Arthur Rapp and Family: From Germany to England to Brazil to New York

In my last post, we saw that Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp and her daughter Alice Rapp Stern, son-in-law Saly Stern, and their daughters Elizabeth and Grete had first escaped to England from Nazi Germany, with Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth later immigrating to the US where their son Walter had already settled. Today’s post is about Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son Arthur Rapp and his family.

Arthur and his wife Alice and their sons Helmut and Gunther also were in England by 1939. Arthur reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a retired telephone salesman. (The two black lines are presumably for Helmut/Harold and Gunther/Gordon, who must still have been living when the document was scanned.)

Arthur Rapp and Family,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6823F, Enumeration District: WFQC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

But like his sister Alice, Arthur did not stay in England. First, in 1940, he and his family immigrated to Brazil. I love having these photographs of Arthur and his family. Gunther is particularly adorable. But then I remember that these people had to leave their home in Frankfurt and then uproot themselves again to go from England to Brazil.

Arthur Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004816338, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Alice Kahn Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Helmut Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004871140, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Gunther Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

But a year later on February 27, 1941, they uprooted themselves again and left Brazil for New York where they settled in Forest Hills, New York, as seen on Arthur’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen.

Arthur Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur reported on his declaration of intention that he was unemployed, but his son Helmut, now using the name Harold, reported on his declaration that he was a watchmaker.

Harold (Helmut) Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur and Alice’s younger son Gunther, who became Gordon, was sixteen when they immigrated; on his World War II draft registration in 1943, he was living in Monmouth, New Jersey, working for Modern Farms.

Gordon (Gunther) Rapp, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 539
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Arthur’s daughter from his first marriage, Henriette Rapp, also ended up in the US. She had married Siegmund Schwarz in Berlin on May 6, 1929, and they were living in Kirtof, Germany, in 1935.

Henriette Rapp marriage record to Siegmund Schwarz, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, 1929 (Erstregister)
Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

They immigrated to the US in 1937 and in June 1938 when Henriette, now using Rita, filed her declaration of intention to become a US citizen, they were living in San Francisco.

National Archives at Riverside; Riverside, California; NAI Number: 594890; Record Group Title: 21; Record Group Number: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009
Description: Petitions, 1943 (Box 0247), Ancestry.com. California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999

On the 1940 census, Rita and Siegmund, now going by Henry, were living in Los Angeles, and Henry reported no occupation, but Rita reported that she was a dressmaker.1 When Henry filed his World War II draft registration in 1942, he was still living in Los Angeles, but listed Alfred Kahn, not Rita, as  the person who would always know where he was, so perhaps they were no longer together.2 Rita did remarry on April 14, 1956, in Los Angeles, to Max Altura.3

Arthur Rapp died in New York on January 10, 1951, at the age of 66.4 He was survived by his wife Alice and his three children, Rita, Harold, and Gordon. Alice survived him by 26 years; she died in May 1977 at 82 years old.5

Rita died in Los Angeles on June 10, 2003; she was 94. According to her obituary in the June 13, 2003 The Los Angeles Times, Rita was a “life member and generous benefactor of Hadassah, Rita was devoted to Israel and the Jewish people.”6

Arthur Rapp’s two sons also lived long lives. Harold Rapp, who had started his career as a watchmaker, became the president of Bulova International in Basel, Switzerland, for many years and was 93 when he died on February 11, 2016.7

His brother Gordon died the following year at 92. According to his obituary, he graduated from Cornell University and received a master’s degree from Purdue University. His early interest in agriculture stayed with him. He had a career in poulty genetics before spending twenty years as a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation . His obituary described him as follows: “He was known for his kindness, creativity, humor, wisdom, and talent as a prolific artist, photographer and writer. He was a Renaissance man of many interests, including tennis, tai chi and chess. He enjoyed museums and classical music concerts in New York City and later in Chapel Hill, NC.”8

I was struck by the fact that Harold and Gordon both continued to work in the same fields where they had started as young men, Harold in watches, Gordon in agriculture. Harold Rapp and Gordon Rapp were survived by their widows, children, and grandchildren.

Although Arthur Rapp did not have the blessing of a life as long as those of his three children, he was blessed with the good fortune of escaping with them from Nazi Germany and thus giving them the security and safety to live those long lives, during which they each made important contributions to their new homeland and left a legacy of their accomplishments and future generations to carry on the Rapp name.

 

 


  1. Rita and Henry Schwarz, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00403; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 60-828, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. Henry Schwarz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1619,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Rita H Rapp, Estimated birth year: abt 1909, Age: 47, Marriage Date: 14 Apr 1956
    Marriage Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Spouse: Max D Altura, Spouse Age: 55
    Ancestry.com. California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959 
  4. Arthur Rapp, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1885, Death Date: 10 Jan 1951
    Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 481
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  5.  Alice Rapp, Social Security Number: 105-36-2290, Birth Date: 24 Feb 1895
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Rita H. Altura, Social Security Number: 555-16-5231, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1908
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: California, Last Residence: 91335, Reseda, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 10 Jun 2003, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Obituary can be seen at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=rita-altura&pid=1083894 
  7. I could not find Harold Rapp in the SSDI or any obituary, just this listing on FindAGrave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/159069023 However, I found numerous articles about his work at Bulova, and this wedding announcement for his son that mentions his career at Bulova. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/fashion/weddings/shelley-grubb-and-kenneth-rapp.html?searchResultPosition=2 
  8. Gordon Rapp, The New York Times, December 26, 2017, found at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=gordon-d-rapp&pid=187633991 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part II: Leaving Germany with Alice Rapp Stern

As we saw, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child Helmina was widowed as a young woman and raised her three children alone from an early age. By the 1920s all three of those children were married and had children of their own.

When the Nazis came to power, Helmina and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany before it was too late. Today’s post will look at Helmina and her youngest child Alice and their escape from Germany.

By 1939, Helmina, her daughter Alice and son-in-law Saly and their daughter Grete were living in Harrow, Middlesex, England. Saly reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a refugee and thus not allowed to do business. Grete was a secretary for a leather goods manufacturer. All four family members were living in one household along with a housemaid.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/799H
Enumeration District: BIHB, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alice and Saly Stern’s son Walter Stern had instead immigrated to the United States. According to his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, he arrived from Germany to New York on May 16, 1938, and was working as a shipping clerk when he filed his declaration on August 2, 1938.  He was living on Wadsworth Avenue in New York City in the Washington Heights neighborhood where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. (In yet another small world coincidence, my husband lived on Wadsworth Avenue in his early childhood, although his parents were not German Jewish refugees.)

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 539) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 417601-418600)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Although I cannot find any record showing that Alice and Saly’s daughter Elizabeth was with them in England, I believe she must have been living there because on March 27, 1940, Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth all joined Walter in the United States. Strangely, this ship manifest shows all three sailing to New York, but Saly is listed separately and with a different English address.

Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On their US ship manifest, Alice and her daughter Elizabeth are again listed together, but Saly is listed on a different page. They all, however, were on the same ship arriving at the same time. And Alice’s declaration of intention shows that she and Saly arrived together and were residing together in New York on Ft. Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights neighborhood where Walter had been residing in 1938.

