The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part V: Leaving Germany

This is the final chapter in the memoir of my cousin Julius Loewenthal. We saw in the prior chapter how his life began to fall apart after the Nazis took control of Germany and their persecution of the Jews began in 1933. Then the family suffered a great personal tragedy in October 1937 when Julius and Elsa’s daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed in a terrible car accident after traveling to Switzerland to find a sanitorium for Herbert Loewenthal, who was struggling with mental illness and was soon after confined to a sanitorium in Zurich.

In this last section of his memoir, Julius writes about the decision to leave Germany and their ultimate departure in December 1938.


Eventually the life of the German Jew became impossible. No longer could we travel. Our passports were taken away. Thus, we finally decided to sell the business. It was a very difficult decision. Our life blood and that of our ancestors was sentimentally involved in this enterprise, its buildings, its history.

If my departure from my desk after 45 years was difficult and slow, my departure from my homeland, however, was made brutally swift and final by the following events. During the night from the 9th to the 10th of November [1938], approximately 30 Nazi Storm Troopers broke into our home in Eschwege. They destroyed everything they could get their hands on. Furniture was broken. Upholstery was cut to shreds, china was broken, even paintings of internationally known artists were cut up. Even the marble window sills were broken in two.  My wife and our servant…had taken refuge in the upstairs bedroom as I was out of town on this night. They [the Nazis] broke into the bedroom, and my wife and [servant] took refuge on the outside balcony where they remained all night because had they been discovered, they would have been killed. It was a very cold and lonely frightful night.

I was reached by phone and came back to Eschwege to find my home in shambles and my wife frightened to the marrow of her bones. On the evening of my return, the Gestapo arrived at my home and told me that on order from higher authority, my life and that of my wife was not in danger. At that time I did not understand in full the meaning of this communication because it was not until later that I found out that nearly all the members of the Jewish congregation were arrested on that day, brutally mistreated, and shipped to the Concentration Camp at Buchenwald. Many, very many, never came back. I, however, had a guardian angel, as I was to find out later.

At night we drove to the Schlosshotel in Kassel where we were accepted and could stay, as in those days no Hotel accepted Jews anymore. We remained there two nights and obtained the necessary papers to emigrate from Germany….

It was the unbelievable energy and presence of mind of my dear wife that brought us through these hours, as it was she who arranged for the damaged silver and furniture to be repaired, arranged the travel papers, and supervised the packing of that which was possible to be taken with us. Thus, we were later able to sell a lot of these items in the USA in order to obtain some money and survive. …

During the second night of our stay in the Hotel in Kassel, the Hotel was checked by the Gestapo. We were not bothered this time, but preferred to move to Frankfurt where no Hotel accepted us. We took refuge in the empty Apartment of my niece Lotte Posen, my brother Siegfried’s daughter. Her husband had been arrested, and she had moved to her parents.

We had arrived on Friday afternoon, and our cousin Sitta Mainz sent us some fish and bread to eat; it was very nice of her. On Saturday morning my niece Lotte came to me and told me I could no longer stay in her Apartment as I resembled her father too much. My wife was at the English Consulate. What could I do? In spite of it being Shabbos, I took a taxi and drove to the English Consul in order to meet my wife. She became very upset when she saw me with my luggage, but she managed to take us to my cousin Selma Frankel, who took us with much love and cooperation and helped us in a very difficult situation. …

We returned once more to Eschwege for the final packing for just a few days and then back to Frankfurt where we stayed at the house of my aunt Hana Stern. [This must refer to Johanna Goldschmidt, wife of Abraham Stern, who was the brother of Julius’ mother Kiele Stern. Johanna was also, however, Kiele Stern’s first cousin, as Kiele’s mother Sarah Goldschmidt was the sister of Johanna’s father Selig Goldschmidt.] The house was occupied by her son-in-law who fled for his life in the middle of the night. [This must refer to Siegfried Oppenheimer, the husband of Alice Stern, as I wrote about here.] It was a terrible feeling as everyone around you took steps to save his naked life. Still living in the house upstairs lived the other son-in-law of my aunt, Albert Mainz [husband of Sitta Stern]. We had a last supper together, and the following morning we travelled to Stuttgart to ask at the American Consul for our visa. When we returned that same night, Albert Mainz and family also had fled. Our fright increased; we were very shaken and terrified. We decided to cross the Border that night. This move was long overdue.

We had just obtained the necessary railroad tickets and travel papers when 3 Gestapo Agents arrived and confiscated all my wife’s jewelry, even though we had received permission on a prior occasion to retain the same and take it with us. Now what? It was my last possession as I knew that none of the money I had left in the Bank would ever be transferred.

At that terrible moment I made a dangerous decision, unheard of in those days and beyond imagination. I called the head of the Internal Revenue for the State of Hessen, the top authority in the State, and requested his intervention. … My guardian angel who had protected me in the past so visibly also protected me now, and the Gestapo Agents were ordered to return the jewelry, which they did with much reluctance. Of course, this individual knew me as the seat of his Bureau was in Kassel and knew very well who I was, as in the past we were the largest taxpayers in the county of Eschwege.

We took the train to Holland. At the Border, the town of Emmrich, the passport control came through. After they had inspected us, the customs inspectors came through. In this sleeping car only people who were emigrating into Holland were travelling. All had to open their luggage and all had to surrender their jewelry and watches. When the inspectors came to me, they read my name and passed on. I did not have to open my bags nor did I have to surrender anything. My wife and myself looked at each other. We could not believe it. Fright was still deep in our bones. In a few minutes we were in Holland and finally able to sleep again. Our guardian angel was indeed a guardian to us.

It was the 8th of December, a dark and rainy day, but a happy day. We were only allowed to take with us 10 Marks in Dutch currency. Thus, I who had left Millions behind was happy to find a room on the third floor of a Pension where we could rest as now we were in a free land, and we were able to eat meat again. We were saved, but unfortunately without our Grandchild Margot. She eventually was brought out by her Grandfather Fulda, who even then still liked it in Germany. At this writing she is still in Amsterdam. I hope and with God’s help I will see her again. …

Thus, our lives’ work, our homes, our fortunes, absolutely everything went to nothing. I cannot express in this writing the feelings in my heart of how they have influenced my views on life itself. However, let me say that this is a Jewish destiny, which has not swayed me one iota in my faith in the Lord of our forefathers.


Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa left Holland for England and then immigrated to New York City in May, 1939, where their daughter Hilda and son-in-law Max Stern lived. When Julius wrote this memoir in 1940, his son Garry Warner was enlisted in the British Army. Garry immigrated to New York City a year after the end of World War II.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal.
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

Julius died of a heart attack in Manhattan on November 26, 1946, at the age of 72. I assume he knew before he died that his beloved granddaughter Margot had been murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor along with her other grandparents. Elsa died in 1961, also in New York City.

According to Garry’s notes after his translation of the memoir, the firm of L.S Brinkmann, the knitwear company owned by Levi Brinkmann and later by Julius and his brother-in-law/second cousin Moritz Werner, was re-established after the war by Moritz and Garry and resumed business in 1949. It was once again a very successful business for many years, closing down in 1974.

Garry also commented on the fate of his brother Herbert, who was a patient in a sanitorium in Zurich during the war. He was released in 1953 and cared for by a Swiss guardian. He worked and was well liked and respected in the community. He was “an extremely intelligent and cultured person, a man of many abilities, the least of which was to become a painter.” Herbert died of a heart attack in Zurich in 1962. Garry and his wife and five year old daughter were in Europe at that time and on their way to visit him when he died.

According to his daughter Joanne, Garry continued to work in the knitwear business until 1969. He then moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. He died March 1, 2005, when he was 87. I am so grateful to him for translating his father’s memoir and to Joanne for sharing it with me.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

These are stories that must be shared. We must never, ever forget what these people endured or their courage and resilience in carrying on after surviving Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part IV: Tragedy Strikes

When we last left Julius Loewenthal, he was still a successful businessman, living in Eschwege, Germany, with his wife Elsa, but he was worried about the dark clouds of anti-Semitism and the economic disasters that were feeding it.

