My Fifth Cousin Matthew, Ruth Blumenfeld Friedman’s Grandson

Happy 2023, everyone! For today’s post I am updating a post I wrote back in April 2022. Thank you to my cousin Matthew Steinhart for making this post possible.

Back on April 22, 2022, I wrote about the children of Meier Blumenfeld III and Emma Oppenheim and the teamwork it took to locate their three daughters, Gertrud, Ruth (also known as Bertha), and Hanna. Meier, my second cousin, three times removed, was the son of Giedel Blumenfeld, Isaak’s daughter, and her first cousin, once removed, Gerson Blumenfeld I (not to be confused with Giedel’s brother Gerson Blumenfeld II, whose story I just completed.)

Meier and Emma and their family were destroyed by the Holocaust. Of the five of them, only Ruth managed to escape from Germany in time to survive the Holocaust. The others were all murdered by the Nazis.

Ruth immigrated to the US and settled in New York City, where she married Leo Friedman on March 21, 1942, as I wrote about here. Ruth and Leo had two children, and I was recently contacted by one of Ruth and Leo’s grandsons, Matthew Steinhart, son of Eileen Dinah Friedman Steinhart.

Matthew works in video production and is the manager of the video production team at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Washington, DC.1 He created three short videos about his search to learn more about his grandparents and their families. With his permission and courtesy of the USHMM, I can provide links to those three videos. They are very touching, and I highly recommend you spend the time watching them.

Matthew also shared some wonderful photographs of his grandmother and her family and generously has allowed me to share them on the blog. He also shared some family stories and other information to fill in some of the holes in the story of Ruth and her family that were left unanswered in my April 22, 2022 post.

One of those unanswered questions involved the fate of Ruth’s sister Gertrud. Yad Vashem reported that she had been killed in the Holocaust, but an Arolsen Archive document indicated that she and two children had left for the US. Which was true? Sadly, Matthew confirmed for me that the Yad Vashem information was accurate. He wrote that “the story I was told of Gertrud was that she and her husband and children intended to leave but Erwin, her husband, had an eye condition which prevented him from emigrating. Gertrud refused to leave without him, and eventually all four were deported to Lodz. All four perished.”2

I also asked Matthew about Ruth’s younger sister Hanna because again there were records that suggested she had escaped the Holocaust because she had a visa for Cuba. But Matthew had to confirm that Hanna was in fact killed in the Holocaust. He wrote that he was told that “she and her husband [Siegfried Levi] took a train to Portugal with the intent to emigrate to Cuba. In fact, Hanna had sent some of her furniture and clothing to Ruth in anticipation for her eventual arrival to the US. Apparently, this train was stopped and turned around to France. Both were put into slave labor camps. Hanna was eventually deported to Auschwitz and died. Her husband survived and emigrated from Luxembourg.”3

Matthew’s grandmother Ruth was sponsored by her aunt Bella Oppenheim Marx, her mother’s sister, and was the only one who was able to leave Germany and get to the US safely.4

Matthew has a large collection of old photographs of the family, but unfortunately, he has been only able to identify the people in a limited number of those photographs. I am sharing only those he could label with certainty. Most of those are of his grandparents, Ruth Blumenfeld and Leo Friedman.

Here are two photographs of Ruth, one as a baby and the other as a toddler.

Ruth Blumenfeld, c. 1920. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth Blumenfeld, c. 1922 Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

These two photos show Ruth as a younger adult, but are undated. They may have been taken in the US since Ruth was nineteen when she immigrated, but they also might have been taken in Germany. We do not know who the woman is on the left in the first photo or who the child is in the second.

Ruth Blumenfeld on right. Date and place unknown. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth Blumenfeld with unknown child. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

The next photograph is of Ruth and Leo with Ruth’s aunt, Bella Oppenheim Marx, the woman who sponsored Ruth when she left Germany in 1940. I am sorry the image is so small.