Alice Stern, 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,  (Roll 590) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 463201-464100), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But the ship manifests for Alice, Elizabeth, and Saly report that by the time of their arrival in the spring of 1940, Walter was living in Washington DC.

However, when Walter registered for the World War II draft in October 1940, he was back living in New York. His registration card has three New York City addresses, all crossed out, but lists his father Saly as his contact person, residing on Ft. Washington Avenue.

Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Saly Stern’s draft registration, filed on April 26, 1942, two years after that of Walter, shows that he was then self-employed as a salesman and living at 612 West 188th Street in New York with his wife Alice.

Saly Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

The following year their younger daughter Elizabeth Stern married Gerhard Hirsch, another German Jewish refugee, on March 28, 1943, in New York. Gerhard was born on September 24, 1908, in Berlin, and immigrated to the US in 1938.1

Meanwhile, Saly and Alice’s older daughter Grete Stern remained in England, as Alice reported on her naturalization papers, as did Alice’s mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp. Helmina died in England in July 1941, not long after her children in England had all left for the US.  She was 77 years old.2

Saly Stern died in New York on December 7, 1946.3 He was 69 years old. He had lived long enough to see most of his family settle safely in the US, except for his daughter Grete, who’d remained in England. Unfortunately he did not live to see Grete’s wedding. In 1948, Grete Stern married Kurt Lissauer, who was also a German Jewish refugee. He was born in Luebeck, Germany, on January 10, 1909. They were married in England.4

Elizabeth Stern’s marriage to Gerhard Hirsch did not last very long. She remarried in 1973 when she was 54; her second husband was Paul Dannheisser, a widower who was also a refugee from Germany.

Alice Rapp Stern outlived her husband by almost thirty years. She died in New York on January 28, 1974, at the age of 83.5 She was survived by her three children, Grete, Walter, and Elizabeth, all of whom died within a year of each other. Grete and Walter both died in October 1996; Grete was 85,6 Walter was almost 79.7 Their younger sister Elizabeth died just four months later on February 13, 1997.8 She had just turned 78. None of the three siblings had children, so there are no descendants.

The next post will tell the story of Alice Rapp Stern’s brother and Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son, Arthur David Leopold Rapp, and his family.

 


  1.  Elizabeth Stern, Marriage License Date: 24 Mar 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Gerhard Hirsch, License Number: 5751, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Also, Elizabeth’s declaration of intention, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-2S59?cc=2060123&wc=M5P7-PTY%3A351618501 : 14 August 2019), Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1945 box 1026, no 515801-516050 > image 728 of 983; citing NARA microfilm publication M1972, Southern District of New York Petitions for Naturalization, 1897-1944. Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 – 2009, RG 21. National Archives at New York. 
  2.  Helmina Rapp, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1863, Registration Date: Jul 1941
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Volume: 3a, Page: 656, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 656, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3.  Saly Stern, Marital status: Married, Age: 69, Birth Date: 26 Nov 1877, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 612 W 188 St, Residence Place: New York
    Death Date: 7 Dec 1946, Death Street Address: 612 W 188th St, Death Place: New York City, Manhattan, New York, USA, Occupation: Clerk Stock’s, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Marcus Stern, Mother: Francisca Stern, Spouse: Alice, Informant: Alice Stern, Informant Relationship: Wife
    Executor: Alice Stern, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 25862
    New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  4. Greta Stern, Registration Date: Apr 1948, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Kurt Lissauer
    Volume Number: 5e, Page Number: 1260, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1260, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Kurt Lissauer, Enemy Alien Registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56, Piece Number Description: 056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5.  Alice Stern, Social Security Number: 051-18-8391, Birth Date: 4 Oct 1890
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York,Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jan 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Grete Lissauer, Death Age: 85, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911, Registration Date: Oct 1996, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London, Register Number: A41C, District and Subdistrict: 2351A, Entry Number: 108, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Walter Stern, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 1918, Death Date: 9 Oct 1996
    Claim Date: 2 Dec 1970, SSN: 056162574, Death Certificate Number: 350302
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch], [Elizabeth Dannheisser]
    Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern
    Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

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.

Ancestry.com. 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, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 

Hermann Gutmann, Child Refugee from the Nazis: An Oral History

As we saw last time, my cousin Else Goldschmidt Gutmann, daughter of Marcel Goldschmidt and Hedwig Goldschmidt, was murdered by the Nazis in 1943 at the Sobibor concentration camp along with her husband Siegfried Gutmann. They were, however, survived by their son, Hermann Gutmann. His story is captured in a moving and detailed oral history interview that was recorded for the British Imperial War Museums in 1995 and available online here.

The oral history interview is two hours long, and I listened to it in the course of one afternoon. If anyone has the time and the interest to listen, even if just to the first thirty minutes, it will provide insights into the strength and courage of those who escaped Nazi Germany as children. My words cannot possibly capture the emotion and the personality expressed by this man in retelling his life story fifty to sixty years after these tumultuous events. When you listen, the clarity of his memory, his composure, and his strength come shining through. Despite living in England since 1936, he still had the traces of a German accent. I will try and do justice to his story, but again, if you have time, listen to at least some of this interview.

One other editorial explanation. Hermann Gutmann changed his name in 1943 to Dennis John Goodman. I will refer to him as Hermann in discussing the years before that change and then as Dennis for the years after the name change. I hope that’s not too confusing.

All the facts in this post come directly from the oral history interview with Dennis John Goodman at the Imperial War Museum, Catalogue 15101.


Hermann Gutmann’s father Siegfried Gutmann was from a family of bankers in Stuttgart, and after the Stuttgart bank was taken over by a larger bank, Siegfried moved to Frankfurt to work for a bank in that city where he met and married Else Goldschmidt. Their only child Hermann Gutmann was born in Frankfurt on February 28, 1923. Hermann believed that the economic circumstances experienced in Germany in the 1920s made his parents reluctant to have more than one child. He described his childhood as a happy middle-class childhood in Frankfurt where his family was actively involved in the Jewish community as well as the general community.

Frankfurt, Germany, 1918,Carl Andreas Abt / Public domain

Hermann experienced anti-Semitism as early as 1931 when he was eight years old and saw people carrying anti-Semitic political posters while marching in the streets of Frankfurt. But things grew much worse after 1933 when Hitler was elected Chancellor. Hermann described himself as an outspoken and opinionated boy who fought back when he was attacked by students for being Jewish. When he finished primary school, his parents could no longer send him to a general secondary school because Jews were banned. Instead they sent him to an excellent Jewish day school where he was one of several hundred students.

But by 1936, his parents were concerned that Hermann would not be able to receive a quality education, and they decided that the best thing to do for their son was to send him to boarding school in England. His father spoke to young Hermann, expressing his fears, given how Hitler had perverted Germany and how their non-Jewish friends had drifted away out of fear.  When asked by the oral history interviewer how he felt about leaving his parents and his home, Hermann responded that he “just had to face it.” His acceptance of this reality seemed remarkable to me, especially given that he was only thirteen at the time.

