Salli Blumenfeld and His Family: A Branch With No New Leaves

Although the last few posts have had their sad stories—young children who died, a horrible accident taking the life of a young mother, a young man dying at 29 from a heart attack—I was at least spared the pain of writing about the murder of my relatives by the Nazis. Sadly, I now must return to such horrific stories as I turn to the two youngest sons of Giedel Blumenfeld and her husband Gerson Blumenfeld, Salli and Meier. First, I will tell the story of Salli Blumenfeld.

Salli Blumenfeld was born in Kirchhain on March 25, 1878.

Salli Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4979, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Salli married Fanni Wetterhahn on May 9, 1906, in Hersfeld, Germany. Fanni was born there on May 29, 1879, to Isaak Wetterhahn and Karoline Simon.

Salli Blumenfeld Fanni Wetterhahn marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907, Year Range: 1906, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Salli and Fanni had two children. Siegfried was born on July 25, 1907, in Kirchhain.1 According to several trees and other secondary sources, a daughter Kathe Karoline was born to Salli and Fanni on November 4, 1910; I don’t have any record tying this child to Salli and Fanni, however. I do have one record showing that a woman named Kathe Karoline Blumenfeld was born in Kirchhain on November 4, 1910, but that record does not identify her parents.2 For now I will assume she was the daughter of Salli and Fanni.

Salli and Fanni’s son Siegfried married Betti Reutlinger on February 24, 1935, in Frankfurt. Betti was born on May 28, 1908, in Frankfurt. Her parents were Julius Reutlinger and Sophie Weil.3

But then this story turns tragic. Salli and Fanni and their presumed daughter Kathe Karoline were all killed in the Holocaust.  They were all deported from Kassel to Riga, Latvia, on December 9, 1941, and died sometime thereafter.

Only Salli and Fanni’s son Siegfried and his wife Betti escaped in time. They arrived in New York on October 21, 1938, with Betti’s mother Sophie Weil and sister Martha Weil.

Siegfried Blumenfeld ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 59, Ship or Roll Number: Hansa, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

On his Declaration of Intention dated March 1, 1939, Siegfried reported that he was a factory hand. He and Betti were living in New York and had no children.4

In 1940, Siegfried and Betti were living with her mother Sophie and brother Walter in New York.5 Siegfried was working as a machine operator. His World War II draft registration lists his employer as Burros and Burros. By that time he had changed his surname to Bloomfield.

Siegfried Bloomfield, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Siegfried died at the age of 55 in June 1963;5 Betti outlived him by 34 years. She died March 4, 1997, at 88.6 I have not been able to find any record that Siegfried and Betti ever had children. If that is true, it appears that this is another branch of the family of Giedel Blumenfeld and her husband Gerson Blumenfeld that has no living descendants.

Next, the story of Giedel Blumenfeld’s youngest son to live to adulthood, Meier Blumenfeld.


  1. Siegfried Bloomfield, [Siegfried Gerson Blumenfeld], Gender: Male, Declaration Age: 31, Record Type: Declaration, Birth Date: 25 Jul 1907, Birth Place: Kirchheim Germany, Arrival Date: 21 Oct 1938, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Declaration Date: 1 Mar 1939, Declaration Place: New York  Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Spouse: Betti, Declaration Number: 429824
    Box Number: 295, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  2. Käthe Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsche Julen, Residence Age: 28, Record Type: Residence, Birth Date: 4 Nov 1910, Birth Place: Kirchhain, Sojourn Start Date: 2 Sep 1939, Residence Place: Marburg Marburg an der Lahn, Sojourn End Date: 8 Dez 1941 (8 Dec 1941), Notes: Foreigners who were living in the location during the war – permanently or temporarily, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70454281, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  3. See Note 1. Betti Paula Bloomfield, [Betty Bloomfield] [Betti Paula Reutlinger], Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 28 May 1908, Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 4 Mar 1997, Father: Julius Reutlinger, Mother:
    Sophie Weil, SSN: 104124761, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. See Note 1. 
  5.  Siegrfried Bloomfield, Social Security Number: 066-14-7836, Birth Date: 25 Jul 1907, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Jun 1963, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. Betti Paula Bloomfield, [Betty Bloomfield] [Betti Paula Reutlinger], Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 28 May 1908, Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 4 Mar 1997, Father: Julius Reutlinger, Mother:
    Sophie Weil, SSN: 104124761, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Dorothea Blumenfeld Haas, Daughter of Giedel Blumenfeld Blumenfeld: A Family Destroyed

As I turn to the tragic story of the fourth child of Giedel Blumenfeld and Gerson Blumenfeld, Dorothea Blumenfeld Haas, I only wish she, her sons, and her grandchildren had followed many of Dorothea’s siblings and her only daughter out of Germany before it was too late.

As we saw, Dorothea was born on December 26, 1869, in Kirchhain. She married Joseph Haas on August 12, 1898, in Kirchhain. He was born on October 3, 1863, to Wolf Haas and Johannette Schei in Grenzhausen, Germany.

Dorothea Blumenfeld and Joseph Haas marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5026, Year Range: 1898, 
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Dorothea and Joseph Haas had three children. Walter Haas (presumably named for Joseph’s father Wolf) was born on August 23, 1899, in Hoehr Grenzhausen, Germany. Thank you to Aaron Knappstein for obtaining Walter’s birth record as well as many of the records included in this post.

Walter Haas birth record

His sister Gertha Giedel Haas (presumably named for Dorothea’s mother Giedel) was born in Hoehr Grenzhausen on November 5, 1901.

Gertha Haas birth record

And Gustav Haas was born on December 7, 1908, in Hoehr Grenzhausen.

Gustav Haas birth record from Grenzhausen

Walter Haas married Irma Weinberg on May 11, 1933. Walter’s occupation was a cattle dealer.

Marriage record of Walter Haas and Irma Weinberg

 

Irma was born on January 5, 1901, in Hartenfels, Germany, to Isaac Weinberg and Ida Gerson.

Irma Weinberg birth record

Walter and Irma had two children. Ilse was born in Grenzhausen on July 22, 1934.

Her brother Ingfried was born on February 5, 1937, in Grenzhausen.

Ingfried Haas birth record from Grenzhausen

Thank you to Aaron Knappstein for obtaining the birth records for Walter, Gertha, Gustav, Ilse and Ingfried Haas and for Irma Weinberg and the marriage record of Walter and Irma.

Tragically, almost every member of this family was murdered by the Nazis. Joseph Haas died January 2, 1932,1 so was spared seeing what happened to his wife, children, and grandchildren. Dorothea,2 her sons Gustav3 and Walter,4 and Walter’s wife Irma5 and their son Ingfried6 were all deported to the Minsk concentration camp in either November or December, 1941, and died there in 1942, according to their memorials on Yad Vashem.  Little Ingfried was only four years old.

Walter Haas Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=5674520&ind=1

Irma Weinberg Haas Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1205033&ind=2

Ingfried Haas Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=5859525&ind=1

Walter and Irma’s daughter Ilse7 had been smuggled out of Germany to the Netherlands for safety before her family was sent to Minsk, but then Ilse was deported from the Netherlands to the Sobibor concentration camp on March 13, 1943, where she was murdered. She was only eight years old.

The entry on FindAGrave for Ilse provides this biographical note:

Ilse was born on July 22, 1934 in Höhr, Germany. She later moved to the Netherlands as a German Jewish refugee. During the war, she lived at an orphanage for Jewish children in Den Haag, Netherlands. German authorities forcibly closed the orphanage in March 1943, sending most of the children and staff to Sobibor on March 10th, where they were murdered on March 13th. Ilse was one of the children killed. She was just 8 years old.

The Dokin website provided this photograph of Ilse:

Ilse Haas. Courtesy of Zina Bee on FindAGrave, located at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/187427809/ilse-haas

The only member of this extended family who survived was Dorothea and Joseph’s daughter Gertha, who arrived in New York on December 2, 1939, from Frankfurt, where the Haas family had relocated at some point, whether willingly or not.8

The manifest reported that Gertha was going to her aunt, “J. Bloomfield,” at 1162 Grant Avenue in the Bronx.

Gertha Haas, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Rotterdam, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I wasn’t sure who this could be. Using Stevemorse.org, I located on the 1940 census a Johanna Bloomfield, a 70 year-old widow born in Germany, living at the address listed on Gertha’s manifest. Searching my tree, I realized that she was Johanna Tannenbaum, the widow of Max Bloomfield, born Markus Blumenfeld, younger brother of Gertha’s mother Dorothea. Max and Johanna’s story will be told in my next blog post.

Johanna Bloomfield, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02467; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 3-268C, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Gertha sailed from Rotterdam, but listed her last residence as Frankfurt. Her ship left Rotterdam on November 22, 1939, almost two months after World War II started when it was very difficult to leave Germany. How was Gertha able to escape when her mother, brothers, and niece and nephew could not? I wish I knew her full story.

Gertha filed her Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on March 29, 1940.