Bella Oppenheim Marx, Leo Friedman, and Ruth Blumenfeld Friedman. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

This next group of photographs were taken in 1972 when Ruth and Leo visited their respective hometowns in Germany. Unfortunately we cannot identify who the couple is standing with Ruth or where these photos were taken—presumably either Bad Hersfeld, where Ruth grew up, or Crailsheim, Leo’s hometown.

Ruth Blumenfeld and Leo Friedman, 1972, in Germany. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth and Leo in Germany, 1972 Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Ruth with unknown couple, 1972, in Germany. Courtesy of Matthew Steinhart

Speaking of Bad Hersfeld, here is a postcard depicting the town sent to the family of Leo Friedman in Forest Hills, New York, from someone named Minna.. I can’t decipher the date on the postmark, but it must have been written after June 1, 1963, because that is when the US adopted zip codes.

Thank you to Simone Simiot of the GerSIG Facebook group for translating the message on the card; she said that Minna wrote that she had moved and gave her new address. She said it was fine that she moved because Dudenstrasse had become too busy and noisy. She also said that she could have moved in with her son Josef but she doesn’t want to be away/move from her pretty Bad Hersfeld. And she sent regards to Tante Bella—Aunt Bella Oppenheim Marx. I don’t know who Minna is, but if she was a relative, she must have been related to Ruth’s mother.

Since there are so many other photographs that Matthew cannot provide labels for, I have suggested that he contact Ava Cohn a/k/a Sherlock Cohn, the photogenealogist, for help in identifying the people in the other photographs. I hope that he has success doing that.

I am very grateful to my cousin Matthew for sharing his videos, his photographs, and his stories with me. It is always good to be able to have faces to put with the names and answers to questions, but it is especially meaningful to be able to connect with a new cousin who can share all this with me.


  1. Email from Matthew Steinhart, September 24, 2022. 
  2. Email from Matthew Steinhart, October 11, 2022. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. I will be writing more about Bella in an upcoming post. 

Gerson Blumenfeld II: His Surviving Son Friedrich and His Family in America, Keeping Tradition Alive

I have been very fortunate to connect with four more Blumenfeld cousins, Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie, four of the grandchildren of Friedrich Blumenfeld, the last surviving son of Gerson Blumenfeld II. Alan has generously shared with me some wonderful family photographs, including the first I’ve seen of Gerson Blumenfeld II, Alan’s great-grandfather.

Gerson Blumenfeld II. Courtesy of his family.

Alan also shared these photos of his grandparents Friedrich and Lina and their two children, Gretel and Guenther (later spelled Gunter).

Fritz Blumenfeld as a young man. Courtesy of the family.

Lina Neuhas and Fritz Blumenfeld at their wedding, October 26, 1921. Courtesy of the family

Guenther and Gretel Blumenfeld, c. 1928 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich (also known as Fritz) and his wife Lina and their two children Gretel and Guenther were safely in the US by 1939 and were living in the Bronx, according to the declaration of intention to become US citizens that Friedrich filed that year.

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

Alan also shared this photograph of his father Guenther’s immigration card:

Guenther Blumenfeld immigration card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

By 1941 when Gretel filed her own declaration of intention, the family was living in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. Gretel was then eighteen and working as an “operator.” According to her sons, she was working for a company manufacturing army blankets.1

Gretel 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 622) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 492901-493800), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Her brother Gunter (now using that spelling) registered for the draft on February 23, 1944; they were still living in Washington Heights, and he was a high school student at that time and had just turned eighteen. He enlisted in the US Army on January 30, 1945, and served until August 28, 1946.2

Gunter Blumenfeld, World War II draft registration, 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, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Alan shared this photograph of his father Gunter in uniform during World War II:

Gunter Blumenfeld, c. 1945. Courtesy of the family

Gretel Blumenfeld married Joseph Hamburger on January 18, 1946.3 Joseph was born in Heuttengesass, Germany, on February 4, 1915, son of Simon Hamburger and Bertha Adler,4 and had immigrated to the US on April 2, 1936.5 According to his sons Steven and Milton, Joseph would have left earlier, but had to wait until he was twenty-one to leave without his parents’ consent; he had wanted to leave three years earlier when the Nazis prohibited Jews from being butchers, Joseph’s livelihood, but his parents refused. Gretel and Joseph met before the war, but waited to marry until after he came back from serving in World War II.6

In 1950, they were living in New York City, and Joseph was the owner of a kosher butcher shop. Gretel and Joseph had three children.