So on October 5, 1936, thirteen year old Hermann Gutmann traveled to England with a family friend who happened also to be heading to England.  When they arrived in London, a relative met him at the station and made sure he boarded the right train to Brighton, where his new school, a Jewish boarding school called Whittinghame College, was located. He described his first year there as very lonely. He knew just a little English when he arrived, and there were only one or two other German students at the school. More German refugees had arrived by the time he left in 1939.

Thank you to the alumni association of Whittinghame College for permission to use these two photographs.

Hermann is probably in this photograph, but I don’t know which young man he is.

Whitinghame College students, 1939

His parents left Germany for Amsterdam in 1937. The interviewer asked him why his parents hadn’t come to England instead of Amsterdam, and he explained that his father had been offered a job in Amsterdam and that his parents believed they would be safe there. He said that no one anticipated in 1937 that Hitler would later invade the Netherlands and deport Jews to concentration camps. Hermann was able to visit his parents in Amsterdam during this time, and he said that although it was a big adjustment for them and especially for his father, whose new job was not in the banking field, they were reasonably happy living there.

Although Hermann said that he did not enjoy the “monastic existence” of the all-boys boarding school, he stated that he received an excellent education and that he even qualified to matriculate at Cambridge University for the fall of 1939, but “events intervened,” that is, the start of World War II. Once the war started, Hermann also was no longer able to visit his parents.

He finished his time at Whittinghame and obtained a job in a leather manufacturing factory in Lancashire, England, where he worked from February, 1940 until May, 1940. He had been in England for more than three years at that point. He had coped with adjusting to a new country, learning a new language, completing his secondary education at a Jewish boarding school, and enduring the long separation from his parents. In the interview, he commented that he had experienced no hostility in England based on his German background and that people had been very friendly.

But his life was about to change in the spring of 1940.

Leni and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Their Sons: Escaping from Germany

 

Julius Goldschmidt, my second cousin, three times removed, died on January 5, 1932, in Bad Homburg, Germany; he was seventy-three.  Bad Homburg was “an internationally fashionable spa”  not far from Frankfurt (about eleven miles), and it appears from the death record that Julius was living there at the time of his death.

Bad Homburg, M. Jacobs, Frankfurt a. Main / Public domain

He had been preceded in death by two of his children, Mimi and Amalie, and was survived by his wife Elise Seligmann, their daughter Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt, and Leni’s husband (and cousin) Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and their two sons, Felix and Hermann; their son Jacob Goldschmidt; and their daughter Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children.

Julius Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 908; Laufende Nummer: 1585, Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Jacob (Julius) Goldschmidt only survived his father by two years. According to David Baron and Roger Cibella, he died at the age of 44 in Paris, France, on November 28, 1934. That left Leni Goldschmidt Goldschmidt and Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger as Julius and Elise’s only surviving children.

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt1 and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992;2 according to Cibella/Baron, Siegfried had died in France in 1949. Regina filed Pages of Testimony with Yad Vashem for family members who were killed in the Holocaust, as we have seen and as we will see in future posts.

The remainder of this post will focus on Leni (Helene II) and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and their sons.

I will start in a strange place to tell their story: Leni’s husband,Julius Falk Goldschmidt, who was also her father Julius’ first cousin. Focusing on the in-law is not usually what I would do, and it would have made more sense to wait and tell his story when I get to Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s younger brother Falk, who was Julius Falk Goldschmidt’s father. But because we are telling Leni’s story now and her story is entwined with that of her husband, I can’t delay the story of Julius Falk Goldschmidt.

Some of my readers may recall how I found an obituary for Julius Falk Goldschmidt in one of Milton Goldsmith’s family albums, attached to a page that included a replica of an ancient ketubah, and I had wondered why it was there and how Milton knew this distant cousin well enough to refer to him as “beloved” and include his obituary in an album otherwise devoted to Milton’s closest relatives, his immediate family. I also was puzzled by the ketubah reproduction included on that page.

I decided to see if I could locate the source of this tribute to Julius Falk Goldschmidt. I noticed that it was written by someone named John Pope-Hennessy, who I learned was a British art historian and at one time the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.3 By Googling his name and Julius F. Goldschmidt, I was able to locate the source of Pope-Hennessy’s tribute to Julius. It was published on December 1, 1964, in The Times of London on page 12.

Pope-Hennessy included this background information about Julius in that tribute:

Born in Frankfurt in 1882, Goldschmidt as a young man became a member of the celebrated firm of J.M.S. Goldschmidt, which had been founded in 1859 by his father [Falk Goldschmidt] and two uncles [Selig and Jacob Goldschmidt] and which numbered among its clients the Tsar, the German Emperor and members of the Rothschild family. His interests from the first were canalized in sculpture, and especially bronze statuettes, and after 1905, when a branch of the first was established in the United States, he played an active part in the formation of the Pierpont Morgan, Altman, Widener and Bache collection.

Thus, Julius Falk Goldschmidt had been traveling back and forth to the US long before Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, I found a 1909 passenger manifest showing him traveling to the US with Leni and her brother Jacob, as mentioned in the prior post.

Year: 1909; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1381; Line: 1; Page Number: 120 Description Ship or Roll Number: Roll 1381 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Moreover, Julius Falk filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on January 16, 1924, after “immigrating” on November 21, 1923.

Julius F Goldschmidt 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 249) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 124581-125078), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

That explains how Julius Falk and Milton Goldsmith may have become closely acquainted as Milton was living in New York City at that time. As for the ketubah reproduction, the Goldschmidt firm also specialized in Judaica, so perhaps this was a reproduction of a ketubah that the firm had collected.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt did not, however, follow through on his declaration of intention, but returned to Frankfurt, where he remained a resident until 1935. According to Pope-Hennessy (see above), Julius Falk moved that year to London and continued his work for the Goldschmidt firm. Records indicate that Julius Falk Goldschmidt, his wife Helene, and their older son Felix were all residing in England in 1939, as was Helene’s mother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt.4

Julius, Leni, and Felix Goldschmidt, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/420B, Enumeration District: APDK, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Julius F. and Helene’s younger son Hermann left for the United States on September 2, 1939, the day after World War II began. He was 26 at the time.5 His declaration of intention to become a US citizen, which was filed on December 21, 1939, indicated that his last place of foreign residence was Paris and that he had immigrated from Montreal into the US at Rouses Point, New York, which is the first town over the US border from Canada about 45 miles south of Montreal. At the time he filed his declaration, Hermann was living in New York City.

Hermann Goldschmidt 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 572) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 448201-449000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

I couldn’t find Hermann on the 1940 US census, but I did find his draft registration dated October 24, 1940; he had dropped the second N from his first name and registered as Herman Goldschmidt. (Later he became Herman Goldsmith.) At that time he was living in New York City and working for Julius Kayser & Company, a large manufacturer of women’s gloves, hosiery, and silk underwear, today known as Kayser-Roth.

