Fritz Davids: A Young Hero

 

I know I promised my next post would be about Lionel Heymann and his secret life, but first I need to write about someone else, someone who was not in any way related to me, but who deserves to be remembered and honored.  I will return to Lionel next time.

In my last post I had asked for help in interpreting a sentence in the Steinheim Institute site describing what had happened to Willy Heymann.

Willy Heymann wurde nach seinem Tod von dem 14jährigen Fritz Davids, der erst kurze Zeit zuvor aus dem KZ Dachau zurückgekehrt war, in das man ihn nach derPogromnacht mit seinem Vater verschleppt hatte, ganz alleine und heimlich zum Friedhof gebracht und begraben.

Translated by a member of the German Genealogy Facebook group as:

After his death, Willy Heyman was brought secretly to the cemetery and buried by 14 year old Fritz Davids alone, who had returned only a short time before from the concentration camp of Dachau where he had been brought with his father after the [Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938].

And two members of the genealogy village came to my assistance and found this link and interpreted it for me:

Recently back from the concentration camp, Fritz Davids experienced, two months later, how bad the Jews had fared. There was no respect even for the dead. The Jew Willy Heymann died at the age of almost 84 years old. Since nobody wanted to bury him or could, the 14-year-old Fritz put the corpse in a wheelbarrow and at dawn wheeled it to Boeckelter Weg (street name) to the Jewish cemetery, where he, fully in dignity of the time, shoveled a grave for the old man and spoke the Kaddish. David Cain and Jacob Heymann were also buried under such humiliating circumstances.

Imagine being fourteen, being arrested and sent to a camp like Dachau.  Then imagine coming back and finding what the Nazis had done to your community.  And then imagine that fourteen year old boy having the courage and the moral decency to ensure a proper burial for one of his fellow citizens, an 84 year old man whose wife had died and whose three sons were in America.   What an exceptional person this young boy must have been.

That left me and some of my readers wondering about this brave fourteen year old boy, Fritz Davids.  Who was he, and what happened to him?

So this morning I checked my sources, and what I learned did not shock me, but it did break my heart.

Fritz Davids, the son of Gustav Davids and Freidel Hext, was born in Geldern on April 4, 1924.  He was named for his father’s brother, who had died in 1901 when he was just nine years old.

Fritz Davids, uncle of the subject of this post http://www.steinheim-institut.de/daten/picse05/xl/0051_E05_1_1984.jpg

Fritz Davids, uncle of the subject of this post
http://www.steinheim-institut.de/daten/picse05/xl/0051_E05_1_1984.jpg

 

Fritz was imprisoned again at Dachau on September 5, 1941, until May 4, 1942.  He was then deported to the killing facility at Hartheim, where he was killed on July 2, 1942.  Both of his parents and his aunt were also murdered during the Holocaust.

Fritz Davids was 18 years old.  He did not get a decent burial.  No one was there to say kaddish for him.

May his memory be for a blessing.  May we never forget his name.

The Little Sister Who Went Back Home: Rosalie Schoenthal, Part I

 

Finally I have come to the youngest of my great-grandfather’s siblings, the only one born after he was, his younger sister Rosalie.   Her story is even more tragic than that of her brother Jakob.

Rosalie was born in Sielen, Germany, in 1863, five years after my great-grandfather Isidore.  As I wrote earlier, she came with her mother and Isidore to the United States in 1881 when she was eighteen, but returned to Germany to marry Willy Heymann of Geldern, to whom she was apparently engaged even before leaving Germany. They were married on December 8, 1884, in Geldern.

 

 

I was fortunate that there were numerous sources available that provided me with information about Rosalie, Willy, and their family.  Two German websites had biographies of Willy and Rosalie Heymann and their children.  One, a site about the Geldern Jewish community, indicated that Willy and Rosalie had had six children, although it only named two of them, Helene and Hilda.  A second website containing information about the Heymann family was the Steinheim Institute site, which confirmed the fact that there had been six children and provided the names and birth years of all six as well as other pertinent facts that helped me with my research of Rosalie’s children.

