Escaping from Germany, Part IV: Helene and Martha Loewenthal, An Unfinished Research Project

I am really torn. Do I post about my family history in these times when we are all so anxious and focused on the present and the future, not the past? I prepared this post a few weeks ago, and in re-reading it now, I decided that reading about how others faced serious threats to their lives and their family’s lives might provide hope and strength to some who read it. So I am going forward.


Thus far we have seen what happened to three of Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s children and their children during the Holocaust. This post will report on the two youngest siblings, Helene and Martha, and their families. How did their lives change as a result of the Holocaust?

We saw that Helene Loewenthal’s first marriage to Edward Feuchtwanger had not lasted and that in 1913 she had married Oscar Friedrich August Heinrich Maximilian Schultze. They had one child, Elisabeth Auguste Aloysia Schultze, born on December 3, 1914, in Coblenz, Germany, where she was baptized on May 12, 1915. Thanks to my dear friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have Elisabeth’s birth record.

Notice that it indicates that her religion was evanglische, i.e., Protestant.
Elisabeth Schultze, birth record, Coblenz

Oscar Schultze died on September 6, 1931, in Hanover, Germany. (Thank you again to Aaron Knappstein for obtaining this death record for me.) He was survived by his widow Helene and daughter Elisabeth.

StadtAH_1_NR_3_08_2_1057_1920_1931 Oscar Schultze death certificate

Despite the fact that Elisabeth was raised as a Christian and that her mother Helene had married a Christian, both Elisabeth and Helene were enumerated as minorities on the 1939 Minority Census in Germany, living in Hannover.1 Helene died three years later on November 28, 1942, according to this document found in the Arolsen Archives. She was 65. It incorrectly lists her birth name as Loewenstein, not Loewenthal, but this is definitely my cousin Helene.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations /
1.2.4.1 “Reichsvereinigung der Juden” Card File / 12673184 – HELENE SCHULTZE. ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

I don’t know what happened to Elisabeth during the Nazi era after 1939. She would have been considered a “Mischling” of the first degree since her mother was born Jewish as were her mother’s parents, and not as a Jew because she was not disqualified from being a Mischling under the criteria enumerated by the Nazis, that is, she was not raised as a Jew nor was she married to one before 1935. Whether she faced any persecution or not is not clear, but we’ve seen that other Mischlings were persecuted.

But Elisabeth did survive the war. As indicated on the annotation to the birth record shown below, Elisabeth married in Hamburg in 1955 and died in Bad Krozingen in 1991. Aaron Knappstein is now looking to see if he can find her marriage and death records. Since it appears that Elisabeth married when she was 41, I assume she did not have children.

Annotation to birth record of Elisabeth Schultze

As for Martha Loewenthal, I have mostly secondary information from my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron and numerous unsourced family trees on Ancestry and Heritage, but I will report what I can as best I can to do honor to these cousins. We’ve seen already that she married Jakob Wolff and that they had three children in the first decade of the 20th century: Anna, Hans Anton, and Hans Walter.

UPDATE: Thank you once again to Aaron Knappstein, who has located the marriage record for Anna Wolff and Simon Wittekind. They were married on June 7, 1929, in Frankfurt. Simon was the son of Wilhelm Wittekind and Fanny Mendele, and he was born in Bad Kissingen on December 10, 1892. He had served in World War I for Germany.2 He was a doctor.

Less than a year after witnessing her daughter’s marriage, Martha Loewenthal Wolff died on May 19, 1930, in Frankfurt, as we saw.

Her widower Jakob Wolff immigrated to Palestine on August 21, 1934. By that time Jakob had remarried; his second wife was Ilse Gruenebaum, born October 27, 1901, in Maden, Germany. They became naturalized citizens of Palestine on July 21, 1938.3

Naturalization Certificate of Jacob and Ilse Wolff found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680e4ea29

MyHeritage reports that Jakob and Martha (Loewenthal) Wolff’s children all also ended up in Palestine/Israel, where they married and had children and have descendants still living in Israel. Their father Jakob died on October 14, 1953, in Israel. He was 77.4

If and when I find more documentation for Elisabeth Schultze and the descendants of Martha Loewenthal Wolff, I will update this post. For now, that brings to a close the stories of the children of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern’s daughter Keile and her husband Abraham Loewenthal. Next I will turn to the families of Keile’s brother Abraham Stern and his wife and cousin, Johanna Goldschmidt, and their fate during and after the Nazi era.

 

 


  1. Helene and Elisabeth Schultze, German Federal Archives, Abteilung R (Deutsches Reich), List of Jewish Residents of the German Reich 1933-1945, found at https://tinyurl.com/tyzfaab and at https://tinyurl.com/tjfhud3 
  2.  Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 20351. Kriegsstammrolle, Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File of Jacob and Ilse Wolff, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/r7524xh 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/regavyr 

Escaping from Germany, Part III: A Family Divided Across the World

The story of my cousin Siegfried Loewenthal is the story of how one family ended up separated and spread all over the world in order to escape Nazi Germany.

Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s younger son Siegfried and his wife Henriette Feuchtwanger had five children, as we have seen: Rosel (or Rosa) (1908), Albert (1909), Louise (1910), Grete (1913), and Lotte (1914).

Rosa Loewenthal married Justin Held in Frankfurt on August 24, 1928. Justin was born in Kulsheim, Germany on October 18, 1900.

Marriage record of Justin Held and Rosa Loewenthal, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903. Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Justin had two daughters born in Germany, one in 1929, one in 1930.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Siegfried and Henriette’s family began to disperse. First, their son Albert Loewenthal went to Palestine on March 26, 1934.1 I do not have a marriage record for Albert, but my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron report that he married Hilda Weingarten in Jerusalem on June 12, 1935. Hilda was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 10, 1911. I do know that they were married by the time they applied to become naturalized citizens of Palestine in April 1938, and they had a son born in Jerusalem in 1937.2 According to Cibella/Baron, Hilda died in Switzerland in 1954, Albert in 1995 in Jerusalem (after marrying two more times and having several more children).

Naturalization certificate for Albert and Hilda Loewenthal, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd584e

By 1939, the rest of Siegfried’s family had also left Germany. Siegfried and Henriette themselves arrived in Palestine on March 20, 1939, and became naturalized citizens in 1941.3 Unfortunately, Siegfried died just a year later in Tel Aviv on February 25, 1942. He was 62 years old and survived by his wife and all five of his children.4

Naturalization certificate of Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

And those children were all over the world by then. Rosa Loewenthal and Justin Held and their children left for England in 1939 and then immigrated to the United States in 1940.5 They ended up living in New York and becoming naturalized citizens.6 Justin died in 1980,7 Rosa in 1993.8

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/243J
Enumeration District: AKCZ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Louise Loewenthal had married Walter Meier Strauss in Basel, Switzerland. Walter was native to Frankfurt, where he was born on December 18, 1909.9 I was fortunate to find a long biography of Walter written by one of his grandsons and posted on the family genealogy website.  According to this document, Walter was employed by a woolen factory in Frankfurt when he was a teenager, and when he was in his early twenties or in the early 1930s, the company moved to Switzerland, and the owner asked Walter to come with them, which he did. By that time he had been dating Louise Loewenthal for seven years, and they soon married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. According to the grandson’s biography of Walter:

During the War, friends from home that were now in the concentration camps sent him letters about the atrocities that were going on in the War and specifically in the Camps. Trying to help, he established a group consisting of himself… and a few other men from Basel. The group would send very small care packages periodically to the people in the camps. The packages consisted of food such as salami, sardines, and any other small items that the people requested or needed and was small enough that it could be sent. Every sunday they would load up the packages in a car and drive all over Basel putting them in many different mailboxes, for if they were all dumped in one mailbox they would surely not arrive at the camps.

