Morris Goldfarb’s Adventurous Sons, Martin, Irving, and Saul

We saw in the last post that Morris Goldfarb’s three sons, Martin, Irvin, and Saul lost their mother in 1938 when Saul was just eight years old and the two older boys were teenagers. Morris and his two older boys were working with him in his grocery store in 1940.

When the US entered World War II, Martin Goldfarb registered for the World War II draft. Martin’s draft registration indicates that he was continuing to work for his father as a grocery clerk at 679 Sutter Avenue in Brooklyn and living at 668 Sutter Avenue across the street.

Martin Goldfarb, World War II draft registration, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

As I wrote in the last post, Martin had been seriously injured as a child when he was hit by a car. His legs were badly damaged, and he was left with circulatory problems because of the surgery done to repair those injuries. Because of that, he was not able to serve in the military. Ann shared with me this photograph of her father Martin taken when he was in his 20s.

Martin Goldfarb, c. 1940s. Courtesy of Ann Lee

Martin married Marcia Berger in 1946.1 Marcia was born on February 28, 1926, in New York City, daughter of Isidore and Nettie Berger, who were Russian/Polish immigrants. Here is a beautiful photograph from their wedding day.

Marcia Berger and Martin Goldfarb, 1946. Courtesy of Ann Lee

Martin and Marcia had two children, Ann and Michael, and later moved to San Jose, California. Ann shared with me the story of the family’s move to California:2

My father had a grocery store in Canarsie [Brooklyn] when we lived in Oceanside, but the commute was too much.  So my father and a friend decided to start up a business in San Jose. We had a distant cousin there but my father’s friend also had family. Unfortunately the gentleman [the distant cousin] died but my father was determined to come anyway- sight unseen.  Sold our house and loaded up our black Dodge Pioneer and spent 3 weeks driving across country in December of 1961.  Michael and I are 5 1/2 years apart, and it wasn’t easy sitting in the backseat with a cooler between us.  We arrived in San Jose, stayed at the Civic Center Motel, and started looking for a house to rent.  We ended up renting a home on New Jersey Ave., which we thought was pretty funny.

I started high school at nearly 14 and Michael ended grammar school.  His NY style clothes didn’t fit with the California style of jeans and a T shirt.

My father proceeded to get a job in the food industry and we settled in.  From there my father had a NY style deli that ended up going out of business- San Jose wasn’t ready for our type of food.  Then he had a catering business for a long time, the local Temple provided many clients, and finally he had a restaurant called The Tasting Room.  One of the highlights was my father’s invention- the Surprise Sandwich.  A French roll filled with many different stuffings; it was similar to the current Hot Pocket.  Unfortunately it didn’t make the big time.

Martin died on April 8, 1972, in San Jose, California, after heart surgery; he was only 51.3 Like his mother Anna, he died far too young.

Marcia Berger and Martin Goldfarb Courtesy of the family

Martin’s brother Irvin (referred to on later documents as Irving and so I will also refer to him hereinafter as Irving) enlisted in the US Navy after the US entered World War II, according to his sister-in-law Kay.4 I cannot find any specific record for Irving’s military service as there are many Irving Goldfarbs and no way to be sure I am looking at the right one on either Fold3 or Ancestry because no other identifying information is included on the Navy Muster Rolls.

Irving married Hermina Perlmutter on March 13, 1953, in Denver, Colorado, where he was an accountant. Hermina was a native of Colorado, born there on December 19, 1918, to Ben Perlmutter and Belle Leopold, who were immigrants from Russia-Poland. Hermina and Irving had three children.5

Marriage certificate of Irving Goldfarb and Hermina Perlmutter, Denver County Clerk and Recorder’s Office; Denver, Colorado; Denver County Marriages, 1950-2017; Year: 1953 Colorado, U.S., Select County Marriages, 1863-2018

Then tragedy again struck the family of Morris Goldfarb when Irving was killed in a plane crash in January 1963. He was en route from Salt Lake City to Denver in a light plane with another accountant and two others when the plane went down in the Rocky Mountains in western Colorado. A search for the plane had to be called off because of bad weather. The plane was discovered five years later by two men hiking in the area. Irving’s auto insurance card was found at the crash site as well as other belongings and remains of the four victims. Irving was only forty years old when he died and was survived by his wife Hermina and their three young children.6

The youngest son of Morris and Anna (Greenbaum) Goldfarb was Saul, and he ended up on the other side of the world from his family in the United States. After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Saul applied to veterinary school in many places and ended up choosing the University of Queensland Veterinary School in Brisbane, Australia, where he was the only Jewish student. He graduated from the vet school in 1962, and six years later married Kay Lergessner, a native of Brisbane. They settled first in San Francisco, but in 1972 returned to Australia. Saul and Kay had three children together including my cousin Becky. Saul developed a specialty in veterinary ophthalmology and was very well regarded.7

Wedding of Kay Lergessner and Saul Goldfarb. Martin Goldfarb to the right of Saul and Kay’s sister Helen to the left of Kay. 1968. Courtesy of the family