Joseph Hamburger 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 71; Enumeration District: 31-2292, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gretel’s parents Friedrich and Lina and her brother Gunter were also living in New York City in 1950, and Friedrich was working as merchandise distributor for a clothing manufacturer. Gunter was working as a television mechanic.

Friedrich Blumenfeld 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: 3572; Sheet Number: 73; Enumeration District: 31-2289, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census

Gunter took out a marriage license to marry Hilde Hes on August 14, 1951.7 Hilde was born on April 8, 1931, in Bremen, Germany, and immigrated with her parents Paul Hes and Gertrude Wolff on September 14, 1939.8 Gunter and Hilde would have two children.

The extended family all lived close by in Washington Heights and were very close; Debbie and Alan lived in the same apartment building as their grandparents Fritz and Lina and saw them all the time, including regular shabbat dinners. Debbie shared that Lina was an excellent cook, and she has many warm memories of growing up with her cousins and other relatives.9

Alan shared this photo of Friedrich and Lina at the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1971:

Lina Neuhaus and Friedrich Blumenfeld, 1971. Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina and their two children all lived relatively long lives and remained in New York City for the rest of their lives. Friedrich was 88 when he died in New York on November 14, 1977.10

Fritz Blumenfeld death notice, Aufbau, November 25, 1977, p. 28, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau431977germ/page/n677/mode/1up?view=theater

Lina died three years later on December 15, 1980. She was 86. 11

Lina Blumenfeld death notice , Aufbau, Jan 2 1981, p. 24, found at https://archive.org/details/aufbau471981germ/page/n11/mode/1up?view=theater

Gretel Blumenfeld Hamburger died on July 25, 2008, when she was 85;12 her husband Joseph had predeceased her, dying on December 18, 2004, when he was 89.13  Gunter Blumenfeld died on July 16, 2010; he was 84.14

Perhaps some of my favorite photographs of those shared by Alan are these three that show the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) that had been rescued by Friedrich Blumenfeld during Kristallnacht while the Momberg synagogue was burning and then safely brought to the US from Momberg by the family.15 The photographs were taken at Alan’s son’s bar mitzvah and show Gunter, Alan, and his son Sandy honoring that Sefer Torah during the bar mitzvah service.

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

c. 2008 Courtesy of the family

Friedrich and Lina are survived by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. I was privileged to connect with four of their five grandchildren—Steven, Milton, Alan, and Debbie (and will be talking to the fifth, Kenny, soon during a Blumenfeld family zoom).  Thank you all for sharing  these fabulous photographs and your stories with me and for keeping alive the memories, traditions, and legacy of your family.


