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). 

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.