Thus, Louise and Walter were able to survive the Holocaust; Walter’s parents and brother were, however, murdered at Sobibor.10

In 1946, after the war ended, Louise and Walter Strauss and their two children immigrated to the US; Max Stern, husband of Louise’s first cousin Hilda, helped them get a visa. The ship manifest listed Justin Held, Louise’s brother-in-law married to her older sister Rosa, as the person they were going to in the US.11 They settled in New York where Walter once again got a job with a woolen factory. Walter died in 1990 while on a business trip in Switzerland and was buried in Israel.12 Louise died in New York on August 11, 2003; she was 92 and was survived by her two children and her grandchildren.13

Grete Loewenthal immigrated to Palestine, arriving on April 6, 1936. She became a naturalized citizen on November 29, 1938. She was working as an assistant pharmacist at the time and was unmarried.14

Cibella/Baron report that she married Fritz Altar in 1948, but I have no records to verify that fact. I did find two ship manifests, one outgoing from England, one arriving in New York, in May 1958, that list Grete and Fritz Altar, residents of Austria and working as hotel managers.15 The English manifest indicates that they were headed to the US as “the country of intended permanent residence.” But I have found no records showing that Grete and Fritz lived in the US. Fritz died in Vienna on January 30, 1993, and is buried there.16 Unsourced trees on Geni and MyHeritage report that Grete died on September 27, 1995, also in Vienna. I have no verification of that fact.

Lotte Loewenthal also had left Germany by 1939. She and her husband Erich Posen are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register showing residence in England by 1939. Erich was working as an optical goods salesman.

Lotte Loewenthal and Erich Posen, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/980H, Enumeration District: BXHY, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Unfortunately I have no marriage record for Lotte and Erich, but I know this is the correct person because after the war when she and Erich had their first child in January 1946, Lotte had serious complications and her mother Henriette had to get permission to leave Palestine to go to England for a few months to help Lotte with the new baby.16

Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

Lotte was not destined for a long life. She died at the age of 52 in 1967 in England, survived by her husband Erich and two children.17 Her mother also survived her; Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal died at the age of 93 in Israel, according to the work of Roger Cibella and David Baron.

Despite the lack of sources for some of the stories of Siegfried Loewenthal and his family, there is enough information to conclude that he, his wife, and all five of their children and their grandchildren escaped Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. In doing so, they ended up spread across three continents and three different countries.

There are always costs to these relocations and disruptions. Siegfried’s early death in 1942 certainly could have been just one of those costs.

Gravestone of Siegfried Loewenthal, photograph by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015, found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

Gravestone of Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal photo by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015 , found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

 

 


  1. Immigration and Naturalization File for Albert and Hilda (Weingarten) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/w33mluf 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/u3jsyyc 
  5. Rosa and Justin Held and family, passenger ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6459; Line: 16; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Name: Rosa Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 20 Nov 1947, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. Justin Held, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900, Age: 47, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. 
  7.  Justin Held, Social Security Number: 092-14-6607, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900
    Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Rose Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Death Date: Mar 1993, SSN: 095144557,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Walter Meier Strauss, Birth Date: 18 Dec 1909, Naturalization Date: 24 Mar 1952,
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. “My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Walter Meyer Strauss,” Jonathan Strauss, found at https://tinyurl.com/ttlo7rl 
  11. Walter and Louise Strauss and children, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7161; Line: 1; Page Number: 267, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See footnote 10. Walter M Strauss, Death Date: 15 Oct 1990, SSN: 065246257,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Louise Strauss, Death Date: 11 Aug 2003, SSN: 122285989, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. Immigration and Naturalization File for Grete Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/v5mxvs9 
  15. Fritz and Grete Altar, ship manifest, 15 May 1958, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA, Ship Name: Ryndam
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Grete and Fritz Altar, ship manifest, 24 May 1958, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Ship: Ryndam, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2990227; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4115; NARA Roll Number: 447, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  16. See multiple letters in Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  17. Lottie V Posen, Death Age: 52, Registration Date: Jul 1967, Registration district: Hampstead, Inferred County: Greater London, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 583, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part II: Julius Loewenthal’s Family

Although the story of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s family had happy endings in that the entire family safely left Germany and made new lives for themselves in the US, the story of Selma’s brother Julius is more complicated and more heartbreaking.

Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa Werner had four children, as we have seen: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918. Ruth had married Leonhard Fulda on March 16, 1928, in Eschwege, where her family lived.

Marriage Record of Ruth Loewenthal and Leonhard Fulda, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1913
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On September 21, 1930, Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Margot Fulda, in Mainz, Germany.1

That happy event was followed by the marriage of Julius and Elsa’s younger daughter Hilda Loewenthal to Max Stern on July 25, 1934, in Hamburg.

Hilda Loewenthal and Max Stern marriage record (found in a biography of Max Stern posted on Ancestry)

Max Stern was born in Fulda, Germany, on October 22, 1898, to Emanuel and Caroline Stern,2 and had immigrated to the United States in 1926.3 He brought with him a shipment of five thousand singing canaries he’d accepted as repayment for a debt4 and started a bird store, as seen on the 1930 census. That business eventually grew into the highly successful pet and pet food company, Hartz Mountain Corporation.

Max had returned to Germany to marry Hilda Loewenthal, and then he and his bride returned to New York in August 1934.5 They visited Germany in 1935,6 but returned to New York, where their three children were thereafter born.

Max Stern, 1930 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0270; FHL microfilm: 2341293, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, during these years, Hitler had taken power in Germany, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews had begun by the time Hilda and Max married in 1934. Herbert Loewenthal, Julius and Elsa’s second child and older son, left Germany and arrived in New York on February 22, 1935, with the intention of remaining permanently. He filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen on September 20, 1935, describing his occupation as international clearing and barter.

Herbert Loewenthal, 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 489) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 367301-368300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius and Elsa came to New York to visit their children in February, 1936, but only for sixty days, according to the ship manifest.7

To learn more details about what happened to the family of Julius Loewenthal thereafter, I was fortunate to find the award and decision of the Claims Resolution Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the “Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion”) issued in response to a claim filed in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation by Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl Werner Loewenthal, also known as Garry Warner-Loewenthal .

According to the official website for the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation:

In 1996 and 1997, a series of class action lawsuits were filed in several United States federal courts against Swiss banks and other Swiss entities, alleging that financial institutions in Switzerland collaborated with and aided the Nazi Regime by knowingly retaining and concealing assets of Holocaust victims, and by accepting and laundering illegally obtained Nazi loot and profits of slave labor. All of the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“the Court”). ….

The lawsuits were filed because in the decades after the Holocaust, Swiss financial institutions had failed to return deposits to the Nazi victims (or their relatives) who had entrusted their assets to the banks. Although the issue of these bank accounts had been raised many times during the decades after the Holocaust, in the late 1990s, the banks’ behavior came under scrutiny of a type that Switzerland had not experienced before.