Herman Goldschmidt, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Meanwhile, Herman’s brother Felix and parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt and grandmother Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt were living in England. Both Julius Falk and his son Felix were interned as enemy aliens on June 21, 1940, although both had previously been found exempt from internship on November 28, 1939. It appears they were released just two months later on August 28, 1940. Helene and her mother were spared from internment. Julius listed his occupation as art dealer, and Felix reported that he was a “company director and art dealer” for his father’s firm. All four family members were living at the same address in London.

Julius F Goldschmidt, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/174
Piece Number Description: 174: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Ga-Gom
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Felix Goldschmidt, enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/109
Piece Number Description: 109: Canada Internees 1939-1942: G-H, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Elise Seligmann Goldschmidt died in 1943 in London; she was 79 years old and was survived by her daughter Helene, son-in-law Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and two grandsons, Felix and Herman.6

After the war Felix joined his brother Herman in the US, where he married and had a child.7 Herman never married. Their parents Helene and Julius Falk Goldschmidt remained in England for the rest of their lives. Julius Falk Goldschmidt died on November 18, 1964, in London.8 Pope-Hennessy opined that with the death of Julius Goldschmidt, “the London art world loses one of its most warmly regarded personalities.” It went on to describe his interests, his appearance, and his personality. It’s quite a poetic and beautiful obituary.

Julius Falk Goldschmidt was survived by his wife Helene, who died in London six years later in 1970,9 and their two sons, Felix and Herman, and one grandchild. Felix died on March 10, 1989, in Greenwich, Connecticut; he was 78.10 His brother Herman lived until October 7, 2016; he was two months shy of his 104th birthday when he died.11

Here was another family that survived the Holocaust, but lost their homeland with the sons living on one continent, their parents on another. Herman Goldsmith’s incredible longevity is quite a testament to the strength of this family.

 

 


  1. Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Frankfurt am Main, 1937, Ancestry.com. German Phone Directories, 1915-1981 
  2. Regina Rosenberger, Burial Date: 27 Feb 1992, Burial Plot: 53-F-23, Burial Place: North York, Ontario, Canada, Cemetery: Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park, JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) 
  3. John Russell, “Sir John Pope-Hennessy, 80, Art Expert, Dies,” The New York Times, November 1, 1994, p.36. 
  4.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/226, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5. Ship Name: Empress Of Britain, Shipping Line: Canadian Pacific
    Official Number: 162582, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  6. Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 1a, Page: 23, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 23, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7.  Arrival Date: 8 Feb 1949, Port of Arrival: Buffalo, New York, USA
    Arrival Contact: Brother Herman Goldsmith, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1480; Roll Number: 045, Ancestry.com. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960 
  8.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 198, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 198, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  9.  Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Paddington
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5d, Page: 1218, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 1218, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  10. Feliz A Goldschmidt, Birth Date: 10 Sep 1910, Death Date: 10 Mar 1989
    SSN: 061264467, Death Certificate Number: 05428, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=herman-goldsmith&pid=182198098 

Regina Goldschmidt’s Children: Did They Escape in Time or Not?

When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, Regina Goldschmidt Meyer had already outlived her husband Aaron Meyer, who had died in 1902, and two of her seven children, Sally having died in childhood and Jacob in 1928. Her other five children—Alfred, Max, Siegfried, Ferdinand, and Amalie— were still living as well as a number of grandchildren.

But Regina died in Frankfurt on October 7, 1938, just a month before Kristallnacht. She was 83 years old.

Regina Goldschmidt Meyer, death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11076, Year Range: 1938, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Some of her five surviving children fared better than others during the Holocaust. For some, I ran into brick walls when I tried to learn more about their lives during or after the war. For others, I discovered tragedy. This post will focus on her four oldest children and their families.

The fate of Regina’s oldest child, Alfred Meyer, is somewhat unclear. I found only two documents for him after his birth record. First, I found this card in the Arolsen Archives:

With help from the German Genealogy group, I learned that this card says that Alfred was a widower and that he had no occupation. The final column indicates that Alfred was still living in Frankfurt on April 24, 1939, and then left for France and was there until November 3, 1939.

The second card, also from the Arolsen Archives, came up through a search on Ancestry.com:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

According to the description on Ancestry, this document was prepared after the war by the American forces occupying West Germany as an attempt to document the Jews who had been persecuted by the Nazis. This particular document lists those who had become or were French citizens. Under the last category, “Aufenthaltsdaten,” or dates of stay, it says April 24, 1939, to November 3, 1939. This appears to be consistent with the other card from the Arolsen Archives.

But what happened to Alfred after November 3, 1939? Did he return to Frankfurt and survive? Was he killed? He does not appear in either the Yad Vashem database or the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum database. There are many other post-war records for men named Alfred Meyer, but the name is so common and the records so vague in identification information that I have no idea what happened to my cousin Alfred Meyer. Cibella and Baron say he died in a concentration camp, and I fear that that is probably the case even though I can’t find him at Yad Vashem.

As noted above, Alfred’s brother Jacob Meyer had died in 1928, leaving his wife Elli and their children to survive him. I was able to find records for Elli showing that she had immigrated to England by 1939; she and her son Arthur are listed together on the 1939 England and Wales Register.

Ellie and Arthur Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/416H, Enumeration District: APCA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Arthur also registered as an enemy alien in 1939; at that time he was working as an apprentice shirt cutter for Harrod’s. Note that his address is 28c Maida Avenue.

Arthur Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/187, Piece Number Description: 187: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Mayer-Morgens, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Also living at 28c Maida Avenue in 1939 when she registered as an enemy alien was Arthur’s sister Hilde Meyer, who was a student and an unemployed domestic worker.

Hilde Meyer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/61, Piece Number Description: 061: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Mer-Mid, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On the 1939 England and Wales Register, Hilde was working as a parlor maid and living elsewhere, so she must have found work by the time that was enumerated.1

As for the third child whom Cibella/Baron identified as a child of Jacob and Elli Meyer, Lotte Henriette Meyer, I did not have much luck locating records. Cibella/Baron report that she married Helmut Leopold Wallach in Frankfurt on April 27, 1934, and that they had twin daughters born in 1935, but I could not find a marriage record or birth records for the twins. I did find a 1937 ship manifest for a Lotte Wallach with two daughters born in 1935, heading from England to Argentina2 and a separate 1937 manifest for a Helmut Leopold Wallach heading to Uruguay,3 but nothing more specific to tie Lotte to Jacob and Elli Meyer or to Helmut Wallach.

Elli Loeser Meyer lived the rest of her life in England, dying there on April 18, 1966. The listing for her in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar names “Arthur Meyers, company director,” as one of the executors.4 I have been unable so far to find any other later records for any of her children. Thus, I do not know when or where they died, whether or not they married or had children, or anything else.

Max Meyer and his family escaped from Nazi Germany to Argentina. It appears that their son Arnold had immigrated there in July, 1936, but had been living in Basel, Switzerland prior to heading to Buenos Aires:

Arnold Meyer, Ancestry.com. Swiss Overseas Emigration, 1910-1953. Original data: Schweizerisches Auswanderungsamt und Auswanderungsbüro. Überseeische Auswanderungen aus der Schweiz, 1910-1953. Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv (National Archives of Switzerland). E 2175 – 2.

