Retrieving Art Stolen by the Nazis and Helping Victims of Discrimination: Helene Goldschmidt Fuld’s Grandsons

Helene Goldschmidt Fuld’s only son Harry Fuld was my third cousin, twice removed.

Harry died on January 27, 1932, in the Netherlands, according to one source, or in Switzerland, according to others. He was 52 years old. Harry was survived by his wife and by two sons from his two earlier marriages, Harry Fuld, Jr., and Peter Harry Fuld.

By Googling Harry Fuld (sometimes I am amazed by what can be found!), I learned a great deal more about Harry and his sons than I had through ordinary genealogy tools. According to the website Deutsche Biographie,1 Harry Fuld, Sr. was a very successful entrepreneur. His grandfather Jacob Meier Goldschmidt wanted him to enter into the family’s art and antiques business, but Harry wanted to go into his own business. After training in a bank in Frankfurt and working in businesses in England, Belgium and France, he learned about an American business that leased telephone equipment and began his own such business in Germany. He experienced tremendous success, and his company expanded all over Germany as well as much of Europe. Harry also collected modern art and amassed a huge collection. When he died in 1932, he was a very wealthy man.

Harry’s heirs inherited his business and art collection, but when Hitler came to power and Jewish owned businesses were “Aryanized,” the Nazis seized the assets of the business and the art collection. There are numerous articles about the seizure of the art collection and the family’s efforts to reclaim the works after the war (see links below).

One thing that confused me about these articles is that they all referred to Harry’s widow as Lucie Mayer-Fuld, not Elsa Cajzago Tedesco, the name of his wife on the 1926 marriage record. Had Harry divorced his third wife Elsa Cajzago Tedesco Fuld and married a fourth time before he died in 1932?

That sent me down a rabbit hole, of course, looking for Lucie Mayer-Fuld. I couldn’t find a marriage record for a Lucie Mayer and Harry Fuld, nor could I find a birth record for her. The only records I initially found were listings for Lucie Mayer-Fuld in several Frankfurt directories from the late 1930s. But, of course, they did not tell me when or even whether she married Harry Fuld. Here’s one example from 1939.

Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Berlin, 1939 German Phone Directories, 1915-1981

Then I located several ship manifests for Lucie Mayer-Fuld, but sailing with a man named Acatiu Mayer-Feld. Some of these manifests said he was born in Romania and so was Lucie; others said Hungary. I was really confused at this point. Had all those articles about the recovery of Harry’s art collection been wrong about the name of his widow?

Mayer-Fuld on passenger manifest, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6521; Line: 1; Page Number: 8, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Mayer-Fuld, passenger manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 205, U.S., Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1914-1966

The breakthrough came when I found one index of a ship manifest for a ship arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 27, 1940, that identified Lucie Mayer-Fuld’s birth place as Funfkirchen, and that rang a bell. I went back to check, and sure enough, Elsa Cajzago Tedesco Fuld was born in Funfkirchen. Could she be the same person as Lucie Mayer-Fuld? And if so, where did the Mayer in her surname come from?

Ship LUISA C. arriving to Buenos Aires on Aug 27, 1940, found at

Searching for Acatiu, an unusual enough name, was easier than searching for Lucie, and I found this immigration card from Brazil. His father’s surname was Mayer, so the Mayer in Lucie’s name had come from Acatiu, not from her own birth name.

Acatiu Mayer-Fuld, Digital GS Number: 004914991 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

I assumed that if Acatiu had gone to Argentina in 1940 and Lucie was on the same ship with him, she also must have had an Brazilian immigration card. But it had not come up during my Ancestry search for Lucie Mayer-Fuld. This time I did a more focused search in that database, and her card appeared. And there was my answer; her parents were A. Cajzago and Alice Cajzago. Lucie Mayer-Fuld was the same person as Elsa Cajzago Tedesco Fuld, the third wife and widow of my cousin Harry Fuld. She had remarried after Harry’s death and escaped from Germany with her new husband Acatiu.