The litigation was settled in 2000, and a special master was appointed to establish a process for distributing compensation to claimants. Garry Warner-Loewenthal filed a claim for the account of his father, and the tribunal’s full decision on his claim can be found here. It details the facts alleged by Julius’ son in support of his claim, for which he was awarded 47,400 Swiss francs.

According to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, Herbert Loewenthal moved from the US to Zurich, Switzerland before 1937. Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda were planning to move to the US and in the fall of 1937, they went to visit Ruth’s brother Herbert in Switzerland before immigrating, accompanied by Ruth and Herbert’s father Julius Loewenthal. Central to the claim was the allegation that Julius had deposited money in a Swiss bank while in Zurich.

Tragically, Ruth and Leonhard were killed in a terrible automobile accident on October 3, 1937, while returning to Germany from Switzerland. Julius was seriously injured, but survived. Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot, orphaned at seven years old, went to live with her father’s parents, Isaak and Joanna Fulda in Mainz.

In November 1937, just a month after the accident that killed their daughter and son-in-law, Julius and Elsa again visited New York for a limited time but returned to Germany.8 I have to wonder whether at this point they wanted to immigrate, given what was happening in Germany. Perhaps they could not get a visa allowing them to stay permanently. According to information given to Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, after the Nazis confiscated Julius’ business, he and Elsa fled to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to London. Finally, in May 1939, they were able to immigrate permanently to the United States.9

Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest from England to New York, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 . Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

By the time the 1940 census was enumerated, Julius and Elsa were living in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Neither listed an occupation.10 Their daughter Hilda and her family were living in Manhattan, and Max Stern listed his occupation as a bird food merchant.11

Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl had fled to England in 1938, according to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion. In November, 1939, Karl was found exempt from being interned as an enemy alien. He was working as a trainee in a hosiery factory in Leicester.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56,  056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

During the war Karl joined the British Armed Forces and was advised to change his name to Garry Charles Warner “for his own protection.”  When he immigrated to the United States after the war in August, 1946, he added “Loewenthal” back to his name and was known as Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, as described in the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion.

It might seem that Julius Loewenthal’s family was relatively fortunate as Julius, Elsa, Hilda and her husband Max Stern, Herbert, and Karl/Garry all survived the Holocaust and the war. Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed, but not by the Nazis; they died in a car accident. Of course, Ruth and Leonhard might never have been involved in an accident if they hadn’t gone to Switzerland to visit Herbert, who had been forced to leave Germany because of the Nazis.

But that is not the end of the story. Recall that Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot had gone to live with her paternal grandparents, the Fuldas, in Mainz after losing her parents in October 1937. The Fulda family—Isaac and Johanna, their son Ernst and his wife Emma, and Margot, Ruth and Leonhard’s orphaned daughter—all escaped to Amsterdam in 1939. But they were ultimately deported from there to Sobibor, where every single one of them was murdered by the Nazis in 1943, including little Margot, who was not yet thirteen years old.12

Julius Loewenthal had survived a terrible car accident that caused him serious harm, the deaths of his daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard in that accident, the confiscation of his business, the loss of his homeland, the escape first to the Netherlands, then England, and finally to the US, and, worst of all, the murder of his granddaughter Margot. Having survived all that, he died not long after the war ended on November 20, 1946, at the age of 72.13

Four years later, his daughter Hilda divorced Max Stern. She would marry again, but that marriage also did not last.14 Her mother Elsa Werner Loewenthal died in 1961 in New York at the age of 77,15 and then her brother Herbert died in Zurich in 1962; he was only 53 and had never married.16 Hilda Loewenthal Stern Duschinsky died on July 29, 1980; she was 68 and was survived by her children and grandchildren.17

That left only Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal. He had married after the war and had one child.18 I could not find much other information about Garry, but we do know that just a few years before he died when he was already in his eighties, he filed a claim in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation and received some compensation for all that his family had lost. Garry died at the age of 87 in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 1, 2005.19

The story of the family of Julius Loewenthal serves as a painful reminder that even those who survived the Holocaust suffered greatly and lived with those scars forever after.

 

 

 

 


  1. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.,
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897, found at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu 
  2. Birth record of Max Stern, Familien- und Geburtsregister der Juden von Fulda 1748-1899 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 345)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 202. 
  3.  Staats Archiv Bremen; Bremen, Germany; Bremen Passenger Lists; Archive Number: AIII15-18.08.1926-2_N, Ancestry.com. Web: Bremen, Germany, Passenger Lists Index, 1907-1939 
  4. “Max Stern, Founder of Hartz Mountain,” The Herald-News
    Passaic, New Jersey, 21 May 1982, Fri • Page 31 
  5. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5526; Line: 1; Page Number: 118, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island) 
  6. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5683; Line: 1; Page Number: 8,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5769; Line: 1; Page Number: 4, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6081; Line: 25; Page Number: 48, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6328; Line: 1; Page Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02746; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 41-1374B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Max and Hilda Stern and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02642; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 31-774, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897 at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu  Also, see the entries at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/ts3xacc 
  13. Certificate Number: 9313, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  14. Divorce Date: Mar 1950, County: Elmore, Ancestry.com. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Original data: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Montgomery, AL, USA: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Marriage of Hilda Stern to Eugene Duschinsky, License Number: 609, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Death Date: 22 Mar 1961, Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 3535, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  16. See Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion 
  17.  Social Security Number: 057-38-8878, Birth Date: 22 Oct 1911, Death Date: Jul 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  18.  License Number: 650, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Queens, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  19. Death Date: 1 Mar 2005, SSN: 056244639, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part I: Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s Family

As discussed in an earlier post, by the late 19th century, the city of Frankfurt had the second largest Jewish population in Germany. During the early decades of the 20th century, that community continued to grow and prosper, as described in this source, the February 2005 issue of Hadassah Magazine:

As the 20th century got under way Frankfurt’s Jews were at the peak of their influence. They were bankers, brokers, manufacturers, retailers, lawyers and doctors. They fought in World War I under the Kaiser and Frankfurt became a center of learning in the Weimar Republic. Jewish Frankfurters were active in politics, and in 1925 Ludwig Landmann became the city’s first Jewish mayor.

And this source added to this picture of the thriving Jewish community in Frankfurt during the first three decades of the 20th century:

Before 1933, Frankfurt am Main had the largest percentage of Jewish citizens in Germany, and its Jewish community was the second largest in Germany following Berlin. In finance, education, science, and through numerous associations and foundations, Jewish citizens influenced the city of Frankfurt in a distinct way.

It is quite evident that Frankfurt was a comfortable place for Jews to live and do business in those early decades of the 20th century.

All that changed, of course, in 1933 when Hitler came to power. And certainly by 1935 with the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, life became miserable for Jews all over Germany. Thus, it is not surprising that Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants began to leave Germany, some for the United States, some for England, and some for what was then Palestine, today’s Israel.

The next series of posts will tell the story of what happened to the descendants of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Stern during and after the Holocaust. This post will tell the story of Kiele Stern Loewenthal’s oldest child, Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher, and her children, Alice, Julius, and Gerhard, and their children.

Selma’s three children all went to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power, as did her grandchildren. Selma’s youngest child Gerhard Schwabacher had in fact left for the United States before Hitler came to power. According to his naturalization papers, he arrived in the United States on February 9, 1927, and by September 6, 1927, had declared his intention to become a United States citizen.

