Sitta Blumenfeld Spier and Her Daughter Gisela—A Story of Survival and Hope in the Midst of Despair and Death

Although three of the four surviving children of Gerson Blumenfeld II—Friedrich, Katinka, and Mina/Meta—and all their children escaped from Germany to the US and avoided being murdered by the Nazis, the fourth surviving child, Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, and her husband Siegfried Spier and their two children Manfred and Gisela were not as fortunate. As explained by Gisela’s son Simeon Spier in the eulogy he wrote for his mother, “[Siegfried] tried frantically to get the family out of Germany but since he was a wounded veteran from World War I – he had been awarded the Iron Cross for bravery and still had a bullet lodged in his lung – he was considered a health risk and emigration to other countries was not possible.”1

What a cruel irony—because he was wounded fighting for Germany, Siegfried could not escape German persecution twenty years later.

Sitta, Siegfried, Manfred, and Gisela were all deported to the concentration camp at Theriesenstadt on September 7, 1942.2 Manfred was sixteen and Gisela thirteen at that time. Gisela was “allowed” to participate as an athlete in games filmed by the Nazis for propaganda purposes—to show how “humanely” the camp prisoners were being treated.3 You can read more about the propaganda film created by the Nazis and see a clip from it here.

By October, 1944, all four members of Sitta’s family had been transported from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz where Sitta and Siegfried were immediately sent to the gas chambers. Manfred was transferred several days later to the Dachau concentration where he died from starvation and typhus on April 18, 1945, just a few weeks before Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended. He was nineteen years old.4

Manfred Spier Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1879134&ind=1

The only member of Sitta’s family to survive was her daughter Gisela. She was sent from Auschwitz on October 12, 1944,5 to the concentration camp in Flossenburg, Germany, a camp where prisoners worked as slave labor to build fighter planes and other equipment for the German military. The US Holocaust Museum and Memorial  provided this description of conditions at Flossenburg:

The conditions under which the camp authorities forced the prisoners to work and the absence of even rudimentary medical care facilitated the spread of disease, including dysentery and typhus. In addition to the dreadful living conditions, the prisoners suffered beatings and arbitrary punishments.

About 30,000 people died there, but somehow Gisela survived.

On April 29, 1945, as the Allied forces were approaching Flossenburg, the Nazis began to evacuate the camp and transport the prisoners elsewhere. Gisela was transferred from Flossenburg to the Mauthausen concentration camp,6 where she was liberated by the Allies on May 5, 1945. She was sixteen years old and weighed 46 pounds when she was freed.7

In his eulogy for his mother, Gisela’s son Simeon Spier wrote this description of Gisela’s life after she was liberated in May, 1945.8

She travelled with a friend she met in a displaced persons camp to Paris.  They were on one of the first trains to arrive in Paris at Gare de l’Est after the war’s end and were mobbed by frantic people looking for word of loved ones.  It was at that time she realized she had survived an atrocity of epic proportions.

She searched for her brother through refugee organizations.  She found out he had died of hunger and exhaustion at Dachau.  She saw 2 men on the streets of Paris wearing Magen David.  She asked them why they were wearing Stars of David now that the war was over. They told her they were part of a brigade building the Jewish state in Palestine.  They told her if she wanted to go to Palestine there was a boat leaving from the port of Marseille in several days.

With no family left, she set off to Marseille and boarded the ship, the Mataroa, to Palestine.  Since Jewish immigration to Palestine was illegal under the British Mandate, she was detained by the British army upon reaching Palestine.  She was imprisoned in Atlit ….  The Jewish underground broke her free from Atlit.  Her name was changed to escape British authorities.  She became Yael Blumenfeld – Gisela to Gazella to Yaela to Yael.  Blumenfeld for her mother’s maiden name.  She said when she became Yael Blumenfeld, she finally felt free.

She lived in the youth village of Ben Shemen, joined the Palmach army and fought in the Israeli War of Independence.  She was a decorated veteran of the 1948 war.

In 1950, Gisela came to New York with the help of her mother’s siblings and then got a job in Montreal as a secretary for a synagogue. She met her husband Israel Cohen in Canada, where they were married in 1956.9

Gisela and Israel had three children, each named for one of Gisela’s family members who had been killed in the Holocaust— a daughter Sitta, named in memory of Gisela’s mother Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, a son Simeon, named in memory of Gisela’s father Siegfried Spier, and a daughter Michall, named in memory of Gisela’s brother Manfred. The family lived in Montreal and later in Toronto.10

Once her children were grown, Gisela devoted a great deal of her time and energy to Holocaust education, including regularly traveling back to Momberg and other towns in Germany, to educate German children about what had happened to her family and many other Jewish families.11

Here is a very moving video of Gisela produced by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto as part of Gisela’s efforts to provide education about the Holocaust. I highly recommend you watch this eight-minute interview so that you can see and hear this remarkable woman.

Gisela died on February 19, 2016, in Toronto. She was 87 years old and had endured and experienced so much. Simeon ended his eulogy for his mother Gisela in words that bring tears to my eyes each time I re-read them.12

My mother was overwhelmed by the good fortune her life had brought her after suffering such unbearable loss early in life.  As her life neared its end, she became at peace with herself having lived a full life bearing witness to history’s most brutal atrocity.

Death, to her meant two things. She would be re-united with her family and the ability to have a real grave with a tombstone – something her family never had.  She had always mourned that according to Jewish tradition, a son must say Kaddish at the grave of his parents and that no one had been able to say Kaddish for her parents and brother.  Today, we will go to the cemetery and say Kaddish at her grave – for her, her mother, father, and brother.  And for this, we are all very happy.

Gisela Spier Cohen was survived by her three children and her grandchildren. Her life exemplified courage and persistence and hope against all odds. I feel so moved and honored to be able to share her story and that of her family.

Special thanks to my cousin Simeon Spier for allowing me to quote extensively from the beautiful eulogy he wrote for his mother.

 

 


  1. “In Loving Memory of Yael Gisela Spier Cohen,” by Simeon Spier, published February 28, 2016, found here
  2. See the entries at Yad Vashem at the links in the text. 
  3. Obituary for Gisela Spier Cohen in Oberhesslische Press, March 23, 2016, found at https://www.op-marburg.de/Landkreis/Ostkreis/Zeitzeugin-verstirbt-fern-ihres-Geburtsortes 
  4. Manfred Spier, Nationality: German or Austrian, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1925, Birth Place: Momberg, Prior Residence: Momberg, Street Address: Marburg a. d. L, Arrival Date: 10 Oct 1944, Arrival Country: Germany, Death Date: 18 Apr 1945, Prisoner Number: 115317, Arrival Notes: 10 Oct 1944 from Auschwitz, Disposition Notes: died 18 Apr 1945, Description: prisoner German or Austrian Jew, Page: 5440/Bg.
    Original Notes (desc. / arr. / dis.): Sch. DR. J./ 10 Oct 1944 v. Au./ gest. 18 Apr 1945, JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 
  5. Gizela Spier, Nationality: German, Born: 29 Nov 1928, Prisoner Number: 54367
    Classification: Jew, Arrival: 12 Oct 1944, Record Source: Reel 2, Image #: 269, Page #: 1000, JewishGen Volunteers. Germany, Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Records, 1938-1945 
  6. Gisela Spier, Date of Birth: 29 Nov 1928, Nationality: German. Prisoner Number: 54,367, Category: Jew, Town/Camp: Freiberg, Factory: Hildebrandt, Transferred from (camp name): Auschwitz, Date transferred: 12 Oct 1944, Transferred to (camp name): Mauthausen, Date transferred: 29 Apr 1945, Ancestry.com. Germany, Women in Flossenbürg Branch Camps (Hans Brenner Book Lists), 1944-1945 
  7. See Note 1, supra. 
  8. See Note 1, supra. 
  9. See Note 1, infra. 
  10. See Note 1, supra. 
  11. See Note 1, supra. See also Note 3, supra. 
  12. See Note 1, supra. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part IV: Leaving Germany

Three of the four surviving children of Gerson Blumenfeld II made it out of Germany in time to escape from the Nazis.

The family of Mina Blumenfeld Simon were the first descendants of Gerson Blumenfeld II to leave Germany. Mina’s son Josef arrived in New York on February 5, 1937. He listed his occupation as a butcher and his prior residence as Wetzlar, a town near Hermannstein where he was born.

Josef Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 35, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Ancestry.com

His brother Kurt arrived eight months later on October 1, 1937; he listed his occupation as a merchant and last residence as Wetzlar.

Kurt Simon ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 38, Ship or Roll Number: New York, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The rest of the family—Albert, Mina, and Grete—arrived the following year on August 18, 1938. They also had been living in Wetzlar where Albert was a merchant.