  1. Zoom call with Steven Hamburger and Milton Hamburger, November 10, 2022. 
  2. Gunter Blumenfeld, Race White, Marital Status Single, without dependents (Single)
    Rank Private, Birth Year 1926, Nativity State or Country Danzig or Germany, Citizenship Not Yet a Citizen, Residence New York, New York, Education 3 years of high school, Enlistment Date 30 Jan 1945, Enlistment Place New York City, New York, Service Number 42205064, Branch No branch assignment, Component Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source Civil Life, Height 80, Weight 995 [??], 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: 15188; Reel: 30, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  3. Gretel Blumenfeld, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 18 Jan 1946, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse:
    Joseph Hamburger License Number: 2005, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  4. Joseph Hamburger, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Birth Place: Huettengesae, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Father:
    Simon Hamburger, Mother: Bertha Adler, SSN: 077073405, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  5. Joseph Hamburger, passenger manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 20; Page Number: 39, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. See Note 1, supra. 
  7. Gunter Blumenfeld, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1951, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Hilde M. Hes, License Number: 21506, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  8. Paul Hes, 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 569) Declarations of Intention For Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 445801-446600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  9. Email from Debbie Salamon, December 7, 2022. 
  10. Friederich Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 065-12-8954, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1888, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Nov 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  11. Lina Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 119-18-7181, Birth Date: 19 Sep 1894, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10033, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Gretel Hamburger, Social Security Number: 081-12-7517, Birth Date: 21 Aug 1922, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 28 Jul 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Joseph Hamburger, Social Security Number: 077-07-3405, Birth Date: 4 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: 18 Dec 2004, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. Gunter Blumenfeld, Social Security Number: 081-20-7923, Birth Date: 22 Feb 1926, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 16 Jul 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  15. Email from Alan Blumenfeld, December 6, 2022. 

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. 

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; 

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. 

Moritz Werner and Family, Part II: From Comfort to Escape 1922-1945

When Max Werner II was born on September 5, 1922, in Eschwege, Germany, to Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn, his paternal grandparents Max Werner I and Helene Katzenstein had both passed away. His father Moritz was one of the owners of the LS Brinkmann Knitwear Company, and the family was living a very comfortable life.

Max’s daughter Joyce described her father as “an indulged only child from a wealthy local family.” Her sister Judith noted that their father “was an only child, and he was a very solitary child. His main companions were the chauffeur Petach and his dog.”1

Here are some photos of Max as a child including two with the dog, two in the garden of the family’s home in Eschwege, and one with his nurse or nanny.

Max Werner with nurse Courtesy of the family

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max Werner in the garden of his family home in Eschwege Courtesy of the family

Max and his dog Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1934

But everything changed with the rise of the Nazis. Joyce and Judith both shared what they knew about the way life changed for their father and grandparents. Judith wrote, “Things became more and more difficult at school for my father, but he never complained to his parents. Except one day the kids from his school surrounded him with knives, and my father was seen fending them off with his leather satchel by friends of my grandparents.”

Joyce shared additional details about that incident:

Our father, a tall, strong pre-teen, was having terrible trouble at school. Not only did he face taunting and attacks from boys in the Hitler Youth, but teachers also joined in the Jew baiting. I recall that he told me on one occasion that another Jewish boy (small and reedy) had been beaten up by some classmates and the child made the mistake of telling the teacher. The teacher got out his strap and announced to the class, ‘Now I will show you how you should beat a Jew.’ Our father in general held his own well and was known to be strong and aggressive, and classmates generally steered clear of him. However, the incident Judy described was a final straw – especially as during the ensuing fray which took place on the school stairwell after class, he picked up the lead troublemaker and hurled him down a few stairs causing a broken nose. At home, he couldn’t hide the marks of the fight, confessed all and was sent that same night to Zurich to his Aunt Rosa [Werner] Wormser [sister of their grandfather Moritz Werner].

Max spent four or five years living away from his parents in Zurich. Although he was generally happy and became very close to his cousin Julius Wormser during those years, Joyce described the deeper impact these experiences had on Max:

The experience was formative for him. Although he had many good memories of his life in Zurich, he was separated from his home, parents, and his former life. I think the main lesson he learned was ‘fight back’. Sadly (in my opinion) he also learned that, in reality, ‘might is right’. I believe it was this which affected his personality. Used to getting his own way as an adored (and unexpected) child, seeing the brutality of life in Germany and the fact that bullies get what they want and the weak suffer, he made a decision there and then. It shaped him as a person who was determined and uncompromising. He was logical and intelligent, but when he was crossed or disagreed with someone, he could be very aggressive – both verbally and physically.