Gerhard Schwabacher, Petition for US Citizenship, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 67-69, petition no 17330-17847
Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Gerhard married Alice Ferron, a Connecticut native, on September 4, 1931.1 Alice was born on April 18, 1905 to Charles J. and Alice Ferron.2 Gerhard and Alice were living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1933 when he filed his petition for citizenship, and Gerhard was working as an electrical engineer for General Electric.3

On September 8, 1934, his mother Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher (who was a widow) arrived in New York to stay with Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest listed Berlin as her place of residence  and indicated that she only planned to stay in the US for six months.4  It appears that Selma did not stay in the US;  the research done by my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron indicates that she died in Berlin on February 20, 1937.

Julius Schwabacher arrived in the US on September 30, 1935. Like his mother, he indicated that Berlin was his place of residence in Germany and that he was going to see his brother Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest reports that Julius was a reporter and that he was going to stay only 30 days,5 and it appears he also returned to Germany. But on November 14, 1937, Julius sailed from Havana, Cuba, to Florida, ultimately heading to Bridgeport where his brother lived. This time Julius indicated he intended to stay in the US permanently and that his occupation was a journalist.

And on September 20, 1938, he filed his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen.

Julius Schwabacher, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, (Roll 541) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 419501-420500)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius’ daughter Eva Lore Schwabacher arrived two years later on July 29, 1940, heading to New York where her father, now using the surname Wenton, was living. Eva Lore had been residing in London before immigrating to the US.6  Julius and Eva Lore’s mother Margarete had divorced in 1928, as Julius’s declaration indicates, and tragically, Margarete did not leave Germany and was murdered at Auschwitz.7

Selma’s daughter Alice Schwabacher Weinstein and her husband David and son Wolfgang also left Germany in time. Wolfgang left first; he arrived in the US on December 7, 1935, heading to his uncle Gerhard in Bridgeport.8 He filed his Declaration of Intent the following year and by that time had changed his surname to Wenten.

Wolfgang Weinstein (Wenten), Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 100-103, petition no 25563-26184, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Wolfgang’s parents Alice and David arrived on March 28, 1939,9 and like their son Wolfgang and Gerhard, settled in Bridgeport. David would also change his surname to Wenten and filed a Declaration of Intent for them to become US citizens in 1940.

David Wenten, Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Declaration of intention, no 38436-40677, 1938-1940, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Thus, in 1940, all of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s children and grandchildren were safely settled in the US. The 1940 US census shows Gerhard living with his wife and two American-born young sons in Bridgeport, working as an electrical engineer.10 His sister Alice and her husband David were also living in Bridgeport where David was in the real estate business. Their son Wolfgang was living with them and working as a shipping clerk for a novelty store.11

I could not locate Julius or his daughter Eva Lore on the 1940 US census, but in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft, Julius was also living in Bridgeport, working for the Surgical Shears Company.

Julius Wenteo, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Connecticut; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Unfortunately, the story of the Selma’s children’s transition to the United States ends on a sad note. David Weinstein aka Wenten died on September 25, 1941, at the age of 55.12 One must wonder whether the stress of leaving his homeland and adjusting to life in a new country contributed to his death.

As for the other members of the family, they safely survived the war in the United States. Gerhard Schwabacher remained in Bridgeport for the rest of his life, working as an engineer for General Electric. He died on July 26, 1971, at the age of 69.13 His wife Alice died the following year.14 They were survived by their two sons.

Julius Schwabacher Wenton died a year after his brother on September 29, 1972, in Laguna Hills, California; he was 79.15 He was survived by his second wife, Elsie Simon, whom he had married in Fairfield, Connecticut on March 13, 1943,16 and his daughter Eva Lore. Eva Lore had married twice, first to Jack Stern in 1943, and then, after divorcing Jack Stern in 1946, to Henry Corton, in April, 1951.17 As far as I’ve been able to determine, she did not have children with either man. Eva Lore Corton passed away on March 3, 2003.18

Alice Schwabacher outlived both of her younger brothers. After losing her first husband David Weinstein/Wenten in 1941, she married Arthur Kingsley (originally Koenigsberger) on August 1, 1951.19 She outlived him as well; he died in January 1972.20 Alice lived to the age of 93; she died on her 93rd birthday on December 29, 1984.21 She was survived by her son Wolfgang Wenten, who was in the construction estimating business in Bridgeport. Sadly, Wolfgang did not inherit the same longevity as his mother. He died less than six years after she did on March 20, 1990; he was 76 and was survived by his wife Ruth and their two children.22

Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher still has numerous descendants living in the United States—her great-grandchildren and their children and grandchildren. She and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany in time.

 

 


  1.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968; Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  2. Charles Farron (sic) and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Bridgeport Ward 5, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: T625_175; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 26, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45 
  4. Selma Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5554; Line: 1; Page Number: 112, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Julius Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5713; Line: 1; Page Number: 128, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Eva Lore Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6485; Line: 15; Page Number: 126, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Entries for Margarete Schwabacher at Yad Vashem https://tinyurl.com/wlm399u 
  8. Wolfgang Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5739; Line: 18; Page Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. David and Alice Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6303; Line: 18; Page Number: 104, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Family of Gerhard Schwabacher, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00531; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 9-69, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Family of David Wenten, 1940 US census, ear: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00533; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 9-125,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12.  State Vital Records Office; Hartford, Connecticut; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Deaths, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Death Records, 1897-1968 
  13. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45. Social Security Number: 041-09-0962, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1902, Last Residence: 06492, Wallingford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, Death Date: Jul 1971, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. State File #: 02273, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  15.  Social Security Number: 104-10-6866, Birth Date: 17 May 1893, Last Residence: 92653, Laguna Hills, Orange, California, USA, Death Date: Sep 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  17. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher to Jack Stern, Marriage certificates 1943 vol 57A, Ancestry.com. Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008. Divorce of Eva Lore Schwabacher and Jack Stern, Ancestry.com. Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001,
    Original data: Florida Department of Health. Florida Divorce Index, 1927-2001. Jacksonville, FL, USA: Florida Department of Health. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher Stern to Henry Corton, License Number: 9785, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 14,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  18. SSN: 045121672, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19.  License Number: 20152, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20.  Social Security Number: 112-26-6899, Death Date: Jan 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  21.  Social Security Number: 044-12-5712, Birth Date: 29 Dec 1891,
    Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1984
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), 
  22. “Wenten Named to Head County School,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 28 Jul 1968, Sun • Page 66. SSN: 041105870, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

A Morreau Family Update: In Memory of Patrick Morreau 1934-2019

When we were in London, I was very fortunate to meet two of my Seligmann cousins, Annette Morreau, my fourth cousin, once removed, and Mark Morreau, my fifth cousin; I wrote about our meeting here. Since then, Mark and I have stayed in touch and shared some of our research into our shared family.

Before I delve into what I’ve learned from Mark, let me first explain how we are connected. Mark and I are both descended from our four-times great-grandparents Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer, Mark through their daughter Caroline, me through their son Moritz, my third great-grandfather.

