A Survivor’s Story: The Shoah Foundation Testimony of Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer

Antonie Blumenfeld and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 and thus were spared seeing that their daughter Margot and her husband Gustav Neuhaus were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and killed there in September 1942 and that their granddaughter Edith Neuhaus Kempner was killed at Auschwitz just two months later.

They were also spared knowing that their son Julius and his wife Ilse and son Werner were forced to leave Germany in 1939 to escape Hitler, but eventually survived and settled in the United States.

And they were spared knowing the terrible ordeals endured by their youngest child Elfriede and her husband Rudolf Goldschmidt and their children Gunther and Inge.

But we must remember their experiences and honor their memories. Thanks to the Shoah Foundation, we now have extensive interviews with many of the Holocaust survivors, including one with Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, my fifth cousin.

I was privileged to listen to Inge’s interview and will attempt in my own words to tell her story. I am grateful to the Shoah Foundation for allowing me to do so. Except where noted, all the information below came from Inge’s interview.1 All the photographs are courtesy of Inge’s daughter Marsha.

Inge was born to Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt on April 13, 1929, in Kassel, Germany, just four years before Hitler came to power. She had almost no memory of life in Germany before the Nazis took control. She and her family lived in Kassel until 1938 when they moved to Cologne. Her memories of life in Kassel were terrible because of the persecution and harassment they faced as Jews. She and her brother Gunther went to a Jewish school and were often beaten up on the way home by Nazi youth members. As a result of incidents like that, the school decided to close fifteen minutes before the non-Jewish schools so that children could get home safely.

Here is a photograph of Inge with her brother Gunther taken in about 1934.

Gunther and Inge Goldschmidt. c. 1934-1935. Courtesy of the family

Inge’s father Rudolf was a veteran of World War I and had suffered a serious head injury while fighting for Germany. As a result, he eventually became paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. The family was living on the pension he received for his service in the war while also being forced to endure the anti-Semitism promoted by the government. Rudolf was very well-informed and followed the news on a radio tuned to the BBC, and although he wanted to leave Germany, his disability and their limited resources made that impossible.

Here is a photograph of Rudolf in uniform during World War I.

Rudolf Goldschmidt, c. 1914-1918. Courtesy of the family

Instead the family decided to leave Kassel and move to Cologne in 1938, believing that in the larger city they would be safer and also that life would be easier because it was less hilly than Kassel and thus easier for Elfriede to push Rudolf’s wheelchair. Here are two photographs of Inge from around this time.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1938-1939. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Rudolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gunther celebrated his bar mitzvah in Cologne in the summer of 1938, and a few months later in October his parents registered him for a children’s transport out of Germany to the United States. He ended up in St. Louis living with a foster family for many years. He was only thirteen. Inge was only nine and too young for those transports, so she stayed in Cologne with her parents. The photograph below shows the family at the train station in Cologne the day Gunther left for the US.

Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Gustav Neuhas, Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, unknown man. 1938. Courtesy of the family

Although things were initially better in Cologne than they had been in Kassel, after Kristallnacht and then once the war started in September 1939, conditions worsened. Their phones were taken, then their bicycles, and they lived in constant fear of being arrested. Then when the Allies started bombing Cologne in the early 1940s, they lived in fear of the bombs and poison gas as well. They moved frequently from one apartment to another and were later rounded up with other Jews and taken to a temporary camp outside of the city. By then they were required to wear the yellow star to identify them as Jews. Inge had hers pinned instead of sewn on as required so that she could sneak out of the camp and shop for the family, removing her star to do so without revealing that she was Jewish.

The star Inge Goldschmidt wore in Germany. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt identity card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

Then in 1942 the family was deported to Theriesenstadt. Inge and her mother Elfriede were in one of the barracks together, and her father Rudolf was in a separate men’s barrack. Interestingly, he was living with other men who were disabled World War I veterans. Inge speculated that but for his service in World War I he never would have been allowed to survive at all, given his physical disability.

Inge’s memories of life in Theriesenstadt are horrendous. She was scared and hungry all the time and often very ill. Her knee became infected, and she had to have it drained in the camp hospital without receiving anesthesia. They lived with bed bugs, lice, and a lack of sanitary facilities. They had no news of what was happening in the war or outside the camp itself.

Inge lived at Theriesenstadt for two years, and then in 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz and separated from her family. She was now fifteen years old and sick with typhus. Despite being sick, she knew enough not to let on and so did not get transported with those who were ill and were instantly killed when they arrived at Auschwitz. The train to Auschwitz was a nightmare—all of them standing packed into the cars with no food and sleeping standing up with only a bucket for a toilet.