From these two sources, I learned that Willy was a horse trader like his father Levi Heymann and was born in Geldern in February, 1857.  Geldern is about 150 miles from Sielen, so I’ve no idea how Rosalie and Willy knew each other; perhaps their fathers had known each other.  Willy and Rosalie settled in Geldern; their six children were: Lionel, born in 1887 and presumably named for Rosalie’s father, my great-great grandfather Levi Schoenthal; Johanna, born in 1889; Helene, born in 1890 (perhaps named for Henriette Hamberg, Rosalie’s mother), Max, 1893; Walter, 1896; and Hilda, born in 1898.

The Geldern site had a photograph of the Heymann home in Geldern, depicted below.

 

Home of Willy and Rosalie Schoenthal Heymann in Geldern http://hv-geldern.de/images/juden/juden.htm

Home of Willy and Rosalie Schoenthal Heymann in Geldern
http://hv-geldern.de/images/juden/juden.htm

The Steinheim Institute site reported that Rosalie died on August 7, 1937, when she was 74 and that Willy Heymann died on January 15, 1939; it provided this description of his death:

Willy Heymann wurde nach seinem Tod von dem 14jährigen Fritz Davids, der erst kurze Zeit zuvor aus dem KZ Dachau zurückgekehrt war, in das man ihn nach der Pogromnacht mit seinem Vater verschleppt hatte, ganz alleine und heimlich zum Friedhof gebracht und begraben.

Translated by a member of the German Genealogy Facebook group as:

After his death, Willy Heyman was brought secretly to the cemetery and buried by 14 year old Fritz Davids alone, who had returned only a short time before from the concentration camp of Dachau where he had been brought with his father after the [Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938].

How would you interpret that sentence? Does it mean that Willy had died outside of Geldern and been secretly returned by this fourteen year old boy? Had Willy also been at Dachau or just Fritz and his father? Or does it mean that Willy and Fritz’s father had been brought to Dachau after Kristallnacht? Does the “he” in that last phrase refer to Willy or Fritz?  I am inclined to think that Willy was at Dachau because otherwise, why would he have had to have been secretly brought to the Geldern cemetery?

UPDATE:  Thanks to Renate Adolfs and Cathy Meder-Dempsey, I now have more information about what happened to Willy, and it is awful.  Both Renate and Cathy found a link here that describes the terrible fate of Willy Heymann.  As translated by Cathy, this is the full story:

Aus dem KZ zurück, muß Fritz Davids schon zwei Monate später miterleben, wie schlimm es mittlerweile den Juden erging. Selbst vor dem Tod hat man nämlich keine Achtung mehr : Der Jude Willy Heymann war fast 84-jährig verstorben. Da ihn niemand begraben wollte oder konnte, lädt der 14-jährige Fritz die Leiche auf eine Schubkarre und fährt sie im Morgengrauen zum Boeckelter Weg auf den jüdischen Friedhof, wo er, ganz der ‚Würde” der Zeit entsprechend, dem alten Mann ein Grab schaufelt und den Kaddish spricht. Auch David Cain und Jakob Heymann wurden unter solchen entwürdigenden Umständen begraben.

Recently back from the concentration camp, Fritz Davids experienced, two months later, how bad the Jews had fared. There was no respect even for the dead. The Jew Willy Heymann died at the age of almost 84 years old. Since nobody wanted to bury him or could, the 14-year-old Fritz put the corpse in a wheelbarrow and at dawn wheeled it to Boeckelter Weg (street name) to the Jewish cemetery, where he, fully in dignity of the time, shoveled a grave for the old man and spoke the Kaddish. David Cain and Jacob Heymann were also buried under such humiliating circumstances.

Thank you, Renate and Cathy, for allowing me to memorialize Willy Heymann more completely.