Caroline Seligmann married Moses Morreau on October 8, 1830 in Worrstadt, Germany:

Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau October 8, 1930
Worrstadt Marriage Record, 1830-10

P. 2 of Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau

They had two children, Levi (1831) and Klara (1838), about whom I wrote here. Levi Morreau married Emilia Levi and had five children, including Markus, who was born in Worrstadt on August 27, 1859:

Markus Morreau birth record, August 27, 1859
Worrstadt birth records, 1859-36

Here is a photograph of Emilia Levi Morreau, the mother of Markus Morreau:

Emilia Levi Morreau, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Markus married Alice Weinmann, and they had three children all born in England. Their first child Cecil, Mark’s grandfather, was born in April, 1905.1 Cecil married Cicely Josephine O’Flanagan in 1933 in Manchester, England,2 and they had three children, including Mark’s father Patrick, born in 1934.3

When I met Mark, his father Patrick was scheduled for surgery within a few weeks after our meeting on June 1, 2019. Patrick made it through the surgery, but then unexpectedly died not long afterwards on June 30, 2019. He was 85. I was heartbroken for Mark and his family and very sad that I had missed the opportunity to meet Patrick myself, especially after Mark shared some of his stories with me. I am grateful, however, to have met Mark and also our cousin Annette, and very glad that Mark was able to share with Patrick some of what we had discussed and to ask a few more questions about the family history.

So in memory of and in honor of Patrick Morreau, let me tell some of that history and those stories.

I will start with Mark’s great-grandfather Markus Morreau. As mentioned above, Markus was one of five children of Levi and Emilia (Levi) Morreau. He had four younger siblings: Albert, Adolf (who died as a child), Bertha, and Alice. I’ve written about them all here and here. In fact, my discovery of the Morreau cousins really started when my cousin Shyanne Morreau found my blog and we together put the various pieces together. Shyanne is descended from Albert Morreau, who left Germany for the United States in 1883 when he was 22 and settled in Cleveland. Albert’s older brother Markus also left Germany as a young man and was living in Withington, a suburb of Manchester, England in 1881; by then he had adopted the more English spelling of his name, Marcus. 4

Here is a photograph of Marcus taken in 1880 when he was 21. It appears it was taken in Frankfurt, either before he emigrated to England or during a visit back to Germany:

Marcus Morreau, aged 21. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

I don’t have a photograph of Albert as a young man, but this photo from his 1915 passport with his wife Leonora shows the family resemblance:

“United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJP-423K : 4 September 2015), Albert Morreau, 1915; citing Passport Application, Ohio, United States, source certificate #49162, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, 234, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,514,173.

Marcus was living in Manchester when he became a naturalized British citizen in 1892.

UK Naturalization Certificate for Marcus Morreau
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 19

Two of the questions that Mark and I had were why Marcus and Albert left Germany in the 1870s and 1880s and why one went to England and the other to America.  As for the first part of that question, the answer seems answered in part by what was happening in Germany in the 1870s and 1880s. According to several sources, Germany was substantially affected by the worldwide depression that began in 1873. Britannica.com reports that:

The prices for agricultural and industrial goods fell precipitously; for six successive years the net national product declined. A sharp decline in profits and investment opportunities persisted until the mid-1890s. About 20 percent of the recently founded corporations went bankrupt.

In agriculture, the deeply indebted Junker elite now faced severe competition as surplus American and Russian grain flooded the German market. Among the more immediate consequences of the crash was a burst of emigration from the depressed provinces of rural Prussia. During the 1870s some 600,000 people departed for North and South America; this number more than doubled in the 1880s.

Lynn Abrams, a scholar writing about this same period, noted that one of the other consequences of the depression of 1873 was an increase in anti-Semitism:5

The Depression, which did not recede until 1879, had profound consequences. The period beginning in 1873 saw the organization of economic interest groups, nationalism of a rather chauvinistic nature, militarism and modern anti-semitism.The Depression caused the landed and industrial interests to mobilize behind the policy of protective tariffs in order to retain their economic and political base. Thus, they succeeded in maintaining their power and the political status quo.

Ironically, the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871 led to some increased rights for Jews, but also increased anti-Semitism, as the Center for Israel Education described on its website:

In July 1869, Prussian King Wilhelm I promulgated the North German Confederation Constitution, which gave Jews civil and political rights in twenty-two German states.  This Constitution was adopted by the new German empire upon its establishment on April 14, 1871.  On April 22, 1871, the Jews in all of Germany were finally given emancipation when the Constitution was extended to Bavaria. 

The process of Jewish emancipation led to many changes in both Jewish and non-Jewish society.  Some Jews continued religious identification with non-Orthodox Judaism, seeking to remain Jewish but more like their Christian peers; some converted to Christianity because the Emancipation of 1871 still prevented Jews from gaining access to certain high profile social positions; others simply assimilated.  Emancipation also led to new and more virulent forms of anti-Semitism, a term that was coined in 1879 in a pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr. Marr became the father of virulent racial anti-Semitism, singling out  Jews as inferior because of their racial impurity.

Another website, Jewish History Online, further elaborated on the increased anti-Semitism that occurred in the 1870s and thereafter:

With the onset of the economic crisis of the early 1870s known as “Gründerkrach”, the atmosphere in the newly founded German Kaiserreich started to change. Reich Chancellor Bismarck reacted with a protectionist economic policy and changed his political course to join the conservative camp. As supporters of liberalism and Social Democracy, the Jews now found themselves on the side of the political enemy. They were accused of being responsible for the economic crisis and the ever more pressing “social question.”

There were thus multiple reasons why Marcus and Albert Morreau would have left Germany during this time period—to seek better economic opportunities and to escape anti-Semitism.

As for why one went to England and the other America, we can only speculate. Perhaps they were hedging their bets as to which country would give them more opportunities. Maybe they didn’t get along and wanted to put an ocean between them.  Or maybe they each just found a specific job opportunity that led them to settle in two different countries.

More to come…

 


  1. Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume: 8c, Page: 718, Source Information
    FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  2.  Inferred County: Lancashire, Spouse: O’flanagan, Volume Number: 8d
    Page Number: 648, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 8d; Page: 648,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  3.  Registration district: Watford, Inferred County: Hertfordshire, Mother’s Maiden Name: O’Flanagan, Volume Number: 3a, Page Number: 1485, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Reference: Volume 3a, Page 1485, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007 
  4. Marcus Morreau, 1881 England Census, Class: RG11; Piece: 3892; Folio: 79; Page: 37; GSU roll: 1341930, Enumeration District: 12a, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
  5. Lynn Abrams, Bismarck and The German Empire 1871-1918 ( Routledge, 1995), found at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3c20/c71ec7760438fd5651738e40dea8a81a8c19.pdf 

How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part II: Christine Seligmann

My last post told the tragic story of Emil-Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the great-grandson of my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann. This post will tell the story of his sister, Christine, known by the family as Christel. Emil, Jr. and Christel were the children of Emil Seligmann, Sr., who was Jewish, and Anna Maria Angelika Illian, who was Catholic, and they were raised as Catholics. But, as we saw in the prior post, Nazis treated those who had two Jewish grandparents as Mischlings in the First Degree. Although they were not thus identified as wholly Jewish, they were nevertheless not Aryan either and, as we saw with Emil, often persecuted. Emil was sent to Buchenwald in August 1944 and died there six months later on February 14, 1945, from poor health and a heart attack.