Gertha Haas, 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 583) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 457001-457900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Almost three years after safely immigrating to the US, Gertha married Julius Hecht on October 10, 1942.9 Julius was also a refugee from Nazi Germany. He was born on June 23, 1890, in Limburg, Germany, to Abraham Hecht and Regina Stern. He arrived in the US even later than Gertha—on September 9, 1941— and had also been previously living in Frankfurt, but sailed from Spain.10 Julius was 52 and Gertha was 39 when they married, and they did not have children. Julius and Gertha both died in 1974 within two months of each other, Julius in May,11 Gertha in July.12 He was 83, and she was 71.

Sadly, there are no direct descendants of Dorothea Blumenfeld and Joseph Haas to tell their stories. Perhaps I will find a cousin who can tell me more about this family that was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis.

 

 


  1. Joseph Haas, Birth Date: 3 Oct 1863, Death Date: 02 Jan 1932, Age at Death: 68
    Burial Plot: 1, Burial Place: Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 
  2. Dora Haas Blumenfeld entry at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11514166&ind=1 
  3. Gustav Haas entry at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11514218&ind=1 
  4. Walter Haas entry at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11514400&ind=1 
  5. Irma Weinberg Haas entry at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11514250&ind=1 
  6. Ingfried Haas, entry at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=5859525&ind=1 
  7. See entry at https://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/98928585 
  8. Gertha Haas, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Rotterdam, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Gertha Haas, Gender: Female, Race: White, Marriage Age: 39, Birth Date: Nov 1902, Birth Place: Germany, Marriage Date: 10 Oct 1942, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 564 W. 160 St., Occupation: Operator, Father: Josepha Haas, Mother: Dora Haas, Spouse: Julius Hecht
    Certificate Number: 19972, Current Marriage Number: 0, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1942, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  10. Julius Hecht, Gender: männlich (Male), Birth Date: 23. Jun 1890 (23 Jun 1890)
    Birth Place: Limburg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Limburg, Mother: Regina Hecht, Father: Abraham Hecht, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 912; Laufende Nummer: 3277,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901. Julius Hecht, Gender: Male
    Declaration Age: 51, Record Type: Declaration, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1890, Birth Place: Limburg Germany, Arrival Date: 9 Sep 1941, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA
    Declaration Date: 3 Mar 1942, Declaration Place: New York, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 515161, Box Number: 390, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  11.  Julius Hecht, Social Security Number: 083-18-7875, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1890, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12.  Gerda Hecht, Social Security Number: 101-16-4049, Birth Date: 5 Nov 1902
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

A Family Decimated by the Nazis: The Children of Abraham Blumenfeld III

I am really struggling with how to best tell the stories of the seven of the nine children and eleven grandchildren of Abraham Blumenfeld III who were still living when the Nazis came to power because their stories are just so devastatingly tragic. Of those seven remaining children, only one escaped in time. The other six were all killed in the Holocaust as were many of those eleven grandchildren.

Telling their stories one by one is important so that each name and each life is honored and remembered. But it is also important to see and feel the impact on the entire family, a family of nine siblings. Only one of those nine survived beyond 1945. All the others were killed by the Nazis, except for one (Hermann) who died of natural causes when he was 48 and one (Moritz) who was killed in battle in 1916, fighting for the very same country that would slaughter his siblings just a few decades later. In other words, almost an entire family was wiped out by the Nazis. Generations of Blumenfeld descendants never had a chance to be born because their ancestors were killed for being Jewish.

With that bigger picture in mind, let me tell the story of what happened to each of these descendants of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild. This is a very sad and painful post, but each of these individuals deserves to have their story told.

Dina Blumenfeld and her husband Salomon Heldemuth were deported to Theriesenstadt on August 18, 1942, and then to the Treblinka death camp on September 23, 1942, where they were murdered. Dina was 71, Salomon was 76.

Salomon Heldenmuth Page of Testimony, Yad Vashem, at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1475415&ind=1

Fortunately, all three of Dina and Salomon’s children escaped and survived. Leopold had married Frieda Kneip on June 28, 1929, in Gelnhausen, Germany. Frieda was born in Gelnhausen on July 10, 1906, to Seligmann Kneip and Bella Mayer.1

Marriage of Leopold Heldenmuth and Frieda Kneip, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 913; Signatur: 1173, Year Range: 1925, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Leopold (Leo or Leon in the US) and Frieda arrived in New York on June 25, 1936.2 Interestingly, they are listed in the 1939 England and Wales Register, living with Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried in London.

Leopold and Siegfried Heldenmuth on 1939 England Wales Register, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/246A, Enumeration District: AKDS, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

But on November 24, 1939, Frieda and Leopold returned to New York,3 and they are listed on the 1940 US census, living with Frieda’s mother and brother as well as Leopold’s brother Siegfried. Leon, as he is listed here, was working as a real estate broker, and Siegfried made artificial flowers.

Leopold and Siegfried Heldenmuth on 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02668; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 31-1831, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Leopold and Siegfried’s sister Gertrude had married Moritz Lion on May 25, 1921, in Hohensolms, Germany. Moritz was born March 4, 1897, in Sankt-Goarhausen, Germany. Gertrude and Moritz arrived in New York on August 17, 1939.4

Marriage of Gertrud Heldenmuth and Moritz Lion, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 911; Laufende Nummer: 4677, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Leopold died on May 11, 1950, at the age of 54.5 His sister Gertrude, who lost her husband Moritz on October 13, 1963,6 died on July 23, 1969 at 71.7 Their brother Siegfried died on May 15, 1972; he was seventy.8 Frieda, Leopold’s widow, remarried and lived until she was 94; she died on January 20, 2001.9 Since none of Dina and Salomon’s children had children, there are no descendants.

Dina’s sister Auguste and her husband Menko Stern were also killed in the Holocaust. Menko had been sent to Buchenwald after Kristallnacht They were deported to Theriesenstadt on September 7, 1942 and then to Treblinka on September 29, 1942, and so died within just a few days of Dina and Salomon. Their son Max was taken to the Warsaw Ghetto on March 31, 1942, where he also was killed. I have no records for Julius Stern, but according to the article written about the Stolpersteine laid for his family, he escaped to Argentina in 1936, where he died in 1985.

Nanny Blumenfeld and Jakob Stern faced the same fates as their sister and brother, Auguste Blumenfeld and Menko Stern. They were both taken to Kassel, Germany, where on June 1, 1942, they were deported to the Sobibor death camp and killed there on June 3, 1942. Their son Arthur was taken to the Majdanek concentration camp, where he was killed on September 27, 1942. Only Manfred (known as Fritz) escaped in time; he fled to Palestine, according to the article written on the occasion of the installation of the Stolpersteine for his family. I have not, however, been able to find any record of his immigration to Palestine.

Nanny Blumenfeld Stern page of testimony, Yad Vashem, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=421480&ind=1

Jakob Stern page of testimony, Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1659946&ind=2

Arthur Stern page of testimony, Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=530549&ind=1

Hugo Blumenfeld, the sixth sibling, never married or had children. He was deported from Frankfurt to Theriesenstadt on August 14, 1942, and then to Auschwitz on October 16, 1944, where he was killed. His sister, the seventh sibling, Bertha Blumenfeld, also single, also was deported to Theriesenstadt but from Koeln (Cologne) on June 15, 1942; she was then taken to Auschwitz where she was killed just four days before her brother Hugo on October 12, 1944.

The baby of the family, Emma Blumenfeld Wetterhahn, and her husband Siegmund and their daughter Trude Ruth Friedericke Wetterhahn, the youngest grandchild, were also murdered by the Nazis. Emma and Siegmund were deported from Frankfurt on November 22, 1941, to Kaunas, Lithuania, and killed there three days later on November 25, 1941 during the Ninth Fort massacre during which the Nazis shot and killed almost 5,000 Jews. You can read more about this horrific slaughter of innocent people like Emma and Siegmund on the Yad Vashem site here.

Emma and Siegmund’s daughter Ruth Wetterhahn was living in Berlin when she was taken to Auschwitz on March 1, 1943, and killed there. She was seventeen years old.

Thus, six of the seven children of Abraham Blumenfeld III who were still living when Hitler came to power—Dina, Auguste, Nanny, Hugo, Bertha, and Emma—as well as their spouses and three of their children–-Max Stern, Arthur Stern, and Ruth Wetterhahn—were killed by the Nazis.

But unfortunately that does not end the death toll because at least three of the children of Hermann Blumenfeld III, who died in 1928, and Jeannette Stern, who died in 1915, were also killed by the Nazis. Julius Blumenfeld was deported from Kassel to the ghetto in Riga, Latvia, on December 9, 1941, and was killed sometime thereafter. His sister Frieda Blumenfeld was deported from Kassel to the Riga ghetto at the same time and was deported from there to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 9, 1944, where she was later killed.

Hermann and Jeannette’s son Max (Meir) Blumenfeld was more fortunate. Although I do not have any information about how he escaped, he died in Rehovoth, Israel, on September 22, 2004, at the age of 91.10

In addition, Hermann Blumenfeld III’s second wife Ida Stern and their son Kurt Siegfried Blumenfeld were also murdered by the Nazis. Ida was deported from Kassel to Riga, Latvia, on December 9. 1941, along with her stepchildren Julius and Frieda. Kurt was deported from Wurzburg, Germany, to Krasnystaw,Lublin,Poland, on April 25, 1942, and killed sometime thereafter.

