A Genealogy Story for Hanukkah: Looking for Light in the Darkness

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, a holiday that reminds us to find the light and hope even in the darkest of times. And in that spirit, this is a story of three children who lost their mother as children and then their father as young adults. Yet they found the strength to go on and survive the Holocaust. They looked for the light and hope despite the darkness.

Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt’s third daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer had five children with her husband Hermann Hirsch Cramer. Their oldest daughter Rosa Cramer married Arthur Abraham Oppenheimer on May 16, 1904, in Frankfurt. Arthur was born August 25, 1879, to William Oppenheimer and Ida Jettchen Cramer.

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

I have had the great pleasure this week of talking with Arthur and Rosa’s grandson, my fifth cousin Arthur, who told me that Rosa and Arthur were first cousins, Ida Jettchen Cramer being the sister of Hirsch Hermann Cramer. Their parents were at first opposed to them marrying because they were first cousins. But they were deeply in love and insisted on being together.

Rosa Cramer marriage to Arthur Oppenheimer, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Arthur had four children. Twins were born on March 3, 1905, in Frankfurt, William1 and Gertrud.2 Then Arnold Selig Oppenheimer was born on June 15, 1907,3 and finally Edith was born on June 13, 1911.4

Arnold Selig Oppenheimer wrote a wonderful book, The Story of My Life,5 which his son Arthur shared with me. It is filled with memories of his childhood and adult life as well as many photographs of the family. I wish I could add more of the rich details of his life described in the book, but for now I will include just some of those details as well as a few of his childhood pictures, including these two of the three older Oppenheimer children and, in the one on the right, their mother Rosa.

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

And here is a fabulous photograph of Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer with her husband Hermann Cramer, their daughter Rosa, and her husband Arthur, and their four children:

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

Here is one of all four children taken in 1916:

William, Gertrud, Arnold, and Edith Oppenheimer, c. 1916. From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

Those children were still quite young when their mother Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer died on December 24, 1918,  just two years after this photograph was taken; she was only 37 years old. According to her grandson Arthur, she died from the flu during the terrible epidemic of 1918.

Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10794
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Arnold wrote this about his mother’s death:6

When she became ill with influenza in December 1918, she knew that her life would soon come to an end. I remember her on her last morning when she called us in, one after the other and talked a little and bensched [blessed] us. 

It’s just heartbreaking to imagine how those children must have felt, saying goodbye to their mother.

Rosa’s widower Arthur Oppenheimer was left to raise the four young children on his own, though there was plenty of support from the extended family and from the nannies and housekeepers, as described in Arnold’s book. Arnold wrote that his father never fully recovered after Rosa’s death—that he became more serious and rarely laughed. But that he was a loving and caring father who tried to be both father and mother to his four children.7

Then three years later, sixteen-year-old William Oppenheimer died from meningitis on December 31, 1921; family lore is that he had a bad headache, but it was Shabbat, and the family was told that it would be safe to wait another day. Unfortunately, William died later that day, although it would seem that especially back then before antiobiotics, little could have been done even if he’d gotten medical attention sooner. Arnold described his brother William as an excellent student and a gifted artist.8

William Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10857, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The remaining three children were left orphans when their father Arthur died on March 22, 1925, just seven years after Rosa and four years after William. According to his son Arnold, Arthur died from misdiagnosed appendicitis. Arthur had been a banker and stockbroker as well as a synagogue leader and treasurer, who, according to his son Arnold, was “highly esteemed…and known for his just attitude.”9

Arthur Abraham Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

It’s hard to fathom how the three remaining children—Gertrud, Arnold, and Edith—coped with so much loss. They were twenty, eighteen, and fourteen, and had lost their mother, their brother, and their father.

But Arnold’s son Arthur said that his father in fact was able to live quite a good life in the 1920s—traveling around the world, owning two horses and a sports car, studying in Frankfurt and Berlin, and generally enjoying the life of a wealthy young man in his twenties. Photographs of the extended Goldschmidt family in Arnold Oppenheimer’s book demonstrate that the children had a very large network of relatives who must have provided a sense of comfort and safety.

Those children then lost their grandmother Hedwig. Hedwig died on November 19, 1934. She was 73 and was survived by her four sons and her grandchildren.

Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer death record. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11024, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

And then the Oppenheimer siblings had to face the rise of the Nazis.

