The Legacy of Meier Katzenstein

Today I want to share some photographs and other documents that were shared with me by a cousin named Miles who found my blog and then generously sent me a large collection of photographs.

Miles is my fifth cousin through our shared four times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann. Miles is descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. Miles’ lineage is from Jacob Falcke to Meyer Goldschmidt to Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein to Meier Katzenstein to Sophia Katzenstein Lustig to his mother Nancy  to Miles.

I wrote about Meier and his family back on October 23, 2020 here. I will just summarize that blog post briefly in order to provide context for the photographs Miles shared with me. For more details and sources, please refer back to my original post.

Meier Katzenstein was the youngest child and only son of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Callman Katzenstein. He was born in 1860 in Eschwege, Germany, and was also the only child of Amalie and Juda to leave Germany and immigrate to the US. He immigrated in 1888, and three years later he married Emma Bacharach, also a German immigrant. They lived in New York City where their only child Sophia was born in 1892. Meier was in the business of manufacturing fancy linens.

Here are some photographs of Meier and Emma. You can see from Meier’s photographs how accurately he was described on his US passport application: “five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face.”

The first photograph was taken in Eschwege so presumably before Meier immigrated.

Meier Katzenstein in Eschwege
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier Katzenstein
Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Meier and Emma (Bacharach) Katzenstein. Courtesy of Miles Mark

And these are some adorable photographs of Sophia Katzenstein as a girl alone and with her parents, including some taken in Germany, showing that Meier and Emma did return to visit their families back in Germany.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma and Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein in Germany Courtesy of Mark Miles

Sophia was not only a beautiful little girl; she grew up to be a beautiful woman. In 1914 she married Elias Lustig, who was a very successful hat manufacturer. Here are some photographs of Sophia as a young woman and one of Elias.

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Elias and Sophia had two children. Their first child was David Miles Lustig, known as Miles. He was born in 1916. His grandfather Meier had died just six months before, and I assume that Miles was named for his grandfather.

Elias and Sophia’s second child Nancy was born five years later in 1921. Here are some delightful photographs of the two children of Elias and Sophia, grandchildren of Meier and Emma:

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles and Nancy Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia and Elias divorced sometime thereafter, and in 1936 Sophia married her second husband, Saul Baron. Here are two photographs of Sophia and Saul:

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Sophia Katzenstein and Saul Baron Courtesy of Miles Mark

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died in 1941, and thus neither Meier nor Emma lived to endure the tragedy that befell their only grandson, David Miles Lustig. Miles was a 1939 graduate of Princeton University, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He enlisted in the US Army on January 17, 1941, almost a year before the US entered World War II. Here are two photographs of Miles in uniform looking so proud to be serving his country.

L David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

David Miles Lustig Courtesy of Miles Mark

Miles was assigned to the 44th Bomber Squadron, 20th Bomber Command. Here he is with some of the men in his squadron:

David Miles Lustig, right Courtesy of Miles Mark

Tragically, while flying over China in December, 1944, the plane in which Miles’s crew was flying was shot down and crashed. Miles landed in a river and drowned, but the rest of the men on his plane survived and recorded what had happened, as described in these documents shared with me by David Miles Lustig’s namesake, my fifth cousin Miles.

The first is a letter written to the family by the members of the crew on the plane that day. It’s interesting that they called him Dave, not Miles.

45th Bomb Squad

APO 631, NY

Jan 24

Dear Mr. Lustig and Family,

Several of the boys have received letters asking about Dave so we hope you get a little bit of comfort from as much as we can tell. (The events related in this letter concern 1st Lt. David Miles Lustig, 0-416239.)

We know it must have been a terrible blow to you and you have our deepest sympathy. If there is anything we can do, please don’t hesitate to ask any favor. We all thought an awful lot of your son.

Their plane was shot down returning from a combat mission and all the crew members were forced to bail out. Dave landed in the water and was drowned. The rest of the crew remained several days in the vicinity conducting a search until he was found.

You might like to know that just before he jumped from the plane he took his navigators’ log and carried with him so he could tell the rest of the crew their location on the ground. The paper was picked up later and returned by natives and that’s how we happened to know about it. So even in the emergency, his primary consideration was to his duty to the rest of the men.

It’s as hard to write about it is to think about and I think that is as much as we are allowed to tell at this time. I’m sure that at a later date, any of his friends will be glad to give you any information you desire.

Now we can only tell you how terribly sorry we are that it had to happen.

Sincerely,

[signatures of the crew]

The second is a compilation of memories and details from various members of the flight crew. You can read it by clicking on the link below. It is too long for me to transcribe and too important to be merely paraphrased.

article on shooting down of plane David Miles Lustig

Sophia died just six years after the tragic loss of her son Miles; she was 58 when she died on November 9, 1950. She was survived by her remaining child, Nancy, and two grandsons. Nancy had married Mitchell Mark in 1943; they had two sons, Mitchell II., and Miles, the namesake of Nancy’s brother and the cousin who has shared all these photographs and documents with me. Nancy later divorced Mitchell Mark and married Saul Waldman in 1956.