She remembered vividly her arrival at Auschwitz. They arrived at night, and it was bitterly cold. The Kapos (Jewish prisoners forced to act as guards and agents for the Nazis) were screaming at them all to move out of the train while armed Nazi guards surrounded them. Inge went with the other women into one large room where they were forced to strip and have their heads shaved. They took cold showers and were disinfected and given rags to wear. She recalled one woman going into labor and giving birth during this ordeal and remembered hearing the women around her screaming when they realized they would never see their children again.

Inge was only at Auschwitz for a few weeks, but her memories of that time and place were seared in her memory. She recalled standing for hours each day in the snow for inspection while the guards selected those who would go to the gas chambers. Once she needed to urinate so badly that she just squatted on the ground and was beaten by the guard for doing so. At one point she was so despondent that she was going to run into the electric fence and kill herself, as she’d seen others do. But a kind woman convinced her not to, and so she survived.

After a few weeks she was selected to be sent to another camp near Leipzig, Germany, called Oederan. Oederan opened in September 1944; three transports brought five hundred women from Auschwitz to work in a munitions factory in a converted thread factory. Inge worked in the munitions factory making bullets; she recounted how she and the other prisoners tried to do things to sabotage the machines, although they knew they could be killed if they were caught. While at Oederan, she saw bright lights in the distance and asked innocently if that was the sun. It was in fact the fires from the Allied bombing of Dresden, which was about 35 miles away. A guard, thinking she was being disrespectful, punched her in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth.

On April 12, 1945, the day before her 16th birthday, Inge heard that FDR had died, and she was bereft, believing that America was their one hope for survival and that FDR was a hero. But the news about the war was also starting to break through, and there were rumors that the Russians were coming to liberate them. What would she do if she survived to be liberated? What would she learn about the fate of her parents?

To be continued…

  1. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Antonie’s Children Margot Engelbert Neuhaus and Julius Engelbert

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert, daughter of Baruch Blumenfeld and Emma Docter, died in 1929, and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died three years later. They never knew what was going to happen to their family just a decade after their deaths.

Their oldest daughter Margot and her husband Gustav stayed in Goettingen after Hitler came to power in 1933. After Kristallnacht in November 1938, Gustav was forced by the Nazis to sell his cattle trading business far below its market value, a business that had been in his family since 1858 when it was started by his grandfather. Margot and Gustav were transported on March 31, 1942, to the Warsaw Ghetto, where they were killed on September 30, 1942. Here are the Pages of Testimony on file with Yad Vashem:1

Margot and Gustav’s daughter Edith also was murdered by the Nazis. After she was prohibited from attending the local high school for girls in Goettingen in 1938, she went to Hamburg and then to Berlin, where she met and married her husband Herbert Kempner in 1942. But Herbert and Edith’s marriage was short-lived because on November 29, 1942, they were both deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. I am so grateful to Dennis Aron, who shared with me the entries about Gustav, Margot, and Edith from Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch, including this photograph of Edith. 2

Tragically, Margot and Gustav and their daughter Edith have no living descendants because of the Nazis. Thus, we must all remember them instead.

The other two children of Antonie Blumenfeld and Siegfried Engelbert survived the Holocaust, but not without facing Nazi persecution.

Their son Julius Engelbert, his wife Ilse, and their nine-year-old son Werner fled to Bolivia on September 23, 1939.3 Six years later the family immigrated to the United States, arriving on December 23, 1945.4 They settled in Brooklyn, New York, and they all became US citizens in 1952. Werner Engelbert became a pharmacist after graduating from the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York in 1952.5 According to his niece Marsha, Julius saved the many wonderful photographs published in this series of posts when he fled Germany in 1939. How fortunate we all are that he did.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995

Julius Engelbert died in New York on July 25, 1965; he was 67. He was killed in a car accident driving to or from the Catskills.6 His wife Ilse survived him by twenty years, dying in February 1985 at the age of 78.7 Their son Werner died in 2019.8 He was survived by his wife and children and grandchildren.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt and her family also survived the Holocaust, but their path to survival was more complicated than that of her brother Julius and his family. I was privileged to listen to the testimony that Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, Elfriede’s daughter, gave to the Shoah Foundation in 1996,9 and her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I will share her story in my next post.

  1. Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Yad Vashem, at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306232&ind=2;  Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), pp. 190-191. 
  2. Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190.Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag Goettingen), p. 126. 
  3. Julius Engelbert, Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Miscellaneous
    Birth Date: 18 Okt 1897 (18 Oct 1897), Birth Place: Kassel, Residence Place: Kassel Kassel, Notes: Lists of judicial and official files concerning foreigners and German Jews
    Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70443285, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4. Joseph Julius Engelbert, ship manifest, Year: 1945; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 22; Page Number: 41, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Werner J Engelbert, Yearbook Date: 1952, School: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York, School Location: New York, New York, USA, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; School Name: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York; Year: 1952,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  6. Julius Engelbert, Gender: Male, Age: 67, Birth Date: abt 1898, Residence Place: Adelphi, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: 25 Jul 1965, Death Place: New York, USA, 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. Email from Marsha Eidlin, September 25, 2021. 
  7. Ilse Engelbert, Social Security Number: 129-22-5815, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1906
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11210, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1985, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. https://jewishfunerals.com/service/werner-j-engelbert/ 
  9. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Baruch Blumenfeld’s Daughter Antonie: Life Before the Nazis

Although I have no definitive answer as to when Baruch Blumenfeld left his family in Germany, I do have information about what happened to his two daughters and their children.