Rosa’s two daughters both ended up in Palestine. Gertrud  Oppenheimer had decided to become a teacher against the resistance of her family, who believed that women should not work. But Gertrud persisted and ended up teaching in the Jewish elementary school in Frankfurt. Gertrud married Rabbi Bernhard Joel in 1928. As her brother Arnold wrote in his autobiography, Bernhard was the brother of Edith Joel, the housekeeper for the children who was like a surrogate mother to them. Bernhard had immigrated to Palestine in 1924 and was then a librarian at the Jewish National and University Library. After he and Gertrud married in Frankfurt, they returned to Palestine, where they had four children.10

Gertrude Oppenheimer marriage record to Bernhard Joel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Gertrude (Ruth in Israel) died on November 15, 1979; her husband Bernhard (Issachar in Israel) died April 14, 1977. They were survived by their children and grandchildren.11

Gertrud’s younger sister Edith also immigrated to Palestine. Like her sister Gertrud, she also pursued a career and went to Stuttgart to become a nurse. There she met a second cousin of her brother-in-law Bernhard Joel and his sister Edith Joel, a doctor named Ernst Joel. They were married in 1932 and settled in Stuttgart.12

I was able to find the Palestinian immigration records for Edith and Ernst, and according to those records, they arrived in Palestine on April 24, 1933, just a few months after Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany. My cousin Arthur told me that after Ernst was told by a patient that he could no longer be his doctor because he was Jewish, Ernst told Edith they had to get out of Germany as soon as possible. They must have been among the earliest Jews to see the horrific handwriting on the wall.

Edith and Ernst had three children born in Palestine/Israel in the 1930s. Ernst died in Israel in 1980 and Edith in 2002.13

Ernst Ludwig Joel and Edith Hanna Oppenheimer, Palestine Immigration File, Israel Archives, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680ebc8ca

Rosa’s son Arnold Oppenheimer escaped to England, where he had better business prospects and which he liked better than other countries he’d visited. After clearing numerous bureaucratic hurdles, he was able to immigrate in the spring of 1936, but made several trips back to Germany to help family members emigrate, including one time that he narrowly escaped being arrested by the Gestapo. On August 1, 1939 he married Dorothy Duschinsky, whom he met at a Hanukkah party of a mutual friend in 1937.  She was born in London on March 27, 1911, to Charles Duschinsky, a rabbi and scholar from Hungary, and Blanche Barnett. By marrying Arnold, who was considered an “enemy alien,” Dorothy forfeited her British citizenship.14

But Arnold and Dorothy soon found themselves separated when Arnold was sent to a British internment camp for being an enemy alien soon after World War II started in September, 1939. Arnold, then working as a wool merchant, was first sent to an internment camp in southern England; he was released from that camp six months later, but then in May 1941, he was sent to the internment camp on the Isle of Man. Meanwhile, Dorothy was living with her brother Arthur in Hendon, working as a psychologist.15 Arnold wrote in detail about both the hardships and the more positive aspects of his internship in his book.16

Arnold Oppenheimer internment card UK, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/189
189: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Nels-Orde, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Arnold was finally released in 1942.  Arnold and Dorothy continued to live in England after the war. They had two children, one of whom is my fifth cousin Arthur. Arnold worked in the antique jewelry business for many years before retiring at the age of 82 in 1989.  Dorothy died November 1, 1976, in London; she was 65.17 Arnold outlived her by 35 years.  After having heart surgery at the age of 92, he moved to Israel to be closer to his daughter.18 He died at 104 in Israel on September 25, 2011.19

Thus, Rosa Cramer’s three orphaned children all managed to survive not only the tragedy of losing their parents and brother when they were still young, but also the Holocaust. They found lives for themselves in their new homelands and are today survived by their children and grandchildren all over the world.

So when we are all feeling down and discouraged by COVID and quarantining, it’s important to remember that others have endured terrible ordeals and found light in the darkness. As we light the Hanukkah candles or celebrate whatever holiday traditions we observe that bring light to the darkness this time of year, let’s keep our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Happy Hanukkah!