Christel was not sent to a concentration camp, but she faced persecution as well. In going through various papers that were found in Christel’s apartment after she died in 1982, my cousin Wolfgang located documents that revealed that Christel had applied for reparations from the German government for the harm and losses she suffered during the Nazi era. Those documents (which he has shared with me) reveal what Christel experienced and endured at the hands of the Nazis. The documents are all in German, but with a lot of help from Wolfgang and my elementary understanding of German, I have been able to piece together Christel’s story. You can see the documents I received here: Christine Seligmann dox

The first document was written by Christel on January 3, 1947, outlining her life in Wiesbaden before and during the Nazi era and World War II. She wrote that she was born on July 30, 1903 in Erbach, Germany. Her parents were quite wealthy, so Christel did not need to work. But in 1933 she became a certified baby nurse and began working for mostly Jewish families in that capacity. She was out of work due to poor health (rheumatism) from 1938 to 1942, but in 1942 returned to work for various families.

After losing both of her parents in 1942, Christel stopped working as a baby nurse and instead made a living by renting rooms in her family home. But in August 1944, her situation became much worse. Her brother Emil was arrested and sent to Buchenwald, where he died six months later.

Wolfgang found among Christel’s papers two cards that she received from her brother Emil while he was at Buchenwald. Wolfgang translated and summarized these cards for me.

The first card is dated September 10, 1944. At the top of the page are pre-printed instructions regarding written communications to and from prisoners. Prisoners were allowed to send and receive just two letters a month. The letters had to be written clearly. The rules also state that prisoners were allowed to receive food.

In the body of his message, Emil informed Christel that he was living at Buchenwald and that he was doing well, but he made several requests that he considered urgent. He asked her to send him money (30 Reichsmarken) and a long list of food items: marmalade, canned blackberries and raspberries, sugar, salt, cigarettes, and some cutlery. He also asked for something to treat fleas. He thanked her several times.

His second letter sounded more desperate. It was written in December, 1944, and it is obvious that the conditions and weather had become worse since his first card two months earlier. We can’t tell whether the siblings had exchanged other letters between September and December, but from the content of Emil’s December letter, we know that Christel had at least sent him one package. He wrote that he was happy to have received the package from her because he had been very worried and was glad to know that she was alive. He asked her to write him a letter—so perhaps she had not written to him, just sent the package.

He said that everything in that package was perfect, but that he now needed more money (50 Reichsmarken) and some winter clothing—gloves, earflaps (like ear muffs, I assume), and a winter jacket. He also asked for towels, handkerchiefs, a pen, a spoon, salt, cigarettes, glasses, and marmalade. Emil acknowledged that Christel might be too busy with work to get the items to him quickly and said she should ask the other women in her house for help. He closed by wishing her a good Christmas and sending her kisses.

We don’t know whether Emil heard from Christel again or whether she heard from him. He died less than two months after Christmas on February 14, 1945.

Meanwhile, Christel was having her own problems with the Nazis.  On the same day that Emil was arrested in August, 1944, the Gestapo raided their family’s apartment and forced her to move out on one day’s notice at great cost and with no help. They told her that if her furniture was not removed by the next morning, she would find it on the street. She was able to salvage some, but not all, of her belongings.

From October 1944 until December 1944, she was able to work as a nanny for a Christian woman, but then the Gestapo forced her to take a job in a cardboard factory. She found this work very difficult, and the long walk back and forth every day made matters even worse. Her feet became frostbitten and she developed bladder problems, but despite consulting three different doctors, she was unable to get any of them to give her a medical note to excuse her from work.

Once the war ended and the US army occupied Wiesbaden, Christel’s home was returned to her, but then was soon taken back by the US army to use as living quarters for American soldiers. Christel had just one room to live in. Nine months later her home was returned to her.

Christel filed a claim for reparations from the German government in November, 1953, for the loss of income and value she suffered by being forced from her home by the Gestapo, for the loss of her profession, for the damage to her health, and for the insults and humiliation she endured. She also claimed that a possible marriage was thwarted by the laws imposed by the Nazis. Wolfgang located in Christel’s papers a five-page petition filed by her attorney, Georg Marx, detailing her claims. Unfortunately, the copy I received is a bit too blurry (making it even more difficult to translate the German), but Wolfgang told me that it reiterates much of what Christel herself wrote in 1947 but with more details about her medical ailments.

According to Wolfgang, Christel did receive some money for reparations, but not very much.  She continued to live in her apartment in Wiesbaden for the rest of her life. When she died in 1982, Wolfgang and his father and uncle cleaned out the apartment. Christel was a bit of a hoarder, and there were many, many papers that were simply thrown away, papers that today might tell more of her story and that of her family.

Fortunately, however, Wolfgang’s uncle Herbert saved the “magic suitcase” that was in Christel’s apartment and that has become so critical to the family research that Wolfgang and his mother have done and have shared with me.

 

 

Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer: A Mother in Search of Her Children

For any of you who have done or are doing research about relatives who were persecuted or killed in the Holocaust, you may want to check out the newly organized database released by the Arolsen Archives in May, 2019. In the press release they issued on May 21, 2019, they wrote:

People from all over the world can now conduct research online to discover thefates of victims of National Socialist persecution: the Arolsen Archives havepublished a new online archive in partnership with the World HolocaustRemembrance Center, Yad Vashem (https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/). The database contains a comprehensive collection of documents from concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices. The more than 13 million documents featuring information on over 2.2 million people persecuted by the Nazi Regime are part of the UNESCO’s World Documentary Heritage and are a key focus of the collection of the Arolsen Archives. This database is the first of several large collections scheduled to go online in future. 

I first learned of this new resource from my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann, who emailed me on May 28, 2019, about new discoveries he’d made by searching the newly updated Arolsen Archives.

This post will be about the first—documents he found about Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer, the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and granddaughter of Moritz Seligmann, my three-times great-grandfather. Pauline was the younger sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann. So Martha was Wolfgang’s first cousin, twice removed, and my first cousin, three times removed.

Although I have written about Martha before, since I last wrote about her, additional documents have become available on Ancestry that provide more details of her life before the Holocaust. Martha was born on March 1, 1876, in Offenbach, Germany. She married Heinrich Floersheimer on September 18, 1902, in Butzbach, Germany. Together they had two children: Trude, born January 24, 1904, in Gross-Gerau, Germany,1 and Paul, born August 9, 1906, in Wiesbaden, Germany.2  Martha and Heinrich were divorced in 1913.

Martha Oppenheimer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 918; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Martha Oppenheimer marriage and divorce record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 924; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

From Yad Vashem and other family sources, I’d earlier learned that both Trude and Paul were murdered during the Holocaust. Trude was deported from Frankfurt on June 11, 1942, and sent to the Sobibor concentration camp where she was murdered; she was 38.3 Paul was deported on June 10, 1942, to the concentration camp at Majdanek, Poland, and was murdered there; he was 35.4 As for their mother Martha, she was sent to Thereisenstadt and somehow survived.

