenige Tage und wir haben das Ziel unserer Wünsche erreicht. O, wie freue ich mich darauf! Schneller durchströmt bei diesem Gedanken das Blut meine Adern, heftiger schlägt bei diesen Gefühlen mein Herz. Ja, dieses Blättchen würde nicht hinreichen, die alle meine dieshaltigen(?) Gefühle zu schildern, und ich will daher davon abbrechen. Ich habe nun noch eine Bitte: Wir werden nämlich an unserem Hochzeitstage nur eine Vase (Chaise?) mit nach Fürth bringen,

The letter must have continued on the back of the page, as Sue could see there was writing on the reverse side. But she did not want to risk damaging this 182-year-old letter by trying to remove it from the album, so we don’t know how Samuel closed out the letter.

Using Google Translate and my rudimentary knowledge of German, I was able to translate the letter as follows:

Würzburg, November 6, 1837

My beloved! Full indescribable longing I count with you every hour. Yes, with a hot longing I too see the holy moments of our consecration, our eternal connection. Only a few days left and we have reached the goal of our wishes. Oh, how happy I am! The blood rushes through my veins faster at this thought, my heart beats harder with these feelings. Yes, this leaflet would not suffice to describe all of my heartfelt (?) Feelings, and I therefore want to stop it. I have one more request: we will bring only one vase (chaise?) to Fürth on our wedding day,

What a passionate letter! This was no marriage of convenience arranged by parents or a matchmaker. This was a true affair of the heart. I admit to being surprised by the ardor expressed so openly in this letter—the desire is palpable. Samuel was certainly a man in love (or at least in lust). But what was the vase or chaise reference all about? I guess some things are best left to the imagination.

Samuel Adler

 

 

Milton Goldsmith’s Family Album, Part IV: His Mother’s Parents

This is Part IV of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, and Part III at the links.

In addition to the biographies of his father Abraham and paternal grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt, Milton Goldsmith wrote about his mother’s family. His mother was Cecelia Adler, Abraham’s first wife, and she was the daughter of Samuel Adler and Sarah Kargau. Although Cecelia’s family is only related to mine through her marriage to Abraham, it is nevertheless fascinating to read about her parents.

Here is Milton’s page about his maternal grandfather, Samuel Adler:

Samuel Adler,–my grandfather, was born in Biebergau, Germany in 1814. He had the usual school education, but was never much of a scholar.  He was a stout, benevolent looking gentleman, hearty and genial, with a host of friends.  He married Sarah Kargau, and we have letters from him to her, also their marriage settlement. A year after my mother was born, they came to American in a sailing vessel, and settled in Philadelphia. For a while he manufactured Mantillas, but was not over-successful. He was one of the founders of the first Reform Temple, the Rodef Scholom in Philada, and became its president. Later, he was one of the founders of the Keneseth Israel Congregation, to which he belonged for the rest of his life.

After the marriage of his daughter, to my father, he came to live with them, until he died of ptomaine poisoning in 1886 at the age of 72. During the later years of his life, he went into the haberdashery business, but it was not successful, my father helping him along and providing for his needs.  Neither he nor my grandmother ever mastered the English language properly, which proved a great handicap. His sister, Mrs. Greenbaum, lived in Burlington, Ia. and died at 90 years of age.

I was left with the impression that Samuel was a wonderful man and well-loved by his family and his community, but not much of a businessman. Certainly he did not measure up to Abraham’s success in business in Milton’s eyes, but this is nevertheless a very loving tribute to his grandfather.

Milton also included this photograph of his grandfather Samuel.

Samuel Adler

But is the man depicted on the lower left side of the page supposed to be Samuel looking like a young George Washington? Or someone else? Any ideas?

As for his maternal grandmother and her family, Milton provided this page:

From looking at this page, I realized that some of the decorative art in this album was probably supplied by whoever manufactured the album. The inserted article at the top overlaps some of that decoration. It is a short biography of Mendel Kargau, Cecelia Adler’s maternal grandmother and Milton’s maternal great-grandmother:

This short biography (taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia, according to Milton) shows that unlike her father Samuel Adler, Cecelia’s maternal grandfather was quite scholarly. In his essay about Mendel Kargau and his daughter Sarah Kargau Adler, Milton wrote:

Mendel Kargau, as the attached biography taken from the Jewish Encyclopedia shows, was an eminent Rabbi in Fuerth, Bavaria. I was named for him, Milton being the English equivalent of Mendel.  He lived and died in Europe.