In this next section, Julius writes about the period between 1933, when the Nazis took control of Germany, and the death of his daughter Ruth and son-in-law Leonhard Fulda in October 1937. This section was obviously painful for him to write, and I had to do a bit of reorganizing to tell his story in chronological order. The text is so powerful that it needs no images, which would only detract from it.


When I look back today on my life, I must say that I made every effort, spared no money to give my children the opportunity to learn and obtain an education in some trade. My daughter Ruth went to business college, Herbert went to other plants in Germany and England, Hilde went to the famous Art College in Berlin and Basel, Switzerland, and Karl Werner [Garry] went to the Textile College in Leicester, England as well as having served an apprenticeship in our factory for some years. The small town we lived in forced us to send our children away at an early age as they did not have the opportunity in Eschwege.

To describe the time between 1933 and our final departure from Germany causes my hand to hesitate. The wounds are too deep. Only an expert writer could describe the torture and the poison with which the German Fuhrer persecuted the Jews wherever they were. It started already in 1933 and the events were such and so often and so horrible that I will not recount the same here, and they are and will be well documented in the time to come. Little by little the personal life, the business activity was choked off with rules, laws and regulations that in the end nothing was left, and no Jew could work. The congregations which existed for 1000 years became mere shadows. … No one in the beginning was able to understand or to comprehend. After all we were descendants of people who had lived in the communities throughout Germany for 1000 years.

… When I traveled to Palestine (Israel) in the year of 1933, I received news of the Nazi takeover of Germany. Our business still operated, and the profit was no smaller. However, the political events cast a very dark shadow. At first the peace between employer and employees was being disturbed by a daily dose of stories of the unmoral character of the Jews. One would think that mature men who had been with us for long times, many 40 years, were mature enough to form their own opinions. It was, however, different. Little by little the whole German nation was saturated with the antisemitic poison, a steady unrelenting barrage. Thus, we were eventually forced to sell our business as we no longer were masters in our own house.

….[In 1933] I was forced to sell my home in Bad Sooden. It was a sad hour for me as I had spent many happy hours there. We rented a small house in Frankfurt where we spent many happy hours in seclusion. However, the pressure of the German Internal Revenue was such that we were forced to give up the house in 1937. Frankfurt had become a disappointment for me. The many once well established relatives, the many wealthy and substantial families had become poor, and many lived in worse than pleasant circumstances. Many had left or wanted but did not have the funds to do so as the tax levied on leaving the country meant leaving absolutely everything behind.

…We made the salient mistake of not leaving Germany in 1933. It was a most difficult decision, and no one anticipated the murderous and vicious intentions and its consequences in a Nation of such high culture. In 1934, I fell [and broke both legs] and was confined to a hospital for better than one year and that also contributed in not making a decision. We bought property, land, and a house, in Israel in order to have some possibility of having funds or roots abroad, but as it turned out the Company who sold us the land was operated by Jews abroad who would prey on the adversity of others, and the whole huge amounts of money were fleeced except for the land itself. It was later sold.

… In 1935 my son Herbert left Germany. He recognized the situation better than we did. It was a blow because I had hoped that some day he would take over the reins of the business. He went to New York where he became active in the business world at once. Unfortunately [he was afflicted by] a lingering ever progressing sickness which might have been overlooked because of the troubled and unstable times with its unbelievable personal and survival problems, together with the limited medical knowledge which was available at the time….

[In October 1937, My daughter Ruth, her husband Leonhard Fuld and I] traveled together to Muensingen in Switzerland in order to find a Sanitorium for Herbert. …. We arrived in Zurich, where we stayed over, then on to Muensingen, then Interlaken, and after Shabbos we started back to Germany…. We remained in our room because the place was full of Nazis.

The following morning on October 2nd, 1937, we continued the trip toward Rottweil when a Truck with an empty trailer came toward us, and it was speeding. The trailer swung around like a huge baseball bat and hit us. Ruth, who was driving, and Leonard, who was sitting behind her, had both their heads crashed in. Ruth fell dead in my arms, and Leonard died on October 4, 1937, in the hospital in Rottweil. … The death of my beloved children was a terrible blow to all of us and to the Jewish community of Germany…. …. We were forced to travel to America in January 1938 and escort [Herbert] to Switzerland where he was confined to a Sanitorium….

The world had grown dark for us. We had to bear this burden and much more what was to come toward us. Today when I write this almost 3 years have passed, and I am convinced that the good Lord arranged it so, as much pain and suffering was spared my children as the destiny of the Jew in Germany was to end in tragedy.


It was not long after the tragic deaths of Ruth and Leonhard and the commitment of Herbert to a sanitorium in Switzerland that Julius and Elsa made the heart-wrenching decision to leave Germany. More about that in the next post.

 

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal Part II: The Cholera Epidemic and Moving to Eschwege

Last time I shared the first part of the memoir of my cousin Julius Loewenthal, graciously shared with me by his granddaughter Joanne. We saw that Julius grew up in Frankfurt in the midst of the large and loving extended Goldschmidt family with his uncles and his grandmother and his grandmother’s siblings. They were a successful and wealthy family, but also a family that observed Jewish law and holidays. And Julius was a hard worker—both as a boy in school and then as an apprentice starting when he was fourteen.

The next section of his memoir describes his young adulthood, starting with a description of his experience with the cholera epidemic in 1892, an experience that strikes such a familiar chord in these days of the COVID19 pandemic.


After 2 years of apprenticeship I joined my father in his small wine business. It was small, and at the age of 17 I was forced to go out travel and sell. It was very hard for me; a lot of effort was needed to get business. The main customers of the business was the family, who however used large amounts of wine.

I travelled to Hannover, Berlin, and Hamburg, where in the year of 1892 I went through the Cholera epidemic. The town official withheld the information as to the serious nature of this sickness from the population. Thus, when it became known, panic set in and as hundreds died, everybody fled town, and I was unable to buy a railroad ticket for several days. The train went through several medical check points where we were examined and were only allowed to travel until Hannover.

Cholera epidemic at a hospital in Hamburg, 1892, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cholerabaracke-HH-1892.gif

We arrived in the middle of the night and unable to get a Hotel room I went to an all-night Coffeeshop where because of lack of sleep and food I passed out. Fortunately, the Doctor on duty was my cousin Dr. Rafael Hirsch who took me into his home where I recovered. There is no question that he saved my life because had it not been for him I would have been sent to the Clinic which received all the late Cholera cases which were diagnosed at the check points. Most of the people sent to that Clinic never did come out.

After recovery I continued on to Eschwege to visit my dear uncle Levy Brinkmann and his lovely wife. [Levy Brinkmann was married to Lina Stern, sister of Kiele Stern Loewenthal, Julius’ mother.] …The Police made me stay in a Hotel in quarantine for 3 days and then I continued on to Frankfurt.

During this time I made up my mind not to stay in my father’s business but to join a larger Firm where I could find success and fortune. I joined with the permission of my father the firm of Sahl & Co. in Reudesheim and travelled and sold wine for 2 years. I visited Paris, Baden Baden and did nice business.

I was only 19 years old and not in strong health. I learned foreign languages and was an enthusiastic love of nature. Thus, I made the decision, and upon completion of my trip, to walk through the Black forest and the Odenwald back to Frankfurt. [See map below—this is a 158 miles walk that Google Maps estimates would take 53 hours.] This I did alone. It was wonderful and I found other tourists who walked with me for several days. I slept in small villages in order to save money because I had little money to spare. I sketched the mountains and the castles which I saw and saved some of those drawings to this day. I was indeed talented in drawing and played the piano well. It was my first vacation ever. [Editorial comment: I was amazed by how a young man who left school at fourteen was able to engage in so much self-education.]