The death of David Miles Lustig was not the only tragedy this family faced. In 1969, Nancy’s older son Mitchell was killed in a horrific accident when his car was crushed by an eighteen-wheeler. Mitchell II was only 25 years old. Nancy donated an ambulance to Israel in his memory. He was survived by his wife Linda and young son, also named Mitchell.

Nancy Lustig Waldman died on June 8, 2004. She was 83 years old. She was survived by her son Miles and by his children as well as her grandson Mitchell III.

I am so grateful to my fifth cousin Miles for sharing his family’s stories—both the triumphs and the tragedies—and for sharing all these beautiful photographs. He carries on the rich legacy of all his namesakes—his three-times great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt for whom his great-grandfather Meier Katzenstein was named and his uncle David Miles Lustig who was named for his grandfather Meier Katzenstein. That’s a chain going back to at least 1784 when Meyer was born to our mutual 4-times great-grandparents, Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann.

 

More Photos of My Double Cousin Hannah Goldsmith Benedict and Her Family

I recently posted photos that my cousin Bruce Velzy sent me of his great-great-grandmother Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah is one of the relatives whose lives most fascinate me. Her parents were both related to me. Her father Simon Goldschmidt was my four-times great-uncle, and her mother Fradchen or Fanny Schoenthal was my three-times great-aunt. Simon and Fanny were recent immigrants from Germany to the US when Hannah was born in 1848. And then Hannah lost her mother shortly after Hannah’s second birthday.

Hannah and her brother Henry then moved with their father Simon to Washington, Pennsylvania, where they lived with Hannah’s half-brother Jacob Goldsmith and his wife and children. Then when she was just eighteen, Hannah married Joseph Benedict, a rag dealer who was fourteen years older, and moved to Pittsburgh; her father moved with her. Hannah and Joseph had five children, but only three survived infancy: Jacob (1870), Herschel (1871), and C. Harry (1876).

Bruce is descended from Hannah’s son Jacob and shared these photos, which I’ve previously posted:

Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of the family and edited by the Photo Restoration Facebook group.

Sons of Hannah Goldsmith and Joseph Benedict, c. 1890. Courtesy of the family

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

One of the things that makes Hannah’s story so remarkable is the success of her son C. Harry Benedict and of his two sons, Manson Benedict and William Benedict, as I wrote about here and here. They all were Ivy League graduates who pursued highly successful careers in science and engineering.

A few weeks ago I heard from Manson’s Benedict’s daughter Mary, She found my blog and commented as follows:

My father was Manson Benedict, son of C.Harry Benedict. Manson played a large part in the successful development of the atomic bomb. His contribution was developing a process to separate the isotopes of Uranium at a plant in Oak Ridge Tennessee. After the war he became the first professor of nuclear engineering at MIT, and was active in research on peaceful uses for atomic energy, such as nuclear power. I got a Master’s degree in chemistry, doing research on radiation chemistry. My granddaughter, Kirsten Benedict Sauer, earned a PhD in geology and is now employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she is developing ways to safely dispose of radioactive waste from reactors.

I emailed Mary and learned that she and her granddaughter are not the only ones carrying on the Benedict tradition in the sciences. Both of Mary’s sons are scientists as are her daughter-in-law and some of her grandchildren, and her daughter majored in psychology. It’s amazing to see how the DNA carries certain interests and skills from one generation to another.

Mary also shared three photographs with me, including this one taken at the celebration of Hannah Goldsmith’s 90th birthday in 1938. The photo includes Hannah’s three sons Jacob, Herschel, and C. Harry, her grandsons Manson and William, her daughters-in-law and granddaughter-in-law, and her great-granddaughter Mary.

Celebration of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict’s 90th birthday in 1938. Standing in rear Jake, C. Harry, Manson, Herschel, and William Benedict. Seated Marjorie Allen Benedict, Lena Manson Benedict with Mary Benedict Sauer, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

Mary also sent me two wedding photographs. This one is of her grandparents C.Harry Benedict and Lena Manson on their wedding day, February 7, 1902.

C. Harry Benedict and Lena Manson, 1902. Courtesy of Mary Benedict Sauer.

And this one is from Mary’s own wedding in 1959. Mary and her husband Myran Charles Sauer, Jr. are standing with Mary’s grandparents, C Harry Benedict and Lena Manson Benedict.

Mary Benedict, Myran Charles Sauer, Jr., Lena Manson, and C.Harry Benedict, 1959. Courtesy of Mary Sauer.

Once again, I am so drawn to the story of Hannah Goldsmith and so grateful to her descendants for sharing the stories and photographs they have of her.

People Read Footnotes! Another Twist in the Family Tree

Last month when I wrote about the end (for now) of my Goldschmidt family research, I included this footnote on my blog post:

I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenewald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenewald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog.

I admit that I never expected anyone to read the footnote. After all, it was a footnote, and I wrote it just to be forthcoming and thorough in reporting an area of the Goldschmidt family story that I had not included on my blog.