Meanwhile, Max’s parents Moritz and Jenny were still in Eschwege, Germany. Judith wrote that:

My grandfather was generous with everybody and was always ready to help those in need whether Jewish or not. He and my grandmother for many years helped to support and educate a young boy whose father had died and whose mother needed assistance. In the 1930s, my grandfather … was helping members of the family and others leave Germany but he himself did not believe that Nazism would survive in Germany. My grandmother, on the other hand, was ready in 1933 and packed. But they did put a lot of money into antiques and Old Master pictures. They were aware that they were not allowed to take much money but were allowed to take personal possessions.

Joyce also described the way their grandparents differed in their reactions to the rise of Hitler:

Our grandmother Jenny was alert to the danger Hitler posed from the very start. She believed his rhetoric and said that if he came to power, he would enact every threat against the Jews he had scapegoated for Germany’s ills. Our grandfather Moritz, like so many, believed such things would never happen in the ‘fatherland’ for which he had fought at great personal cost and for which his brother had given his life.  Consequently, she quietly prepared for emigration by investing in ‘movable assets’ e.g. art and antiques.

Here’s a photo of their grandmother, Jenny:

Under Hitler’s Aryanization program, Moritz was forced to sell LS Brinkmann in 1938, as I wrote about here. According to Judith, shortly before World War II started in September 1939,

The Bishop of the area came to my grandpa and told him it was time for him to leave. That it was too dangerous for him to stay. … So after that my grandfather went to the area comandante in Kassel in order to get a pass to exit the country. This person happened to be somebody who had served in the first World War under my grandfather in the cavalry. So this gentleman gave my grandfather a bit of a problem, and my grandfather, who had the use of a stick, banged it on the man’s desk and gave him a thorough dressing down. He got his pass. Then my grandparents took the chauffeur driven car up to either Hamburg or Bremen and took a ship to England.

Max soon thereafter joined his parents in England and attended school and then Leeds University, where he studied engineering. Moritz and Jenny were able to sell some of the art and antiques they took with them from Germany not only to support themselves, but to invest in a new company in England. Joyce wrote:

My grandfather – with extraordinary energy and determination in my opinion – found a couple of partners and started a new company ‘Benlows’ selling cigarette lighters. It became so successful that after the war it became a public company floated on the Stock Exchange.

Thus, Moritz, Jenny, and Max were able to escape from Nazi Germany and survive the Holocaust. But not without enduring a forced sale of their successful business, harassment and violence, displacement from their home in Eschwege, and a long separation of Max from his parents. As Joyce wrote, this had a lasting impact on Max and presumably also on Moritz and Jenny.

In the next post, Joyce and Judith will share the story of what happened to the family after World War II ended in 1945.

 


  1. Again as in the last post, the quotes, photos, stories, and information from Joyce and Judith came from a series of emails we all exchanged during May and June, 2022.  I am so grateful for all their help and generosity. 

Finding Max Blumenfeld and His Family: A Postscript

Yesterday I Zoomed with four of my Blumenfeld cousins—Richard, whose been my research partner for quite a while now, his first cousin Jim, who is also a wonderful genealogy researcher, and the two surviving grandchildren of Max Blumenfeld, Max and Omri. We spanned three continents—Omri in Israel, Richard in Switzerland, and Max, Jim, and I in New England. We chatted for an hour, but could have gone on much longer and hope to continue the conversation another time.

During our conversation, we uncovered the answer to a question we still had been unable to answer despite all our research: when did Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s widow and Omri and Max’s grandmother, leave Italy and immigrate to Israel/Palestine? The records that Richard had obtained from Merano said she’d left in 1939, but Max had pointed out that that wasn’t possible since he and his sister were cared for by their grandmother Anna during World War II while their mother Edith worked with the Italian Resistance. Their father Josef had immigrated to the United States on November 1939.

