Sitta Blumenfeld Spier and Her Daughter Gisela—A Story of Survival and Hope in the Midst of Despair and Death

Although three of the four surviving children of Gerson Blumenfeld II—Friedrich, Katinka, and Mina/Meta—and all their children escaped from Germany to the US and avoided being murdered by the Nazis, the fourth surviving child, Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, and her husband Siegfried Spier and their two children Manfred and Gisela were not as fortunate. As explained by Gisela’s son Simeon Spier in the eulogy he wrote for his mother, “[Siegfried] tried frantically to get the family out of Germany but since he was a wounded veteran from World War I – he had been awarded the Iron Cross for bravery and still had a bullet lodged in his lung – he was considered a health risk and emigration to other countries was not possible.”1

What a cruel irony—because he was wounded fighting for Germany, Siegfried could not escape German persecution twenty years later.

Sitta, Siegfried, Manfred, and Gisela were all deported to the concentration camp at Theriesenstadt on September 7, 1942.2 Manfred was sixteen and Gisela thirteen at that time. Gisela was “allowed” to participate as an athlete in games filmed by the Nazis for propaganda purposes—to show how “humanely” the camp prisoners were being treated.3 You can read more about the propaganda film created by the Nazis and see a clip from it here.

By October, 1944, all four members of Sitta’s family had been transported from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz where Sitta and Siegfried were immediately sent to the gas chambers. Manfred was transferred several days later to the Dachau concentration where he died from starvation and typhus on April 18, 1945, just a few weeks before Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended. He was nineteen years old.4

Manfred Spier Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1879134&ind=1

The only member of Sitta’s family to survive was her daughter Gisela. She was sent from Auschwitz on October 12, 1944,5 to the concentration camp in Flossenburg, Germany, a camp where prisoners worked as slave labor to build fighter planes and other equipment for the German military. The US Holocaust Museum and Memorial  provided this description of conditions at Flossenburg:

The conditions under which the camp authorities forced the prisoners to work and the absence of even rudimentary medical care facilitated the spread of disease, including dysentery and typhus. In addition to the dreadful living conditions, the prisoners suffered beatings and arbitrary punishments.

About 30,000 people died there, but somehow Gisela survived.

On April 29, 1945, as the Allied forces were approaching Flossenburg, the Nazis began to evacuate the camp and transport the prisoners elsewhere. Gisela was transferred from Flossenburg to the Mauthausen concentration camp,6 where she was liberated by the Allies on May 5, 1945. She was sixteen years old and weighed 46 pounds when she was freed.7

In his eulogy for his mother, Gisela’s son Simeon Spier wrote this description of Gisela’s life after she was liberated in May, 1945.8

She travelled with a friend she met in a displaced persons camp to Paris.  They were on one of the first trains to arrive in Paris at Gare de l’Est after the war’s end and were mobbed by frantic people looking for word of loved ones.  It was at that time she realized she had survived an atrocity of epic proportions.

She searched for her brother through refugee organizations.  She found out he had died of hunger and exhaustion at Dachau.  She saw 2 men on the streets of Paris wearing Magen David.  She asked them why they were wearing Stars of David now that the war was over. They told her they were part of a brigade building the Jewish state in Palestine.  They told her if she wanted to go to Palestine there was a boat leaving from the port of Marseille in several days.

With no family left, she set off to Marseille and boarded the ship, the Mataroa, to Palestine.  Since Jewish immigration to Palestine was illegal under the British Mandate, she was detained by the British army upon reaching Palestine.  She was imprisoned in Atlit ….  The Jewish underground broke her free from Atlit.  Her name was changed to escape British authorities.  She became Yael Blumenfeld – Gisela to Gazella to Yaela to Yael.  Blumenfeld for her mother’s maiden name.  She said when she became Yael Blumenfeld, she finally felt free.

She lived in the youth village of Ben Shemen, joined the Palmach army and fought in the Israeli War of Independence.  She was a decorated veteran of the 1948 war.

In 1950, Gisela came to New York with the help of her mother’s siblings and then got a job in Montreal as a secretary for a synagogue. She met her husband Israel Cohen in Canada, where they were married in 1956.9

Gisela and Israel had three children, each named for one of Gisela’s family members who had been killed in the Holocaust— a daughter Sitta, named in memory of Gisela’s mother Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, a son Simeon, named in memory of Gisela’s father Siegfried Spier, and a daughter Michall, named in memory of Gisela’s brother Manfred. The family lived in Montreal and later in Toronto.10

Once her children were grown, Gisela devoted a great deal of her time and energy to Holocaust education, including regularly traveling back to Momberg and other towns in Germany, to educate German children about what had happened to her family and many other Jewish families.11

Here is a very moving video of Gisela produced by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto as part of Gisela’s efforts to provide education about the Holocaust. I highly recommend you watch this eight-minute interview so that you can see and hear this remarkable woman.

Gisela died on February 19, 2016, in Toronto. She was 87 years old and had endured and experienced so much. Simeon ended his eulogy for his mother Gisela in words that bring tears to my eyes each time I re-read them.12

My mother was overwhelmed by the good fortune her life had brought her after suffering such unbearable loss early in life.  As her life neared its end, she became at peace with herself having lived a full life bearing witness to history’s most brutal atrocity.