But much to my surprise and delight, my cousin Ruth read the footnote and emailed me to say she thought we might be related through the Gruenewald family of Poembsen. Ruth is my fourth cousin through my Seligmann family line. Her great-great-grandfather Hieronymous Seligmann was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman, the subject of my latest novel. We are both descended from Moritz Seligmann and Babette Schoenfeld. As far as I knew, Ruth was not related to me through my Goldschmidt family.

So when I received Ruth’s email, I wanted to know whether we were also related through the Gruenewalds of Poembsen. Ruth had a family tree prepared by memory by her grandfather Simon Gruenewald near the end of his life. I had only the work compiled by Alex Bernstein. Ruth sent me a copy of her grandfather’s tree, and I studied it and compared it to the information I had from Alex Bernstein’s book. I then sent it to David Baron, who had first told me about Alex Bernstein’s book. And he also studied and compared the two trees.

 

 

There were a few inconsistencies in the two trees, including most importantly that Ruth’s tree did not list Jette Goldschmidt as David Gruenewald’s first wife. I have written to a contact in Oberlistingen, hoping that there will be a marriage record for Jette and David. Alternatively we hope that there may be records of Jette’s death or of the birth or marriage of her son Jacob that will help us verify that Jette Goldschmidt was married to David Gruenewald and was the mother of Jacob Gruenewald.

Because we assume that Alex Bernstein relied on actual records whereas Ruth knew that her grandfather relied only on his memory. we think for the most part that the Bernstein tree is more reliable than Ruth’s grandfather’s tree.  And it wouldn’t be surprising if Ruth’s grandfather was confused, given that there are at least two Davids, two Simons, two Jacobs, and several Minnas on the Gruenewald tree.

So what did we conclude regarding the relationship between Ruth and Jette Goldschmidt, assuming that David Gruenewald was married to my four-times great-aunt Jette?

There is no genetic connection, only one by marriage. Here is an abbreviated family report for the Gruenewalds of Poembsen.

As you can see, Levi Jehuda had a son Moses. Moses had two sons—David Gruenewald I, who married (we believe) Jette Goldschmidt, and Ruth’s great-great-grandfather Simon Gruenewald I.

But it gets more complicated.  Simon Gruenewald I had a son David Gruenewald II. David Gruenewald II married his first cousin, Minna Gruenewald, the daughter of David Gruenewald I with his second wife, Klara Karenmeyer. Minna Gruenewald was Ruth’s great-grandmother and also the half-sister of my relative Jacob Gruenewald I, David Gruenewald I and Jette Goldschmidt’s son.

Here are some charts, though I am not sure they really help. The first chart shows how Ruth’s great-grandparents were first cousins, Minna the daughter of David Gruenewald I, her husband David Gruenewald II the son of Simon Gruenewald I.

The second chart shows how Ruth is the step-great-great-granddauaghter of Jette Goldschmidt, my three-times great-aunt.

Thus, it appears that my four-times great-aunt Jette Goldschmidt was Ruth’s step-great-great-grandmother. Crazy, isn’t it?

And then David Baron discovered yet another connection. He wrote: “I found another connection with your families. In our Katz/Katzenstein trees we have Bertha Pes Katz daughter of Bonum Katz and Zerline Nussbaum of Jesberg who married Feist Joseph LInz. Pes and Feist Joseph had Betty LInz and Berthold Linz. Betty LInz married Albert Gruenwald and Berthold married Albert’s sister Rebecca Paula Gruenwald, Both Albert and Betty were the children of Hirsch Gruenwald and his wife Mina Gruenwald (born 1834) According to a family tree I found on My Heritage at https://www.myheritage.com/site-family-tree-550062631/fastre – Mina was the daughter of Simon Grunewald and Malchen Rose.”

I admit that I am still working on sorting through that one!

So Ruth is related to me genetically through our shared Seligmann line and also related to me by marriage, albeit distantly, through my Goldschmidt/Gruenewald line and through my Katzenstein/Katz line.

And who knows where else our family lines may have crossed.

In the meantime, Ruth’s grandfather’s tree has provided  clues as to what happened to the descendants of Jette Goldschmidt and David Gruenewald I. I have just connected with one of those descendants and hope to be able to fill out the family tree so that my four-times greataunt Jette Goldschmidt Gruenewald will no longer be relegated to just a footnote.

 

Things People Find on eBay

Back in May 2020, I wrote about Ferdinand Meyer, my third cousin, twice removed, a great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt.

As I described in that post, Ferdinand and his two children, Eleanora and Erich, both left Germany in the 1930s to escape from the Nazis. But Ferdinand’s wife Friedericke Jaenecke Meyer stayed behind and did not leave Germany until the summer of 1941, when she came to the US and settled with Ferdinand in the Boston area.

Friedericke was not born Jewish, and I wondered whether she had stayed behind to protect the family’s assets, assuming that she would be safe (though she faced some persecution in Germany for being married to a Jew or perhaps for converting). I still have no answers to that question.