When I was 20 years of age my uncle Levy Brinkmann visited with us in Frankfurt and offered me a position in his business LS Brinkmann in Eschwege. I was unsure and after several discussions I agreed and moved to Eschwege. In this beautiful little town surrounded by beauty of nature the Brinkmanns became my second parents because they treated me and surrounded me with love and kindness which gave me the opportunity to open up, and Eschwege became my home, my real home, where I felt protected and comfortable until I was forced to leave forever.

Eschwege, Germany
User: Celsius at wikivoyage shared / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

…The Jewish congregation of Eschwege had a nice Synagogue, a Jewish school, and a Rabbi…. Jewish life in Eschwege was not like I had been accustomed to in Frankfurt. Kosher meat was purchased at the gentile butcher, whose assurances had to be accepted that the meat was kosher….The strict Jewish life as was known in Frankfurt was not known in Eschwege.

….The congregational life in Eschwege however was a very close one. We had meeting hall, and every Saturday night everybody met to play cards, talk, and the youth danced and had fun…We had a large number of young people, mostly well to do, well mannered and educated. During the summers …the young people made excursions into the forests and mountains of the surrounding [area] which was blessed with nature’s beauty… It was a happy and carefree time and only later when everything was over with, the memory remained like a fairy tale.

In the house Brinkmann lived on the second floor the partner and brother-in-law of Levy Brinkmann, Max Werner.

[Ed.: Max Werner was married to Helene Katzenstein, who was in fact a first cousin of Lina Stern, Levy Brinkmann’s wife. Helene and Lina were both granddaughters of Meyer Goldschmidt, the great-grandfather of Julius Loewenthal.]

In addition, as Julius describes, Helene Katzenstein had previously been married to Levy Brinkmann’s brother Moritz, who died six years after they were married in 1872; Helene then married Max Werner. So Helene was both Levy Brinkmann’s sister-in-law and the first cousin of his wife Lina.]

[Julius then described the business of Brinkmann and Werner—a wholesale business manufacturing stockings that were sold in the nearby villages.]

Max Werner was a beautiful human being. He contributed much to the happiness of all our lives. He was a personality, a very good businessman and a deeply religious Jew. Soon my uncle [Levy Brinkmann] expanded the business.  We tried to export and were successful with business transactions with England. It has to be considered that my uncle was born in a tiny village without a proper education and had deep drive and ambitions. In addition, he stuttered when he spoke which often caused much laughter in which he always participated. He knew how to tell stories and everyone was spellbound by it.

….I was 20 years old when I came to Eschwege. I was full of ideals and saturated with the teachings of Rabbi Hirsch. My Jewish education was extensive. Thus, every Saturday afternoon the Werner children had to come to my room and I had to teach them in Jewish history. All the children of the Werner household became religious Jews, even though the opportunity to became thus in Eschwege was not of the best….The third daughter Elsa, who was an extremely happy child, became my wife because I fell in love with her. The oldest son Moritz Werner became my partner….

After I had been in the bookkeeping department for better than a year events took place which brought me to new opportunities. One of our salesman left the firm and his post became available. My Aunt made the suggestion that I take his place and sell for the firm. …

I had opened a new sales territory in southern Germany…To travel was not an easy thing for me. I was young and could do it but to travel and remain strictly kosher was indeed a difficult task. I only lived on Eggs and Bread. … I was forced to fast more often than not….

Through my sales activity I acquired knowledge and feeling for the merchandise I was selling. I was exposed to the world…. This motivated me at the age of nearly 30 years old to study at the Textile School and Institute in Reutlingen, which remains one of the top schools to this day. My uncle became upset when I spoke of this plan. However, I knew that I had to have the technical knowledge if ever I wanted to become a success….and when I returned at the end of the year I was able to take charge with my newly acquired technical knowledge. I was very proud.

The original building of the Reutlingen Textile School and Institute, Vux / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

[Julius described how he convinced his uncle to purchase knitting machines and modernize the business as well as expand its product line from stockings to other knit goods.]

I don’t really know why I bother to write all that down because the Lord managed to take it all away again. However, I take the time to write it down so that our children know how big we once were, brought about through hard work and prayer.


I will end this segment here with Julius not yet thirty years old, but already a leader in his uncle’s business, a self-educated and self-made man whose ambition and intelligence helped him become a business success. In the next post I will post the sections from Julius’ memoir that cover the first three decades of the twentieth century from 1900 to 1930.

 

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part I: Growing Up in Frankfurt

In March, 2020, I wrote about the family of my cousin Julius Loewenthal, the son of Kiele Stern and Abraham Loewenthal, grandson of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, and great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. Julius was married to Elsa Werner, his second cousin, the daughter of Helene Katzenstein, granddaughter of Malchen Goldschmidt, Sarah Goldschmidt’s younger sister.

They had four children: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918.

The basic facts of their story were described in detail here: the car accident that killed Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda and seriously injured Julius; the escape of Julius and Elsa from Germany; the murder of Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot by the Nazis; Hilda’s marriage and divorce from Max Stern, the founder of the Hartz Mountain Corporation; Herbert Loewenthal’s move to Zurich after first immigrating to New York; and Karl’s departure to England to study at the Leicester Textile School and then serve in the British armed forces during World War II, during which time he changed his name to Garry Warner on the advice of his superior officer in case he was captured by the Nazis.

Since writing that post back in March, I have had the pleasure of connecting with and talking to Garry Warner-Loewenthal’s daughter Joanne, my fifth cousin. She has shared with me the memoir her grandfather Julius Loewenthal wrote in 1940 while the war was still going on and before he learned of the fate of his granddaughter Margot.

Joanne has generously given me permission to share some of the memoir, which was translated from German to English by her father Garry. As always, having the words of someone who lived through these experiences is so much more powerful than the words of a third person like me. In the next set of posts I will share some of the most poignant parts of Julius Loewenthal’s memoir. Today’s post will focus on the early years of Julius’ life in the Jewish community of Frankfurt in the late nineteenth century.

I have made a few editing changes and have selected only portions of the memoir, but have preserved as much as possible the tone and content of the original, including the capitalization of nouns that Garry Warner-Loewenthal preserved when he translated his father’s text.


I saw the light of day on August 24th 1874 in Wiesbaden near Frankfurt in our home on the Orianenstrasse…. When I was one year old, my parents moved back to Frankfurt. My father established a Wine Dealership in Frankfurt. …I had to help there a great deal during my youth. I had to fill bottles, cork them, and seal them, then carry the Wine to the customers.

… Later my dear Grandmother Sara [Goldschmidt] Stern with her Sons Adolf [also known as Abraham] and Mayer moved in with us and we shared a common household. That was an enormous strain and work for my dear mother, especially since she had borne 6 children of whom one died….

When I was 5 ½ years of age I was already sent to school. The school was located near the Synagogue near our House; all this was near as in those days nearly all Jews in Frankfurt lived in this neighborhood of Rechneigraben. In that locality was a Fishmarket on Fridays and before the high holidays you could buy your Lulef and your chickens. Thus, there always was lots of activity and commerce.

The Jewish community was led by the famous and highly respected Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch. I remember with joy this small in stature man with his brilliant eyes….

Selig Goldschmidt was the brother of my grandmother Sara Stern. He lived in Frankfurt during that time. He was a successful and very highly respected merchant. His knowledge of the world was great as were his religious convictions. He assisted Rabbi Hirsch in everything he could and what was necessary for the good of the Jewish community…..Rabbi Hirsch was the leader of a community who counted among its members many learned and wealthy individuals. Before the 1st World War there existed enormous wealth among the families of the Frankfurt congregation and the position of the Jews in Germany was then a respected one….Thus, their businesses were successful and they contributed much to Art and Culture of the country.

