A Genealogy Story for Hanukkah: Looking for Light in the Darkness

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, a holiday that reminds us to find the light and hope even in the darkest of times. And in that spirit, this is a story of three children who lost their mother as children and then their father as young adults. Yet they found the strength to go on and survive the Holocaust. They looked for the light and hope despite the darkness.

Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt’s third daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer had five children with her husband Hermann Hirsch Cramer. Their oldest daughter Rosa Cramer married Arthur Abraham Oppenheimer on May 16, 1904, in Frankfurt. Arthur was born August 25, 1879, to William Oppenheimer and Ida Jettchen Cramer.

From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

I have had the great pleasure this week of talking with Arthur and Rosa’s grandson, my fifth cousin Arthur, who told me that Rosa and Arthur were first cousins, Ida Jettchen Cramer being the sister of Hirsch Hermann Cramer. Their parents were at first opposed to them marrying because they were first cousins. But they were deeply in love and insisted on being together.

Rosa Cramer marriage to Arthur Oppenheimer, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Arthur had four children. Twins were born on March 3, 1905, in Frankfurt, William1 and Gertrud.2 Then Arnold Selig Oppenheimer was born on June 15, 1907,3 and finally Edith was born on June 13, 1911.4

Arnold Selig Oppenheimer wrote a wonderful book, The Story of My Life,5 which his son Arthur shared with me. It is filled with memories of his childhood and adult life as well as many photographs of the family. I wish I could add more of the rich details of his life described in the book, but for now I will include just some of those details as well as a few of his childhood pictures, including these two of the three older Oppenheimer children and, in the one on the right, their mother Rosa.

From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

And here is a fabulous photograph of Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer with her husband Hermann Cramer, their daughter Rosa, and her husband Arthur, and their four children:

From Arnold S Oppeheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

Here is one of all four children taken in 1916:

William, Gertrud, Arnold, and Edith Oppenheimer, c. 1916. From Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007)

Those children were still quite young when their mother Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer died on December 24, 1918,  just two years after this photograph was taken; she was only 37 years old. According to her grandson Arthur, she died from the flu during the terrible epidemic of 1918.

Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10794
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Arnold wrote this about his mother’s death:6

When she became ill with influenza in December 1918, she knew that her life would soon come to an end. I remember her on her last morning when she called us in, one after the other and talked a little and bensched [blessed] us. 

It’s just heartbreaking to imagine how those children must have felt, saying goodbye to their mother.

Rosa’s widower Arthur Oppenheimer was left to raise the four young children on his own, though there was plenty of support from the extended family and from the nannies and housekeepers, as described in Arnold’s book. Arnold wrote that his father never fully recovered after Rosa’s death—that he became more serious and rarely laughed. But that he was a loving and caring father who tried to be both father and mother to his four children.7

Then three years later, sixteen-year-old William Oppenheimer died from meningitis on December 31, 1921; family lore is that he had a bad headache, but it was Shabbat, and the family was told that it would be safe to wait another day. Unfortunately, William died later that day, although it would seem that especially back then before antiobiotics, little could have been done even if he’d gotten medical attention sooner. Arnold described his brother William as an excellent student and a gifted artist.8

William Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10857, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The remaining three children were left orphans when their father Arthur died on March 22, 1925, just seven years after Rosa and four years after William. According to his son Arnold, Arthur died from misdiagnosed appendicitis. Arthur had been a banker and stockbroker as well as a synagogue leader and treasurer, who, according to his son Arnold, was “highly esteemed…and known for his just attitude.”9

Arthur Abraham Oppenheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

It’s hard to fathom how the three remaining children—Gertrud, Arnold, and Edith—coped with so much loss. They were twenty, eighteen, and fourteen, and had lost their mother, their brother, and their father.

But Arnold’s son Arthur said that his father in fact was able to live quite a good life in the 1920s—traveling around the world, owning two horses and a sports car, studying in Frankfurt and Berlin, and generally enjoying the life of a wealthy young man in his twenties. Photographs of the extended Goldschmidt family in Arnold Oppenheimer’s book demonstrate that the children had a very large network of relatives who must have provided a sense of comfort and safety.

Those children then lost their grandmother Hedwig. Hedwig died on November 19, 1934. She was 73 and was survived by her four sons and her grandchildren.

Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer death record. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11024, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

And then the Oppenheimer siblings had to face the rise of the Nazis.

Rosa’s two daughters both ended up in Palestine. Gertrud  Oppenheimer had decided to become a teacher against the resistance of her family, who believed that women should not work. But Gertrud persisted and ended up teaching in the Jewish elementary school in Frankfurt. Gertrud married Rabbi Bernhard Joel in 1928. As her brother Arnold wrote in his autobiography, Bernhard was the brother of Edith Joel, the housekeeper for the children who was like a surrogate mother to them. Bernhard had immigrated to Palestine in 1924 and was then a librarian at the Jewish National and University Library. After he and Gertrud married in Frankfurt, they returned to Palestine, where they had four children.10

Gertrude Oppenheimer marriage record to Bernhard Joel, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Gertrude (Ruth in Israel) died on November 15, 1979; her husband Bernhard (Issachar in Israel) died April 14, 1977. They were survived by their children and grandchildren.11

Gertrud’s younger sister Edith also immigrated to Palestine. Like her sister Gertrud, she also pursued a career and went to Stuttgart to become a nurse. There she met a second cousin of her brother-in-law Bernhard Joel and his sister Edith Joel, a doctor named Ernst Joel. They were married in 1932 and settled in Stuttgart.12

I was able to find the Palestinian immigration records for Edith and Ernst, and according to those records, they arrived in Palestine on April 24, 1933, just a few months after Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany. My cousin Arthur told me that after Ernst was told by a patient that he could no longer be his doctor because he was Jewish, Ernst told Edith they had to get out of Germany as soon as possible. They must have been among the earliest Jews to see the horrific handwriting on the wall.

Edith and Ernst had three children born in Palestine/Israel in the 1930s. Ernst died in Israel in 1980 and Edith in 2002.13

Ernst Ludwig Joel and Edith Hanna Oppenheimer, Palestine Immigration File, Israel Archives, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680ebc8ca

Rosa’s son Arnold Oppenheimer escaped to England, where he had better business prospects and which he liked better than other countries he’d visited. After clearing numerous bureaucratic hurdles, he was able to immigrate in the spring of 1936, but made several trips back to Germany to help family members emigrate, including one time that he narrowly escaped being arrested by the Gestapo. On August 1, 1939 he married Dorothy Duschinsky, whom he met at a Hanukkah party of a mutual friend in 1937.  She was born in London on March 27, 1911, to Charles Duschinsky, a rabbi and scholar from Hungary, and Blanche Barnett. By marrying Arnold, who was considered an “enemy alien,” Dorothy forfeited her British citizenship.14

But Arnold and Dorothy soon found themselves separated when Arnold was sent to a British internment camp for being an enemy alien soon after World War II started in September, 1939. Arnold, then working as a wool merchant, was first sent to an internment camp in southern England; he was released from that camp six months later, but then in May 1941, he was sent to the internment camp on the Isle of Man. Meanwhile, Dorothy was living with her brother Arthur in Hendon, working as a psychologist.15 Arnold wrote in detail about both the hardships and the more positive aspects of his internship in his book.16

Arnold Oppenheimer internment card UK, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/189
189: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Nels-Orde, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Arnold was finally released in 1942.  Arnold and Dorothy continued to live in England after the war. They had two children, one of whom is my fifth cousin Arthur. Arnold worked in the antique jewelry business for many years before retiring at the age of 82 in 1989.  Dorothy died November 1, 1976, in London; she was 65.17 Arnold outlived her by 35 years.  After having heart surgery at the age of 92, he moved to Israel to be closer to his daughter.18 He died at 104 in Israel on September 25, 2011.19

Thus, Rosa Cramer’s three orphaned children all managed to survive not only the tragedy of losing their parents and brother when they were still young, but also the Holocaust. They found lives for themselves in their new homelands and are today survived by their children and grandchildren all over the world.