Nevertheless, I was quite tickled when a blog reader commented that he had found on eBay an envelope for a letter sent by Friedericke to Ferdinand, postmarked January 24, 1941.

As you can see, Friedericke was still living in Frankfurt at the time she sent this letter to Ferdinand, who was living on Beacon Street in Boston.

Unfortunately, there was no letter inside the envelope to reveal what was going on in Friedericke’s life and what her thoughts were about what was happening in Germany. By that time the war was raging across Europe, but the US was still a year away from entering the war. What were Friedericke and Ferdinand feeling and thinking? How was Friedericke able to escape when so many Jews were trapped inside Germany by that time?

And how in the world did this envelope end up on eBay?

Life is just filled with mysteries.

New Year’s Eve 1919-1920 in Frankfurt, Germany

Two weeks ago I said I was taking a break, trying to figure out where to go next with my research and clearing my head. Well, my head is still not clear, and I still am on the fence about what to do next.

But while I was taking that breather, I heard from multiple new cousins as well as new communications from cousins I’d already found. New photos, new stories, new people. These include new DNA matches on my Brotman line, new photos for my Schoenthal line, new photos for my Seligmann line, a new connection from a Seligmann cousin who also appears to be a Goldschmidt cousin, a new Katzenstein cousin, a set of documents sent by a man living in Oberlistingen about the Goldschmidts, and numerous other questions, comments, or requests coming from my blog, Facebook, or email.  I will blog about many of these once I get my arms wrapped around the details.

All of this has given me a shot in the arm (and yes, I now am fully vaccinated against COVID as well) that I sorely needed. It’s so hard to transition from one research project to another, especially after three years. So these smaller, more focused projects are what I need right now. Especially since I also want to spend some time promoting my new book, Santa Fe Love Song.

Today I want to share an amazing photograph that my cousin Greg Rapp sent me. He cannot identify anyone in the photograph, but Greg is a Goldschmidt cousin (a descendant of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt), and the photo was labeled “New Year’s Eve 1919-1920.” Whether or not we can ever identify anyone in the photograph, it is nevertheless worth sharing. It captures German society during the Weimar Republic. The young women smoking cigarettes evoke that era as does the energy, the expressions, and the postures of all the young people in the picture.

If anyone can identify anyone in this photograph, please let me know.

My Goldschmidt Family Project: Looking Back and Looking Forward

With this post, I come to the end of my Goldschmidt research—at least until I get new updates or make new discoveries. I’ve done my best to find whatever records, stories, and photographs exist for Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents, and their descendants.1

I started blogging about my Goldschmidt relatives a little over three years ago on January 12, 2018, making it the longest of any of my family research projects.  And it’s been such a rich and rewarding journey. I’ve connected with Goldschmidt/Goldsmith cousins in France, England, and all over the United States. Some of those cousins have roots in the US that are as deep as mine—going back to the 1840s when Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith arrived or the 1850s when my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein arrived; some are the children of those who were born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, and were forced to leave their comfortable and successful lives to escape from the Nazis as recently as the 1930s or 1940s.

One thread that runs through so much of the Goldschmidt family is an interest in the arts and literature—whether in writing, as with Milton Goldsmith and Anna Seghers, or an interest in antiquarian books, as with Alfred Goldsmith and Emil Offenbacher, or in music like Florence Goldsmith, or  in creating art like William Sigmund and Martha Loewenthal Wolff, or by working as an art historian and curator like Yvonne Hackenbroch, and, of course, then there are the many, many Goldschmidt family members involved in collecting and dealing in art—from the Goldschmidt brothers Jacob Meier and Selig to Julius Falk Goldschmidt to the Freres Tedesco family and so on.

Alfred Goldsmith self-portrait, Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 5.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

Of course, there were also many merchants, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists in the Goldschmidt clan. But when I think of my father’s artistic ability and his passion for art, architecture, music, and literature, I attribute it to his Goldschmidt DNA. His mother was artistic, and she was the granddaughter of Eva Goldschmidt. My great-uncle Harold Schoenthal, also a grandchild of Eva Goldschmidt, was also an artist and an architect. My daughter is also very artistic, though she did not pursue it as a career. When I see my grandsons drawing, I think, “It must be their Goldschmidt DNA.” I may not be artistic, but I’d like to think that my love of reading and writing comes from that Goldschmidt DNA as well.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

The Rabbi and The Priest by Milton Goldsmith

After three years of research, it’s hard to boil down in one post all that I have learned. That research has exposed me to so much of American Jewish history and German Jewish history—from the late eighteenth century right up to 2020. The Goldschmidts kept my brain busy during this pandemic time, and they provided me with some truly memorable Zoom calls with cousins.