Albert Meta Grete Simon passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 12; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Washington
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Mina had officially changed her name from Mina Blumenfeld Simon to Meta Simon by the time she filed her Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on January 24, 1939.

Meta Blumenfeld Simon declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 549) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 427401-428300), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

The family was reunited and living together as of the 1940 US census. They were living in New York City, and Albert and his two sons Kurt and Joseph (as spelled here) were working as butchers.

Albert Simon and family 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 31-1895, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Friedrich Blumenfeld and his family, including his mother Berta Alexander Blumenfeld, were the next family members to arrive in the US. They left shortly after Kristallnacht.

I had the great pleasure of Zooming with two of Friedrich’s grandsons last week, Steven and Milton, and they shared with me a story about their grandmother Berta’s reaction to Kristallnacht. Apparently when the Nazis came around to arrest Jewish men in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, Berta was so angry that she took the medals awarded to the family in honor of  Moritz and Isaak, the two sons who died fighting for Germany in World War I, and threw them at the Nazi soldiers, yelling that she had lost two sons already. According to the family, the soldiers backed off and left the family alone. Soon thereafter the family was able to get visas to leave Germany.1

Friedrich, Berta, and their two children arrived in the US on January 13, 1939. Friedrich’s occupation on the ship manifest is listed as shoe manufacturing, but his grandsons told me he was actually a dry goods salesman in Momberg.

Friedrich Blumenfeld and family passenger manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 23; Page Number: 150, Ship or Roll Number: Hansa
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

I cannot locate them on the 1940 census, but on October 16, 1939, they were all living together in the Bronx, according to Friedrich’s Declaration of Intention filed on that date. Friedrich was unemployed at that time.

Friedrich Blumenfeld declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 567) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 444001-444900), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Katinka Blumenfeld Rosenberg was the last of the children of Gerson Blumenfeld II to escape Nazi Germany in time. Their departure was delayed because, as I learned from Katinka’s son Heinz/Henry, after Kristallnacht, Katinka’s husband Emanuel and son Walter were taken to Buchenwald where Walter spent two months and Emanuel spent five weeks. After they were released in early 1939, the family was determined to leave, but it was very difficult to find a sponsor to help them get permission to immigrate to the US. Finally a stranger from Texas who was not even related to the family came forward with an affidavit and sponsored the family. They took a train to Italy and sailed to the US from Genoa. As Henry and I discussed during our conversation, it is somewhat miraculous that they were to get out of Germany after World War II had started since for so many the borders closed after September 1, 1939.2

Katinka, her husband Emanuel Rosenberg, and their three sons Walter, Guenter, and Heinz arrived in New York on February 1, 1940. Emanuel listed his occupation as a trader, and Momberg was their last residence.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family passenger manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 6; Page Number: 37, Ship or Roll Number: Conte Di Savoia, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Henry said they at first lived with cousins in the Bronx, but soon moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. Henry quickly learned English and soon was able to not only catch up with his classmates but to excel in school.3

When the 1940 US census was taken a few months after their arrival, the Rosenbergs were all living in New York City. Emanuel was working in a grocery store, and Walter was a machine operator in a watch factory.

Emanuel Rosenberg and family 1940 US census,Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02670; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 31-1887, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Thus, Mina, Friedrich, and Katinka and their families were able to escape to the US in time and survived the Holocaust.

Tragically, the youngest child of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Sitta Blumenfeld Spier, did not leave Germany in time to escape the Holocaust.  Her family’s story in my next post.


I will be taking next week off to be with my family, who are coming to visit for Thanksgiving. Have a great Thanksgiving to all my US readers!

 

 


  1. Zoom with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022 
  3. See Note 2, supra. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part III: The Nazis Come to Momberg

As we saw, Gerson Blumenfeld II died on July 29, 1919, in the aftermath of losing two of his sons—Moritz and Isaak—during their service to Germany in World War I. He was survived by his wife Berta, one remaining son Friedrich, and his three daughters, Mina, Katinka, and Sida, as well as Mina’s husband Albert Simon, and their children.

Fortunately, the family continued to grow after the war. Katinka married Emanuel Emil Rosenberg on November 7, 1919. Emanuel was born on June 19, 1885, in Rosenthal, Germany, to Joseph Rosenberg and Fanni Stiebel. He was also the nephew of Mendel Rosenberg, who was married to Katinka’s aunt Rebecca Blumenfeld, her father Gerson’s sister.

Katinka Blumenfeld marriage to Emanuel Rosenberg, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6204, Year Range: 1919, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Katinka and Emanuel had three sons: Walter, born in Frankfurt, Germany, on October 17, 1920;1 Guenther, born in Frankfurt on July 7, 1925;2 and Heinz, born in 1928.3

Katinka’s older brother Friedrich married Lina Neuhaus on October 26, 1921, in Braach, Germany. She was born on September 19, 1894, in Braach (sometimes listed as Baumbach, which is less than two miles from Braach) to Samuel Neuhaus and Bertha Wallach.

Siegmund Friedrich Blumenfeld marriage to Lina Neuhaus, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 907; Laufende Nummer: 510, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Friedrich and Lina had two children: Gretel was born August 21, 1922, in Momberg,4 and Gunter was born on February 22, 1926, in Momberg.5

Sida Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Gerson II and Berta, married Siegfried Spier on December 29, 1924, in Momberg. Her name is spelled Sitta on the marriage record, and I will use that spelling going forward. Siegfried was also a native of Momberg; he was born there on May 14, 1887, to Michael Spier and Veilchen Nussbaum. He was the owner of a matza factory.6

Sitta Blumenfeld marriage to Siegfried Spier, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6209, Year Range: 1924, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Sitta and Siegfried had two children, Manfred, born on November 29, 1925, in Momberg,7 and Gisela, born exactly four years later on November 29, 1929.8

Gisela’s son Simeon Spier wrote this beautiful description of his mother’s family’s life in Momberg before the Nazis came to power in the 1930s.9

Momberg was like a storybook village of gingerbread cookies and green rolling hills.  Her family had lived there since the 17th century.  Her father, Siegfried Spier, owned a matza factory started by her great grandfather.  Her mother, Sida, was a deeply religious woman.   Her paternal grandmother lived in her house and her maternal grandmother lived across the street.  It was a world of German folk songs and Jewish religion.  She played soccer with her brother and cousins, attended the village school and went to the tiny village shul on Shabbos.

I also had the great pleasure of speaking to Katinka’s son Heinz (now Henry) Rosenberg just a week or so ago. He also spent his early childhood years in Momberg. He pointed out that since Gisela’s father Siegfried Spier owned a matza factory that employed many of the town’s residents, even after Hitler first came to power in 1933, no one bothered the Jews in Momberg at first because they were grateful to have jobs in the factory.10

That idyllic life would soon come to an end with Kristallnacht in November, 1938. Simeon Spier described what happened in Momberg to his mother and her family:11

On the 9th of November 1938 her world was destroyed by the Nazis during the Kristallnacht. The synagogue was burned down and the men were taken to concentration camps. Her brother’s Bar Mitzvah could not take place later that month as there was not a minyan of 10 adult Jewish men in the village. This saddened her all her life since her brother had been practicing his parsha and haftorah for months. She too knew the words and could recite them the rest of her life.

Jews were kicked out of the village school and Gisela and her brother were sent to an orphanage in Frankfurt. There, away from her family at 10 years old she would spend countless hours in the school’s gymnasium on the horizontal bar. Her love of sports helped her escape what was happening. She lived on Pfingsfeid Strasse near the zoo. Jews were not allowed in the zoo so all she could see was the head of the giraffe. She was forced to wear a yellow star.

Heinz/Henry Rosenberg also was unable to go to school for two years and still clearly remembers seeing the destruction of the Momberg synagogue on Kristallnacht. He shared with me the moving story of his family’s rescue of a Torah scroll that had belonged to his grandfather Gerson Blumenfeld and had been damaged during the violence of Kristallnacht. They brought that scroll with them to the US, and Henry read from it at his bar mitzvah in 1941 as did his grandson over seventy years later.

Fortunately, like that Torah scroll, almost all of Gerson Blumenfeld’s children and grandchildren got out of Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. Almost all.