J & S Goldschmidt store on Kaiserstrasse in Frankfurt, c. 1890, Library of Congress Control Number 2002713666, found at https://lccn.loc.gov/2002713666

I attended the school I was enrolled in for 9 years. It was a very difficult time for me because much was demanded from me and much more than is expected of children today. Even on Sundays we had to go to school. I needed tutoring and for that I visited the house of my teacher Mr. Kauffmann. He was an unpleasant and very strict teacher who managed to rob me of the last sunshine of my youth. We had no free days at all, not even holidays….The results of this was that my health was never good and I became the easy victim of every serious sickness, which was dangerous as in those days little medication existed to combat these illnesses.

….There were always many family affairs. Bar mitzvahs, weddings, etc. never ended and were celebrated with pomp and generosity as befitted the wealth of those families. It was not a rare occasion when 600 or more people were invited to these affairs. It was common for individuals to create their music compositions and write their own theater pieces and present same on these occasions. Costumes were loaned from the Opera and Ballet houses. We children were always encouraged to make speeches during these festivities and after meals. We were encouraged to speak of Torah and general subjects. I write these things because I want to tell my children how happy the German Jews once lived.

The house of Selig Goldschmidt was a central meeting place for the family. Every Friday evening after the Evening meal was always a large reception in his home. During these occasions the family had much fun and for the children there was much activity. On Saturdays the central meeting place for the family was in his brother’s home, Falk Goldschmidt, who was a very humorous and charming individual who always kept everybody laughing and happy.

My Grandmother Sara Stern…lived in my parents’ house….Her brothers and sisters visited often and many many times we sat around our table talking by the light of the candles as gas and electric was not available at the time. I was very good at drawing when I was a child and often presented my drawings of different subjects to my relatives when they came to the house. It needs no mention that the Jewish holidays such as Seder, Succoth and all the others were celebrated with much joy and the strict observance of Jewish religious laws. … Both of our Uncles [Meier and Adolf] were like fathers to us and after my father died at an early age, they became our protectors and supporters until we children were old enough to take over.

Khal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue attended by the Goldschmidt family. https://www.kajinc.org/about/history

…I finished school at the age of 14 and my father sent me to a wholesale jobbing business as an apprentice. It was a very hard apprenticeship. … However, no one got me down. My first task was to bring order into the large inventory of the firm that even my employer praised as was not his custom to praise anyone. I requested a sample case and went out and sold merchandise with good results and much to the amazement of everyone. I made such a good place for myself that later the employer, Mr. Adler, requested that my brother Siegfried also join the firm as an apprentice.


I will end here for now and pick up in the next post with Julius as a young adult, his experience with the cholera epidemic, his marriage, and his life as an adult in Eschwege, Germany, before the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933.

I am so grateful to my cousin Joanne for allowing me to share these excerpts from her grandfather’s memoir. To read about their lives in the late nineteenth century has added such depth and color to my understanding of the lives led by my Goldschmidt family as Jews in Germany during those years.

Martha Loewenthal Wolff’s Family: An Update from Israel

One of the more elusive Goldschmidt family members to research has been Martha Loewenthal Wolff and her family. Martha was the daughter of Kiele Stern and Abraham Loewenthal, the granddaughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, and my third cousin, twice removed. Thanks to my friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have more information and documents and even photographs of Martha and her family.

Martha was married to Jakob Wolff, as discussed here, and they had three children: Anna, Hans Anton, and Walter. I was missing birth records for all three children, and Aaron was able to locate all of them.

Birth record of Anna Wolff

Birth record of Hans Anton Abraham Wolff

Birth record of Walter Wolff

Martha died in 1930, and I could not find a death record for her until Aaron located it, as I wrote about here.

After Martha’s death and the Nazi takeover of Germany, Jakob Wolff and all three of their children immigrated to Israel, as I wrote about here.

But I did not know what happened to Jakob or his children after their immigration. And then Aaron came through for me again and located Hans Anton Wolff’s son Benjamin in Israel and connected me to him and his daughter Ravid. Now I have firsthand information about Martha’s family as well as photographs, thanks to Ravid Wolff, my fifth cousin, once removed.

First, some photographs of the family taken before they left Germany.

Jacob and Martha Wolff and their first car Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff and her mother Martha Loewenthal Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Anna Wolff as a child Courtesy of the Wolff family

Hans Anton and Walter Wolff Courtesy of the Wolff family

Ravid shared with me that her great-grandmother Martha was a very talented artist and sent me this image of a painting that Martha did while traveling with Jakob in what was then Palestine in the 1920s.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

According to Ravid, her great-grandparents Martha and Jakob Wolff owned two banks in Frankfurt, Germany, and were quite wealthy. After Martha died from ovarian cancer in 1930, Jakob married Ilse Gruenebaum. When Hitler came to power, Jakob recognized how dangerous he was and, as a Zionist, decided to leave Germany for Israel (then Palestine) before it was too late. He was able to obtain visas to immigrate for a thousand pounds each, an exorbitant amount of money at that time, but had to leave all his other property and possessions behind. All of it including their home in Frankfurt was confiscated by the Nazis and never returned to the family.

Ravid shared two letters with me that show that the requests for restitution of their property in Frankfurt were denied:

Google Translate helped me translate these letters. The one above translates as:

Upon your request of 17 December 1956, we will inform you: The property Leerbachstrasse 36 was registered until 17 September 1937 on:
Banker Jakob Wolff on the ideal half
Instead of his wife Martha Wolff [names of children] for ideal half in undivided community of heirs. [I am not sure what “ideal half” means.]
In the way of the forced auction, this plot of land on 17 9 1937 is given to Frau Therese Ried geb Stromer, [address]. It is still owned by them.
The owner of the Paulsplatz 14 property was the merchant Carl Seitz in Baden near Vienna in 18 1 1923 and the owner of the Paulsplatz 16 property was the Jakob Wolff & Co., Open Trade Company since 18 March 1922.
The current owner of both properties has been the municipal district of Frankfurt since August 10, 1934 bze, October 15, 1935. A piece of land at Paulsplatz 18 does not exist.

The second letter translated as:

The aforementioned property became the property of the City of Frankfurt on the basis of an additional resolution dated 2 4 1935. The compulsory auction had already started in 1932. The JRSO, which had previously asserted claims for reimbursement for the aforementioned property, accepted its application on Feb. 1, 1951. For your further information, we would like to inform you that the city has always contested a claim for reimbursement.
We hope to have served you with the above statements.

As for Martha and Jakob’s three children, Anna, the oldest, was married to Simon Wittekind when she immigrated, and they had two sons, Aharon and Baruch (as they were known in Israel) who were born in Berlin. Simon was a doctor who wanted to move to South Africa, but Anna felt safer in Israel, so she stayed there with her children.

Anna later married Herbert Feige. According to Ravid, Anna hated Germany and suffered great trauma because of what had happened there and unlike her brother Hans Anton refused to reclaim her German citizenship when that right became available to her. Her sons changed their surname to Yardeni (for the Jordan River) to identify with their new homeland. Ravid did not know exactly when Anna died, only that like her mother Martha, she died young and from cancer.

Ravid’s grandfather was Hans Anton Wolff, the second child of Martha Loewenthal and Jakob Wolff.  He married Susana Meseritz, another refugee from Germany, whom he met in Palestine. They had one child, Ravid’s father Benjamin. Hans had a doctorate in chemistry. He died from colon cancer in 1974, and his wife Susana died in 2002.

Walter, the youngest of the siblings, also married in Palestine/Israel. He owned a hotel in Jerusalem for many years. He and his wife Hedy Buller had two children. Walter died in 1968 in Jerusalem, also from cancer.

I am so indebted to Aaron Knappstein for finding the missing records of the Wolff children and even more so for connecting me to my cousin Ravid. And I am very, very grateful to Ravid for sharing her family’s story with me. Ravid, like her great-grandmother Martha and so many others in the extended Goldschmidt family, has a great interest in and great talents in art. Her photography captures in simple and yet complex ways the beauty of the world around us by using unusual perspectives and contrasting light and colors.