  1.  William Oppenheimer, Gender: männlich (Male), Age: 16, Birth Date: abt 1905
    Death Date: 31 Dez 1921 (31 Dec 1921), Death Place: Frankfurt, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt , Certificate Number: 7
    Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10857, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2.  Gertrud Karoline Oppenheimer, Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 23, Birth Date: 3 Mrz 1905 (3 Mar 1905), Marriage Date: 22 Mrz 1928 (22 Mar 1928)
    Marriage Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
    Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main, Spouse: Bernhard Joel, Certificate Number: 218, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  3.  Arnold S Oppenheimer, Gender: Male, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 15 Jun 1907, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Internment Place: Isle of Man, Discharge Date: 15 May 1941, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/189, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Edith Oppenheimer Joel, Palestinian Immigration File, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680ebc8ca 
  5. Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem). 
  6. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 1. 
  7. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 2. 
  8. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 3 
  9. Oppenheimer, note 5, pp. 1-2, 61. 
  10. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 2. 
  11. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p.3. 
  12. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 3. 
  13. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p.4. 
  14. Oppenheimer, note 5, at pp. 69-70. Arnold S Oppenheimer, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Marylebone, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Dorothy Duschinsky, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 2673, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 2673, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  15. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Gender: Female, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1911, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 11 Residence Place: Hendon, Middlesex, England, Occupation: Psychologist Intelligence Tests, Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 76, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: BKCV, Borough: Hendon
    Registration district: 130/3, Household Members Age, Dorothy Oppenheimer 28, Arthur Dusckinskyh 27, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/822C, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  16. Oppenheimer, note 4, at pp. 73-75. See also The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/236, Description Piece Number Description: 236: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Nicht-Plunn, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945. Duschinsky Family, Class: RG14; Piece: 32, Enumeration District: 32, Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census. Dorothy Duschinsky, Registration Year: 1911, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, Registration District: Paddington, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1a, Page: 14, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  17. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1911, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 13, Page: 0495, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 13; Page: 0495, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Death Date: 1 Nov 1976, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 15 Aug 1977, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  18. Oppenheimer, note 5, at pp. 85-86. 
  19.  MyHeritage at https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-1-317197441-7-501665/arnold-selig-oppenheimer-in-myheritage-family-trees 

Flora Goldschmidt Schwarzschild’s Family: One Branch Flourished, the Other Extinguished

For Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt’s second daughter Flora Goldschmidt Schwarzchild, the twentieth century started with a sad loss when her husband Emil Schwarzchild died on June 17, 1902, at the age of 45.1

Their daughter Helene Schwarzschild married Joseph Offenbacher the following year on August 28, 1903. Joseph, the son of Lazard Ismael Offenbacher and Karoline Oppenheimer, was born on July 3, 1877, in Paris. The couple settled in Frankfurt.

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

Helene and Joseph Offenbacher had five children. Paul Offenbacher was born in 1905 and died just five years later on January 13, 1910, in Frankfurt.

Paul Lazard Offenbacher death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10664, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Emil was born June 11, 1909, in Frankfurt.2 Then came Erich, born in Frankfurt on May 2, 1912.3 Another son, Erwin, was born December 30, 1915, also in Frankfurt.4 And finally Helene and Joseph had a daughter, Irmgard, born in Frankfurt on January 30, 1918.5

Helene Schwarzchild Offenbacher’s older brother Siegfried married five years after she did. He married Bertha Birnbaum on August 7, 1908. She was born on March 7, 1886, in Frankfurt, to Heinemann and Fanny Birnbaum.

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

They had one child, a son Emil Schwarzschild, born July 16, 1909.6

Flora Goldschmidt Schwarzchild thus had five living grandchildren when she died at 63 on June 17, 1922, in Frankfurt.

Flora Goldschmidt Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10858, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Sadly, her son Siegfried only survived her by nine years, dying at the age of fifty on February 26, 1929, in Frankfurt.

Siegfried Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10964, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Siegfried’s family continued to be plagued with tragedy after he died. Both Siegfried’s widow Bertha and his son Emil Schwarzschild were murdered by the Nazis. Both had escaped from Germany to the Netherlands, where Emil married Judith Bartels in 1938.7 Judith was born in Amsterdam on June 29, 1911, the daughter of Salomon Bartels and Rebecca Hamburger.

According to Yad Vashem, Emil was killed on August 16, 1942, and Judith on September 30, 1942, both at Auschwitz. Emil’s mother Bertha also was killed at Auschwitz. She died on February 26, 1943.  There are thus no living descendants of Siegfried Schwarzschild; his line was extinguished by the Nazis.

Fortunately, Helene Schwarzschild Offenbacher and her family fared far better than the family of her brother Siegfried. They all survived the Holocaust.

Helene and Joseph Offenbacher’s third son Erwin was living in the Netherlands beginning in January 24, 1934 and was issued a Dutch passport in 1938. According to his Dutch passport and his application for Palestinian citizenship, he then immigrated to Palestine on March 23, 1940. He married Hadassah Bacharach in Rishon L’tzion on June 14, 1942, and they had two children born in Israel.

Documents from the Palestinian Immigration File of Erwin Offenbacher from the Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680cc494e

I don’t have any other sources about Erwin, but an entry in Geni submitted by one of his nieces indicates that he died in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2010. He was 94.