  1. Walter Joseph Rosenberg, Gender: Male, Petition Age: 24, Birth Date: 17 Oct 1920
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Petition Number: 1788, National Archives and Records Administration – Southeast Region (Atlanta); Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1922-1964; Series Number: 648598; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Louisiana, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1836-2001 
  2. Guenther Rosenberg, [George G Rosenberg], [George Rosenberg], Gender: Male
    Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Jul 1925, Birth Place: Frankfurt MA, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1998. Father: Emil Rosenberg. Mother: Katinka Blumenfeld, SSN: 093129735, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3. Heinz, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration., Birth Date: — 1928, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Father: Emanuel Rosenberg, Box Number: 338, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943. Because Heinz/Henry is still living, I am not disclosing his exact birth date. 
  4. Gretel Blumenfeld, [Grethe Blumenfeld], Gender: Female, Race: White, Declaration Age: 18, Record Type: Naturalization Declaration, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922
    Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Declaration Number: 493628, Box Number: 366, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, PA; 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 
  5. Gunter Blumenfeld, Petition Age: 19, Record Type: Naturalization Petition, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Birth Place: Momberg, Germany, Departure Place: Momberg, Germany, Petition Place: Augusta, Augusta-Richmond, Georgia, USA, Ship: Hansa
    Description: Augusta Naturalization Petitions 9/1943-12/1953 (Box 2), National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; ARC Title: Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1909 – 1970; ARC Number: 2143321; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Georgia, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1794-1993 
  6. “In Loving Memory of Yael Gisela Spier Cohen,” by Simeon Spier, published February 28, 2016, found here
  7. Manfred Spier, Nationality German or Austrian, Birth Date 29 Nov 1925, Birth Place Momberg, Prior Residence Momberg, Street Address Marburg a. d. L., Arrival Date 10 Oct 1944, Arrival Country Germany, Death Date 18 Apr 1945, Prisoner Number 115317
    Arrival Notes 10 Oct 1944 from Auschwitz, Disposition Notes died 18 Apr 1945, Description prisoner German or Austrian Jew, Page 5440/Bg., Original Notes (desc. / arr. / dis.) Sch. DR. J./ 10 Oct 1944 v. Au./ gest. 18 Apr 1945, JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 
  8. Giesela Sara Spier, Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Birth Date: 29 Nov 1928, Birth Place: Momberg, Last Residence: Momberg, Residence Place: Momberg, Marburg an der Lahn
    Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews
    Reference Number: 02010103 oS, Document ID: 85950815, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.3, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  9. See Note 6, supra. 
  10. Phone conversation with Henry Rosenberg, October 30, 2022. 
  11. See Note 6, supra. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part II: Two Sons Killed in World War I Fighting for Germany

In the summer of 1914 after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, the countries of Europe and of the wider world declared war on each other based on mutual protection agreements those countries had previously formed. On one side were the Central Powers including Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey; on the other side were the Allies, including France, England, Italy, Russia, Japan, and later the US.

The three sons of Gerson Blumenfeld II and his wife Berta Alexander—Moritz, Friedrich, and Isaak—all served in the German army for the Central Powers. But only one of those sons came home alive.

Moritz, their oldest son, was killed on the Eastern Front of the War in Niedzieliska, Poland, on December 11, 1914, according to his German death record.1 The report of his death came from the commander of his reserve infantry unit, as indicated on the death record, and stated that he’d been shot in the abdomen.2

Moritz Blumenfeld, Death Age: 27, Birth Date: abt 1887, Death Date: 11. Dez 1914 (11 Dec 1914)
Death Place: Momberg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Momberg, Father: Gerson Blumenfeld, Mother: Bertha Blumenfeld, Certificate Number: 1, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 6225; Laufende Nummer: 915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Niedzieliska was a small village about 42 miles east of Krakow. During the summer and into the fall of 1914, the Russians were successfully fighting the German and Austrian troops in that general area, winning an important battle in Lemberg (now Lviv) in the late summer of 1914 and then moving west and capturing Przemysl in the spring of 1915.

I am very grateful to Eric Feinstein of the GerSIG Facebook group for providing me with access to a description of the battle of Niedzieliska from a book entitled (as translated) Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 83: edited from official and private war diaries by Hans Wahrenburg, published in 1924 by Stalling Verlag in Berlin. Eric pointed me to page 42 which describes the Niedzieliska battle, and I used DeepL to translate it, though some of the references are not clear.

At 12:12, II and III Battalions will be moved out of the forward line during the morning and III Battalion will be housed and fed at Niedzieliska. At 1.30 a.m. the II Battalion also follows there, while at the same time the III Battalion from the eastern exit of the Dorsel is deployed for another assault against the Russian position at the windmill Wszeliwn in the subsection of the 49 RJB.

Heavy flank fire from the right initially hampered the advance of the companies and only after the arrival of II Battalion on the obstructed right wing did the assault proceed briskly, especially since the enemy apparently had little artillery, but was able to bring the assault to a halt with even more intense infantry and M.C. fire.

Exhausting effort! 4 o’clock in the morning the position on the Wszelimn-Dsief road was taken by assault, during which, among others, the leader of 12 Company, Captain a D Rudel, and by roughing up the enemy MC Sergeant Emilius and Muss. Cohn 11 Compagnie, Ref. Zinf. Kriegsfreim. Ludwig and Ref. harms 12th Compagnie and Ref. Deja quite particularly distinguish.

About 1500 prisoners and 12 MC find the spoils of the day. I Battalion advanced as a division reserve to the west exit of Niedzieliska, but failed to enter.

It was sometime during this battle that Moritz Blumenfeld II, oldest child of Gerson Blumenfeld II and Berta Alexander, was mortally wounded.

His younger brother Isaak was killed on the Western Front. Although I do not have a death certificate for Isaak, I have information from the lists of German casualties located on Ancestry and elsewhere. Isaak died in a field hospital in Sainghin-en-Weppes in the north of France on January 8, 1915, after being seriously wounded. He was only 21 at the time.

Isaack Blumenfeld, Residence Year: 1914, Residence Country: Deutschland (Germany)
List Date: 30. Jan 1915 (30 Jan 1915), List Number: 0345, Volume: 1915_VII, Ancestry.com. Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1919

Isaack Blumenfeld Residence Year: 1914 Residence Country: Deutschland (Germany) List Date: 20. Jan 1915 (20 Jan 1915) List Number: 0331 Volume: 1915_VII, Ancestry.com. Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1919

Like Niedzieska where Moritz was killed, Sainghin was just a small village with no obvious strategic importance, but it was located in the region of France where during this time period, thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed during trench warfare where the two sides were essentially deadlocked, going back and forth slaughtering each other’s young soldiers and others.

This UK website on World War I described it in these terms:

By the end of 1914 the battles of movement in the first weeks of the war had been  brought to a halt. The fierce defence of strategic landmarks by the Allied forces resulted in a situation which became one of deadlock. Carefully selecting the most favourable high ground the Imperial German Army began the construction of a strong defensive line from early in 1915.

The consolidation of the Front Lines consisted of trenches, wire defences, mined dugouts and deep bunkers, reinforced concrete emplacements and selected strongpoints, usually a reinforced farm, in an Intermediate, Second and Third defensive line. Gradually the building and digging was carried on on both sides of the wire along a distance of approximately 450 miles, creating a more or less continous line of trenches separating the warring belligerents along the length of The Western Front.

In 1915, 1916 and 1917 both sides made attempts to break the deadlock with major battle offensives. The characteristics of siege warfare which developed on the Western Front in these three years created conditions never witnessed before. Instead of expecting to achieve objectives at a considerable distance from the start of an offensive, the type of trench warfare fighting created a situation where attacks were carried out in phases with short distance objectives and usually following a bombardment of enemy trench lines beforehand. This strategy led to prolonged periods of fighting with success counted in gains hundreds of yards rather than miles. The human cost of casualties and dead in such a grinding type of siege warfare would be recorded in the thousands in the space of a single day.

Isaak Blumenfeld, Gerson II and Berta’s youngest son, was killed during the early days of this period of warfare, less than a month after the death of his brother Moritz.

A January 29, 1914 article in the Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienblatt reported, “The G. Blumenfeld family was hit by a heavy loss. Two hopeful sons both suffered heroic deaths for their fatherland. Both stood out from the enemy with their outstanding bravery honored, the eldest carried a seriously wounded man out of the most terrible shell fire at great risk to his life. The youngest last stood as a teacher in Petershagen on the Weser.”

The deaths of Moritz and Isaak left Gerson and Berta with just one surviving son, their middle son Friedrich. But Friedrich also served in the German armed forces. His great-nephew Michael Rosenberg shared with me Friedrich’s military record, including translations of the information on each page done by Richard Bloomfield.

As translated by Richard, this record indicates that Friedrich began his military service for Germany on August 24, 1915, just months after the deaths of both of his brothers. He was transferred to the homeland and away from the front in January 1917, perhaps because the family had already lost Isaak and Moritz. Friedrich was discharged from service on December 26, 1918, six weeks after the war ended, and came home alive.

His father Gerson Blumenfeld II, however, died in Momberg on July 29, 1919, just seven months after Friedrich returned home. Although Gerson was 66 and thus was not particularly young for that era when he died, I nevertheless wonder whether losing two of this three sons in some way hastened his death.