As for Alfred Blumenfeld, who appears on several Ancestry trees as the fourth child of Hermann and Jeannette, I have no records of his birth or his death (or anything else), so I don’t know whether he was also a victim of the Holocaust.

Only one of the seven children of Abraham Blumenfeld III who were still living in the Nazi era escaped Germany in time, and I only have minimal information about her. Katincka Blumenfeld Heymann, the third child, and her husband Samuel Heymann immigrated to Brazil in the summer of 1939 just before World War II started. I have no further information about their lives, but they had no children after their daughter Frieda died in 1911 at ten months of age. There are no descendants of Katincka and Samuel.

Katincka Blumenfeld Heymann, Digital GS Number: 004542368
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Samuel Heymann, Digital GS Number: 004560417
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Six of the seven living children and seven of the twelve living grandchildren of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild were killed by the Nazis. Thirteen innocent lives snuffed out for no reason other than ugly, baseless hatred. And sadly, as far as I know, only three of the grandchildren who survived might have had children to carry on the names and the legacy of their parents and grandparents. Someday I hope I can find them if they exist, or perhaps they will find me.

 

 

 

 


  1.  Frieda Vanallen, Social Security Number: 090-14-8045, Birth Date: 10 Jul 1906
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 90212, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 20 Jan 2001, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Saligmann Kneig, Gender: männlich (Male), Age: 27, Birth Date: 20. Jun 1876 (20 Jun 1876), Marriage Date: 19. Mai 1904 (19 May 1904), Marriage Place: Biblis, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Biblis, Spouse: Bella Maÿer, Reference Number: 854, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 854, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  2.  Frieda Heldenmuth, Gender: Female, Ethnicity/ Nationality: German;Hebrew (German), Marital status: Married, Age: 29, Birth Date: abt 1907, Birth Place: Germany
    Other Birth Place: Gelnhausen, Last Known Residence: Frankfurt, Germany
    Place of Origin: Germany, Departure Port: Hamburg, Germany, Arrival Date: 25 Jun 1936, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 11; Page Number: 129, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3.  Frieda Heldinmoth, Gender: Female, Departure Age: 33, Birth Date: abt 1906
    Departure Date: 24 Nov 1939, Departure Port: England, Ship Name: Britannic
    Shipping Line: Cunard White Star Limited, Destination Port: New York, USA
    The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; BT27 Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and Successors: Outwards Passenger Lists; Reference Number: Series BT27-162316, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  4.  Gertrud Lion, Gender: Female, Ethnicity/ Nationality: Hebrew, Age: 42, Birth Date: abt 1897, Birth Place: Germany, Other Birth Place: Alfeukidan [sic], Departure Port: Le Havre, France, Arrival Date: 17 Aug 1939, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA
    Ship Name: Manhattan,Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 2; Page Number: 154, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Leo Heldenmuth, Birth Date: 6 Dec 1895, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 11 May 1950, Claim Date: 16 Nov 1950, SSN: 104146398, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  6. Moritz Lion, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 4 Mar 1897, Death Date: 13 Oct 1963
    Claim Date: 25 Oct 1963, SSN: 092121940, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7.  Gertrude Lion, Gender: Female, Age: 71, Birth Date: abt 1898, Residence Place: Murray Hill, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: 23 Jul 1969, Death Place: New York, USA, Certificate Number: 56308, New York State Department of Health; Albany, Ny, Usa; New York State Death Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, U.S., Death Index, 1957-1969 
  8. Fred Heldenmuth, Race: White, Marital Status: Never Married (Single), Birth Date: abt 1902, Residence: Bridgeport, Connecticut, Death Date: 15 May 1972, Death Place: Bridgeport, Connecticut, Age: 70 Years, State File #: 09057, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  9.  Frieda Vanallen, Social Security Number: 090-14-8045, Birth Date: 10 Jul 1906
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 90212, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 20 Jan 2001, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. 
  10. Meir Max Blumenfeld, Name in Hebrew: מאיר מקס בלומנפלד, Hebrew Name: מאיר מקס, Birth Date: 1913, Death Date: 21 Sep 2004 / ו תשרי תשסה, Death Place: Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot /בי”ח קפלן, Age at Death: 91, Burial Date: 22 Sep 2004, Burial Plot: סא ד 29, Burial Place: Rehovot, Israel, Father Name: Herman /הרמן, Mother Name: Yenta /ינטה, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 

Don’t Believe Everything You Read on Public Records: An Update on Albert Kaufmann

It’s always good to be reminded that “official records” are only as accurate as the person who creates them and the information that person was able to obtain.

Back in December 2021, I wrote about Albert Kaufmann, the son of Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann. He was married first to Dorothy Schimmelfennig in Germany in 1928, but they divorced in 1932. Albert had immigrated to Brazil sometime after his divorce from Dorothy and married a woman named Georgina Correa, who was born in 1921 and almost twenty years younger than Albert. I assume they married sometime in the 1940s, but I have no record. Albert died in Brazil in 1986 at the age of 84.

I did not believe that Albert had had any children in part because I could find no birth records or any other record for a child and also because Albert’s death record reported that he had no children. Thus, I reported originally on my blog that Hedwig had no living descendants since her daughter Anna and her entire family had been killed in the Holocaust and because her son Albert had not had any children.

Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Registro Civil, 1829-2012,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QQP-KV?cc=1582573&wc=9GYK-DPJ%3A113334201%2C120190503%2C122537201 : 7 January 2019), Rio de Janeiro 02ª Circunscrição Óbitos 1985, Nov-1987, Jan image 172 of 304; Corregedor Geral da Justicia (Inspector General of Justice Offices), Rio de Janeiro.

But it turns out that Albert’s death record was wrong. And I never would have known except for the good fortune that another Blumenfeld cousin, Gail Levy, found my blog. Gail is the granddaughter of Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann’s brother, Ernst Blumenfeld. Thus, Gail’s father Paul Blumenfeld was Albert Kaufmann’s first cousin. Not only did Gail help me fill out Paul Blumenfeld’s branch of the family tree, she shared with me correspondence she’d had with another cousin, Paul St. George, who was, according to that correspondence, the grandson of Albert Kaufmann and Dorothy Schimmelfennig and thus Gail’s second cousin and my fifth cousin, once removed.

I contacted Paul, and he confirmed what he had told Gail—that his mother Inge Kaufmann was the daughter of Albert and Dorothy—and he shared with me Inge’s birth record from Berlin. She was born on November 23, 1928, nine months after her parents married on February 10, 1928.

Birth record of Inge Kaufmann. Courtesy of Paul St George

Transcribed birth record of Inge Kaufmann. Courtesy of Paul St George

Thus, the Brazil death record was wrong. Albert Kaufmann did have a child and does have living descendants, including my cousin Paul.

I asked Paul what he knew about his grandfather, but he had never met his grandfather and knew little about him. He only has one photograph of his grandfather, and he obtained it from Gail. It’s a 1980 photograph of Albert with his second wife Georgina or Gina with a New Year’s greeting on the reverse:

Albert and Gina Kaufmann. Courtesy of Paul St George

I also asked Paul about his grandmother Dorothy and his mother Inge. I knew from my research that Dorothy Schimmelfennig was born in England, married Albert Kaufmann in 1928, and died on March 31, 1938, in Berlin when she was a month shy of her thirtieth birthday. But I didn’t know the cause of her death. I had also wondered why she would have been in Berlin in 1938, given what was going on in Germany.

Paul told me that his grandmother Dorothy and his mother Inge went to England in 1933 and lived in London. But in 1938 Dorothy returned to Berlin, apparently just a few days before her untimely death on March 31, 1938.1 Paul told me that her death is listed as a suicide in the memorial book for victims of the Holocaust.  Also, the Arolsen Archives include a document that lists Dorothy’s cause of death as from poisoning (“Veronslvergiftug”).

AJDC Berlin Card File (Deportations) Subcollection 1.2.1, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives.

In addition, Paul told me that Dorothy is listed as a forced suicide in a 2007 book by Anna Fischer, Erzwungener Freitod: Spuren und Zeugnisse in Den Freitod Getriebner Juden der Jahre 1938-1945 in Berlin (translation: Forced Suicide: Traces and Testimonies in The Suicides of Driven Jews of the Years 1938-1945 in Berlin) (2007: Berlin : Text Verlag Edition Berlin).  Yad Vashem lists Dorothy as both murdered and as a suicide. There do not appear to be any more details, but it seems entirely possible that Dorothy felt hopeless and helpless in the face of Nazi persecution and became too despondent to go on with life in a world filled with so much hatred and fear. But as Paul wrote, it remains a mystery.

