It’s always good to be reminded that “official records” are only as accurate as the person who creates them and the information that person was able to obtain.
Back in December 2021, I wrote about Albert Kaufmann, the son of Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann. He was married first to Dorothy Schimmelfennig in Germany in 1928, but they divorced in 1932. Albert had immigrated to Brazil sometime after his divorce from Dorothy and married a woman named Georgina Correa, who was born in 1921 and almost twenty years younger than Albert. I assume they married sometime in the 1940s, but I have no record. Albert died in Brazil in 1986 at the age of 84.
I did not believe that Albert had had any children in part because I could find no birth records or any other record for a child and also because Albert’s death record reported that he had no children. Thus, I reported originally on my blog that Hedwig had no living descendants since her daughter Anna and her entire family had been killed in the Holocaust and because her son Albert had not had any children.
But it turns out that Albert’s death record was wrong. And I never would have known except for the good fortune that another Blumenfeld cousin, Gail Levy, found my blog. Gail is the granddaughter of Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann’s brother, Ernst Blumenfeld. Thus, Gail’s father Paul Blumenfeld was Albert Kaufmann’s first cousin. Not only did Gail help me fill out Paul Blumenfeld’s branch of the family tree, she shared with me correspondence she’d had with another cousin, Paul St. George, who was, according to that correspondence, the grandson of Albert Kaufmann and Dorothy Schimmelfennig and thus Gail’s second cousin and my fifth cousin, once removed.
I contacted Paul, and he confirmed what he had told Gail—that his mother Inge Kaufmann was the daughter of Albert and Dorothy—and he shared with me Inge’s birth record from Berlin. She was born on November 23, 1928, nine months after her parents married on February 10, 1928.
Thus, the Brazil death record was wrong. Albert Kaufmann did have a child and does have living descendants, including my cousin Paul.
I asked Paul what he knew about his grandfather, but he had never met his grandfather and knew little about him. He only has one photograph of his grandfather, and he obtained it from Gail. It’s a 1980 photograph of Albert with his second wife Georgina or Gina with a New Year’s greeting on the reverse:
I also asked Paul about his grandmother Dorothy and his mother Inge. I knew from my research that Dorothy Schimmelfennig was born in England, married Albert Kaufmann in 1928, and died on March 31, 1938, in Berlin when she was a month shy of her thirtieth birthday. But I didn’t know the cause of her death. I had also wondered why she would have been in Berlin in 1938, given what was going on in Germany.
Paul told me that his grandmother Dorothy and his mother Inge went to England in 1933 and lived in London. But in 1938 Dorothy returned to Berlin, apparently just a few days before her untimely death on March 31, 1938.1 Paul told me that her death is listed as a suicide in the memorial book for victims of the Holocaust. Also, the Arolsen Archives include a document that lists Dorothy’s cause of death as from poisoning (“Veronslvergiftug”).
In addition, Paul told me that Dorothy is listed as a forced suicide in a 2007 book by Anna Fischer, Erzwungener Freitod: Spuren und Zeugnisse in Den Freitod Getriebner Juden der Jahre 1938-1945 in Berlin (translation: Forced Suicide: Traces and Testimonies in The Suicides of Driven Jews of the Years 1938-1945 in Berlin) (2007: Berlin : Text Verlag Edition Berlin). Yad Vashem lists Dorothy as both murdered and as a suicide. There do not appear to be any more details, but it seems entirely possible that Dorothy felt hopeless and helpless in the face of Nazi persecution and became too despondent to go on with life in a world filled with so much hatred and fear. But as Paul wrote, it remains a mystery.
But what happened to young Inge Kaufmann, just ten years old at the time of her mother’s death in 1938? She was still in England, and Paul shared what happened to her after her mother’s death:2
My mother was looked after in England by a Jewish Charity (Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF)). Some Jewish people in England could see the problems in Germany as early as 1933. They petitioned the UK government for permission to bring Jews from Germany to England. The UK government agreed but with strict rules. The refugee had to be self-supporting, looked after to a certain standard, and so on.
So this is why my mother did not live with a relative. Many if not most of these refugees did not live with a relative in England. Reasons against included over-crowding, too poor, etc. But a relative (Charlotte Pick) was a sponsor. She paid money to the charity and the charity bought clothes, shoes, etc. for my mum. My mother would have been housed in a series of homes in the Hemel Hempstead area. By housed I mean she had a room and meals. Those who provided the children with a place to live were not there to look after the children they housed. The charity did that. Also, my mother would have attended a normal local authority school near to the digs. The charity (now called World Jewish Relief) sent me her case file and that lists the monies and the check-up visits and so on.
Inge later attended the well-known St. Martin’s School for the Arts where she studied fashion and developed friendships with several people who became well-known artists. Paul, a well-known artist himself, recalls visiting the grand homes of these artists as a child, describing them as “full of clutter and the smell of oil paint and cake.”3
After she graduated, Inge became a costume designer for the theater, where she met Paul’s father, an acrobatic tap dancer born George Alexander Bernard, who adopted his stage name Buster St. George as his legal name. He was born in Manchester, England, to Alexander Bernard and Doris Matz on January 16, 1913. Inge and Buster were married in 1953 and had two sons, Julian and Paul. Paul was born in Norway while the theater group which employed them was on tour for performances of Kiss Me Kate. Inge and Buster divorced in 1957. Inge Kaufmann St. George, my fifth cousin, died on November 9, 2000; she was 71. Buster St. George died on October 10, 1986.4
I am very grateful that I was able to connect with my cousin Paul (via our mutual cousin Gail) and to learn that Hedwig Blumenfeld Kaufmann’s son Albert did have a child, his daughter Inge, and that thus today Hedwig has living descendants, unlike what I believed before finding Gail and thus Paul. This experience was an important lesson in remembering that just because a record records a “fact” does not necessarily make it true.
- Email from Paul St George, January 13, 2022. ↩
- Email from Paul St George, January 7, 2022. ↩
- Email from Paul St. George, January 13, 2022. ↩
Emails from Paul St George, January 7, 13, and 17, 2022. Buster St George
Registration Date: Jul 1953, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration District: Brighton, Inferred County: Sussex, Spouse: Inge Kaufmann, Volume Number: 5h
Page Number: 280, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5h; Page: 280,
Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Paul St. George Ancestry Family Tree, located at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/171856232/family/familyview?cfpid=122230313195&fpid=122231826460&usePUBJs=true ↩