So when we are all feeling down and discouraged by COVID and quarantining, it’s important to remember that others have endured terrible ordeals and found light in the darkness. As we light the Hanukkah candles or celebrate whatever holiday traditions we observe that bring light to the darkness this time of year, let’s keep our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Happy Hanukkah!


  1.  William Oppenheimer, Gender: männlich (Male), Age: 16, Birth Date: abt 1905
    Death Date: 31 Dez 1921 (31 Dec 1921), Death Place: Frankfurt, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt , Certificate Number: 7
    Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10857, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2.  Gertrud Karoline Oppenheimer, Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 23, Birth Date: 3 Mrz 1905 (3 Mar 1905), Marriage Date: 22 Mrz 1928 (22 Mar 1928)
    Marriage Place: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
    Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt am Main, Spouse: Bernhard Joel, Certificate Number: 218, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930 
  3.  Arnold S Oppenheimer, Gender: Male, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 15 Jun 1907, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Internment Place: Isle of Man, Discharge Date: 15 May 1941, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/189, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Edith Oppenheimer Joel, Palestinian Immigration File, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680ebc8ca 
  5. Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem). 
  6. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 1. 
  7. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 2. 
  8. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 3 
  9. Oppenheimer, note 5, pp. 1-2, 61. 
  10. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 2. 
  11. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p.3. 
  12. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p. 3. 
  13. Oppenheimer, note 5, at p.4. 
  14. Oppenheimer, note 5, at pp. 69-70. Arnold S Oppenheimer, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Marylebone, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Dorothy Duschinsky, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 2673, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 2673, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  15. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Gender: Female, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1911, Residence Year: 1939, Address: 11 Residence Place: Hendon, Middlesex, England, Occupation: Psychologist Intelligence Tests, Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 76, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: BKCV, Borough: Hendon
    Registration district: 130/3, Household Members Age, Dorothy Oppenheimer 28, Arthur Dusckinskyh 27, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/822C, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register 
  16. Oppenheimer, note 4, at pp. 73-75. See also The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/236, Description Piece Number Description: 236: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Nicht-Plunn, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945. Duschinsky Family, Class: RG14; Piece: 32, Enumeration District: 32, Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census. Dorothy Duschinsky, Registration Year: 1911, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, Registration District: Paddington, Inferred County: London, Volume: 1a, Page: 14, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  17. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 27 Mar 1911, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 13, Page: 0495, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 13; Page: 0495, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. Dorothy Oppenheimer, Death Date: 1 Nov 1976, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 15 Aug 1977, Probate Registry: London, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  18. Oppenheimer, note 5, at pp. 85-86. 
  19.  MyHeritage at https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-1-317197441-7-501665/arnold-selig-oppenheimer-in-myheritage-family-trees 

Selig Goldschmidt’s Only Son, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, and His Family: Part I

I am approaching the end of the story of Selig Goldschmidt as I now turn to Selig and Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt’s only son, Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, his wife Selma Cramer, and their four children: Harry, Arthur, Clementine, and Alice, and their lives in the 20th century.

As we saw, Meyer Selig was born on October 6, 1865, and married Selma Cramer on March 24, 1889. Their children were born between 1890 and 1896. Meyer Selig was his father’s chief biographer and the one who collected and collated the letters and tributes that became the Selig Goldschmidt book.

Thank you to my cousin Alan Philipp who sent me this photograph of Meyer Selig Goldschmidt.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt. Courtesy of Alan Philipp

Meyer and Selma’s oldest son Harry married Fanny Steindecker in Paris on January 21, 1913.1 She was the daughter of David Steindecker and Therese Bing and was born in Paris on December 11, 1891.2 Harry and Fanny had one child, a son Walter Selig Goldschmidt born in Frankfurt on February 3, 1915.3

The next to marry was Meyer’s daughter Clementine. She married Nathan Sondheimer on December 15, 1913, in Frankfurt. He was the son of Moses Tobias Sondheimer and Augusta Ettlinger and was born in Frankfurt on August 27, 1874.

Clementine Goldschmidt and Nathan Sondheimer marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Clementine and Nathan had three children. Manfred Sondheimer was born on October 27, 1914, in Frankfurt.4 His brother Erich Selig Sondheimer was born November 10, 1915, in Frankfurt,5 and Auguste Sondheimer was born January 31, 1917, in Frankfurt.6

Then tragically Clementine died from the 1918 flu epidemic at the age of 25 on October 29, 1918, leaving those three children—all four years old and younger—without their mother. The rest of Clementine’s family’s story will follow in posts to be published next week.

Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10793, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt’s youngest child Alice Goldschmidt married Heinrich Eisemann on May 23, 1919, in Frankfurt. Heinrich was born in Frankfurt on August 5, 1890, to Michael Eisemann and Nanette Altmann.

Alice Goldschmidt Eisemann marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Heinrich had six children born between 1920 and 1930. Thank you to my cousin Chaim, a descendant of Alice and Heinrich, who sent me the link for this YouTube video of old home movies of the Eisemann family in Frankfurt. It shows just how comfortable and “normal” their lives were before the Holocaust.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt died in 1922 and was survived by his wife Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and three of their four children, their daughter Clementine having died in 1918.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt death record, Certificate Number: 1204
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10867
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Two years after Meyer Selig’s death his younger son Arthur married Martha Mitterhauser Widmer in Berlin on April 25, 1924. Martha was born on April 2, 1896 in Koln, Germany. She had previously been married to Hans Widmer.7 (Martha’s parents are not listed on either marriage record.)

Arthur Goldschmidt and Martha Widmer marriage record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 458
Register Year or Type: 1924 (Zweitregister), Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and her three surviving children and their spouses and children all survived the Holocaust. Selma escaped to England, though I cannot pin down when. She registered as an enemy alien on December 15, 1939, and was exempted from internment. On the 1939 England and Wales Register, she is listed as living with a servant in London.8

Selma Cramer Goldschmidt enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/28, Piece Number Description: 028: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Goldm-Golds
Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Selma died in the fall of 1955 in London. She was 87.9 (I will have more to say about Selma in a subsequent post about the children of her daughter Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer.) She was survived by three of her children—Harry, Arthur, and Alice—and many grandchildren. Their stories will continue in the posts to follow.

 

 

 


  1. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report 
  2. Fanny Steindecker, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 11 Dec 1891, Birth Place: Paris, France, Death Date: 15 Nov 1987, Father: David Steindecker, Mother: Therese Bing
    SSN: 105363121, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3.  Walter Goldschmidt, Gender: Male, Declaration Age: 27, Record Type: Declaration
    Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Main, Germany, Arrival Date: 18 Feb 1942, Arrival Place: Newsport News, Virginia, USA, Declaration Date: 21 Aug 1942
    Declaration Place: New York, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 528268, Box Number: 404, 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,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  4. Manfred Sondheimer, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 27 Oct 1914
    Birth Place: Frankfort Am, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 8 Jan 2006
    Father: Nathan Sondheimer, Mother: Clementine Goldschmidt, SSN: 051183476
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5.  Erich Selig Sondheimer, Race: White, Age: 31, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1915, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Registration Date: 22 Nov 1946, Registration Place: New York City, New York, Employer: Petro Tar and Chemical Corporation, Weight: 141
    Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  6.  Auguste Sondheimer, Birth Date: 31 Jan 1917, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main
    Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 8, Schafranek, Lizzi – Stern, Moritz, Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  7. Marriage of Martha Mittelhauser and Hans Widmer, Certificate Number: 25, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 255, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936 
  8. Selma Goldschmidt, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/564E, Description Enumeration District: AWAE, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register. 
  9. Selma S Goldschmidt, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: abt 1868
    Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1955, Registration District: Paddington
    Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 159, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 159, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part IV: Tributes to the Man—Family Man, Entrepeneur, Philanthropist, and Patron of the Arts

Selig Goldschmidt

What made Selig Goldschmidt such an adored figure in the Frankfurt Jewish community? When he died in January 1894, there were many obituaries and tributes singing his praises and mourning his death. Many of these were collected by his son Meyer and then translated by later generations in 1996 and published in Israel in the book I’ve been referring to as the Selig Goldschmidt book.1

One characteristic of Selig was his benevolence and generosity to individuals in need and to charitable organizations. There are many letters in the book describing various donations he made or asking him for help. For example, he and his wife Clementine donated 20,000 Marks to establish an orphanage for Jewish girls in 1882.2 When he died, the letters and obituaries all mentioned his philanthropy.