What Wolfgang found at the Arolsen Archives website were forms that Martha completed after she was liberated from Thereisenstadt in 1945. These were forms used by the International Refugee Organization to help displaced persons obtain assistance after the war. The first page in Martha’s file is a form she submitted to the International Tracing Service; it’s heartbreaking to read this because it reveals that at the time Martha filled out this form, she still had hope that her two children were still alive.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088827, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The second form is a questionnaire that the US Army asked displaced persons to complete. One question was, “Fuehren Sie de Namen irgendwelcher anderer naechster Familienangehoeriger auf, die sich zur Zeit in Deutschland aufhalten.“ In English—List the names of any other family members currently in Germany—and again, Martha listed her two children.  Since the form was created on June 1, 1946, this indicates that Martha still believed her children could be alive a year after she was released from Thereisenstadt.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The next two pages of that questionnaire ask numerous questions about Martha’s background. Of most interest here are two responses. One question asks whether she wants to return home, and she responded yes. Another question asked whether she had ever been persecuted for her race, religion, or political views, and she answered yes to race and religion; asked to describe how she was persecuted, Martha wrote that she was sent to Thereisenstadt concentration camp from September 2, 1942 until July 8, 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

In February 1948, Martha filled out a third form, this one a Request for Assistance. On this form Martha described herself as a widow and wrote that she had been living back in Wiesbaden since July 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 7908889, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The saddest part of this form is the last page where Martha was asked whether she wanted to remain in Germany, to which she answered yes, and then whether she had any relatives living in Germany. Now her answer was no. By this time she must have learned that her children had been murdered.

I don’t have any other records for Martha after this point, but what I know from my cousin Angelika Oppenheimer and the Seligmann family tree is that Martha continued to live in Wiesbaden until her death on November 16, 1967, when she was 91 years old. That she survived almost three years at Thereisenstadt when she was almost seventy years old and then another twenty-two years in Wiesbaden after losing her children is amazing to me.

But Martha was wrong about one thing when she answered the questionnaire in February, 1948. She did have relatives who survived the war. Our cousin Angelika Oppenheimer, Martha’s great-niece and the granddaughter of Martha’s brother Moritz James Oppenheimer, remembers visiting her in Wiesbaden with her family when she was a child. And Wolfgang’s father and uncle were also still alive and living not far from Wiesbaden. Perhaps in some way Martha found the strength to survive from those family members who remained.

 


  1. From the Yad Vashem website at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497651&ind=1 
  2. Paul Floersheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 926; Signatur: 333, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. See Note 1, above. 
  4. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497658&ind=1 

The Story of Julius Seligmann, Scorned for Not Being Jewish and for Being Jewish

In my recent post about Adolf Michel, I included the letter his son Fred had written to the International Tracing Service after the war in which he expressed obvious anger with his uncle Julius Seligmann for his failure to help learn what had happened to their mutual relatives. This post will shed light on Julius and his relationships with his siblings.

When my cousin Wolfgang first contacted me back in February 2015, he shared with me what he knew of the story of his grandfather Julius Seligmann. Julius was the second child of August Seligmann and Rosa Bergmann and was born February 5, 1877, in Gau-Algesheim. He was the nephew of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligmann and first cousin of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.

Julius and his younger brother Moritz were for many years in business together in Gau-Algesheim as merchants, but from family lore, Wolfgang learned that after his grandfather married Magdalena Kleissinger on December 1, 1922, and converted to Catholicism, there was a falling out between Julius and his family. Julius was already 45 when he married Magdalena and fifty years old when his younger son Herbert was born in 1927.

Then, according to the book by Ludwig Hellriegel about the Jews of Gau-Algesheim, Julius was forced to close his store in Gau-Algesheim in December 1935 and moved with his wife and sons to Bingen in September, 1939.1 I had speculated back in November 2014 that these actions were somehow connected to Nazi persecution, but Wolfgang did not think so. Although he did not know the details of what happened to Julius and his family or why he ended up leaving Gau-Algesheim in 1939, Wolfgang had heard from his family that Julius had suffered financial hardship after being forced to pay his brother Moritz some kind of financial settlement that led to the move to Bingen, where the family lived with Magdalena’s relatives for some time.

Recently, Wolfgang decided to try and learn more about his grandfather’s life, and he searched the Landesarchiv Speyer, the archives for the Rhine-Palatinate region in Germany.  First, he searched online and found that there were court records available regarding a criminal prosecution of his grandfather Julius in 1937. The records themselves were not accessible online, so Wolfgang visited the archives in person and reviewed the many pages of court records there. He was not allowed to copy or photograph the records themselves, but took copious notes and reported back to me what he had learned. Thus, all the information that follows came from Wolfgang’s research of those court records.2

The records provided information not only about the criminal trial in 1937, but also background information about Julius and his life. The records reported that Julius was a good student and was in school through the sixth year at the Bingen schools. From 1897 to 1898, Julius served in the First Hessian Guard Regiment in Darmstadt.

After their father August died in 1909, Julius and his brother Moritz took over the family house as well as their father’s business. But Julius returned to military service on Germany’s behalf during World War I from 1914 through 1918. He was a sergeant in the infantry, battled malaria while in service, and received the Frontkämpferkreuz for his service on the front lines during the war. After the ceasefire, he helped bring the German battalions back to safety.

Honor Cross of World War I or Frontkampferkreuz
PicturePrince [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

After the war Julius returned to Gau-Algesheim and continued to work with his brother Moritz in what had been their father’s store. As noted above, he married Magdalena in 1922 and converted to Catholicism. Then Julius had an unfortunate injury in 1927 when he fell off his bicycle and suffered a concussion. The court records report that he suffered seizures for many years as a result of this accident.

The records indicate that there were many disputes between Julius and Moritz during this time, perhaps relating to Julius’ marriage and conversion or perhaps for unrelated family or business reasons. In May 1929, Julius bought out his brother Moritz of his share of the family home and business for 14,000 Reichmarks. There is a note in the records from a notary from Ingelheim saying this price was too high, that is, that Julius paid more than a fair price. Moritz then left Gau-Algesheim and moved to Koenigstein, and Julius ran the business on his own. But having overpaid for his brother’s half of the business, Julius soon ran into financial difficulties.

Location in Gau-Algesheim of Julius Seligmann’s store

Things then got worse after Hitler came to power. The mayor watched to see who went into Julius’ store as he was apparently considered non-Aryan despite his conversion to Catholicism. Under the Nuremberg laws, he was still considered Jewish for he had four Jewish grandparents. As a result of his financial difficulties, Julius was forced to borrow money from a man named Hammen so that he could pay off his debts. As part of the process of obtaining that loan, Julius had to provide a statement of his assets.

Apparently, there was some error in that statement of assets, and that led to Julius being prosecuted for “negligent perjury.” Hammen himself testified that Julius was always a reliable businessperson and thus did not think he had intended to misstate his assets. There were also other witnesses who testified to Julius’ good character. Nevertheless, Julius was convicted and sentenced to prison from September 16, 1937 until April 16, 1938. A request for clemency was rejected. One has to wonder whether an “Aryan” business owner would have been treated as harshly as one who was born Jewish.

After being released from prison, Julius was forced to sell the family home because of financial difficulties. That led to further legal problems. Julius sold the house in April 1938 to Philip Wendelin Rohleder, a toolmaker. Rohleder had visited Julius in prison accompanied by Magdalena to convince him to sell the house. Julius agreed, but later claimed that Rohleder never paid the agreed-to price and that he was a Nazi and had told Julius he didn’t need to pay him at all. Rohleder denied this and said that he had to pay off some of Julius’ creditors and that’s why Julius had not received the whole purchase price. This dispute was not resolved until 1959 when Rohleder finally agreed to pay Julius 5000 Deutschmarks as a settlement.

