A Story Left Unfinished

Mina Katzenstein and Wolf Katzenstein had only one son, their middle child, Manus, who was born in Frankenau on April 23, 1863.

Birth record of Manus Katzenstein
Standesamt Höringhausen Heiratsnebenregister 1891 (HStAMR Best. 922 Nr. 5542)AutorHessisches Staatsarchiv MarburgErscheinungsortHöringhausen, p. 19

I have nothing more than the bare facts for Manus: birth, marriage, and death. He married Fanny Bickhardt on November 18, 1891, in Hoeringhausen, Germany.  Fanny was born on June 6, 1868, in Hoeringhausen.  She was the daughter of Abraham Bickhardt and Esther Lion.

Marriage record of Manus Katzenstein and Fanny Bickhardt
HStAMR Best. 922 Nr. 5542 Standesamt Höringhausen Heiratsnebenregister 1891, S. 19

I was not able to locate any children born to Manus and Fanny.  I searched the birth registers for Frankenau, Hoeringhausen, and Momberg, but found nothing. The only other residence I found for Manus and Fanny was Frankfurt, but that was in 1941, long after they would have had children. If they’d moved to Frankfurt early in their marriage and had children there, I was not able to find any such children.

In fact, I could not find any information about either Manus or Fanny between their marriage in 1891 and their deaths. Manus Katzenstein died on October 15, 1941, of Altersverfall—old age. He was without occupation at the time of his death and was living with his wife Fanny in Frankfurt. It appears that he died at the Jewish community hospital in Frankfurt. Notice that both Manus and Fanny had been assigned the middle names used by the Nazis to identify someone as Jewish—-Israel for Manus and Sara for Fanny.

Manus Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_11127

I wish I knew how and why and when Manus and Fanny had ended up in Frankfurt.  Had they moved there of their own free will before the Nazis came to power or even afterwards? Or had they been deported there? Did Manus really die from old age (he was 78 years old), or had he been mistreated and died from abuse, neglect, torture, or worse? I don’t know.

What I do know from the Yad Vashem database is that on September 1, 1942, Fanny Bickhardt Katzenstein was deported from Frankfurt to Theriesenstadt, where she died on April 15, 1943, just seven months after arriving there.  She was 74 years old.

The story of Manus and Fanny is for me a hard one to leave alone. I keep hoping to learn more. Why hadn’t they left Germany like the children of Manus’s sisters Rosa Katzenstein Katz and Karoline Katzenstein Blumenfeld and their other nieces and nephews? What kept Manus and Fanny in Germany if they had no children? Were they just unable to leave? How I wish I could learn more.

But sadly these are the only traces of them that I have—a birth record, a marriage record, a death record, and an entry in Yad Vashem.  It doesn’t feel like nearly enough to honor their lives and their memories.

UPDATE! Once again my friend Aaron Knappstein has come to my rescue.  Aaron found this page for me, and it has a great deal of information about Manus Katzenstein. I am now trying to sort through it and will update again once I understand it.

 

The Children of Karoline Katzenstein: Together in Life, Together in Death

Although Mina and Wolf’s oldest daughter Rosa had left me with many unanswered questions (that were soon answered with the help of Aaron Knappstein), I had greater success with their second oldest child, Karoline.

Karoline was born on March 30, 1861, in Frankenau.

Karoline Katzenstein birth record from Arcinsys for Hessen
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174, p. 8

She married Heineman Blumenfeld on October 10, 1884, in Frankenau. He was born in Momberg on October 8, 1854, to Abraham Blumenfeld and Giedel Straus. (There is another intrafamily relationship between the Blumenfelds and the Katzensteins, as Barbara Greve explained to me yesterday, but for now, I won’t confuse the narrative. I need to be sure I understand it first!) (UPDATE: So it turns out that Heinemann Blumenfeld was my second cousin, three times removed. More on that at some later point.)

Marriage record of Karoline Katzenstein and Heineman Blumenfeld
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Standesamt Frankenau Heiratsnebenregister 1884 (Hstamr Best. 922 Nr. 3219); Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 922

Karoline and Heineman had three children. Their oldest, Toni, was born on September 21, 1885, in Momberg:

Toni Blumenfeld birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6468

She married Moritz Schuster on October 5, 1912, in Momberg; he was born on June 20, 1883, in Sterbfritz, Germany, the son of David Schuster and Bertha Schuster:

Marriage record of Toni Blumenfeld and Moritz Schuster Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister;Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6197

Toni and Moritz had two children born in Sterbfritz: Kathryn/Kaete (1913) and Alfred (1915).

The second child of Karoline and Heineman Blumenfeld was their son Moritz (also Moses and later Morris). He was born on October 7, 1887, in Momberg.

Moritz Blumenfeld birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6470

He married Sophie Spier on December 23, 1924, in Momberg. Sophie was born in Momberg on June 28, 1894.

Marriage record of Moritz Blumenfeld and Sophie Spier
HStAMR Best. 915 Nr. 6209 Standesamt Momberg Heiratsnebenregister 1924, S. 9

Moritz and Sophie Blumenfeld had three children: Ursula, Ruth, and Werner.

The youngest child of Karoline and Heineman Blumenfeld was their daughter Bella. She was born May 23, 1890:

Bella Blumenfeld birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6473

She married Hermann Stein on January 23, 1922. Hermann was born in Burgsinn, Germany, on September 22, 1884, the son of Julius Stein and Regina Heil. Bella and Hermann did not have any children.

Bella Blumenfeld and Hermann Stein marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6207

Fortunately, the Blumenfeld family decided quite early in Hitler’s reign to start emigrating from Germany. On October 5, 1934, the two children of Toni Blumenfeld and Moritz Schuster arrived in the US; Alfred Schuster was 18, his sister Kathryn was 21. They had been living in Sterbfritz and were going to a cousin named Hermann Livingston in Bloomington, Illinois, although the manifest notes that they were instead discharged to an uncle, Sid Livingston of Chicago.

Alfred and Kaete Schuster passenger manifest
Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5559; Line: 1; Page Number: 139

Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5559; Line: 1; Page Number: 139
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Karoline and Heinemann Blumenfeld did not live long after their grandchildren departed for the US. Karoline died on January 25, 1935, in Momberg.  She was 73 years old.  Her husband Heinemann died the following year on August 31, 1936; he was 81.

Karoline Katzenstein Blumenfeld death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6245

It was not long after their parents’ deaths that the three children of Karoline and Heinemann escaped from Nazi Germany to the United States. Bella left with her husband Hermann Stein on August 24, 1937. The manifest indicates that they had been living in Burgsinn before emigrating. Hermann was a merchant.  The manifest also reports that they were going to a cousin named Sigmund Livingston in Chicago, presumably the same individual who had picked up Alfred and Kathryn.[i]

Bella and Hermann Stein passenger manifest
Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6030; Line: 1; Page Number: 85
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Bella’s sister Toni and her husband Moritz Schuster arrived a little over two years later on December 21, 1939. According to Toni Schuster’s obituary, her husband Moritz had spent some time in a concentration camp before escaping with Toni to the US. The manifest listed their son Alfred in Bloomington as the person they were going to, but that entry was crossed out and replaced with the name of a nephew, Milan (?) Schuster, in the Bronx.

Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6428; Line: 1; Page Number: 170

It also appears that Moritz and Toni were detained for one day until December 22, 1939, because they were seen as LPC—likely to become public charges. I wonder whether that is why the person they were released to was someone in the New York City area instead of their son in Bloomington, Illinois.

Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry 12 21 1939
Supplemental Manifests of Alien Passengers and Crew Members Who Arrived on Vessels at New York, New York, Who Were Inspected for Admission, and Related Index, compiled 1887-1952. Microfilm Publication A3461, 21 rolls. NAI: 3887372. RG 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Finally, the remaining members of the Blumenfeld family arrived on March 18, 1940—Moritz Blumenfeld and his wife Sophie and their three young children. They also reported that they were going to their cousin, Sid Livingston of Chicago.

Moritz Blumenfeld and family ship manifest
Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6451; Line: 1; Page Number: 37

All the Blumenfeld siblings and their spouses and children were living together in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1940, according to the census. Alfred Schuster, who was only 24, was listed as the head of the household. He was working as a salesman at a department store. His sister Kathryn was a clerk at a department store. Their father Moritz Schuster did not have any employment listed nor did their mother Toni. Bella’s husband, Hermann Stein, was working as a tailor, and Moritz Blumenfeld, who is listed here as Morris Bloomfield, a surname change that was adopted by his wife and children as well, was working as a janitor in a tailor shop, presumably with his brother-in-law Hermann.