The Families of Kiele Stern Loewenthal and Abraham Stern: An Update

My last post provided new information about the descendants of Kiele Stern Loewenthal’s daughter Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher. Today I will look at updates for the family of Kiele Stern Loewenthal’s daughter Helene Loewenthal Schultze and specifically updates for her only child, Elisabeth Auguste Aloysia Schultze, daughter of Helene’s second husband Oskar Schultze. I had several gaps in the story of Elisabeth.

First, I did not have Elisabeth’s birth record, and Aaron Knappstein located it for me:

Elisabeth was born on December 3, 1914, in Coblenz, Germany. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned from this record was that Helene, her mother, was identifying as “ohne,” or without, religion. As I wrote about here, Elisabeth’s mother Helene was born Jewish, but her father Oskar Schultze was Protestant. But both Helene and Elisabeth were included on the 1939 Minority census in Germany.

The notes at the bottom of the record indicate that Elisabeth was married in February 24,1955, in Hamburg and that she died on November 23, 1991 in Bad Krozingen.

That helped Aaron locate Elisabeth’s marriage record and death record. Here is the marriage record.

This document shows that Elisabeth married Ulrich Carl Albert Wilke on February 24, 1955, in Hamburg, Germany. Ulrich was born on August 16, 1906, in Hamburg; his parents were Emil Ludwig Gustav Wilke and Catherine Wilhelmine Frieda Auguste Schreiber. The marriage record states that Ulrich was a bank clerk and that Elisabeth was a merchant. She was 41 when they married, and he was 49. The marriage record indicates that neither had children, and as far as I know, Elisabeth and Ulrich also did not have children. Both Elisabeth and Ulrich reported that they were Lutheran.

In the upper left-hand margin of the marriage record is a note indicating that Elisabeth left the church in 1969. Aaron explained to me that this could have been done to avoid the religion tax or it could have indicated that she was not religious and did not want to pay a tax to support the church.

The second note in the left-hand margin reports that Ulrich died on December 5, 1984.

The third document that Aaron located about Elisabeth Schultze Wilke is a transcription of her death record.

From this document I know that she died in Bad Krozingen on November 23, 1991 and that she identified as “evanglische” (Protestant), so perhaps she had returned to the church between her marriage and her death. Elisabeth was 77 when she died.

Thanks to Aaron Knappstein, I now have a much more complete story of Elisabeth’s life; what’s still missing is the story of where she was and how she managed during the 1940s, and that may remain a mystery as she had no children to carry on her story.

I also have updates that relate to the descendants of Kiele Stern’s brother Abraham Stern and his children. These updates came from Abraham’s great-grandson Rafi Stern, who has previously shared photographs and information about his relatives. This time he sent two documents in German.

The first is a letter written by his uncle Erich Stern to Erich’s brother and Rafi’s father Guenther Stern. Erich and Guenther were the sons of Siegfried Salmon Stern, son of Abraham Stern and Johanna Goldschmidt. I discussed this letter in the earlier post, but now have a scan of the original letter in German. It is the letter Eric wrote describing in the first paragraph what had happened to the family on Kristallnacht. As you can see, it is dated November 13, 1938, just a few days after that nightmarish event throughout Germany.

The remaining two paragraphs are rather vague but appear to concern the family’s property and business and how to protect it from the Nazis.

Thank you for your various letters.
Unfortunately we have very bad news from Frankfurt. Uncle Siegfried, who wanted to go to Palestine with your family on Sunday, was arrested on Friday, as well as Aunt Sittah, Maguerite and Helmuth. Aba had fled and no one knew where. Really horrible conditions. Bickhardts still seem to be undisturbed.

Under these circumstances, I personally think it is more correct if you do not entrust Mr. Goldschmidt with the handling of the matter, since he cannot do the thing in the future. An Aryan lawyer, as I hear, is also not allowed to accept new Jewish customers, but if you turned to Peters, that [problem]would also disappear.  [I assume this means that because the family had previously used Peters, the prohibition against new clients would not apply.] Please write to him immediately. The matter can surely also be processed via the foreign exchange office in Cologne, since we are responsible here. Please let me know about it immediately. I will not enclose the list of assets with you, because maybe it will not be required in Cologne. I am also very reluctant to submit a list of 35 & 38, because I do not know about Eburonenstrasse and have given only very vague information about the general property registration.

As far as the matter of the foreign  papers, Father gave the matter to one of his lawyers (I don’t know his name), who is said to have first-class relationships. I haven’t heard anything yet. Father took it on the condition that if the lawyer got all or part of the papers in my name, we would share them.

Did you hear about the transfer of the proceeds from the sale of Kaiserstrasse to our accounts?
Greeting and kiss. Yours, Erich

Rafi also sent me a memoir written by his great-aunt, Siegfried’s sister Alice Lea Stern Oppenheimer.  It’s 58 pages long and in German, and since my German group is not meeting this summer, I am going to try to read it myself to keep up with my German. I will report back once I’ve accomplished that task.

Thank you again to Aaron Knappstein and to Rafi Stern for helping to tell the stories of these descendants of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern.

 

A Photo Essay of the Family of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher

Another cousin who found my blog during these pandemic days is my fifth cousin, once removed, Carrie Schwabacher. She is the granddaughter of Gerhard Schwabacher, the great-granddaughter of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher, great-great-granddaughter of Kiele Stern Loewenthal, three times great granddaughter of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern, and four-times great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt.

Carrie kindly shared with me these wonderful photographs as well as some heartwarming stories about her family. They start with her great-great-grandmother, Kiele (Caroline) Stern Loewenthal, the daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern, wife of Abraham Loewenthal. I wrote about Kiele here and here.

Kiele Stern Loewenthal.
Courtesy of her family

Here is a lovely photograph of Kiele and Abraham Loewenthal’s daughter, Selma, as a young woman; I see a strong resemblance to her mother.

Selma Loewenthal
Courtesy of her family

Selma married Nathan Schwabacher:

Nathan Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

And they had three children. Their daughter Alice was the oldest:

Alice Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

Alice was followed by Julius Alfred Schwabacher:

Julius Alfred Schwabacher Courtesy of the Schwabacher family

Gerhard Schwabacher, Carrie’s grandfather, was Selma and Nathan’s youngest child:

Gerhard Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

The two sons look remarkably similar to each other and to their father Nathan.

Alice Schwabacher married David Weinstein (later Wenten) and had one child, Wolfgang, depicted here as a young boy with his dog:

Wolfgang Weinstein and dog

Julius Schwabacher married Margaret Wuertenberg and had one child, Eva Lore, the adorable little girl shown here:

Eva Lore Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

This photograph of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher and her brother Julius Loewenthal is undated, but must have been taken before 1936 when Julius left for the United States. Selma died in 1937 in Berlin.

Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher and brother Julius Loewenthal
Courtesy of the family

Here is a closer one of Selma, probably taken around the same time:

The remaining photographs that Carrie shared with me appear to have been taken after the family immigrated to the United States. Their full story has been told here, so I won’t tell it again, but will share these photographs of the Schwabacher family in their new country and some of Carrie’s memories of her extended family.

She has wonderful memories of her grandparents, as she shared with me: “I have such great memories of my grand parents even though they died when I was 7. Christmas was a very special time – like a scene from the Nutcracker. As children, we celebrated Hanukkah, Christmas and Epiphany ( my mom’s side of the family is Russian Orthodox). We got presents for months, or it seemed like it.” She also wrote that her Opa, Gerhard Schwabacher, always gave each of his grandchildren a quarter every time he saw them.