According to Cibella/Baron, Arnold’s parents Max and Anna also both immigrated to Buenos Aires and died there, Anna in 1941 and Max in 1952. Unfortunately, I have no records for these events or for Arnold’s death in 1959.

Siegfried Meyer met a tragic end. He immigrated to the Netherlands, but on April 21, 1943, he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he was murdered on November 23, 1943, and cremated.5

Arolsen Arhives, 1 Incarceration Documents / 1.1 Camps and Ghettos / 1.1.42 Theresienstadt Ghetto /1.1.42.2 Card File Theresienstadt /Ghetto Theresienstadt Card File, Reference Code
11422001

Thus, for Regina’s four oldest children, I have mixed results. Jacob’s family ended up in England and possibly Argentina; Max’s family ended up in Argentina. Tragically, Siegfried was murdered by the Nazis, and Alfred probably was also.

The next post will report on Regina’s youngest son, Ferdinand, and his family.


  1.  Hilde Meyer, Gender: Female, Marital status: Single, Birth Date: 21 Nov 1912, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 24, Residence Place: Yiewsley and West Drayton, Middlesex, England, Occupation: Parlourmaid, Schedule Number: 167, Sub Schedule Number: 3, Enumeration District: BZAA, Registration district: 127/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/994A, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  2. Lotte Wallach, Gender: Female, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1906, Departure Date: 16 Oct 1937, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ship Name: Almanzora, Shipping Line: Royal Mail Lines Limited, Official Number: 136353, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  3. Helmut Wallach, Gender: Male, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1906, Departure Date: 5 Feb 1937, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: Montevideo, Uruguay, Ship Name: Arlanza, Shipping Line: Royal Mail Lines Limited
    Official Number: 132021, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 
  4. Elli Meyer, Death Date: 18 Apr 1966, Death Place: London, England, Probate Date: 6 Jun 1966, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. Siegfried Meyer, entries at Yad Vashem:  https://tinyurl.com/yazazrxa and https://tinyurl.com/y6v946fm 

German Jewish Refugees as Enemy Aliens in the UK during World War II: Some Resources

A number of readers have asked questions about the internment of German Jews by England during World War II. It does seem so cruel to take people who had just escaped from Germany for being Jewish and imprison them for being German, but war does bring out the worst in human nature. In our own American history, there are many examples, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II for no reason other than their Japanese roots.

To answer some of the questions and to provide links to more information, I am providing a link back to a post I published almost four years ago when I first learned about the English internment of German Jews. I hope this post and the links it includes will answer some of those questions.  It only addresses the internment on the Isle of Man, only one of the many places where England sent “enemy aliens.”

https://brotmanblog.com/2016/09/21/imprisoned-on-the-isle-of-man/

In addition, for more information in general about the internment of enemy aliens, here are some other links:

Enemy Aliens scholarly article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a6651858.shtml

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/12/shining-a-light-on-the-enemy-aliens-of-the-second-world-war

This article was sent to me by another reader. It is a contemporary news report from The London Times of May 17, 1940.

There are many other articles and websites devoted to this topic, which is too large for me to do justice to on the blog. I hope this will help those who are interested find some of the answers to their questions.

 

Escaping from Germany: Another Splintered Family, the Cramers

Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld’s oldest child, Clementine II, was born in 1874 and married David Cramer in 1892. They had two children, Sally David Cramer (1893) and Caroline Lilly Cramer (1894).

Let’s review where each member of the family was as of 1933 when the Nazis came to power and then learn where they were up through the end of World War II.

Sally David Cramer

Sally married Margarete Steinberg in 1921 and they had two sons, Hans Clemens and Peter Andreas, born in the 1920s.

Peter died as an eight-year-old on February 14, 1932, in Frankfurt.

Peter Cramer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11001
Year Range: 1932, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Sally and Margarete then had a third child, a daughter, born July 15, 1933, in Frankfurt,1 just months after Hitler’s rise to power.

Fortunately, they left Germany by 1939 and were living in England where Sally was working as a “company director.”2

Their family suffered another terrible tragedy when their oldest son Hans Clemens, then known as John Denis Cramer, was killed on March 23, 1943, while serving in the British army during World War II; he was only 21 and was the second child of Sally and Margarete to predecease them.3

Thus, leaving Germany had not saved young Hans/John from danger.

Hans Clemens aka John Denis Cramer, probate listing, ncestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

Caroline Lilly Cramer Drey

We saw that Sally’s sister Lilly (as she was known) married Arthur Drey in 1919, and they had three children born in Frankfurt in the 1920s: Dorothy, Claude, and Elizabeth. Arthur Drey was a known Expressionist poet and playwright in Germany. You can read a collection of his poems (in German, but easily translated by Google Translate) here.

Lilly and Arthur got out of Germany not long after Hitler came to power. According to this website devoted to the works of his son Claude Drey, Arthur feared he would be denounced for his anti-Nazi activities, and in 1933, he and his family left Germany and settled in Milan, Italy, for six years.

Then when Mussolini began to collaborate with Hitler in the late 1930s, Lilly and Arthur decided to leave Italy. They arrived in the United States on May 22, 1939 after first going to England, according to their naturalization papers. That was the same day that Hitler and Mussolini signed their Pact of Steel, forging a military alliance and paving the way to World War II.

Arthur Drey, Declaration of Intent, he 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,  (Roll 566) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 443101-444000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the 1940 census, they were living in New York City, and Arthur was working as a director for an “electric firm.”4 His World War II draft registration identified him as self-employed by the Filtered Water Service Corporation in New York City.

Arthur Drey, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Their son Claude was also working for his father’s company:

Claude Drey, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

This biography of Claude provides greater details about his life:

During his first years in New York, Claude dedicated his time to studying English and engineering. He attended City College at night, and worked in the family’s water cooler rental business by day. He also began a lifetime pursuit of analytical psychology.  Claude worked with analysts under the school of Carl Jung.

In 1943, Claude’s older sister Dorothy married Rudolf Gerd Hamburger,5 who later changed his surname to Harvey.6 Rudolf was born in Berlin, Germany, on September 8, 1909, to Leo Hamburger and Johanna Borchardt.7 Dorothy and Rudolf had two children together.

Clementine Fuld and David Cramer

Meanwhile, Sally and Lilly’s parents Clementine and David Cramer had been living in Nice, France,  They arrived in New York on October 27, 1941, after the Nazis had occupied France.

David Cramer, 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 649) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 517601-518500), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On the ship manifest as well as the declaration of intent, they named both their children, Sally in England and Lilly in New York.

David and Clemetine Cramer, passenger manifest, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6588; Line: 1; Page Number: 114
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Thus, the whole family had left Germany in time and escaped the Nazis, but Clementine and David had lost their grandson Hans/John in the fight against the Nazis.