Lucie Mayer-Fuld, Digital GS Number: 004561378 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

As for Harry’s two sons, according to Wikipedia, Harry, Jr., the son of Flora Sondheimer and Harry Fuld, Sr., escaped to Switzerland in 1937, leaving his father’s art collection behind in his haste to leave Germany. By 1939, Harry, Jr. was in England. On his registration as an “enemy alien” in 1939, Harry stated that he was the manager and a shareholder of Autophone Ltd, which I assume was in some way related to his father’s phone leasing business. Harry, Jr. was sent to an internment camp as an enemy alien from June 21, 1940, until December 22, 1941, according to his enemy alien registration form.

Harry Fuld, Jr., The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/152, Piece Number Description: 152: Australia Internees 1940-1943: Germans and Austrians Released in Australia, A-J, UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

After the war Harry, Jr., and his family began efforts to regain his father’s art collection. As the many articles devoted to these efforts reveal, it took many years and a great deal of effort, but eventually the family had some success. Sadly, most of that success came years and years after Harry, Jr., died in London on October 31, 1963;2 he was only fifty years old.

For more on the return of the family’s art collection, see the stories and images at the links listed below. Some of the works were just returned as recently as the fall of 2019. The stories are quite fascinating, the art quite beautiful. I can’t do justice to it here on the blog.

As for Peter Harry Fuld, Harry, Sr.’s son with his second wife, Ida Felsmann, in the 1930s he was a teenager and living with his mother in Frankfurt. Ida was not Jewish, but because Peter’s father had been Jewish, making Peter a Mischling of the First Degree, Ida was concerned for his safety and sent him to Switzerland in 1937 and then to England in 1939. Peter wanted to study law at Cambridge University, but was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien. He was then sent to Canada in June, 1940, where he again lived in an internment camp. According to the website for the foundation established in his name, he faced painful rejection and discrimination while confined in England and Canada: “Because of his Jewish roots on his father’s side, he was rejected by German and Jewish fugitives and avoided as a German by Canadian fellow students. He hardly found friends.”

After his release in 1941, Peter studied law at the University of Toronto and eventually returned to England after the war and devoted much of his time as a lawyer helping victims of discrimination. Peter married in 1957, but like his half-brother Harry, Jr., he died young. He died from an inoperable brain tumor on March 21, 1962, at the age of 41.

As mentioned above, a foundation was established in Peter’s name to provide support to victims of discrimination and to support education to fight discrimination.  You can learn more about the foundation here. All the information above about Peter came from that website.

Harry, Jr., and Peter died so close to each other in time that the London probate index lists them one after the other. How very sad. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.

Like their father Harry Fuld, Sr., both Peter and Harry, Jr., left their mark on the world and are still remembered today. They were my fourth cousins, once removed.


  1. Lerner, Franz, “Fuld, Harry” in: New German Biography 5 (1961), p. 725 f. [Online version]; URL: 
  2.  Registration district: Marylebone, Inferred County: London, Volume: 5d, Page: 357
    General Register Office; United Kingdom; England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 

My Cousin’s Case before the US Supreme Court: Philipp v. Germany

My second Goldschmidt update involves the descendants of Selig Goldschmidt, specifically his great-great-grandson, my fifth cousin, Alan Philipp.

Right now there is a case pending before the United States Supreme Court that was brought by Alan Philipp and two other plaintiffs. They brought a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (“SPK”), or in English, the Prussian Cultural Foundation.

The SPK is described on its website as “the largest employer in the cultural sector in Germany. It is a federal foundation and is shaped by the federal structure of Germany. The federal government and all sixteen federal states support and finance it jointly.” It was formed in 1957 after “the final dissolution of the state of Prussia ten years earlier. As a result, the question of ownership of its important public collections had to be reorganized. These collections were given to the foundation as property by the establishment law.” (translations by Google Translate)

Among those properties that were transferred by the government to the SPK was a very valuable collection of medieval works of art known as the Welfenschatz or in English, the Guelph Treasure. The Welfenschatz had been acquired in 1929 by three art collectors who had formed a consortium (“the Consortium”) to acquire art.