Joseph and Helene’s youngest child and only daughter Irmgard also immigrated to Palestine. I could not locate an immigration file for her, but according to Baron and Cibella’s report, she married Carl Benjamin in Tel Aviv in 1938. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any sources about Carl or their marriage, but I did find a mention of Carl on a website listing a book being auctioned. The book, entitled Photographs of the Ruins of the Atlit Fortress, is a handmade book of photographs taken by Erwin Offenbacher of the Atlit Fortress, a site in Israel. The description of the book indicates that Carl Benjamin wrote the introduction and bound the book. It also says, “The writer of the introduction, Carl (Ya’akov) Benjamin (1911-1976), born in Köln, immigrated to Palestine during the 1930s. Benjamin was married for a while to Offenbacher’s sister, Lina Irmgard (Devorah).”

Erich Offenbacher, the second oldest child of Helene and Joseph Offenbacher, arrived in the US on September 4, 1934, according to his declaration of intention to become a US citizen filed in Pennsylvania on November 22, 1934. He was then residing in Philadelphia where he was a student.

Erich Offenbacher declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  Declarations 1001-1500 (Original), Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1795-1931

Eric, as he later spelled his name, married Gertrude Stern on July 15, 1938, in New York City.8 She was born in Salmunster, Germany, on December 9, 1912, the daughter of Levy Stern and Rosa Neuhaus. When he filed his petition for naturalization in 1940, Eric reported that he was a dentist living in New York, so he must have been a dental student in Philadelphia in 1934 when he filed his declaration of intention.

Eric Offenbacher, petition for naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Description: (Roll 1237) Petition No· 344551 – Petition No· 345024
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1940 census, Eric and Gertrude were living in Manhattan and Eric was in private practice as a dentist.9 They would have four children born in the 1940s and 1950s.

Eric’s parents Helene (Schwarzschild) and Joseph Offenbacher arrived in New York on March 28, 1940, and by May, 1940, had declared their intention to become US citizens. On their May, 1940, declarations, they listed the location of their four surviving children. Emil was at that time living in Paris, France; Eric was in New York City, and Erwin and Irmgard were in Palestine.

Helene Schwarzschild Offenbacher 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 589) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 462401-463200), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Helene and Joseph are listed on the 1940 US census, living in New York City, in a guest house. Joseph listed his occupation as a metals merchant.10

Their oldest child Emil Offenbacher, who had been in Paris when Joseph and Helene filed their declaration of intention, arrived in the US from Cuba on March 30, 1941. He had married Anna Rapp in Paris on August 23, 1934; she was also a native of Frankfurt, born there on February 25, 1912. 11 Emil was already a successful and well-known book dealer when he arrived in the US. According to a biographical profile of him on the website of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, he originally followed his father into the banking world, but in 1931 he started working in an antiquarian bookstore in Munich and then launched his own business in Frankfurt. When the Nazis took power in 1933, he and his wife Anna soon escaped to Paris where they waited for a visa to so they could immigrate to the US.

Emil and Anna had two small children who immigrated with them to the US in 1941. Interestingly, Emil’s parents were sailing with them from Cuba. Perhaps they had gone to help them move with their children.

Emil Offenbacher and family, ship manifiest, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 190, Ship or Roll Number: Talamanca
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Emil reported on his August 1941 declaration of intention that he was a book dealer. He started his business anew in the US, eventually moving to Kew Gardens, Queens, where he ran his antiquarian book business for the rest of his life.

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

Helene and Joseph’s daughter Irmgard, who adopted the name Deborah, immigrated to the US in 1947. She had suffered from health issues, and her mother came to Palestine in 1946 and was granted an extension of her visitor’s visa so that she could wait and travel back to the US with Deborah.12 According to her death notice in The New York Times, Deborah became a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College. She died in New York on April 5, 2004. She was 86.13

Joseph Offenbacher died in New York on June 26, 1945; he was 67.14 Helene Schwarzschild Offenbacher died nine years later on September 30, 1954; she was 72.15

Emil Offenbacher died from lung cancer in Bennington, Vermont, on August 16, 1990. He was 81.16 He was survived by his wife Anna, who died in 2004, and his two children.

According to his obituary in the Seattle Times,17 Eric Offenbacher practiced dentistry in New York for forty years before retiring to Seattle in 1979, where one of his children resided. He was also “a famed musicologist” with a special interest in Mozart. Eric died at the age of 96 in Seattle on January 5, 2009. His wife Gertrude had died on October 18, 2006, in Seattle when she was 93.18 They were survived by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Flora Goldschmidt Schwarzschild today has many living descendants in Israel and in the United States through her daughter Helene Schwarzschild Offenbacher. But her son Siegfried has none because of the Nazis.