Other holidays were spent with her great-uncle Julius Schwabacher, who became Fred Wenten in the US, and his wife Else in Proctor, Vermont: Fred and Elsa owned an Inn in Proctor Vt. The entire family spent a few holidays there as well. The toasts would go on for so long that someone would finally say “let the children eat their fruit cocktails before they fall asleep”. And then, dinner would start.”

Here’s a photograph of Fred Wenten in the US:

Fred Wenten (born Julius Alfred Schwabacher)
Courtesy of the family

Fred’s daughter Eva Lore was also a favorite of Carrie. Eva Lore married Henry Corton in 1951. Carrie wrote this about them:

“Henry was a fabulous dancer and would sometimes break into buck and wing ( tap dancing) in the kitchen even when he was old. We visited then often when they lived in Jamaica, Queens. We always went out for walks. We met Bella Abzug at the Cloisters in NY. He was very fond of Pavorotti and considered him a “distant cousin“. It got him back stage at the Met many times. Eva and Henri took us to Ringling Bro’s. And Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ice Capades when we were little. We visited Eva Lore in LaGuna Hills, helped her pack and move to Baltimore, and took her to her first McDonalds meal. The “Apple Strudel “ was her favorite. Apple Pie. Even at 79, she was booking her own travel on her computer. They never had children, but spoiled us.”

Here are some of the photographs of Eva Lore and Henry that Carrie shared with me:

Eva Lore Schwabacher and Henry Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore Schwabacher Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore Schwabacher Corton Courtesy of the family

Eva Lore and Henry Corton Courtesy of the family

Carrie also has warm memories of her great-aunt Alice Schwabacher Weinstein (Wenten in the US):

“We went to visit Tanta Alice for the holidays every year in Washington Heights, NY. I always wanted to take a nap, because I loved the big square Feather pillows on the bed. She always had such great treats for us, German delicacies. She was extremely socially active. Wolf would remark that he had to make an appointment just to visit his mother. We had her 90 th birthday party at window on the worlds – top of the World Trade Center. It was incredible to meet so many people originally named Schwabacher.”

This photograph shows Alice with her son Wolfgang and his wife Ruth.

Alice Schwabacher Wenten Kingsley, Wolfgang Wenten, Ruth Pollinger Wenten
Courtesy of the family

Finally, this is a photograph of the three Schwabacher siblings and their spouses taken in the US:

Arthur Kingsley, Alice Schwabacher Kingsley, Julius (Fred Wenten) Schwabacher, Else Wenten, Alice Ferron Schwabacher, Gerhard Schwabacher
Courtesy of the family

I am extremely grateful to my cousin Carrie for sharing her memories and these photographs. She really has brought to life this strong and loving family who escaped from Germany and started a wonderful new life in the United States.

Escaping from Germany, Part IV: Helene and Martha Loewenthal, An Unfinished Research Project

I am really torn. Do I post about my family history in these times when we are all so anxious and focused on the present and the future, not the past? I prepared this post a few weeks ago, and in re-reading it now, I decided that reading about how others faced serious threats to their lives and their family’s lives might provide hope and strength to some who read it. So I am going forward.


Thus far we have seen what happened to three of Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s children and their children during the Holocaust. This post will report on the two youngest siblings, Helene and Martha, and their families. How did their lives change as a result of the Holocaust?

We saw that Helene Loewenthal’s first marriage to Edward Feuchtwanger had not lasted and that in 1913 she had married Oscar Friedrich August Heinrich Maximilian Schultze. They had one child, Elisabeth Auguste Aloysia Schultze, born on December 3, 1914, in Coblenz, Germany, where she was baptized on May 12, 1915. Thanks to my dear friend Aaron Knappstein, I now have Elisabeth’s birth record.

Notice that it indicates that her religion was evanglische, i.e., Protestant.
Elisabeth Schultze, birth record, Coblenz

Oscar Schultze died on September 6, 1931, in Hanover, Germany. (Thank you again to Aaron Knappstein for obtaining this death record for me.) He was survived by his widow Helene and daughter Elisabeth.

StadtAH_1_NR_3_08_2_1057_1920_1931 Oscar Schultze death certificate

Despite the fact that Elisabeth was raised as a Christian and that her mother Helene had married a Christian, both Elisabeth and Helene were enumerated as minorities on the 1939 Minority Census in Germany, living in Hannover.1 Helene died three years later on November 28, 1942, according to this document found in the Arolsen Archives. She was 65. It incorrectly lists her birth name as Loewenstein, not Loewenthal, but this is definitely my cousin Helene.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations /
1.2.4.1 “Reichsvereinigung der Juden” Card File / 12673184 – HELENE SCHULTZE. ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

I don’t know what happened to Elisabeth during the Nazi era after 1939. She would have been considered a “Mischling” of the first degree since her mother was born Jewish as were her mother’s parents, and not as a Jew because she was not disqualified from being a Mischling under the criteria enumerated by the Nazis, that is, she was not raised as a Jew nor was she married to one before 1935. Whether she faced any persecution or not is not clear, but we’ve seen that other Mischlings were persecuted.

But Elisabeth did survive the war. As indicated on the annotation to the birth record shown below, Elisabeth married in Hamburg in 1955 and died in Bad Krozingen in 1991. Aaron Knappstein is now looking to see if he can find her marriage and death records. Since it appears that Elisabeth married when she was 41, I assume she did not have children.

Annotation to birth record of Elisabeth Schultze

As for Martha Loewenthal, I have mostly secondary information from my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron and numerous unsourced family trees on Ancestry and Heritage, but I will report what I can as best I can to do honor to these cousins. We’ve seen already that she married Jakob Wolff and that they had three children in the first decade of the 20th century: Anna, Hans Anton, and Hans Walter.

UPDATE: Thank you once again to Aaron Knappstein, who has located the marriage record for Anna Wolff and Simon Wittekind. They were married on June 7, 1929, in Frankfurt. Simon was the son of Wilhelm Wittekind and Fanny Mendele, and he was born in Bad Kissingen on December 10, 1892. He had served in World War I for Germany.2 He was a doctor.

Less than a year after witnessing her daughter’s marriage, Martha Loewenthal Wolff died on May 19, 1930, in Frankfurt, as we saw.

Her widower Jakob Wolff immigrated to Palestine on August 21, 1934. By that time Jakob had remarried; his second wife was Ilse Gruenebaum, born October 27, 1901, in Maden, Germany. They became naturalized citizens of Palestine on July 21, 1938.3

Naturalization Certificate of Jacob and Ilse Wolff found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680e4ea29

MyHeritage reports that Jakob and Martha (Loewenthal) Wolff’s children all also ended up in Palestine/Israel, where they married and had children and have descendants still living in Israel. Their father Jakob died on October 14, 1953, in Israel. He was 77.4

If and when I find more documentation for Elisabeth Schultze and the descendants of Martha Loewenthal Wolff, I will update this post. For now, that brings to a close the stories of the children of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern’s daughter Keile and her husband Abraham Loewenthal. Next I will turn to the families of Keile’s brother Abraham Stern and his wife and cousin, Johanna Goldschmidt, and their fate during and after the Nazi era.

 

 


  1. Helene and Elisabeth Schultze, German Federal Archives, Abteilung R (Deutsches Reich), List of Jewish Residents of the German Reich 1933-1945, found at https://tinyurl.com/tyzfaab and at https://tinyurl.com/tjfhud3 
  2.  Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 20351. Kriegsstammrolle, Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File of Jacob and Ilse Wolff, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/r7524xh 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/regavyr 

Escaping from Germany, Part III: A Family Divided Across the World

The story of my cousin Siegfried Loewenthal is the story of how one family ended up separated and spread all over the world in order to escape Nazi Germany.

Abraham Loewenthal and Keile Stern’s younger son Siegfried and his wife Henriette Feuchtwanger had five children, as we have seen: Rosel (or Rosa) (1908), Albert (1909), Louise (1910), Grete (1913), and Lotte (1914).