It has been an amazing experience. I am indebted to so many of my Goldschmidt cousins that I fear if I make a list, I will leave someone out. But thank you to all of you who shared your family’s photographs, letters, memoirs, documents, and stories. I hope that I’ve served our extended family well by recording the stories of their lives for posterity. And please stay in touch! I want to meet as many of you as I can in person someday soon.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery.
Once owned by the Freres Tedesco Gallery, Paris

A work from the Guelph Treasure
Reliquary of the arm of Saint Blaise (Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Dankwarderode Castle). User:Brunswyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons. Once owned by J&S Goldschmidt

It’s bittersweet to reach this point and know it’s time to move on to the next project. But I’ve gone as far as I can go in the Goldschmidt research—at least for now.  I need to decide what to do next. I’ve been dipping my toes in several ponds to see which one grabs my attention.

Before I reveal where I am going next, however, I need to take a break for a bit to catch my breath and to catch up on the research it will take to start that new project, whatever it may be. But first, I will introduce my new novel. So stay tuned!


  1. I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenwald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenwald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog. 

Philipp v Germany: An Update

The Supreme Court issued its opinion in the Guelph Treasure case this week, and unfortunately it was not good news for my cousin Alan Philipp and the other plaintiffs. As I wrote about here, the plaintiffs, heirs to the Consortium of art collectors who once owned the Guelph Treasure, alleged that Germany and its agency, the SPK, had expropriated their property in violation of international law when the Nazis fraudulently and illegally coerced the Consortium into selling the Guelph Treasure to them at a third of its value in June 1935. After unsuccessfully seeking reparations from Germany, the plaintiffs brought their claims in the US federal courts for wrongful expropriation of their property in violation of international law.

The defendants asserted immunity from suit in the US under the Foreign Sovereignty Immunity Act (“FSIA”), claiming that Germany and its agents could not be sued in US courts. The plaintiffs asserted in response that their claims fell within the expropriation exception of the FSIA, which allows claims against foreign nations based on property taken in violation of international law, as I explained here. The plaintiffs argued that the forced sale of the Guelph Treasure to the Nazis had violated international law because it was coerced and consummated as part of the Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

The District Court and the Court of Appeals agreed with the plaintiffs that the expropriation exception applied and that the case could be heard in the US federal courts, but the Supreme Court has now reversed those decisions and remanded the case back to the District Court. The Supreme Court held in a unanimous decision that the plaintiffs’ claims did not fit into the expropriation exception of the FSIA if they were claims by German nationals against Germany. They read the “in violation of international law” language in the exception narrowly to refer only to the international law of property, not to international law respecting human rights. Then they addressed the “domestic takings” principle of international property law, which precludes US courts from adjudicating claims by a country’s nationals against that country. The court concluded that the domestic takings rule would apply here and deprive the plaintiffs of their right to have their claims against Germany heard in US courts if the members of the Consortium were nationals of Germany.

The plaintiffs are, however, left with one possible argument to allow the case to go forward in the US courts: that the members of the Consortium were no longer German “nationals” in June 1935 because Nazi persecution of the Jews in Germany destroyed their standing as German nationals, and thus their claim is not a claim by a German national against Germany and thus not precluded under the domestic takings rule. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the District Court for consideration of that issue.1

The decision is obviously disappointing for the plaintiffs and for other descendants of German Jews who might seek relief in American courts for property stolen by the Nazis. The court’s opinion focuses primarily on the statutory language and legislative history. But the court also made it clear that it was concerned about the policy implications of allowing such claims in the US—in particular, the possibility that a foreign court could likewise adjudicate claims by American nationals against the US for violations of their human rights.

What the court failed to address are the policy implications of its decision. Their ruling means that those descended from Jews who lived in Germany during the Nazi era are deprived of the right to bring property claims in US courts against the country that persecuted them because they were nationals of Germany. The argument on remand should establish that by persecuting, dehumanizing, torturing and killing its Jewish residents because they were considered subhuman and dangerous, Germany forfeited the right to claim that those same Jewish residents were German nationals and thus should be subject to suit in the US under the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

You can read the Supreme Court decision here: Philipp v Germany SCOTUS opinion

Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree., CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

 


  1. The defendants claimed that the plaintiffs had waived that argument in the lower courts and thus could not revive it now; the Supreme Court said that was also to be determined by the District Court. 

Two Cousins Whose Lives Tell the Overall Story of the Goldschmidts

As I draw to the close of my Goldschmidt family history project, it seemed quite appropriate that I recently received photographs of two members of that family who  exemplify two very different stories of this family’s history, my cousins Herman Goldsmith and Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah was born in America in 1848 and lived until 1939, and Herman was born in Germany in 1912 and lived until 2016.

First I received this photograph of Herman Goldsmith and my cousin Susan and her husband Richard. Susan said it was taken in June 2013 when Herman was 100 years old. He would turn 101 on December 6, 2013, and live until October 27, 2016, just a little over a month before he would have turned 104.

Richard and Susan (Vogel) Neulist and Herman Goldsmith, June 2013. Courtesy of Susan Neulist

I wrote about Herman here. He was the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt. Julius Falk Goldschmidt was the son of Falk Goldschmidt, and Leni Goldschmidt was the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Since Falk and Jacob Meier were brothers, Julius and Leni were first cousins, once removed, making Herman his own cousin.