Unfortunately none of the sons of Morris Goldfarb lived long lives. We’ve seen that Martin died in 1972 at age 51 after heart surgery, and Irving died at 40 in a plane crash in 1963. Saul lived longer than his two brothers, but he suffered from a number of health problems and died at age 64 on October 23, 1994.8

Morris Goldfarb was an immigrant who left his homeland as a young boy and traveled across the world with his family. But once he married and settled in Brooklyn, he spent the rest of his life there. His three sons spent their entire youth in Brooklyn, but then they, also, made journeys far from their birthplace. Martin ended up in California, Irving in Colorado, and Saul in Australia. Their migrations seemed to mirror in some way the adventure their father experienced as a young boy. Martin, Irving, and Saul were survived by their wives and their children, the eight grandchildren of Morris Goldfarb and Anna Greenbaum.

Martin and Saul Goldfarb (and Mutty, the Siamese cat!)
Courtesy of the family

Thank you so much to my cousins Ann, Kay, and Becky for sharing the photographs and the family stories with me and for bringing Morris and Anna and their three sons to life.

  1. Martin Goldfarb, Marriage License Date: 21 Feb 1946, Marriage License Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Marcia Berger, License Number: 4255, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Brooklyn, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  2. Email from Ann Lee, April 21, 2021. 
  3. Martin Goldfarb, Social Security #: 068145066, Birth Date: 26 May 1920
    Birth Place: New York, Death Date: 8 Apr 1972, Death Place: Santa Clara, Place: Santa Clara; Date: 8 Apr 1972; Social Security: 068145066, California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  4. KLG history. 
  5.  Hermina B Goldfarb, Social Security Number: 524-18-2988, Birth Date: 19 Dec 1918, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Colorado, Death Date: 5 Mar 2013,
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014; Ben Perlmutter, Marriage Date: 28 Jun 1915, Marriage Place: Golden, Jefferson, Colorado, USA, Spouse: Belle Leopold, Film Number: 001690119, Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006 
  6. “Another Private Plane Missing,” Fort Collins Coloradoan
    Fort Collins, Colorado, 10 Jan 1963, Thu • Page 10; “Weather Halts Plane Search,” The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colorado, 11 Jan 1963, Fri • Page 9; “Plane Missing Five Years Located on Upper Poudre,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, Fort Collins, Colorado
    02 Sep 1968, Mon • Page 1. 
  7. KLG history. 
  8. Saul Goldfarb, Birth Date: 10 Jun 1930, Birth Place: New York Bro, New York
    Death Date: 15 Oct 1994, Father: Morris Goldfarb, Mother: Anna Greenberg
    SSN: 067242458, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. KLG history. 

Hermann Gutmann Becomes Dennis Goodman: An Oral History, Part II

By the spring of 1940, Hermann Gutmann was seventeen years old and had been in England and separated from his parents since the fall of 1936.  He had completed his secondary education and had been working at a leather factory in Lancashire in the north of England since February 1940 and moved to London that May.1

On July 2, 1940, at 6 am he heard a knock on his door. The police told him to pack his bags and come with them to the police station. He protested, but to no avail, and along with many other German Jewish “enemy aliens,” he was taken to a camp, Huyton Camp, and housed in a tent with other young refugees from Nazi Germany. All those who were under eighteen, including Hermann, were told they were being taken out of England. He again protested and was told by the commanding officer that those leaving England would have the best chance of survival because England was likely to lose the war.

As the internees boarded the HMT Dunera on July 10, 1940, all their personal possessions were taken and never returned. The Jewish internees were placed in the hold in the rear of the ship and kept there by barbed wire fencing. They were only allowed up on the deck for thirty minutes a day for exercise where they were barefooted and often stepping on the broken beer bottles left behind by the guards, whom Hermann described as “football hooligans.” The internees slept on the hard floor and had open toilet stalls that he described as “awful.”  Hermann described the morale of the younger internees as fairly good, but said that those who were older had a much harder time and that there were even a few suicides during their voyage. There were also Nazi and Italian internees on the ship, but they were kept in a different location.

HMT Dunera. Not stated in the AWM record / Public domain

The internees had no idea where they were going until they arrived in Australia on September 6, 1940. Once in Australia, they were sent to New South Wales and housed at the Hay Internment Camp. There were about two thousand internees kept there, many of whom had been successful professionals—doctors, lawyers, professors, and so on. They formed their own government and even printed their own money. Hermann distributed newspapers and even started a Boy Scout group that was officially recognized by the London headquarters of the Boy Scouts.

They lived in huts, about forty to a hut, and conditions were good. Hermann noted several times that as a young man (he was seventeen), he was not as uncomfortable as those who were older, and he didn’t mind some of the living conditions. When asked whether he now resented having been interned during this time, he said no—that he understood it was done without much thought based on fear when the war started and that it was an awful waste of time and money, but that he did not feel any resentment towards the British for their actions.