Death, to her meant two things. She would be re-united with her family and the ability to have a real grave with a tombstone – something her family never had.  She had always mourned that according to Jewish tradition, a son must say Kaddish at the grave of his parents and that no one had been able to say Kaddish for her parents and brother.  Today, we will go to the cemetery and say Kaddish at her grave – for her, her mother, father, and brother.  And for this, we are all very happy.

Gisela Spier Cohen was survived by her three children and her grandchildren. Her life exemplified courage and persistence and hope against all odds. I feel so moved and honored to be able to share her story and that of her family.

Special thanks to my cousin Simeon Spier for allowing me to quote extensively from the beautiful eulogy he wrote for his mother.

 

 


  1. “In Loving Memory of Yael Gisela Spier Cohen,” by Simeon Spier, published February 28, 2016, found here
  2. See the entries at Yad Vashem at the links in the text. 
  3. Obituary for Gisela Spier Cohen in Oberhesslische Press, March 23, 2016, found at https://www.op-marburg.de/Landkreis/Ostkreis/Zeitzeugin-verstirbt-fern-ihres-Geburtsortes 
  4. Manfred Spier, Nationality: German or Austrian, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1925, Birth Place: Momberg, Prior Residence: Momberg, Street Address: Marburg a. d. L, Arrival Date: 10 Oct 1944, Arrival Country: Germany, Death Date: 18 Apr 1945, Prisoner Number: 115317, Arrival Notes: 10 Oct 1944 from Auschwitz, Disposition Notes: died 18 Apr 1945, Description: prisoner German or Austrian Jew, Page: 5440/Bg.
    Original Notes (desc. / arr. / dis.): Sch. DR. J./ 10 Oct 1944 v. Au./ gest. 18 Apr 1945, JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 
  5. Gizela Spier, Nationality: German, Born: 29 Nov 1928, Prisoner Number: 54367
    Classification: Jew, Arrival: 12 Oct 1944, Record Source: Reel 2, Image #: 269, Page #: 1000, JewishGen Volunteers. Germany, Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Records, 1938-1945 
  6. Gisela Spier, Date of Birth: 29 Nov 1928, Nationality: German. Prisoner Number: 54,367, Category: Jew, Town/Camp: Freiberg, Factory: Hildebrandt, Transferred from (camp name): Auschwitz, Date transferred: 12 Oct 1944, Transferred to (camp name): Mauthausen, Date transferred: 29 Apr 1945, Ancestry.com. Germany, Women in Flossenbürg Branch Camps (Hans Brenner Book Lists), 1944-1945 
  7. See Note 1, supra. 
  8. See Note 1, supra. 
  9. See Note 1, infra. 
  10. See Note 1, supra. 
  11. See Note 1, supra. See also Note 3, supra. 
  12. See Note 1, supra. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part IV: Leaving Germany

Three of the four surviving children of Gerson Blumenfeld II made it out of Germany in time to escape from the Nazis.

The family of Mina Blumenfeld Simon were the first descendants of Gerson Blumenfeld II to leave Germany. Mina’s son Josef arrived in New York on February 5, 1937. He listed his occupation as a butcher and his prior residence as Wetzlar, a town near Hermannstein where he was born.

Josef Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 35, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Ancestry.com

His brother Kurt arrived eight months later on October 1, 1937; he listed his occupation as a merchant and last residence as Wetzlar.

Kurt Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 38, Ship or Roll Number: New York, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The rest of the family—Albert, Mina, and Grete—arrived the following year on August 18, 1938. They also had been living in Wetzlar where Albert was a merchant.

Albert Meta Grete Simon passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 12; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Washington
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Mina had officially changed her name from Mina Blumenfeld Simon to Meta Simon by the time she filed her Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on January 24, 1939.

Meta Blumenfeld Simon declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, (Roll 549) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 427401-428300), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

The family was reunited and living together as of the 1940 US census. They were living in New York City, and Albert and his two sons Kurt and Joseph (as spelled here) were working as butchers.

Albert Simon and family 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 31-1895, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Friedrich Blumenfeld and his family, including his mother Berta Alexander Blumenfeld, were the next family members to arrive in the US. They left shortly after Kristallnacht.

I had the great pleasure of Zooming with two of Friedrich’s grandsons last week, Steven and Milton, and they shared with me a story about their grandmother Berta’s reaction to Kristallnacht. Apparently when the Nazis came around to arrest Jewish men in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, Berta was so angry that she took the medals awarded to the family in honor of  Moritz and Isaak, the two sons who died fighting for Germany in World War I, and threw them at the Nazi soldiers, yelling that she had lost two sons already. According to the family, the soldiers backed off and left the family alone. Soon thereafter the family was able to get visas to leave Germany.1

Friedrich, Berta, and their two children arrived in the US on January 13, 1939. Friedrich’s occupation on the ship manifest is listed as shoe manufacturing, but his grandsons told me he was actually a dry goods salesman in Momberg.

Friedrich Blumenfeld and family passenger manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 23; Page Number: 150, Ship or Roll Number: Hansa
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot locate them on the 1940 census, but on October 16, 1939, they were all living together in the Bronx, according to Friedrich’s Declaration of Intention filed on that date. Friedrich was unemployed at that time.