  1.  Emil Schwarzschild, Gender: männlich (Male). Age: 45
    Birth Date: abt 1857, Death Date: 10 Jan 1902, Death Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main
    Father: Emanuel Schwarzschild, Mother: Rafel Frenkel, Certificate Number: 99
    Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10559,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2.  Emil Offenbacher, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1909, Birth Place: 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: 7, Mosbacher, Eduard – Schafranek, Bruno, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  3.  Erich Offenbacher, Birth Date: 2 Mai 1912, Birth Place: 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: 7, Mosbacher, Eduard – Schafranek, Bruno, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  4.  Erwin Offenbacher, Birth Date: 30 Dez 1915, Birth Place: 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: 7, Mosbacher, Eduard – Schafranek, Bruno, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  5. Irmgard Offenbacher, Birth Date: 20 Jan 1918, Birth Place: 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: 7, Mosbacher, Eduard – Schafranek, Bruno, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  6. Yad Vashem entry found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11630997&ind=0 
  7. Family report of David Baron and Roger Cibella. 
  8.  Eric Offenbacher, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 12 Jul 1938
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Gertrude Stern, License Number: 14185, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  9. Eric and Gertrude Offenbacher, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02655; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-1332, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Joseph and Lena Offenbacher, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02655; Page: 81A; Enumeration District: 31-1333, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Anna Offenbacher, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  12. Helene Offenbacher, Palestinian Immigration file, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b07170685704ee5 
  13. Death Notice, Deborah I. Offenbacher, The New York Times, April 9, 2004, Section B, Page 8 of the National edition. 
  14. Joseph Offenbacher, Age: 67, Birth Year: abt 1878, Death Date: 26 Jun 1945
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 14386, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  15. Baron and Cibella Family Report. 
  16.  Emil Offenbacher, Gender: Male, Race: White, Age: 81, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1909
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Residence Place: Kew Gardens, Death Date: 16 Aug 1990, Death Place: Bennington, Vermont, USA, Cause of Death: Natural, Metastatic Lung Carcinoma, Date Filed: 17 Aug 1990, Father: Joseph Offenbacher, Mother: Helena Offenbacher, Spouse: Anne Rapp, Vermont State Archives and Records Administration; Montpelier, Vermont, USA; User Box Number: PR-01616; Roll Number: S-31664; Archive Number: PR-2081, Ancestry.com. Vermont, U.S., Death Records, 1909-2008 
  17. The Seattle Times, January 6, 2009, found at https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/dr-eric-offenbacher-mozart-scholar-96/ 
  18. Gertrude Stern Offenbacher, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1912, Birth Place: Salmuenster, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Oct 2006, Father: Levy Stern
    Mother: Rosa Neuhaus, SSN: 155369180, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odette and Henriette Lang Tedesco
Courtesy of the Family

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

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

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

Giacomo Tedesco during World War I
Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Bayle and Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the family

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

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

Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the Family

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

 


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

Selig Goldschmidt’s Only Son, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, and His Family: Part I

I am approaching the end of the story of Selig Goldschmidt as I now turn to Selig and Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt’s only son, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, his wife Selma Cramer, and their four children: Harry, Arthur, Clementine, and Alice, and their lives in the 20th century.

As we saw, Meyer Selig was born on October 6, 1865, and married Selma Cramer on March 24, 1889. Their children were born between 1890 and 1896. Meyer Selig was his father’s chief biographer and the one who collected and collated the letters and tributes that became the Selig Goldschmidt book.

Thank you to my cousin Alan Philipp who sent me this photograph of Meyer Selig Goldschmidt.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt. Courtesy of Alan Philipp

Meyer and Selma’s oldest son Harry married Fanny Steindecker in Paris on January 21, 1913.1 She was the daughter of David Steindecker and Therese Bing and was born in Paris on December 11, 1891.2 Harry and Fanny had one child, a son Walter Selig Goldschmidt born in Frankfurt on February 3, 1915.3

The next to marry was Meyer’s daughter Clementine. She married Nathan Sondheimer on December 15, 1913, in Frankfurt. He was the son of Moses Tobias Sondheimer and Augusta Ettlinger and was born in Frankfurt on August 27, 1874.

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

Clementine and Nathan had three children. Manfred Sondheimer was born on October 27, 1914, in Frankfurt.4 His brother Erich Selig Sondheimer was born November 10, 1915, in Frankfurt,5 and Auguste Sondheimer was born January 31, 1917, in Frankfurt.6

Then tragically Clementine died from the 1918 flu epidemic at the age of 25 on October 29, 1918, leaving those three children—all four years old and younger—without their mother. The rest of Clementine’s family’s story will follow in posts to be published next week.