After the War

The family suffered two losses in the first years after the war. David Cramer died in New York on February 8, 1946 just five years after his arrival in the US and six months after the end of World War II; he was 84, and he was survived by his wife Clementine, their two children Sally and Lilly, and their grandchildren.8

Then on June 17, 1948, Dorothy Drey’s husband Rudolf was killed in a plane accident in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania.  He was one of 43 people killed when a United Airlines DC-6 tried to make an emergency landing and hit a 60,000 volt electrical tower and burst into flames.9 Dorothy was only 26 when she lost her husband; their two children were just preschoolers.

Rudolph Harvey, death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967

According to Cibella/Baron, Dorothy remarried a few years later and had another child with her second husband.

But not all the family news was bad after the war. Elizabeth, the youngest Drey sibling, married Eric Harry Caspari in September 1949, in New York City.10 Eric was the son of Leo Caspari and Margarete Meyer and was born on April 6, 1914, in Berlin, Germany. 11  Elizabeth and Eric had three children together.

In the 1950s, Claude Drey developed an interest in photography. The website devoted to his works included this comment:

As with so many other pursuits he was determined to bring it to a professional level. He studied under several photographers and was influenced by Edward Weston.  Most of his work was in black and white; he did all of his own development.  Claude was successful in having his work exhibited in several gallery shows including a one-man exhibit at the Image Gallery. His works was sold to publishers for use in advertising and appeared in several books.  

Most of Claude’s photography focused on nature. He took many pictures of animals, plants and flowers. He traveled to California and did a series on Point Lobus.  Claude’s family and friends were models – especially his young wife Grace.  His photography related in many ways to his psychological studies and particularly in his pictures of people, he tried to capture a part of their spirit.

A more unusual series of photographs Claude created was on car “graveyards” and on a slaughterhouse.  For some the pictures of the animals being killed and butchered may be disturbing.

I would imagine that that series of disturbing photographs was somewhat inspired by the experiences he had as a teenager and young man running from the Nazis and Fascists in Europe and then learning what had happened to those who had not been fortunate enough to leave in time. You can see some of Claude’s photography here.

Clementine Fuld Cramer survived her husband David by sixteen years; she died at 87 on March 30, 1962.12

Her son-in-law Arthur Drey died on July 1, 1965; he was 72.13 And his wife Lilly Cramer Drey followed him almost exactly a year later. She died on June 23, 1966, at the age of 71.14 They were survived by their three children and eight grandchildren. Their daughter Dorothy died on February 10, 1972, in New York, 15 Claude Drey died on November 7, 1989,16 and the youngest sibling Elizabeth died on July 8, 2005.17

Clementine’s son Sally Cramer, who had outlived his two sons as well as his parents and sister Lilly, died in London at the age of 87 on March 9, 1977;18 his wife Margarete died ten years later on December 10, 1987.19 She was 89. They were survived by their youngest child.

Clementine Fuld Cramer’s story is another story of German Jews who escaped in time and ended up contributing much to their new homeland. Claude Drey’s photographs are worth examining to see the beauty that he could find around him despite having had such a difficult and disrupted boyhood.

 

 

 


  1. FHL Film Number: 004909566m Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  2. Sally David Cramer and family, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/868A, Enumeration District: BOAA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 April 2020), memorial page for Pvt John Denis Cramer (unknown–23 Mar 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 151392819, citing Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, Willesden, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) . 
  4. Arthur Drey and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02647; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-964, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5.  Name: Dorothy Drey, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 26 May 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Rudolph F Hamburger, License Number: 10550, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  6. See his World War II draft registration at Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. 
  7. Rudolf Harvey death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1967; Certificate Number Range: 051151-053700, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1967 
  8.  Certificate Number: 3719, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  9. There are many news articles about the crash, which was the second worst in US history at that time. For example, “DC-6 Wreck Hides Cause of Tragedy,” The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18 Jun 1948, Fri • Page 1 
  10.  Elizabeth H Drey, Marriage License Date: 9 Sep 1949, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Harry E Caspari, License Number: 24292, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 35, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  11. Eric Harry Caspari, Birth Date: 6 Apr 1914, Birth Place: Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 6 May 1975, Father: Leo Caspari, Mother: Margarete Meyer
    SSN: 168126664, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  12. Certificate Number: 7231, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  13.  Arthur Drey, Social Security Number: 094-14-0864, Birth Date: 9 Sep 1890
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1965
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Lilly Drey, Social Security Number: 068-24-9127, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1894
    Last Residence: 10025, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1966
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Dorothy Schaefer, Birth Date: 30 Mar 1921, Death Date: Feb 1972
    SSN: 130142475, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  16. Claude Clemens Drey, Birth Date: 13 Nov 1919, Birth Place: Francfort PR, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 7 Nov 1989, Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 072127096, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  17. Elizabeth Helen Drey, [Elizabeth Helen Caspari]Birth Date: 22 Jan 1926
    Birth Place: Frankfurt Yi, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 8 Jul 2005
    Father: Arthur Drey, Mother: Lilly Cramer, SSN: 076202437, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  18. Sally Cramer, Registration district: Westminster Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 15, Page: 2123, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 2123, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  19. Margarete Cramer, Death Date: 10 Dec 1987, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 11 Oct 1988, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 

Escaping from Germany, Part V: Being “Enemy Aliens” in England

Having completed the stories of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern’s daughters Lina and Keile, we now turn to her son, Abraham Stern and his family and what happened to them during the Holocaust. Abraham died in 1925, but was survived by his widow Johanna, who was also his first cousin, and two of their children, Alice and Sittah Sarah, and numerous grandchildren; two of his children had predeceased him, Clementine and Siegfried,  

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Abraham’s widow (and first cousin) Johanna Goldschmidt Stern and their surviving children and grandchildren were still living in Germany. Johanna died on June 2, 1937; she was 69 years old.1

Her gorgeous headstone, matching those of her husband and son, was beautifully translated by a member of Tracing the Tribe. What a lovely and loving inscription.

Johanna Goldschmidt Stern’s gravestone. Courtesy of her great-grandson, Rafi Stern

Here lies buried Mrs Hindla known as Johanna, daughter of Mr Zelig Goldschmidt, wife of Mr Asher Avraham, known as Adolf, Stern, the memory of the righteous is a blessing,
A generous daughter to her parents and a trusted help to her husband,
She was known as a wise woman,

Her heart directed with intelligence and insight,
She educated her children in the paths of faith,
Only good and kindness, she pursued all her life,
Until she rested in peace next to the husband of her youth on 23 Sivan 5697.
May her soul be bound in the bond of life.

This post will tell what happened to the families of two of Abraham and Johanna’s children, Siegfried and Sittah Sarah. The next post will focus on the families of their other two children, Clementine and Alice.

The Children of Siegfried Stern

Siegfried Stern had died in 1921, leaving behind his wife Lea Hirsch and two young sons, Erich (1913) and Gunther (1916). Thanks to Aaron Knappstein, I now have the birth records for Erich and Gunther, and they show that in 1922, their birth records were amended to add their father’s name Siegfried to theirs.

Erich Stern birth record

Gunther Stern birth record

Siegfried’s widow Lea married Ernst Schwarzschild in 1924 and relocated to Cologne with Erich and Gunther where she and Ernst had two additional children.