Selig was also generous in his support of the arts. Much of his generosity was made possible because of the remarkable success of his arts and antiques business. There is not a great deal of detail about the business in the Selig Goldschmidt book, but some of the tributes to Selig provide insights. One man wrote a tribute that was published in the Frankfurt newspaper Finanzerhold as part of its obituary for Selig:3

Mr. Selig Goldschmidt, together with his brother Jakob who long predeceased him, founded the prestigious art business, J&S Goldschmidt which, from modest beginnings, rose to a dominant position in the world of art.

…The importance of the current art and antique trade with its close contacts with arts and crafts… is today well known and appreciated. This is due, in no small measure, to the merits of the departed. Forty years ago interest in art treasures of the past was still nebulous. Often these lay hidden, covered in dust, in most unlikely corners. It was then the task of intelligent dealers to track down such treasures, recover them from their hiding places and turn them into models for imitating the former arts and crafts industry to benefit the living generation.  It was not often easy to do justice to this task. Often it meant waging a campaign against the ignorance and limited understanding of the owner as well as against forgery. This required firm knowledge of the trade, energy, sensitivity and understanding—in short, genius. These qualities can be ascribed to the deceased to a high degree, and they earned him rare success. However, this success did not dazzle him, when—much as his reputation, and that of his firm, grew—whatever lasting reward acquired by his efforts in furthering the high aspirations of the art market, he remained the modest businessman and friend of humanity. He never put the materialistic side of his profession above its ideals.

Among Selig’s most famous clients were members of the Rothschild family. Baron Edmund de Rothschild sent a condolence note to Selig’s family. In its obituary of Selig, the Frankfurter General Anzeiger mentioned that Baron Mayer Carl von Rothschild was one of Selig’s loyal clients, thanks to Selig’s “highly developed understanding of art.”  Another obituary mentioned that “Rothschild only wanted the most rare and the most beautiful, so that the buying demanded the highest circumspection and skill. In this respect the high level of knowledge, which the deceased had acquired on his own, was quite remarkable.” 4

Selig’s firm not only acquired and dealt with secular works of art and antiques; they also specialized in Judaica, and the book about Selig includes many photographs of the Judaica he collected and traded. That is not surprising, given what an observant Jewish life Selig lived. In his letters to his children and grandchildren as well as to others, he almost always mentioned his gratitude to God and the importance of Jewish values. His letters frequently mention Shabbat and Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukah, and others. His support of his synagogue and of Jewish educational institutions was based not just on his charitable instincts but on his commitment to tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (healing the world).

These values were expressed by Selig explicitly in his Last Will and Testament dated July 1889. Unlike most wills, Selig did not merely identify how his assets should be distributed. He also wrote to his children about the way he hoped they would live their lives after he was gone. Today we would call this an ethical will, but back then I think this must have been quite unusual.

Selig wrote, in part:5

May G-d always be with you and bless you with all that is good and noble….Do not be too sad and upset when I have been called to rest with my forefathers, but thank G-d who has allowed me till now to fulfill my mission on earth so well. … Above all, my dear and good children, I beg of you to remain firm and strong in the faith of our fathers. Cling firmly to the laws of G-d and you will have the surest and safest guidance for your entire life. At the same time, don’t be over pious, do not condemn a person who does not share your views. Above all, keep your firm brotherly and sisterly friendship. Help each other with advice and action, and never forget those relatives who need your help.

He then wrote about how he grew up poor and was grateful for the financial security he attained as an adult because it allowed him to take care of them all as well as other relatives and to provide charity for others.  His requests of his children were that they take care of their grandmother, Caroline Schuster Fuld, for the rest of her life and that they continue to support the institutions that he and Clementine had supported including the Jewish schools.  After listing the specific bequests (not included in the book), Selig’s will concluded with these words:6

My purpose here on earth is now fulfilled, thanks to G-d’s kindness. If now it would please the Almighty to unite me again with my Clementine, I would call eagerly, here I am. I can calmly leave the beloved circle of my dear children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, since I am quite sure that you will bless our memory by attempting to complete with your noble efforts and Divine help, what we have always endeavored to do.

Now, my good children and grandchildren live cheerfully and happily. May Almighty G-d bless you and make you happy, just as you will strive to make each other and those around you happy. Then you will enjoy a long and happy life, just as your grateful and ever loving father, father-in-law and grandfather has done up to the present day.

That was quite a loving and hopeful legacy that Selig wished for his descendants. In the posts to come, we will learn whether their lives lived up to his hopes and dreams for them.


  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies) 
  2. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 107. 
  3. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 152. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 149, 151. 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 119. 
  6. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 122-123. 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part III, 1888-1896: The Deaths of Clementine and Selig

By 1888, Selig Goldschmidt and his wife Clementine Fuld were living a good life. Their five daughters were all married, and there were numerous grandchildren filling their family’s life with lots of love and shared experiences. Selig’s business was thriving, and as we saw from the excerpts from the Selig Goldschmidt book, Selig was adored not only by his family but also by his community.

And then on March 6, 1888, Selig lost his beloved wife Clementine. She was only 51 years old, and her death was unexpected and sudden.

Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10411, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

In a eulogy delivered by Professor A. Sulzbach in honor of Clementine, after extolling her many virtues—her modesty despite her wealth, her commitment to charity and to helping children and others in need, and her compassion, he stated:1

Another comfort to us at this time is the knowledge that her life was a happy one. She was fortunate to live at the side of a beloved husband, highly appreciated by his fellow citizens, among a flourishing group of children who adored her, and she was spared the worries that so frequently disturb the happiness of man.

After loyally fulfilling all her duties, she passed away before life could disappoint her with its grievous and distressing changes. She passed away immediately after one of the greatest Mitzvoth which a woman of middle age, a grandmother, rarely has an opportunity to perform. She had intended to go out, but as an affectionate daughter, did not like to leave the house without wishing her mother a very good night. It was to be her last parting greeting in life. She was then called away. 

Her son Meyer also wrote words of praise in his mother’s honor:2

A year before my wedding, occurred the death of my unforgettable and beloved mother who was universally admired. The radiant sun of our happiness changed to deepest darkness. A life full of love, tenderness, unity and harmony of outlook was terminated. For us this was like being hurled from the brightest summit of life into the darkest depth. 

Further insight into the character of Clementine Fuld Goldschmidt was provided by her husband Selig’s decision to turn down an offer by their synagogue to dedicate a ner tamid, an eternal light, in Clementine’s memory. Instead, Selig donated 7800 Marks to the synagogue and asked that they establish a scholarship for three students at the high school in Clementine’s name. He wrote:3

In her lifetime, my late wife, with her characteristic modesty, rejected all public expressions of gratitude for her efforts and endeavors. Therefore, it would surely be even now her wish to refuse the distinction intended for her. 

This portrait of Clementine appears in the Selig Goldschmidt book:

Less than six months after Clementine’s death, her daughter Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild had a third child, born August 30, 1888, in Frankfurt. They named her Clementine for her grandmother, the first of many descendants to be named in her memory.