For our Zoom, Omri had prepared a wonderful slide show of family photographs, some of which I’ve already shared on this blog, and some that were new to me. Among those photographs was one that helped to answer the question of when Anna arrived in Palestine. The photograph shows Anna in Palestine with two of her grandsons, Omri’s brothers Gideon and Hillel. Anna was holding Hillel, who was just a very small baby, and the photo was inscribed in Hebrew with the words, “Hillel is born! Oma [Anna] arrives! 29 May 1946.” So now we knew that Anna had only recently arrived in Palestine in May of 1946.

Here is another photo taken the same day showing Anna with Gideon and Hillel and their parents Fritz and Dora.

But then how do we explain the records that said Anna had left Merano in 1939? Well, Max had the answer to that question. Max explained that Anna and her daughter Edith and the two grandchildren, Max and his sister Margherita, all left Merano in 1939 and moved to Milan. Max has no memories of life in Merano since he was only a toddler when the family moved. But that would explain why the Merano records report that Anna left that place in 1939.

Max and his family stayed in Milan for several years, and then when Italy adopted laws persecuting the Jews in about 1942, his mother Edith was able to use her connections to obtain permission to leave Milan and move to the countryside outside of Milan.  The family remained there for the duration of the war, hiding the fact that they were Jews. They spoke Italian (although they all could also speak German) so that they could pass as Italian, and Max and his sister went to church on Sundays. In fact, Max and Margherita were not aware of the fact that they were Jewish and also didn’t know that their father was still alive—all to prevent the children from accidentally revealing the fact that they were Jews.

After the war, Edith took her children to America so they could all be reunited with Josef, and Anna went to Palestine to be with her son Fritz and his family, as depicted in the photograph above.

We spoke of many other interesting things during our Zoom, and there were many stories and many moments of laughter interspersed. It was truly a delightful hour and one I will always cherish and remember.

Thank you to Omri, Max, Richard, and Jim—all of whom are my fifth cousins, four people I never would have known if not for doing genealogy research.

And that, dear readers, is the magic of genealogy.

Finding Max Blumenfeld, Part III: Finding His Grandsons

Although my cousin Richard and I had learned that Max Blumenfeld died in Merano, Italy, in 1936, we still didn’t know where and when his wife Anna died. We had some hints, but nothing definite. Her son Fritz’s marriage record in 1940 seemed to suggest she was still living in Italy. But her daughter Edith’s failure to list her mother on the 1946 ship manifest as her nearest relative in Italy, the place Edith had last resided, seemed to indicate that either Anna had died by then or had left Italy.

We were hoping that one of Max and Anna’s grandchildren might know the answers, and so I turned to locating those grandchildren. We knew that Max and Anna’s daughter Edith had two children with her husband Joseph Bermann, so I started to search for them. They all appear together on the 1950 US census, living in New York City. Joseph was practicing medicine, and Edith was working as a secretary for a general export business. Their two children Margherita (spelled Margaret on the census) and Max were 14 and 12.1 As of 1958, Edith and Joseph were still living in New York City.

Joseph Bermann, passenger manifest, The National Archives At Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Manifests of Airplanes Arriving At San Juan, Puerto Rico; NAI Number: A3534; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Ancestry.com. Puerto Rico, U.S, Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1901-1962

According to FindAGrave, Joseph died on May 1, 1966; he was 68.2 Edith died two years later on August 12, 1968. She was only 61.3 They were both buried in Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. They were survived by their two children. Their daughter Margherita died on August 21, 2008;4 she was 72. Max, however, was as best I could tell, still living.

After using Google and other online tools, I finally located what I assumed was Max Bermann’s Facebook page. I noticed that he had a Facebook friend named Omri Bar Sadeh. You may recall that Hermann Blumenfeld, Max Blumenfeld’s older brother, had a son Hans who had changed his name to Hanan Bar Sadeh after immigrating to Israel/Palestine. I used the Google Translate tool and learned that “sadeh” means a cultivated field. So Bar Sadeh means son of a cultivated field. Since Blumenfeld translated from German as field of flowers, it made sense that Hanan had adopted a name that meant he was the son of a cultivated field, or a field of flowers, or a “Blumenfeld.”