After Hitler came to power, Lea and Ernst Schwarzschild escaped to England with Erich and Gunther Stern and the two children they had together. According to Gunther’s son Rafi, the family was able to take a fair amount of money out of Germany and first lived in the Golders Green neighborhood of London. In 1939 they were living in Chesham, England, a town about 30 miles northwest of London. Ernst was working as a non-ferrous metals merchant while Lea was engaged in “unpaid domestic duties.”

Ernst and Lea (Hirsch Stern) Schwarzschild, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2110H, Enumeration District: DVIH, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Although not listed on this register, Erich Stern was living with his mother and stepfather in Chesham at some point in 1939 and working as a clerk in a travel agency; like his stepfather Ernst, he was exempted from being interned as an enemy alien.

Ernst Schwarzschild, Enemy Alien Exemption, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/83
Piece Number Description: 083: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Schw-Scu
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Erich Stern, Enemy Alien Exemption, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89
Piece Number Description: 089: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Steinf-Stern
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Gunther, however, was not as fortunate. According to his son Rafi, Gunther was unable to obtain a permanent visa to live in England and was forced to go back and forth every three months between Antwerp, where an uncle lived, and England. Fortunately, in 1939 when the war broke out, he was living in England with his mother, stepfather, and brother in Chesham, working as an apprentice to a wood importer, and was initially exempted from internment as an enemy alien.

But as the document below reveals and as his son Rafi reported to me, Gunther was later interned. He spent time at three different internment centers: Preece Heath, Shropshire, and the Isle of Man. He was eventually released because of poor health and found employment with a manufacturing company where he worked for the rest of his career.

Gunther Stern, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/197
Piece Number Description: 197: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Spirg-Stern
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Both Erich and Gunther married after the war and had children. Their mother Lea died in 1970 in England.2 Erich died in England in May 2001,3 and his brother Gunther died a year later in June 2002 in Israel, where his son Rafi had immigrated.4

Sittah Sarah Stern and Abraham Mainz and Their Children

Sittah Sarah Stern was married to Abraham Mainz, and they had two children, Marguerite (1913) and Helmut (1918); they were living in Frankfurt in the 1920s.

Like the family of her older brother Siegfried Stern, Sittah Sarah Stern and her husband Abraham Mainz and their children eventually safely immigrated to England, but faced some difficult challenges in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, as reported by a letter written by Erich Stern, Sittah’s nephew, on November 13, 1938, to his brother Gunther:5

Unfortunately we have very bad news from Frankfurt. Uncle Siegfried [Oppenheimer], who wanted to travel to Palestina on Sunday with his family, was arrested on Friday, as well as Aunt Sittah, Marguerite and Helmut [Mainz]. Aba [Abraham Mainz] has fled and no one knows to where. Really horrible conditions.

Where had Abraham gone? And how long were Sittah and her children detained? I don’t know, but I do know that by 1939 they were living in London along with Abraham’s parents. Abraham (also known as Albert) was working as a wool merchant and his daughter Marguerite was a student.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/235D
Enumeration District: AKAN, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Although he is not listed as living with his family on the 1939 register, Helmut Mainz was also in England by 1939, as seen in his Enemy Alien registration form. Like his father, he was a wool merchant and was exempted from internment.

Helmut Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/58
Piece Number Description: 058: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Ma-Man
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Abraham Mainz6 and his daughter Marguerite were also exempted from internment. At the time of her exemption, Marguerite was working as a secretary.

Marguerite Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/222
Piece Number Description: 222: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Eastw-Fey
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

The family was thus all safe and living in England, and Marguerite married Arthur Feuchtwanger in 1944,7 with whom she had three children.

But the family suffered terrible losses soon thereafter. Abraham Albert Mainz died on November 3, 1944; he was 61.8  Less than four months later his wife Sittah Sarah Stern Mainz died on February 26, 1945; she was only 53. Had their lives been cut short by the stress of living through the Nazi era?

Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

The family’s tragedies did not end there. Helmut Mainz married Carla Adler in July 1948,9 and they had three children in the next five years. But then Carla died in July 1957 when she was only thirty years old, leaving behind three very young children and her husband Helmut.10

Within just a few years Helmut had lost both of his parents and his wife. But he lived a full life, dying at the age of 87 in Yorkshire, England, on September 13, 2005.11 His sister Marguerite died March 22, 2001, in Netanya, Israel.12

Headstones for Carla Adler Mainz and Helmut Mainz, Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 02 March 2020), memorial page for Carla Adler Mainz (8 Sep 1926–3 Jul 1957), Find A Grave Memorial no. 185877700, citing United Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, Gildersome, Metropolitan Borough of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England ; Maintained by leedspyeman (contributor 47407284) . Courtesy of Leedspyeman.

The families of Siegfried Stern and of his sister Sittah Sarah Stern Mainz fortunately escaped from Germany to England in time and were not murdered by the Nazis, but were treated as “enemy aliens” by England. Their descendants, including my cousin Rafi who shared so much of his family’s story with me, continue to honor their memories and prove that the Nazis did not prevail.

UPDATE: Steve Mondros from TTT posted this article from the May 17, 1940 London Times that sheds some light on the internment process in England.

Enemy Aliens article London Times May 17, 1940 from Steve Mondros on FB

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Name: Johanna Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 18 Dec
    Birth Place: Frankfurt Main, Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Death Date: 2 Jun 1937, Father: Seelig Goldschmidt. Mother: Cllementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342033, Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  2. Lea Schwarzschild, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 10 Apr 1892, Registration Date: Oct 1970, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-DecRegistration district: Paddington, Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 5d, Page: 1148, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 1148, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3. Erich Stern, Death Age: 88, Birth Date: 29 May 1913, Registration Date: May 2001
    Registration district: Bury, Inferred County: Greater Manchester, Register Number: A54B, District and Subdistrict: 0031A, Entry Number: 283, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  4. As per Rafi Stern, Gunther’s son. 
  5. Letter made available to me by Rafi Stern, Gunther’s son. 
  6. Abraham Mainz, Enemy Alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/234, Piece Number Description: 234: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Loeb-Melo, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  7.  Marguerita V Mainz, Registration Date: Jan 1944, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Knaresborough, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding
    Spouse: Arthur Fenchtwanger, Volume Number: 9a, Page Number: 229, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9a; Page: 229, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  8.  Abraham A Mainz, Death Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1883, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1944, Registration district: Knaresborough, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Volume: 9a, Page: 107, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9a; Page: 107, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  9.  Helmut Mainz, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun 1948, Registration district: Claro
    Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Spouse: Carla Adler, Volume Number: 2c, Page Number: 320, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 2c; Page: 320, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  10.  Carla Mainz, Death Age: 30, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1957, Registration district: Claro, Inferred County: Yorkshire West Riding, Volume: 2c
    Page: 66, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 2c; Page: 66, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  11.  Helmut Walter S Mainz, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 23 Apr 1918, Registration Date: Sep 2005, Registration district: North Yorkshire. Inferred County: North Yorkshire,
    Register Number: A9, District and Subdistrict: 650/1A, Entry Number: 265, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. 
  12. As per Rafi Stern and a Feuchtwanger family tree he shared with me. 