His only daughter, SARAH, was my maternal grandmother. She emigrated to America about two years after her marriage with SAMUEL ADLER, my grandfather. My mother, Cecelia Adler was a baby when they sailed, and during their sixty day voyage in a sailing vessel, she learned to walk. There were several brothers, one of them Moritz, was still living in Fuerth a few years ago. A nephew, Emanuel Kargau, is a dentist in Chicago. Grandma Adler, was a unique person. She was small in stature and not good looking, but must have been very sprightly in her youth. She was witty, and read a great deal. Her preference was for spicy books.  She lived with us for many years, later in life when the family grew too large, she lived near-by. She outlived her husband by many years, died in 1907 at advanced age of 93, retaining her faculties to the end, although she was always hard of hearing. After mother died, she helped to raise our family of 6 children.

When I researched Milton’s family, I noted that after his mother Cecelia died, his maternal grandparents Samuel and Sarah Adler lived with the family, and I’d assumed that Sarah had taken on part of the responsibility of caring for her daughter’s motherless children. Milton’s essay confirmed that assumption and painted a picture of a grandmother who was lively, interesting, and, his words, unique. I found it amusing that he said she wasn’t good looking. Maybe at 93 she wasn’t or even in her fifties when Milton was a child. Like most children, he probably just saw his grandma as an old lady.

I love this photograph of his grandmother. I have zoomed in on it here so that we can see Sarah Kargau Adler more clearly. I bet she was attractive as a young woman when she swept Samuel Adler off his feet. The letter he wrote before their wedding certainly reveals a man deeply in love. I will save that for my next post.

 

My Cousin Sue and Her Grandfather’s Amazing Album

A few weeks back I connected with my third cousin, once removed, Sue Jacobson. Sue is the granddaughter of Milton Goldsmith, and I had been hoping to connect with her for a long time.

Some of you may remember the long series of posts I wrote about my cousin Milton Goldsmith, the author. Milton, the son of Abraham Goldsmith, was my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein’s first cousin; both were the grandchildren of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander. And my father recalled meeting Milton when he was growing up, remembering him as the author of children’s books. So I was fascinated by Milton and his life for many reasons, and finding Sue has been a true gift.

Not only has Sue answered some of my lingering questions and commented on my blog posts to update and respond to those questions, she has shared with me an incredible album that her grandfather Milton compiled in 1936 when he was 75 years old. It includes biographical information, some photographs, and family trees created by Milton. Sue has generously given me permission to post images from this album, and I have decided to add a third day a week to my blogging schedule to post this wonderful material a page or two at a time.  I plan to post these each Monday, keeping my regular posts on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Today I am posting the cover of the album and its inside cover, which is a beautiful rendition of Abraham Goldsmith’s family tree, showing all his children and grandchildren from both his first marriage to Celia Adler and his second marriage to Frances Spanier.

I am very curious about the illustrations. Did Milton buy this album with the illustrations already printed on the cover and on the pages that follow? Or did he have someone do these illustrations? They look not dissimilar to some that appeared in his books. Has anyone ever seen an album like this before?

Next time I will post the page that follows these in the album where Milton reported on the children of Seligmann Goldschmidt, his father’s father. I was delighted that Milton’s report corroborated the research I had done on Seligmann’s family. But I was even more delighted when I learned about a cousin I had not known about before. I am excited to share that discovery next week. Stay tuned.

 

Simon Goldschmidt: From German Criminal to American Grandfather

Before my break, I noted that I had finished writing about the descendants of Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander, my three-times great-grandparents, and the descendants of Seligmann’s brother, Lehmann Goldschmidt.

Now I would like to turn to Seligmann’s youngest sibling, Simon Goldschmidt, whose story I’ve already told in bits and pieces at other times because his second wife, Fradchen Schoenthal, was the sister of my Schoenthal great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and because one of his grandchildren, Ella Bohm, married my great-great-uncle Jacob Katzenstein.

But let me tie together those bits and pieces into one story so that I can continue Simon’s story with some background. Simon was born in Oberlistingen in about 1795 to Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann (no connection to my Seligmanns). In 1822, he married Eveline Katzenstein of Grebenstein (no known familial connection to my Katzensteins). Their first child, Jacob, was born in about 1825 in Oberlistingen. 1

In May, 1826, Simon was charged with burglary and attempted robbery.2  As I wrote about at length in this post, in 1830 there was a trial, and Simon was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison with his legs shackled. Simon appealed, and on December 24, 1830, the appellate court upheld the verdict, but reduced the sentence from ten years to four years because the victim’s injuries were not dangerous or life-threatening and because Simon had not used any lethal weapons. The court also observed that the delay in trial was not Simon’s fault and took that into consideration in reducing his sentence.

Simon and Eveline had four more children after Jacob: Lena (1828),3 born while he was awaiting trial, and three born after he was released, Hewa “Eva” (1836), Joseph (1837), and Jesajas (1839), all born in Oberlistingen. Sadly, Simon and Eveline’s last two babies did not survive. Both Joseph and Jesajas died in infancy.