So when I saw that Max Bermann had a Facebook friend with the surname Bar Sadeh, I assumed that this other person must be a descendant of Edith’s first cousin, Hanan Bar Sadeh. But David Lesser had reported that Hanan had no children, so I was not certain. Was it just a coincidence that Edith’s son Max had a friend with that surname? Or was this Facebook friend one of his cousins?

On Omri Bar Sadeh’s Facebook page, there was a video in Hebrew. I could not understand it, but I could translate the comment that had been included with the post, and it indicated that the video was about Omri Bar Sadeh’s brother Gideon Bar Sadeh. When I googled that name, I found this page:

Bar-Sadeh, Gideon

Son of Moses HaKohen and Devorah. He was born in Ein Harod on June 16, 1942, and completed his twelfth grade at the Kibbutz Ha-Meuchad School there. He had a penchant for drawing and found talent in his paintings. He would decorate his notebooks and make handsome posters and posters. He was quiet and humble in his ways. Was an animal breeder and loved them. Was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in October 1960. On October 18, 1962, he fell in the line of duty and was brought to eternal rest in Ein Harod.

I knew that Edith Blumenfeld Bermann had listed her brother Fritz on her ship manifest in 1946 indicating that he was residing in “En Charod,” Palestine. Could Gideon have been Fritz’s son, I wondered? Fritz had married a woman named Devorah so that fit the puzzle. But then why did it say Gideon’s father was named Moses?

Then I remembered seeing on the IGRA website that in 1942 Fritz Blumenfeld, residing in En Harod, had been identified as “Moshe (Fritz) Blumenfeld, son of Max.” And given that Max’s father’s name had been Moses, it made sense that Fritz’s Hebrew name was Moshe and that he was named for his grandfather and adopted that name as his primary name in Israel.

Record located on the Israel Genealogy Research Association website at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

With that additional insight, I realized that I had found the family of Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld and that Fritz, like his cousin Hanan, had changed his surname from Blumenfeld to Bar Sadeh for the same reasons. Just to be sure, I asked David Lesser if he would watch the video posted on Facebook about Gideon, and he confirmed that the video says that Gideon’s parents were Fritz and Devorah.

I sent messages to both of the surviving grandsons of Max and Anna (Grunwald) Blumenfeld, hoping that I would eventually learn what happened to Anna and the rest of the story of their family. Much to my delight, I heard from both of them.

Max Bermann, Edith’s son, was born in Merano, Italy, where his father Giuseppe (later Joseph) Bermann was born. That’s where the family was living (along with Anna) after Joseph left for the US in 1939. Although the family was originally supposed to follow once Joseph was settled, the war intervened, and they could not leave Italy. Max was just a toddler at the time. His grandmother Anna became the primary caregiver for his sister and him because their mother Edith was often away. Max later learned from his sister that Edith was acting as a courier for the partisans during the war.

Max shared with me this photograph of Merano, where he and his father were born, as well as this photograph of his father and his father’s father, Max Bermann, both of whom were doctors at the Waldpark Sanitorium in Merano. The elder Max Bermann is the man with the long black beard and his son Joseph/Giuseppe Bermann, the younger doctor in the white coat, is standing next to him.

Dr Max Bermann and his son Dr Joseph Bermann in Waldpark Sanitorium, Merano, Italy. Courtesy of the family

When the war ended, Edith brought her children to the US, but Anna went to live with her son Fritz and his family in Ein Harod in Palestine. Neither Omri nor Max knew exactly when Anna immigrated, but as I was doing some of the final edits for this post, Richard emailed me with new information he’d found online—a database of information about the Jews of Merano.

There was an entry for Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld that reported that “Anna Grünwald-Blumenfeld came from Berlin and lived in Merano since 23.4.1936. On 22.8.1938 she was recorded in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities as permanently resident in Merano. On 13.2.1939 her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. On 1.4.1939 she fled to an unknown place, according to the registration office of the municipality of Merano. Later, April 1939 is given as the date of the flight abroad.”5 Thus, it would appear from this record that Anna left Merano for Palestine in April, 1939.