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

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt’s youngest child Alice Goldschmidt married Heinrich Eisemann on May 23, 1919, in Frankfurt. Heinrich was born in Frankfurt on August 5, 1890, to Michael Eisemann and Nanette Altmann.

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

Alice and Heinrich had six children born between 1920 and 1930. Thank you to my cousin Chaim, a descendant of Alice and Heinrich, who sent me the link for this YouTube video of old home movies of the Eisemann family in Frankfurt. It shows just how comfortable and “normal” their lives were before the Holocaust.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt died in 1922 and was survived by his wife Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and three of their four children, their daughter Clementine having died in 1918.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt death record, Certificate Number: 1204
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10867
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Two years after Meyer Selig’s death his younger son Arthur married Martha Mitterhauser Widmer in Berlin on April 25, 1924. Martha was born on April 2, 1896 in Koln, Germany. She had previously been married to Hans Widmer.7 (Martha’s parents are not listed on either marriage record.)

Arthur Goldschmidt and Martha Widmer marriage record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 458
Register Year or Type: 1924 (Zweitregister), Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and her three surviving children and their spouses and children all survived the Holocaust. Selma escaped to England, though I cannot pin down when. She registered as an enemy alien on December 15, 1939, and was exempted from internment. On the 1939 England and Wales Register, she is listed as living with a servant in London.8

Selma Cramer Goldschmidt enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/28, Piece Number Description: 028: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Goldm-Golds
Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Selma died in the fall of 1955 in London. She was 87.9 (I will have more to say about Selma in a subsequent post about the children of her daughter Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer.) She was survived by three of her children—Harry, Arthur, and Alice—and many grandchildren. Their stories will continue in the posts to follow.

 

 

 


  1. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report 
  2. Fanny Steindecker, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 11 Dec 1891, Birth Place: Paris, France, Death Date: 15 Nov 1987, Father: David Steindecker, Mother: Therese Bing
    SSN: 105363121, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3.  Walter Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Declaration Age: 27, Record Type: Declaration
    Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Main, Germany, Arrival Date: 18 Feb 1942, Arrival Place: Newsport News, Virginia, USA, Declaration Date: 21 Aug 1942
    Declaration Place: New York, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 528268, Box Number: 404, 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 
  4. Manfred Sondheimer, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 27 Oct 1914
    Birth Place: Frankfort Am, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 2006
    Father: Nathan Sondheimer, Mother: Clementine Goldschmidt, SSN: 051183476
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5.  Erich Selig Sondheimer, Race: White, Age: 31, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1915, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Registration Date: 22 Nov 1946, Registration Place: New York City, New York, Employer: Petro Tar and Chemical Corporation, Weight: 141
    Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  6.  Auguste Sondheimer, Birth Date: 31 Jan 1917, 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 
  7. Marriage of Martha Mittelhauser and Hans Widmer, Certificate Number: 25, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 255, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936 
  8. Selma Goldschmidt, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/564E, Description Enumeration District: AWAE, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register. 
  9. Selma S Goldschmidt, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: abt 1868
    Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1955, Registration District: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 159, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 159, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part IV: Tributes to the Man—Family Man, Entrepeneur, Philanthropist, and Patron of the Arts

Selig Goldschmidt

What made Selig Goldschmidt such an adored figure in the Frankfurt Jewish community? When he died in January 1894, there were many obituaries and tributes singing his praises and mourning his death. Many of these were collected by his son Meyer and then translated by later generations in 1996 and published in Israel in the book I’ve been referring to as the Selig Goldschmidt book.1

One characteristic of Selig was his benevolence and generosity to individuals in need and to charitable organizations. There are many letters in the book describing various donations he made or asking him for help. For example, he and his wife Clementine donated 20,000 Marks to establish an orphanage for Jewish girls in 1882.2 When he died, the letters and obituaries all mentioned his philanthropy.

Selig was also generous in his support of the arts. Much of his generosity was made possible because of the remarkable success of his arts and antiques business. There is not a great deal of detail about the business in the Selig Goldschmidt book, but some of the tributes to Selig provide insights. One man wrote a tribute that was published in the Frankfurt newspaper Finanzerhold as part of its obituary for Selig:3

Mr. Selig Goldschmidt, together with his brother Jakob who long predeceased him, founded the prestigious art business, J&S Goldschmidt which, from modest beginnings, rose to a dominant position in the world of art.