Rosa Loewenthal married Justin Held in Frankfurt on August 24, 1928. Justin was born in Kulsheim, Germany on October 18, 1900.

Marriage record of Justin Held and Rosa Loewenthal, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903. Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Justin had two daughters born in Germany, one in 1929, one in 1930.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Siegfried and Henriette’s family began to disperse. First, their son Albert Loewenthal went to Palestine on March 26, 1934.1 I do not have a marriage record for Albert, but my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron report that he married Hilda Weingarten in Jerusalem on June 12, 1935. Hilda was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 10, 1911. I do know that they were married by the time they applied to become naturalized citizens of Palestine in April 1938, and they had a son born in Jerusalem in 1937.2 According to Cibella/Baron, Hilda died in Switzerland in 1954, Albert in 1995 in Jerusalem (after marrying two more times and having several more children).

Naturalization certificate for Albert and Hilda Loewenthal, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680fd584e

By 1939, the rest of Siegfried’s family had also left Germany. Siegfried and Henriette themselves arrived in Palestine on March 20, 1939, and became naturalized citizens in 1941.3 Unfortunately, Siegfried died just a year later in Tel Aviv on February 25, 1942. He was 62 years old and survived by his wife and all five of his children.4

Naturalization certificate of Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

And those children were all over the world by then. Rosa Loewenthal and Justin Held and their children left for England in 1939 and then immigrated to the United States in 1940.5 They ended up living in New York and becoming naturalized citizens.6 Justin died in 1980,7 Rosa in 1993.8

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/243J
Enumeration District: AKCZ, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Louise Loewenthal had married Walter Meier Strauss in Basel, Switzerland. Walter was native to Frankfurt, where he was born on December 18, 1909.9 I was fortunate to find a long biography of Walter written by one of his grandsons and posted on the family genealogy website.  According to this document, Walter was employed by a woolen factory in Frankfurt when he was a teenager, and when he was in his early twenties or in the early 1930s, the company moved to Switzerland, and the owner asked Walter to come with them, which he did. By that time he had been dating Louise Loewenthal for seven years, and they soon married and moved to Basel, Switzerland. According to the grandson’s biography of Walter:

During the War, friends from home that were now in the concentration camps sent him letters about the atrocities that were going on in the War and specifically in the Camps. Trying to help, he established a group consisting of himself… and a few other men from Basel. The group would send very small care packages periodically to the people in the camps. The packages consisted of food such as salami, sardines, and any other small items that the people requested or needed and was small enough that it could be sent. Every sunday they would load up the packages in a car and drive all over Basel putting them in many different mailboxes, for if they were all dumped in one mailbox they would surely not arrive at the camps.

Thus, Louise and Walter were able to survive the Holocaust; Walter’s parents and brother were, however, murdered at Sobibor.10

In 1946, after the war ended, Louise and Walter Strauss and their two children immigrated to the US; Max Stern, husband of Louise’s first cousin Hilda, helped them get a visa. The ship manifest listed Justin Held, Louise’s brother-in-law married to her older sister Rosa, as the person they were going to in the US.11 They settled in New York where Walter once again got a job with a woolen factory. Walter died in 1990 while on a business trip in Switzerland and was buried in Israel.12 Louise died in New York on August 11, 2003; she was 92 and was survived by her two children and her grandchildren.13

Grete Loewenthal immigrated to Palestine, arriving on April 6, 1936. She became a naturalized citizen on November 29, 1938. She was working as an assistant pharmacist at the time and was unmarried.14

Cibella/Baron report that she married Fritz Altar in 1948, but I have no records to verify that fact. I did find two ship manifests, one outgoing from England, one arriving in New York, in May 1958, that list Grete and Fritz Altar, residents of Austria and working as hotel managers.15 The English manifest indicates that they were headed to the US as “the country of intended permanent residence.” But I have found no records showing that Grete and Fritz lived in the US. Fritz died in Vienna on January 30, 1993, and is buried there.16 Unsourced trees on Geni and MyHeritage report that Grete died on September 27, 1995, also in Vienna. I have no verification of that fact.

Lotte Loewenthal also had left Germany by 1939. She and her husband Erich Posen are listed on the 1939 England and Wales Register showing residence in England by 1939. Erich was working as an optical goods salesman.

Lotte Loewenthal and Erich Posen, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/980H, Enumeration District: BXHY, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Unfortunately I have no marriage record for Lotte and Erich, but I know this is the correct person because after the war when she and Erich had their first child in January 1946, Lotte had serious complications and her mother Henriette had to get permission to leave Palestine to go to England for a few months to help Lotte with the new baby.16

Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680b9fac4

Lotte was not destined for a long life. She died at the age of 52 in 1967 in England, survived by her husband Erich and two children.17 Her mother also survived her; Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal died at the age of 93 in Israel, according to the work of Roger Cibella and David Baron.

Despite the lack of sources for some of the stories of Siegfried Loewenthal and his family, there is enough information to conclude that he, his wife, and all five of their children and their grandchildren escaped Germany in time and survived the Holocaust. In doing so, they ended up spread across three continents and three different countries.

There are always costs to these relocations and disruptions. Siegfried’s early death in 1942 certainly could have been just one of those costs.

Gravestone of Siegfried Loewenthal, photograph by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015, found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

Gravestone of Henriette Feuchtwanger Loewenthal photo by Ben Ariel October 17, 2015 , found at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%98%D7%94%D7%9C/18779141?referrer=myheritage

 

 


  1. Immigration and Naturalization File for Albert and Hilda (Weingarten) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/w33mluf 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  4. https://tinyurl.com/u3jsyyc 
  5. Rosa and Justin Held and family, passenger ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6459; Line: 16; Page Number: 81, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Name: Rosa Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 20 Nov 1947, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. Justin Held, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900, Age: 47, Naturalization Date: 15 Jul 1948, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989. 
  7.  Justin Held, Social Security Number: 092-14-6607, Birth Date: 18 Oct 1900
    Death Date: Dec 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Rose Held, Birth Date: 14 Feb 1908, Death Date: Mar 1993, SSN: 095144557,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9. Walter Meier Strauss, Birth Date: 18 Dec 1909, Naturalization Date: 24 Mar 1952,
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  10. “My Genealogy Home Page:Information about Walter Meyer Strauss,” Jonathan Strauss, found at https://tinyurl.com/ttlo7rl 
  11. Walter and Louise Strauss and children, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7161; Line: 1; Page Number: 267, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  12. See footnote 10. Walter M Strauss, Death Date: 15 Oct 1990, SSN: 065246257,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Louise Strauss, Death Date: 11 Aug 2003, SSN: 122285989, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. Immigration and Naturalization File for Grete Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/v5mxvs9 
  15. Fritz and Grete Altar, ship manifest, 15 May 1958, Port of Departure: Southampton, England, Destination Port: New York, USA, Ship Name: Ryndam
    Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Grete and Fritz Altar, ship manifest, 24 May 1958, Arrival Place: New York, New York, USA, Ship: Ryndam, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; NAI Number: 2990227; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4115; NARA Roll Number: 447, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  16. See multiple letters in Immigration and Naturalization File for Siegfried and Henriette (Feuchtwanger) Loewenthal, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/tjk92a5 
  17. Lottie V Posen, Death Age: 52, Registration Date: Jul 1967, Registration district: Hampstead, Inferred County: Greater London, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 583, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part II: Julius Loewenthal’s Family

Although the story of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s family had happy endings in that the entire family safely left Germany and made new lives for themselves in the US, the story of Selma’s brother Julius is more complicated and more heartbreaking.

Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa Werner had four children, as we have seen: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918. Ruth had married Leonhard Fulda on March 16, 1928, in Eschwege, where her family lived.

Marriage Record of Ruth Loewenthal and Leonhard Fulda, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1913
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On September 21, 1930, Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Margot Fulda, in Mainz, Germany.1

That happy event was followed by the marriage of Julius and Elsa’s younger daughter Hilda Loewenthal to Max Stern on July 25, 1934, in Hamburg.