One might have thought that sacrificing two sons to the cause of Germany in World War I would have somehow kept the rest of this family safe from the Nazis, but it was not to be, as we will see.


  1. At least one secondary source reports that his death occurred on December 12, 1914, but I am relying on his actual death record. See the list of Jewish World War I casualties for Germany at http://denkmalprojekt.org/verlustlisten/rjf_orte_m_wk1.htm 
  2. Thank you to the members of the GerSIG: German Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group on Facebook for transcribing and translating this record. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part I: Two Marriages, Three Daughters, Three Sons

As I turn to the next child of Isaak Blumenfeld and Gelle Straus, Gerson Blumenfeld, I am fortunate to have not only the support and research of Richard Bloomfield, whose work I’ve already noted numerous times on the blog, but also of a direct descendant of Gerson Blumenfeld, his great-grandson Michael Rosenberg. Michael and I have been in touch for quite a while, and he also, like Richard, has been helpful to me in researching other aspects of the Blumenfeld family tree. But now I have finally reached Michael’s direct line, and I am excited that I will be able to work with him and learn from him.

Gerson Blumenfeld, the son of Isaak and Gelle, will be referred to as Gerson Blumenfeld II on my tree and on the blog; his first cousin, once removed, also named Gerson Blumenfeld I, was married to Giedel Blumenfeld, daughter of Isaak and Gelle and sister of Gerson II, as I wrote about here.

Gerson II was born on April 29, 1853, in Momberg, Germany.

Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1850-1874, p. 4

On August 23, 1883, he married Mina Katz, daughter of Joseph Feist Katz and Brendel Katz. Mina was born on June 7, 1860, in Jesberg, Germany.

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3838
Year Range: 1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

As soon as I saw that Mina was born in Jesberg and was a Katz, I figured she must also be related to me. Mina is my third cousin, three times removed, and is descended from my five-times great-grandfather Schalum Katz of Jesberg through his son Salomon Katz. So both Mina and Gerson II were my cousins, but they were not related to each other as far as I have been able to determine.

 

Gerson II and Mina had a daughter born in Momberg on August 30, 1884, and tragically Mina died the following day, presumably from complications from childbirth. She was only twenty-four years old. Their one-day old infant was named for her mother Mina.

Mina Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6467, Year Range: 1884, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Mina Katz Blumenfeld death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 6551; Laufende Nummer: 915, Year Range: 1884
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Gerson II remarried two years later on June 2, 1886. His second wife was Berta Alexander. She was born on November 16, 1859, and was the daughter of Joseph Alexander and Fradchen Frank, and like Gerson II’s first wife, Berta was also my cousin, specifically my second cousin, three times removed. Berta was the great-granddaughter of Abraham Katz Blumenfeld and Geitel Katz, my four-times great-grandparents. She also was a second cousin to her husband Gerson II, who was also a great-grandchild of Abraham Katz Blumenfeld.

Gerson Blumenfeld marriage to Berta Alexander, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6496, Year Range: 1886, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Thus, all the children of Gerson II and Berta were not just siblings, but also each other’s third cousins. And the descendants of Gerson II and Mina were my double cousins since I was related to both of them. Oy vey! No wonder I can’t sort out my DNA matches…

But onto the children of Gerson II and Berta. Their first child Moritz was born on March 16, 1887, in Momberg, Germany.

Moritz Blumenfeld II birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6470, Year Range: 1887, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their second child, Siegmond Friedrich “Fritz” Blumenfeld, was born on December 7, 1888, in Momberg, Germany.

Siegmund Friedrich Blumenfeld birth record,Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6471, Year Range: 1888, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Katinka, their third child and oldest daughter, was born in Momberg on July 30, 1891.

Katinka Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6474, Year Range: 1891, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Isaak Blumenfeld (labeled III on my tree) was born September 24, 1893, in Momberg.

Isaak Blumenfeld III birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6476, Year Range: 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The fifth and youngest child of Gerson II and Berta was their daughter Sida (sometimes spelled Sitta), born in Momberg on July 26, 1896.

Birth record for Sida Blumenfeld, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6479, Year Range: 1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Mina Blumenfeld, Gerson II’s daughter with his wife Mina Katz, married Albert Simon on October 31, 1910, in Momberg. Albert was the son of Joseph Simon and Guste Aumann, and he was born on November 17, 1879, in Hermannstein, Germany.

Mina Blumenfeld marriage to Albert Simon, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6195, Year Range: 1910, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Mina and Albert had four children.

UPDATE: I just located a death record for a fifth child of Mina and Albert born before Julius. That child, a son named Dedo, died on January 16, 1912, in Hermannstein. He was only a day old.

Dedo Simon death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 4342; Laufende Nummer: 911
Description
Year Range: 1912
Source Information
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Their second child, Julius, was born in 1913 and died when he was only two years old on May 31, 1915.

Julius Simon death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 4345; Laufende Nummer: 911, Year Range: 1915
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Mina and Albert’s third child Kurt was born on November 10, 1914.1 Their fourth son Joseph was born on October 26, 1916.2 And their fifth child and only daughter Grete was born December 23, 1919.3 Fortunately, these three children all survived to adulthood.

My cousin Michael shared with me this beautiful photograph taken before World War I of Gerson II and Berta with their five children as well as Gerson’s daughter Mina from his first marriage.

Gerson and Berta Blumenfeld and their children c. 1911

From left to right in the back row, they are Isaak, Fritz, Mina, Katinka, Moritz, and Sida. Berta and Gerson are seated in front of them, and the family dog lies at their feet. How can I not love a family that includes their dog in the family portrait?

 


  1. Kurt Simon, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1914, Death Date: Jun 1969, Claim Date: 17 Jul 1969, SSN: 131102677, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. Josef Simon, [Joe Simon], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 26 Oct 1916
    Birth Place: Hermanuskin, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 30 Oct 2001
    Father: Albert Simon, Mother: Meta Blumenfeld, SSN: 116034007, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  3.  National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Petitions and Records For Naturalization, 10/1911-9/1991; NAI Number: 615479; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: Rg 21, Description: Vol173-175, Petition No 40197, Paul Saban, 24 Mar 1944 – Petition No 407321, Sophie Bursack, 16 June 1944, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996 

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, Part II: His Three Surviving Children Were All Murdered in the Holocaust

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, who died in 1922, and his wife Sarchen, who died in 1930, were survived by three of their five children: Moses Blumenfeld III and his wife Sarah Rothschild and their son Julius; Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa Drucker and their three children, Eric, Hilde, and Liselotte; and Rosa Blumenfeld and her husband Julius Hess. As of 1933 when Hitler came to power, they were all living in Germany.

Tragically, all three of Meier IIB and Sarchen’s children were murdered in the Holocaust. Moses IIB and Sarah were deported to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in Lodz on October 20, 1941, and died sometime thereafter. Fortunately, their son Julius escaped to Argentina in 1936. I don’t know what happened to Julius afterwards, but at least he managed to avoid the fate of his parents.1

Moses IIB’s sister Rosa and her husband Julius Hess were also both killed by the Nazis. They were deported on June 11, 1942, from Frankfurt either to the Sobibor death camp and/or to the camp at Majdanek, where they were murdered.2

Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Elsa were also murdered by the Nazis, as were their daughter Hilde and her family, despite the fact that they all had left Nazi Germany. Hilde had immigrated to Amsterdam in March 1934, and she had married Julius Seelig on April 28, 1937, in Amsterdam. Julius was born in Reichensachen, Germany, on December 10, 1908, to Joseph Seelig and Paula Wallach. Hilde and Julius had one child, a daughter Hanna born in Amsterdam on October 12, 1938. Julius and Hilde were divorced on June 9, 1942, and Julius soon remarried another woman, Margot Pauline Aharon, in July 1942.

Here are the Amsterdam registration cards for Hilde, Julius, and Hanna that report this information:

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/98533418-6d7f-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719, Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853340a-857d-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 719
Municipality : Amsterdam, Period : 1939-1960, found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853341a-53f7-56a3-e053-b784100ade19

Hilde’s parents Hermann and Elsa came to Amsterdam later than Hilde, arriving in May 1939, according to Hermann’s Amsterdam registration card.

Amsterdam City Archives, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 78
Municipality : Amsterdam
Period : 1939-1960 found at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?sa=%7B%22person_1%22:%7B%22search_t_geslachtsnaam%22:%22Blumenfeld%22,%22search_t_voornaam%22:%22Hermann%22%7D%7D

But escaping to Amsterdam did not keep any of them safe. According to records at Yad Vashem, Hermann and Else were sent to the Westerbork Detention Camp in 1943 and from there deported to Auschwitz where they were both killed on February 11, 1944.

Hilde and her daughter Hanna were also first sent to Westerbork in August 1943 and then to Auschwitz. Hilde died on January 31, 1944, and her five-year-old daughter Hanna on February 11, 1944, according to Yad Vashem.