Eva (Hewa) Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.7

 

Joseph Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 6

Jesajas Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 7

A year after the death of Jesajas, Simon’s wife Eveline died on August 19, 1840. Simon was left on his own to raise his fifteen-year-old son Jacob, twelve-year-old daughter Lena, and four-year-old Eva.

Eveline Katzenstein Goldschmidt death record
Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1827-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 671), p. 8

Simon’s son Jacob left Germany that same year and immigrated to the US.4  By 1850, Jacob was living in Washington, Pennsylvania, working as a tailor and living with two other men who were tailors, and had changed his surname to Goldsmith.

Jacob Goldsmith (Simon’s son) 1850 US census
Year: 1850; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_834; Page: 363A; Image: 244

On September 10, 1844, Simon married Fradchen Schoenthal, my three-times great-aunt, in Oberlistingen. Fradchen was already 37 at that time, and Simon was 49.

Marriage of Simon Goldschmidt and Fradchen Schoenthal
HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 11

Almost exactly a year later, Simon and Fradchen arrived in the United States along with Simon’s youngest daughter, Eva, who was then nine years old.

Simon, Fradchen, and Eva Goldschmidt on 1845 passenger manifest
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85

They must have settled first in Baltimore because Simon and Fradchen had two children who were born there, Henry on January 10, 1847,5 and Hannah on June 5, 1848.6 Since Henry and Hannah’s mother and father were both my blood relatives, they are my double cousins: first cousins, three times removed through Fradchen, and first cousins, four times removed through Simon.

By 1850, Simon and Fradchen (also known as Fanny) were living in Pittsburgh with Henry and Hannah as well Simon’s two daughters from his first marriage, Lena and Eva. Simon was working as a tailor and had, like his son Jacob, Americanized his surname to Goldsmith.

Simon lost his second wife Fradchen soon thereafter; she died on August 11, 1850, at age 43. Once again Simon was left with young children—Henry was three, Hannah was two.

Fanny Schoenthal Goldsmith Troy Hill Pittsburgh

By 1853, Simon’s son Jacob had married Fannie Silverman, also a German immigrant, and together they had six daughters born between 1853 and 1860: Ellena (1853)7, Emma (1854),8 Annie (1855),9 Rachel (1857),10 Leonora (1858),11 and Celia (1860).12  By 1860, Simon and his two youngest children, Henry and Hannah, had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, and were living with Jacob and Fannie and their six daughters. Henry and Hannah were only five and six years older than their oldest niece, Ellena.

Simon Goldsmith and family 1860 US census
Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Image: 627; Family History Library Film: 805192

Simon’s daughter Lena married another German immigrant, Gustavus Basch in 1856.13 In 1860, they were living in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, with their first two children, Frank (1858) and Jacob (1859). Connellsville is under fifty miles from Washington, Pennsylvania, where Lena’s father Simon and her brother Jacob were then living.

Basch family, 1860 US census, Census Place: Connellsville, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1110; Page: 421; Family History Library Film: 805110 Source Information Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census

As for Simon’s youngest child with Eveline, his daughter Eva, her whereabouts in 1860 are unknown. I cannot find her anywhere on the 1860 census. More on Eva here and here and in a subsequent post.

Thus, by 1860, all the members of the family of Simon Goldschmidt (except possibly Eva) were living in western Pennsylvania, most of them in Washington, Pennsylvania.  That was as far as I’d gotten with Simon’s story in my earlier posts. Now I can pick up with Simon and his children in the years after 1860.

 

 


  1. I don’t have original birth or marriage records for these facts, but have relied on various US records as well as the research of others to reach these conclusions. 
  2.  HStAM Fonds 261 Kriminalakten 1822-1836 No G 40. See the linked post for more information about my source for this information. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. Web: Columbus, Ohio, Green Lawn Cemetery Index, 1780-2010 
  4. Jacob Goldsmith, 1900 US census, Census Place: Denver, Arapahoe, Colorado; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0072; FHL microfilm: 1240119, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  5. Henry Goldsmith, passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 156; Volume #: Roll 0156 – Certificates: 69177-70076, 01 Apr 1912-11 Apr 1912, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  6. Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, death certificate, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, Michigan, Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, File Number: 007791. 
  7. Ellena Goldsmith Feldstein, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1965; Certificate Number Range: 061391-064480, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 
  8. Emma Goldsmith, death certificate, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JX5B-3PG : 9 March 2018), Emma Goldsmith, 06 Jan 1902; citing cn14552, Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 1,853,338. 
  9. Annie Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  10. Rachel Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  11. Leonora Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  12. Celia Goldsmith, 1860 US census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Washington, Washington, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1192; Page: 1188; Family History Library Film: 805192, Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census 
  13. Lena and Gustavus Basch, 1900 US census, Census Place: Columbus Ward 6, Franklin, Ohio; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241268, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 

Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

As seen in my last few posts, although my cousin Betty Goldschmidt and her husband (and our cousin) Jacob Goldschmidt had eight children, I only have adult records for one of them, their son Berthold. Berthold and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein had seven children, but their son Siegfried Goldschmidt was the only child of the seven to live long enough to marry and have a child of his own; Siegfried and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless had one child, a son Max born November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Siegfried and his wife were among the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but their young son Max, the last known remaining descendant of Betty and Jacob, survived. Max was only eight years old when Hitler came to power and not yet eighteen when his parents were deported in 1942. How had he survived? At first all I knew was that he had immigrated to the US from Israel in 1948, but thanks  to the generous assistance of Elan Oren of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I have been able to piece together much of the story of Max’s life.

Elan located Max’s file in the Israeli archives, which revealed that Max had escaped to Switzerland at some point during the Nazi era. After the war, Max sailed on the ship Plus Ultra from Barcelona, Spain, to Haifa, arriving in Haifa on June 19, 1945.

From Max Goldschmidt Israeli immigration file: Ship manifest for the Plus Ultra from Barcelona to Haifa, arriving June 19, 1945. Max is on line 94. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

Max’s file in the Israeli archives did not reveal how or when he got to Switzerland or to Barcelona, but Max’s A-file—his US immigration file—from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) revealed further details.1 According to a German police certificate included in Max’s application to the US Consul in Palestine for an immigration visa in 1947, Max lived in Warburg, Germany, from April 1927 until September 1936. That is also where his parents were residing during that time, according to records  at Yad Vashem.

On Max’s 1947 US visa application he stated that he’d immigrated to Switzerland in January 1939. He was only fourteen at that time. He lived in Basel, Switzerland, from January, 1939, until May, 1945, when he must then have left for Barcelona and ultimately Palestine. As for how he escaped from Germany in 1939, Elan Oren suggested that a Zionist youth group such as HeHalutz  might have helped him get out of Germany.

After arriving in Haifa, Max was transferred to Atlit, a detention camp built by the British, who were then in control of what was then Palestine. With the help of Elan Oren and his translation of Max’s Israeli naturalization file, I learned that Max left Atlit and first lived in Petach Tikvah and then moved to Tel Aviv to live with the Laks family. (More on them in a bit.)

Document that states that Max moved from Petah Tikvah to Tel Aviv where the Laks family lived. Translated by Elan Oren. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

But Max decided not to settle permanently in Israel. Max left Haifa on January 29, 1948, and arrived in New York on February 14, 1948. The manifest lists Max’s occupation as a gardener, his primary languages as English and Hebrew, his last residence as Tel Aviv, Palestine, and his birthplace as Frankfort [sic], Germany.

Max Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7546; Line: 19; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The second page of the manifest lists a friend named Pinil Laks as the contact person from Max’s prior residence of Tel Aviv and an uncle “Bernh Laks” of Blackwood, New Jersey, as the person he was going to join in the United States.

So who were the Laks? Bernhard Laks, also known as Bernhard Lachs, Berek Laks, and Bernard Laks, was married to Rosa Pless,2 who must have been a sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother, since Max identified Bernard as his uncle and Rosa as his aunt on various documents.  Moreover, Bernard Laks (then spelled Bernhard Lachs) was one of the witnesses on the marriage record for Max’s parents, Siegfried and Frieda.

Bernhard Lachs as witness on the marriage record of Siegfried Goldschmidt and Frieda Fanny Pless. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

When Max arrived at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948, he was denied admission to the United States because he did not have in his possession the immigration visa that he had been granted by the US consul in Palestine on November 17, 1947. A hearing was held on February 18, 1948 before a Board of Special Inquiry, at which Max testified that he had last seen his visa on the day he embarked from Haifa while at customs, that he had left it with his other papers in his baggage, and that while at sea he’d discovered that the visa was missing.

Max also testified that he had no relatives living outside of the US and no money. He stated that he was coming to the US in order to join his relatives, the Laks family of Blackwood, New Jersey, and that his uncle Bernard Laks had paid for his ticket from Haifa. In addition, Max presented an affidavit from Bernard and Rosa Laks in which they, as “his sole surviving relatives,” promised to “receive and care for [Max] and …not permit him to became a public charge.”

Although the Board of Special Inquiry found that Max had a valid Palestinian passport with a stamp indicating that a visa had been issued to him by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, they concluded that he was not admissible without possession of the actual visa. On February 20, 1948, however, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) recommended that the decision to deport Max be deferred for ninety days to give him time to locate the visa or to obtain a certified copy.