Friedrich Blumenfeld declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21,  (Roll 567) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 444001-444900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg was the last of the children of Gerson Blumenfeld II to escape Nazi Germany in time. Their departure was delayed because, as I learned from Katinka’s son Heinz/Henry, after Kristallnacht, Katinka’s husband Emanuel and son Walter were taken to Buchenwald where Walter spent two months and Emanuel spent five weeks. After they were released in early 1939, the family was determined to leave, but it was very difficult to find a sponsor to help them get permission to immigrate to the US. Finally a stranger from Texas who was not even related to the family came forward with an affidavit and sponsored the family. They took a train to Italy and sailed to the US from Genoa. As Henry and I discussed during our conversation, it is somewhat miraculous that they were to get out of Germany after World War II had started since for so many the borders closed after September 1, 1939.2

Katinka, her husband Emanuel Rosenberg, and their three sons Walter, Guenter, and Heinz arrived in New York on February 1, 1940. Emanuel listed his occupation as a trader, and Momberg was their last residence.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family passenger manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 37, Ship or Roll Number: Conte Di Savoia, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Henry said they at first lived with cousins in the Bronx, but soon moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. Henry quickly learned English and soon was able to not only catch up with his classmates but to excel in school.3

When the 1940 US census was taken a few months after their arrival, the Rosenbergs were all living in New York City. Emanuel was working in a grocery store, and Walter was a machine operator in a watch factory.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family 1940 US census,Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1887, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Thus, Mina, Friedrich, and Katinka and their families were able to escape to the US in time and survived the Holocaust.

Tragically, the youngest child of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, did not leave Germany in time to escape the Holocaust.  Her family’s story in my next post.


I will be taking next week off to be with my family, who are coming to visit for Thanksgiving. Have a great Thanksgiving to all my US readers!

 

 


  1. Zoom with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022 
  3. See Note 2, supra. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part III: The Nazis Come to Momberg

As we saw, Gerson Blumenfeld II died on July 29, 1919, in the aftermath of losing two of his sons—Moritz and Isaak—during their service to Germany in World War I. He was survived by his wife Berta, one remaining son Friedrich, and his three daughters, Mina, Katinka, and Sida, as well as Mina’s husband Albert Simon, and their children.

Fortunately, the family continued to grow after the war. Katinka married Emanuel Emil Rosenberg on November 7, 1919. Emanuel was born on June 19, 1885, in Rosenthal, Germany, to Joseph Rosenberg and Fanni Stiebel. He was also the nephew of Mendel Rosenberg, who was married to Katinka’s aunt Rebecca Blumenfeld, her father Gerson’s sister.

Katinka Blumenfeld marriage to Emanuel Rosenberg, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6204, Year Range: 1919, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Katinka and Emanuel had three sons: Walter, born in Frankfurt, Germany, on October 17, 1920;1 Guenther, born in Frankfurt on July 7, 1925;2 and Heinz, born in 1928.3

Katinka’s older brother Friedrich married Lina Neuhaus on October 26, 1921, in Braach, Germany. She was born on September 19, 1894, in Braach (sometimes listed as Baumbach, which is less than two miles from Braach) to Samuel Neuhaus and Bertha Wallach.

Siegmund Friedrich Blumenfeld marriage to Lina Neuhaus, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907; Laufende Nummer: 510, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Friedrich and Lina had two children: Gretel was born August 21, 1922, in Momberg,4 and Gunter was born on February 22, 1926, in Momberg.5

Sida Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Gerson II and Berta, married Siegfried Spier on December 29, 1924, in Momberg. Her name is spelled Sitta on the marriage record, and I will use that spelling going forward. Siegfried was also a native of Momberg; he was born there on May 14, 1887, to Michael Spier and Veilchen Nussbaum. He was the owner of a matza factory.6

Sitta Blumenfeld marriage to Siegfried Spier, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6209, Year Range: 1924, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Sitta and Siegfried had two children, Manfred, born on November 29, 1925, in Momberg,7 and Gisela, born exactly four years later on November 29, 1929.8

Gisela’s son Simeon Spier wrote this beautiful description of his mother’s family’s life in Momberg before the Nazis came to power in the 1930s.9

Momberg was like a storybook village of gingerbread cookies and green rolling hills.  Her family had lived there since the 17th century.  Her father, Siegfried Spier, owned a matza factory started by her great grandfather.  Her mother, Sida, was a deeply religious woman.   Her paternal grandmother lived in her house and her maternal grandmother lived across the street.  It was a world of German folk songs and Jewish religion.  She played soccer with her brother and cousins, attended the village school and went to the tiny village shul on Shabbos.

I also had the great pleasure of speaking to Katinka’s son Heinz (now Henry) Rosenberg just a week or so ago. He also spent his early childhood years in Momberg. He pointed out that since Gisela’s father Siegfried Spier owned a matza factory that employed many of the town’s residents, even after Hitler first came to power in 1933, no one bothered the Jews in Momberg at first because they were grateful to have jobs in the factory.10

That idyllic life would soon come to an end with Kristallnacht in November, 1938. Simeon Spier described what happened in Momberg to his mother and her family:11

On the 9th of November 1938 her world was destroyed by the Nazis during the Kristallnacht. The synagogue was burned down and the men were taken to concentration camps. Her brother’s Bar Mitzvah could not take place later that month as there was not a minyan of 10 adult Jewish men in the village. This saddened her all her life since her brother had been practicing his parsha and haftorah for months. She too knew the words and could recite them the rest of her life.