One of those art collectors was the firm of J&S Goldschmidt, founded in the mid-19th century by my cousins Jacob Meier and Selig Goldschmidt; another was Zacharias Hackenbroch, the grandson-in-law of Selig Goldschmidt, the son-in-law of Recha Goldschmidt, and husband of Clementine Schwarzschild. Alan Philipp shared with me a photograph of three of the investors, his grandfather Zacharias Hackenbroch, his cousin Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and Saemy Rosenberg:

Zacharias M. Hackenbroch, Julius Falk Goldschmidt, and Saemy Rosenberg. Courtesy of Alan Philipp

According to the allegations made by the plaintiffs, heirs to the Consortium, in 1935 the Consortium was coerced by economic duress, fraud, and bad faith to sell the Welfenschatz to the Nazis for about a third of its value   After unsuccessfully pursuing their claim for compensation first in Germany, the plaintiffs sued both the Federal Republic of Germany and the SPK in the US District Court for the District of Columbia for either the return of the Welfenschatz, which is currently located in the collection of the SPK in Germany, or for damages equivalent to the current value of the collection, claiming that the property had been wrongfully misappropriated from the Consortium in 1935.

Germany and the SPK moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing in part that the United States courts did not have jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ claims against a foreign state. Before getting too far into the weeds of the legal issues and all their complexities, let me stop here to explain just a few procedural matters.

There has not been a trial in this case. The defendants moved to dismiss the case on the basis of the plaintiff’s pleadings alone; a court can dismiss a lawsuit if it finds that the plaintiffs have no basis for a legal claim even if they can eventually prove every fact they have alleged in their pleadings. So for purposes of this case—at all three levels of the federal court system, the District Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court—the courts are assuming the truth of the facts claimed in the plaintiff’s complaint. The only issues the lower courts have determined and the only issues the Supreme Court will decide is whether this case should be dismissed because the American federal courts do not have jurisdiction over these claims even if the plaintiffs can eventually prove the truth of their allegations.

So what were those allegations? The District Court for the District of Columbia summarized them in their opinion (the paragraph numbers are references to the plaintiff’s complaint):

Plaintiffs’ position is that the 1935 sale between the Consortium and the State of Prussia, a political subdivision of the German Weimar Republic and later the Third Reich, was coerced as part of the Nazi persecution of the Jewish sellers of the Welfenschatz and, as such, the Court shall briefly summarize the allegations in the complaint that Plaintiffs rely on in support of this position. Id. ¶ 22. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege the 1935 transaction was spearheaded by Nazi-leaders Hermann Goering and Adolf Hitler, who were involved in explicit correspondence to “save the Welfenschatz” for the German Reich. Id. ¶¶ 2, 9. Further, the 1935 sale resulted in a payment of 4.25 million RM, which Plaintiffs assert demonstrates the lack of an arms’-length transaction because it was barely 35% of the market value of the Welfenschatz. Id. ¶¶ 4, 12.  Further, the money exchanged was never fully accessible to the Consortium because it was split and partly paid into a blocked account, and was subject to “flight taxes” that Jews had to pay in order to escape. Id. ¶¶ 4, 12. Moreover, in November of 1935, Goering presented the Welfenschatz as a personal “surprise gift” to Hitler during a ceremony. Id. ¶¶ 13, 179.

Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Ger., 248 F. Supp. 3d 59, 65 (D.D.C. 2017)

The District Court’s opinion then listed the plaintiff’s allegations describing some of the specific steps the Nazis took to coerce and defraud the Consortium into selling them the Welfenschatz, knowing the enormous economic pressure they were under as a result of the Nazi persecution of Jews at that time.

The defendants moved to dismiss on numerous grounds, but the ones that are still being pressed at the Supreme Court boil down to two arguments:  one, that the US courts have no jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims based on a federal statute, the Federal Sovereign Immunity Act (“FSIA”), and two, that US courts should not allow such a claim out of respect for the laws and procedures of a foreign country under principles of comity.

For lawyers, these issues are fascinating. But this is not a blog about legal matters, and there are many resources out there for those who are interested in all the ins and outs of the issues presented. (See the list below for a few.) I just want to say a little more about the issues involving the FSIA.

The FSIA generally grants immunity from liability to foreign states, preventing lawsuits against those states and their agents (in this case SPK) in American courts. But there are exceptions provided in the statute; the plaintiffs are relying on one of those exceptions as the basis of the court’s jurisdiction over their claims, the so-called “expropriation exception.” It provides that a party can proceed against a foreign state where their claim is one “in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state….” 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3).