In the fall of 1941, Hermann volunteered to join the British military as a means of getting out of the internment camp. He left Austrialia on October 13, 1941, and arrived back in England on November 28, 1941, just over a week before Pearl Harbor. He and other Jewish refugees were given no choice as to where to serve and were assigned to the Pioneer Corps, a corps assigned “light engineering tasks [that] included building anti-aircraft emplacements on the Home Front, working on the Mulberry harbours for D-Day, and serving during beach assaults in France and Italy. Pioneers also carried stretchers, built airfields, repaired railways, and moved stores and supplies.”

Pioneer Corps clearing rubble, Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Public domain

It was during this time that his commanding officer asked him to change his name to something less German-sounding. Hermann chose the name Dennis John Goodman, his first name for a friend who had been killed in the war and Goodman as an Anglicized version of Gutmann. In the interview, he commented that he now regretted that he never returned to his birth name Hermann Gutmann as it had a very long history in his family.

Dennis was not content being in the Pioneer Corps because he wanted to be fighting the Nazis. In 1943, British policy changed, and Jewish German refugees like Dennis were allowed to serve more directly in combat. Dennis joined a tank unit and was on the beach at Normandy three days after D-Day, that is, on June 9, 1944. He ended up fighting in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and finally in Germany. He was involved in many difficult and dangerous battles, made more dangerous by the fact that the English tanks were outmatched by the German Tiger Tanks they were facing. He experienced some very close encounters with death or capture by the Germans.

The interviewer asked him how he felt when he entered Germany, his country of birth, and fought on German soil. Dennis commented that “by that time I felt more English than German” and that he had no difficulty facing his former countrymen in battle. When the war ended, he was in Berlin for the British Victory Parade on July 21, 1945.

British Victory Parade in Berlin, National Archives and Records Administration / Public domain

By that time he already knew about the concentration camps.  He was given compassionate leave to go to Amsterdam to learn what had happened to his parents and learned of the deportation to and murder at Sobibor. In the interview, Dennis mentioned that at that time he learned that his grandmother had been hidden in the northern part of Holland and had survived.

I checked to see which grandmother, and it had to be his maternal grandmother, Hedwig Goldschmidt, because his paternal grandmother had died in 1932. I have no wartime records for Hedwig after March 15, 1938, when she was a passenger coming to England from Amsterdam.2 I initially thought that meant that she had moved to England at that time, but it appears from Hermann’s information that she had returned to Amsterdam, perhaps after visiting him in England.

Dennis remained in Germany after the war and joined the Review and Interrogation staff in Neuengamme, near Hamburg, where he was involved in interrogating Nazis about war crimes. He was struck by the ordinariness of the people who committed these crimes and their weak excuses for what they did. He also found some of them very arrogant. Several times during the interview, Dennis made the point that it was well known throughout Germany that Jews were being persecuted and that those who afterwards claimed that they hadn’t been aware of what was happening were either lying or repressing what they’d known.

In 1947, Dennis was discharged from the military and returned to England. He married a Polish-born Holocaust survivor after the war and had three children. I don’t know much about his life after the war, but did find several immigration documents from Brazil, starting in 1949, suggesting he might have been involved in international business or perhaps visiting family members who had immigrated to Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965. Original data: “Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965”. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013.

Dennis John Goodman, born Hermann Gutmann, died in England in 2007. He had lived an extraordinary life, leaving his parents and homeland as a thirteen year old boy, being interned for over a year in Australia as an “enemy alien,” and then fighting valiantly against the Nazis for several years including post-war interrogation of war criminals. His parents had been murdered at Sobibor. He had every right to be an angry, resentful man.

But listening to his voice in the oral history interview, I detected no resentment towards his adopted country, despite the internment. Certainly he harbored anger with the Nazis for what they did to his parents and all the Jews in Europe and continuing bewilderment over the German citizenry’s acquiescence to it all. But I did not come away from the interview thinking of him as bitter or defeated; instead I heard a then 72 year old man who looked back on his life with pride in his ability to endure and succeed against all odds and in his strength and independence even as a young man. His story will stay with me forever.

  1. These facts come almost entirely from the oral history interview of Dennis Goodman, aka Hermann Gutmann, found on the Imperial War Museum website. Some of the dates in this post were found in an article written by his daughter, Naomi Levy, and published in the AJR [Association of Jewish Refugees] Journal of December 2018, on page 11, and found here
  2.  Hedwig Goldschmidt, Arrival Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1877, Port of Departure: New York, New York, United States, Arrival Date: 15 Mar 1938, Port of Arrival: Plymouth, England, Ports of Voyage: New York, Ship Name: Washington, Shipping Line: United States Line, Official Number: 232210, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1158, UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my family and friends and followers and readers from all over! I can’t believe I’ve had readers from not only the United States, but Canada, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Sweden, Turkey, Ireland, Greece, Australia, Russia, Poland, and Israel.  Thanks to all of you for stopping by, whether you have been here once or many times.  May 2014 bring everyone peace, happiness, and good health.

I am grateful to you all for your support and your readership, and I look forward to making new discoveries and new connections in the year ahead.  I hope to learn more both from my relatives and from my fellow genealogy bloggers and others about genealogy, my family, and myself.