Jews were kicked out of the village school and Gisela and her brother were sent to an orphanage in Frankfurt. There, away from her family at 10 years old she would spend countless hours in the school’s gymnasium on the horizontal bar. Her love of sports helped her escape what was happening. She lived on Pfingsfeid Strasse near the zoo. Jews were not allowed in the zoo so all she could see was the head of the giraffe. She was forced to wear a yellow star.

Heinz/Henry Rosenberg also was unable to go to school for two years and still clearly remembers seeing the destruction of the Momberg synagogue on Kristallnacht. He shared with me the moving story of his family’s rescue of a Torah scroll that had belonged to his grandfather Gerson Blumenfeld and had been damaged during the violence of Kristallnacht. They brought that scroll with them to the US, and Henry read from it at his bar mitzvah in 1941 as did his grandson over seventy years later.

Fortunately, like that Torah scroll, almost all of Gerson Blumenfeld’s children and grandchildren got out of Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. Almost all.


  1. Walter Joseph Rosenberg, Gender: Male, Petition Age: 24, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1920
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Petition Number: 1788, National Archives and Records Administration – Southeast Region (Atlanta); Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1922-1964; Series Number: 648598; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Louisiana, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1836-2001 
  2. Guenther Rosenberg, [George G Rosenberg], [George Rosenberg], Gender: Male
    Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Jul 1925, Birth Place: Frankfurt MA, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1998. Father: Emil Rosenberg. Mother: Katinka Blumenfeld, SSN: 093129735, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3. Heinz, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration., Birth Date: — 1928, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Father: Emanuel Rosenberg, Box Number: 338, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943. Because Heinz/Henry is still living, I am not disclosing his exact birth date. 
  4. Gretel Blumenfeld, [Grethe Blumenfeld], Gender: Female, Race: White, Declaration Age: 18, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922
    Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 493628, Box Number: 366, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 
  5. Gunter Blumenfeld, Petition Age: 19, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Departure Place: Momberg, Germany, Petition Place: Augusta, Augusta-Richmond, Georgia, USA, Ship: Hansa
    Description: Augusta Naturalization Petitions 9/1943-12/1953 (Box 2), National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1909 – 1970; ARC Number: 2143321; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Georgia, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1794-1993 
  6. “In Loving Memory of Yael Gisela Spier Cohen,” by Simeon Spier, published February 28, 2016, found here
  7. Manfred Spier, Nationality German or Austrian, Birth Date 29 Nov 1925, Birth Place Momberg, Prior Residence Momberg, Street Address Marburg a. d. L., Arrival Date 10 Oct 1944, Arrival Country Germany, Death Date 18 Apr 1945, Prisoner Number 115317
    Arrival Notes 10 Oct 1944 from Auschwitz, Disposition Notes died 18 Apr 1945, Description prisoner German or Austrian Jew, Page 5440/Bg., Original Notes (desc. / arr. / dis.) Sch. DR. J./ 10 Oct 1944 v. Au./ gest. 18 Apr 1945, JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 
  8. Giesela Sara Spier, Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1928, Birth Place: Momberg, Last Residence: Momberg, Residence Place: Momberg, Marburg an der Lahn
    Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews
    Reference Number: 02010103 oS, Document ID: 85950815, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.3, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  9. See Note 6, supra. 
  10. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022. 
  11. See Note 6, supra. 

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, Part II: His Three Surviving Children Were All Murdered in the Holocaust

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, who died in 1922, and his wife Sarchen, who died in 1930, were survived by three of their five children: Moses Blumenfeld III and his wife Sarah Rothschild and their son Julius; Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa Drucker and their three children, Eric, Hilde, and Liselotte; and Rosa Blumenfeld and her husband Julius Hess. As of 1933 when Hitler came to power, they were all living in Germany.

Tragically, all three of Meier IIB and Sarchen’s children were murdered in the Holocaust. Moses IIB and Sarah were deported to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in Lodz on October 20, 1941, and died sometime thereafter. Fortunately, their son Julius escaped to Argentina in 1936. I don’t know what happened to Julius afterwards, but at least he managed to avoid the fate of his parents.1

Moses IIB’s sister Rosa and her husband Julius Hess were also both killed by the Nazis. They were deported on June 11, 1942, from Frankfurt either to the Sobibor death camp and/or to the camp at Majdanek, where they were murdered.2

Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa were also murdered by the Nazis, as were their daughter Hilde and her family, despite the fact that they all had left Nazi Germany. Hilde had immigrated to Amsterdam in March 1934, and she had married Julius Seelig on April 28, 1937, in Amsterdam. Julius was born in Reichensachen, Germany, on December 10, 1908, to Joseph Seelig and Paula Wallach. Hilde and Julius had one child, a daughter Hanna born in Amsterdam on October 12, 1938. Julius and Hilde were divorced on June 9, 1942, and Julius soon remarried another woman, Margot Pauline Aharon, in July 1942.

Here are the Amsterdam registration cards for Hilde, Julius, and Hanna that report this information:

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/98533418-6d7f-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719, Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853340a-857d-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853341a-53f7-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Hilde’s parents Hermann and Elsa came to Amsterdam later than Hilde, arriving in May 1939, according to Hermann’s Amsterdam registration card.