But what happened to young Inge Kaufmann, just ten years old at the time of her mother’s death in 1938? She was still in England, and Paul shared what happened to her after her mother’s death:2

My mother was looked after in England by a Jewish Charity (Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF)). Some Jewish people in England could see the problems in Germany as early as 1933. They petitioned the UK government for permission to bring Jews from Germany to England. The UK government agreed but with strict rules. The refugee had to be self-supporting, looked after to a certain standard, and so on.

So this is why my mother did not live with a relative. Many if not most of these refugees did not live with a relative in England. Reasons against included over-crowding, too poor, etc. But a relative (Charlotte Pick) was a sponsor. She paid money to the charity and the charity bought clothes, shoes, etc. for my mum. My mother would have been housed in a series of homes in the Hemel Hempstead area. By housed I mean she had a room and meals. Those who provided the children with a place to live were not there to look after the children they housed. The charity did that. Also, my mother would have attended a normal local authority school near to the digs. The charity (now called World Jewish Relief) sent me her case file and that lists the monies and the check-up visits and so on.

Inge later attended the well-known St. Martin’s School for the Arts where she studied fashion and developed friendships with several people who became well-known artists. Paul, a well-known artist himself, recalls visiting the grand homes of these artists as a child, describing them as “full of clutter and the smell of oil paint and cake.”3

After she graduated, Inge became a costume designer for the theater, where she met Paul’s father, an acrobatic tap dancer born George Alexander Bernard, who adopted his stage name Buster St. George as his legal name. He was born in Manchester, England, to Alexander Bernard and Doris Matz on January 16, 1913. Inge and Buster were married in 1953 and had two sons, Julian and Paul. Paul was born in Norway while the theater group which employed them was on tour for performances of Kiss Me Kate. Inge and Buster divorced in 1957. Inge Kaufmann St. George, my fifth cousin, died on November 9, 2000; she was 71. Buster St. George died on October 10, 1986.4

I am very grateful that I was able to connect with my cousin Paul (via our mutual cousin Gail) and to learn that Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann’s son Albert did have a child, his daughter Inge, and that thus today Hedwig has living descendants, unlike what I believed before finding Gail and thus Paul. This experience was an important lesson in remembering that just because a record records a “fact” does not necessarily make it true.

 


  1. Email from Paul St George, January 13, 2022. 
  2. Email from Paul St George, January 7, 2022. 
  3. Email from Paul St. George, January 13, 2022. 
  4. Emails from Paul St George, January 7, 13, and 17, 2022. Buster St George
    Registration Date: Jul 1953, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Brighton, Inferred County: Sussex, Spouse: Inge Kaufmann, Volume Number: 5h
    Page Number: 280, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5h; Page: 280,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Paul St. George Ancestry Family Tree, located at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/171856232/family/familyview?cfpid=122230313195&fpid=122231826460&usePUBJs=true 

The Fate of Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter and Her Children: Final Chapter

As we saw, by the middle of 1940, all three of Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter’s daughters and their families were safely out of Germany. Toni and Gerda were in the US as were their children, and Betty and her family were in Palestine.

But what about their mother Caroline? Last we knew she, having lost her husband Simon in 1932, had been living in Marburg with Toni and her family after Toni’s husband Sally was driven out of his haberdashery business in Hersfeld by Nazi persecution. But Caroline was not with Toni and Sally when they left for America in 1940 nor was she with Gerda and her family when they left Germany in 1939. Nor was Caroline with her daughter Betty in Palestine.

Tragically, Caroline was still in Germany. At some point she moved to Frankfurt, and in 1942 she was taken to Theriesenstadt where she died on February 17, 1942. Her daughter Betty (here spelled Beti) filed this Page of Testimony with Yad Vashem:

Caroline Hoxter, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, filed by her daughter Beti Openheimer, found athttps://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1617046&ind=1

In her speech to middle school students in 2020, Caroline’s granddaughter Jane explained why Caroline had been unable to leave Germany with her family:1

Before we left [Germany], my sister and I went to see our grandmother who was blind and could not come with us. Much later she was deported to Thereisenstadt concentration camp. She was then in her late 80s. We were informed that she died of natural causes. Can you imagine for someone that old to travel for three weeks in a cattle car? It is still very hard for me to think about that and accept it.

Jane rightfully questioned whether her grandmother’s death was in fact from “natural causes.” Subjecting an elderly and blind woman to the conditions she must have experienced on that cattle car and then at Theriesenstadt surely contributed to her death as much as if she’d been gassed or shot by the Nazis.

I am very grateful to Andre Guenther from Tracing the Tribe who located Caroline’s death certificate from Theriesenstadt; she died from “enteritis darmkatarrah” or what we might call gastroenteritis.

At no point during the Shoah Foundation interview with Arthur Goldschmidt,2 did the interviewer ask about the fate of his grandmother Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter, and Arthur did not bring it up himself. I don’t know whether this was an oversight or whether he simply could not bring himself to speak about what happened to his grandmother. I imagine the family must have been devastated by what happened to her. Peter, Jane’s son, told me that his mother still gets emotional when she talks about her grandmother Caroline and what happened to her.

But Caroline was blessed that her three daughters and her grandchildren all escaped and survived the Holocaust.

Her daughter Toni died in New York on April 21, 1956,[^3] two years after her husband Sol, who died on May 13, 1954, in New York.3 Their daughter Miriam died on January 7, 1988, in Queens, New York,4 followed by her husband Rudolf on January 21, 1993, in Los Angeles.5 They were survived by their daughter and her family.

Their son Arthur Goldschmidt shared this photograph of his parents with the Shoah Foundation:

Toni Hoxter and Sally (Sol) Goldschmidt. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections

Toni’s sister Betty/Beti lived the rest of her life in Israel and died on December 15, 1975, at the age of 86. She was predeceased by her husband Max, who died May 25, 1961, in Israel. They were survived by their daughter Lotte, who married Theo Kleeman in Israel and who died June 26, 1998, in Israel, and their son Shimon, who died August 14, 2012, in Haifa, Israel. Today they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Israel.6

The youngest sister Gerda died in New York on April 13 1974,7 two years after her husband Adolf, who died March 18, 1972.8 They were survived by their two daughters. Their daughter Alice Lore Goldschmidt married Richard Oster,9 with whom she had two children. Alice died on January 13, 2014.10

Their other daughter Jane Inge Goldschmidt married Ralph Keibel on August  11, 1950,11. Peter shared with me his parents’ wedding photograph.

Jane and Ralph had two children, including my cousin Peter. Jane is still living and is 98 years old. Imagine—she gave that speech to the Vermont middle school group when she was almost 97 years old. Just remarkable.

As for Arthur Goldschmidt, whose interview helped me tell this story, after World War II he returned to New York City where he met and married his wife Ruth Herz. As he told the story, they met in January 1950, were engaged by April, and married in August 1950. Ruth was also a refugee from Germany. She was born on April 18, 1922, in Holzheim, Germany, to Eugen Isaak Herz and Lilli Weinberg.12 Her father had died in 1932, and her mother was killed in the Holocaust.

According to her obituary, “Ruth left Germany at age 16 via the Kindertransport and spent nine years on the run, in hiding, in a displaced persons camp, and then came to the US where she was able to build a good life. She met her husband Arthur Goldschmidt on a blind date that blossomed into their beautiful marriage on August 27, 1950.”13 Ruth and Arthur had two children. It was clear from the video of the interview that they both still adored each other 45 years after their marriage began.

Arthur Goldschmidt and his wife Ruth during the Shoah Foundation interview. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections

Arthur worked for many years at a dairy company on Long Island, so the skills he learned back in the 1930s from the Zionist organization that prepared him to work on a kibbutz in Palestine/Israel held him in good stead. He died on January 15, 2021, in New York; he was 96 years old.14

It was an honor to watch his interview the Shoah Foundation. He was amazingly matter-of-fact through almost the entire interview, answering questions calmly and saying that he and his family survived because they were able to get out early enough. He didn’t seem angry or resentful at all—until the very end when the interviewer asked him a simple and straightforward question about what he hoped the world had learned. He then broke down in tears, unable to speak, finally saying in essence that we must never forget and that we must never let it happen again.15

Today Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter has many living descendants in Israel and in the US. She may not have survived the Holocaust, but her daughters and their families did, and they and their descendants carry on her legacy.

I am deeply grateful to my cousin Peter Keibel for sharing so much of his information and his family photographs with me and especially for sharing his mother’s speech about her experiences before and during the Holocaust.


And this brings me to the end of not only Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter’s story and that of her children and grandchildren, but also to the end of the story of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA since Caroline was the youngest of his eight children. Now I will turn to Abraham’s younger siblings. First, his brother Isaak, the second child of my four-times great-uncle Moses Blumenfeld.