But as noted by Max and by my reader Teresa, this cannot be accurate. Max knows that his grandmother did not leave in 1939 because she cared for him during the war years. It appears more likely that these Merano records are inaccurate and that Anna was in Italy at least until the end of the war.

Now that I knew that Anna had survived the war and had immigrated to Palestine, I searched again on the Israel Genealogical Research Association website and found this record:

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld died on September 7, 1946, in Ein Harod; she was only 61 years old. She had survived the move from Germany to Italy, the loss of her husband Max in 1936, World War II, and then a move from Italy to Palestine. She was survived by her daughter Edith and her family and her son Fritz and his family.

Anna and Max Blumenfeld’s grandson Max Bermann shared these lovely photographs of his family. First, some photographs of Anna and Max:

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld and Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

This photograph is of Max and Anna’s children Fritz and Edith as well as, on the right, Fritz’s wife Dora Salpeter Blumenfeld.

Fritz Blumenfeld, Edith Blumenfeld Bermann, and Dora Salpeter Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

And this final photograph from Max shows him and his sister Margherita with a soldier they met when they visited Palestine (now Israel) with their mother after the war.

Margherita and Max Bermann in Italy shortly after the end of World War II with a soldier from Palestine. Courtesy of the family

Omri also shared some photographs, including this one of his grandmother Anna’s gravestone.

Anna Blumenfeld, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

In addition, he shared photographs of the gravestones of his parents Fritz (Moshe) and Dora/Devorah and his two brothers Gideon and Hillel.

Gideon, as we saw, died fighting for Israel on October 18, 1962.

Gideon Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

Omri’s father Fritz Moshe Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh died December 12, 1977 in Ein Harod; he was 67. Devorah Salpeter Blumenfeld Bar Sadeh, outlived her husband by almost 23 years and died at 92 on November 27, 2000, in Ein Harod.

Dora and Fritz Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

Fritz and Devorah’s middle child, their son Hillel, died from cancer on December 30, 1996, in Ein Harod. He was only 50 and left behind a wife and four children.

Hillel Bar Sadeh, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

I am so grateful to my fifth cousins Max and Omri for sharing their family’s stories and their own stories and their photographs with me and allowing me to share them with you. I now have answers to all the questions I had when I first started searching for what happened to Max Blumenfeld after he married Anna Grunwald in 1906, thanks to the incredible help of Richard Bloomfield, David Lesser, Max Bermann, and Omri Bar Sadeh.


  1. Joseph Bermann 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: 5665; Sheet Number: 72; Enumeration District: 31-675, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  2. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690239/joseph-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Joseph Bermann (unknown–1 May 1966), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690239, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690238/edith-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Edith Bermann (unknown–12 Aug 1968), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690238, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  4.  Margherita M. Bermann, Social Security Number: 085-30-0023, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1935, Issue Year: 1954-1956, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 12550, Newburgh, Orange, New York, Death Date: 21 Aug 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5.  There were also entries for Max and for their two children Fritz and Edith. Max’s entry confirmed that he died on March 7, 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Merano. Edith’s entry reported that she had “married Josef Bermann on January 30, 1935. After a stay in London in the spring of 1935, she lived in Merano from April 8, 1935. On August 22, 1938, Edith Bermann was included in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities. On February 13, 1939, her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. Edith Bermann, who stayed in Milan again and again, fled to Milan.” Fritz’s entry in the Merano Jewish database reported that he “had lived in Merano since October 3, 1936, where his sister was married to the doctor Josef Bermann. On August 22, 1938, Fritz Blumenfeld was recorded by the fascist authorities as permanently residing in Merano in the census of “Jews” living in Italy. According to the registration office of the municipality of Merano, Fritz Blumenfeld fled to Palestine on May 15, 1939.”