On March 3, 1948, the ninety day stay was granted, and Max was also granted parole during that period, meaning that on March 4, 1948, he was allowed to enter the country though he was required to report in writing on a monthly basis to the Deportation and Parole Section at Ellis Island. Max had thus been detained for eighteen days at Ellis Island before his parole.

On March 18, 1948, his attorney wrote to INS to notify them that the American Consulate in Jerusalem had confirmed that Max had been granted a visa on November 17, 1947, and that the Visa Division in Washington, DC, had been so notified.  On April 8, 1948, the State Department submitted a certified copy of the visa. However, it was not until four months later on August 11, 1948, that an order was entered to re-open Max’s case. A new hearing was scheduled for September 15, 1948.  Fortunately, Max had better luck at this hearing, and he was granted legal admission into the country on September 15, 1948, more than seven months after arriving at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948. (I assume Max had received extensions of the 90 day parole period initially granted in March, 1948.)

Then began the next chapter of his life and more experiences with the slowly grinding wheels of American bureaucracy. He started the process of becoming a US citizen on October 1, 1948, just two weeks after entering the country officially.  But before Max’s papers could be processed, he was inducted into the US Army on January 1, 1949, the very day the government had scheduled a meeting to discuss his citizenship application. He amended his address to reflect that he was now stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey as a member of the 9th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 2, 1951, and on March 11, 1955, a certification of his service was issued to INS. His formal petition for naturalization was filed on October 14, 1955, with Bernard and Rosa Laks attesting to his character.

On January 24, 1956, the government received reports from the army that on January 2, 1951, while serving in the army, Max had “stated in substance … that if the Army is an example of democracy, he would take communism” and that on June 4, 1951 while giving a training lecture to his unit, “he introduced the Crusades as an illustrative example in this history of warfare, and then proceeded to interject his own thoughts on the persecution of Jews by Christians at the time of the Crusades, allegedly making rather strong remarks about the Roman Catholic Church. [Max] has at various times in the past tried to turn a topic of conversation into ‘making a case’ for Zionism.”

I suppose Max took the meaning of the First Amendment more literally than the US Army thought appropriate. Whether this had any impact on his citizenship application is not clear. On a page of examiner’s notes dated November 9, 1956, the examiner gave Max a final rating of “deny,” but then that was crossed out, and on May 17, 1957, his application was granted and he was finally issued a certificate of naturalization; he also changed his name to Goldsmith at that time. Despite his service in the US Army, it had taken almost eight years to complete the process of becoming a citizen.

Two months later in July 1957, Max married Shirley Larve in Trenton, New Jersey.3 Shirley was born in Trenton on May 29, 1923, to Joseph and Anna Larve.4 She was 34 when they married, and Max was 32. They did not have any children.

Shirley died at age 70 on July 24, 1993, in Broward County in Florida.5 Her obituary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on August 15, 1993, filled in some of the gaps in their lives between 1957 and 1993.  Here are some excerpts:

…Shirley worked during WWII for the U.S. Army Finance Dept. and later for 25 years for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State of NJ, retired supervisor in 1985. Married Max Goldsmith July, 1957, an immigrant to the U.S.A. They resided at various locations throughout the U.S.A. … Her life was devoted to her husband, being a true companion to him who had lost his family of 68 members during the Nazi era.

She served two terms as President of the Ladys Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 697 in Levittown, PA. A life member in the American Red Star of David for Israel. In 1989 she received the Lady of the Year award of the Star-Faye Post 672. She was very mild mannered, yet forceful. A lady in her own right. Always unpretending with an inherent sense of justice. She had her golds [goals?] and she never let go until accomplished. She had little patience for people who sat around and complained. Although small in stature yet big in ability and courage.

Shirley and Max thus lived in or near Trenton, New Jersey until 1985 when she retired after 25 years working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Levittown, Pennsylvania, is less than eight miles from Trenton.) By 1990, they had moved to Pompano Beach, Florida.6

I am troubled by the reference in her obituary to 68 members of Max’s family being killed in the Holocaust. Who were those 68 people? How were they related to Max? Were they his mother’s relatives? Or were they Goldschmidts I just haven’t found? It haunts me.

Max died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eleven years after Shirley on July 2, 2004, at age 80.7  He’d endured a great deal in his life—fleeing from his homeland and his family as a young teenager, the murder of his parents, the move to Palestine and then to the US, and all the hassles he endured to become first a legal resident and then a  citizen of the United States.

But I was very comforted after reading Shirley’s obituary; I assume that Max wrote it himself. It is clear from his words that he loved her very deeply and that he felt loved and taken care of by her.  It is wonderful to know how devoted they were to each other, especially after all he’d been through in the first 32 years of his life.