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam
Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?sa=%7B%22person_1%22:%7B%22search_t_geslachtsnaam%22:%22Blumenfeld%22,%22search_t_voornaam%22:%22Hermann%22%7D%7D

But escaping to Amsterdam did not keep any of them safe. According to records at Yad Vashem, Hermann and Else were sent to the Westerbork Detention Camp in 1943 and from there deported to Auschwitz where they were both killed on February 11, 1944.

Hilde and her daughter Hanna were also first sent to Westerbork in August 1943 and then to Auschwitz. Hilde died on January 31, 1944, and her five-year-old daughter Hanna on February 11, 1944, according to Yad Vashem.

Fortunately, Hilde’s two siblings survived the Holocaust. Erich Blumenfeld immigrated to Palestine on September 13, 1937, and became a naturalized citizen there on December 19, 1939.3

Erich married Miriam Emerich, daughter of Robert and Hannah Emerich, on April 6, 1941.4

Erich changed his name in 1948 to Eliezer Shadmon. Shadmon means farm in Hebrew, and according to Erich/Eliezer’s application for naturalization, he was working as a farmer at Ein Harod at that time, as seen in the images above.5 Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found any further information about Erich/Eliezer.

Liselotte Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Hermann III and Else, immigrated to the US and arrived in New York City on August 5, 1937. She was heading to Lexington, Kentucky, according to the ship manifest,6 and in 1940, she was living with James and Nanette Strause in Fayette, Kentucky and working as a nurse, presumably for their seven year old son. I don’t know why Liselotte chose Kentucky as her destination, but I assume there was some friend or family member living there when she immigrated or she had arranged the job before leaving Germany. (I’ve recently learned that another branch of the Blumenfeld family that I’ve yet to research settled in Kentucky long before the 1930s, so perhaps that was Liselotte’s connection. To be determined…)

On January 10, 1943, Liselotte, referred to here as Liesel Lotte Bloomfield, married Corporal Herbert Isaak in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Bloomfield-Isaak Wedding in Louisville,” Lexington Herald-Leader, January 17, 1943, p. 18

Herbert was born in Munich, Germany, on March 21, 1920, and had immigrated to the US on April 25, 1941; he’d enlisted in the US Army on January 5, 1942. His parents were Emil Charles Isaak and Therese Meyer.7 Liselotte and Herbert had one child born in the 1940s. According to his obituary, Herbert had survived the Dachau Concentration Camp and had served as a field-commissioned second lieutenant in the US  Army at the Nuremberg Trials.8

In 1950, the family was living in New York City, and Herbert was working as a traveling salesman for a “ladies suits and coats factory.”9 The family must have relocated to the South at some later date because, according to Herbert’s obituary, “he was a traveling sales representative of women’s coats in Virginia and the Carolinas and had a showroom in Charlotte, N.C.”10 Herbert died on November 18, 2001, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; he was 81. Liselotte outlived him by thirteen years; she was just a few days shy of her 97th birthday when she died on November 5, 2014. Herbert and Liselotte were both buried at Florence National Cemetery in Florence, South Carolina.11

I haven’t yet determined whether Liselotte Blumenfeld Isaak or Erich Blumenfeld/Eliezer Shadmon have living descendants. Nor have I found more information about their cousin Julius Blumenfeld, the son of Moses IIB. I am hoping that there are more descendants alive to carry on the legacy of Meier Blumenfeld IIB and his wife Sarchen Moses and their children.


  1. “Uruguay, listas de pasajeros, 1888-1980,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C33M-19T3?cc=2691993 : 30 June 2020), > image 1 of 1; Archivo General de la Nación, Dirección Nacional de Migración (General Archive of the Nation, National Migration), Montevideo. Also, see Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  2. The Gedenbuch and Yad Vashem records mention both camps. I guess the evidence of where Rosa and Julius ended up is unclear, but their ultimate fate is not. 
  3. Erich Blumenfeld, Palestine Immigration File, found at the Israel Archives website at https://www.archives.gov.il/catalogue/group/1?kw=erich%20blumenfeld 
  4. Marriage record found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website by searching for Erich Blumenfeld. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  5. Name change found at the IGRA website by searching for Eliezer Shadmon. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  6. Liselotte Brilea Ingeborg Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 21; Page Number: 37,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Herbert Jsaak [Herbert Isaak] Gender: Male Race: White Birth Date: 21 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Munich, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Nov 2001, Father:
    Emil Jsaak Mother: Therese Meyer SSN: 046143654, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Herbert Isaak, Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization , Compiled 1906-1978; NAI: 1275754; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1906-1991; Herbert Isaak, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 04782; Reel: 142, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  8. “Herbert Isaak,” Myrtle Beach Sun-News, November 21, 2001, p. 35. 
  9. Herbert Isaak and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4377; Sheet Number: 12; Enumeration District: 31-2180, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  10. See Note 8, supra. 
  11. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138910393/liesel-isaak: accessed 21 September 2022), memorial page for Liesel Bloomfield Isaak (23 Nov 1917–5 Nov 2014), Find a Grave Memorial ID 138910393, citing Florence National Cemetery, Florence, Florence County, South Carolina, USA; Maintained by Danny & Judy Ard (contributor 47789022); Liesel Isaak, Rank: T/5, Death Age: 96, Birth Date: 23 Nov 1917, Death Date: 5 Nov 2014, Interment Place: Florence, South Carolina, USA, Cemetery Address: 803 East National Cemetery Road, Cemetery Postal Code: 29501, Cemetery: Florence National Cemetery, Section: 11 Plot: 37, War: World War II, Branch of Service: US Army
    Relative: Herbert Isaak, Comments: Wife, National Cemetery Administration; U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, National Cemetery Administration. U.S., Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019; 