Clementine Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9047, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

In August 1888, in a letter that Selig wrote to the children of his daughter Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer, he described a vacation he was having with his son Meyer Selig, his daughter Helene, her husband Leon, and their son Giacomo in Ostend, Belgium:4

My dearly beloved good Rosa, my good and obedient Max, my good and wild Sally, and my good and beautiful Lena,

My dear good children, I have a strong desire to see you. …It is a pity that you cannot be with us because here in Ostend starts the big ocean where we bathe every day. There is plenty of sand on its shores where children can play nice games. They build houses and castles in the sand, which are later swept away by the water. It is great fun for young children. When I come here again another time, you must come too with your parents.

I loved this letter because it showed that Selig was very much involved in the lives of his married daughters and their children and that despite his loss, he was finding joy with his family.

Just over a year after Clementine’s death, Clementine and Selig’s only son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt was married on March 24, 1889. He married Selma Suzette Cramer, the daughter of Salomon Cramer and Therese Oppenheimer and the first cousin of Hirsch Hermann Cramer, the husband of Meyer’s sister Hedwig. Selma was born on May 24, 1868, in Furth, Germany.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 9477, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Meyer and Selma moved into Selig’s home at his request. Meyer wrote:5

My father greatly appreciated the spiritual and mental qualities of my beloved wife, while she surrounded him with utmost devotion and childlike admiration and affection….It gave us great joy and satisfaction to see how our dear father revived and once again enjoyed a happy life, almost as he did when our good mother was still with us. 

Meyer and Selma’s first child Harry was born on May 24, 1890, in Frankfurt.

Harry Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9074, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Meyer shared this sweet incident that occurred when Harry was a baby.  The baby’s room was next to Selig’s room, and concerned that the baby’s crying would disturb Selig’s sleep, Meyer and Selma offered to move him to another room. But Selig refused to let them do it. According to Meyer, Selig’s response was, “If I am awakened at night by the crying of the child, I enjoy listening to it. For me that is the most beautiful music imaginable.”6

Meyer and Selma’s second child Arthur was born on October 3, 1891, in Frankfurt.

Arthur Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9091
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their third child Clementine, obviously another grandchild named for Selig’s wife, was born on October 5, 1893, in Frankfurt.

Clementine Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9123, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The extended family suffered another terrible loss when Hedwig Goldschmidt Cramer’s youngest daughter Caroline died on July 16, 1893. She was only seven years old.

Caroline Cramer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10464, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Just  three months later, Hedwig gave birth to her fifth child, Herbert, born on October 30, 1893. So she was six months pregnant with Herbert when she lost Caroline.

Herbert Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9124
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The last-born grandchild of Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt was Meyer and Selma’s daughter Alice, who was born on July 9, 1896, in Frankfurt.

Alice Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9170, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Unfortunately, Selig Goldschmidt did not live to see the birth of his last grandchild Alice. He died six months before on January 13, 1896, in Frankfurt. He was sixty-seven years old and was survived by his six children and eighteen of his twenty grandchildren, Martha Schwarzchild and Caroline Cramer having predeceased him as had his wife Clementine.

Selig Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10493
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Selig Goldschmidt was greatly loved and revered by his children and by his community. The book dedicated to his memory by his son Meyer and then translated and published by his later descendants includes many tributes and obituaries devoted to Selig Goldschmidt. I cannot include them all, but will attempt to provide an overview that reveals why this man was so respected and adored in my next post.

Gravestones of Selig and Clementine Goldschmidt
Courtesy of Rafi Stern


  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 129. 
  2. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 6. 
  3. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 87. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 47 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 6 
  6. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies). p. 7. 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part II, 1867-1887: Weddings and Grandchildren

By 1867, Selig and Clementine (Fuld) Goldschmidt had six children, five girls and one boy, and were living comfortably in Frankfurt, Germany, where Selig owned a successful art and antique business.

Selig was adored by his family and also by many in the Frankfurt community, as his son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt wrote in the preface to the Selig Goldschmidt book:1

My father had a tall, wonderful figure and a distinguished bearing. He was full of energy and creativity. His participation was sought everywhere. Be it our community, business activities, public organization or for the benefit of an individual, he attended every cause with great warmth and without losing his cheerful manner and inner calm. His actions personified his frequent quote, “If you want to be happy, try to make others happy and glad.” Both in the home and outside he was the focal point—honoured, respected and loved. Wherever he went he was soon surrounded by friends and admirers, happy to join his circle.

In a later chapter in the Selig Goldschmidt book, “The Emerging Personality,” Meyer further elaborated on his father’s personality:2

A flourishing wit and a refreshing sense of humour developed in him and made him the natural centre of any pleasant social gathering. Above all, for his close family this cheerfulness became a true comfort and refuge. His ability to pacify, to heal and reduce any pain and to sympathise with all suffering, whether due to serious and oppressive anguish of adults, or insignificant troubles which appeared overwhelming in children. At all times he showed himself as a brave and cheerful master of worldly matters and fateful events.

Meyer’s words describe a man who was a much-adored father, and his role in the lives of his children did not end when they married. He then took on caring about their spouses and the grandchildren who followed as well as the widow and children of his brother Jacob. That is reflected in the many letters Selig wrote to his children after they had left home and started families of their own.

By the beginning of 1888, all of Selig and Clementine’s daughters were married and had children. Helene, the oldest child, was the first to marry. She married Leon Tedesco on June 9, 1876, in Frankfurt. Leon was born in Paris, France, on February 1, 1853, to Jacob  Tedesco and Therese Cerf. He was, like the Goldschmidts, an art dealer, his family owning Tedesco Freres, a famous and important art gallery in Paris. 

Helene Goldschmidt marriage record, roll: 31067_04G024
Ancestry.com. Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902

Helene Goldschmidt marriage record, Certificate Number: 578
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helene and Leon would have one child, a son Giacomo born in Paris on July 28, 1879.3

Flora Goldschmidt was the next to marry; she married Emil Schwarzchild on March 22, 1878, in Bornheim, Germany, a district of Frankfurt. Emil was also a native of Frankfurt, born there on March 16, 1856, to Emanuel Schwarzschild and Rasel Frenkel.

Flora Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland Description Year Range: 1878 Source Information Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Flora and Emil’s first child Siegfried was born January 21, 1879, in Frankfurt.

Siegfried Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8927
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their second child Helene Schwarzschild was born April 20, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Helene Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8968
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

For a while I thought they’d only had those two children. But then I found a letter in the Selig Goldschmidt book that suggested there was a third child. On August 14, 1882, Selig wrote to Flora and Emil from Marienbad which ends, “Kiss Siegfried, Helenchen, and Rosa for me, as well as all relatives and friends.” 4 Siegfried was three, Helene a few  months old. But who was Rosa?

I searched for other children of Flora and Emil, and sadly I did find one, but she could not have been the Rosa mentioned in Selig’s letter because her name was Martha, and she wasn’t born until December 21, 1886, four years after Selig wrote the letter. Tragically, Martha died at age two on June 6, 1889, in Frankfurt.

Martha Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10422, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

So who was Rosa? Perhaps she was Hedwig’s daughter Rosa, who was born, as we will now see, on March 16, 1881. Or perhaps she was just another Rosa who happened to be with Flora and Emil at that time. Maybe Selig was referring to Flora’s mother-in-law, Rasel Frenkel Schwarzschild? I don’t know.

One other possible clue is in another letter written by Selig, this one on February 25, 1883, from Paris, where he was visiting Helene, Leon, and Giacomo Tedesco. It’s a letter to his daughter Hedwig and her husband (here referred to as Hermann, otherwise known as Hirsch), wishing Hedwig a happy birthday. In that letter, Selig wrote, “I hope that dear Flora and Emanuel have found comfort. I have often thought of them and felt for them, but whatever G-d does is good.” 5 I assume that he is referring to his daughter Flora and that Emanuel must be a reference to Emil, perhaps his Hebrew name. And it certainly sounds like Flora and Emil/Emanuel suffered a loss. Had the child Rosa referred to in the August 1882 letter died between that date and February 25, 1883?