Max Goldsmith, my third cousin, once removed, was a true survivor.  As best I can tell, he was the only and last surviving descendant of  his great-grandparents, Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt, two first cousins who married each other, both grandchildren of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents. By remembering Max, I hope to honor not only him, but all those who came before him.

 

 

 


  1. The references in this post to documents relating to Max’s immigration to the US are all from his A-file from USCIS, copies of which are in my possession. References to his immigration to Palestine and his time there are from the Israeli archives here
  2. On the 1937 passenger manifest for Berek and Rosa Laks, the person they named as their closest relative living in their former residence of Frankfurt was E.Pless, identified as Berek’s mother-in-law and Rosa’s mother. From this I inferred that Rosa’s birth name was Pless and that she was the sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother.  Laks family, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6022; Line: 1; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Certificate Number: 21705, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1957; Surname Range: L – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  7.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

The Heartbreaking Story of Berthold Goldschmidt

As seen in my last post, as far as I’ve been able to determine, of the eight children born to Jacob Goldschmidt and Betty Goldschmidt, only their son Berthold survived to adulthood.

Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, and they had seven children: Paul (1893),1 Leopold (1895),2 Siegfried (1896),3 Hedwig (1898),4 Ida (1899),5 Hilda Johanna (1903),6 and Rosa (1906).7

Hilda, Rosa and Ida all died before their first birthdays.8  Thus, of the seven children born to Berthold and Mathilde, it appears that only Paul, Leopold, Siegfried, and Hedwig lived past infancy. It must have been devastating for Berthold and Martha to lose three babies like that. Between 1895 and 1909, Berthold also lost his parents Jacob and Betty. Thus, he suffered five losses in a very short period of time.

Then Berthold suffered four more tragic losses in the 1910s. First his wife Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt died at age 43 in Marburg, Germany, on December 29, 1911. She left Berthold with four teenagers to raise alone. Paul was 18, Leopold was 16, Siegfried was 15, and Hedwig was 13.

Mathilde Freudenstein Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

But Berthold’s heartbreak was far from over. His daughter Hedwig died on August 5, 1915 in the Elisabeth hospital in Volkmarsen, as attested to by a nurse at that facility; she was only seventeen. Matthias Steinke generously translated Hedwig’s death record, which reports that Hedwig had been residing in Oberlistingen at the time of her death. I have tried to find some document showing the cause of death, but have had no success.

Hedwig Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 11405, 1915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Less than a year after Hedwig’s death, Paul Goldschmidt, Berthold and Mathilde’s first child, died in the state hospital in Haina, Germany, on July 20, 1916, at age 22.  The death record did not reveal a cause of death or the duration of Paul’s time at the state hospital, and I wondered whether, given his age and the year, he had died as a result of injuries suffered fighting for Germany in World War I.

Paul Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 4613
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

I was able to determine that the hospital in Haina was a psychiatric hospital and also that it cared for some soldiers during World War I, but I needed more information to determine why Paul died there. I wrote to the authorities in Haina to learn more, and I received the following response based on the hospital’s records  from Dr. Horst Hecker of the Haina branch of the Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen :

At the age of four, Paul Goldschmidt fell ill with hydrocephalus. He was first treated at the “Idiotenanstalt” (idiot asylum) [in] Idstein. In November 1900 Paul was admitted to the “Hessisches Brüderhaus (Anstalten Hephata”) near Treysa. On September 23, 1914, he was transferred to Haina Hospital. There he died on July 20, 1916, of “Marasmus bei Idiotie”.

Dr. Hecker sent me the entire file, and although I have not been able to translate much of it that is hand-written, I was able to translate one type-written entry that revealed that Paul was developing normally until he was four.  His parents attributed the hydrocephalus to a fall; Paul had hit his head on the corner of their stove and received four to five stitches. Whether that could cause hydrocephalus is beyond my area of expertise. But apparently soon thereafter his behavior and his development regressed, and he was institutionalized. How very sad that this boy spent eighteen years institutionalized before dying at age 22.

UPDATE: My medical consultant tells me that it is extremely unlikely that hydrocephalus would have been caused by a fall.  More likely it had been progressing. Perhaps the fall was caused by the hydrocephalus, not the other way around. On the other hand, one reader told me that her son had hydrocephalus caused when he was elbowed in the head, moving an undetected tumor in such a way as to cause hydrocephalus. Fortunately her son recovered after surgery removed the tumor.  Thank goodness for modern medicine.

But Berthold’s heartbreak was still not over. One of his two remaining children, his son Leopold, was killed just a few months after Paul’s death while fighting for Germany in World War I. He was only 21 years old. With the help of those in the Jekke group on Facebook, especially the incredibly generous help of Andre Gunther and Doris Benter of that group, I believe I have been able to piece together some of what happened to Leopold.