Moritz Werner And Family, Part III: After The War

After the war Max Werner, now 25 years old, married Klara Reiss on January 5, 1947, in London, England.1 Klara (known by the family as Klari) was born in Vienna, Austria, on September 27, 1920, to Ida Spergel and Salomon Reiss. According to his granddaughter Joyce:2

Salomon Reiss had made a fortune in Vienna and was a well-known multi-millionaire. After the Anschluss (March 1938) [he] was arrested at the seder table [and] stripped of his Austrian wealth, and the family managed to escape to Prague (not at the time under German control and where my grandfather owned assets).

Klara’s brothers were able to immigrate to Palestine, but Klara didn’t want to leave her parents so stayed with them in Prague. But as things became more dire, she was able to obtain a visa to go to England, as seen on her exit visa from Prague shown below. As Joyce noted, Klara left Prague “quite late in August 1939. Her entry Visa in Dover is stamped 30st August. The curtain came down [two days later started on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and World War II started.]”

Klara Reiss 1939 visa for travel to England

Klara’s parents were, however, stuck in Prague once the war started and unable to escape. They were eventually deported to Theriesenstadt and then from there on one of the last transports from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.3

Klara met Max Werner eight years later in England. As Joyce tells the story,

Our parents met at a friend of Moritz and Jenny on a Shabbat afternoon in 1946. The couple were cousins of Klari’s father and, apparently, when [Max] got home, he told his parents he had met the girl he was going to marry. He was two years younger than Klari, involved with Klari’s cousin, and Klari told him to go away. Repeatedly. My father did not take no for an answer and pursued her relentlessly. She gave in and went on a date with him. The rest is history.

Judith provided these additional insights:

My mother liked my Dad when they met but felt that as a sophisticated dress designer she was way too old for the very young looking Max. She had a career path that she had worked very hard to carve out for herself and was in line to go to Paris for her firm.  She wasn’t interested in marriage at that point in her life especially after learning what happened to her parents. I believe her long range plan was to join her brothers in Israel. When however my Dad persisted, she relented…. They were married 6 months later on 5th January, 1947.

Joyce and Judith shared these photographs of their parents Max and Klara:

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

At the time of his marriage, Max was working for his father Moritz in the Benlo company in London. In 1949, Moritz was able to buy back LS Brinkmann from the man who purchased it. As his son Max told the story (and as I previously shared here),

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

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

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

Joyce and Judith shared this photograph of the plaque that had been given to honor Moritz in 1931 and then hidden by his employees to keep it safe from the Nazis.

Moritz and Jenny did not remain in Germany, but Moritz did continue to oversee LS Brinkmann from England. He gave a large share of the business to his sister Elsa Werner Loewenthal, wife of Julius Loewenthal, whom I wrote about here.

Meanwhile, according to Judith, there were problems within the partnership of Benlo; contrary to an informal agreement between Moritz and his partner, the partner brought a new partner into the business, and together they took over control of the business and away from Moritz. Eventually, the two other partners drove Moritz out of the business and moved his son Max from company headquarters in London to a sales job, which he found to be unsatisfying and a dead end position.

Here is a photograph of Max and Klara in the early 1950s:

Max and Klara Werner c. 1953 Courtesy of the family

Thus, in 1953, Max decided to move to Germany and take over LS Brinkmann after his father Moritz retired. By that time, both Judith and Joyce were born, and Judith was already in school. Max, Klara, and Joyce went to Eschwege, and Judith stayed behind with her grandparents Moritz and Jenny in England to continue her schooling. Under Max’s leadership, LS Brinkmann once again became a highly successful knitware company.

But after a relatively short time, Klara and Joyce returned to England as Klara was not happy living in Eschwege, where there was no longer a Jewish community after the Holocaust. Max would come to England periodically, usually for Jewish holidays, and Klara and their daughters would spend the summers in Eschwege.

Joyce and Judith have wonderful memories of spending summers in Eschwege. Judith wrote:

Part of the perks of working for LSB was reduced rental flats on the factory property. It was great fun for us children of the workers. Every afternoon and early evening when the workday was over we would gather in the courtyard and play all kinds of games, including hide and seek and different ball games.

Judith shared this photograph of the LS Brinkmann grounds along with this description:

On the far left are the worker residences including ours. Bottom right is the green house. The larger tree in front of the white knitting operation was a delicious pear tree under which our pet dog Cracky was buried. The other greenery were apple, pear, plum, and cherry (not seen) trees. We had all kinds of berries that I used to spend many hours picking and eating. In the distance is the very picturesque town of Eschwege.

LS Brinkmann factory grounds Courtesy of the family

Joyce added this memory:

I also remember those holidays as a time of freedom. We played with local children as Judy said and were left largely to our own devices. Judy and some of the older kids would take me along to the local swimming pool or they Iet me trail along and join in with whatever they did. My own age group was a group of dare-devil boys. In the foreground (front left side) [of the photograph] is a grey roof above the dustbins [trash cans] with a drop of about 6 to 7 feet to the rear exit road below. All the boys and I used to play a ‘chicken’ type game jumping off with as much bravado as possible.