After escaping from Nazi Germany to the US in the 1930s, Herman settled in New York City where so many Goldschmidt family members ended up. He remained in touch with his Goldschmidt relatives. Susan said he visited her grandmother, Grete Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, every week for many years.

Grete was also a double cousin as she was the daughter of Marcel (Maier) Goldschmidt, son of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and Hedwig Goldschmidt, daughter of Falk Goldschmidt. Hedwig and Marcel were first cousins, and so like Herman, Grete was her own cousin.

And since Hedwig Goldschmidt, Grete’s mother, and Julius Falk Goldschmidt, Herman’s father, were siblings, Grete and Herman were first cousins, both the grandchildren of Falk Goldschmidt.

But they were also both descended from Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, Herman’s great-grandfather and Grete’s grandfather, so they were also first cousins, once removed, through Herman’s mother Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt and Grete’s father Marcel Goldschmidt. Oy vey! No wonder they were so close! Susan described Herman as “quite the gentleman and full of wonderful stories.” I wish I knew more of his stories.

I also received a wonderful photograph from my cousin, Bruce, the great-great-great-grandson of Fradchen Schoenthal, sister of my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and also the great-great-grandson of Simon Goldschmidt, brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt.

So Bruce is my double cousin. He’s my fourth cousin, once removed, through our Schoenthal side and my fifth cousin through our Goldschmidt side.

Isn’t Jewish genealogy fun?

Anyway, Bruce’s great-great-grandmother was Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, daughter of the above-mentioned Simon Goldschmidt. Hannah and her brother Henry were the first Goldschmidts born in the US, Henry in 1847 and Hannah in 1848. I’ve written much about Hannah and her family—here and here and here  and here and here and here and here. Hannah married Joseph Benedict in 1867, and they had five children, including Jacob Benedict, Bruce’s great-grandfather. Jacob had two daughters with his wife Clara Kaufman: Helen, born in 1907, and Marian, born in 1908. Helen was Bruce’s grandmother.

Bruce told me that this photograph was dated August 24, 1908, and shows Hannah Goldsmith Benedict with her husband Joseph and their two granddaughters Helen and Marian. At that time Jacob Benedict and his family were living in Paducah, Kentucky, and Hannah and Joseph were living in Pittsburgh. Jacob’s brother Herschel was living in Pittsburgh, and his brother Harry was living in Michigan by 1910.  But the photograph was apparently taken in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I wonder how that happened….

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

Another mystery to solve. But seeing one of my earliest American-born relatives with her granddaughters is very exciting.

It’s so fitting to close my Goldschmidt family blog posts with photographs of these two members of the family. Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith were first cousins, twice removed, since Hannah’s father Simon Goldschmidt and Herman’s great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt were brothers.

Hannah was born in the United States when the country was still very young. She lived through the Civil War, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression, dying in November 1939 while her German cousins were being persecuted and fleeing from Nazi Germany. She was 91 years old.

Just two months before Hannah died, her cousin Herman arrived in the US as one of those cousins escaping from Germany. Herman Goldsmith was born in 1912 in Frankfurt, Germany, and had grown up in the comfort of the large and well-to-do Goldschmidt family. Unlike Hannah, his life was radically changed by the events of the 1930s. But like Hannah, he saw so much in his lifetime, living until he was almost 104. He not only lived through World War I, the Weimar Republic years, the Depression, and World War II—he saw the radical changes that came after the war—the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the moon landing, the gay rights movement, the rise of the internet, 9/11, and the election of the first Black man to serve as president of the US.

Can you imagine the stories Herman and Hannah could tell each other as well as us?  They lived such different lives in such different places and times, overlapping in time between only 1912 and 1939, but on different continents. But together the lives of Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith tell us so much not only about the richness of the Goldschmidt family’s story, but also about the history of Jews in America and in Germany.

Thank you to Susan and to Bruce for sharing these photographs. And thank you to each and everyone of my Goldschmidt cousins who have helped me understand and appreciate our shared history.

 

The Drey Family: More Cousins, More Small World Connections, More Photographs

A few weeks ago another new cousin found me through my blog, and the ensuing emails and additional new cousin connections have resulted in many small-world coincidences as well as a collection of family photographs. So even when I thought I was just about finished with my Goldschmidt family line, I have been reminded once again that this work is never really finished.

Let me start at the beginning. The cousin who first contacted me through my blog, Diane, is my fifth cousin, once removed. She is the daughter of Claude Drey, whose photographs I wrote about here, and the granddaughter of Arthur Drey and Caroline Lilly Cramer, who I now know was always called Lilly, not Caroline. Caroline was the daughter of David Cramer and Clementine Fuld. Here’s a chart showing the rest of our connection:

Diane and I both have children and grandchildren living in Brooklyn. She then connected me to other members of her family, including her first cousins Florence, George, and Linda, who are also my fifth cousins, once removed. They are the children of Dorothy Drey, Claude’s sister and the daughter of Arthur Drey and Lilly Cramer. And here’s where the small world connections piled up. Florence, George, and Linda grew up in White Plains, New York, where I went to junior high and high school. In fact, we lived around the corner from each other. Linda was just one year ahead of me in school. But we never knew of each other’s existence.