Leopold was injured in the fall of 1915 while serving in the 12th Company of the Reserve Infantry Regiment, No. 256.9 He returned to active duty after recovering from these injuries, and in December 1916 he was listed as missing.10 As seen below, it was reported that he had been missing since the end of October in the West. At that time he had been serving with the 8th Company of Infantry Regiment No. 364, to which he must have been transferred when he returned to duty.

Leopold Goldschmidt, listed as missing, https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/900539/1/2/

In a book published in 1932 that compiled the names of all the Jewish soldiers who died fighting for Germany in World War I, Leopold Goldschmidt is listed with Company 8 of the 364th Infantry Regiment. His date of death is given as October 25, 1916, and the list categorized his death as judicially determined, indicating that his body was not found but that he was declared dead in a legal proceeding. 11

I am not sure how they determined the date when he died, but on the assumption that that is accurate, I checked to see what battles on Germany’s western front occurred in late October, 1916, and whether the 364th Infantry Regiment participated in those battles. Although I have no conclusive evidence, my best guess is that Leopold was killed or taken prisoner during the Battle of Verdun. Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, provided this information:

In September, Gen. Charles Mangin, who had held command of a section of the French defensive line from Fleury to the right bank of the Meuse from June 22, proposed a scheme to liberate the Verdun region. Nivelle approved, and that offensive was initiated on October 21 with an artillery barrage across a broad front. An infantry assault followed on October 24, with three divisions advancing behind a creeping artillery barrage. By that evening the French had retaken Douaumont along with 6,000 German prisoners, and by November 2 the fort at Vaux was once again in French hands.

According to other sources, the 364th Infantry Regiment was among those participating in the October 24 battle for Fort Douamont. Thus, Leopold likely participated in that action and was among the many German soldiers who were either killed or taken prisoner by the French during that battle.

Leopold Goldschmidt died serving his German homeland in 1916. He was survived by his father Berthold and his only remaining sibling, Siegfried Goldschmidt. This fall his hometown of Oberlistigen honored his memory and his service to his country. More on that in the next post.

Thus, by 1916, Berthold Goldschmidt had outlived his wife and seven of his eight children. It’s hard to fathom how someone endures so many losses. Berthold died in Oberlistingen on November 8, 1927, eleven years after his sons Paul and Leopold; he was 69 years old.

Berthold Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8196
Description
Year Range: 1927
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Siegfried Goldschmidt, the only child of Berthold and Mathilde still living, attested to his father’s death. As we will see, Siegfried’s life ended in tragedy as well.


  1. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  2. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8078, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  3. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  4. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8081, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  5.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8082, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901 
  6. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8172, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  7. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8175, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8169, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958; also, see footnotes 6 and 7. 
  9.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 10082: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/3324952 
  10.  Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg, page 16803: Goldschmidt Leopold (Oberlistingen, Wolfhagen), found at http://des.genealogy.net/search/show/5035892 
  11.  [^9]:Die Judischen Gefallenen Des Deustchen Heeres, Der Deutschen Marine und Der Deutschen Schutztruppen 1914-1918 (Herausgegeben vom Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten, 1932), pp. 38, 309. 

Kissing Cousins: Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt, Married but Buried in Different Towns

I have now written about all the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hinka Alexander who immigrated to the US; their only child who did not immigrate was their daughter Betty (also known as Behla and Beilchen). She was born in Oberlistingen in November 1829, their third daughter and fifth child.

Betty Goldschmidt birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1852 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 668)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Not only did Betty never leave Germany, she never lived anywhere but her birthplace of Oberlistingen because she married her first cousin, Jacob Goldschmidt, who was also from Oberlistingen. Jacob Goldschmidt was the son and apparently the only child of Lehmann Yehudah Goldschmidt and Ranchen or Rinia Frank. Lehmann Goldschmidt was the younger brother of Seligmann Goldschmidt, making Jacob and Betty first cousins. Lehmann was also my 4x-great-uncle, making Jacob my first cousin, four times removed.

So I can in a sense kill two birds with the next set of posts: finish the story of the descendants of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann and Hincka (Alexander) Goldschmidt and tell the story of Seligmann’s brother Lehmann Goldschmidt and his descendants.

I could not find a birth record or marriage record for Lehmann nor for his wife Ranchen/Rinia, but only their death records. According to Lehmann’s death record, he was born in Oberlistingen and died there when he was 80 years old on July 15, 1865, meaning he was born in about 1785. His wife died in Oberlistingen on March 5, 1854, when she was 75 years, two months, and three days old, meaning she was born January 2, 1779.  I don’t know, however, where she was born.