Fortunately, Hilde’s two siblings survived the Holocaust. Erich Blumenfeld immigrated to Palestine on September 13, 1937, and became a naturalized citizen there on December 19, 1939.3

Erich married Miriam Emerich, daughter of Robert and Hannah Emerich, on April 6, 1941.4

Erich changed his name in 1948 to Eliezer Shadmon. Shadmon means farm in Hebrew, and according to Erich/Eliezer’s application for naturalization, he was working as a farmer at Ein Harod at that time, as seen in the images above.5 Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found any further information about Erich/Eliezer.

Liselotte Blumenfeld, the youngest child of Hermann III and Else, immigrated to the US and arrived in New York City on August 5, 1937. She was heading to Lexington, Kentucky, according to the ship manifest,6 and in 1940, she was living with James and Nanette Strause in Fayette, Kentucky and working as a nurse, presumably for their seven year old son. I don’t know why Liselotte chose Kentucky as her destination, but I assume there was some friend or family member living there when she immigrated or she had arranged the job before leaving Germany. (I’ve recently learned that another branch of the Blumenfeld family that I’ve yet to research settled in Kentucky long before the 1930s, so perhaps that was Liselotte’s connection. To be determined…)

On January 10, 1943, Liselotte, referred to here as Liesel Lotte Bloomfield, married Corporal Herbert Isaak in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Bloomfield-Isaak Wedding in Louisville,” Lexington Herald-Leader, January 17, 1943, p. 18

Herbert was born in Munich, Germany, on March 21, 1920, and had immigrated to the US on April 25, 1941; he’d enlisted in the US Army on January 5, 1942. His parents were Emil Charles Isaak and Therese Meyer.7 Liselotte and Herbert had one child born in the 1940s. According to his obituary, Herbert had survived the Dachau Concentration Camp and had served as a field-commissioned second lieutenant in the US  Army at the Nuremberg Trials.8

In 1950, the family was living in New York City, and Herbert was working as a traveling salesman for a “ladies suits and coats factory.”9 The family must have relocated to the South at some later date because, according to Herbert’s obituary, “he was a traveling sales representative of women’s coats in Virginia and the Carolinas and had a showroom in Charlotte, N.C.”10 Herbert died on November 18, 2001, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; he was 81. Liselotte outlived him by thirteen years; she was just a few days shy of her 97th birthday when she died on November 5, 2014. Herbert and Liselotte were both buried at Florence National Cemetery in Florence, South Carolina.11

I haven’t yet determined whether Liselotte Blumenfeld Isaak or Erich Blumenfeld/Eliezer Shadmon have living descendants. Nor have I found more information about their cousin Julius Blumenfeld, the son of Moses IIB. I am hoping that there are more descendants alive to carry on the legacy of Meier Blumenfeld IIB and his wife Sarchen Moses and their children.


  1. “Uruguay, listas de pasajeros, 1888-1980,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C33M-19T3?cc=2691993 : 30 June 2020), > image 1 of 1; Archivo General de la Nación, Dirección Nacional de Migración (General Archive of the Nation, National Migration), Montevideo. Also, see Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  2. The Gedenbuch and Yad Vashem records mention both camps. I guess the evidence of where Rosa and Julius ended up is unclear, but their ultimate fate is not. 
  3. Erich Blumenfeld, Palestine Immigration File, found at the Israel Archives website at https://www.archives.gov.il/catalogue/group/1?kw=erich%20blumenfeld 
  4. Marriage record found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association website by searching for Erich Blumenfeld. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  5. Name change found at the IGRA website by searching for Eliezer Shadmon. https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  6. Liselotte Brilea Ingeborg Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 21; Page Number: 37,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Herbert Jsaak [Herbert Isaak] Gender: Male Race: White Birth Date: 21 Mar 1920
    Birth Place: Munich, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Nov 2001, Father:
    Emil Jsaak Mother: Therese Meyer SSN: 046143654, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007; Herbert Isaak, Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization , Compiled 1906-1978; NAI: 1275754; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1906-1991; Herbert Isaak, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 04782; Reel: 142, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  8. “Herbert Isaak,” Myrtle Beach Sun-News, November 21, 2001, p. 35. 
  9. Herbert Isaak and family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 4377; Sheet Number: 12; Enumeration District: 31-2180, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  10. See Note 8, supra. 
  11. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138910393/liesel-isaak: accessed 21 September 2022), memorial page for Liesel Bloomfield Isaak (23 Nov 1917–5 Nov 2014), Find a Grave Memorial ID 138910393, citing Florence National Cemetery, Florence, Florence County, South Carolina, USA; Maintained by Danny & Judy Ard (contributor 47789022); Liesel Isaak, Rank: T/5, Death Age: 96, Birth Date: 23 Nov 1917, Death Date: 5 Nov 2014, Interment Place: Florence, South Carolina, USA, Cemetery Address: 803 East National Cemetery Road, Cemetery Postal Code: 29501, Cemetery: Florence National Cemetery, Section: 11 Plot: 37, War: World War II, Branch of Service: US Army
    Relative: Herbert Isaak, Comments: Wife, National Cemetery Administration; U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, National Cemetery Administration. U.S., Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019; 

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, Part I: Of His Five Children, Only Three Survived Childhood

I am now up to the sixth child of Isaak Blumenfeld and his wife Gelle Strauss, their son Meier, whom I’ve labeled Meier Blumenfeld IIB to distinguish him from his first cousin Meier Blumenfeld IIA and the other Meier Blumenfelds on my tree.

Meier IIB was born on March 5, 1851, in Momberg, Germany.

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, birth record, Geburtsregister der Juden von Momberg (Neustadt) 1850-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 608)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, WiesbadenErscheinungsjahr1850-1874, p. 3

He married Sarchen or Sarah Moses on November 27, 1877, in Treysa, Germany, where Sarchen was born on May 13, 1846, to Moses Moses and Roschen Schwalmberg.

Meier Blumenfeld IIB, marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 7986, Year Range: 1877, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930.

Meier IIB and Sarchen had five children. Their first, Moses (labeled Moses Blumenfeld III to distinguish him for all the other Moses Blumenfelds on my tree) was born on May 16, 1879, in Neustadt, Germany, where Meier IIB and Sarchen had settled.

Moses Blumenfeld III, birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6462, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The second child was Hermann (labeled Hermann Blumenfeld III), born the following year in Neustadt on August 8, 1880.

Herman Blumenfeld IV birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6463, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Rosa, Meier IIB and Sarchen’s only daughter. She was born in Neustadt on July 10, 1883.

Rosa Blumenfeld II birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6466,Year Range: 1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Two more sons followed Rosa, but neither survived to adulthood. Joseph was born on September 30, 1885, but died just sixteen days later on October 16, 1885, in Neustadt.

Joseph Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6468, Year Range: 1885, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Joseph Blumenfeld death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 6552; Laufende Nummer: 915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

And Albert was born on July 17, 1887, in Neustadt, and died on November 29, 1890, in Neustadt. He was only three years old.

Albert Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6470, Year Range: 1887, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Albert Blumenfeld death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 6557; Laufende Nummer: 915
Description Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The three children who survived all married. Moses III married Sara Rothschild on April 1, 1908, in Oberaula, Germany. She was born to Juda Rothschild and Fanny Katz on July 8, 1885, in Oberaula.

Moses Blumenfeld III marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6351, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Although I have no records to substantiate the date, other family trees report that Moses III and Sara had one child, a son Julius (labeled Julius Blumenfeld III on my tree) born April 4, 1909. More on Julius to come in my next post.

Moses III’s brother Hermann Blumenfeld III married Else Rosa Drucker on November 20, 1911, in Battenberg, Germany. Else was born in Battenberg on June 30, 1888, to Jakob Drucker and Julie LeBach.

Hermann Blumenfeld IV marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 1036, Year Range: 1911, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hermann III and Else had three children. Erich was born in Neustadt, Germany, on April 4, 1913 or 1914 (documents differ).1 His sister Hilde was born on June 18, 1915, in Neustadt.2 And Liselotte Brilea Ingeborg Blumenfeld was born on November 23, 1917, in Marburg, Germany.3

The third surviving child of Meier IIB and Sarchen, Rosa Blumenfeld II, married Julius Hess on May 2, 1910, in Neustadt. He was born in Duedelsheim, Germany, to Loeb Hess and Amalia Strauss on June 27, 1878. As far as I’ve been able to determine, Rosa and Julius did not have any children.