Blumenfeld siblings and families 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Bloomington, McLean, Illinois; Roll: T627_841; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 57-26

In 1942, according to his draft registration Morris Bloomfield was working for Advance Cleaners in Bloomington. His brother-in-law Hermann Stein reported on his draft registration that he was working for a different cleaning company, Broleen’s Cleaners. Toni Blumenfeld’s husband did not identify any employment when he registered for the draft in 1942, but according to his obituary, he had owned a furniture store in Bloomington until 1944. “Morris M, Schuster,” The Pantagraph  (13 Aug 1964, p. 22)

After settling in Bloomington, all the Blumenfeld siblings and their spouses stayed in the Bloomington/Peoria region for the rest of their lives. Toni Blumenfeld died on October 2, 1964, just two months after her husband Moritz Schuster died on August 10, 1964; they had been living in Peoria at the time of their deaths and are buried in the Peoria Hebrew Cemetery. “Morris M, Schuster,” The Pantagraph  (13 Aug 1964, p. 22);  “Mrs. Schuster, Nazi Germany Escapee, Dies,”  The Pantagraph (7 Oct 1964, p 5).

Toni’s brother Morris Bloomfield died on May 14, 1966, three years after his wife Sophie.  They also are buried in the Peoria Hebrew Cemetery. Finally, Bella Blumenfeld Stein lost her husband Hermann in 1954; she died in 1984 in Chicago, but was buried with her husband and siblings in the Peoria Hebrew Cemetery.

When Karoline Katzenstein and Heinemann Blumenfeld died in 1935 and 1936, respectively, they must have been deeply concerned about the future of their family under Nazi rule; after all, two of their grandchildren had already left Germany. I imagine that Karoline and Heinemann would be greatly pleased to know that all three of their children escaped from Germany and spent the remainder of their lives living close to one another and are even buried near each other in Peoria, Illinois.

JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

 

____________

[i] Since Sigmund Livingston was identified as family on all the manifests for the Blumenfeld family, I assumed that he was somehow related to the Blumenfelds, and indeed, research uncovered that his mother’s name was Dora Blumenfeld. She was the sister of Heinemann Blumenfeld, so Sigmund was in fact the first cousin of Toni, Moritz, and Bella Blumenfeld. Dora and her husband Meyer Loewenstein had immigrated to the US by 1871, and their son Sigmund was born in the US in 1872. Sigmund and his siblings changed the surname from Loewenstein to Livingston.

Update on Rosa Katzenstein Katz and Her Family!

Just a quick update on the family about whom I posted today.  My dear friend and brilliant researcher Aaron Knappstein located Stolpersteine in Selters for Rosa Katzenstein Katz, her daughter Sara Katz Loew, and Sara’s husband Otto Loew.  And the good news is that these are not Stolpersteine for people killed, but for people who escaped—to Argentina in 1936.

Here are their Stolpersteine:

Thank you SO much, Aaron! Now I will see if I can find anything about their lives in Argentina.

Further update: A search of the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry turned up burial records for Rosa and for her daughter Sara.  Sadly, neither lived very long after escaping to Argentina. I did not find Otto there so perhaps he left Argentina after Rosa and Sara died.

Burial information for Sara Katz Low

Rosa Katzenstein burial information

FURTHER UPDATE! Well, from Aaron Knappstein’s discovery of the Stolpersteine, I now have found not only where Rosa and her daughter Sara died and are buried; I’ve also found Rosa’s daughters Sophie and Recha and their husbands.  They all ended up in Buenos Aires and are buried in the same cemetery.

Aaron, you knocked down a big brick wall with one blow!

My Double/Triple? Cousins: The Children of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham

The youngest child of Gelle Katzenstein and Moses Ruelf to live to adulthood was Pauline Ruelf. Part of Pauline’s story has already been told, as she was the mother of Julius Abraham, who married Senta Katz, the great-granddaughter of Rahel Katzenstein. That is, as I described here, Pauline’s son Julius and his wife Senta Katz were half-third cousins. Julius and Senta were the parents of Fred Abrahams, whose memoirs of his family’s life and departure from Germany were also posted here.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let me back up and start with Pauline’s birth. She was born on September 25, 1869, in Rauischholzhausen:

Pauline Ruelf birth record,
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p.15

On December 26, 1891, when she was 22 years old, she married Hirsch Abraham. Hirsch was born on December 4, 1858, in Niederurff, and was the son of Jakob Abraham and Roschen Frank.

Pauline Ruelf marriage to Hirsh Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 7960

Hirsch was a widower when he married Pauline; his first wife was Pauline’s older sister Johanna Ruelf, who had died on August 12, 1890, eleven days after giving birth to a daughter, whose name was originally Rosa but was changed to Johanna (or Hannah) after her mother died.

Birth record of Rosa later Johanna Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6175

So Pauline took on the responsibility for raising her niece Johanna. She and Hirsch also had six children together: Ricchen Rosa (1892), Julius (1894), Meta (1894), Sarah (1896), Siegfried (1897), and Recha (1900).  Although Julius and Meta were both born in 1894, they were not twins; Julius was born January 2, 1894, and his sister Meta was born almost twelve months later on December 26, 1894, meaning Julius was only three months old when Meta was conceived.

Birth record of Julius Abraham Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6179

 

Birth record of Meta Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6179

Pauline and Hirsch lost two of their children at young ages. Their daughter Sarah died on June 25, 1910; she was only fourteen.

Death Record for Sarah Abraham
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6261

Their son Siegfried was killed fighting for Germany in World War I. He was only nineteen when he was shot in the line of duty on April 13, 1917. According to his death record, he was a musketeer in the Germany infantry and was shot twice, once in the left forearm and once in the chest, and died from his injuries; he was buried in a common grave.

Siegfried Abraham death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6268

The fact that twenty years later Siegfried’s family would be forced to leave Germany to survive makes his death even more tragic. My cousin Fred Abrahams was named for his uncle Siegfried.

Siegfried’s brother Julius also served in World War I. Here is a photograph of three of Siegfried’s siblings at some gathering in Germany in 1915; first, the overall photograph and then a snip focusing on the three Abraham siblings, Meta, Julius, and Recha. You can see that Julius is in uniform:

Courtesy of Fred and Martin Abrahams

Courtesy of Fred and Martin Abrahams

On September 25, 1921, Johanna Abraham, Pauline’s niece whom she raised after her sister Johanna died, married Jakob Hirschberg of Zwesten, Germany. Jakob was born on April 15, 1893. He and Johanna had one child, a son Martin.

Marriage of Johanna Abraham and Jakob Hirschberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6226

Although I have very little information at all about Hirsch and Pauline’s oldest daughter Ricchen Rosa Abraham, one passenger manifest lists her with the married name Zechermann; I don’t know her husband’s first name or when or where she married, nor do I know whether they ever had children.

Ricchen Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

The other surviving daughters of Pauline Ruelf and Hirsh Abraham both immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. Recha, the youngest child, was only 25 when she first left Germany on October 6, 1925, to travel to the US. According to the passenger manifest, she had been last living in Frankfurt and working as a housekeeper and was now traveling to her uncle, Max Abraham, who resided in Davenport, Iowa. Recha stated that she expected to stay for nine months.

Recha Abraham 1925 ship manifest
Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3741; Line: 1; Page Number: 135
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Max Abraham was Hirsch Abraham’s older brother; he had come to the US from Germany in the 1870s when he was just a teenager. In 1880, he was living in Louisville, Kentucky, and working as a dry goods merchant. He remained in Kentucky for a number of years and after marrying in 1988, he moved to Campbellsburg, Indiana, where he became president of the local bank. After 25 years in Indiana, Max and his family moved to Davenport, Iowa in 1916, where he and his sons started what became a very successful clothing business, Abrahams Brothers. “Max Abrahams, Treasurer of Ready to Wear Store in Davenport, Dies at 82,” Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), 24 Apr 1938, p. 1

I don’t know how long Recha ended up staying with her uncle Max in Iowa on this trip, but on October 15, 1926, she again sailed from Hamburg to New York listing her destination as her uncle Max Abraham’s home in Davenport, Iowa. She listed her last address as Frankfurt. She provided no occupation nor did she indicate this time the length of her stay.

Recha Abraham 1926 ship manifest
Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3947; Line: 1; Page Number: 182
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

On September 23, 1927, her older sister Meta also arrived in the US and also indicated that she was going to her uncle Max Abraham of Davenport, Iowa. Meta stated that she planned to stay in the US permanently. She stated that her occupation was a clerk.

Meta Abraham 1927 passenger manifest
Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4135; Line: 1; Page Number: 94
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

In the fall of 1930, both Meta and Recha must have visited their family in Germany because a passenger manifest for a ship sailing from Hamburg and arriving in New York City on October 8, 1930, lists both sisters as residents of New York City where they were both living at 42 West 89th Street. Recha was working as a cashier and Meta as a dressmaker. Neither had yet become a US citizen. Both reported that they had been in the US since 1927, although Recha obviously had arrived earlier than that.

Meta and Recha Abraham 1930 passenger manifest
Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4854; Line: 1; Page Number: 90
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Meta and Recha did not show up on the 1930 census when I searched for them on Ancestry and FamilySearch, which puzzled me. I turned to stevemorse.org, using his enumeration district finder tool and the address from the 1930 passenger manifest—42 West 89th Street. There they were, clear as could be.

Meta and Recha Abraham 1930 US census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1556; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0450; FHL microfilm: 2341291

So why hadn’t they shown up when I searched? For one thing, both had reported themselves as much younger than they were; Meta, who apparently gave the information to the enumerator, said that she was 24 and her sister 22 when in fact Meta was 34 and Recha was 30. That obviously threw off my search even though I thought I’d given fairly wide ranges in my search parameters for their ages. Also, Recha was listed as Rebecca. But this household is clearly that of the Abraham sisters. Meta was working as a cashier for a butcher and Recha was a seamstress at Macy’s. Both are listed with the surname Abrahams, a change that had also been made by their uncle Max in Iowa.

Meanwhile, back in Niederurff, Germany, Pauline and Hirsh’s only surviving son, Julius Abraham, had by 1932 married his half-third cousin Senta Katz of Jesberg, and they had two sons in the 1930s, Martin and Siegfried/Fred. (Julius and Senta were married either on January 10, 1931, or January 10, 1932; their sons were not sure of the year, and I’ve not been able to find an official record.)

It was not too much longer before Julius and Senta recognized the need to escape from Nazi Germany. As Fred described in his memoir excerpted here and as I wrote about in that same post, Julius and Senta and their two sons left Germany and arrived in New York City on June 24, 1937 . They were going to Julius’ sisters, Meta and Recha, who were then living at 252 West 85th Street. Julius reported his occupation to be a tailor.

Family of Julius and Senta Katz Abraham, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6003; Line: 1; Page Number: 18
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6003
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

The next family member to arrive from Germany was Johanna Abraham Hirschberg, the half-sister of Meta, Julius, and Recha, daughter of Johanna Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham. Johanna came with her husband Jakob and son Martin on May 4, 1938; they also were going to Meta and Recha’s home at 252 West 85th Street in New York City. Jakob was a merchant. They had been living in Zwesten, Germany, before immigrating to the US.

Johanna Abraham Hirschberg and family on 1938 passenger manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6152; Line: 1; Page Number: 168
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

Sadly, Pauline Ruelf Abraham died on March 22, 1938, in Niederurff, and thus did not get to join her children in the United States. She was 68 years old when she died.

Pauline Ruelf death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6280

Pauline Ruelf Abraham gravestone

Her husband Hirsch Abraham left Germany a year later, arriving in New York on March 25, 1939. He also was joining his daughters at 252 West 85th Street. He was eighty years old when he left Niederurff, Germany and sailed alone to New York City, leaving behind the only home he’d ever known. He lived only a year in the US, dying on March 9, 1940 at age 81. (New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948, on Ancestry.com)

Thus, by March 1939, all but one of the children of Pauline Ruelf and Johanna Ruelf and Hirsch Abraham were living safely in New York City.  On the 1940 census, Meta and Recha were still living at 252 West 85th Street; Meta was a bookkeeper for a women’s clothing manufacturing company, and Recha had no occupation listed. Meta died in New York City on May 18, 1977, and her sister Recha died almost a year to the day later on May 24, 1978. Meta was 83 when she died, and Recha was 78. It appears the two sisters had lived together their entire adult lives once coming to the US in the 1920s.

Meta and Recha Abraham on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2643; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 31-809

Their half-sister/first cousin Johanna and her husband Jakob (listed as Jack) and son were also still living in New York in 1940; Johanna and Jack were both working as cooks, Jack for the city and Johanna in a private home. By 1955, the family had moved to Davenport, Iowa, where Jack and his son Martin were both working in Max Abrahams’ store. Johanna died August 15, 1955, and Jack died in 1960. They are buried in Davenport.

Johanna Abraham Hirschberg and family on 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2636; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 31-547

Julius Abraham and his wife Senta Katz and their sons were also living in New York City in 1940. As I wrote earlier, the family was living at 325 West 93rd Street, and Julius was working in the family business, Abrahams Brothers, the clothing business started by Max Abrahams and his sons in Davenport, Iowa. The business had grown to about a dozen stores throughout the Midwest. In 1940, Julius was working in the fur department of the New York office, where the administration and buying for the many stores was handled. He continued to work for the business for the rest of his life. Julius died on December 22, 1959; his wife Senta lived to 93, dying on October 15, 2000, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Senta Katz Abrahams and family, 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2642; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 31-777

The only child of Pauline Ruelf Abraham who is unaccounted for is Ricchen Rosa Abraham, Pauline’s first child. I have no records for her aside from her birth record and the 1961 passenger list card depicted above.  I am also only inferring that this is in fact Ricchen in the passenger list card based on the birth date and place of birth and the fact that her nephews Martin and Fred knew that she had ended up in Chile. The family story is that she was unable to gain entry to the US and so went to Chile instead.

I have no records for her in Chile so do not know when she got there, whom she married, whether she had children, or when she died. I have tried finding information about her from sources in Chile, but so far have had no luck. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

But what I do know is that all of the children and grandchildren of both Pauline Ruelf and her sister Johanna Ruelf survived the Holocaust. That in and of itself gives me a happy ending to this last chapter in the story of Gelle Katzensten and Moses Ruelf.

 

 

The Family of Juda Ruelf and Lina Bachenheimer

Gelle Katzenstein gave birth to three sons and seven daughters, but only one of her sons survived to adulthood. That was her son Juda, born on October 30, 1867, in Rauischholzhausen. He was her eighth child and the first boy since her firstborn, who had been stillborn and was unnamed.

Juda Ruelf birth record,
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 14

Juda married Lina Bachenheimer on November 19, 1897, in Rossdorf, Germany. He was thirty, and Lina was 24. Lina was the daughter of Seligmann Bachenheimer and Betty Baum, and she was born on New Year’s Day in 1883; she was also the niece of Sussman Bachenheimer, who had married Juda’s oldest sister, Esther. (Schneider, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain, pp. 83 and 344)

Marriage of Juda Ruelf and Lina Bachenheimer
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 7966

After posting my first post about Jakob Katzenstein, I was contacted on Facebook by a man whose grandfather was Siegfried Bachenheimer (born in 1900); he told me that the Bachenheimers had once lived next door to the Ruelf family in Rauischholzhausen.  That helped to explain the interconnections between the Bachenheimer and Ruelf families.

Juda and Lina had five children: Isidor (1898), Selma (1900), Rosa (1901), Leo (1904), and Gottfried (known familiarly as Friedel)(1905). Leo died as a boy on December 14, 1912.  He was only eight years old. (Schneider book, p. 345) Then Isidor, their oldest child, was killed in 1917 while serving Germany in World War I. (Schneider book, p. 345)

World War I memorial in Rauischholzhausen listing Isidor Ruelf among others
Courtesy of Richard Oppenheimer

Thus, only Selma, Rosa, and Friedel survived to adulthood. Selma married Julius Meier on November 17, 1922, in Rossdorf; Julius was born May 17, 1898, in Gladenbach. According to the Nazi record nullifying his citizenship, he was a farmer; later records describe him as a cattle dealer. Selma and Julius had two children born in the 1920s.

Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 [database on-line]. Original data: Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center).

Selma’s sister Rosa did not marry, and her brother Friedel did not marry until much later in life and did not have children. Thus, Selma’s two children were the only grandchildren of Juda and Lina Ruelf.

Lina Bachenheimer Ruelf died on October 16, 1930, in Marburg; she was 57 years old.

Lina Bachenheimer Ruelf death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 573

All three of the surviving children and their father Juda Ruelf immigrated to the US after Hitler came to power. Selma and her family left first, arriving in New York on April 30, 1936. The passenger manifest states that they were going to Los Angeles where Julius had an uncle.

Selma Ruelf Meier and family passenger manifest
Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5796; Line: 1; Page Number: 117
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

It doesn’t seem that Selma and Julius ever went to Los Angeles or, if they did, they were not there very long. When Selma’s brother Friedel arrived on June 16, 1937, he listed his sister Selma Meier as the person he was going to stay with and reported her address as Pine Plains, New York, a small town about a hundred miles north of New York City. Friedel reported that he was a horse dealer.

Gottfried Friedel Ruelf passenger manifest
New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-95FR-1LM?cc=1923888&wc=MFKQ-6WL%3A1030057201 : 2 October 2015), 5997 – vol 12899-12901, Jun 21, 1937 > image 10

 

The last family members to arrive were Juda Ruelf and his remaining child, Rosa Ruelf. They arrived on July 14, 1938, and listed Gottfried (“Friedel”) Ruelf, Juda’s son, as the person they were going to see. Friedel’s address was given as “Dairy Farm, Fishkill, New York.” Fishkill, another small town, is about fifty miles south of Pine Plains and fifty miles north of New York City.

Juda Ruelf and daughter Rosa ship manifest
Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6186; Line: 1; Page Number: 116
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

But Juda, Rosa, and Friedel did not remain long in Fishkill. On the 1940 census they were all living together in New York City. Friedel, now going by the Americanized name Fred, was the head of household and working as an operator in a stapling machine factory. Neither his father nor his sister Rosa was employed.  They also had two boarders living with them. Friedel must have been the sole support for his father and sister Rosa.

Friedel Rosa and Juda Ruelf 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2670; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 31-1890

In 1940, his sister Selma and her family were, however, still living in upstate New York in Pine Plains where Julius continued to work as a farmer. Interestingly, the census record indicates that in 1935 they were living in Astoria, Queens, which can’t be correct since they hadn’t even left Germany in 1935.

Julius and Selma Meier and family 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Pine Plains, Dutchess, New York; Roll: T627_2523; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 14-42

Friedel Ruelf married late in life. According to the New York City Marriage Index database on Ancestry, he married Claire Lowenstein in 1962 when he was 57 and she was 56.

Juda Ruelf and his children and their spouses are all buried at Cedar Park cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. The cemetery office told me that Selma Meier died on April 15, 1950, but her death is listed on the New York, New York, death index on Ancestry as April 13, 1950. According to the cemetery, Juda Ruelf died eight months after his daughter Selma on December 12, 1950; he was 83 years old at his death. Julius Meier, widower of Selma Ruelf Meier, died on June 20, 1959, according to the cemetery. Rosa Ruelf’s death is documented by the Social Security Death Index; she died when she was 76 on June 18, 1978, which was confirmed by the cemetery.

Friedel and his wife Claire also are buried at Cedar Park cemetery in Paramus. Claire died July 3, 1999, at age 93; Friedel died just over a year later on August 13, 2000. He was 94 years old. [1]

Two of the members of the Bachenheimer side of the family, both named Steve, had the pleasure of knowing Friedel and his wife Claire personally.  I am looking forward to learning more from them about the family. Both Steves generously shared with me pictures of Friedel and Claire, one outside the Jewish cemetery in Kirchain, Germany,  and one in New York City.

Claire and Friedel Ruelf in Kirchhain, Germany
Courtesy of Steven Bachenheimer

Claire and Friedel Ruelf
Courtesy of Steve North

Thus, unlike the families of his sisters Esther, Betty, and Minna, no members of the immediate family of Juda Ruelf were killed in the Holocaust. His wife Lina died before the Nazis came to power, and Juda and his children all escaped to the US in time. They were among the fortunate ones.

 

 

 

 

[1] I am now in touch with two people who knew Friedel “Fred” Ruelf, and I am hoping to get more information about him and his life.

Walking in Their Footsteps by Jennifer Spier-Stern

I am honored today to share with you an essay written by my fourth cousin, once removed, Jennifer Spier-Stern. Jennifer is the great-granddaughter of Minna Ruelf and Isaak Spier, about whom I wrote in my last post. When Jennifer shared this essay with me, I was so moved that I asked her if I could post it on my blog. She graciously agreed to let me do that, and I hope that you also will feel the way I did—that I was with Jennifer in her footsteps as she walked in the footsteps of her family in Rauischholzhausen, Germany.

Walking in Their Footsteps

by Jennifer Spier-Stern

I was transformed back in time as we drove through the narrow streets of the town called Rauischholzhausen.  We passed old homes with beautiful flower baskets hanging from windows and well manicured gardens. The narrow street was paved and there was even a sidewalk. I wanted to absorb every corner, every home into my mind so I could never forget these images.  I know that 70+ years ago it was not as pristine. I have thought of this day for so many months. Each and every time I envisioned this part of my trip I cried.  The tears were for the people that were no longer here to tell me their tales. My father wasn’t with me to show me the way, to tell me about his memories and to stand with me in front of the home where he was born. To walk with me to the Schloss (castle) and show me the places where he ran, where he played, to show me where his family lived and where the synagogue was.

View of Rauischholzhausen with arrow pointing to synagogue
http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/images/Images%20362/Rauischholzhausen%20Ort%200100.jpg

The reason for this trip started many years ago. My father was born in Rauischholzhausen in 1922, a small town a few minutes drive from Marburg.  Growing up we heard all the stories of Holzhausen and of the early childhood of my father and his four siblings. We used to roll our eyes and laugh with yet another story of “home.” As young adolescents we didn’t appreciate all that he told us.  I wish I had documented everything, but like most young adults, I didn’t.   My father always promised my brother and I a trip back to his roots, but that was never going to happen, he passed away in 1998.  Since my father’s passing I had fleeting thoughts of going to Germany but not until recently did this strong urge possess me that I had to go and see for myself.

Without going into full details of the history of our family, my father’s brother returned to Germany with his wife and son and settled in Bielefeld in 1959.

My aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife met us at our beautiful hotel and drove us to the house that was 16 Lerchengasse. 16 Lerchengasse was the house where my father lived. The house that bore the name I Spier (Isaak Spier) above the front door frame. We parked the car and walked that last few steps down a cul de  sac.  I had the vision of the house from few photos that survived the war. 

My uncle stopped in front of the house and said, “This is it. This is the house where we were born.”  I looked up at this large home, the home of my great-grandfather, grandfather and father. My hands were shaking and the tears rolled down my face.  I heard my father’s voice, I heard his stories, I saw him walking up and down the front stairs. I saw him running around the courtyard with his siblings. I haven’t felt my father’s presence as strongly as I did at that moment.  I wish I could have knocked on the door and introduced myself. I so wanted to go inside, but I know it is far different than the house my father left on November 9, 1938.  I looked at the surrounding homes, and they too were lovely with their planters filled with flowers and lace curtains in the window. Later in the week Hajo (My hero guide) posed the question to me, “Can you imagine this town 65 years ago?”

Spier home in Rauischholzhausen
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

The next stop was the Jewish cemetery. We picked up the key at the caretaker and then we walked the grass soaked path towards the cemetery. The rain started and the path became very muddy. The land to the right was a beautiful pasture for grazing cows who seemed very curious and walked over to the fence. It seemed surreal.  As we walked my eyes were looking down at the path, knowing that my grandparents and many other ancestors walked here to enter the cemetery. They came here to bury. They came here on the holidays to remember those that passed. They came here to say Kaddish. I was walking in their footsteps.  

My grandfather Abraham Spier buried his parents, Isaak Spier and Minna Rülf neé Spier. One of the oldest stones in the cemetery is Nathan Spier, my 3rd great grandfather (1792-1866). We stepped into the cemetery where 80% of the graves are family ancestors. I had my dear friend Hajo Bewernick photograph every stone for me. I’ve looked at the photos numerous times and now, I stood before them. I stood there and cried.  Emotions flooded my body that I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to touch every stone and place a rock, I wanted to pray. In years to come how many will walk through the gates to pray for all the souls? However, all I could do was cry. Later on I found out that my husband said the Mourner’s Kaddish, (a Mourner’s Prayer) as he stood over one grave, but he said it for all.

Gravestones of Minna Ruelf Spier and Siegfried Spier in Rauischholzhausen
http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/rauischholzhausen_friedhof.htm

I walked in their footsteps. I was thankful that my family who live in Germany were able to share this experience with me.  Special thanks to Hajo Bewernick who took the time from his busy work and home life to show my husband and I Marburg. I can never thank you enough for explaining the history of your beautiful town as well as showing us the many historical sites and to our many insightfully deep conversations.  You created a three dimensional image for me  of my grandparents, my Oma and Opa, by showing us where they would have been, where they would have walked and the buildings from where they were deported. I do not recall the name of the street corner. Hajo was specific in pointing his finger.

Through my research I have come across generous people who devote their time and efforts to the history of the Jewish people. To everyone we thank you for all your hard work. Special thank you to Barbara Greve for always being there with the answers.

One more person I need to thank with all my heart is my husband, Effy. This trip wouldn’t have happened without him. He knew how important this trip was for me and I am glad he shared it by my side.

I never felt closer to my family and my ancestors as I have during these few days in my family’s home town.   I know I’ll keep these stories alive with my family and I hope they will continue the legacy.

The Indomitable Human Spirit: The Descendants of Minna Ruelf Spier

Although the story of Minna Ruelf Spier is, like that of her sisters Esther and Bette, a story that includes much tragedy and suffering, in its way it is also uplifting for what it reveals about the human spirit and the will to survive. As we move closer to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I find Minna’s story appropriate for these days and inspiring.

I have been in touch with one of Minna’s direct descendants, my fourth cousin- once removed Jennifer Spier-Stern, and she has shared with me what she knows about the family history as well as some family photographs. I am so very grateful to Jennifer for her help and her generosity.

Minna Ruelf was born on February 16, 1859, in Rauischholzhausen, Germany:

Minna Ruelf birth record
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 10

Three days after her 21st birthday, on February 19, 1880, she married Isaak Spier. Isaak was born June 12, 1850, in Leidenhofen, Germany, another town in the Hesse region, the son of Abraham Spier and Esther Schaumberg. Isaak was a merchant.  Minna and Isaak settled in Ebsdorf, a small village a mile from Leidenhofen, where they had the first of their three sons, Abraham, who was born on January 18, 1881.

Minna Ruelf and Isaak Spier marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 2524

Their two younger sons, Julius (July 26, 1883), and Siegfried (November 29, 1886), were born in Rauischholzhausen.

Isaak Spier died on June 17, 1910, in Rauischholzhausen. He was sixty years old. At that time none of his sons had married.

Isaak Spier
Courtesy of  Jennifer Spier-Stern

Isaak Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8036

Abraham, the oldest son, married nine years later on November 3, 1919; he was 38 years old. He married Jenny Wertheim, who was born on June 4, 1890, in Hatzbach, Germany, to Wolf Wertheim and Sanchen Edelmuth.

Marriage of Abraham Spier and Jenny Wertheim
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5047

 

Abraham Spier, c. 1914
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Jenny Wertheim  Spier Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Abraham and Jenny had five children, one daughter and four sons: Edith (1920), Julius (1922),[1] Alfred (1924), Martin (1925), and Walter (1927); they were all born in Rauischholzhausen.

Edith, Julius, and Alfred Spier , c. 1926 Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Family of Abraham and Jenny Spier, Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Just three weeks after Walter’s birth, his grandmother Minna Ruelf Spier died at age 68 on November 5, 1927.

Minna Ruelf
Courtesy of her great-granddaughter Jennifer Spier-Stern

Minna Ruelf Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8053

The youngest son of Isaak Spier and Minna Ruelf, Siegfried, died when he was 48 years old in Rauischholzhausen on February 21, 1935, just seven months before the Nuremberg Laws were adopted by the Nazis in Germany. Siegfried was unmarried.

Siegfried Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8061

Not long after Siegfried’s death, Julius Spier (Abraham’s brother, not his son) left Rauischholzhausen. According to Alfred Schneider’s book, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain (p. 350), Julius was still in Rauischholzhausen in 1935, but as of 1936, his location was unknown. One source says that he went to Frankfurt where he had a seat on the stock exchange.  That same source said that he immigrated to England by 1945, perhaps as early as 1938.  (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:SB2K-RMP : accessed 2017-09-06), entry for Julius /Spier).

According to Jennifer, Julius Spier married Lucie Henrietta Cohn. According to this website located by Jennifer, Lucie was the daughter of Hugo Cohn and Selma Marcuse of Halberstadt; she was born on October 28, 1897. The website also states that she’d gone to Frankfurt and married (no date or place was given, nor the name of her husband). If futher states that after getting divorced in 1938, Lucie had immigrated to England and worked in the fashion industry.  Although I have no marriage record or other document showing her marriage or divorce, Lucie appears on many passenger manifests between 1947 and 1960—first residing in London, later in the US, listed at various times as a commercial traveler, a housewife, and a nurse.

Julius died in London on February 25, 1959. (England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, on Ancestry.com)

UPDATE: Thank you to Anne Callanan of the German Genealogy for sending me some records she found on FindMyPast, a genealogy service to which I do not (yet) subscribe. Anne found Enemy Alien registration cards for several family members including Julius Spier and Lucie Henrietta Spier. From those records, I now know that Julius was in England by November 1939, working as an agent. He was at first granted an exemption from being detained as an enemy alien, but that decision was reversed and he was interned on June 21, 1940, but was released two months later on August 23, 1940.

Lucie also had to register as an enemy alien. She registered on December 8, 1939, when she was living in Manchester, England (thus not with Julius) and working as a house servant for a Mr. M. I. Marks in his home. She was granted an exemption and was not interned. The card does not reveal any information about her marital status.

Julius Spier (son of Minna Ruelf and Isaak Spier)
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Abraham and Jenny Spier and their children were still in Germany during the Nazi era, but they were eventually able to get some of their children to England. According to my cousin Jennifer, Edith Spier left Germany on one of the early Kindertransports to England where she worked as au pair; according to the Schneider book (p. 351), Edith left on October 20, 1937, when she was seventeen. She eventually went to New York, where in 1943 she married Alfred Baumann, who was born in Adelsberg, Germany, in 1913, and had immigrated to the US in 1938.

Julius Spier (Abraham and Jenny’s son) was arrested along with ten thousand other Jewish men  in the aftermath of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, and sent to Buchenwald. His daughter Jennifer wrote this about his experiences:

My father, John Sanders (nee Julius Spier) was born in Rauischholtzhausen, Germany on June 17, 1922. At the age of 16, on November 9, 1938 he was arrested in his home by the Gestapo. It should have been my grandfather, but he was in a few towns over at his mother’s home. Rumors around the towns were that the Gestapo were going from house to house to arrest the eldest male.

My father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp where he remained for 10 weeks. During this time, his mother heard about the organized efforts of the Jewish Agency of Bloomsbury, London to get as many Jewish children, between the ages of four to 17, out of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. She went to the Jewish Agency and the police, where she was told to get all the documents ready, as well as a visa to leave Germany.

Upon release from Buchenwald, my father had only two weeks to leave Germany. His father took him to the Frankfurt train station, where he was to meet the Kindertransport train that would take him to England. At the train station there were other families with children. The parents and their young ones had to say their good-byes inside the train station. The children, regardless of age, had to go onto the platform and then onto the train by themselves. Families with infants gave the infants to the older children. It is difficult to comprehend all sides. How does a parent give up a baby and how does a young adult care for one. My father said goodbye to his father, not realizing that this was the last time he would ever see him.  …

After his tenure in Dover Court, my father was taken into the home of an Orthodox family in Westgate, London. He was there until June of 1939 when his brother [Alfred] came over from Germany. Together, they went to a hostel in London. Shortly thereafter they were taken to a farm in Aberdeen, Scotland. An aristocrat owned the farm by the name of Sir Robert Grant. He treated my father and his brother with the utmost of respect and kindness. One memorable time for my father was when the chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce took him and his brother to Harrod’s department store in London and they were able to pick out all that they needed. Sir Robert Grant applied for visas to get my father’s parents and brothers out of Germany. Unfortunately war broke out a few days later and all visas were denied. 

Julius Spier, son of Abraham and Jenny (Wertheim) Spier, c. 1935
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

That left Abraham and Jenny and their two youngest children, Martin and Walter, stranded in Germany. On September 7, 1942, all four were deported to Theriesenstadt. Then on May 18, 1944, all four were transported to Auschwitz, where Abraham and Jenny were murdered. Martin and Walter survived. Walter Spier talked movingly about his experience in this video. I implore you all to watch it. It’s less then fifteen minutes long, and when you considered what he suffered for years, you know you can spare fifteen minutes to hear him talk.

 

When I think of the two young men being reunited in Rauischholzhausen in 1945, it moves me to tears.

Meanwhile, their older siblings were for a time in the United Kingdom. But like many other Jews who were sent to England for safety from the Nazis, Julius and Alfred were sent to the Isle of Man as possible “enemies of the state” after England declared war on Germany in September, 1939.

According to this article from B’nai Brith Magazine, the first inmates arrived on the Isle of Man in May, 1940, and by August, 1940, there were over 14,000 men, women, and children imprisoned on the Isle of Man, some being Nazi sympathizers, many others being Jews who’d been born in Germany and thus were considered enemy aliens, ironically.  Because of overcrowding, in July, 1940, England decided to send some of the inmates to Canada or to Australia. (Cheryl Klemper, “Imprisoned On The Isle Of Man: Jewish Refugees Classified As “Enemy Aliens”, ” B’nai Brith Magazine, September 19, 2016)

Julius and Alfred Spier were among those sent to Australia. According to Jennifer, they both were on the ship known as the HMT (Hired Military Transport) Dunera. According to the Australian website for the Migration Heritage Centre:

On board the HMT Dunera were about 2,000 male German Jewish refugees aged between 16 and 45, who had escaped from Nazi occupied territories. Also on board were 200 Italian POWs and 250 Nazis. The voyage lasted 57 days. The conditions were appalling. Apart from overcrowding on the ship with the attendant problems of hygiene and harsh treatment by crew members, the journey was also made unpleasant by the fear of torpedo attacks, the uncertainty of the destination, and by tensions between Jewish refugees and Nazi passengers.

After arriving in Australia, Julius and Alfred spent two years interned at camps in Hay and Tatura in Australia. The Migration Heritage Centre website reported this about the Hay camp:

The Hay POW camp was constructed in 1940. The first arrivals were 2036 German and Austrian Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis. They were mostly professionals who had simply fled for their lives. They were placed along side 451 German and Italian POWs many of whom were pro Nazi and fascist.

While awaiting release, the Dunera Boys developed a rich cultural and intellectual programme at their camp, giving concerts and establishing an unofficial university. The small group of strictly Orthodox Jews also managed to organise a kosher kitchen. After a period of time the injustice of their situation was realised and they were permitted to return to Britain.

Here is a record identifying Julius Spier as a POW in Australia during the war:

Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

According to Jennifer, when Julius and Alfred were finally released, they were given a choice  either to return to Germany or join the British Army, so they both joined the British Army, where they served for the duration of the war and then returned to England.

UPDATE: Thanks again to Anne Callanan, I now have enemy alien registration cards for both Edith and Julius Spier.  Edith registered on December 12, 1939, and was granted an exemption; she was working as a domestic. Her brother Julius registered as an enemy alien on November 28, 1939, when he was working on Sir Robert Grant’s farm in Scotland. But as we know he was denied an exemption and interned until June 21, 1942, when he was returned to the UK from Australia.

In the years immediately after the war Edith was in New York City, Julius and Alfred were in England, and Martin and Walter were in Germany. Martin and Walter both stayed in Rauischholzhausen for a year after their liberation from the camps in 1945, and then both immigrated to New York City where both of them later married.

In England, Alfred married Hannelore Reimers, who was from Bielefeld, Germany. Hannelore wanted to return to Bielefeld where her family still lived[2], so Alfred and Hannelore ended up back in Germany.

Julius married Helene Trunec in England in 1952; Julius and Helene stayed in England until 1963 when they immigrated to the United States and were reunited with Edith, Martin, and Walter in New York City. Julius and Helene had two children, Jennifer and Mark.

The five children of Abraham Spier and Jenny Wertheim thus all survived the Holocaust, although their parents did not. The five siblings not only suffered the loss of their parents and of their home; two were tortured and suffered terribly in the Nazi concentration camps, and two were imprisoned like criminals by England, the country where they had sought sanctuary. It’s hard to imagine how any of them coped with what they had endured.

But listening to Walter Spier on that video reveals that somehow the human spirit can endure unimaginable suffering and still have faith, hope, and love. All five of the Spier siblings went on to have children after the war, one sign of the incredible power of faith, hope, and love.

 

[1] I find it interesting that Abraham named a son Julius since his brother Julius was still alive. I assume the son was named for another family member, not his uncle.

[2] Hannelore was not born Jewish, but converted when she married Alfred.

Sometimes What You Learn Is Unbearable

As I wrote last time, Gelle Katzenstein, the oldest daughter of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion, married Moses Ruelf of Rauischholzhausen. They had ten children together, six of whom lived full adult lives: Esther, Minna, Bette, Rebecca, Juda, and Pauline. They were my second cousins, twice removed. This post will tell the story of the families of Esther and Bette.

Esther, born May 26, 1857, in Rauischholzhausen, married Sussman Bachenheimer on June 25, 1874. (Schneider, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain,  p. 345.) He was also born in Rauischholzhausen on December 25, 1850. They settled in Kirchhain, Germany. Together Esther and Sussman had four daughters: Helene (1876), Rosa (1877), Bertha (1879), and Minna (1881).

Helene died the day after she was born:

Helene Bachenheimer birth record June 3 1876
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4977

Helene Bachenheimer death record June 4, 1876
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5061

The other three daughters lived to adulthood, and their parents lived to see all three married with children.

Rosa was born on August 10, 1877, in Kirchhain:

Rosa Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4978

According to Matthias Steinke and Doris Strohmenger from the German Genealogy group on Facebook, the language in the left margin indicates that her name, Rosa, was added after the birth record had been recorded. It also indicates that her father’s name was Sussman, not Simon, as indicated on the original record.

Rosa married August Felix Katzenstein on November 20, 1900, in Kirchhain.

Marriage record of Rosa Bachenheimer and August Felix Katzenstein
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5028

August was born April 26, 1849 in Jesberg, the son of Meier Katzenstein and Auguste Wolf.

August Felix Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3807

August was Rosa’s first cousin, once removed. He was the grandson of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion through their son Meier, and Rosa was their great-granddaughter through their daughter Gelle and granddaughter Esther.

August and Rosa had two children: Margaretha Grete Katzenstein (1901) and Hans Peter Katzenstein (1905).

Rosa’s younger sister Bertha was born August 5, 1879, in Kirchhain.

Bertha Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4980

She married Josef Weinberg on November 11, 1903. Josef was born in Lauterbach, Germany, on March 4, 1876, the son of Abraham Weinberg and Fanni Simon.

Marriage record of Bertha Bachenheimer and Josef Weinberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5031

Bertha and Josef had one child, a daughter named Ruth born on August 28, 1904.

Minna, the youngest daughter of Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer, was born on March 5, 1881, in Kirchhain.

Minna Bachenheimer birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 4982

She married Meier Wertheim on March 15, 1906. Meier was born on November 23, 1878, in Hatzbach, Germany, the son of Isaac Wertheim and Bertha Wertheim.

Marriage record of Minna Bachenheimer and Meier Wertheim
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5034

Minna and Meier had five sons born in Hatzbach: Herbert (1906), Kurt (1908), Walter (1915), and Gunther (1924).

Thus, by 1924, Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer had six grandchildren, all born and living in the Hesse region of Germany. In the next twenty years their lives were all completely changed.

First, Sussman Bachenheimer died on March 8, 1924, in Kirchhain. He was 73 years old. The marginal comment here reports that his name was legally changed from Simon to Sussman in 1907.

Sussman Bachenheimer death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5109

Then on June 11, 1934, Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer’s daughter Bertha Bachenheimer Weinberg died at age 54; Bertha’s husband Josef Weinberg died just three months later on September 9, 1934. He was 58. They were survived by their daughter Ruth, who was thirty years old when her parents died.

Bertha Bachenheimer Weinberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_11031

By the time Bertha and Josef died in 1934, the Nazis were in power in Germany, and life had already changed for Jews living there. Some Jews were beginning to leave the country.

On September 23, 1935, Herbert Wertheim, the son of Minna Bachenheimer and Meier Wertheim, left Germany and moved to what was then Palestine, now Israel. Six months later in March, 1936, his younger brother Walter joined him there.

Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer died on August 16, 1936, at age 79. Not long after, her daughter  Minna Bachenheimer Wertheim and her husband Meier left Germany to join their sons in Palestine; they arrived there with their youngest son Gunther on September 10, 1936.

Death of Esther Ruelf Bachenheimer HStAMR Best. 915 Nr. 5121 Standesamt Kirchhain Sterbenebenregister 1936, S. 22

Ruth Weinberg, the daughter of Bertha and Josef Weinberg, also soon left Germany. She and her husband Hugo Schleicher and their daughter arrived in New York City on May 16, 1940. Hugo, who had been a lawyer in Germany, was working in Brooklyn at the Weingarten Agency of Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft; the family was living in Manhattan.

Hugo Schleicher World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147

Thus, as of 1942, the only child of Esther Ruelf and Sussman Bachenheimer who was still in Germany was Rosa Bachenheimer along with her husband, August Felix Katzenstein, and their two children Margaretha and Hans-Jacob. Why they did not follow the other family members to either Palestine or the US is a mystery and a tragic one.

All four of them, as well as Margaretha’s husband Rudolf Loewenstein, were deported on April 22, 1942, to a concentration camp in Izbica, Poland, where they were murdered. Rosa, August, Margaretha, and Hans-Jacob were all my cousins, since Rose and August were both descendants of Jakob Katzenstein, my great-great-grandfather’s brother. Four more of my family members whose lives were taken by the Nazis. (The links are to their entries in Yad Vashem’s database.)

And heartbreakingly, the list does not end there. Esther Ruelf’s younger sister Bette also had family who were killed in the Holocaust. In fact, Bette has no living descendants.

Bette was born on December 3, 1860 in Rauischholzhausen. On January 26, 1886, she married Gustav Schaumberg of Schweinsburg. He was born in May 1857 to Isaak and Gutroth Schaumberg.

Marriage record of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8456

Bette and Gustav had four children born in Schweinsburg: Siegfried (1886), Rosa (1888), Flora (1891), and Selma (1897).

Sigfried Schaumsberg birth record November 16, 1886
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8429

Rosa Schaumberg birth record October 13, 1888
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8431

Flora Schaumberg birth record July 14, 1891
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8434

Selma Schaumberg birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 844

As far as I’ve been able to determine, only Flora ever married. She married David Haas on December 14, 1914.  I cannot find any record indicating that they had had children.

Marriage record of Flora Schaumberg and David Haas
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8484

Sadly, the youngest child of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg, Selma, died in Marburg, Germany, on March 3, 1931, when she was only 33 years old:

Selma Schaumberg death record’
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5737

My colleagues Matthias Steinke and Doris Strohmenger at the German Genealogy group helped me translate this record also.  It reads: “The director of the university-hospital here has reported, that the unemployed (without profession being) Selma Schaumberg, 33 years old, residing and born in Schweinsberg, county of Kirchhain, unmarried, in Marburg in the hospital at the 3rd March of the year 1931 past midday at 5:30 is deceased.” There is no cause of death given.

Perhaps Selma was in some ways fortunate. She did not live to suffer under Nazi rule.

Her father Gustav Schaumberg died on July 30, 1938, when he was 81 years old; his wife Bette Ruelf Schaumberg died April 9, 1940; she was 79. They also in some ways may have been fortunate to die when they did, although by the time they did, they must have already experienced much suffering and humiliation by the Nazis.

Bette Ruelf Schaumberg death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8568

But at least they may have died with some hope that their remaining children would survive.

They did not. Siegfried was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp on April 3, 1942; he was then sent to the death camp in Hartheim, Austria on August 12, 1942, where he was killed. (JewishGen volunteers, comp. Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp Records, 1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.)

A month later Siegfried’s sisters Rosa and Flora were also deported. They were both sent to Theriesenstadt along with Flora’s husband David Haas. Rosa was then sent to Auschwitz on January 23, 1943, where she was put to death. Flora and her husband David were both sent to Auschwitz on May 16, 1944, where they also were murdered. (The links are to their Yad Vashem entries.)

Thus, not one of the children of Bette Ruelf and Gustav Schaumberg survived the Holocaust.

Can anyone not understand why it is so depressing, frightening, and maddening to see people marching with swastikas in our streets?

 

 

 

Another Mystery Solved: Who was “Leonara Morreau”?

It still amazes me that people find my blog, leave a comment, and then lead me to answers to questions about my family’s history.  Just a month ago someone named Shyanne left a comment that led me to answers to another question I had been unable to resolve several years ago.

First, some background: Back in November 2014, I posted about a book I had received from Bernie Brettschneider of Gau-Algesheim, Die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden by Ludwig Hellriegel (1986, revised 2008)[The History of the Jews of Gau-Algesheim]. It was my first source of detailed information about my Seligmann relatives, and I had struggled to translate as much as I can.

One of the entries in the book mentioned a woman named Leonara Morreau, as I wrote back then:

There is also an entry for Elizabeth nee Seligman Arnfeld, who was born March 17, 1875.  She had moved to Mulheim on the Ruhr in 1938 and wanted to emigrate to the United States.  A woman named Leonara Morreau[1] had vouched for them, but for unknown reasons they were never able to emigrate.  Elizabeth died on January 23, 1943 at Theresienstadt.  Her son Heinz survived the war.

Eventually, once my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann found me, I learned more about “Elizabeth” Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld and her family, as I wrote about here and here. But back in November, 2014, I had not yet found Wolfgang nor had I yet found Beate Goetz, and my knowledge of my Seligmann relatives in Germany was very, very limited.

Bettina (Elizabeth) Arnfeld nee Seligmann

But I had been curious about this woman “Leonara Morreau,” and had tried to figure out her connection to the Seligmanns. Why had she vouched for them? Why hadn’t she been able to save them? As I wrote back then:

I found Leonara Morreau’s obituary and researched her a bit, but know of no reason that she would have had a connection to the Seligmanns in Germany.  She was born, married, and lived in Cleveland.  Her husband died in 1933, and she died in 1947.  As far as I can tell, they never traveled to Germany.  Leonara’s brother was Isaac Heller, who was also born in Cleveland, as was their father, Charles Heller.  Although their grandfather was born in Germany, it was not even in the same region as the Seligmanns.  Perhaps Leonara was active in trying to bring German Jews to the United States during Hitler’s reign, but I can find no evidence of that.  Her obituary only states that she was active in charitable and religious causes.

Stolperstein for Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld

And that was as far as I got. I put it aside and continued to work on my Seligmann family.  Beate connected with me a few weeks after that post in November, 2014, and Wolfgang found me in February, 2015, and I was then on an amazing and exciting run of good luck with their help and the help of Wolfgang’s mother Annlis. Many if not most of the holes in the Seligmann family tree were filled with our collective efforts. But I never returned to the question of Leonara Morreau.

Until last month when Shyanne commented on my blog:

Leonara Morreau. Now, I’m unsure if there are multiples in the same family, but in my ancestry, my great great grandfather Albert Morreau was married to a Lea Nora Morreau, multiple docuuments spell it differently, though. But she too, was born an Heller. Here in the states. However, Albert was born in Germany, which is where the connection from Germany could be.

When I read Shyanne’s comment, I could barely remember the whole question of “Leonara” Morreau (whose name is generally spelled Leanora but sometimes Lenora or Lea Nora). After all it had been almost three years before and just a passing question in the overall search for information about my Seligmann family. But I was intrigued and emailed Shyanne right away.

After a flurry of emails, exchanges of information, and a review of the Seligmann family tree, Shyanne and I had the answer. And it was right before my eyes. In all my initial research about Leanora back in the fall of 2014, I’d never thought to search for information about her husband, only about Leanora herself. The answer lay with her husband.

As Shyanne had said, Leanora was married to a man named Albert Morreau. And although there’d been no Morreaus in my tree in November 2014 when I wrote that blog post that mentioned Leanora, there was now an Albert Morreau in my Seligmann family tree. I had entered him back in July 2015, just eight months after I’d written the post about Leonara Morreau, but I’d never made the connection.

Albert was one of three children named on the handwritten family tree Wolfgang had sent me that we believe was written by Emil Seligmann.  I had written this on the blog on July 7, 2015, describing Emil’s tree:

The next child of Jacob and Marta, Caroline, married Moses Moreau (?) of Worrstadt, and they had four children whose names are written underneath; the first I cannot decipher (maybe Markus?), but the other three are Albert, Bertha, and Alice.

Page 1 of Emil Seligmann’s handwritten tree (snip)

That is, the Albert Morreau who married Leanora Heller was my cousin—he was a descendant of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer, my four-times great-grandparents, through their daughter Caroline, the sister of my 3x-great-grandfather, Moritz Seligmann. Caroline had married Moses Morreau (it is correctly spelled with two Rs) of Worrstadt.  According to this tree, Albert was Caroline’s son.

I shared this information with Shyanne, but then found a biography of Albert from A History of Cleveland, Ohio: Biographical (Samuel Peter Orth, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910), that said that Albert’s parents were not Moses and Caroline Morreau, but in fact were named Leopold and Amelia Morreau:

Albert Morreau biography excerpt, A History of Cleveland, Ohio: Biographical (Samuel Peter Orth, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910), pp. 843-844

Shyanne found several other sources providing the same information. Shyanne and I were confused—was this the same Albert Morreau? And if so, who were Leopold and Amelia Morreau? Could all these sources be wrong?

Then I found UK naturalization papers for Markus Morreau, the brother of Albert, and those also stated this his parents were Leopold and Emilia Morreau. So why did Emil list Albert and Markus as the sons of Moses and Caroline on his family tree? And who was Leopold Morreau?

UK Naturalization papers for Markus Morreau
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 19
Description
Description : Piece 019: Certificate Numbers A6901 – A7300

When I looked again at the papers I’d received from Wolfgang, I realized that Wolfgang had sent a second handwritten family tree a few days after he’d sent the tree done by Emil.  On July 9, I wrote this on the blog:

This page [page seven of the second handwritten tree] is devoted to Caroline Seligmann, who married Moses Moreau from Worrstadt, another town not very far from Bingen.  Underneath are four names that the creator of this tree originally labeled as the children of Caroline and Moses, but then crossed out and wrote “grandchildren.”  The names are the same as those on the earlier tree—Markus, Albert, Bertha, and Alice.  Next to Markus it says “England,” and next to Albert it says “Amerika.” 

Second Seligmann handwritten tree, page 7

So Albert and his siblings Markus, Bertha, and Alice were not the children of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau, but their grandchildren.

If the sources naming Albert’s father as Leopold Morreau were correct, that meant that Caroline and Moses Morreau had a son named Leopold. When Shyanne and I re-examined the page from the second handwritten family tree, we both concluded that one of the two names at the very bottom was Leopold Moreau. What do you think (see image directly above)? What do you think the second name at the bottom is?

UPDATE: I just figured out what the second name is! I will reveal it in a later post. 🙂

Meanwhile, Shyanne kept researching and so did I. And we ran into some incredible luck when I contacted Michael S. Phillips, a tree owner on Ancestry who generously shared with us his research on the Morreau family. Then two weeks after Shyanne’s initial comment, I received another comment about the Morreau family from a man named Paul; I emailed Paul and learned that he was related to Otto Mastbaum, who had married Albert Morreau’s sister Alice. Otto Mastbaum was Paul’s great-grandmother’s brother. And Paul filled in more gaps on the Morreau family. And I also learned more about Bertha Morreau and her husband Isidor Aschaffenburg with help from my friend in Cologne, Aaron Knappstein. And then my friend Dorothee connected me with Friedemann Hofmann, a man in Worrstadt who was able to send me the birth, death, and marriage records for the entire Morreau family from Worrstadt.

In subsequent posts, I will follow up and fill in these details and tell the full story of my Morreau cousins. But for now I just want to thank Shyanne (who I now know is my fifth cousin, once removed,), Paul, Aaron, Michael, Dorothee, and Friedemann for all their help in filling in these gaps in the Seligmann family tree.

This whole experience has been a real lesson to me. Even when you think you are “done,” there is always more to learn. And there are always incredibly generous people out there to help you do so.

 

The Fate of the Children of Moses Katz, Part II

This was a painful post to research and write. It was made even more painful by the events in Charlottesville this past weekend. How can we still be seeing swastikas and Nazis in 2017? How do people learn to hate those who differ from them? When will we ever conquer racism and prejudice of all kinds?

***************

In my last post, I wrote about the family of Markus Katz, the oldest son of Moses Katz and Malchen Wetterhahn. Markus died before the Holocaust, and his wife Nanny was murdered by the Nazis. Fortunately, however, their three children—Maurice, Mali, and Senta—escaped in time.

Tragically, not all of Moses and Malchen’s descendants were able to escape. My thanks to David Baron and Barbara Greve for their research and help in uncovering some of the records and facts included in this post.

Rickchen Katz, the oldest child of Moses and Amalia Katz, died of cancer in Frielendorf on September 15, 1933. Given the ultimate fate of her husband and children, that might very well have been a blessing.

Death record of Rickchen Katz Moses, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 166,p. 54

I don’t know the details of what happened to the family in the 1930s, but according to the research done by Barbara Greve and reported on the Juden in Nordhessen website, Rickchen’s husband Abraham Moses committed suicide on June 13, 1940. He had moved to Frankfurt with his three daughters, Rosa/Rebecca, Amalie, and Recha. Imagine how intolerable his life must have become under Nazi rule for him to take such drastic action.

In November, 1941, Rickchen and Abraham’s daughter Rosa/Rebecca and her husband, Julius Katz, and their teenage son Guenther, were deported from Frankfurt to Minsk, where it is presumed that all three were killed. Amalie, Rosa’s sister, also was deported to Minsk at that time and is also presumed to have been killed there. I have no further record for Amalie’s twin Recha. I assume she also was a victim of the Holocaust. (All the links here are to the Yad Vashem entries for those individuals.) Thus, all of the children of Rickchen Katz and Abraham Moses were murdered by the Nazis.

Jacob M Katz, the second oldest son of Moses and Malchen Katzhad been in the US for many years by 1930, having arrived in 1908, as I wrote about here.  He had settled in Oklahoma, where in 1930 he was married to Julia Meyer and had a teenage son, Julian. They were living in Wolf, Oklahoma, where Jacob was working in a dry goods store.  According to the 1940 census, by 1935 Jacob and Julia had moved to Pawnee, Oklahoma, and in 1940 Jacob was a men’s clothing merchant there. Julia’s sister Rose was also living with them.

Jacob M Katz and family, 1940 census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Pawnee, Pawnee, Oklahoma; Roll: T627_3322; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 59-21

But by 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft, Jacob and Julia had moved to Vallejo, California, where Jacob was working for the Kirby Shoe Company.  I do not know what took them to California; their son Julian had married by then, but was still living in Oklahoma. Jacob died in San Francisco in 1956; Julia died the following year, also in San Francisco.

Jacob M Katz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147

Lena Katz, one of the three children of Moses and Malchen still in Germany in the 1930s and their third oldest child, survived the Holocaust. Her husband Hermann Katz had died on November 2, 1929, in Marburg, Germany, but Lena and their three children—Bertha, Moritz, and Amalie—all left Germany before 1940.

Her son Moritz left first, arriving in the US on November 14, 1936.  He listed his occupation as a butcher and listed Maurice Mink, his aunt Julias husband, as the person he knew in the United States.  His final destination was listed as Cleveland, Oklahoma, where Julia Katz Mink (the youngest daughter of Moses and Malchen) and her husband Maurice Mink were then living.  Perhaps not coincidentally, his cousin Julius Katz, son of Aron Katz, was on the same ship, as noted in an earlier post.

Moritz Katz manifest, line 19, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5900; Line: 1; Page Number: 146
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,

Lena and her daughter Amalie were the next to arrive; they sailed together along with Amalie’s husband Max Blum and their daughter and arrived in New York on April 1, 1938.  They all listed Jacob M. Katz in Pawnee, Oklahoma, Lena’s brother, as the person they were going to in the United States. Max listed his occupation as a cattle trader. (Lena, spelled Lina here, is listed on a separate page of the manifest from the Blum family.)

Lina Katz on manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6134; Line: 1; Page Number: 98

Max and Amalie (Katz) Blum and family, lines 3-5, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6134; Line: 1; Page Number: 88
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

The next family members to arrive were the three young children of Lena’s daughter Bertha and her husband Siegmund Sieferheld; they were only twelve and eight years old (the younger two were twins) and sailed on a ship that seemed to have many children; it arrived in New York on February 6, 1940.  The ship manifest listed the German Jewish Children’s Aid Society as the entity responsible for receiving these children.

Children of Bertha Katz Sieferheld, passenger manifest, lines 5-7. Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6443; Line: 1; Page Number: 40
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6443
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

According to the Leo Baeck Institute, “The German-Jewish Children’s Aid Society was formed in New York in 1934 by a coalition consisting of the New York Foundation, the Baron de Hirsch Fund, B’nai B’rith, the Hofmeimer Foundation, the American Jewish Committee and the Women’s Committee of the American Jewish Congress. These organizations contributed the funds for the German-Jewish Children’s Aid to operate. The purpose of the German-Jewish Children’s Aid was to act as the receiving organization for unaccompanied or orphaned children emigrating from Europe to the United States. It acted as financial sponsor for the children (to avoid their “becoming a public charge”) and attempted to secure housing or foster home placement. ”

A more extensive description of the organization can be found here.  It describes the incredible work done by Americans, Jews and non-Jews, to rescue over a thousand children from the Nazis—certainly a small drop in the bucket considering the number of children who were murdered, but without organizations like the German-Jewish Children’s Aid Society, many more, perhaps including the three children of Bertha Katz and Siegmund Sieferheld, would also have been killed.

When I try to imagine the desperation of these parents—sending their young children off on a ship, not knowing whether they’d ever see them again—and the fear of those children, leaving their parents and the only home they’d ever known, I have to stop and catch my breath. I think of my seven year old grandson, just a year younger than Bertha’s twins. It is just too painful, too unimaginable, to visualize him being torn away from his parents and his parents being torn away from him.

The 1940 census shows Lena and almost all of her children and grandchildren living together in Detroit; Moritz, listed as the head of household on the 1940 census, was working as a sausage maker in a butcher shop.  Lena’s daughter Mali and her husband Max Blum were both working in a packing house. And the three young children of Bertha  and Siegmund Sieferheld, Tillie, Werner, and Henry, were also living with Lena, Moritz, and Mali. Their parents Bertha and Siegmund were still in Germany, separated from the rest of their family.

In addition, Lena’s younger sister Julia Katz Mink (listed as a widow here) was also living with them. Julia had apparently separated from her husband Maurice by 1930, when they were living separately in Cleveland, Oklahoma. Her daughter had married by 1940 and was living elsewhere. Julia died in 1971 in Montclair, New Jersey.

Lena Katz and extended family, 1940 census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T627_1881; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 84-1383

So as of 1940, all but Lena’s daughter Bertha and her husband Siegmund had escaped from Germany; their three young children, however, were safely with their grandmother Lena and aunt Amalie and uncle Moritz.

And then finally Bertha and Siegmund arrived on April 15, 1940.  They were sailing with two older women also named Sieferheld—perhaps Siegmund’s mother and aunt. They listed Detroit as their destination and M. Katz, Bertha’s brother Moritz, as the person they were going to. Siegmund listed no occupation.

 

Siegmund and Bertha (Katz) Sieferheld manifest, lines 18-21, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6458; Line: 1; Page Number: 130
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6458
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

How very fortunate Lena and her family were—all of them reunited safely in Detroit by April, 1940. Sadly, Lena died from cancer on December 25, 1941, just twenty months after having her whole family reunited in Detroit.  She was 69 years old.

Thus, almost all of the children of Moses Katz survived the Holocaust—all but the children of Rickchen, who were murdered. Even those who were fortunate enough to survive, however, must have borne some scars from what they had experienced. Words like “fortunate” and “survived” are just not the right words to use in writing about something as horrific as the Holocaust.  I find myself just unable to find any right words. I don’t think there are any.

And to think that there are still people out there, chanting for hate and waving Nazi flags.

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This brings me to the end of the story of the children of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz. From Abraham Katz and Samuel Katz, who came as young men in the 1860s and settled first in Kentucky before moving to Oklahoma and Nebraska, to Jake and Ike Katz who came thirty years later as young men and started a department store business that grew to be a small empire in Oklahoma, to the many family members  who were killed in the Holocaust and those who were able to escape the Nazis in the 1930s, the Katzenstein/Katz family demonstrated over and over that they were willing to take risks, to help each other, and to work hard for success.  I am so fortunate to have been able to connect with so many of their descendants, who continue to exhibit that strong sense of family and that drive to succeed. To me that seems quite remarkable, but given the spirit of adventure and commitment to family exhibited by all the children of Rahel Katzenstein and Jacob Katz, perhaps it really is not.