Julius and Magdalena Seligmann

Putting all this together, the story of Julius Seligmann now is more complete. Disputes between Julius and Moritz may have been the first step towards Julius’ financial problems. Overpaying his brother Moritz for the house and business in Gau-Algesheim left Julius financially vulnerable in 1929. Then the Nazis came to power, and despite his conversion to Catholicism, Julius was treated as a Jewish business owner and thus suffered as a result of the Nuremberg laws. Forced to borrow money, he became entangled in what to my mind appear to be trumped up charges as a way of getting him out of business completely. That then led to the sale of his house for less than its worth and thus his family’s need to leave Gau-Algesheim and seek help from his wife’s family in Bingen.

It is a sad story in so many ways. By marrying a Catholic woman, Julius lost the support of his family and the Jewish community of Gau-Algesheim. Then, despite being a hero for the German army in World War I, he was essentially treated as unworthy by the government in the Nazi era. He lost his family of origin, the family business and home, and his home community. At age 62 he was forced to move with his wife and two teenaged sons to Bingen and live with his in-laws.

But Julius was a survivor. He lived to 90 years old and was killed in a car accident coming home from church on March 28, 1967, three days before the first birthday of his grandson Wolfgang, who has now preserved the story of his grandfather Julius.

Julius Seligmann death notice

 

 


  1. Ludwig Hellriegel, Die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden (1986, revised 2008)[The History of the Jews of Gau-Algesheim]. 
  2. References to the records can be found at http://www.archivdatenbank.lha-rlp.de/ under Landesarchiv Speyer, Justizvollzuganstalt Mainz, Bestand J 85, Findbuch, Akten, 03 Gefangene, Strafprozess 6142, Julius Seligmann, 367/37; Bestand J 83, Findbuch, Akten, 02 Gefangene, Gefangenepersonalakten, Sachakten 3142, Seligmann, Julius; Bestand J 10, Findbuch, Akten, 12 Prozessurteil und -akten, Zivilprozess 298 Seligmann, Julius. 

Holocaust Education in Germany

In June 2018, my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann sent me a paper written by a German high school student named Johanna Petry. Johanna’s paper1 was done as part of a school project about the Holocaust. I am really impressed by Johanna’s work, and she has graciously allowed me to share it on my blog.

Johanna researched the family of my cousin Anna Seligmann, who once lived in Johanna’s hometown of Neuenkirchen. Anna Seligmann was the daughter of August Seligmann and Rosa Bergmann and a sister of Wolfgang’s grandfather, Julius. She was also the first cousin of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.

Johanna researched and wrote about Anna, her husband Hugo Goldmann, and their children, Grete, Heinz, and Ruth Goldmann, and what happened to them during the Holocaust. As I have written before, Hugo and Anna and their three adult children were all killed in the Holocaust, but until I read Johanna’s report, I did not know the details.

Johanna obtained documents from the International Tracing Service at Arolsen and also searched Yad Vashem, the archives in Neunkirchen, and other sources she found on the internet. In the course of doing her research about the Goldmann family, Johanna discovered my blog and then found Wolfgang as a result of finding my blog. Wolfgang provided her with more information about the Goldmanns and the extended Seligmann family.  Using what she learned in all this research, Johanna wrote a detailed and well-researched report on the fate of Hugo and Anna and their children.

The report is written in German, and with Johanna Petry’s very gracious permission, I am providing a link to it here so that those who are interested in the full report can read it. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen.

For others, I will translate and summarize Ms. Petry’s overall findings, which are near the end of her report:

Anna Seligmann was born on November 30, 1889 in Gau-Algesheim near Bingen, where her father August ran a successful wine trade. She had three siblings and married Hugo Goldmann, who was born on March 24, 1885, in Gundersheim. Professionally, Hugo worked as managing director and moved to Neunkirchen in 1906.

From 1912 Hugo and Anna lived in Neunkirchen where they had three children. First, Grete Rosa Goldmann was born on July 8, 1913. Then, Heinz Leo Goldmann was born on March 28, 1916, and the youngest daughter Ruth Goldmann was born on July 23, 1924.

In 1935 the Goldmann family moved to nearby Saarbrücken. Grete moved in 1936 to Giessen [140 miles from Saarbrucken] where she worked as a milliner. In 1937 she was forced to move into the “Jew’s House” in Bergstrasse 8 in Hannover [340 miles from Saarbrucken, 188 miles from Giessen].

Johanna was interested in the term “Jew’s House” and did some further research. She wrote:

I had never encountered the term “Jewish house” before, but I suspected that it was a place of residence for Jews. My internet research revealed that “Jewish houses” were actually the homes of Jews who were forced to live there. The houses were often Jewish owned and many Jews had to live in very small spaces. In addition, they should prevent the maintenance of social contacts with non-Jews and contributed to the ghettoization. In Hanover on 3 and 4 September 1941, 1,200 Jews had to move into 15 Jewish houses, which were completely overcrowded. The Judenhaus in Bergstraße 8 was the Alte Synagoge.

Hugo Goldmann was imprisoned from November to December 1938 in the Dachau concentration camp and after his release did forced labor for a family. When parts of the Saarland and the Rhine-Palatinate were evacuated in 1939-1940, Hugo, Anna and their youngest daughter Ruth moved together to Halle [345 miles from Saarbrucken]. Ruth worked there as an intern in a retirement home of the Jewish community.

On May 30, 1942, Hugo, Anna, and their daughter Ruth were deported to Lublin in Poland, where they died immediately after their arrival at the Sobibor death camp on June 3, 1942.

Their son Heinz Leo worked in Berlin and was taken to the Auschwitz extermination and concentration camp on January 29, 1943. He died there three weeks later on February 19, 1943.

Anna and Hugo’s daughter Grete was deported from Hannover in 1941 to the Riga ghetto. She was transferred to the Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp when it opened in 1943.  When this camp was evacuated by the Nazis as the Allied forces approached, Grete and the others being kept at Riga-Kaiserwald were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp, where Grete died on December 27, 1944.

Here is a map showing the places where the Goldmann family lived and then were forced to live and die:

 

Reading Johanna’s report not only provided me with more specific details about the Goldmann family; it also gave me insight into the mind and feelings of a young woman in Germany today as she learned what happened to a family that once lived in her town. Johanna’s personal reflection on her findings is both sad and uplifting:2

The sober, objective style of writing does not fit in with this terrible fate of this family – a destiny shared by millions of Jews at that time, and yet every life story is special to itself.

During the evaluation of the documents and the search my thoughts wandered again and again. I wondered how Anna, Hugo, Ruth, Grete and Heinz Leo went, what they thought and what they were most afraid of. I would like to know more personal details from their lives, because I find these much more exciting than dates and dates. Unfortunately, such information is extremely rare. All the more I was pleased that we were able to locate a descendant of the Seligmann family and, thanks to him, learned still more details.

And yet the fates of the victims of the National Socialist regime repeatedly make me deeply affected and thoughtful, especially since there are currently again racist and anti-Semitic tendencies in Germany. That’s why I find it all the more important to do commemoration work and to deal with this dark part of German history.

I find it very heartening that German schools are providing their students not only with an education about the Holocaust but with the research skills necessary to learn more about those who were killed during the Holocaust. Given the anti-Semitism and hatred of others that continues to exist in all parts of the world, including the United States and Germany, it is critical that all children and adults learn these same lessons that Johanna Petry learned. We all must remember the past and do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

 

 

 


  1. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen. 
  2. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen. 

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