 


  1. Jane Inge Goldschmidt Keibel, Speech to Hazen School, Hardwick, Vermont, 2020, shared by Peter Keibel. 
  2. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections 
  3. Toni Goldschmidt, Age: 70, Birth Date: abt 1886, Death Date: 21 Apr 1956, Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 4251, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  4. Sol Goldschmidt, Age: 72, Birth Date: abt 1882, Death Date: 13 May 1954, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 10469, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  5.  Miriam Lauter, Social Security Number: 112-05-7561, Birth Date: 23 Apr 1911, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 7 Jan 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6. These dates came from Peter Keibel, Betty’s nephew. Email from Peter Keibel, November 17, 2021.  I have no official records for them. 
  7. Date is from her grandson, Peter Keibel, FamilyTree on Ancestry.com, found at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/52614823/person/372143503930/facts 
  8. Date is from his grandson, Peter Keibel, FamilyTree on Ancestry.com, found at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/52614823/person/372143503930/facts 
  9. Alice L Goldsmith, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 18 Jul 1950, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Richard Oster, License Number: 18819, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 27, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  10. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/130447894/alice-oster : accessed 02 December 2021), memorial page for Alice Oster (unknown–13 Jan 2014), Find a Grave Memorial ID 130447894, citing Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Mom (contributor 48202874) . 
  11. From their son Peter Keibel, https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/52614823/person/372143503829/facts 
  12. Peter Keibel Ancestry Family Tree, https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/52614823/person/372145394061/facts; Ruth Goldschmidt
    Age: 29, Birth Date: 18 Apr 1922, Issue Date: 12 Jun 1951, State: New York
    Locality, Court: Eastern District of New York, District Court, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957; Microfilm Serial: M1164; Microfilm Roll: 63, Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995. The other information came from Arthur Goldsdchmidt’s Shoah Foundation interview. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections 
  13. “Goldschmidt, Ruth,” The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, 03 Jan 2021, Sun • Page A14 
  14.  Arthur Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 099-24-1370, Birth Date: 9 Aug 1913, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11415, Jamaica, Queens, New York, Death Date: 15 Jan 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections 

My Cousins on the SS St Louis: The Shameful Conduct of the US Government

We left off in my last post with the family of Gerda Hoxter and Adolph Goldschmidt about to board the SS St. Louis to go to Cuba and escape from Germany. As described on the US Holocaust Museum website:

On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On the voyage were 937 passengers. Almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich. Most were German citizens, some were from eastern Europe, and a few were officially “stateless.”The majority of the Jewish passengers had applied for US visas, and had planned to stay in Cuba only until they could enter the United States.

Gerda’s daughter Jane provided this more personal account in her speech to middle school students in early 2020:1

May 13, 1939, was a Saturday and the ship sailed in the afternoon. We stood at the railing of the ship to wave good-bye to relatives with a heavy heart. The possibility certainly existed that we were never going to see them again. One of the things we remember was that upon boarding the band was playing Strauss waltzes. In the captain’s daily log, he noted that the mood of the passengers was very solemn, but he was assured that good food and sea air for two weeks will lift the pain that was emanating from the passengers.

We settled into our new routine of shipboard life and day by day the moods lifted. My sister and I made friends with other young people on board. One of these people became my best friend. She lived in upstate NY with her husband who also was a passenger on the St. Louis.

Peter, Jane’s son, shared with me this remarkable photograph of his grandfather Adolf Goldschmidt boarding the St. Louis; he is the man on the far right in the light colored coat, holding a book:

Adolf Goldschmidt aboard the St. Louis. Courtesy of the family

Jane’s story continued:

After a two week voyage, we arrived in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. We were informed that we could not lay anchor at the pier because our credentials had to be checked. Even after they were checked, there were more excuses for not letting us land and disembark. A day before arrival in Cuba the Captain was informed that he cannot lay anchor at a pier, he had to stay in the middle of the harbor. We stayed in the harbor for one week.

We did not want to return to Germany, nothing was left there, no housing, no money – all the savings people had accumulated had to be left to the German government – so we would all be taken to a concentration camp, an impossible thought. We had people on board who were released from concentration camps under the condition never to return to Germany. These men considered mutiny or committing suicide. The captain was very diligent and did not want this to happen.

During that time one man slashed his wrist and jumped overboard. He was saved and taken to a hospital in Havana. His wife was not allowed to visit him, but after his recuperation he was returned to his wife.

Small boats came to the side of the St. Louis with relatives who lived in Cuba to shout encouragements to us. Meanwhile, organizations, Jewish and government, were at work to see what can be done to have us disembark. Also contact was made with almost every country to see if one of them would take us in.

The German propaganda had a field day. No one wanted Jews, Hitler was right in ridding his country of them.

The Captain tried everything to enable us to land. He even went so far and visited the President of Cuba to plead for us. Nothing helped.

Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis attempt to communicate with friends and relatives in Cuba, who were permitted to approach the docked vessel in small boats. |Source=USHMM, courtesy of National Archives and Records Adminis (public domain)

The Holocaust Museum article describes the purported reasons for Cuba’s refusal to admit the refugees—not just anti-Semitism, but economic conditions and anti-immigration sentiment.

So the refugees and others tried to find help in places besides Cuba. As Jane described it:2

From the ship, telegrams were sent to heads of states and Jewish organizations. The children pleaded by telegram with Mrs. Roosevelt for shelter, but no reply came from her or the President. After 10 days in limbo, the captain was told to leave Cuban waters. Very slowly the Captain steered the ship toward the US, toward Miami, hoping that the President would relent and let us land. There were 935 people on board who were seeking refuge. Instead the Coast Guard was on watch to see that no one jumped overboard and swam ashore. We went up the coast to New York and then the captain was informed to hurry home. He was such a decent man that he really did not want to take us back, but he had no alternative. In his log, he wrote that he would scuttle his ship on the English shore if no result was forthcoming, to prevent us returning to Germany. This action cost him his job.

The Holocaust Museum article also described the US indifference to the needs of the refugees:

Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, some passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never responded. The State Department and the White House had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must “await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.” US diplomats in Havana intervened once more with the Cuban government to admit the passengers on a “humanitarian” basis, but without success.

Having nowhere to disembark, the passengers on the St. Louis were forced to return to Europe, where Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France responded more humanely than the US or Cuba had to the needs of these refugees.

Jane described what happened next to her family and to others:3

Meanwhile, negotiations went on to find some country that had mercy on us. The passengers were becoming more desperate. Long face and worried looks were on everyone’s faces. We were close to the English Channel when we were informed that four countries were willing to take the passengers. Morris Troper of the European Joint Distribution Committee was responsible for securing that haven. The grateful passengers cabled him that their gratitude was as immense as the ocean on which they have been traveling. It was England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. You could have heard the biggest sigh when the news was broadcast. Again people made plans and their outlook was improving.

On June 17, we landed in Antwerp, Belgium, and disembarked to immediately go on to a freighter that was provided by the Germans for those who went to France and England.

Our captain really tried his best and risked his life and career for us. Many years later, the surviving passengers signed a petition to recommend him as a righteous gentile, which afforded him a place at the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Our family was sent to France, where my sister, I, and other children were taken in by an orphanage. Our parents and other adults were placed in Le Mans, a city west of Paris. Because no one had money, we were only allowed 10 German Marks (Approximately $80 today) to take out of Germany. We all lived on charity provided by Jewish organizations. During those six months my parents lived in Le Mans, they were supported by the HIAS, a Jewish relief organization that helps immigrants. They lived in a house that was shared with three other couples, one bedroom each, communal kitchen and living room.

When the War broke out, September 1, 1939, all the men were interned as foreigners and the women had to double up. My sister and I and all other children under 18 years were sent by train to OSE homes near Paris. The OSE is a Russian organization that is involved with the care of orphans. These homes were led by a Viennese educator and his wife, a physician. Personally, I enjoyed my stay there, although once the War broke out it got a little scary, especially when the air raid sirens sounded and we had to go to the shelters. The older children took care of the young ones.

But ultimately, after the Nazis took over France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in the spring of 1940, 254 of the over 900 passengers who had been on the St. Louis and had been forced back to Europe in May, 1939, were murdered by the Nazis.

Gerda and her family were among the lucky ones who were able to immigrate successfully to the US. They arrived in New York on January 8, 1940. I don’t know when this photograph of Gerda and Adolf was taken, but from their ages, I assume it was sometime during this era, either before or after they came to the US.

Adolf and Gerda (Hoxter) Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

This is one of the most shameful examples of the way the US acted during the 1930s and 1940s, knowing the dangers that Jews were facing in Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe, but cold-heartedly turning the other way, refusing to help those in need. I do wonder, however, whether we’ve learned our lesson. Money and jobs (not to mention xenophobia and prejudice) still seem to trump the needs of those who are suffering when it comes to US immigration policy.

 


  1. Jane Inge Goldschmidt Keibel, Speech to Hazen School, Hardwick, Vermont, 2020, shared by Peter Keibel. 
  2. Jane Inge Goldschmidt Keibel, Speech to Hazen School, Hardwick, Vermont, 2020, shared by Peter Keibel. 
  3. Jane Inge Goldschmidt Keibel, Speech to Hazen School, Hardwick, Vermont, 2020, shared by Peter Keibel. 

The Children and Grandchildren of Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter: Leaving Germany

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a good holiday season and are safe and healthy. I have been trying to relax and gain some perspective on 2021, a tough year, and prepare for 2022, a year I expect to be just as tough. But genealogy and family history always help me put things in perspective, so I am ready to return and find new meaning and new discoveries in the history of my family.