The defendants raised several arguments against the application of this exception to the plaintiffs’ claims, but I want to focus on just one of those arguments—whether or not this was a taking of the Consortium’s property that violated international law. The plaintiffs argued, relying on an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, that when a taking of property bears a “sufficient connection” to genocide, the taking is itself a violation of international law.

The District Court agreed, focusing on the plaintiffs’ allegations that “the coerced sale of the Welfenschatz was accomplished to deprive the Consortium of their ability to earn a living and the motivation for the taking was to deprive the Consortium of resources needed to survive as a people in furtherance of the genocide of the German Jews during the Holocaust.” Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Ger., 248 F. Supp. 3d 59, 71 (D.D.C. 2017) The District Court also concluded that the plaintiffs had satisfied the commercial nexus requirement of the expropriation exception and that therefore the case should not be dismissed.

A work from the Guelph Treasure
Reliquary of the arm of Saint Blaise (Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Dankwarderode Castle). User:Brunswyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons

The defendants appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, and the Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court on the issue of whether there was a taking of property in violation of international law, reasoning in part:

Congress has twice made clear that it considers Nazi art-looting part of the Holocaust. In enacting the Holocaust Victims Redress Act, which encouraged nations to return Nazi-seized assets, Congress “f[ound]” that “[t]he Nazis’ policy of looting art was a critical element and incentive in their campaign of genocide against individuals of Jewish … heritage.” Holocaust Victims Recovery Act, Pub. L. No. 105-158, § 201, 112 Stat. 15, 15 (1998). And in the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act (HEAR Act), which extended statutes of limitation for Nazi art-looting claims, Congress again “f[ound]” that “the Nazis confiscated or otherwise misappropriated hundreds of thousands of works of art and other property throughout Europe as part of their genocidal campaign against the Jewish people and other persecuted groups.” Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-308, § 2, 130 Stat. 1524, 1524 (emphasis added)

Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Germany, 894 F.3d 406, 411-12 (D.C. Cir. 2018)

The Court of Appeals, however, disagreed with the District Court with respect to the application of the expropriation exception to Germany based on the second requirement of the exception: that for a claim against a foreign state to fit within the exception, the property that was confiscated must be located in the United States, which was not the case here with the Welfenschatz. Thus, the appellate court dismissed the claim against Germany itself.

With respect to the claim against the SPK, the appellate court concluded that the requirements of the statute were different with respect to an instrumentality of a foreign state and that because there was a “sufficient commercial nexus” between the SPK, an instrumentality of Germany, and the United States, the case against the SPK could go forward even though the disputed property was in Germany, not the United States.

A work from the Welfenschatz in the Bode Museum in Germany
User:FA2010, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It will be very interesting to see how the Supreme Court rules in this case. The issues go beyond this one case, of course. Sadly, genocide has occurred and continues to occur in all parts of the world, and those who have been damaged—whose property has been stolen, as was the case with so much of the art owned by German Jews—may want to seek recourse in American courts.

Foreign policy concerns and the principles of comity lie behind the arguments of the defendants that these matters should be pursued in the country where the wrongful acts occurred. One argument made by the defendants was that if claims against a country by a national of that country can be brought in other countries, foreign courts could end up litigating claims by US nationals against the US, e.g., claims brought by Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II against the US might be litigated outside the US or claims brought against the US by African-Americans for reparations for slavery could be litigated in another country.

The plaintiffs distinguish those cases by pointing out that Nazi Germany stripped their ancestors of their citizenship as part of their persecution of Jews and that therefore they were no longer nationals of Germany but stateless. Thus, these are not claims against Germany or its agents by German nationals. They also argue that the Holocaust has been treated as unique by both American law and international law, and thus special treatment needs to be provided for those seeking redress for harms done as part of the Holocaust.

I listened to the oral arguments made by the lawyers before the Supreme Court on December 7, and although I thought that the defendant’s lawyer was persuasive with regard to the meaning and scope of the statutory language, the plaintiffs’ arguments have the stronger moral position. I will be watching carefully to see whether the heirs of my Goldschmidt cousins are able to pursue their claims and ultimately obtain compensation for the harm that was done to their ancestors almost 90 years ago.

For those who want to learn more about the case, I suggest the following resources:

I have included links to the lower court opinions in the body of the text of the blog.

Here is a link to a recording of the oral arguments made before the Supreme Court on December 7, 2020.