Then I learned that George’s wife grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Florence went to college there. I’ve lived right outside of Springfield since 1983. George is a lawyer, and Florence is engaged in genealogical research and activities. And finally, George, Florence, and I are now currently in Florida and not far from each other. But for COVID, we could all easily get together and meet in person. As a result of all these overlapping connections, we all likely know many of the same people, and when we do get together, it will be fun to discover more connections.

And then Diane sent me a collection of family photographs and has given me permission to share them here. Here are some of those photographs.

First, this is a photograph of Clementine Fuld Cramer with her two children Sally and Lilly. Clementine was the daughter of Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld and the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. I wrote about Clementine here and here. I am not sure when this would have been taken. If Lilly was not yet married, it had to be taken before January 27, 1919.

Sally Cramer, Clementine Fuld Cramer, Caroline Lilly Cramer. Courtesy of the Drey family

Here are photographs taken on January 27, 1919, when Lilly married Arthur Drey:

Arthur Drey and Lily Cramer, January 1919. Courtesy of the Drey family

Arthur Drey and Lily Cramer, January 1919. Courtesy of the Drey family

Lilly and Arthur Drey had three children. This photograph shows Lilly with their first two children, Claude and Dorothy in 1921 when Dorothy was born.

Lilly Cramer Drey, Claude Drey, Dorothy Drey. c. 1921. Courtesy of the Drey family

Their third child Elizabeth was born five years later in 1926. Here she is as a young child:

Elizabeth Drey c. 1927 Courtesy of the Drey family

This photograph of the entire family was taken in Frankfurt in about 1927 before their lives were forever altered by the Nazis:

Drey family in Frankfurt c. 1927. Courtesy of the Drey family

These photographs of Claude and Dorothy as children were also taken in Germany before the family escaped from Germany to Milan, Italy, in 1933:

Claude Drey c. 1928 Courtesy of the Drey family

Dorothy Drey c. 1932-1933 Courtesy of the Drey family

Diane also shared photographs taken in the US in the 1940s and beyond. What I found most remarkable about those were the photographs of Clementine Fuld Cramer with her great-grandchildren, including Diane, George, and Florence. Clementine died in 1962 at 87. She had lived through the early years of a unified Germany, World War I, the oppression of Jews by the Nazis in the 1930s, immigration to the US during World War II, and the post-war years adjusting to the United States. She lived to see the births of not only her grandchildren but also a number of great-grandchildren. What a remarkable life she had. I bet she had some amazing stories to share.

Clementine Fuld Cramer with one of her great-grandchildren in the US

Finally, I love this photograph of Caroline Lilly Cramer Drey taken in New York City sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. She had held on to the grace and sophisticaion of the world she’d known as a well-to-do woman living in the Frankfurt Jewish community before the Nazi era.

Lilly Cramer Drey in New York City
Courtesy of the Drey family

 

 

Falk Goldschmidt Part III: Two of His Daughters Escape to South America

Meyer Goldschmidt’s youngest child Falk Goldschmidt died on June 4, 1901. He was 65 years old when he died and was survived by his wife Clara Babetta Carlebach and their five children, Meier, Helene, Fanny, Hedwig, and Julius, and their grandchildren.

Falk Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10551, Year Range: 1901, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The family lost its matriarch when Clara Babetta Carlebach Goldschmidt died on February 27, 1920. She was 75.

Babetta Carlebach Goldschmidt death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10828, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

In the last post we saw that Meier Falk Goldschmidt, Falk’s oldest child, went to the US in about 1890 and died there in 1922. He did not have any children. Falk and Babetta’s two youngest children—Hedwig and Julius Falk—I have already covered in earlier posts because they married cousins who’ve already been discussed. So that leaves the two older daughters, Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer and Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal. I will tell their stories separately in this post.

Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer and Her Children

Eight years after losing her father Falk, Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer lost her husband Bernard. He died on September 14, 1909, in Frankfurt; he was 51.1 Helene was a widow at 38.

Helene’s daughter Fanny Flora Igersheimer married Ludwig Selmar Goetz on December 11, 1912, in Frankfurt. Ludwig was born in Berlin on August 13, 1876, to Julius Goetz and Rosalie Badt.

Fanny Flora Igersheimer and Ludwig Goetz marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1912, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Fanny and Ludwig had two sons. Erwin Julius Goetz was born in Frankfurt on February 21, 1914.2 His brother Arthur Bernard Edmund Goetz was born October 8, 1915, in Frankfurt.3

Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer’s son Franz Jonas Igersheimer married Elizabeth Isabel Malvina Lorch in Frankfurt on April 7, 1927. She was the daughter of Ludwig Lorch and Gisela Koehler and was born on December 14, 1904, in Frankfurt.