 

 

 

The information about Willy and Rosalie and their children was also confirmed by a third source, Juden in der Geschichte des Gelderlandes (2002), a book edited by Gerd Halmanns and Bernhard Keuck that contains information, photographs, articles, documents, and maps of the Jewish communities in Geldern and the surrounding townsRodney Eisfelder from the GermanSIG of JewishGen kindly sent me a copy of page 370 from that book, which lists information about Willy Heymann and his family.  That page also provided me with numerous clues about the Heymann children.

page 370 for blog

From these sources, I knew that Lionel Heymann, the oldest child, had moved to Chicago, but I found out that before he immigrated to the US, he had left Germany for England; he is listed on the 1911 English census as a 24 year old German national, living in London and working as a hotel waiter.

 

Lionel Heymann 1911 UK census Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.

Lionel Heymann 1911 UK census
Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.

In 1912 he sailed from England to Algiers, still a German citizen, but listing his intended future permanent residence as Switzerland.  He was working as a hotel manager, according to the ship manifest.

 

Lionel Heymann 1912 passenger manifest Ancestry.com. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

Lionel Heymann 1912 passenger manifest
Ancestry.com. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

He next surfaced on a passenger ship manifest for a ship sailing from England to New York in 1924. He was still a German citizen, stating that his last permanent residence was Geldern, Germany, and listing his father “Wilhelm Hyman” of Geldern as his contact in that place.  He said that he was going to his uncle Harry Schoenthal of 260 Riverside Drive in New York City.  At first I was thrown by this, but then realized he must have meant Henry Schoenthal, his mother’s oldest brother, who was in fact living in New York at that time.  Lionel indicated on this manifest that he intended to settle permanently in the United States.

 

Lionel Heymann 1924 passenger manifest Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867.

Lionel Heymann 1924 passenger manifest
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867.

By 1928, Lionel was living in Chicago and working as a waiter, as reflected on this October 30, 1928 passenger manifest.  He was still an alien resident, listing his father again as his contact in Germany, but providing his Chicago address as his permanent address.  He was returning from Germany, so he probably had been visiting his family back home.

 

Lionel Heymann 1928 passenger manifest Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4280; Line: 1; Page Number: 200

Lionel Heymann 1928 passenger manifest
Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4280; Line: 1; Page Number: 200

 

Interestingly, Lionel’s younger brother Walter had arrived in the US just a few months earlier in June, 1928.  This was consistent with the information in the above-mentioned  sources—that is,  that Walter also had ended up in Chicago. On the ship manifest for Walter’s arrival it reports that Walter was a cook, that he was 32, that his last residence had been Cologne, Germany, and that he was heading for Chicago where his brother Lionel resided.

 

Walter Heymann 1928 ship manifest Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4373; Line: 1; Page Number: 141

Walter Heymann 1928 ship manifest
Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4373; Line: 1; Page Number: 141

 

After searching the 1930 census as many ways as I could, including using Lionel’s address as given on both the 1928 ship manifests and his 1933 naturalization papers (1411 Winnemac Avenue), I concluded that the census enumerator had completely missed that address.  The listings include 1409 and 1413, but not 1411.  Just my luck.

Although I could not find Lionel on the 1930 census, Walter is listed on that census, living as a lodger in Chicago and working as a chef in a hotel.  He was then 34 years old and had been in the US for two years and had filed his papers for citizenship.

As mentioned, Lionel became a naturalized US citizen in 1933.

Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

According to the Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, Walter Heymann married Lucie Goldschmied on March 16, 1934.  Lucie was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on February 11, 1908, the daughter of Miksa (later Americanized to Michael) Goldschmied, a Hungarian native, and Bertha Hirschberg, a native of Eschbach, Germany.  Lucie first came to the US in 1928, according to the 1930 census, which has her listed as residing at the Moraine Hotel in Highland Park, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), where she was employed as a pantry servant.  I assume that this was the same hotel where Walter was employed as a chef.

The Chicago Tribune described the history of the Moraine Hotel in an article published on May 11, 1986:

In the early years of this century, the Hotel Moraine-on-the-Lake sparkled as a North Shore glamor resort. Built on 15 acres overlooking Lake Michigan in Highland Park, the hostelry opened in 1900 with 140 rooms.

The Moraine immediately caught the eye of the rich and famous. Glancing through old guest registries (now in the Highland Park Historical Society), you`ll spot some well-known Chicago names–the Marshall Field family, the Swifts, the Pullmans, the Florsheims, and many others.