…The importance of the current art and antique trade with its close contacts with arts and crafts… is today well known and appreciated. This is due, in no small measure, to the merits of the departed. Forty years ago interest in art treasures of the past was still nebulous. Often these lay hidden, covered in dust, in most unlikely corners. It was then the task of intelligent dealers to track down such treasures, recover them from their hiding places and turn them into models for imitating the former arts and crafts industry to benefit the living generation.  It was not often easy to do justice to this task. Often it meant waging a campaign against the ignorance and limited understanding of the owner as well as against forgery. This required firm knowledge of the trade, energy, sensitivity and understanding—in short, genius. These qualities can be ascribed to the deceased to a high degree, and they earned him rare success. However, this success did not dazzle him, when—much as his reputation, and that of his firm, grew—whatever lasting reward acquired by his efforts in furthering the high aspirations of the art market, he remained the modest businessman and friend of humanity. He never put the materialistic side of his profession above its ideals.

Among Selig’s most famous clients were members of the Rothschild family. Baron Edmund de Rothschild sent a condolence note to Selig’s family. In its obituary of Selig, the Frankfurter General Anzeiger mentioned that Baron Mayer Carl von Rothschild was one of Selig’s loyal clients, thanks to Selig’s “highly developed understanding of art.”  Another obituary mentioned that “Rothschild only wanted the most rare and the most beautiful, so that the buying demanded the highest circumspection and skill. In this respect the high level of knowledge, which the deceased had acquired on his own, was quite remarkable.” 4

Selig’s firm not only acquired and dealt with secular works of art and antiques; they also specialized in Judaica, and the book about Selig includes many photographs of the Judaica he collected and traded. That is not surprising, given what an observant Jewish life Selig lived. In his letters to his children and grandchildren as well as to others, he almost always mentioned his gratitude to God and the importance of Jewish values. His letters frequently mention Shabbat and Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukah, and others. His support of his synagogue and of Jewish educational institutions was based not just on his charitable instincts but on his commitment to tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (healing the world).

These values were expressed by Selig explicitly in his Last Will and Testament dated July 1889. Unlike most wills, Selig did not merely identify how his assets should be distributed. He also wrote to his children about the way he hoped they would live their lives after he was gone. Today we would call this an ethical will, but back then I think this must have been quite unusual.

Selig wrote, in part:5

May G-d always be with you and bless you with all that is good and noble….Do not be too sad and upset when I have been called to rest with my forefathers, but thank G-d who has allowed me till now to fulfill my mission on earth so well. … Above all, my dear and good children, I beg of you to remain firm and strong in the faith of our fathers. Cling firmly to the laws of G-d and you will have the surest and safest guidance for your entire life. At the same time, don’t be over pious, do not condemn a person who does not share your views. Above all, keep your firm brotherly and sisterly friendship. Help each other with advice and action, and never forget those relatives who need your help.

He then wrote about how he grew up poor and was grateful for the financial security he attained as an adult because it allowed him to take care of them all as well as other relatives and to provide charity for others.  His requests of his children were that they take care of their grandmother, Caroline Schuster Fuld, for the rest of her life and that they continue to support the institutions that he and Clementine had supported including the Jewish schools.  After listing the specific bequests (not included in the book), Selig’s will concluded with these words:6

My purpose here on earth is now fulfilled, thanks to G-d’s kindness. If now it would please the Almighty to unite me again with my Clementine, I would call eagerly, here I am. I can calmly leave the beloved circle of my dear children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, since I am quite sure that you will bless our memory by attempting to complete with your noble efforts and Divine help, what we have always endeavored to do.

Now, my good children and grandchildren live cheerfully and happily. May Almighty G-d bless you and make you happy, just as you will strive to make each other and those around you happy. Then you will enjoy a long and happy life, just as your grateful and ever loving father, father-in-law and grandfather has done up to the present day.

That was quite a loving and hopeful legacy that Selig wished for his descendants. In the posts to come, we will learn whether their lives lived up to his hopes and dreams for them.


  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies) 
  2. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 107. 
  3. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 152. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 149, 151. 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 119. 
  6. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 122-123. 

Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last week or so. It’s COVID, it’s politics, it’s the weather. November is  hard for me. I hate when the trees lose their leaves, the grass turns brown, the sky turns gray, the temperature drops.

So I am going to take the advice of an old friend and list the top ten things that fill me with gratitude—in no particular order. I find when I focus on the things for which I am grateful, it makes me feel better. So here goes.