The Scotus Blog has links to the briefs filed by the parties and by amicus curiae.

The Art Newspaper has a recent article about the case.

The New York Times has a good summary of the case.

This is a short piece written by the plaintiffs’ lawyer Nicholas O’Donnell of Sullivan & Worcester.

For more in-depth analysis of the FSIA and the international law regarding Nazi appropriation of art, see the following law review articles about FSIA:

Vivian Grosswald Currana, “THE FOREIGN SOVEREIGN IMMUNITIES ACT’S EVOLVING GENOCIDE EXCEPTION, ” UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, Spring, 2019

Michael J. Birnkrant, “THE FAILURE OF SOFT LAW TO PROVIDE AN EQUITABLE FRAMEWORK FOR RESTITUTION OF NAZI-LOOTED ART, ” Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2019

Ugboaja, Ikenna (2020) “Exhaustion of Local Remedies and the FSIA Takings Exception: The Case for Deferring to the Executive’s Recommendation,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 87 : Iss. 7 , Article 5.
Available at:



How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part I: Emil Seligmann

Wolfgang’s second find on the newly released Arolsen Archives website was about our cousin Emil Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the son of Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr., and Anna Maria Angelika Illian. His father Emil, Sr., was the son of Caroline Seligmann and Siegfried Seligmann and the grandson of Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld. And since Emil Sr.’s father Siegfried was the son of Moritz’s sister Martha, Emil Sr., was also her grandson. Thus, Emil, Sr., was the great-grandson of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer through two of their children.

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Anyway, I digress. Emil, Sr., was born on December 23, 1863, in Mainz, Germany.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 66 Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875

He married Anna Maria Angelika Illian on February 10, 1907, in Erbach, Germany. Their marriage record indicates that Anna Maria was Catholic, so theirs was an interfaith marriage.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr Marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 919; Laufende Nummer: 1109, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria had two children—Emil Jacob, Jr. and Christina. From these names, we can see that Emil, Sr., was not keeping to Jewish naming traditions, having a son who shared his name and a daughter named Christina and known as Christel.

One other observation: Emil Jacob, Jr., was born on May 27, 1901, almost six years before the date on his parents’ marriage record. 1 I wonder whether there were legal or other obstacles that prevented Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria from marrying earlier.

According to Emil, Sr.’s death certificate, he died from arteriosclerosis on August 9, 1942, at home in Wiesbaden. He was 78 years old. His wife Anna Maria had predeceased him on January 31, 1942, in Wiesbaden; she was 71. She died from heart disease.2

Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2934, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The Arolsen Archives had this registration card for Emil, Sr., dated sometime after June 30, 1941. I know this is pure speculation, but I do have to wonder whether the stress of the Nazi era contributed to their deaths.

Card “Reichsvereinigung der Juden”, Emil I. SELIGMANN, / 12673844, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The fate of their son Emil, Jr., sheds some light on that, especially from the papers that Wolfgang located at the Arolsen Archives. There is an entire folder for Emil, Jr., of forms connected to his time at Buchenwald, and those forms reveal a great deal not only about Emil but also about the Nazi mindset. I will only post a few of the forms in the folder—those that reveal the most important information about Emil.

First is his Haeftlings-Personal-Karte or his personal prisoner’s card, which includes information about his birth, his parents, his physical characteristics, as well as other matters. Note that it asks for his religion, and he responded “R.K.,” or Roman Catholic. That is, Emil was imprisoned at Buchenwald even though his mother was Catholic and he identified as Catholic.

Prisoner Registration Card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, / 7088569, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Note also at the top that it says “Mischl. 1 Gr.”, or Mischling First Degree. “Mischling” means hybrid in German, and it was the way Nazis labeled those who were from a mixed background and not 100% Jewish in their ancestry. A Mischling First Degree meant someone who had two Jewish grandparents, as Emil, Jr. did. The First Supplementary Decree of November 14, 1935 to the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race first promulgated on September 15, 1935, established standards for defining who was a Jew for Nazi purposes and included this provision:


(1)  A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews…

(2)  A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if:

(a)  he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later;

(b)  when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew;

(c)  he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935;

(d)  he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

There are many other sources shedding light on the definition of Mischling and the treatment thereof by the Nazis including those linked to here and here and here.