If so, I have not been able to locate either a birth or a death record for that child.

Selig and Clementine’s third daughter Hedwig married Hirsch (Hermann) Cramer on March 5, 1880, in Bornheim, Germany. Hirsch was the son of Jakob Cramer and Karoline Fuerth and was born in Thundorf, Germany, on October 12, 1852.

Hedwig Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hedwig and Hirsch had five children, four before 1888. Rosa was born in Frankfurt on March 16, 1881.

Rosa Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8954
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Max (Meier) was born on September 4, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Max Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8970
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Salomon (Sally) was born June 22, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Sally Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8994
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Caroline (known as Lena) was born June 8, 1886, in Frankfurt.

Caroline Cramer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9018
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The fourth daughter of Selig and Clementine, Recha, married Alfred Schwarzchild on October 21, 1881, in Bornheim. Alfred was born in Frankfurt on May 14, 1858, to Isaac Schwarzchild and Rosalie Kulp. One question I’ve not been able to answer is whether Alfred was related to his brother-in-law Emil, husband of Recha’s sister Flora. They had different fathers and different grandfathers and different great-grandfathers, so if they were related they were at best third cousins.

UPDATE: Thank you to my cousin Alan Philipp, who had a Schwarzschild family tree and traced both Emil and Alfred to their mutual great-great-grandfather Jakob Schwarzschild, making Emil and Alfred third cousins. I’d been unable to get back to Alfred’s great-great-grandfather, and that proved to be the mutual ancestor for them both.

Recha Goldschmidt marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Recha and Alfred had two sons by 1888. Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild was born on February 12, 1885, in Frankfurt.

Jacob Alfred Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9003, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

His brother Robert Meier Schwarzschild was born August 7, 1886, in Frankfurt.

Robert Meier Schwarzschild birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9019
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna, the fifth and youngest daughter of Selig and Clementine, married her first cousin Abraham Stern on June 24, 1887, as discussed here, and they had five children, also already discussed.

Thus, by the beginning of 1888, all five of Selig and Clementine’s daughters were married and had children. Selig and Clementine had been blessed with numerous grandchildren from their five daughters.

But then on March 22, 1888, the family suffered a major loss. More on that in my next post.

 


  1. “Preface,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 4-5. Selig had lost his brother and business partner Jacob Meier Goldschmidt on January 20, 1864, when Jacob died at age 39, as I wrote about here
  2. “The Emerging Personality,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 26. 
  3. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. 
  4. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 41. 
  5. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p. 42. 

Selig Goldschmidt, Part I: Loving Son, Husband, and Father

If you have a really, really good memory and have been reading this blog for over a year, you may remember that back in October 2019—before COVID!—I wrote my first blog post about my 4x-great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt, and relied heavily as a source of information about Meyer and his family on a book created in honor of his son Selig Goldschmidt.

The book, Selig Goldschmidt: A Picture of A Life,  was published in Israel by Selig’s descendants in 1996 (hereinafter referred to as the Selig Goldschmidt book),1 and it includes remembrances, letters, and obituaries that were originally compiled by Selig’s son Meyer and that were then translated from German to English by the later generation in order to preserve and honor the memory of Selig Goldschmidt.

Last year I relied on the Selig Goldschmidt book to tell the story of Selig’s parents, Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein, and about the childhood of Selig and his siblings, but now I am returning to the book to focus more exclusively on what it reveals about Selig himself as he grew from a child and spent his adult life in Frankfurt, Germany.

First, some background. Selig was born on March 16, 1828, in Grebenstein, Germany, the fifth child and second son of his parents Meyer and Lea. (I have already written about the first four: Ella, Sarah, Jacob, and Amalie.)

Selig Goldschmidt birth record, Arcinsys Hessen, HHStAW, 365, 375 Jüdische Personenstandsregister von Grebenstein: Geburtsregister der Juden von Grebenstein, p. 36

As described in the book, the family was quite poor when Selig was a child, and his father Meyer suffered from poor health, exacerbating the precariousness of their financial position. Then Selig’s mother Lea Katzenstein Goldschmidt died on September 28, 1839 (after having given birth to two more sons after Selig, Joseph, who died when he was six in 1836, and Falk, who was born in 1836). Selig was only eleven years old, and as I wrote about here, he and his siblings had to take on a lot of responsibility for each other and for the youngest sibling, Falk, who was only three.

Once the older siblings began to marry and have households of their own, the financial pressure was reduced. After the youngest sister Amalie married Juda Katzenstein in 1853 and her father Meyer moved with them to Eschwege, Selig and his brother Jacob sold the family home in Grebenstein and moved to Frankfurt,2 where the two brothers established the firm J&S Goldschmidt, which grew to be one of the most famous and successful art and antique dealerships in Germany and perhaps in Europe. More on that to come. But it’s important to remember that Selig and his siblings grew up in poverty before building their business to what must have been unimaginable success.

According to the civil record below, on May 27, 1857, Selig married Clementine Fuld in Frankfurt. She was born in Frankfurt on January 8, 1837, to Herz Fuld and Caroline Schuster, and, as I noted in my prior post, she was the sister of Salomon Fuld, who would later marry Selig’s niece Helene Goldschmidt, daughter of Selig’s brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Marriage of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, Certificate Number: 30
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

However, it appears that Selig and Clementine had been married under religious law nine months earlier. The Selig Goldschmidt book includes a facsimile of their ketubah as well as a translation in English of their marriage contract, and it indicated that they were married on August 20, 1856.3

A letter written by Selig to Clementine on August 31, 1856, reveals that this was a love match; it also suggests how busy Selig was and how often he had to travel for work. Selig, who was away on business in Dinkelspiel at that time, wrote in part:4

Dearest Clementine

I have received your most welcome letter just after my arrival here. [He then described how he spent Shabbos in Dinkelspiel.]… The afternoon passed pleasantly in conversation until after the evening service in the synagogue when I was alone once again. I missed you very much, dear Clementine, and would have gladly paid a lot of money in exchange for half an hour’s conversation with you, if that could have been instantly arranged. Since that was impossible, I did the same as Friday night and went to bed at eight o’clock. I dreamed I was with you, dear Clementine, and I had such a pleasant talk with you and was so happy to be near you that the time passed very quickly. [Selig then wrote that he would be delayed returning to Frankfurt because of business.] … However, early in the following week, please G-d, the happy day of our reunion will arrive. Then, dear Clementine, we will enjoy ourselves and chat enough to compensate for everything we have missed. Yet that joy can only last for two or three days because then I must set out on my journey to Leipzig. Thus man’s happiness is always limited, just as his existence is only brief. However, of what use is such nonsense? After all, that is part of my occupation and you yourself have told me not to neglect my business. We must utilize properly the short time allotted to us, for such is life! If only one would use this time assigned to oneself well, surely the whole world would be a happier place. …

Dear Clementine, please accept sincere greetings and kisses from your affectionate and faithful

               Selig

Selig and Clementine had six children—five daughters and one son, all born in Frankfurt. First born was Helene, born on February 28, 1858.

Helene Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8812, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

A year later Flora was born on March 17, 1859.

Flora Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8814, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Hedwig was born two years later on February 27, 1861.

Hedwig Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8818
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Recha followed two years after Hedwig. She was born on June 11, 1863.

Recha Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8824
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Selig and Clementine’s only son Meyer Selig Goldschmidt was born on October 6, 1865. He was obviously named for his grandfather Meyer.

Meyer Selig Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8830
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The last child, Johanna, was born on December 18, 1867. Johanna grew up to marry her first cousin Abraham Stern, the son of Selig’s sister Sarah, and her story has already been told in great detail when I wrote about Abraham and their family so I will not tell it again.