Lehmann Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Rinia Frank Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 4

I also was not able to find a birth record for Lehmann’s son Jacob Goldschmidt. However, I was able to find the record of Jacob’s marriage to Betty Goldschmidt, which reports that Jacob was 28, Betty (Beilchen here) was 22 when they married in July, 1851 in Oberlistingen. That would indicate that Jacob was born in about 1823 and Betty in 1829, as is consistent with her birth record above. That means that Jacob’s mother was in her forties when he was born and may explain why he was their only child.

Marriage record of Betty Goldschmidt and Jakob Goldschmidt, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 669, S. 15

Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt would have eight children, including a stillborn daughter delivered on April 13, 1853:

Stillborn child of Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt, Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

The other seven children were Levi (1855),1 Pesach Berthold (1858),2 Meier (1861),3 Recha (1863, presumably named for Ranchen/Rinia Frank Goldschmidt, Jacob’s mother who died in 1854),4 Hinka (1866, presumably named for Betty’s mother Hinka),5 Hedwig (1868),6 and Lehmann (1872, presumably named for Jacob’s father, Lehmann, who died in 1865).7 I have birth records for all seven of these children, but unfortunately for five of them, those are the only records I can locate, and I have no information about what happened to them after their births.

The only children for whom I have later records are Pesach Berthold and Hinka. Hinka died on September 27, 1867. She was only one year, two months, and twenty days old.

Hincka Goldschmidt death record, Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1853-1890 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 672)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden

Thus, Pesach Berthold is the only child of Betty and Jacob Goldschmidt for whom I have adult records. Was he the only one to survive to adulthood? What happened to the others? I don’t know.

Pesach Berthold Goldschmidt was born on October 31, 1858, in Oberlistingen:

Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15

From their children’s birth records I know that Pesach Berthold married Mathilde Freudenstein, daughter of Bernard Freudenstein and Johanna Kugelman. Mathilde was born on June 16, 1868, in Rosebeck, Germany,8 a small town less than ten miles from Oberlistingen. Berthold (as he is named in the children’s birth records) and Mathilde probably married by 1893 because their first child Paul was born on September 1, 1893:

Paul Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8076, 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Jacob Goldschmidt died on March 6, 1895, according to the inscription on what I think is his gravestone. That gravestone came to my attention after my friend Julia Drinnenberg contacted me in June, 2018, asking if I knew who this Jacob Goldschmidt could be, as he was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Liebenau and there was no Goldschmidt family in Liebenau. Liebenau is almost 120 miles from Oberlistingen where my Goldschmidt family lived.

Julia sent me these photographs of the gravestone.

The German inscription on the gravestone translates as “Here lies Jakob Goldschmidt from Oberlistingen.” The Hebrew transcription refers to him as “Yakov (Jacob) son of Yehudah.”

At first I did not think this was Lehmann’s son since he was referred to as son of Yehuda. But then I found a transcription of Lehmann’s grave which refers to him as Lehmann known as Yehuda.

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 6

Thus, I believe that the gravestone depicted in the photographs from Julia is the gravestone of Jacob Goldschmidt, son of Lehmann and husband of Betty.

What neither Julia nor I nor anyone else I consulted could understand was why Jacob Goldschmidt was buried in Liebenau when he was a resident of Oberlistingen 120 miles away. Unfortunately, neither Julia nor I could locate a death record for Jacob in Liebenau, Oberlistingen or elsewhere. Was he perhaps in Liebenau when he died?  Since traditional Jewish practice required that the deceased be buried within 24 hours of death, maybe getting the body back to Oberlistingen that soon was problematic. Did he therefore have to be buried in Liebenau for religious reasons? And why was he in Liebenau in the first place? I don’t know.

UPDATE: I sent this post to Julia, and she wrote back to tell me that the Liebenau where Jacob is buried is only about 6 km from Oberlistingen; apparently there are two towns with that name. So there goes my theory that they couldn’t get the body home in time to bury him in Oberlistingen….

When Jacob’s wife Betty died on March 16, 1909, in Oberlistingen, she was buried in the cemetery for Oberlistingen Jews, and her gravestone inscription described her as Jacob’s widow. There is no gravestone for Jacob there.

Betty Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 8178,  1909
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Gräberverzeichnis des jüdischen Friedhofs der Synagogengemeinde in Breuna, aufgenommen im Juli 1938 von Baruch Wormser aus Grebenstein 1819-1934 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 97)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 9

Thus, Jacob and Betty Goldschmidt were buried 120 miles apart in two different towns. They appear to have been survived only by their son Berthold, who attested to his mother’s death. Berthold’s heartbreak was only beginning in 1909.

To be continued….


  1.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 14 
  2. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 15 
  3. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 16 
  4.  Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  5. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 17 
  6. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 18 
  7. Abschrift der Geburts-, Trau- und Sterberegister der Juden von Oberlistingen (Breuna) 1826-1890 (1937) (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 673)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 19 
  8.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5700,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998