Guests came from all over the U.S. and even from abroad. Some of the more affluent even traveled with their chauffeurs and maids.

…   The heyday of the Moraine continued into the 1920s, when the increasing number of guests necessitated additions to the hotel. Then came the Depression and even the Moraine was not spared–it declared bankruptcy in 1937.

By 1939, the once-grand hotel had become a barracks for military officers. But sunnier days were just around the corner. In 1942, the hotel was purchased, rehabbed, and reopened. It regained some of its former glory and operated until 1969, when the last guest checked out.

In 1972, the Hotel Moraine-on-the-Lake itself checked out. It was torn down and the site was turned into a public park.

“North Shore Glamor Hotel Reborn,” Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1986

 

If this is indeed where Walter and Lucie were working when they met, they were certainly working in quite a grand place.

Max Heymann, the middle brother, was still back in Germany during this period, but he finally came to the US with his wife Frieda and their eleven year old son Klaus on January 7, 1939, escaping from Nazi Germany.  They had been most recently living in Essen, Germany, where Klaus was born.  Max listed his occupation as a merchant, his father Willy Heymann as the person he was leaving behind, and his brother Lionel as the person he was going to in the US.  I was surprised to see that Lionel was then living in Detroit, not Chicago.

 

Max and Frieda Heymann 1939 ship manifest Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6274; Line: 1; Page Number: 8

Max and Frieda Heymann 1939 ship manifest
Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6274; Line: 1; Page Number: 8

 

By 1940, all three of the sons of Rosalie Schoenthal and Willy Heymann were living in Chicago.  According to the 1940 census, Lionel was living in the household of his brother Max in 1940, apparently having returned from Detroit.  Lionel was now the head waiter at a hotel, according to the census.  Max was a salesman for a paper box manufacturing company. Lionel, Max, Frieda, and Klaus were living at 1441 Belle Plaine Avenue in Chicago.

Walter and his wife Lucie as well as Lucie’s recently arrived parents, Michael and Bertha Goldschmied, were living a mile away from Max and Lionel at 3325 North Paulina Street in Chicago.  Walter was continuing to work as the cook in a hotel, and Lucie was working as a waitress, perhaps in the same hotel restaurant.  Lucie and Walter did not have any children.

All three brothers registered for the World War II draft in 1942.  According to those registrations, Lionel was still living with Max on Belle Plaine Avenue and working for the Blackstone Hotel.  Max was now working for Parfeit Powder Puff Company in Chicago. Walter was still living on North Paulina Street and working for “Martin,” a restaurant.

 

Lionel Heymann World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration.

Lionel Heymann World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration.

Max Heymann World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration

Max Heymann World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration

Walter Heymann World War II draft registration Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registrati

Walter Heymann World War II draft registration
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registrati

Max died a year later on May 31, 1943.  He was only 49 years old.  Walter died ten years after his brother Max on August 14, 1953; he was only 57.  Did the stress of uprooting themselves and worrying about their relatives back home contribute to their early deaths? I don’t know.

Lionel, the oldest brother, lived the longest.  He died on November 29, 1966, when he was 79 years old.  I was fortunate to find both a death notice and an obituary for Lionel (but none for his brothers).  Those two records revealed more about Lionel than I’d been able to glean from the passenger ship manifests or the census records.  He’d had a whole other life not reported on those documents.

More on that in my next post.

 

Mystery Photos II: Oppenheimers

I learned something important from my first Mystery Photo post.  Keep it simple.  Too many photos makes it too confusing for people (and for me).  Although a lot of people read the post, almost no one commented.  I did go to Facebook and got some feedback about whether or not these two photos are both Babetta Schoenfeld Seligmann.  Most people said yes, some said no.

old babetta closeup

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

Courtesy of the Family of Fred and Ilse Michel

For my second post involving the mystery photos from the Michel album, I want to start with some photographs that are clearly labeled as members of the Oppenheimer family and that present no mystery.  The Oppenheimers were the children of Pauline Seligmann, sister of my great- great-grandfather Bernard.  She and her husband Maier Oppenheimer had five children: Joseph, Martha, Anna, Ella, and Moritz, according to the Westminster Bank‘s family tree for Pauline.