Johanna Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8837
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

In the preface to the Selig Goldschmidt book, Selig’s son Meyer described what his childhood was like and how the family was bound in love:5

The ideals of children, grandchildren and the wider family circle were all in tune; thus an incomparable, blissful harmony prevailed in our family. It was constantly sustained by love, affection and enthusiasm for all that is noble and good which emanated from the head of our family. Before meals on Friday evening in winter and on Shabbos evenings after the meal, a large number of the more distant family would assemble in our home. There were so many people that it is difficult to understand, in view of the relatively small size of the rooms, how comfortable and happy everyone felt. It may have been due to a certain simplicity which was deliberately cultivated there. In the main room a big bowl of fruit stood on the table at which we sat, and anyone who wished could help himself.

Imagine if all children were as blessed as the six children of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld and able to grow up surrounded by so much joy and love.

This portrait of Selig and Clementine’s children appears on page 37 of the Selig Goldschmidt book. It appears to have been taken in 1872 based on the ages of the children (the daughters are identified by their married names).

Selig Goldschmidt’s children

 

 

 


  1. Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies) 
  2. “The Story of A Ring,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), p.22 
  3. “The Man,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 34-39 
  4. “The Man,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 32-33. 
  5. “Preface,” Selig Goldschmidt: Picture of A Life (1996, Elmar Printers Ltd. and Bezalel Bookbinders, Jerusalem, Israel)(limited edition of 300 copies), pp. 4-5. 

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, Part I: Two Dutch Sons-in-Law

The third surviving daughter of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein was Henriette. As we saw, she was born on February 13, 1858, in Eschwege, and married Simon Schnadig on August 20, 1877, in Eschwege. Henriette and Simon had four children—Julius, Helene, Betty, and Elsa—-but only three survived to adulthood.

Their son Julius only lived two years. He was born on May 13, 1878, in Frankfurt, where Henriette and Simon were then living, and died in Frankfurt on August 13, 1880.

Julius Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8917, Year Range: 1878, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Julius Schnadig death record, Certificate Number: 1961
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10336
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Ten months later Henriette gave birth to their second child, Helene, born in Frankfurt on June 26, 1881.

Helene Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8956, Year Range: 1881, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

I found it odd that Henriette named her daughter Helene since that was the name of her older sister, who was definitely still living in 1881, and I cannot find any other close relative of Henriette or Simon with that first name. Perhaps the Hebrew names were different.

Betty Schnadig, the second daughter, was born August 27, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Betty Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8970, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Henriette and Simon’s third daughter Elsa was born in Frankfurt on January 14, 1890, seven and a half years after Betty, making me wonder whether Henriette and Simon had other babies or pregnancies that did not survive.

Elsa Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9071, Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The oldest daughter Helene Schnadig married Emil Cohn on May 28, 1900, in Frankfurt. She was only eighteen, and Emil was thirty. He was born in Hamburg on February 4, 1870, to Simon Cohn and Malvine Josaphat.

Helene Schnadig and Emil Cohn marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helene and Emil had four children, all born in Hamburg. Meta was born on April 3, 1901.

Meta Cohn birth record, Year Range and Volume: 1901 Band 03
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Births, 1874-1901. Original data:Best. 332-5 Standesämter, Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg, Deutschland.

Siegbert was born April 23, 1905;1 Hertha Johanna was born September 1, 1906;2 and Lissy Sitta was born July 21, 1910.3

Betty Schnadig, the middle sister, married Bernard Arie Cohen on April 21, 1903, in Darmstadt, where Betty’s parents Henriette and Simon Schnadig were living at that time. He was born January 5, 1879, in Groningen, Holland, and was the son of Arie Cohen and Amalia Breslour. Since Groningen, located in the very northernmost part of the Netherlands, is over 300 miles from Darmstadt and in an entirely different country, I wonder how Betty and Bernard connected.

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 901; Laufende Nummer: 223, Year Range: 1903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Betty and Bernard had four children. Arnold was born February 2, 1904, in Groningen, Holland, where Betty and Bernard had settled and where all their children were born.4 Anita was born on November 25, 1907;5 the third child Simona Hedda was born January 16, 1912,6 and the youngest child Adolf was born July 17, 1916.7

Elsa Schnadig, the youngest child of Henriette Katzenstein and Simon Schnadig, also married a Dutch man. She married Salomon Aron Cats, the son of Aron Salomon Cats and Louisa Frieser; he was born on June 3, 1882, in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. Elsa and Salomon were married on August 9, 1909, in Offenbach am Main, where her parents were then living.

Elsa Schnadig and Salomon Cats marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 918; Laufende Nummer: 517, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

So between 1900 when their oldest daughter Helene was married in Frankfurt and 1909 when Elsa was married, Simon and Helene had moved from Frankfurt to Darmstadt to Offenbach. I wonder why since in those days people seemed to stay in one place for many years if not their entire lives.

Elsa and Salomon had two sons. Marcel was born on February 25, 1916, in Schaerbeek, Belgium, and Harry was born August 20, 1919, in Amsterdam, where the family was then living as seen on this family register from the Amsterdam archives.

Family register of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 152 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, Other information
Resident registration card, Web Address https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22marcel%20cats%22%7D, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

I want to express my deep gratitude to Bert de Jong of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook for his generous efforts in finding this Dutch record and many other Dutch records for the family of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig. I would never have known of these records without his help.

If you look closely at the above record (click to zoom in), you will see that Elsa’s mother Henriette was also living with Elsa and her family in Amsterdam for some time. The record depicted below is from a registry of foreign residents and shows more specifically when Henriette spent time in Amsterdam. It appears that she was there for a period in 1917-1919 and then returned to Germany in June 1919. There is no mention of Simon so it appears he was not with her while she was living in Amsterdam.

Source reference Reproduction parts , archive number 5416 , inventory number 213 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1930 Web Address https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22schnadig%22%7D  Amstserdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

Thus, two of Simon and Henriette’s children, Betty and Elsa, married Dutch men and relocated from Germany to the Netherlands long before the Nazi era.

Simon Schnadig died on May 7, 1920, at the age of seventy in Brussels, Belgium.8 I don’t know whether Simon and Henriette had moved once again, this time to Brussels, or whether he just happened to die there while traveling either to visit one of his daughters in Holland or on business. If Simon had relocated to Brussels, Henriette must have moved back to Hamburg either before or after Simon died because she was living in Hamburg when she died on May 27, 1924, at the age of 66. Her son-in-law Emil Cohn was the informant on her death record.

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, death record, Year Range and Volume: 1924 Band 01
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950

Simon Schnadig and Henriette Katzenstein were survived by their three daughters and ten grandchildren. Unfortunately, those descendants faced tragic times ahead during the Nazi era, as we will see in the posts to follow.


  1. Siegbert Armin Israel Cohn, Gender: Male, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 23 abr 1905 (23 Apr 1905), Birth Place: Hamburgo, Arrival Date: 1939, Arrival Place: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Father: Emil Cohn, Mother: Helene Cohn, Traveling With Children: Yes, FHL Film Number: 004542471, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  2. Hertha Johanna Cohn, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev, Source reference Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 159 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, Web Address
    https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22hertha%20cohn%22%7D 
  3. Lissy Sitty Cohn, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/14, Piece Number Description: 014: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Cohn-Cz, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4.  Arnold Cohen, Birth Date: 2 feb 1904, Birth Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Bettij Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  5.  Anita Cohen, Birth Date: 25 nov 1907, Birth Place: Groningen, Residence Year: 1907, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  6.  Simona Hedda Cohen, Residence Age: 0, Birth Date: 16 jan 1912, Birth Place: Groningen, Residence Year: 1912, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Bettij Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  7.  Adolf Cohen, Birth Date: 17 jul 1916, Birth Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth,
    Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  8. https://www.genealogieonline.nl/stamboom-bouweriks-neervoort-frenk/I29524.php 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part I: Growing Up in Frankfurt

In March, 2020, I wrote about the family of my cousin Julius Loewenthal, the son of Kiele Stern and Abraham Loewenthal, grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, and great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. Julius was married to Elsa Werner, his second cousin, the daughter of Helene Katzenstein, granddaughter of Malchen Goldschmidt, Sarah Goldschmidt’s younger sister.