By 1958, Moritz Werner’s health had declined, and he and Jenny decided to leave England for a better climate and move to Lugano, Switzerland. He died eight years later in 1966 at the age of 78. This photograph of Moritz was taken at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of LS Brinkmann’s founding in 1965.

Moritz Werner 1965 Courtesy of the family

Jenny kept the apartment in Lugano and remained there, although she spent the first year after Moritz’s death living with Klara and the girls in London. Eventually, when she could no longer live alone, she moved to an assisted living facility in Zurich, where she died in November 1987 at the age of 93. Here is a beautiful photograph of Jenny:

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner eventually retired from LS Brinkmann and returned to England. Judith shared this memory with me:

My father had a fantasy of living in Devon, England on the coast. He had fallen in love with the Devon and Cornwall coastline when he was a very young man. So when he was about 55 [about 1977], he sold [the home in] London and bought a house in Devon. He proceeded to knock most of it down and rebuilt it to his own specifications. This home was on the top of the hill that he owned overlooking the channel. On this hill he had an area for a pool and a rock garden. And when we swam in this pool, you could overlook this beautiful seaway.

Max Werner and his wife Klara died within eight months of each other. Klara died at age 90 in April 2011 in Devon, England, and Max died in December of that year, also in Devon, England. He was 89.4

I am so deeply grateful to Judith and Joyce for sharing their family’s stories and photographs. The story of their grandparents and parents is one of persistence and strength despite being subjected to harassment, theft of their business, and loss of their home and their homeland. Somehow they rebuilt their lives and their business and found ways to survive both before, during, and after World War II.


  1.  Max H Werner, Registration Date: Jan 1947, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss, Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. As with the two prior posts, most of the information in this post came from a series of emails exchanged among Max and Klara’s daughters Judith, and Joyce and myself during May and June, 2022. 
  3. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4788092&ind=1; https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4783626&ind=1 
  4. These dates came from Max and Klara’s daughters Joyce and Judith. 

Moritz Werner and Family, Part II: From Comfort to Escape 1922-1945

When Max Werner II was born on September 5, 1922, in Eschwege, Germany, to Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn, his paternal grandparents Max Werner I and Helene Katzenstein had both passed away. His father Moritz was one of the owners of the LS Brinkmann Knitwear Company, and the family was living a very comfortable life.

Max’s daughter Joyce described her father as “an indulged only child from a wealthy local family.” Her sister Judith noted that their father “was an only child, and he was a very solitary child. His main companions were the chauffeur Petach and his dog.”1

Here are some photos of Max as a child including two with the dog, two in the garden of the family’s home in Eschwege, and one with his nurse or nanny.

Max Werner with nurse Courtesy of the family

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max and his dog Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1934

But everything changed with the rise of the Nazis. Joyce and Judith both shared what they knew about the way life changed for their father and grandparents. Judith wrote, “Things became more and more difficult at school for my father, but he never complained to his parents. Except one day the kids from his school surrounded him with knives, and my father was seen fending them off with his leather satchel by friends of my grandparents.”

Joyce shared additional details about that incident:

Our father, a tall, strong pre-teen, was having terrible trouble at school. Not only did he face taunting and attacks from boys in the Hitler Youth, but teachers also joined in the Jew baiting. I recall that he told me on one occasion that another Jewish boy (small and reedy) had been beaten up by some classmates and the child made the mistake of telling the teacher. The teacher got out his strap and announced to the class, ‘Now I will show you how you should beat a Jew.’ Our father in general held his own well and was known to be strong and aggressive, and classmates generally steered clear of him. However, the incident Judy described was a final straw – especially as during the ensuing fray which took place on the school stairwell after class, he picked up the lead troublemaker and hurled him down a few stairs causing a broken nose. At home, he couldn’t hide the marks of the fight, confessed all and was sent that same night to Zurich to his Aunt Rosa [Werner] Wormser [sister of their grandfather Moritz Werner].

Max spent four or five years living away from his parents in Zurich. Although he was generally happy and became very close to his cousin Julius Wormser during those years, Joyce described the deeper impact these experiences had on Max:

The experience was formative for him. Although he had many good memories of his life in Zurich, he was separated from his home, parents, and his former life. I think the main lesson he learned was ‘fight back’. Sadly (in my opinion) he also learned that, in reality, ‘might is right’. I believe it was this which affected his personality. Used to getting his own way as an adored (and unexpected) child, seeing the brutality of life in Germany and the fact that bullies get what they want and the weak suffer, he made a decision there and then. It shaped him as a person who was determined and uncompromising. He was logical and intelligent, but when he was crossed or disagreed with someone, he could be very aggressive – both verbally and physically.

Meanwhile, Max’s parents Moritz and Jenny were still in Eschwege, Germany. Judith wrote that:

My grandfather was generous with everybody and was always ready to help those in need whether Jewish or not. He and my grandmother for many years helped to support and educate a young boy whose father had died and whose mother needed assistance. In the 1930s, my grandfather … was helping members of the family and others leave Germany but he himself did not believe that Nazism would survive in Germany. My grandmother, on the other hand, was ready in 1933 and packed. But they did put a lot of money into antiques and Old Master pictures. They were aware that they were not allowed to take much money but were allowed to take personal possessions.