Rosa Blumenfeld II marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6520, Year Range: 1910, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Meier Blumenfeld IIB died on February 9, 1922, in Neustadt, at the age of seventy. His wife Sarchen died eight years later on January 30, 1930, in Duedelsheim, where her daughter Rosa was living. Meier and Sarchen were predeceased by their sons Joseph and Albert and survived by their other three children, Moses, Hermann, and Rosa, and their four grandchildren, Julius, Erich, Hilde, and Liselotte.

Meier Blumenfeld IIB gravestone, found at the LAGIS Hessen Jewish Cemetery website at https://www.lagis-hessen.de/en/subjects/idrec/sn/juf/id/5416

Meier IIB and Sarchen were fortunate not to live to see what happened to those three children and one of those grandchildren.

TO BE CONTINUED


  1. For April 4, 1913, I have this source: Erich Blümenfeld
    Birth Date: 4 Apr 1913, https://www.wiewaswie.nl/personen-zoeken/zoeken/document/srcid/062981177#011, Regionaal Archief Zutphen; Den Haag, Nederland; Bevolkingsregisters, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Population Registers Index, 1720-1944. For 1914, I have Erich’s Palestine immigration files, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/archives/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680f4a85c 
  2. Amsterdam City Archives, located at https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/9853344d-c3b0-56a3-e053-b784100ade19; Yad Vashem entry, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=899652&ind=1 
  3. Liselotte Blumenfeld, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, GA; Petitions For Naturalization , Compiled 1906-1978; NAI: 1275754; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petitions For Naturalization, Compiled 1906-1978, Ancestry.com. Kentucky, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1906-1991 

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, Part II: Escaping from Germany

I know it’s been a while since my last genealogy post. Between the death of my cat Smokey and all the chaos involved with moving, I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination. But now I am dipping my toe back in genealogical waters.

As seen in my last Blumenfeld post, three of the seven children of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss left Germany in the late 19th, early 20th century for the United States. Moritz, the oldest son, left in 1889 and married there and had two children. Bertha, the oldest daughter, married in New York in 1901 and had her first child there, but returned to Germany by 1909 when her second child was born. And Meier, the third son and fifth child of Dusschen and Isaac, immigrated to the US in 1904 and remained, marrying and having two children born in the US.

During that same period, most of Dusschen and Isaac’s children who were still in Germany also married and had children. But unfortunately, the youngest child of Dusschen and Isaac, their son Sali (spelled Sally on this gravestone), died at a young age. He was only twenty years old when he died on February 12, 1906.

Hermann, the second son and fourth child, married Julie (Julchen) Alexander in Wetter on June 22, 1906. Julchen was born to Abraham Alexander and Roschen Rosenblatt on May 30, 1881, in Waltersbruck, Germany.

Marriage record of Hermann Strauss and Julchen Alexander,Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9573, Year: 1906, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hermann and Julchen had three children. Sally (later Robert) was born in Wetter on July 3, 1907.1 He was presumably named for Hermann’s brother Sally who had died the year before. A second child Max was born to Hermann and Julchen on May 28, 1910, in Wetter.2 And their daughter Ilse was born in Marburg on February 3, 1915.3

Dusschen and Isaac’s sixth child Rebekah married Albert Meyer on May 14, 1907, in Bonn, Germany. Albert was born in Bonn on July 18, 1872.4 Rebekah and Albert had two children: Rudolph Raphael, born in Bonn on March 17, 1908,5 and Ilse, born in Bonn on August 20, 1910.6

Thus, by 1915, Dusschen and Isaac had nine grandchildren with two more to be born between 1916 and 1920. Four of those grandchildren were in the US with their parents, and the others were all in Germany.

Sadly, Isaac Strauss did not live to see the births of those last two grandchildren. He died on October 2, 1916, in Wetter.7 He was survived by his wife Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, who died twelve years later on October 11, 1928. They were survived by six of their seven children, four of whom were still living in Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933.

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 9652; Laufende Nummer: 915
Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Fortunately, three of those remaining in Germany were lucky to leave in time to escape being killed in the Holocaust. Hermann, the only surviving brother who was still in Germany, arrived in the US on November 28, 1934, with his wife Julchen and daughter Ilse. Their younger son Max had preceded them by nine months, immigrating to the US on February 5, 1934.8

Hermann Strauss ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 11; Page Number: 83,Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Their older son Sally had immigrated years before, arriving on October 28, 1926, when he was nineteen. When he filed a Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen on October 19, 1927, he was using the name Sol, working as a salesman, and living in New York City.9 He became a naturalized citizen in 1933 in Rockford, Illinois, and changed his name to Robert Sally Strauss.

Robert Sally Strauss naturalization record, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840-1950; NAI Number: M1285; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: RG 85  Description: Index to Naturalization Petitions, S-352 H· to S-362 Vyncenz, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Hermann’s sister Bertha Strauss Herz, who had previously lived and married in New York, returned to the US with her husband Morris (Moritz on the manifest) Herz on August 16, 1936. Their daughter Henrietta arrived on the same ship with her husband Alfred Gaertner and their eleven-year-old daughter Ingeborg. Both Alfred and Morris listed their occupations as tailors on the ship manifest. Alfred, who was born in Brohl, Germany, on August 9, 1895, had married Henrietta in Bonn on July 29, 1923, and their daughter Ingeborg was born on February 22, 1925.10

Herz and Gaetner families, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 47, Ship or Roll Number: Britannic
Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Bertha and Morris Herz’s son Manfred Edgar Herz did not immigrate until July 28, 1939. On the ship manifest he listed his occupation as auto mechanic and his last residence as Frankfurt.11

Rebekka Strauss Meyer was the last sibling to come to the US, arriving on March 25, 1938.12 She had lost her husband Albert on May 26, 1928, in Bonn. Rebekka’s children had arrived before her, Rudolph on April 12, 1937, listing his occupation as an insurance agent,13 and Ilse on May 9, 1937. Ilse was working as a nursemaid in New York when she filed her declaration of intention on August 4, 1937.14

Only one sibling remained in Germany as of 1939, the third child of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss, their daughter Kathinka, who had never married. She died on November 8, 1940, in the Krankenhaus Judische Kultusvereinigung (the Jewish Religious Association Hospital) in Frankfurt from a bile duct obstruction and jaundice. She was 65 years old. Kathinka was survived by her five surviving siblings and their children.

Kathinka Strauss death record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 11114; Laufende Nummer: 903, Year Range: 1940, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

All five of those siblings and all the grandchildren of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss were safely out of Germany by that time and survived the Holocaust. More on their lives in the US in the next two posts.


  1. Sol Strauss, Declaration of Intention, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description
    Description: (Roll 379) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 248601-249750), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  2. Max Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Marital Status: Single, Marriage Age: 28
    Birth Date: 28 May 1910, Birth Place: Walter Germany, Marriage Affidavit Date: 2 May 1939, Marriage Date: 7 May 1939, Marriage Place: New York, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Residence Street Address: 4520 Broadway, Residence Place: New York, Manhattan, Occupation: Route Salesman, Father: Hermann Strauss, Mother:
    Julie Strauss, Spouse: Betty Heinemann, Certificate Number: 5322, Current Marriage Number: 0, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Marriage Licenses; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1939, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Marriage Licenses, 1908-1910, 1938-1940 
  3. Ilse Strauss, [Ilse Strauss Wurzburger], Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 3 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 23 Feb 2006, Father: Herman Strauss, Mother: Julia Alexander, SSN: 059077009, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Rebecka Meyer, 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, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  5. Rudolph Raphael Meyer, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 17 Mar 1908
    Birth Place: Bonn, Prussia, Germany, Arrival Date: 12 Apr 1937, Arrival Place: New York NY, Naturalization Place: Tennessee, USA, Spouse: Ruth Cohn Meyer, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.c.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992 
  6. Ilse Meyer, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 20 Aug 1910, Birth Place: Germany
    Arrival Date: 1937, Residence Place: New York, USA, Petition Date: 4 Aug 1937, Petition Place: New York, USA, Court: District Court, Court District: Southern District, New York, Description: (Roll 1449) Petition No. 433501 – Petition No. 433836, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1449, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944; Rebecka Meyer, 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, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  7.  Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 9640; Laufende Nummer: 915, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  8. Max Strauss ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 120, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. See Note 1, supra. 
  10. Alfred Gaertner, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 514) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 392101-393200), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  11. Manfred Herz, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 19; Page Number: 37, Description Ship or Roll Number: New York, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See Note 4, supra. 
  13. See Note 4, supra. 
  14. See Note 5, supra. 

Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss and Her Seven Children, Part I: Three Who Went to America

I have been busy with moving to a new house, but will now return to the Blumenfeld branch of my family tree and to Dusschen Blumenfeld, the fourth child of Isaac Blumenfeld, who was the second child of Moses Blumenfeld I, my four-times great-uncle. As I wrote about here, there were two granddaughters of Moses Blumenfeld I with the name Dusschen Blumenfeld, the other being the daughter of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA. To keep them straight, I am referring to Abraham’s daughter as Dora and Isaac’s daughter as Dusschen, although Isaac’s daughter was also sometimes known as Dora.