They had four children: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918.

The basic facts of their story were described in detail here: the car accident that killed Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda and seriously injured Julius; the escape of Julius and Elsa from Germany; the murder of Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot by the Nazis; Hilda’s marriage and divorce from Max Stern, the founder of the Hartz Mountain Corporation; Herbert Loewenthal’s move to Zurich after first immigrating to New York; and Karl’s departure to England to study at the Leicester Textile School and then serve in the British armed forces during World War II, during which time he changed his name to Garry Warner on the advice of his superior officer in case he was captured by the Nazis.

Since writing that post back in March, I have had the pleasure of connecting with and talking to Garry Warner-Loewenthal’s daughter Joanne, my fifth cousin. She has shared with me the memoir her grandfather Julius Loewenthal wrote in 1940 while the war was still going on and before he learned of the fate of his granddaughter Margot.

Joanne has generously given me permission to share some of the memoir, which was translated from German to English by her father Garry. As always, having the words of someone who lived through these experiences is so much more powerful than the words of a third person like me. In the next set of posts I will share some of the most poignant parts of Julius Loewenthal’s memoir. Today’s post will focus on the early years of Julius’ life in the Jewish community of Frankfurt in the late nineteenth century.

I have made a few editing changes and have selected only portions of the memoir, but have preserved as much as possible the tone and content of the original, including the capitalization of nouns that Garry Warner-Loewenthal preserved when he translated his father’s text.


I saw the light of day on August 24th 1874 in Wiesbaden near Frankfurt in our home on the Orianenstrasse…. When I was one year old, my parents moved back to Frankfurt. My father established a Wine Dealership in Frankfurt. …I had to help there a great deal during my youth. I had to fill bottles, cork them, and seal them, then carry the Wine to the customers.

… Later my dear Grandmother Sara [Goldschmidt] Stern with her Sons Adolf [also known as Abraham] and Mayer moved in with us and we shared a common household. That was an enormous strain and work for my dear mother, especially since she had borne 6 children of whom one died….

When I was 5 ½ years of age I was already sent to school. The school was located near the Synagogue near our House; all this was near as in those days nearly all Jews in Frankfurt lived in this neighborhood of Rechneigraben. In that locality was a Fishmarket on Fridays and before the high holidays you could buy your Lulef and your chickens. Thus, there always was lots of activity and commerce.

The Jewish community was led by the famous and highly respected Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch. I remember with joy this small in stature man with his brilliant eyes….

Selig Goldschmidt was the brother of my grandmother Sara Stern. He lived in Frankfurt during that time. He was a successful and very highly respected merchant. His knowledge of the world was great as were his religious convictions. He assisted Rabbi Hirsch in everything he could and what was necessary for the good of the Jewish community…..Rabbi Hirsch was the leader of a community who counted among its members many learned and wealthy individuals. Before the 1st World War there existed enormous wealth among the families of the Frankfurt congregation and the position of the Jews in Germany was then a respected one….Thus, their businesses were successful and they contributed much to Art and Culture of the country.

J & S Goldschmidt store on Kaiserstrasse in Frankfurt, c. 1890, Library of Congress Control Number 2002713666, found at https://lccn.loc.gov/2002713666

I attended the school I was enrolled in for 9 years. It was a very difficult time for me because much was demanded from me and much more than is expected of children today. Even on Sundays we had to go to school. I needed tutoring and for that I visited the house of my teacher Mr. Kauffmann. He was an unpleasant and very strict teacher who managed to rob me of the last sunshine of my youth. We had no free days at all, not even holidays….The results of this was that my health was never good and I became the easy victim of every serious sickness, which was dangerous as in those days little medication existed to combat these illnesses.

….There were always many family affairs. Bar mitzvahs, weddings, etc. never ended and were celebrated with pomp and generosity as befitted the wealth of those families. It was not a rare occasion when 600 or more people were invited to these affairs. It was common for individuals to create their music compositions and write their own theater pieces and present same on these occasions. Costumes were loaned from the Opera and Ballet houses. We children were always encouraged to make speeches during these festivities and after meals. We were encouraged to speak of Torah and general subjects. I write these things because I want to tell my children how happy the German Jews once lived.

The house of Selig Goldschmidt was a central meeting place for the family. Every Friday evening after the Evening meal was always a large reception in his home. During these occasions the family had much fun and for the children there was much activity. On Saturdays the central meeting place for the family was in his brother’s home, Falk Goldschmidt, who was a very humorous and charming individual who always kept everybody laughing and happy.

My Grandmother Sara Stern…lived in my parents’ house….Her brothers and sisters visited often and many many times we sat around our table talking by the light of the candles as gas and electric was not available at the time. I was very good at drawing when I was a child and often presented my drawings of different subjects to my relatives when they came to the house. It needs no mention that the Jewish holidays such as Seder, Succoth and all the others were celebrated with much joy and the strict observance of Jewish religious laws. … Both of our Uncles [Meier and Adolf] were like fathers to us and after my father died at an early age, they became our protectors and supporters until we children were old enough to take over.

Khal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue attended by the Goldschmidt family. https://www.kajinc.org/about/history

…I finished school at the age of 14 and my father sent me to a wholesale jobbing business as an apprentice. It was a very hard apprenticeship. … However, no one got me down. My first task was to bring order into the large inventory of the firm that even my employer praised as was not his custom to praise anyone. I requested a sample case and went out and sold merchandise with good results and much to the amazement of everyone. I made such a good place for myself that later the employer, Mr. Adler, requested that my brother Siegfried also join the firm as an apprentice.


I will end here for now and pick up in the next post with Julius as a young adult, his experience with the cholera epidemic, his marriage, and his life as an adult in Eschwege, Germany, before the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933.

I am so grateful to my cousin Joanne for allowing me to share these excerpts from her grandfather’s memoir. To read about their lives in the late nineteenth century has added such depth and color to my understanding of the lives led by my Goldschmidt family as Jews in Germany during those years.

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part I: Another Young Widow

For the past month I’ve been writing updates  to earlier posts, mostly about my Goldschmidt relatives but also a few from my Seligmann relatives. I am finally ready to return to the Goldschmidts with new research, starting with the youngest of the five children of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, Helmina Goldschmidt.

Helmina was born on October 23, 1863, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Helmina Goldschmidt birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8824, Description Year Range: 1863, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

She married Leopold Rapp on November 2, 1883, in Niederrad-und-Oberrad, Germany. Leopold was the son of David Rapp and Rebecka Kulp and was born in Frankfurt on July 18, 1854.

Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, marriage record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 9427,  1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helmina and Leopold had three children.  David Leopold Rapp (later known as Arthur Rapp) was born on November 15, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Arthur David Leopold Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8997, Year Range: 1884, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Helene Rapp was born on August 25, 1887, in Frankfurt.

Helene Rapp birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9032, Description, Year Range: 1887, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Alice Rapp was born in Frankfurt on October 4, 1890.

Alice Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9076, Description, Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Unfortunately, Leopold Rapp died just three years after the birth of their last child. He died on October 13, 1893, in Frankfurt, leaving Helmina a widow with three very young children. Arthur was turning nine, Helene was seven, and Alice was three.

Leopold Rapp death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10465
Description, Year Range: 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene Rapp married when she was only nineteen. On February 8, 1907, she married Sally Lehmann in Frankfurt. Sally was the son of Isaak Lehman and Bertha Neu and was born in Darmstadt on September 2, 1877.