Franz Jonas Igersheimer marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1927, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Franz and Elizabeth also had two sons, according to Baron and Cibella, both of whom were born in Frankfurt before Hitler’s rise to power.4

By 1939, Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer was living in London with her son Franz and his wife Elizabeth. Franz and Elizabeth had changed their surname to Ingham, but Helene had not. Franz was working as a company director of an electric company. Neither of their sons were listed with them on the 1939 Register; perhaps they were in boarding school.

Ingham household, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/307J, Enumeration District: AMBM, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

On his enemy alien registration, Franz listed his occupation as company director of Telephone Trading Company. It appears that he was found exempt from being sent to an internment camp.

Franz Ingham enemy alient registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/40
Piece Number Description: 040: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: I-Iz, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Meanwhile, Helene’s daughter Fanny Flora Igersheimer Goetz and her husband Ludwig Goetz had immigrated to Argentina by 1936. They appear on a 1936 ship manifest leaving England for Argentina, but report that they were already citizens of Argentina where Ludwig, now using the name Luiz, was a farmer in Buenos Aires. I assume they had been visiting Fanny Flora’s mother and brother and family in London and were returning home.

Luiz and Flora Goetz, ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer and Franz Jonas Ingham and his family soon followed Fanny Flora and Luiz to Argentina. They are all listed on a ship manifest dated June 22, 1940, leaving England for Argentina, and they indicated that Argentina was their permanent destination.

Franz Ingham and family, ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

Helene Goldschmidt Igersheimer died only two years after moving to Argentina; she was 71 when she died in Buenos Aires on September 30, 1942.5

From various travel documents it appears that both of Helene’s children and her grandchildren remained in Argentina after the war and for the rest of their lives. I have no other specific sources for them at this point.

Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal and Her Son

Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal’s son Julius married Else Margarete Cahn, the daughter of Arthur Moritz Cahn and Alice Hellman, in Frankfurt on December 10, 1920. Else was born on January 31, 1900, in Frankfurt. According to Baron and Cibella, Julius and Else had two sons.[^6]

[^6]: Baron and Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report

Julius Loewenthal marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Then five years later, Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal’s husband Siegfried died on August 30, 1925, in Cannes, France. He was 61.6 Thus, like her sister Helene, Fanny was a relatively young woman when she became a widow at 51.

I could not find Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal on any record between her children’s birth records in the 1890s and a 1946 Brazil immigration card. She was a widow whose husband had died in 1925 and with only one surviving child, her son Julius. Where could she have been between 1920 and 1945? How did she survive the war? I don’t know.

Fanny Goldschmidt Loewenthal Brazil immigration card, Digital GS Number: 004568863
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

In tracking Julius’ whereabouts, I only had marginally better luck. He appears to have immigrated to Brazil in 1940-1941. He listed his address at his prior residence as being in Brussels. His wife Else arrived with him, also listing Brussels as her last address, and Else listed their son Herbert on her immigration card.

Julius Loewenthal Brazil immigration card, Digital GS Number: 004847850
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Else Cahn Loewenthal immigration card, Digital GS Number: 004542452
Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Maybe Fanny was with Julius and Else in Brussels, but I have no record that supports that notion. All I have is a Brazil immigration card for Fanny indicating she arrived in Brazil in 1946 after the war was over. Her card indicates that her prior address had been in Frankfurt. Could she have safely survived the Holocaust hiding in Frankfurt?

I wish I had a way to find her story. But I have no further records for Fanny or Julius or Else, except one travel document for Else showing that she was living in Rio de Janeiro in 1961. David Baron and Roger Cibella report that both Fanny and Julius died in Rio de Janeiro, Julius in 1955 and Fanny in 1957.7

Thus, Falk and Babetta Goldschmidt’s widowed daughters Helene and Fanny both escaped from the Nazis to South America with their children and grandchildren, but to two different countries, Helene to Argentina and Fanny to Brazil.


  1.  Bernhard Igersheimer, Age: 53, Birth Date: abt 1856, Death Date: 14 Sep 1909
    Death Place: Frankfurt V, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt V, Father: Jonas Igersheimer, Mother: Sara Igersheimer, Certificate Number: 1119, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10659,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Erwin Julio Goetz, Gender: Male, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 21 fev 1914 (21 Feb 1914), Birth Place: Frankfurt, Arrival Date: 1945, Arrival Place: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, FHL Film Number: 004558748, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  3. Arturo Bernardo Edmundo Goetz, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 8 out 1915 (8 Oct 1915), Birth Place: Frankfurt, Arrival Date: 1957, Arrival Place: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Father: Luis Goetz, Mother: Flora Igersheimer, FHL Film Number: 004834211, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  4. David Baron and Roger CIbella, Goldschmidt Family Report 
  5. Helene Igersheimer, Death Date: 30 Sep 1942, Death Place: Argentina
    Probate Date: 16 Aug 1944, Probate Registry: Oxford, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid.