Moritz Werner And Family, Part III: After The War

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

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

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

Klara Reiss 1939 visa for travel to England

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

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

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

Judith provided these additional insights:

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

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

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Klara Werner Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max and Klara Werner c. 1953 Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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

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

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

LS Brinkmann factory grounds Courtesy of the family

Joyce added this memory:

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

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

Moritz Werner 1965 Courtesy of the family

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

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Max Werner with nurse Courtesy of the family

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

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

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

Max and his dog Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1934

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

Joyce shared additional details about that incident:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a photo of their grandmother, Jenny:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

Finding Max Blumenfeld and His Family: A Postscript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Max Blumenfeld, Part III: Finding His Grandsons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bar-Sadeh, Gideon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld and Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

Max Blumenfeld Courtesy of the family

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Blumenfeld, Ein Harod Photo courtesy of Omri Bar Sadeh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Joseph Bermann family, 1950 US census, United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, New York, New York; Roll: 5665; Sheet Number: 72; Enumeration District: 31-675, Ancestry.com. 1950 United States Federal Census 
  2. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690239/joseph-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Joseph Bermann (unknown–1 May 1966), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690239, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  3. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/173690238/edith-bermann : accessed 18 May 2022), memorial page for Edith Bermann (unknown–12 Aug 1968), Find a Grave Memorial ID 173690238, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by BKGeni (contributor 46895980) . 
  4.  Margherita M. Bermann, Social Security Number: 085-30-0023, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1935, Issue Year: 1954-1956, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 12550, Newburgh, Orange, New York, Death Date: 21 Aug 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  5.  There were also entries for Max and for their two children Fritz and Edith. Max’s entry confirmed that he died on March 7, 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Merano. Edith’s entry reported that she had “married Josef Bermann on January 30, 1935. After a stay in London in the spring of 1935, she lived in Merano from April 8, 1935. On August 22, 1938, Edith Bermann was included in the census of “Jews” living in Italy by the fascist authorities. On February 13, 1939, her file received the note: “di razza ebraica”. Edith Bermann, who stayed in Milan again and again, fled to Milan.” Fritz’s entry in the Merano Jewish database reported that he “had lived in Merano since October 3, 1936, where his sister was married to the doctor Josef Bermann. On August 22, 1938, Fritz Blumenfeld was recorded by the fascist authorities as permanently residing in Merano in the census of “Jews” living in Italy. According to the registration office of the municipality of Merano, Fritz Blumenfeld fled to Palestine on May 15, 1939.” 

The Search for Max Blumenfeld, Part II: Finding His Daughter Edith

There were several questions that remained unanswered even after Richard and I learned that Max Blumenfeld had died in Merano, Italy, on May 8, 1936. What happened to his wife Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld after he died? Did Max and Anna have any children other than their son Fritz? And are there living descendants of Max and Anna? With continued research, Richard and I, along with additional help from David Lesser from Tracing the Tribe, were able to find some answers to these questions.

First, Richard saw on MyHeritage that Max and Anna did have another child, a daughter Edith. According to that page, Edith was born on February 16, 1907, in Graudenz, Germany. There was even a birth announcement attached to her profile on this MyHeritage page. 

That tree on MyHeritage also had an announcement for Max and Anna’s engagement in 1905.1

Now that we knew there was a daughter born to Max and Anna, I started to look for information about Edith. Although I could not locate a birth record, based on the dates given on MyHeritage and the birth announcement, I was able to narrow down the search. I also knew from the MyHeritage profile that Edith was reportedly married to a doctor named Joseph Berman and had two children.

With that information to get my research started, I soon located numerous documents that appeared to be related to Edith Blumenfeld, daughter of Max and Anna. Putting together what I’d found in chronological order, Edith at 22 sailed from Hamburg to Antwerp on August 9, 1929. I assume that this was a pleasure trip, not an immigration move.

Edith Blumenfeld, 1929 passenger manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 370; Page: 1843; Microfilm No.: K_1977, Month: Band 370 (Aug 1929 – Sep 1929), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

According to the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 index on Ancestry, Edith married Giuseppe Bermann in the first quarter of 1935 in England. Richard, however, found a wedding announcement in the February 13, 1935 issue of the Alpenzeitung that indicates that they married on February 3, 1935, in Berlin. We are not sure whether there were two weddings or whether there is some other explanation for the inconsistency.2

Edith next turned up as Edith Bermann on a ship manifest sailing with her two children from Naples, Italy, to New York, arriving on February 20, 1946. She reported her last residence had been Naples, Italy. How did I know this was the right Edith? Because she named her brother Fritz Blumenfeld living in “En Charod, Palestine” as the person she left behind and her husband Joseph Bermann as the person she was going to in New York, where he was residing at 752 West End Avenue. In addition, she was 39 years old in 1946, meaning she was born in about 1907, and her birth place was given as “Grundzias” in Poland. Since Graudenz was located in a region that was given to Poland after the war, these additional facts convinced me that this was Edith Blumenfeld.

Edith Berman and children, 1946 ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 34, Ship or Roll Number: Gripsholm, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The manifest form asked for the name and address of the “nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came, or if none there, then in country of which alien is a citizen or subject.” The fact that Edith gave the name of her brother Fritz who was living in Palestine at that time raised a few questions for me. If Edith was last living in Milan, Italy, why would she name a relative living in Palestine?

Second page of manifest seen above.

To me that suggested that her mother Anna was no longer living in Italy or Edith would have named her, given that Edith’s last residence was Italy. Whether or not Anna was deceased or living elsewhere is not known. Secondly, Edith listed her nationality as Italian on the manifest, not as a “citizen or subject of Palestine,” yet she listed Fritz in Palestine, who was neither in the place she last lived or in the place where she was a citizen. Did the authorities simply allow her to list Fritz because he was the only relative or friend she could name even though he was not in Italy? I don’t know.

Since Joseph apparently had arrived in New York before his wife Edith and their two children, I looked and located a ship manifest for his immigration to the US. I found him on a manifest for a ship sailing from Genoa, Italy, to New York, arriving on November 17, 1939, five and a half years before Edith and the children arrived and a month and a half after World War II started. He sailed as Giuseppe Bermann and gave his birthplace and last residence as Merano, Italy, and his occupation as “medical.” Interestingly, his passport had been issued in September, 1939, from Jerusalem. Although I searched both the Israel State Archives and the IGRA website, I could not find any record establishing that Joseph or Edith ever was in Palestine before 1946.

Giuseppe Bermann, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 63, Ship or Roll Number: Saturnia, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Joseph settled in New York City, and in 1940 he filed a Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen, listing his family back in Italy and noting that they were now living in Milan. From this document I also learned that Joseph and Edith were married in London, England, on January 31, 1935, as also confirmed by the entry in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 on Ancestry.3 I wonder when they arrived and for how long they lived in England.

Joseph Bermann, Declaration of Intention, he National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 579) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 453801-454600), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

In 1942, Joseph registered for the World War II draft. He was living at 121 West 77th Street and practicing medicine. He listed his mother Caroline Ullmann Bermann as his contact person.

Joseph Bermann, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

And then finally in February, 1946, he was reunited with his family. Joseph had left Edith and two very young children in Italy in November, 1939, probably assuming they would be able to follow him in the reasonably foreseeable future. Instead, the war intervened, and they were separated for five and a half years. Joseph missed all those years when his children were young, and Edith had to raise them alone for all that time. It must have been a joyous reunion when Edith and the children finally arrived in February, 1946.

Of course, there were more questions. How did Edith and the children stay safe during the war? Italy was after all an ally of Germany in World War II. The US Holocaust Museum has this information on its website about the fate of Jews in Italy during World War II.

Despite its alliance with Germany, the Fascist regime responded equivocally to German demands first to concentrate and then to deport Jews residing in Italian occupation zones in Yugoslavia, Greece, and France to killing centers in the German-occupied Poland. Italian military authorities generally refused to participate in mass murder of Jews or to permit deportations from Italy or Italian-occupied territory; and the Fascist leadership was both unable and unwilling to force the issue.

Italian-occupied areas were therefore relatively safe for Jews. Between 1941 and 1943, thousands of Jews escaped from German-occupied territory to the Italian-occupied zones of France, Greece, and Yugoslavia. The Italian authorities even evacuated some 4,000 Jewish refugees to the Italian mainland. Incarcerated in southern Italy, these Jewish refugees survived the war.

But that situation changed for the worse after there was a vote of no-confidence in Mussolini after many military defeats in North Africa, and the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel III, removed Mussolini as prime minister and named Pietro Badoglio to replace him. Badoglio negotiated a secret surrender to the Allies on September 8, 1943. At that point Germany took action.

The Germans, who had grown suspicious of Italian intentions, quickly occupied northern and central Italy. ….The German occupation of Italy radically altered the situation for the remaining 43,000 Italian Jews living in the northern half of the country. The Germans quickly established an SS and police apparatus, in part to deport the Italian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In October and November 1943, German authorities rounded up Jews in Rome, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Trieste, and other major cities in northern Italy. ….In general, these operations had limited success, due in part to advance warning given to the Jews by Italian authorities and the Vatican, and in part to the unwillingness of many non-Jewish Italians…to participate in or facilitate the roundups.

Germany ended up deporting almost 9000 Jews to the concentration camps, and over a thousand survived. All in all, 40,000 Jews in Italy survived the Holocaust. Was Anna Grunwald Blumenfeld one of them? I still didn’t know.

But her two children survived, Fritz in Palestine, which soon became Israel, and Edith in the US. More on them and their children in my next post. And the answers to my questions about Anna.

Stay tuned.

 


  1. That announcement confused me since it says Anna’s parents were J. Grunwald and Rosa Israel, and I had from her birth record that their names were Isidor Grunwald and Nanny Braun. But Richard found a passage in Inge Lassel’s book about the Jewish orphanage in Pankow, Berlin, that explained the discrepancy; it revealed that Isidor’s first wife Nanny had died in 1903 and that he had then married Rosa Israel. Inge Lammel, Das Jüdische Waisenhaus in Pankow (2001), p. 24. 
  2.  General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 861, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. 
  3. Giuseppe Bermann, Registration Date: Jan 1935, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Edith N Blumenfeld, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 861, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 861, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 

Salomon Blumenfeld: An Entire Blumenfeld Family Who Survived the Holocaust

Moses IIB’s third child Salomon Blumenfeld and his wife Malchen Levi and their three daughters all left Germany in time and avoided being killed by the Nazis and thus were much more fortunate than Salomon’s siblings, Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine, and their families.

In fact, Salomon’s middle daughter Hilde left Germany even before Hitler came to power. In May 1929, when she was only seventeen, Hilde sailed from Hamburg to New York, listing an uncle, her mother’s brother Salli Levi, as the person she was going to and her occupation as a clerk.

Hilde Blumenfeld 1929 ship manifest, Year: 1929; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 2; Page Number: 42, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

When she filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on June 2, 1931, she was living in New York City and listed her occupation as a German-English stenographer.

HIlde Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But Hilde apparently never became a US citizen and did not remain in the US. Sometime before March 1934, she married Ludwig Felix Meinrath, and together they immigrated to Brazil. Ludwig was born in Cologne, Germany, in 1902, and immigrated with his parents Leopold and Anni and siblings to Antwerp, Belgium sometime before 1916.1 I don’t know whether they stayed in Belgium or where and when Ludwig and Hilde were married. But in 1934 they left for Brazil where they remained. They had at least one child, who was born in the 1930s.

Ludwig and Hilde Meinrath 1934 ship to Rio de Janeiro, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 424; Page: 385; Microfilm No.: K_2003, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Hilde’s parents Salomon and Amalie/Malchen followed her to Brazil several years later. They arrived on March 29, 1939. Salomon listed his occupation as “comerciante” or merchant.

Salomon Blumenfeld, Digital GS Number: 004909061, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Amalie Blumenfeld, Digital GS Number: 004913595, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Meanwhile, Hilde’s older sister Gretel had married David Katz on January 24, 1930, in Kirchhain; David was the son of Mendel Katz and Jettchen Levi and was born in Nenterhausen, Germany, on February 11, 1897.

Marriage record of Gretel Blumenfeld and David Katz, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5058, Year Range: 1930, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

This remarkable photograph, which had a long caption labeling all those in it, was found on several Ancestry trees as well as on Geni. It was taken at Gretel and David’s wedding and shows many members of the two families. Of particular interest to my research, the middle row shows Salomon Blumenfeld on the far left next to David’s mother Jettchen, then the bride Gretel and groom David, then Gretel’s mother Amalie and at far right David’s father Mendel. In the bottom row, Salomon and Amalie’s daughter Jenny is seated second from the left, and Lilli Abraham, Salomon’s niece, is seated fourth from the left.2

Wedding of Gretel Blumenfeld and David Katz Source: Unknown

Gretel and David had one child born in 1931. They all immigrated to the US on August 18, 1939. David listed his occupation as teacher.

Katz family, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 19, Ship or Roll Number: Hamburg, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

In 1940 they were living in New York City with several lodgers, and David was working as a schoolteacher.3

In August 1946, Gretel’s parents Salomon and Amalie sailed from Brazil to New York, Salomon arriving on August 14 and Amalie on August 29. Salomon’s entry on his manifest indicates that he was going to his daughter Gretel in New York and that he intended to stay permanently. It also indicated that he needed cataract surgery and had other medical issues.4 Amalie’s manifest similarly reported that she was going to Gretel, intended to stay permanently, and had a medical issue.5

Many trees report that the other daughter of Salomon and Amalie, Jenny, married Siegmund Rudolf Warburg on July 25, 1933, and that Siegmund was born in Berlin on May 26, 1896, to Otto Warburg and Bertha Cohen. But something doesn’t add up.

I found the birth record for Siegmund.

Siegmund Warburg birth record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Laufendenummer: 95, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Births, 1874-1908

But I also found (after some searching because Ancestry had them indexed to the wrong image) a Siegmund Warburg with a different wife, Ilse, and two children, Gabriel and Thomas, sailing from Hamburg to New York on August 31, 1933. Was this a different Siegmund Warburg, also born in 1896 (37 years old) and having last lived in Berlin? Entirely possible.

Warburg family, ship manifest, Month: Band 417 (Aug 1933), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Yet I cannot find any record attaching Jenny Blumenfeld to a man named Siegmund Warburg. The only references I could find (other than the unsourced trees) was a Shoah Foundation interview with Jenny’s sister Hilde that lists a “Geny Varbuk” as her sister.6 I requested access to the interview, hoping this would answer my questions, but alas, it was in Portuguese, and I can’t understand it. I am hoping I can get a transcript and translate it, but I don’t know if that exists. Also, Richard Bloomfield found Jenny’s gravestone on Billiongraves, and it has her name (in Hebrew) as Jenny Warburg.

Jenny Warburg, Yekhi’am cemetery, Akko, Israel, found at Billiongraves.com at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%92%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%92/22732522

But when I searched on Billiongraves at that same cemetery, I could not find anyone named Siegmund Warburg. That, of course, doesn’t mean anything since Billiongraves doesn’t include everyone, but it also doesn’t help connect Jenny to Siegmund.

Perhaps Jenny was Siegmund’s second wife, but then she didn’t marry him in July 1933. Or maybe she married someone else named Siegmund Warburg and not the one married to Ilse. I don’t know, and I am still searching for answers. Maybe someone who knows Portuguese will listen to the Shoah Foundation testimony and hear Jenny’s sister talk about Jenny’s marriage and fill me in.

In any event, Salomon Blumenfeld’s entire family escaped Germany in time and were not killed by the Nazis, unlike Salomon’s siblings Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine.

The story of the remaining child of Moses Blumenfeld IIB, Max, was harder to uncover and will be discussed in my next series of posts.


  1. Louis Felix Meinrath, Birth Date: 1902, Birth Place: Keulen, Immigration Date: 1901-1915, Immigration Place: Antwerpen, Belgium, File Number: 119901, Page: 438
    FHL Film Number: 2234442, Ancestry.com. Belgium, Antwerp Police Immigration Index, 1840-1930 
  2. The photograph may have first appeared on Geni on the profile of David Katz. I have written to the manager of that profile to ask for the photo’s source, but have not heard back. 
  3. Katz family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02675; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 31-2085, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  4. “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G94V-SWMS?cc=1923888&wc=MFK4-H6D%3A1030138201 : 2 October 2015), 7158 – vol 15390-15391, Aug 14, 1946 > image 1317 of 1489; citing NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). 
  5. Malchen Blumenfeld, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 12; Page Number: 63, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Interview with Hilde Meinrath, USC Shoah Foundation; Los Angeles, California; Visual History Archive: The Holocaust, Free Access: USC Shoah Foundation, Holocaust – Jewish Survivor Interviews 

Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham’s Family: Her Sons Escaped; She, Her Husband, Daughter, Son-in-Law, and Grandson Did Not

I have returned from my break, and unfortunately, I have another sad post to publish about my third cousin, twice removed, Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham. Clementine was the youngest child of Moses Blumenfeld IIB, and like her siblings Hermann and Bertha, she and much of her family were killed in the Holocaust.

Clementine’s daughter Lilli married Leon Gerstenhaber sometime before June 23, 1937, when their son David was born in Metz, France.1 Leon was also born in Metz, France; he was born to Simon Gerstenhaber and Dinah Beiser on November 31, 1901.2

Martin Abraham, Clementine’s older son, traveled from Germany to France in 1932, perhaps to visit his sister Lilli, and then in the spring of 1936, he immigrated to Palestine. The documents below including his German passport are from his Palestinian immigration file found at the Israel State Archives. Martin married Corinne Bloch, who was born in Trimbach, France, on May 13, 1912. She immigrated to Palestine in 1938, and they had one child together born in the 1940s.

 

Martin’s brother Walter also immigrated to Palestine, arriving just a couple of months after Martin on July 24, 1936, as seen in these documents from the Israel State Archives.

Unfortunately, Clementine, her husband Richard Abraham, their daughter Lilli, and her husband Leon and their son David did not follow Martin and Walter to Palestine. They were all killed at Auschwitz. Richard was deported from the Drancy concentration camp to Auschwitz on Transport 40 on November 4, 1942. Clementine was also deported from the Drancy Camp to Auschwitz on Transport 62 on November 20, 1943. Lilli and her family were also sent from the Drancy concentration camp in France to Auschwitz on January 20, 1944 on Transport 66.

Clementine Blumenfeld Abraham, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=612790&ind=2

Richard Abraham Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=612794&ind=2

Lilli Abraham Gerstenhaber Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1949660&ind=2

Leon Gerstenhaber Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=13857240&ind=1

David Gerstenhaber, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1390876&ind=2

Thus, three of Moses IIB’s five surviving children—Hermann, Bertha, and Clementine—and most of their children and grandchildren were killed by the Nazis. I am totally drained by telling their stories and reading these Pages of Testimony. I am also so grateful that Israel exists to provide a sanctuary for those who escaped.

The remaining two children of Moses IIB and Sara Blumenfeld, Salomon and Max, were more fortunate than their other siblings.

 

 

 

 


  1. See Page of Testimony for David Gerstenhaber filed by Hilde Schattner at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1390876&ind=2 
  2. See Page of Testimony for Leon Gerstenhaber filed by nephew Michael Gerstenhaber at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=13857240&ind=1 

Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich: Another Family Destroyed in the Holocaust

Another tragic story. There are times I can barely bring myself to write about what happened to so many of my relatives. Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich was my third cousin, twice removed.

Bertha, the second child of Moses IIB and Sara Blumenfeld, was born in 1876 and married Ludwig Fernich in 1900, as we saw. They had two daughters, Jenny, born in 1904, and Else, born in 1905. Jenny had married Julius Asser in 1926, and they had two children, Kurt and Lissy, born in 1926 and 1927, respectively.

It appears that Bertha’s husband Ludwig died sometime before January 18, 1939 since he is not included in the marginal note on their marriage record made on that date, which reported that Bertha had had Sara added to her name to identify her asJewish as required by Nazi law. My assumption is that Ludwig must have died or the note would have indicated that Israel had been added to his name. But I’ve been unable to locate an actual death record for Ludwig.

Marriage record of Bertha Blumenfeld and Ludwig Fernich, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5028
Description
Year Range: 1900
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Bertha, her daughter Jenny, son-in-law Julius Asser, and grandchildren Kurt and Lissy Asser were all deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and were killed during Holocaust. Kurt and Lissy were young teenagers. Although I cannot fathom how a human being kills another human being for no reason, I find it especially hard to imagine how anyone kills innocent children who haven’t even had a chance to live life.

Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=3579289&ind=1

Jenny Fernich Asser, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1882529&ind=2

Julius Asser, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1853283&ind=1

Kurt Asser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1853448&ind=1

Lissy Asser Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1797444&ind=1

But Bertha’s younger daughter Else and her husband Josef Hauswirth did escape in time. Else had married Josef on August 19, 1932, in Dortmund, Germany, where Josef was born on January 8, 1904. They immigrated to the US on June 24, 1937, and settled in New York City,1 where in 1940 they were living at 153 West 80th Street and both were working as operators in the fur trade; Else was now using the name Ellen.2 On his World War II draft registration, Josef indicated that he was self-employed, so apparently this was their own fur business. And I was lucky to find Josef and Ellen on the 1950 census, my first real research use of the 1950 census! They were still living in New York City, and Josef was the owner of a fur business.

Josef Hauswirth, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

By 1958 Ellen and Josef Hauswirth were registered to vote in Los Angeles, California.3 They both died in California, Joseph on April 16, 1987,4 Ellen on March 12, 1998.5 As far as I can tell, Josef and Ellen did not have children as none was living with them in either 1940 or 1950 or when they immigrated. Did they choose not to have children because of the Holocaust? We will never know.

Thus, Bertha Blumenfeld Fernwich has no living descendants today. Most of her family was murdered by the Nazis, and her only surviving child Else/Ellen had no children.


I will be taking a much needed break from blogging next week. I will be back on May 17.


  1. Else Fernich Hauswirth Petition for Naturalization, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1440, Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1440) Petition No· 430413 – Petition No· 430800,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Naturalization Records, 1882-1944 
  2. Ellen and Josef Hauswirth, 1940 US Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02636; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 31-559, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  3. Josef Hauswirth, Residence Date: 1958, Street Address: 6052 Willouchby Ave, Residence Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Party Affiliation: Democrat, California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Register of Voters, 1900-1968, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 
  4. Josef Hauswirth, Social Security #: 123039073, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1904, Birth Place: Other Country, Death Date: 16 Apr 1987, Death Place: Los Angeles
    Mother’s Maiden Name: Kempler, Place: Los Angeles; Date: 16 Apr 1987; Social Security: 123039073, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  5.  Ellen F. Hauswirth, Social Security Number: 119-09-1530, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1905
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 90048, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 12 Mar 1998, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Does Hermann Blumenfeld Have Any Living Descendants?

Before I move on to Bertha Blumenfeld and her family, I have an update to my last post. One of my loyal readers, my dear friend Laurel, wanted to know whether either of the two children of Hermann and Helma (Lillienstein) Blumenfeld, Hilde Nomi and Hanan/Hans, had children. Were there living descendants of Hermann and Helma and their two children? My first response was I don’t know, and I’ve no idea how to find out.

But I mentioned this question to David Lesser, the Tracing the Tribe member who so generously helped me find the information about Hanan’s second marriage, and he once again offered to help. He contacted someone in Israel who provided him with some information.

Hanan did not have children, according to the research done by David’s contact. Hilde Nomi, however, did have a child with her husband Isaac Schattner. I was delighted to hear that and hope to be able to contact him.

David then went a few steps further and researched Hilde’s husband, Isaac Schattner, who was a well-known and well-regarded professor of geography at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. According to Wikipedia (as translated by Google Translate):

Yitzhak Shatner studied geography and history at the University of Vienna , received his doctorate in 1925 and worked there at the Geographical Institute. At the same time he devoted himself to Zionist activity and prepared for immigration to Eretz Israel….

In 1936 , Yitzhak Shatner immigrated to Eretz Israel. His first professional steps in the Land of Israel included part-time mapping work in the Department of Geology at the Hebrew University, as well as advising the Jewish Agency on land-settlement relations.….In 1947 he was responsible for the collection of maps and aerial photographs of the Haganah in Jerusalem, and after the establishment of the state he served in the decipherment unit of the IDF.

In 1949, Shatner joined the faculty of the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University, founded by his colleague David Amiran . The establishment of the department is considered a turning point in the development of geography as an academic discipline in Israel and the beginning of rapid change in study and research…..

During the late fifties and early sixties , Shatner taught physical geography at the Hebrew University, during which time he authored the first Hebrew textbook in geomorphology. Some see the education of generations of Israeli geomorphologists as the main scientific legacy of Yitzhak Shatner, who continued to guide students and colleagues even after his retirement in 1968 and encouraged them to follow the paths of revolutions that changed the face of geomorphology.

Isaac Schattner found athttps://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%99%D7%A6%D7%97%D7%A7_%D7%A9%D7%98%D7%A0%D7%A8

David also found several newspaper notices about Hilde and Isaac’s deaths and about the bar mitzvah of their son as well as information about some of Isaac’s family members.

Thus, I now can answer Laurel’s question, thank to the generous assistance of David Lesser. There is at least one living descendant of Hermann and Helma Blumenfeld. Thank you so much, David!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Honor of Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut: Hermann Blumenfeld and His Family

After Moses IIB and Sara (Stern) Blumenfeld died, Moses in 1911, Sara in 1928, they had five surviving children and eleven grandchildren.

Hermann and his wife Helma had two children: Hilde Nomi and Hans. Bertha and her husband Ludwig Fernich had two children: Jenny and Else. Salomon and his wife Malchen or known more often as Amalie had three: Gretel, Jenny, and Hilde. Clementine and her husband Richard Abraham had three: Lilli, Martin, and Walter.  Max and his wife Johanna Gruenwald had one child, a son Fritz.

Of those twenty-one family members, only about half are known to have survived the Holocaust. In addition, some of the great-grandchildren of Moses IIB and Sara were also killed in the Holocaust. This post will tell the story of Hermann Blumenfeld, the oldest child of Moses IIB and Sara. It is an appropriate post for today, just a day after Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and just six days before Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, because although Hermann and his wife Helma were murdered in the Holocaust, their two children survived by escaping to what was then Palestine, but what became the independent state of Israel in 1948.

Hermann Blumenfeld and his wife Helma were deported from Frankfurt to the Littmanstadt Ghetto in Lodz, Poland, on October 19, 1941, and were killed sometime thereafter.

Hermann Blumenfeld, Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem by his daughter Hilde, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1899981&ind=1

Helma Lillienstein Blumenfeld Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem by her daughter Hilde, found at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1899975&ind=1

Fortunately, their two children both left Germany earlier and eventually immigrated to what was then Palestine.

Hilde Nomi left Germany for Oslo, Norway, on August 19, 1933, and then entered Palestine on April 22, 1936. She applied for citizenship there on May 23, 1938, when she was living near Haifa and working as a teacher. She became a Palestinian citizen on June 21, 1938. You can see her full immigration file at Blumenfeld Hilda _ מחלקת ההגירה – ממשלת ארץ ישראל – בקשות לאזרחות _ ארכיון המדינה

Hilde Blumenfeld, Palestine Immigration file found at the Israel State Archives at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

She remained in Palestine, later Israel, and married Isaac Schattner in Jerusalem on February 17, 1942.

Marriage record of Hilde Blumenfeld and Isaac Schattner, found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

Hilde Nomi died on January 2, 2012.

Her brother Hans arrived in Palestine on July 1, 1935, when he was seventeen. He applied for Palestinian citizenship on September 13, 1938, and was granted citizenship on October 16, 1938. He was working as a laborer at that time and living in Jerusalem. His full immigration file can be seen here: Blumenfeld Hans _ מחלקת ההגירה – ממשלת ארץ ישראל – בקשות לאזרחות _ ארכיון המדינה

Hans Blumenfeld Palestine immigration file found at the Israel State Archives at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Hans remained in Palestine, later Israel, and married Ruth Herman in Jerusalem on August 8, 1941. His marriage record confirmed my earlier assumption that he was in fact the son of Hermann and Helma Blumenfeld.

Marriage record of Hans Blumenfeld and Ruth Herman, found at the Israel Genealogy Research Association at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

In 1947, Hans changed his first name to Hanan.

IGRA website found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

At some later point Hanan changed his surname to Bar Sadeh. He and his first wife Ruth were divorced, and in November 1954, he married Esther Asch, daughter of Hillel and Fredericka Asch. I am indebted to David Lesser of Tracing the Tribe who translated the headstone and then went even further and found the wedding announcement for Hanan and Esther on p. 3 of the November 22, 1954, issue of Hatzofe (the Observer), an the Israeli newspaper.  David translated the announcement as follows: “Hanan Bar-Sadeh (Blumenfeld) son of Herman, Divorcee, Germany Tel-Aviv to Esther Ash Daughter of Hillel, Single, Germany Tel-Aviv.”

According to their gravestone, Esther was born May 29, 1925, and died on June 25, 2006. Hans died on September 1, 2004.

Hanan Bar-Sadeh gravestone found at GRAVEZ at https://gravez.me/en/deceased/9A0712A0-3749-4251-A557-E8EDAA465AF2

Thus, because they were able to escape to what was then Palestine and is today Israel, the children of Hermann Blumenfeld and Helma Lillienstein survived the Holocaust. Unfortunately, Hermann and Helma did not.

Nor did Bertha Blumenfeld Fernich and most of her family, as we will see next.