Marriage record of Helene Rapp and Sally Lehmann, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

They had three children. Ludwig Lehmann was born February 9, 1908, in Frankfurt.1 His sister Felise was born four years later in 1912, but died as a child on May 5, 1918, in Frankfurt. A third child, Else Berta was born January 8, 1922.2

Felise Lehmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10805, Year Range: 1918, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene’s older brother David Leopold Rapp also married in 1907. He married Herta Landsberg on December 19, 1907, in Frankfurt. Herta was the daughter of Sally Landsberg and Martha Lorch and was born in Frankfurt on June 14, 1887.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Herta Landsberg, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Arthur and Herta had one child, Henriette “Rita” Rapp, born on September 21, 1908, in Frankfurt.3

Arthur and Herta’s marriage did not last; they were divorced on November 10, 1917, as seen on the notation on their marriage record above, and Arthur later married Alice Johanna Kahn in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. She was the daughter of Markus Kahn and Emilie Kahn and was born in Frankfurt on February 24, 1895.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Alice Kahn, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

The notation on both David’s birth record and his marriage record to Alice was translated for me by Cathy Meder-Dempsey; it provides that as of March 8, 1924, David Leopold Rapp had received authorization to add the additional first name Arthur to his name. He was thereafter referred to as Arthur and will also be so on the blog.

Arthur and Alice Rapp had two sons. Helmut Leopold Rapp was born on February 11, 1923, in Berlin.4 His brother Gunther Rapp was born in Frankfurt on December 10, 1925.5

Finally, the youngest child of Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, Alice, was married on September 23, 1910, in Frankfurt to Saly Stern, the son of Markus Stern and Franziska Oppenheimer. Saly was born on November 26, 1877, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1910, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Saly had three children. Grete was born on September 16, 1911 in Frankfurt.6 Walter was born December 3, 1917, in Frankfurt,7 and Elizabeth Ruth Stern was born on January 21, 1919, in Frankfurt.8

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp had thus managed to raise all three of her children to adulthood, and by the 1920s, all three were married and raising children of their own and living in Frankfurt. Obviously, everything changed in the 1930s with the rise of the Nazis.


  1. E.g., Louis Ludwig Lehman, [Yehuda Ludwig Lehman] , Birth Date: 9 Feb 1908
    Age: 58, Naturalization Date: 27 Jun 1966, 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 
  2. Else Berta Spitzer, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1922, Age: 36, Naturalization Date: 5 Jan 1959, 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 
  3. Henriette Rapp marriage record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, Description
    Register Year or Type: 1929 (Erstregister), Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936 
  4. Helmut Harold 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, (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400),
    Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  5. Gordon 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 
  6.  Grete Stern, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  7. Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, 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 

Marcel Goldschmidt’s Children: The Two Who Survived

Marcel (born Mayer) Goldschmidt, the fourth child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, died in 1928 and was survived by his wife and first cousin, Hedwig Goldschmidt, and their four children, Jacob, Nelly, Else, and Grete. Hedwig and two of those children, Jacob and Grete, would survive the Holocaust. Nelly and Else were not as fortunate. This post will tell the story of Hedwig and the two children who escaped.

Grete and her husband Berthold Heimerdinger and their daughter Gabrielle were the first to leave Germany. They arrived in New York on June 22, 1934, and were going to Berthold’s brother Leonard Heimerdinger in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger and family, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 101, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Two months later Berthold declared his intention to become a US citizen.  He was working as a securities dealer at that time, and the family was residing at 1212 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger, Declaration of Intent, 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 478) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 355901-357000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Grete’s mother Hedwig came to visit them in New York in April, 1935, for a four month stay, listing her son Jacob as the person to contact back in Frankfurt,1 but Hedwig returned to Germany after her visit. She returned for another visit two years later on October 29, 1937, but this time listed her residence as Zurich, Switzerland, where her contact person was a friend named Julius Wolf.2

Sometime thereafter Hedwig must have left Switzerland because when she arrived in England on March 18, 1938, she listed her last address as Amsterdam.3 I don’t know where she was during World War II. More on that in a later post. By 1952, she was living in the United States.

Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 [

In 1940, Grete, Berthold, and Gabrielle Heimerdinger were living in Queens, New York, and Berthold was working as a jewelry dealer.4 According to Berthold’s draft registration for World War II, he was self-employed.

Berthold Heimerdinger, 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

Grete’s brother Jacob arrived in New York on August 30, 1941, from Lisbon, Portugal, with his last residence being Nice, France. On his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Jacob listed his occupation as an art dealer, like so many of his extended family members from Frankfurt.

Jacob Goldschmidt, Declaration of Intent, 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 Description: (Roll 644) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 512901-513900) Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

According to his World War II draft registration completed the following year, Jacob was living at 26 East 63rd Street in New York and listed Herman Goldschmidt as the person who would always know where he was. Herman was his cousin, the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene Goldschmidt II, and was living at the same address, 26 East 63rd Street.

Thus, Jacob was living with his cousins, not his sister Grete. Jacob did not list an occupation on his draft registration, but listed his place of business as the same address as his (and his cousins’) residence, 26 East 63rd Street. (Note also that on the naturalization index card for his mother Hedwig above, she also listed 26 East 63rd Street as her address in 1952.)

Jacob Goldschmidt, 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

Jacob had reported on his declaration of intent that he was not married and had no children. However, David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research reported that Jacob married in France on June 20, 1940, and thereafter had two children born in France, one in December 1941 and one in 1952. Although I have no documentation of the marriage or the births of the children, I did find airline documents showing that the wife and two children visited Jacob in New York City during the 1950s.[^5] By 1964, Jacob had relocated to France, presumably to be closer to his family.5

Gabrielle Heimerdinger, Grete and Berthold’s daughter, married Erwin Vogel on September 8, 1943, in New York City.6 Erwin was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 23, 1921, to Kurt and Edith Vogel, and had immigrated to the US with his family in 1937, coming from Antwerp, Belgium. They settled in Chicago, where they were living in 1940.7

On his 1942 draft registration for World War II, Erwin was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, and working for the Stevens Institute of Technology, from which he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1944. Gabrielle and Erwin had four children.8

Erwin Vogel, 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: 686
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Thus, Hedwig and her son Jacob and her daughter Grete and Grete’s family all survived the Holocaust. Grete’s husband Berthold Heimerdinger died in June 1961 at the age of 71.9 Hedwig died on December 9, 1964; she was 87.10 Jacob Goldschmidt died in October 1976 in France. He was eighty years old.11

Grete was the last surviving child of Marcel and Hedwig Goldschmidt. She lived a long life, dying on January 2, 2003, in New York at the age of 98.12 She had outlived her daughter Gabrielle Heimerdinger Vogel, who died January 19, 1990, in Rockville, Maryland, where she and her family had relocated in 1972.13 Gabrielle was 65 and was survived by her husband Erwin and their four children.

Grete and Jacob were fortunate to have left Germany when they did. The other two siblings, Else and Nelly, faced tragic deaths at the hands of the Nazis, as we will see in my next post.

 

 

 


  1. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 80, Ship or Roll Number: Albert Ballin, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest 1938, 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, Month: Mar, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 
  4. Berthold Heimerdinger and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02732; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 41-614, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. This information came from his mother’s death announcement in the December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  6.  Gabrielle J Heimerdinger, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 8 Sep 1943, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Erwin Vogel, License Number: 21889, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Kurt Vogel and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00934; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-447, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. “Unconventional Aeronautics Engineer Erwin Vogel, 88, Dies,” The Washington Post, October 28, 2009, found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102703825.html 
  9.  Berthold Heimerdinger, Social Security Number: 085-28-3608, Birth Date: 10 Sep
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Jun 1961, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  11.  Jacob Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 085-28-0743, Birth Date: 1 Jul 1896
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Greta Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1904, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 2 Jan 2003, Father: Marcel Goldschmidt
    Mother: Hedwig Goldschmidt, SSN: 064167857, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Gabrielle Joan Heimerdinger, [Gabrielle Vogel], Birth Date: 16 Dec 1924, Birth Place: Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 19 Jan 1990, Father: Berthold Heimerdinger, Mother: Grete Goldschmidt, SSN: 102185390
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007