Dusschen Blumenfeld was born on December 25, 1848, in Momberg, Germany.

Dusschen Blumenfeld birth record, LAGIS Hessen Archives, Geburtsregister der Juden von Neustadt 1824-1884 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 628)

She was 21 when she married Isaac Strauss on May 19, 1870, in Amoeneburg.  Isaac was born in Amoeneburg on January 23, 1839, to Samuel Strauss and Jettchen Rosenbaum,1 and he was Dusschen’s first cousin since his father Samuel Strauss and Dusschen’s mother Gelle Strauss were brother and sister.

Marriage record of Isaac Strauss and Dusschen Blumenfeld, Archives of Hesse, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 50, p. 12

Isaac had been previously married.2 His first wife, Bettchen Reis, died on April 17, 1869, in Amoeneburg3 after giving birth to their second child Emanuel, who was born on April 12, 1869, and died two weeks later on April 26, 1869.4 Isaac was left to raise his daughter Jettchen Strauss, who was not yet three years old when her mother and infant brother died. Isaac married Dusschen a year after losing his first wife Bettchen.

Dusschen and Isaac had seven children together, the first five all born in Amoeneburg.

Their first born was Bertha, born on July 20, 1871.

Berta Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Hesse Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49 p 11

Second was Moses, also known as Moritz, born on January 19, 1873.

Moses Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Hesse Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49, p. 11

Then came Kathinka, born December 18, 1874.

Kathinka Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 173, Year Range: 1874, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The fourth child was Hermann, born October 1, 1876.

Hermann Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 175, Year Range: 1876, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Maier, also known as Max, came next; he was born on February 12, 1879.

Maier Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 178, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The sixth child was Rebekka, and she was born in Wetter, Germany, on February 8, 1881, so the family must have relocated from Amoeneburg by that time.

Rebekka Strauss birth record, Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9521, Year Range: 1881, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Finally, the seventh and last child born to Dusschen and Isaac was their son Sali, born May 29, 1885, also in Wetter.

Sali Strauss birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 9525, Year Range: 1885, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Several of Isaac and Dusschen’s children left for the United States in the late 19th century. Just four years after his youngest sibling Sali’s birth in 1885, the oldest son Moritz left Germany for the United States. He was only sixteen when he arrived in New York City on May 30, 1889.5 On June 7, 1896, Moritz Strauss married Therese Wolff, daughter of Israel Wolff and Sarah Lion, in New York. Therese was also an immigrant from Germany; she was born in Nalbach, Saarland, in 1873.6

Moritz and Therese had two children born in New York. Blanche was born on April 8, 1897.7 In 1900, the family was living in New York City, and Moritz, now known as Morris, was working as a butcher. Their second child Irving was born  on August 24, 1901.8

Morris Strauss 1900 US Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1097; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0340; FHL microfilm: 1241097, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

On August 5, 1904, Morris became a naturalized citizen.9 By 1910, Morris and his family had moved to the Bronx, and Moritz owned his own butcher shop. He must have felt that he had achieved the American dream.

Morris Strauss 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 30, New York, New York; Roll: T624_996; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 1405; FHL microfilm: 1375009
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Then tragedy struck when Irving Strauss, just thirteen years old, died on February 7, 1915. According to his death certificate, Irving died from acute osteomyelitis of the humerus, “cause unknown.” The humerus in the long bone in our arms, and osteomyelitis is inflammation of a bone or bone marrow caused by an infection. Pyemia, or blood poisoning from bacteria, was a contributory cause; my guess is that the infection spread from the blood stream to his bone. Even today such an infection is not a simple one to treat, but it’s much less likely that young Irving would die from it today than in 1915.

Irving Strauss death certificate, Certificate No. 919, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Bronx; Year: 1915

In 1920, the surviving members of the family, Morris, Therese, and Blanche, were living in the Bronx, and Morris was still working as a butcher.10 Blanche, now 22 years old, was working as a teacher in the New York City public schools. Blanche was still living with her parents in the Bronx and teaching in 1930, and her father Morris was still working as a butcher at that time.11

Moritz was not the only child of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss to come to the United States. Moritz’s older sister Bertha also came to New York City.  She married Morris Herz there on January 27, 1901. Morris was born on February 18, 1875, in Bonn, Germany. He was the son of Max Herz and Susanna Weber.12 I don’t know when he or Bertha arrived in New York. Their first child Henrietta was born in New York on November 14, 190113, but their second child, Manfred Edgar Herz, was born on February 18, 1909, in Frankfurt, Germany.14 So Bertha and Moritz must have returned to Germany between the births of their two children, and, as we will see, they remained there until the 1930s.

But the third oldest son of Dusschen and Isaac Strauss, like his brother Moritz, came to the US to stay.  Maier (also spelled Meier or Meyer and later known as Max) Strauss arrived in New York on June 7, 1903. He was 24 and had last been living in London. He was working as a baker when he filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen four years later on November 19, 1907.

Max Meier Strauss declaration of intention, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Vol 021-023 19 Oct-23 Nov 1907 (No 9985-11484), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Max Meier married Augusta Schoenmann in New York on October 7, 1914. Augusta was born in Odenheim, Germany, on June 13, 1888, to Elias Schoenmann and Karolina Mannheimer.15

Meier and Augusta’s first child, Irving, was born February 8, 1917.16 When Meier registered for the World War I draft on September 12, 1918, he owned his own bakery in New York, and his family was living at the same address as the bakery.

Meier Strauss, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

A second child, Herbert, was born to Meier and Augusta on September 26, 1919, in New York.17 In 1920, the family was still living at the address of the bakery listed on Meier’s draft registration, and Meier was still working as a baker.18 But by 1930, the family had moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Meier, now listed as Max, was still a baker.19

Back in Germany, meanwhile, the rest of the family of Dusschen Blumenfeld and Isaac Strauss was also expanding during these years.


  1. Isaac Strauss birth record, Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 49, found at https://arcinsys.hessen.de/arcinsys/digitalisatViewer.action?detailid=v1510942 
  2. Marriage of Isaac Strauss and Bettchen Reis, Trauregister der Juden von Amöneburg 1824-1893 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 50) p.11 
  3. Death record of Bettchen Reis Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse,  HHStAW Fonds 365 No 51, p. 8 
  4. Birth record of Emanuel Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse,HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 49, p. 10; Death record of Emanuel Strauss, Arcinsys Archives of Hesse, HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 51, p. 8 
  5.  National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: US District Court for the Eastern District of New York (058-059), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  6. Moritz Strauss, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 7 Jun 1896, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Therese Wolff, Certificate Number: 9594, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937; “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997Z-4HVD : 21 June 2022), Entry for Moritz Strauss and Theresa Wolff, 1896. 
  7. Blanche Strauss, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 8 Apr 1897, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 17565
    Father: Moritz Strauss, Mother: Theresa Strauss, Mother Maiden Name: Wolf, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Birth Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1897, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909 
  8. Irving Strauss, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 24 Aug 1901, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, New York, USA, Residence Address: E. 10 Str 364, Certificate Number: 33487, Father: Maurice Strauss, Mother: Theresa Strauss
    Mother Maiden Name: Wolff, New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Birth Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1901, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909 
  9. Moritz Strauss, Petition Age: 31, Record Type: Petition, Birth Date: 19 Jan 1873, Birth Place: Germany, Arrival Date: 30 May 1889, Arrival Place: New York, New York
    Petition Date: 5 Aug 1904, Petition Place: Kings, New York, USA, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  10. Morris Strauss, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 5, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1137; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 286, Enumeration District: 0286; Description: Bronx, Assembly District 5, Tract 121 (part) bounded by Westchester Ave, Whitlock Ave, E 165th, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  11. Morris Strauss, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Bronx, Bronx, New York; Page: 22B; Enumeration District: 0625; FHL microfilm: 2341222; Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  12. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997C-9L4Q : 21 June 2022), Entry for Morris Herz and Bertha Strauss, 1901. 
  13. “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:9979-QK94 : 11 February 2018), Entry for Henrietta Hertz, 14 Nov 1901; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 44441 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,983,411. 
  14. Manfred Edgar Herz, Record Type: Naturalization, Birth Date: 18 Feb 1909, Birth Place: Frankfurt Am Main, Germany, Arrival Date: 28 Jul 1939, Arrival Place: New York NY, Naturalization Place: Tennessee, USA, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.c.; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1888-1992 
  15. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:2:997C-CG23 : 21 June 2022), Entry for Meier Strauss and Auguste Schoemann, 1914. Mrs Augusta Strauss
    Gender: Female, Age: 35, Birth Date: 13 Jun 1888, Birth Place: Odenbeim Bei Bruchal, Baden, Germany, Residence Place: New York, Passport Issue Date: 21 Mar 1924
    Spouse: Max Strauss, Has Photo: Yes, Certificate Number: 381929, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 2449; Volume #: Roll 2449 – Certificates: 381850-382349, 21 Mar 1924-22 Mar 1924, Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  16. Irvin Strauss, Race: White, Age: 23, Relationship to Draftee: Self (Head). Birth Date: 8 Feb 1917. Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA. Residence Place: Washington, District of Columbia, USA, Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: Washington, District of Columbia, USA,Next of Kin: Max Strauss, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 221, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  17. Herbert Milton Strauss, Race: White, Age: 21, Birth Date: 26 Sep 1919, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: New York City, Bronx, New York, Next of Kin: Augusta Strauss, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, ncestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  18. Meier Strauss and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 957, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  19. Max Strauss and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Hoboken, Hudson, New Jersey; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0262; FHL microfilm: 2341084,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 