Let me refresh your memories of where I was back in December 2021. I have been writing about my Blumenfeld branch and more specifically the line that begins with my four-times great-uncle Moses Blumenfeld and goes from his son Abraham Blumenfeld IIA to Abraham’s daughter Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter. We saw that Caroline’s son Siegmund died fighting for Germany in World War I, that her husband Simon died in 1932, and that her daughter Toni Hoxter Goldschmidt and her family had all escaped from Nazi Germany by 1940.

But what about Caroline herself and her two other daughters, Betty and Gerda? What happened to them and their families?

Again I want to thank the Shoah Foundation for allowing me to have access to the interview done with Arthur Goldschmidt,1 Toni’s son, so that I could learn more about the fate of his family, including that of his aunts Betty and Gerda. I am also deeply grateful to Peter Keibel, grandson of Gerda Hoxter Goldschmidt, for sharing the speech his mother Jane Inge Goldschmidt gave to a middle school in Vermont in early 2020 about her experiences during the Nazi era.

Like Arthur and Miriam, her nephew and niece, Betty Hoxter Oppenheimer and her husband Max and their two children Lotte and Franz Siegmund left Germany not long after Hitler’s rise to power. According to Arthur, Max Oppenheimer was a doctor, and once he was restricted by Nazi law from being able to practice medicine fully, he and his family left for England. But they must not have stayed there long because on November 26, 1934, they arrived in Palestine. Max was a physician, Lotte, their daughter, was an orthopedist, and their son, who became Shimon, was a carpenter. By 1938, they had all obtained citizenship to Palestine.2

Max and Betty (Hoxter) Oppenheimer, Palestinian citizenship cards found at the Israel State Archives, at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Lotte Oppenheimer, Palestine citizenship card, found at the Israel State Archives, at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

The family of Gerda Hoxter Goldschmidt, the youngest child of Caroline Blumenfeld and Simon Hoxter, had a harder time escaping from Germany. Gerda’s daughter Inge Goldschmidt, who became Jane in the US and who is Peter Keibel’s mother, provided this description of her family’s life in Germany before and during the Nazi era in a speech she gave to a middle school in Vermont in early 2020:3

My father owned a department store in that town [Wuppertal]. My sister and I attended public schools. My father was well known because of the store and we were in comfortable circumstances. … In 1933 when Hitler came to power my father’s store was closed to make the population aware that the owner was Jewish and to discourage the people from doing business with a Jewish establishment. Some days later business resumed at a normal rate, but our lives changed. It seems that every year another law was passed that made our lives almost unbearable. We could not attend school any more or use public pools. Park benches were marked where we could sit. [The Nazis] burned books by Jewish authors and … destroyed Jewish businesses. On November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht started, the synagogues, Jewish houses of worship were destroyed. Many Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.

Our parents were well known and liked. Our father was tipped off by an official and was therefore able to leave town and avoid internment. The Gestapo did come to our house to look for him, but we were not molested, and our house was not ransacked. We did not know where he went. Occasionally he called, but those were very tense days for us. His safety was always on our minds. After his return, he was seriously looking to leave the country.

We had received a quota number from the US Embassy, but we were also aware that it was a very high number and there was no way we could leave before a year or two. So my father searched for a country that we could go to while waiting for our quota number. Of course, the store was closed and had to be sold to the Germans for a very minimal amount. He preferred to leave Europe as he did not think it was safe to stay there. America let only a designated number of people to immigrate into their country. My father purchased Visas ($250 for each person which in today’s dollars is $4,362) for Cuba and booked passage on the ocean liner, SS St. Louis that belonged to a German shipping company.

Thus, Gerda and her family were among those who sailed to Cuba on the ill-fated St. Louis in May 1939.

For those who don’t know the story of the St. Louis, it is one example of the shameful and tragic ways the US government failed to respond to the cries for help of those seeking to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. Jane’s telling of the story will continue in my next post.

 

 


  1. Arthur Goldschmidt, Interview 8542,  Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation,  November 10, 1995. Accessed 15 August 2021, from the archive of the University of California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, found at https://sfi.usc.edu/what-we-do/collections 
  2. The Palestine citizenship papers can be found at the Israel State Archives by searching for their names. Unfortunately, the site does not provide specific links to those results, but the site can be found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/ 
  3. Jane Inge Goldschmidt Keibel, Speech to Hazen School, Hardwick, Vermont, 2020, shared by Peter Keibel. 

Moses Blumenfeld IIA’s Grandchildren: Did They Survive The Holocaust?

By 1939, all three of the children of Moses Blumenfeld IIA had died, leaving behind their children, the seven grandchildren of Moses Blumenfeld IIA. Their fates were determined by the Nazis. This post will examine the fates of the children of Moses’ daughter Antonie Blumenfeld Katz and her sister Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann as well as that of Antonie’s husband Moritz Katz.

Antonie’s husband Moritz Katz stayed in Marburg after Antonie died in 1939 until he was deported to Theriesenstadt on September 7, 1942; he was killed there on September 11, 1944, at the age of 73. He and Antonie were survived by their two children, Artur Katz and Margarete Martha Katz Jacobsohn. Those two children survived by leaving Nazi Germany and immigrating to Palestine (now Israel) in the 1930s.

Moritz Katz Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1627679&ind=1

Artur was a lawyer in Berlin until the Nazis deprived of him his right to practice law after 1933. According to his nephew Yoram Jacobson, Artur soon left for Palestine, where he changed his name to Avraham (which was probably always his Hebrew name). According to a profile on MyHeritage, Avraham was married to Edith (Hannah) Walter, and they had three children. I have no other sources so far to verify that information. Avraham Katz died on October 22, 1978, in Haifa, Israel.

Artur Avraham Katz gravestone on Gravez, found at https://gravez.me/en/deceased/275CF393-EB17-4B26-8BBF-D82EC06FEB94

Antonie’s daughter Margarete Martha Katz had married Friedrich (Fritz) Max Jacobsohn sometime before they immigrated to Israel in 1939. Fritz was born in Hanover, Germany, on July 13, 1899; his father’s name was Abraham. I have no information about his mother. Fritz, an insurance agent, had been taken to Buchenwald Concentration Camp after Kristallnacht in November 1938 and was determined to leave Germany once he was released. With the help of his brother-in-law Avraham Katz, he and Margarete immigrated to Palestine/Israel on July 24, 1939. They became citizens of Palestine on October 20, 1941.1

Margarete and Fritz Jacobsohn Palestine citizen certificate, found at the Israel State Archives website at https://www.archives.gov.il/

Margarete and Fritz had one child, their son Yoram, who was born on November 27, 1944, in Haifa. Yoram Jacobson became a prominent Kabbalist and Hasidic scholar. He taught at several academic institutions in Israel, including Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, and overseas, including at Harvard. He was also the author of many books and articles. Yoram was married twice and had four children.

Fritz Jacobson died August 24, 1963, in Haifa. He was 64. He was survived by his wife Margarete Katz Jacobson, who died forty years later on April 12, 2003, at the age of 96. They were survived by their son Yoram and his children. Yoram died April 16, 2017, in Israel. He was 72.

Although Moritz Katz died at the hands of the Nazis in Theriesenstadt, the two children he had with Antonie Blumenfeld survived by immigrating to Palestine. Today they have living descendants in Israel.

The story of Antonie’s sister Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann does not end as well.

Hedwig’s daughter Anna Kaufmann and her husband Julius Leyser did not go to Palestine with their cousins. They did, however, leave Germany for Amsterdam, but sadly that was not enough to escape the Nazis. Anna, her husband Julius, and their two young sons Ernst and Hans were all deported from the Westerbork detention camp in Amsterdam to the extermination camp at Sobibor on July 23, 1943, and were murdered there. Anna was 42, Julius was 45, Ernst thirteen, and Hans eleven.  An entire family wiped out, including two young boys.

Anna Kaufmann Leyser page of testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=3827826&ind=1

Julius Leyser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=808099&ind=1

Ernst Leyser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=8897102&ind=1

Hans Leyser page of testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=8897103&ind=1

Hedwig’s son Albert Kaufmann survived the Holocaust by immigrating to Brazil. His marriage to his first wife Dorothy had ended before she died on March 31, 1938, in Berlin, Germany.2 Albert had traveled to Brazil in 1924 before he’d married Dorothy, so perhaps he knew it was a good place to immigrate.3 He died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 10, 1986, at the age of 84. According to his death record, he was survived by his second wife Georgina Correa. She was born in Brazil in 1921, the daughter of José Correa de Mendonça and Anna Emilia da Conceicao.4 The death record indicates that Albert left no children. He died from cancer.

Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Registro Civil, 1829-2012,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QQP-KV?cc=1582573&wc=9GYK-DPJ%3A113334201%2C120190503%2C122537201 : 7 January 2019), Rio de Janeiro 02ª Circunscrição Óbitos 1985, Nov-1987, Jan image 172 of 304; Corregedor Geral da Justicia (Inspector General of Justice Offices), Rio de Janeiro.