Emil did not fall into any of those disqualifying categories so was classified as a Mischling, First Degree. But what did that mean for Emil?

Well, as you can see from his card, he did not escape persecution. He was sent to Buchenwald by the Gestapo through Frankfurt, in 1944. The card says “eingewiesen am” August 21, 1944, and “eingewiesen am” translates as “instructed on,” but I assume in this context it means something more threatening than instruction. The “grund” or reason given for this action was that Emil was a “Polit. Mischl. 1 Gr,” meaning that he was arrested for political activity, not just for being a Mischling, First Degree.

Another card in the file shows that he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchewald on August 21, 1944. 3   On that card it shows what Emil brought with him: a cap, one pair of cloth pants, a shirt, a skirt (?), and two pairs of shoes—laced shoes and clogs.

Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, / 7088572, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

What the following form in the folder revealed makes the fact of Emil’s arrest and imprisonment even surprising. This is the prisoner registration form used at Buchenwald and the other Nazi concentration camps. It repeats most of the personal information Emil provided on the prisoner’s card above, but note the line that says “Kriegsdienstzeit.” That translates as military service time, and Emil reported that he had served in the infantry from 1940-1941. That is, Emil had been a soldier in the German army for two years of World War II. And now he was imprisoned at Buchenwald.

Prisoner Registration Form Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, / 7088574, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Tragically, Emil did not survive his time at Buchenwald. Less than six months after his initial imprisonment he died from a heart attack on February 14, 1945. He was 43 years old.

ITS reference card, Emil SELIGMANN, / 7088580, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

According to this card, which Wolfgang translated for me, Emil had been admitted to the infirmary the day before for diarrhea. Emil must have been quite ill, likely from mistreatment and poor nutrition, to have died so young.

Extract from the Book of deceased of the prisoners’ infirmary ward of Concentration Camp Buchenwald, / 5348508, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Just a few months later, Germany was defeated by the Allies, and the concentration camps were liberated. Emil could have lived a full life instead of having it cut short by the Nazis.

My next post will tell the story of Emil’s sister, Christine.




  1.   Emil’s birth date appears on several records, although I do not have an actual birth record. For example, it appears on his records from his time at Buchenwald, see at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, April 1944 – April 1945; Publication Number: M2121; Roll Number: 1, Germany, Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, 1944-1945. It also appears on the forms from Arolsen seen below. According to Wolfgang, Christel was born on July 30, 1903, so also before her parents’ marriage. Christel was the first owner of the “magic suitcase” that helped Wolfgang, his mother, and me learn so much about our shared family. More on Christel and her life to come in my next post. 
  2. Anna Maria Illian Seligmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2931, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. A different card in the file says he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchenwald on December 29, 1944. Had he been released and then re-arrested a few months later? Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, / 7088571, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives 

The Fate of the Children of Moses Katz, Part II

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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




Gau-Algesheim and the Seligmans: My Great-great-grandfather’s Birthplace and What I Learned

Coat of arms of Gau-Algesheim

Coat of arms of Gau-Algesheim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From several documents and historical references, I know that Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather, and his brothers Adolph and Sigmund were born in a small town close to the Rhine River called Gau-Algesheim in what was then the Hesse Darmstadt region of Germany. Today it is located in the Mainz-Bingen district in the Rheinland-Pfalz state in Germany.   Gau-Algesheim is about 15 miles southwest of Mainz and 40 miles southwest of Frankfort, Germany.  Its population in 2012 was under seven thousand people, and it is less than five miles square in area.[1]   From the photographs posted on the town’s official website, it appears to be a very charming and scenic location.  There are wineries nearby, and tourism appears to be an important source of revenue for the town.[2]



What was Gau-Algesheim like almost 200 years ago when my ancestors were living there?  How long had my Seligman ancestors been there, and were there any family members who remained behind after Bernard and his brothers left? How long had there been Jews living in Gau-Algesheim, and are there any left today? These were the questions that interested me the most about my great-great-grandfather’s birthplace.