Joyce also described the way their grandparents differed in their reactions to the rise of Hitler:

Our grandmother Jenny was alert to the danger Hitler posed from the very start. She believed his rhetoric and said that if he came to power, he would enact every threat against the Jews he had scapegoated for Germany’s ills. Our grandfather Moritz, like so many, believed such things would never happen in the ‘fatherland’ for which he had fought at great personal cost and for which his brother had given his life.  Consequently, she quietly prepared for emigration by investing in ‘movable assets’ e.g. art and antiques.

Here’s a photo of their grandmother, Jenny:

Under Hitler’s Aryanization program, Moritz was forced to sell LS Brinkmann in 1938, as I wrote about here. According to Judith, shortly before World War II started in September 1939,

The Bishop of the area came to my grandpa and told him it was time for him to leave. That it was too dangerous for him to stay. … So after that my grandfather went to the area comandante in Kassel in order to get a pass to exit the country. This person happened to be somebody who had served in the first World War under my grandfather in the cavalry. So this gentleman gave my grandfather a bit of a problem, and my grandfather, who had the use of a stick, banged it on the man’s desk and gave him a thorough dressing down. He got his pass. Then my grandparents took the chauffeur driven car up to either Hamburg or Bremen and took a ship to England.

Max soon thereafter joined his parents in England and attended school and then Leeds University, where he studied engineering. Moritz and Jenny were able to sell some of the art and antiques they took with them from Germany not only to support themselves, but to invest in a new company in England. Joyce wrote:

My grandfather – with extraordinary energy and determination in my opinion – found a couple of partners and started a new company ‘Benlows’ selling cigarette lighters. It became so successful that after the war it became a public company floated on the Stock Exchange.

Thus, Moritz, Jenny, and Max were able to escape from Nazi Germany and survive the Holocaust. But not without enduring a forced sale of their successful business, harassment and violence, displacement from their home in Eschwege, and a long separation of Max from his parents. As Joyce wrote, this had a lasting impact on Max and presumably also on Moritz and Jenny.

In the next post, Joyce and Judith will share the story of what happened to the family after World War II ended in 1945.

 


  1. Again as in the last post, the quotes, photos, stories, and information from Joyce and Judith came from a series of emails we all exchanged during May and June, 2022.  I am so grateful for all their help and generosity. 

Finding Max Blumenfeld and His Family: A Postscript

Yesterday I Zoomed with four of my Blumenfeld cousins—Richard, whose been my research partner for quite a while now, his first cousin Jim, who is also a wonderful genealogy researcher, and the two surviving grandchildren of Max Blumenfeld, Max and Omri. We spanned three continents—Omri in Israel, Richard in Switzerland, and Max, Jim, and I in New England. We chatted for an hour, but could have gone on much longer and hope to continue the conversation another time.

During our conversation, we uncovered the answer to a question we still had been unable to answer despite all our research: when did Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s widow and Omri and Max’s grandmother, leave Italy and immigrate to Israel/Palestine? The records that Richard had obtained from Merano said she’d left in 1939, but Max had pointed out that that wasn’t possible since he and his sister were cared for by their grandmother Anna during World War II while their mother Edith worked with the Italian Resistance. Their father Josef had immigrated to the United States on November 1939.

For our Zoom, Omri had prepared a wonderful slide show of family photographs, some of which I’ve already shared on this blog, and some that were new to me. Among those photographs was one that helped to answer the question of when Anna arrived in Palestine. The photograph shows Anna in Palestine with two of her grandsons, Omri’s brothers Gideon and Hillel. Anna was holding Hillel, who was just a very small baby, and the photo was inscribed in Hebrew with the words, “Hillel is born! Oma [Anna] arrives! 29 May 1946.” So now we knew that Anna had only recently arrived in Palestine in May of 1946.

Here is another photo taken the same day showing Anna with Gideon and Hillel and their parents Fritz and Dora.

But then how do we explain the records that said Anna had left Merano in 1939? Well, Max had the answer to that question. Max explained that Anna and her daughter Edith and the two grandchildren, Max and his sister Margherita, all left Merano in 1939 and moved to Milan. Max has no memories of life in Merano since he was only a toddler when the family moved. But that would explain why the Merano records report that Anna left that place in 1939.

Max and his family stayed in Milan for several years, and then when Italy adopted laws persecuting the Jews in about 1942, his mother Edith was able to use her connections to obtain permission to leave Milan and move to the countryside outside of Milan.  The family remained there for the duration of the war, hiding the fact that they were Jews. They spoke Italian (although they all could also speak German) so that they could pass as Italian, and Max and his sister went to church on Sundays. In fact, Max and Margherita were not aware of the fact that they were Jewish and also didn’t know that their father was still alive—all to prevent the children from accidentally revealing the fact that they were Jews.

After the war, Edith took her children to America so they could all be reunited with Josef, and Anna went to Palestine to be with her son Fritz and his family, as depicted in the photograph above.

We spoke of many other interesting things during our Zoom, and there were many stories and many moments of laughter interspersed. It was truly a delightful hour and one I will always cherish and remember.

Thank you to Omri, Max, Richard, and Jim—all of whom are my fifth cousins, four people I never would have known if not for doing genealogy research.

And that, dear readers, is the magic of genealogy.

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).