Moritz Werner And Family, Part III: After The War

After the war Max Werner, now 25 years old, married Klara Reiss on January 5, 1947, in London, England.1 Klara (known by the family as Klari) was born in Vienna, Austria, on September 27, 1920, to Ida Spergel and Salomon Reiss. According to his granddaughter Joyce:2

Salomon Reiss had made a fortune in Vienna and was a well-known multi-millionaire. After the Anschluss (March 1938) [he] was arrested at the seder table [and] stripped of his Austrian wealth, and the family managed to escape to Prague (not at the time under German control and where my grandfather owned assets).

Klara’s brothers were able to immigrate to Palestine, but Klara didn’t want to leave her parents so stayed with them in Prague. But as things became more dire, she was able to obtain a visa to go to England, as seen on her exit visa from Prague shown below. As Joyce noted, Klara left Prague “quite late in August 1939. Her entry Visa in Dover is stamped 30st August. The curtain came down [two days later started on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and World War II started.]”

Klara Reiss 1939 visa for travel to England

Klara’s parents were, however, stuck in Prague once the war started and unable to escape. They were eventually deported to Theriesenstadt and then from there on one of the last transports from Theriesenstadt to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.3

Klara met Max Werner eight years later in England. As Joyce tells the story,

Our parents met at a friend of Moritz and Jenny on a Shabbat afternoon in 1946. The couple were cousins of Klari’s father and, apparently, when [Max] got home, he told his parents he had met the girl he was going to marry. He was two years younger than Klari, involved with Klari’s cousin, and Klari told him to go away. Repeatedly. My father did not take no for an answer and pursued her relentlessly. She gave in and went on a date with him. The rest is history.

Judith provided these additional insights:

My mother liked my Dad when they met but felt that as a sophisticated dress designer she was way too old for the very young looking Max. She had a career path that she had worked very hard to carve out for herself and was in line to go to Paris for her firm.  She wasn’t interested in marriage at that point in her life especially after learning what happened to her parents. I believe her long range plan was to join her brothers in Israel. When however my Dad persisted, she relented…. They were married 6 months later on 5th January, 1947.

Joyce and Judith shared these photographs of their parents Max and Klara:

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

At the time of his marriage, Max was working for his father Moritz in the Benlo company in London. In 1949, Moritz was able to buy back LS Brinkmann from the man who purchased it. As his son Max told the story (and as I previously shared here),

A Catholic named Rhode from Kassel, who produced goods for the armaments industry, had bought L.S. Brinkmann. After the war, when Rhode was terminally ill, he developed feelings of remorse and tracked down my father Moritz in England. Mr. Rhode asked for a visit and my father and he made a contract, i.e. my father bought the company back – that was at a time when there was no official reparation! In 1949 the takeover was perfected. …

When my father had celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company in 1931, the staff had donated a bronze plate with a dedication and two knitting hands for him. During the forced sale [1939] the plate suddenly disappeared.

In 1949, when my father was sitting in his office again for the first time, there was a knock at the door and a small delegation of employees came in… They struggled to carry a box containing this bronze plate. Before taking over the company, these employees had fastened the plate in the chimney with strong wires and thus hidden it.

Joyce and Judith shared this photograph of the plaque that had been given to honor Moritz in 1931 and then hidden by his employees to keep it safe from the Nazis.

Moritz and Jenny did not remain in Germany, but Moritz did continue to oversee LS Brinkmann from England. He gave a large share of the business to his sister Elsa Werner Loewenthal, wife of Julius Loewenthal, whom I wrote about here.

Meanwhile, according to Judith, there were problems within the partnership of Benlo; contrary to an informal agreement between Moritz and his partner, the partner brought a new partner into the business, and together they took over control of the business and away from Moritz. Eventually, the two other partners drove Moritz out of the business and moved his son Max from company headquarters in London to a sales job, which he found to be unsatisfying and a dead end position.

Here is a photograph of Max and Klara in the early 1950s:

Max and Klara Werner c. 1953 Courtesy of the family

Thus, in 1953, Max decided to move to Germany and take over LS Brinkmann after his father Moritz retired. By that time, both Judith and Joyce were born, and Judith was already in school. Max, Klara, and Joyce went to Eschwege, and Judith stayed behind with her grandparents Moritz and Jenny in England to continue her schooling. Under Max’s leadership, LS Brinkmann once again became a highly successful knitware company.

But after a relatively short time, Klara and Joyce returned to England as Klara was not happy living in Eschwege, where there was no longer a Jewish community after the Holocaust. Max would come to England periodically, usually for Jewish holidays, and Klara and their daughters would spend the summers in Eschwege.

Joyce and Judith have wonderful memories of spending summers in Eschwege. Judith wrote:

Part of the perks of working for LSB was reduced rental flats on the factory property. It was great fun for us children of the workers. Every afternoon and early evening when the workday was over we would gather in the courtyard and play all kinds of games, including hide and seek and different ball games.

Judith shared this photograph of the LS Brinkmann grounds along with this description:

On the far left are the worker residences including ours. Bottom right is the green house. The larger tree in front of the white knitting operation was a delicious pear tree under which our pet dog Cracky was buried. The other greenery were apple, pear, plum, and cherry (not seen) trees. We had all kinds of berries that I used to spend many hours picking and eating. In the distance is the very picturesque town of Eschwege.

LS Brinkmann factory grounds Courtesy of the family

Joyce added this memory:

I also remember those holidays as a time of freedom. We played with local children as Judy said and were left largely to our own devices. Judy and some of the older kids would take me along to the local swimming pool or they Iet me trail along and join in with whatever they did. My own age group was a group of dare-devil boys. In the foreground (front left side) [of the photograph] is a grey roof above the dustbins [trash cans] with a drop of about 6 to 7 feet to the rear exit road below. All the boys and I used to play a ‘chicken’ type game jumping off with as much bravado as possible.

By 1958, Moritz Werner’s health had declined, and he and Jenny decided to leave England for a better climate and move to Lugano, Switzerland. He died eight years later in 1966 at the age of 78. This photograph of Moritz was taken at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of LS Brinkmann’s founding in 1965.

Moritz Werner 1965 Courtesy of the family

Jenny kept the apartment in Lugano and remained there, although she spent the first year after Moritz’s death living with Klara and the girls in London. Eventually, when she could no longer live alone, she moved to an assisted living facility in Zurich, where she died in November 1987 at the age of 93. Here is a beautiful photograph of Jenny:

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner eventually retired from LS Brinkmann and returned to England. Judith shared this memory with me:

My father had a fantasy of living in Devon, England on the coast. He had fallen in love with the Devon and Cornwall coastline when he was a very young man. So when he was about 55 [about 1977], he sold [the home in] London and bought a house in Devon. He proceeded to knock most of it down and rebuilt it to his own specifications. This home was on the top of the hill that he owned overlooking the channel. On this hill he had an area for a pool and a rock garden. And when we swam in this pool, you could overlook this beautiful seaway.

Max Werner and his wife Klara died within eight months of each other. Klara died at age 90 in April 2011 in Devon, England, and Max died in December of that year, also in Devon, England. He was 89.4

I am so deeply grateful to Judith and Joyce for sharing their family’s stories and photographs. The story of their grandparents and parents is one of persistence and strength despite being subjected to harassment, theft of their business, and loss of their home and their homeland. Somehow they rebuilt their lives and their business and found ways to survive both before, during, and after World War II.


  1.  Max H Werner, Registration Date: Jan 1947, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss, Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. As with the two prior posts, most of the information in this post came from a series of emails exchanged among Max and Klara’s daughters Judith, and Joyce and myself during May and June, 2022. 
  3. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4788092&ind=1; https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=4783626&ind=1 
  4. These dates came from Max and Klara’s daughters Joyce and Judith.