  1. I am thankful for my husband and my children and my grandchildren. They are the rocks in my life, the ones who get me from spot to spot, no matter how roiling is the water beneath our feet.
  2. I am thankful for my parents. My father is gone, and my mother is struggling. But they were a constant source of love and support in my life, and I hold all the memories close to my heart.
  3. I am thankful for the rest of my family, including all the cousins I’ve found on this genealogy journey. They all remind me how connected we all are—all humans—regardless of where we grew up or when or how.
  4. I am thankful for my three cats, whose ability to live in the moment and to provide constant companionship, affection, and comfort has been so very important during the last nine months.
  5. I am thankful for my friends—my friends from high school, from college, from law school, and from the community where I have lived since 1983. So many times in the last nine months I have turned to my friends—by Zoom, text, telephone, email. They have made me laugh, they have given me perspective, they have given me strength. I hope I’ve done the same for them.
  6. I am thankful for the genealogy village—those who read my blog, those who help me with my research and with translations, those in the Facebook groups who comment and help answer my questions. Family history research has been one way I’ve escaped from the anxiety of the pandemic. It has given me focus and a distraction and continues to keep my brain working.
  7. I am thankful for the good fortune I have to live in a comfortable house in a wonderful community of neighbors. In the course of our daily walks we’ve gotten to know our neighbors and their dogs and feel so fortunate to live where we live.
  8. I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from or whether I will be able to get adequate medical care or whether I will be harassed or injured because of my race. In a time when so much feels dangerous, I’ve learned more than ever to appreciate just how privileged I am.
  9. I am thankful for the beautiful world we live in. We’ve taken walks and hikes in places we never knew about before and in places that we’ve always loved—the beach and the woods, the mountains and the lakes. I learned early on that getting into a quiet place surrounded by nature was often the best thing to do to find solace and calm the noise in my head.
  10. I am thankful for science and for doctors and nurses and all the frontline workers in hospitals and grocery stores and elsewhere who are putting their lives on the line to do everything possible to keep us safe.

That’s my top ten. There are probably hundreds if not thousands more. What are yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This portrait of Clementine appears in the Selig Goldschmidt book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gravestones of Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt
Courtesy of Rafi Stern


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Thank you to my cousin Alan Philipp, who had a Schwarzschild family tree and traced both Emil and Alfred to their mutual great-great-grandfather Jakob Schwarzschild, making Emil and Alfred third cousins. I’d been unable to get back to Alfred’s great-great-grandfather, and that proved to be the mutual ancestor for them both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dearest Clementine

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

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

               Selig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selig Goldschmidt’s children

 

 

 


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

The Crazy Quilt of Selig Goldschmidt’s Family

As I move on now to the next child of my four-times great-uncle Meyer Goldschmidt, his fifth child and second son Selig Goldschmidt, I admit to some trepidation. I’ve been working on my Goldschmidt line for almost three years now, and Selig has one of the biggest branches.

The overall Goldschmidt clan is so large and so entangled. There are eleven men named Jacob Goldschmidt/Jacob Goldsmith on my tree, six named Meyer Goldschmidt/Goldsmith, six women named Helene/Helena/Helen Goldschmidt/Goldsmith, six named Hedwig Goldschmidt, and nine women named Clementine (including three named Clementine Fuld) within the Goldschmidt family. And then there are all the cousins who married cousins, adding more confusion and twists to the family tree.

And Selig Goldschmidt’s family only adds to all that entanglement. Just a quick overview to give you a sense of what I mean by entanglement. Sources and details to follow.

Selig Goldschmidt married Clementine Fuld. She was the sister of Salomon Fuld, the husband of Selig’s niece Helene Goldschmidt, daughter of Selig’s brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Salomon Fuld and Helene Goldschmidt’s daughter, also named Clementine Fuld like her aunt, married David Cramer, the son of Jakob Cramer. Selig’s daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt married David Cramer’s brother Hirsch Cramer. And Selig’s son, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, married Selma Suzette Cramer, a first cousin of Hirsch and David Cramer.

Two of Selig’s other children, Flora and Recha, married men with the surname Schwarzschild. I’ve not yet found records establishing a connection between the two Schwarzschild husbands, but I bet there was one.

Finally, Selig’s youngest and sixth child, Johanna Goldschmidt, married Abraham Stern, the son of Sarah Goldschmidt, Selig’s older sister, or Johanna’s first cousin. Fortunately I’ve already told the story of Johanna and Abraham when I wrote about Sarah Goldschmidt’s family so that particular web has already been untangled. I hope.

But as you can see, of Selig’s six children, one married a first cousin, two married spouses who were related to each other (first cousins), and two may have married spouses who were related in some way. Only Selig’s oldest child, Helene (yes, another Helene Goldschmidt) married someone who seems otherwise unconnected to someone else in the family.

And so, with that introduction to the family of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, I now will turn to this next branch of my Goldschmidt family tree. Once I finish Selig’s branch, there will be only one more Goldschmidt branch to cover, that of Selig’s brother Falk Goldschmidt. His line is also a crazy patchwork of intrafamily marriages, but I’ll address that when I get to that branch of the tree.