The Family of Juda Ruelf and Lina Bachenheimer

Gelle Katzenstein gave birth to three sons and seven daughters, but only one of her sons survived to adulthood. That was her son Juda, born on October 30, 1867, in Rauischholzhausen. He was her eighth child and the first boy since her firstborn, who had been stillborn and was unnamed.

Juda Ruelf birth record,
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 14

Juda married Lina Bachenheimer on November 19, 1897, in Rossdorf, Germany. He was thirty, and Lina was 24. Lina was the daughter of Seligmann Bachenheimer and Betty Baum, and she was born on New Year’s Day in 1883; she was also the niece of Sussman Bachenheimer, who had married Juda’s oldest sister, Esther. (Schneider, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain, pp. 83 and 344)

Marriage of Juda Ruelf and Lina Bachenheimer
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 7966

After posting my first post about Jakob Katzenstein, I was contacted on Facebook by a man whose grandfather was Siegfried Bachenheimer (born in 1900); he told me that the Bachenheimers had once lived next door to the Ruelf family in Rauischholzhausen.  That helped to explain the interconnections between the Bachenheimer and Ruelf families.

Juda and Lina had five children: Isidor (1898), Selma (1900), Rosa (1901), Leo (1904), and Gottfried (known familiarly as Friedel)(1905). Leo died as a boy on December 14, 1912.  He was only eight years old. (Schneider book, p. 345) Then Isidor, their oldest child, was killed in 1917 while serving Germany in World War I. (Schneider book, p. 345)

World War I memorial in Rauischholzhausen listing Isidor Ruelf among others
Courtesy of Richard Oppenheimer

Thus, only Selma, Rosa, and Friedel survived to adulthood. Selma married Julius Meier on November 17, 1922, in Rossdorf; Julius was born May 17, 1898, in Gladenbach. According to the Nazi record nullifying his citizenship, he was a farmer; later records describe him as a cattle dealer. Selma and Julius had two children born in the 1920s.

Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 [database on-line]. Original data: Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center).

Selma’s sister Rosa did not marry, and her brother Friedel did not marry until much later in life and did not have children. Thus, Selma’s two children were the only grandchildren of Juda and Lina Ruelf.

Lina Bachenheimer Ruelf died on October 16, 1930, in Marburg; she was 57 years old.

Lina Bachenheimer Ruelf death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 573

All three of the surviving children and their father Juda Ruelf immigrated to the US after Hitler came to power. Selma and her family left first, arriving in New York on April 30, 1936. The passenger manifest states that they were going to Los Angeles where Julius had an uncle.

Selma Ruelf Meier and family passenger manifest
Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5796; Line: 1; Page Number: 117
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

It doesn’t seem that Selma and Julius ever went to Los Angeles or, if they did, they were not there very long. When Selma’s brother Friedel arrived on June 16, 1937, he listed his sister Selma Meier as the person he was going to stay with and reported her address as Pine Plains, New York, a small town about a hundred miles north of New York City. Friedel reported that he was a horse dealer.

Gottfried Friedel Ruelf passenger manifest
New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-95FR-1LM?cc=1923888&wc=MFKQ-6WL%3A1030057201 : 2 October 2015), 5997 – vol 12899-12901, Jun 21, 1937 > image 10

 

The last family members to arrive were Juda Ruelf and his remaining child, Rosa Ruelf. They arrived on July 14, 1938, and listed Gottfried (“Friedel”) Ruelf, Juda’s son, as the person they were going to see. Friedel’s address was given as “Dairy Farm, Fishkill, New York.” Fishkill, another small town, is about fifty miles south of Pine Plains and fifty miles north of New York City.

Juda Ruelf and daughter Rosa ship manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6186; Line: 1; Page Number: 116
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

But Juda, Rosa, and Friedel did not remain long in Fishkill. On the 1940 census they were all living together in New York City. Friedel, now going by the Americanized name Fred, was the head of household and working as an operator in a stapling machine factory. Neither his father nor his sister Rosa was employed.  They also had two boarders living with them. Friedel must have been the sole support for his father and sister Rosa.

Friedel Rosa and Juda Ruelf 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2670; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 31-1890

In 1940, his sister Selma and her family were, however, still living in upstate New York in Pine Plains where Julius continued to work as a farmer. Interestingly, the census record indicates that in 1935 they were living in Astoria, Queens, which can’t be correct since they hadn’t even left Germany in 1935.

Julius and Selma Meier and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Pine Plains, Dutchess, New York; Roll: T627_2523; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 14-42

Friedel Ruelf married late in life. According to the New York City Marriage Index database on Ancestry, he married Claire Lowenstein in 1962 when he was 57 and she was 56.