Escaping from Germany, Part III: A Family Divided Across the World

The story of my cousin Siegfried Loewenthal is the story of how one family ended up separated and spread all over the world in order to escape Nazi Germany.

Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s younger son Siegfried and his wife Henriette Feuchtwanger had five children, as we have seen: Rosel (or Rosa) (1908), Albert (1909), Louise (1910), Grete (1913), and Lotte (1914).

Rosa Loewenthal married Justin Held in Frankfurt on August 24, 1928. Justin was born in Kulsheim, Germany on October 18, 1900.

Marriage record of Justin Held and Rosa Loewenthal, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903. Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Justin had two daughters born in Germany, one in 1929, one in 1930.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Siegfried and Henriette’s family began to disperse. First, their son Albert Loewenthal went to Palestine on March 26, 1934.1 I do not have a marriage record for Albert, but my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron report that he married Hilda Weingarten in Jerusalem on June 12, 1935. Hilda was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 10, 1911. I do know that they were married by the time they applied to become naturalized citizens of Palestine in April 1938, and they had a son born in Jerusalem in 1937.2 According to Cibella/Baron, Hilda died in Switzerland in 1954, Albert in 1995 in Jerusalem (after marrying two more times and having several more children).

Naturalization certificate for Albert and Hilda Loewenthal, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd584e

By 1939, the rest of Siegfried’s family had also left Germany. Siegfried and Henriette themselves arrived in Palestine on March 20, 1939, and became naturalized citizens in 1941.3 Unfortunately, Siegfried died just a year later in Tel Aviv on February 25, 1942. He was 62 years old and survived by his wife and all five of his children.4

Naturalization certificate of Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

And those children were all over the world by then. Rosa Loewenthal and Justin Held and their children left for England in 1939 and then immigrated to the United States in 1940.5 They ended up living in New York and becoming naturalized citizens.6 Justin died in 1980,7 Rosa in 1993.8

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/243J
Enumeration District: AKCZ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Louise Loewenthal had married Walter Meier Strauss in Basel, Switzerland. Walter was native to Frankfurt, where he was born on December 18, 1909.9 I was fortunate to find a long biography of Walter written by one of his grandsons and posted on the family genealogy website.  According to this document, Walter was employed by a woolen factory in Frankfurt when he was a teenager, and when he was in his early twenties or in the early 1930s, the company moved to Switzerland, and the owner asked Walter to come with them, which he did. By that time he had been dating Louise Loewenthal for seven years, and they soon married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. According to the grandson’s biography of Walter:

During the War, friends from home that were now in the concentration camps sent him letters about the atrocities that were going on in the War and specifically in the Camps. Trying to help, he established a group consisting of himself… and a few other men from Basel. The group would send very small care packages periodically to the people in the camps. The packages consisted of food such as salami, sardines, and any other small items that the people requested or needed and was small enough that it could be sent. Every sunday they would load up the packages in a car and drive all over Basel putting them in many different mailboxes, for if they were all dumped in one mailbox they would surely not arrive at the camps.

Thus, Louise and Walter were able to survive the Holocaust; Walter’s parents and brother were, however, murdered at Sobibor.10

In 1946, after the war ended, Louise and Walter Strauss and their two children immigrated to the US; Max Stern, husband of Louise’s first cousin Hilda, helped them get a visa. The ship manifest listed Justin Held, Louise’s brother-in-law married to her older sister Rosa, as the person they were going to in the US.11 They settled in New York where Walter once again got a job with a woolen factory. Walter died in 1990 while on a business trip in Switzerland and was buried in Israel.12 Louise died in New York on August 11, 2003; she was 92 and was survived by her two children and her grandchildren.13

Grete Loewenthal immigrated to Palestine, arriving on April 6, 1936. She became a naturalized citizen on November 29, 1938. She was working as an assistant pharmacist at the time and was unmarried.14

Cibella/Baron report that she married Fritz Altar in 1948, but I have no records to verify that fact. I did find two ship manifests, one outgoing from England, one arriving in New York, in May 1958, that list Grete and Fritz Altar, residents of Austria and working as hotel managers.15 The English manifest indicates that they were headed to the US as “the country of intended permanent residence.” But I have found no records showing that Grete and Fritz lived in the US. Fritz died in Vienna on January 30, 1993, and is buried there.16 Unsourced trees on Geni and MyHeritage report that Grete died on September 27, 1995, also in Vienna. I have no verification of that fact.

Lotte Loewenthal also had left Germany by 1939. She and her husband Erich Posen are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register showing residence in England by 1939. Erich was working as an optical goods salesman.

Lotte Loewenthal and Erich Posen, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/980H, Enumeration District: BXHY, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Unfortunately I have no marriage record for Lotte and Erich, but I know this is the correct person because after the war when she and Erich had their first child in January 1946, Lotte had serious complications and her mother Henriette had to get permission to leave Palestine to go to England for a few months to help Lotte with the new baby.16

Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

Lotte was not destined for a long life. She died at the age of 52 in 1967 in England, survived by her husband Erich and two children.17 Her mother also survived her; Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal died at the age of 93 in Israel, according to the work of Roger Cibella and David Baron.

Despite the lack of sources for some of the stories of Siegfried Loewenthal and his family, there is enough information to conclude that he, his wife, and all five of their children and their grandchildren escaped Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. In doing so, they ended up spread across three continents and three different countries.

There are always costs to these relocations and disruptions. Siegfried’s early death in 1942 certainly could have been just one of those costs.

Gravestone of Siegfried Loewenthal, photograph by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015, found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

Gravestone of Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal photo by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015 , found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

 

 


  1. Immigration and Naturalization File for Albert and Hilda (Weingarten) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/w33mluf 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/u3jsyyc 
  5. Rosa and Justin Held and family, passenger ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6459; Line: 16; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Name: Rosa Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 20 Nov 1947, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. Justin Held, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900, Age: 47, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. 
  7.  Justin Held, Social Security Number: 092-14-6607, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900
    Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Rose Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Death Date: Mar 1993, SSN: 095144557,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Walter Meier Strauss, Birth Date: 18 Dec 1909, Naturalization Date: 24 Mar 1952,
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. “My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Walter Meyer Strauss,” Jonathan Strauss, found at https://tinyurl.com/ttlo7rl 
  11. Walter and Louise Strauss and children, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7161; Line: 1; Page Number: 267, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See footnote 10. Walter M Strauss, Death Date: 15 Oct 1990, SSN: 065246257,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Louise Strauss, Death Date: 11 Aug 2003, SSN: 122285989, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. Immigration and Naturalization File for Grete Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/v5mxvs9 
  15. Fritz and Grete Altar, ship manifest, 15 May 1958, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA, Ship Name: Ryndam
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Grete and Fritz Altar, ship manifest, 24 May 1958, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Ship: Ryndam, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2990227; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4115; NARA Roll Number: 447, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  16. See multiple letters in Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  17. Lottie V Posen, Death Age: 52, Registration Date: Jul 1967, Registration district: Hampstead, Inferred County: Greater London, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 583, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007