UPDATE: I received an email today (1/5/22) from the daughter of Paul Blumenfeld. I learned from her that Albert Kaufmann did have a daughter named Inge and that Inge had two sons. So Albert Kaufmann, and thus his mother Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann, do have living descendants!

The story of the family of their brother Ernst will be told in the next post.


  1. The immigration papers for Fritz and Margarete (Katz) Jacobsohn can be found at the Israel State Archives website at https://www.archives.gov.il/. You can also see them here at Friedrich Max Jacobsohn and Margarete Katz immigration documents from Israel Archives. Some of the information in this paragraph also came from the online interview with Fritz and Margerete’s son Yoram, found here
  2.  Dorothy Kaufmann, Maiden Name: Schimmelpfennig, Gender: weiblich (Female)
    Age: 30, Birth Date: abt 1908, Death Date: 31 Apr 1938, Civil Registration Office: Wilmersdorf, Death Place: Berlin, Berlin, Deutschland (Germany), Certificate Number: 545, Berlin, Deutschland; Landesarchiv Berlin; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Laufendenummer: 1625, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1955 
  3. Albert Kaufmann, ship manifest, Albert Kaufmann, Gender: männlich (Male), Ethnicity/Nationality: Hessen, Marital Status: ledig (Single), Departure Age: 22, Birth Date: abt 1902, Residence Place: Marburg, Departure Date: 9. Jul 1924 (9 Jul 1924)
    Departure Place: Hamburg, Deutschland (Germany), Destination: Buenos Aires
    Arrival Place: La Coruna; Vigo; Rio de Janeiro; Buenos Aires; Brasilien; Uruguay; Argentinien, Occupation: Kaufmann, Ship Name: Württemberg, Shipping Clerk: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft)
    Shipping Line: Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft), Ship Type: Dampfschiff, Ship Flag: Deutschland, Accommodation: 3. Klasse, Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 316, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 316; Page: 90; Microfilm No.: K_1856, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 
  4. Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Registro Civil, 1829-2012,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:77HZ-FXW2 : 9 April 2020), Albert Kaufmann in entry for Georgina Correa Kaufmann, ; citing Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil; Corregedor Geral da Justicia (Inspector General of Justice Offices), Rio de Janeiro. 

My Cousin Sigmund Livingston, The Founder of the Anti-Defamation League

Although traditional genealogy research tools gave me many of the bare bones details of the life of Sigmund Livingston, it wasn’t until I googled his name after reading his obituary that I learned that he had founded the Anti-Defamation League and was quite an exceptional person. He thus merits his own separate post.

We’ve already seen that Sigmund was a lawyer. According to a biography published on the McLean County Museum of History website, he graduated from the law school at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1894 and was second in his class. After graduating, he and William R. Bach, who had ranked first in the class, became law partners in Bloomington. Their practice was primarily devoted to civil matters.

According to the museum’s biography:1

In numerous newspaper articles, Sigmund was described as extremely intelligent and well respected. One article claimed, “he gives promise of becoming one of the ablest as well as the most prominent attorney in the state.” However, Livingston gave a personal account in his book Must Men Hate? of how, outside of dear friends, he had a “general distrust to overcome” because locals had never known of a Jewish lawyer when he was beginning his career. Livingston recalled that after a few years, he had earned their trust.

Sigmund was involved in many civic activities in Bloomington. He was active in Republican politics and a loyal supporter of the American Red Cross and of efforts to support America and its soldiers in World War I. But he is best remembered for his efforts to support Jewish Americans and to fight anti-semitism. In 1894 he became president of the Bloomington chapter of B’nai Brith, and in 1899 he was elected vice-president of the 6th district of B’nai Brith.

The museum biography described in detail the experience that Sigmund had that motivated him to become more involved in the fight against anti-semitism:

Shortly after the turn of the century, he had an experience that impacted the trajectory of the rest of his life. When he was in Chicago on business, Livingston decided to drop into a vaudeville theater to while away a couple of hours before an appointment. The show began like many others with the usual trained dog acts, jugglers, and acrobats. However, when the show turned to a couple of comedians with a “routine of bum jokes, told in dialect and at the expense of Jews,” Livingston had enough and walked out of the theater. It was this life changing event that made him decide then and there that he would try to do something about the prejudicial caricaturing of Jews.

Livingston was most disgusted with the portrayal of Jewish people in vaudeville shows and films. ….Following the show, Livingston spoke with the managers to make them aware of their cruel and inaccurate depictions of Jews. Surprisingly, the managers were willing to make a change despite them not being aware of their offense.

Believing that publicity would help to alleviate prejudice, in 1908, Livingston established the Publicity Committee of the Publicity Bureau within the B’nai B’rith, which evolved into the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) five years later. The Publicity Committee, based in Bloomington, was created to consider the problem of the defamation of Jews and named Livingston its chairman.

The website for The Pantagraph, the local Bloomington newspaper, published an article on July 11, 2010, about Sigmund and included this description of his involvement in the fight against anti-semitism and the founding and growth of the Anti-Defamation League in 1913.2

[In 1912] Livingston embarked on a lengthy tour of Europe and the Middle East, with stops in Vienna, Jerusalem, Cairo and elsewhere. In London he delivered an address titled “The Condition of the Jew in America,” and in Berlin, at an international meeting of B’nai B’rith, he spoke on the moral necessity of intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign nations “when humanity and civilization dictate.”

The Anti-Defamation League was established in Bloomington in October 1913 as an arm of the B’nai B’rith, with Livingston as its first director.

The museum biography noted that:

The organization had a fairly humble start. The ADL was established in the First National Bank building in Chicago. Livingston started out with only a $200 budget and two desks in his law office, but the ADL quickly grew into a nationwide organization. Members, led by Livingston, planned to campaign along three lines of education, vigilance, and legislation. Livingston believed that hate and fear could be overcome through education and had faith in “the essential goodness of the American people.”

As we saw, Sigmund married his wife Hilda in 1918, and their son Richard was born in 1920. In 1929, after practicing law in Bloomington for 35 years, Sigmund and his family moved to the Chicago area, where he continued to practice law. He was still practicing law there in 1940.3 Here is a photograph of Sigmund and Hilda taken around this time.

Sigmund and Hilda (Freiler) Livingston c. 1940. Courtesy of Art Zemon, found at https://genealogy.zemon.name/gramps/ppl/0/d/b21ea1d3dd971e202d0.html

He also authored ten books as well as continuing his work with the ADL and his other civic activities. His best known book, entitled Must Men Hate, was published in 1944.

Sadly, Sigmund died just two years later on June 13, 1946, at age 73.4 According to his obituary, he was a “leading Chicago corporate counsel” and had been in failing health for the past year. He was survived by his wife Hilda and their son Richard, who was at that time studying at Duke University after serving four years in the Army Air Force.5

Richard Livingston graduated from Duke in 1947, and the following year on May 30, 1948, he married Miriam “Mimi” Spector in New York City. Mimi, the daughter of Samuel and Tessie Spector, had graduated from Wellesley College.6 Richard and Mimi settled in New York and had three children.

Richard’s mother Hilda died February 20, 1962, in Highland Park, Illinois.7

Richard became a successful business owner and moved from New York City to Scarsdale in 1959, where he and his family lived until 1986. He later moved to Larchmont, New York, and also had a home in Boca Raton, Florida. He was not only successful in business; he was active in civic affairs in many different organizations as well as numerous philanthropic endeavors. He died while vacationing in Turkey on October 5, 1994, when he was 74. He was survived by his wife Mimi, their children, and grandchildren.8

Sigmund Livingston was the third of the eight children of Dora and Meyer to be born, and he was the third to die, following his brother Maurice and sister Rosalie. He was born in Germany and came to the US as a young boy with his mother. He was a successful lawyer in Bloomington and Chicago. He definitely made a lasting mark on Bloomington, but also should be remembered by all Jews everywhere for his work with the Anti-Defamation League, which continues today its hard work of fighting not only anti-semitism but all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

 


  1. A version of the biography that provides citations to its sources can be found at https://mchistory.org/perch/resources/biographies/sigmund-and-hilda-livingston-2021.pdf 
  2. “Bloomington Lawyer Led Ant-Semitism Fight,” The Pantagraph, July 11, 2010, found at https://pantagraph.com/special-sections/news/history-and-events/bloomington-lawyer-led-anti-semitism-fight/article_19b023ee-8c8e-11df-badf-001cc4c03286.html 
  3. Sigmund Livingston and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 24A; Enumeration District: 2220; FHL microfilm: 2340238,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census; 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 103-257, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. Sigmund Livingston, Birth Date: abt 1873, Death Date: 13 Jun 1946, Death Place: Highland Park, Lake, Illinois, Death Age: 73, Gender: Male, Father Name: Mayer Livingston, Mother Name: Dora Blamenfeld, Spouse Name: Hilda F., FHL Film Number: 1991309, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 
  5. “Sigmund Livingston Dies in Highland Park,” The Pantagraph,
    Bloomington, Illinois, 15 Jun 1946, Sat • Page 3 
  6. “Bride of Former Bloomingtonian,” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois
    01 Jun 1948, Tue • Page 6 
  7. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/9198509/hilda-v-livingston : accessed 03 November 2021), memorial page for Hilda V Freiler Livingston (25 Apr 1891–20 Feb 1962), Find a Grave Memorial ID 9198509, citing Jewish Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Robin Farley Dixson Coon (contributor 46558224) . 
  8. “Richard M. Livingston, businessman, philanthropist,” The Daily Times
    Mamaroneck, New York, 11 Oct 1994, Tue • Page 6 

Salomon Blumenfeld’s Children Thekla and Felix: Killed by the Nazis

In April, 1933,  Salomon Blumenfeld’s two children from his first marriage, Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum and Felix Blumenfeld, were both living in Kassel, Germany. All of their children and grandchildren were also still in Germany. With Hitler’s rise to power, some of the family members left Germany not long afterwards. But others were not so fortunate.

Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum was murdered by the Nazis. She was first deported to Theriesenstadt on July 25, 1942.  Two months later on September 26, 1942, she was sent to the extermination camp at Treblinka where she was killed. She was seventy years old. She had lived a hard life—losing her mother when she was just a toddler, being left behind by her father a few years later, losing her husband, and then being killed at Treblinka.

Thekla’s daughter Caecilie and her husband Walter Herzog were living in Krefeld, Germany, before the war. I am still researching where and when, but the evidence indicates that the two children of Caecilie and Walter, Renata and Manfred, were sent to England before the war.1 Walter was a successful silk tie manufacturer and had deposited a fair amount of money in a Swiss banking account; that account was confiscated by the Nazis.2 In December 1941, both Walter and Caecile3 were deported to the concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. Walter was later transferred to Buchenwald where he was “declared dead” on May 8, 1945.

Caecile was sent from Riga to the Stutthof concentration camp.4 The Holocaust Encyclopedia provided this information about the Stutthof camp:5

Conditions in the camp were brutal. Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept the camp in the winter of 1942 and again in 1944. Those whom the SS guards judged too weak or sick to work were gassed in the camp’s small gas chamber. Gassing with Zyklon B View This Term in the Glossary gas began in June 1944. Camp doctors also killed sick or injured prisoners in the infirmary with lethal injections. More than 60,000 people died in the camp.

The Germans used Stutthof prisoners as forced laborers. … In 1944, as forced labor by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in armaments production, a Focke-Wulff airplane factory was constructed at Stutthof. Eventually, the Stutthof camp system became a vast network of forced-labor camps….

The evacuation of prisoners from the Stutthof camp system in northern Poland began in January 1945. When the final evacuation began, there were nearly 50,000 prisoners, the overwhelming majority of them Jews, in the Stutthof camp system. About 5,000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machine gunned. The rest of the prisoners were marched in the direction of Lauenburg in eastern Germany. They were cut off by advancing Soviet forces. The Germans forced the surviving prisoners back to Stutthof. Marching in severe winter conditions and treated brutally by SS guards, thousands died during the march.

In late April 1945, the remaining prisoners were removed from Stutthof by sea, since Stutthof was completely encircled by Soviet forces. Again, hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. … It has been estimated that over 25,000 prisoners, one in two, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps. 

Soviet forces liberated Stutthof on May 9, 1945, and liberated about 100 prisoners who had managed to hide during the final evacuation of the camp.

How did Caecilie manage to survive this ordeal? Was she one of the hundred who were hiding in the camp during its final evacuation? Her odds for survival were overwhelmingly low, yet somehow she did. After time as a displaced person and with the help of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), she was able to immigrate to the US in July 1946.

Arolesn Archives; Bad Arlosen, Germany, Resettlement Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. Free Acces Africa, Asia and Europe, Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons, 1946-1971

I was able to locate more information about Thekla’s brother Felix Blumenfeld through several sources, including a detailed and well-sourced biography online. Felix had studied medicine at both the University of Marburg and the University of Munich. He served as a ship’s doctor and later as doctor in a POW camp during World War I. As we saw, Felix lost his first wife Thekla Wertheim in 1917, and on February 16, 1920, in Nordhausen, Germany, he married his second wife Helene Petri, who was not Jewish. She was born on October 20, 1894, in Nordhausen, the daughter of Fritz Petri and Bertha Peter. Felix and Helene were living in Kassel, where Felix was a practicing pediatrician.

The detailed biography of Felix I found online describes in great detail all the contributions that Felix made as a doctor and citizen in Kassel.

Encouraged by the high infant mortality rate among children of poor parents, he began to use his position as a doctor and to get involved in society. At his suggestion, milk kitchens were built in which perfectly hygienic milk-grain mixtures were produced as baby food and sold using a deposit bottle system . The products were also given free of charge to the poor.

He also served as the medical director of the children and infant’s home/hospital in the city and also was involved in other charitable and civic organizations.

Despite his service in World War I and all these contributions he made as a doctor and citizen, Felix was persecuted by the Nazis. 

Just a few weeks after the National Socialists came to power on April 1, 1933, as a Jew, he was deprived of the management of the children’s hospital, he was banned from working and had to give up his apartment and practice…. His property and library were confiscated and owing to the fact that his wife Leni was not Jewish, he was initially allowed to live in his summer house a…. He was forced to do auxiliary and road construction work and had to collect rags and scrap at the municipal scrap yard . He was exposed to constant discrimination and surveillance by the Gestapo.

A second biography written for the occasion of the installation of Stolpersteine in Felix Blumenfeld’s honor in Kassel also reported this information and explained that Felix ultimately decided to end his own life in order to avoid deportation and also to protect his wife Helene.

Before killing himself on January 25, 1942, Felix wrote a long letter to his two sons in America, Edgar and Gerd, explaining why he had decided to take his own life. The first part of the letter details some of the abuse and persecution he had endured, and then he ends with these paragraphs, as translated by DeepL:

But enough of that ! Let’s get to the main thing ! Life is no longer bearable for me! All my hope, to which I had clung, was to get out of this hell and to be united with you in a near or distant time. I dare not count on that hope any longer. For with the years of war my years of life also increase. But the worst thing at the present moment is that out of sheer arbitrariness they have deprived me of all my property and referred me to my hands work or to public welfare. Subsequently, they also “expropriated the wife of the Jew”, although since 1939 there had been a legal separation of property, i.e. there was no legal basis for this. Leni was in Berlin and has the prospect of getting part of her property back if she gets a divorce. I want to agree to this divorce in order not to endanger Lenimutter’s livelihood again and again through my person. In that case, however, my life, which has been ruined through no fault of my own, has lost all the more meaning, especially since it is not known what else will be done to us.

Under these circumstances, death seems more desirable to me than an existence with ever new torments. I am therefore leaving this world of meanness, baseness and inhumanity in order to enter eternal peace and to seek the path that leads from darkness to light.

My last thoughts belong to my faithful comrade, on an often thorny path, and to you my beloved children, my Edgar, Gerd, Annchen, Lotte and Little Gerard ! You will be with me in the hour that demands strength and courage. Especially with you, my Gerd, I would have liked to hold a conversation, you dear, you good one! Stay as good as you have been so far, and be the one who makes sure that you always stay together faithfully. Then I am always in your midst and remain eternally connected with you. Without looking backwards, move forward and build a more beautiful life in a hopefully better world. May it be a comforting thought to you that your father is relieved of all fear, worry and pain after his departure. We remain united ! ! You will never forget me, I know that, because my love for you was, is and will be infinite.

V a t e r

*** Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***

Like his sister Thekla, Felix Blumenfeld lost his mother as a baby, then his father, and then his first wife. Nevertheless, he grew up to be a devoted father and pediatrician who contributed greatly to his community. Although not technically murdered by the Nazis, Felix is also rightfully counted among those whose deaths were caused by Nazi persecution.

There was one more death in the family attributable to Nazi Germany. Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum’s grandson, Caecilie and Walter Herzog’s son Manfred, was killed in action while fighting for the Allies in Europe sometime in the spring of 1945.

Thus, the Nazis killed both Thekla and Felix, the two children Salomon Blumenfeld had with his first wife Caecilie Erlanger, as well as Thekla’s son-in-law Walter Herzog; in addition, Thekla’s grandson Manfred Herzog died fighting the Nazis in World War II. I can’t help but think about how Felix and Thekla’s lives would have been different if their father Salomon had taken them with him when he moved to Spain.

They were survived by the rest of the family. Their stories will be told in the next post.


  1. To be discussed in the next post. 
  2. Special Master’s Final Report on the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks Settlement), Case No. CV 96-4849 (ERK)(MDG) (Consolidated with CV 96-5161 and CV 97-461) United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, pp.28-30. 
  3. Cecilia Herzog [Cecilia Gruenbaum] Birth Date: 26 Apr 1900 Birth Place: Kassel
    Residence: Krefeld Camp: Riga/Stutthof Ancestry.com. Poland, German Jews at Stutthof Concentration Camp, 1940-1945; Entry at the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/online/hsv/person_view.php?PersonId=3187531 
  4. See Note 3. 
  5. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Stutthof.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/stutthof Accessed October 5, 2021.