Juda Ruelf and his children and their spouses are all buried at Cedar Park cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. The cemetery office told me that Selma Meier died on April 15, 1950, but her death is listed on the New York, New York, death index on Ancestry as April 13, 1950. According to the cemetery, Juda Ruelf died eight months after his daughter Selma on December 12, 1950; he was 83 years old at his death. Julius Meier, widower of Selma Ruelf Meier, died on June 20, 1959, according to the cemetery. Rosa Ruelf’s death is documented by the Social Security Death Index; she died when she was 76 on June 18, 1978, which was confirmed by the cemetery.

Friedel and his wife Claire also are buried at Cedar Park cemetery in Paramus. Claire died July 3, 1999, at age 93; Friedel died just over a year later on August 13, 2000. He was 94 years old. [1]

Two of the members of the Bachenheimer side of the family, both named Steve, had the pleasure of knowing Friedel and his wife Claire personally.  I am looking forward to learning more from them about the family. Both Steves generously shared with me pictures of Friedel and Claire, one outside the Jewish cemetery in Kirchain, Germany,  and one in New York City.

Claire and Friedel Ruelf in Kirchhain, Germany
Courtesy of Steven Bachenheimer

Claire and Friedel Ruelf
Courtesy of Steve North

Thus, unlike the families of his sisters Esther, Betty, and Minna, no members of the immediate family of Juda Ruelf were killed in the Holocaust. His wife Lina died before the Nazis came to power, and Juda and his children all escaped to the US in time. They were among the fortunate ones.

 

 

 

 

[1] I am now in touch with two people who knew Friedel “Fred” Ruelf, and I am hoping to get more information about him and his life.

Sometimes What You Learn Is Unbearable

As I wrote last time, Gelle Katzenstein, the oldest daughter of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, married Moses Ruelf of Rauischholzhausen. They had ten children together, six of whom lived full adult lives: Esther, Minna, Bette, Rebecca, Juda, and Pauline. They were my second cousins, twice removed. This post will tell the story of the families of Esther and Bette.

Esther, born May 26, 1857, in Rauischholzhausen, married Sussman Bachenheimer on June 25, 1874. (Schneider, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain,  p. 345.) He was also born in Rauischholzhausen on December 25, 1850. They settled in Kirchhain, Germany. Together Esther and Sussman had four daughters: Helene (1876), Rosa (1877), Bertha (1879), and Minna (1881).

Helene died the day after she was born:

Helene Bachenheimer birth record June 3 1876
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4977

Helene Bachenheimer death record June 4, 1876
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5061

The other three daughters lived to adulthood, and their parents lived to see all three married with children.

Rosa was born on August 10, 1877, in Kirchhain:

Rosa Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4978

According to Matthias Steinke and Doris Strohmenger from the German Genealogy group on Facebook, the language in the left margin indicates that her name, Rosa, was added after the birth record had been recorded. It also indicates that her father’s name was Sussman, not Simon, as indicated on the original record.

Rosa married August Felix Katzenstein on November 20, 1900, in Kirchhain.

Marriage record of Rosa Bachenheimer and August Felix Katzenstein
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5028

August was born April 26, 1849 in Jesberg, the son of Meier Katzenstein and Auguste Wolf.

August Felix Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3807

August was Rosa’s first cousin, once removed. He was the grandson of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion through their son Meier, and Rosa was their great-granddaughter through their daughter Gelle and granddaughter Esther.

August and Rosa had two children: Margaretha Grete Katzenstein (1901) and Hans Peter Katzenstein (1905).

Rosa’s younger sister Bertha was born August 5, 1879, in Kirchhain.

Bertha Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4980

She married Josef Weinberg on November 11, 1903. Josef was born in Lauterbach, Germany, on March 4, 1876, the son of Abraham Weinberg and Fanni Simon.

Marriage record of Bertha Bachenheimer and Josef Weinberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5031

Bertha and Josef had one child, a daughter named Ruth born on August 28, 1904.

Minna, the youngest daughter of Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer, was born on March 5, 1881, in Kirchhain.

Minna Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4982

She married Meier Wertheim on March 15, 1906. Meier was born on November 23, 1878, in Hatzbach, Germany, the son of Isaac Wertheim and Bertha Wertheim.

Marriage record of Minna Bachenheimer and Meier Wertheim
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5034

Minna and Meier had five sons born in Hatzbach: Herbert (1906), Kurt (1908), Walter (1915), and Gunther (1924).

Thus, by 1924, Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer had six grandchildren, all born and living in the Hesse region of Germany. In the next twenty years their lives were all completely changed.

First, Sussman Bachenheimer died on March 8, 1924, in Kirchhain. He was 73 years old. The marginal comment here reports that his name was legally changed from Simon to Sussman in 1907.