Hilda Loewenthal and Max Stern marriage record (found in a biography of Max Stern posted on Ancestry)

Max Stern was born in Fulda, Germany, on October 22, 1898, to Emanuel and Caroline Stern,2 and had immigrated to the United States in 1926.3 He brought with him a shipment of five thousand singing canaries he’d accepted as repayment for a debt4 and started a bird store, as seen on the 1930 census. That business eventually grew into the highly successful pet and pet food company, Hartz Mountain Corporation.

Max had returned to Germany to marry Hilda Loewenthal, and then he and his bride returned to New York in August 1934.5 They visited Germany in 1935,6 but returned to New York, where their three children were thereafter born.

Max Stern, 1930 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0270; FHL microfilm: 2341293, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, during these years, Hitler had taken power in Germany, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews had begun by the time Hilda and Max married in 1934. Herbert Loewenthal, Julius and Elsa’s second child and older son, left Germany and arrived in New York on February 22, 1935, with the intention of remaining permanently. He filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen on September 20, 1935, describing his occupation as international clearing and barter.

Herbert Loewenthal, 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, Description: (Roll 489) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 367301-368300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius and Elsa came to New York to visit their children in February, 1936, but only for sixty days, according to the ship manifest.7

To learn more details about what happened to the family of Julius Loewenthal thereafter, I was fortunate to find the award and decision of the Claims Resolution Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the “Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion”) issued in response to a claim filed in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation by Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl Werner Loewenthal, also known as Garry Warner-Loewenthal .

According to the official website for the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation:

In 1996 and 1997, a series of class action lawsuits were filed in several United States federal courts against Swiss banks and other Swiss entities, alleging that financial institutions in Switzerland collaborated with and aided the Nazi Regime by knowingly retaining and concealing assets of Holocaust victims, and by accepting and laundering illegally obtained Nazi loot and profits of slave labor. All of the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“the Court”). ….

The lawsuits were filed because in the decades after the Holocaust, Swiss financial institutions had failed to return deposits to the Nazi victims (or their relatives) who had entrusted their assets to the banks. Although the issue of these bank accounts had been raised many times during the decades after the Holocaust, in the late 1990s, the banks’ behavior came under scrutiny of a type that Switzerland had not experienced before.

The litigation was settled in 2000, and a special master was appointed to establish a process for distributing compensation to claimants. Garry Warner-Loewenthal filed a claim for the account of his father, and the tribunal’s full decision on his claim can be found here. It details the facts alleged by Julius’ son in support of his claim, for which he was awarded 47,400 Swiss francs.

According to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, Herbert Loewenthal moved from the US to Zurich, Switzerland before 1937. Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda were planning to move to the US and in the fall of 1937, they went to visit Ruth’s brother Herbert in Switzerland before immigrating, accompanied by Ruth and Herbert’s father Julius Loewenthal. Central to the claim was the allegation that Julius had deposited money in a Swiss bank while in Zurich.

Tragically, Ruth and Leonhard were killed in a terrible automobile accident on October 3, 1937, while returning to Germany from Switzerland. Julius was seriously injured, but survived. Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot, orphaned at seven years old, went to live with her father’s parents, Isaak and Joanna Fulda in Mainz.

In November 1937, just a month after the accident that killed their daughter and son-in-law, Julius and Elsa again visited New York for a limited time but returned to Germany.8 I have to wonder whether at this point they wanted to immigrate, given what was happening in Germany. Perhaps they could not get a visa allowing them to stay permanently. According to information given to Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, after the Nazis confiscated Julius’ business, he and Elsa fled to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to London. Finally, in May 1939, they were able to immigrate permanently to the United States.9

Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest from England to New York, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 . Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

By the time the 1940 census was enumerated, Julius and Elsa were living in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Neither listed an occupation.10 Their daughter Hilda and her family were living in Manhattan, and Max Stern listed his occupation as a bird food merchant.11

Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl had fled to England in 1938, according to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion. In November, 1939, Karl was found exempt from being interned as an enemy alien. He was working as a trainee in a hosiery factory in Leicester.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56,  056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

During the war Karl joined the British Armed Forces and was advised to change his name to Garry Charles Warner “for his own protection.”  When he immigrated to the United States after the war in August, 1946, he added “Loewenthal” back to his name and was known as Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, as described in the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion.

It might seem that Julius Loewenthal’s family was relatively fortunate as Julius, Elsa, Hilda and her husband Max Stern, Herbert, and Karl/Garry all survived the Holocaust and the war. Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed, but not by the Nazis; they died in a car accident. Of course, Ruth and Leonhard might never have been involved in an accident if they hadn’t gone to Switzerland to visit Herbert, who had been forced to leave Germany because of the Nazis.

But that is not the end of the story. Recall that Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot had gone to live with her paternal grandparents, the Fuldas, in Mainz after losing her parents in October 1937. The Fulda family—Isaac and Johanna, their son Ernst and his wife Emma, and Margot, Ruth and Leonhard’s orphaned daughter—all escaped to Amsterdam in 1939. But they were ultimately deported from there to Sobibor, where every single one of them was murdered by the Nazis in 1943, including little Margot, who was not yet thirteen years old.12

Julius Loewenthal had survived a terrible car accident that caused him serious harm, the deaths of his daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard in that accident, the confiscation of his business, the loss of his homeland, the escape first to the Netherlands, then England, and finally to the US, and, worst of all, the murder of his granddaughter Margot. Having survived all that, he died not long after the war ended on November 20, 1946, at the age of 72.13

Four years later, his daughter Hilda divorced Max Stern. She would marry again, but that marriage also did not last.14 Her mother Elsa Werner Loewenthal died in 1961 in New York at the age of 77,15 and then her brother Herbert died in Zurich in 1962; he was only 53 and had never married.16 Hilda Loewenthal Stern Duschinsky died on July 29, 1980; she was 68 and was survived by her children and grandchildren.17

That left only Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal. He had married after the war and had one child.18 I could not find much other information about Garry, but we do know that just a few years before he died when he was already in his eighties, he filed a claim in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation and received some compensation for all that his family had lost. Garry died at the age of 87 in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 1, 2005.19

The story of the family of Julius Loewenthal serves as a painful reminder that even those who survived the Holocaust suffered greatly and lived with those scars forever after.

 

 

 

 


  1. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.,
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897, found at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu 
  2. Birth record of Max Stern, Familien- und Geburtsregister der Juden von Fulda 1748-1899 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 345)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 202. 
  3.  Staats Archiv Bremen; Bremen, Germany; Bremen Passenger Lists; Archive Number: AIII15-18.08.1926-2_N, Ancestry.com. Web: Bremen, Germany, Passenger Lists Index, 1907-1939 
  4. “Max Stern, Founder of Hartz Mountain,” The Herald-News
    Passaic, New Jersey, 21 May 1982, Fri • Page 31 
  5. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5526; Line: 1; Page Number: 118, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island) 
  6. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5683; Line: 1; Page Number: 8,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5769; Line: 1; Page Number: 4, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6081; Line: 25; Page Number: 48, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6328; Line: 1; Page Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02746; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 41-1374B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Max and Hilda Stern and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02642; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 31-774, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897 at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu  Also, see the entries at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/ts3xacc 
  13. Certificate Number: 9313, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  14. Divorce Date: Mar 1950, County: Elmore, Ancestry.com. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Original data: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Montgomery, AL, USA: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Marriage of Hilda Stern to Eugene Duschinsky, License Number: 609, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Death Date: 22 Mar 1961, Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 3535, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  16. See Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion 
  17.  Social Security Number: 057-38-8878, Birth Date: 22 Oct 1911, Death Date: Jul 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  18.  License Number: 650, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Queens, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  19. Death Date: 1 Mar 2005, SSN: 056244639, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007