As we saw, Baruch and Emma had two daughters: Antonie and Charlotte Jeanette, born in 1872 and 1875, respectively. This post and the three that follow will focus on Antonie and her descendants. I am deeply grateful to Antonie’s great-granddaughter Marsha for sharing her collection of family photos with me so that I can bring Antonie and her family to life.

Antonie married Sussel Siegfried (known as Siegfried) Engelbert in Neustadt, Germany, in 1894, and they had three children: Margot (born 1895), Joseph Julius (known as Julius) (born 1897), and Elfriede (born 1900). Siegfried owned a clothing store in Kassel, shown in this photograph.

Engelbert store, c. 1900, Kassel. Courtesy of the family.

The photograph below is of Antonie and below that are three photographs of her children, one taken in 1911 of Elfriede and Margot and an unknown little girl, the other taken in about 1920 of all three of Antonie and Siegfried Engelbert’s children, and the last a photograph of Julius Engelbert with his parents Antonie and Siegfried.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert undated. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert, unknown girl, Margot Engelbert, 1911. Courtesy of the family

Margot, Julius, and Elfriede Engelbert, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Julius, Antonie, and Siegfried Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Margot married Gustav Neuhaus on December 3, 1920. He was born on December 5, 1884, in Bremke, Germany, to Hermann Neuhaus and Bernhardine Neuhaus. He was a cattle dealer in Goettingen, Germany; his grandfather had started the business in 1858.1

Marriage record of Margot Engelbert and Gustav Neuhaus, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Margot and Gustav had one child, a daughter Edith, born on March 9, 1922.

Elfriede Caroline Engelbert married Ruben Rudolf (known as Rudolf) Goldschmidt on August 19, 1924, in Kassel, Germany. Rudolf, the son of Gabriel Goldschmidt and Jettchen Levi, was born in Spangenburg, Germany, on January 23, 1887.2

Marriage record of Elfriede Engelbert and Ruben Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1924, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a photograph of Elfriede and Rudolf taken when they were engaged in 1924.

Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt, 1924. Courtesy of the family

Marsha also shared the menu from Elfriede and Rudolf’s wedding. It must have been quite a lavish celebration.

Elfriede and Rudolf had two children, Gunther, born July 17, 1925,3 and Inge, born April 13, 1929,4 in Kassel where they resided.

Here are some photographs of Gunther and Inge as young children.

Gunther and Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, 1925. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, 1931. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede, Gunther, and Inge Goldschmidt c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Antonie lived long enough to see her three grandchildren born, but she died on May 23, 1929, a month after Inge’s birth. She was survived by her husband and her children and grandchildren.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5619, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Here is one more photograph of Antonie and Julius and a photograph of Antonie’s headstone.

Siegfried Engelbert and Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Courtesy of the family

Julius Engelbert married a few months after his mother’s death. On August 29, 1929, he married Ilse Wolf in Marburg, Germany. She was born in Marburg on March 31, 1906. Julius and Ilse had one child, Werner, born in Kassel in 1930.5

Julius Engelbert and Ilse Wolf marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5652, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Two years later Siegfried Engelbert died on July 12, 1932, in Kassel.6 He was 65 and died before the Nazi takeover of Germany the following year.  He and Antonie were spared seeing what would happen to their children.

In this photograph are Elfriede, Rudolf, and Inge with Margot and her daughter Edith taken in 1936.  No one could have predicted what was to happen to them all in the next decade.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Edith Neuhaus, Margot Neuhaus, 1936. Courtesy of the family

To be continued.


  1. Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem entry,  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2 and from the Neuhaus Family Tree on Ancestry found at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60044058/person/342252900990/facts. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190. 
  2. Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 782, p. 63. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  3. Gunther Goldschmidt, Social Security #: 488207584, Gender: Male
    Birth Date: 17 Jul 1925, Death Date: 30 Nov 1972, Death Place: San Francisco, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  4. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  5. Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947; Werner Jack Engelbert, Age: 22, Birth Date: 21 Jul 1930, Issue Date: 29 Jan 1952, 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: 53, Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995 
  6. LAGIS Hessen Archives, Nr 587, p. 291, Standesamt Kassel I Sterberegister 1932, Eintrags-Nr. 301-600 (StadtAKS Best. A 3.35.1 Nr. 3.1.310) Autor Stadtarchiv Kassel Erscheinungsort Kassel IErscheinungsjahr 1932