Sussman Bachenheimer death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5109

Then on June 11, 1934, Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer’s daughter Bertha Bachenheimer Weinberg died at age 54; Bertha’s husband Josef Weinberg died just three months later on September 9, 1934. He was 58. They were survived by their daughter Ruth, who was thirty years old when her parents died.

Bertha Bachenheimer Weinberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_11031

By the time Bertha and Josef died in 1934, the Nazis were in power in Germany, and life had already changed for Jews living there. Some Jews were beginning to leave the country.

On September 23, 1935, Herbert Wertheim, the son of Minna Bachenheimer and Meier Wertheim, left Germany and moved to what was then Palestine, now Israel. Six months later in March, 1936, his younger brother Walter joined him there.

Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer died on August 16, 1936, at age 79. Not long after, her daughter  Minna Bachenheimer Wertheim and her husband Meier left Germany to join their sons in Palestine; they arrived there with their youngest son Gunther on September 10, 1936.

Death of Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer HStAMR Best. 915 Nr. 5121 Standesamt Kirchhain Sterbenebenregister 1936, S. 22

Ruth Weinberg, the daughter of Bertha and Josef Weinberg, also soon left Germany. She and her husband Hugo Schleicher and their daughter arrived in New York City on May 16, 1940. Hugo, who had been a lawyer in Germany, was working in Brooklyn at the Weingarten Agency of Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft; the family was living in Manhattan.

Hugo Schleicher World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147

Thus, as of 1942, the only child of Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer who was still in Germany was Rosa Bachenheimer along with her husband, August Felix Katzenstein, and their two children Margaretha and Hans-Jacob. Why they did not follow the other family members to either Palestine or the US is a mystery and a tragic one.

All four of them, as well as Margaretha’s husband Rudolf Loewenstein, were deported on April 22, 1942, to a concentration camp in Izbica, Poland, where they were murdered. Rosa, August, Margaretha, and Hans-Jacob were all my cousins, since Rose and August were both descendants of Jakob Katzenstein, my great-great-grandfather’s brother. Four more of my family members whose lives were taken by the Nazis. (The links are to their entries in Yad Vashem’s database.)

And heartbreakingly, the list does not end there. Esther Ruelf’s younger sister Bette also had family who were killed in the Holocaust. In fact, Bette has no living descendants.

Bette was born on December 3, 1860 in Rauischholzhausen. On January 26, 1886, she married Gustav Schaumberg of Schweinsburg. He was born in May 1857 to Isaak and Gutroth Schaumberg.

Marriage record of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8456

Bette and Gustav had four children born in Schweinsburg: Siegfried (1886), Rosa (1888), Flora (1891), and Selma (1897).

Sigfried Schaumsberg birth record November 16, 1886
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8429

Rosa Schaumberg birth record October 13, 1888
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8431

Flora Schaumberg birth record July 14, 1891
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8434

Selma Schaumberg birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 844

As far as I’ve been able to determine, only Flora ever married. She married David Haas on December 14, 1914.  I cannot find any record indicating that they had had children.

Marriage record of Flora Schaumberg and David Haas
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8484

Sadly, the youngest child of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg, Selma, died in Marburg, Germany, on March 3, 1931, when she was only 33 years old:

Selma Schaumberg death record’
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5737

My colleagues Matthias Steinke and Doris Strohmenger at the German Genealogy group helped me translate this record also.  It reads: “The director of the university-hospital here has reported, that the unemployed (without profession being) Selma Schaumberg, 33 years old, residing and born in Schweinsberg, county of Kirchhain, unmarried, in Marburg in the hospital at the 3rd March of the year 1931 past midday at 5:30 is deceased.” There is no cause of death given.

Perhaps Selma was in some ways fortunate. She did not live to suffer under Nazi rule.

Her father Gustav Schaumberg died on July 30, 1938, when he was 81 years old; his wife Bette Ruelf Schaumberg died April 9, 1940; she was 79. They also in some ways may have been fortunate to die when they did, although by the time they did, they must have already experienced much suffering and humiliation by the Nazis.

Bette Ruelf Schaumberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8568

But at least they may have died with some hope that their remaining children would survive.

They did not. Siegfried was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp on April 3, 1942; he was then sent to the death camp in Hartheim, Austria on August 12, 1942, where he was killed. (JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.)

A month later Siegfried’s sisters Rosa and Flora were also deported. They were both sent to Theriesenstadt along with Flora’s husband David Haas. Rosa was then sent to Auschwitz on January 23, 1943, where she was put to death. Flora and her husband David were both sent to Auschwitz on May 16, 1944, where they also were murdered. (The links are to their Yad Vashem entries.)

Thus, not one of the children of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg survived the Holocaust.

Can anyone not understand why it is so depressing, frightening, and maddening to see people marching with swastikas in our streets?