Pauline Seligmann Oppenheimer Family Tree by Westminster Bank

Pauline Seligmann Oppenheimer Family Tree by Westminster Bank

The Michel album included clearly marked photographs of the two sons, Joseph and Moritz, and one of the daughters, Ella.

Joseph Oppenheimer

Joseph Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer2

Joseph Oppenheimer from Butzbach, son of Tante Pauline

Joseph was born in 1875 and died at Dachau Concentration Camp in October, 1940.

Moritz Oppenheimer

Moritz Oppenheimer

I wrote about Moritz Oppenheimer in detail here.  He was the wealthy industrialist who owned the horse breeding farm and who died in May 1941, under suspicious circumstances after being “questioned” by the Gestapo.  Moritz was born in 1879.

How old do Joseph and Moritz appear to be in these photos?  I am guessing between 25 and 35, meaning the photographs were taken between 1900-1910.  Does that seem right?

The third clearly labeled Oppenheimer photograph is this one:

Milla Oppenheimer

To Wolfgang and me, this seemed to say Milla Oppenheimer.  But neither Joseph nor Moritz Oppenheimer married a woman named Milla and there was no sister named Milla.  I posted the photograph on Facebook for some feedback, and one member of Tracing the Tribe pointed out that the M could really be an E, except for the dot over what seems to be an I.  Then another member pointed that the “dot” was really part of the framing around the photograph, not part of the name written on the side.  So I believe that in fact this is Ella Oppenheimer.

According to the family tree for Pauline Seligmann Oppenheimer prepared by the Westminster Bank, Ella never married or had children and died during the Holocaust, although I cannot find her in the Yad Vashem database.  I did find in the JewishGen database entitled “German Towns Project”  an entry for Ella Oppenheimer from Butzbach,  who had been born there June 21, 1878 and had moved to Frankfort in 1939,    (That database was created by asking officials in numerous Jewish towns to list their former Jewish residents and their fate, if known.)  But that database had no information about how or where she died.

So these three photographs are pretty clear to me.  The next possible photograph of one of the five Oppenheimer children is the woman at the center of the photograph I posted last time.

Who are these people?

Who are these people?

 

Here is a closeup of her face.

Anna Oppenheimer maybe

It certainly looks like it says Anna Oppenheimer over her head, doesn’t it?

label for Anna maybe

Anna, another sister of Joseph, Moritz, and Ella, was born in 1877, and she died in 1908.  In my earlier post, I assumed that the older woman in this photo was Babetta Seligmann, meaning the photo would have been taken in about 1890 or so since Babetta was born in 1810.  But Anna certainly does not look thirteen in this photograph.  How old does she look?

If I guess that she is 30, that would mean the photo was taken in 1907.  That would make Babetta almost a hundred years old.  Or maybe it’s not Babetta.  Maybe the older woman is Pauline Seligmann Oppenheimer, who was also born in Gau Algesheim.   Paulina was born in 1847, so she would have been sixty in 1907.  That woman could be sixty (not that sixty-year old women look like that today).   But then why is she labeled Grandmother?  Pauline was not Franziszka Seligmann’s grandmother; she was her aunt. In the photo of Joseph Oppenheimer, she is referred to as Tante Pauline.

Franziska’s grandmother from Gau-Algesheim was Babetta.  Fred Michel’s maternal grandmother was Rosa Bergmann Seligmann; she did live in Gau-Algesheim.  She was born in 1853 and died in Gau-Algesheim in 1899.  But that woman does not look 45, does she?  I still think the elderly woman is Babetta.

But then how could that be Anna Oppenheimer?  Am I misreading the name above her head?

So my only question for today: could that be Anna Oppenheimer?

That’s it for this post.  I will return to the other people in this photo in a later post once I have some feedback.  I am trying to narrow down the date so I can piece together the other parts of this puzzle.