There is a book about the history of Jews in Gau-Algesheim written by Ludwig Hellriegel in 1986, Die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden, but unfortunately there is no copy available online, and the closest hard copy is in the New York Public Library.  I tried to borrow it through my university’s interlibrary loan program, but was it was not available for lending.  Thus, I’ve had to piece together bits of information from Wikipedia,, the Gau-Algesheim website, and to get some answers to my questions, relying on Google Translate in order to read the sources written in German.  What follows is a very brief skeletal history of Gau-Algesheim overall and in particular of the history of Jewish life there based on these limited secondary sources.

Gau-Algesheim has ancient roots.  There is evidence of graves dating back as far as 1800 BCE, and evidence of a settlement during Roman times as well.  In the 700s a church and a monastery were established.  Gau-Algesheim was part of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and during that time was under the control of various different officials and jurisdictions within the Empire and often the subject of disputes and battles for control.  See  It was part of Napoleon’s empire until 1812, and then eventually became part of the nation state of Germany in the mid-19th century.


Gau-Algesheim. Rathaus am Marktplatz.

Gau-Algesheim. Rathaus am Marktplatz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its Jewish history dates back to at least the 14th century.  By the 14th century, the town had developed into a commercial center.  Many merchants and artisans lived in the town, including herring merchants, blacksmiths, bakers, barbers, coopers, tailors, and shopkeepers.  The monasteries owned a lot of the land, and there was also a fairly large class of nobility.  By 1334, there must have been a Jewish community in Gau-Algesheim because in that year a head tax was imposed upon the Jewish residents.  According to Wikipedia, Jews were required to pay this additional tax because they were considered the property of the crown and under its protection.[3] There was also a Jewish cemetery in existence during the 14th century.  However, this community must have been a very small minority, and the Jews were certainly considered outsiders by the Catholic majority.  In 1348 there was a flu pandemic in the region, and Jews were accused of poisoning the water, such accusations then leading to pogroms across the region.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My sources do not reveal anything about Jewish life in Gau-Algesheim between 1400 and 1800, but the population in 1790 was reportedly only nineteen (it’s not clear whether this refers to people or households, but I assume it refers to total people).  In 1808 there were three Jewish families, and in 1819 only six Jewish families.  In 1857, the Jewish population was fifty people, and the Jewish population peaked in Gau-Algesheim in 1880 when it reached eighty people or 2.6% of the total population of the town, according to the alemannia-judaica website.  (JewishGen puts the 1880 population at only 66.[4])  According to alemannia-judaica, a synagogue is not mentioned as being in the town until 1838. It was described as very old and in poor condition in 1850 and was rebuilt in 1861 and renovated again in 1873-1874.  There was also a mikveh and a religious school, although it seems that there was a joint school with the nearby town of Bingen. (Bingen, by comparison, had 542 Jews in 1880, amounting to almost eight percent of its overall population; it was only six miles away from Gau-Algesheim. By further comparison, Mainz had a Jewish population of about 3,000 in 1900, and Frankfurt had almost 12,000 Jews in 1900.)[5]

The tiny size of the Jewish population in Gau-Algesheim in the 19th century in the years when my ancestors were living there surprised me.  How did my family end up there?  And why did they leave? I don’t know the answers to the first question at all and can only speculate about the second and will write more generally about it in a later post.   But what I want to focus on for now is what happened to the Jewish community in Gau-Algesheim after my great-great-grandfather Bernard and his brothers left in the middle of the 19th century.

It appears that my ancestors were not the only Jews to leave Gau-Algesheim.  By 1900, the Jewish population had declined to 27 people; in 1931 there were only 31 Jewish residents.  Presumably many of these Jews had immigrated to another country, and many may have moved to the larger cities in Germany.  In the Reichstag elections of 1933, the Nazi Party only received 26.6% of the vote in Gau-Algesheim with the Center Party carrying almost half the vote.  Unfortunately, that did not reflect the overall vote in Germany, and the Nazi Party took control of the country, soon dissolving the Reichstag and all other political parties, ultimately leading to World War II and the Holocaust.  Whatever Jews were left in Gau-Algesheim before World War II either left the town or were killed by the Nazis.

There is no Jewish community there today.  The Jewish cemetery remains, however, although it was desecrated during the Holocaust and has been vandalized several times since then.  In 2006, Walter Nathan, whose father was born in Gau-Algesheim, visited the cemetery and was so disturbed by the condition of the cemetery that he decided to work to have it restored and to create a memorial to those who were buried there and also to those who had been killed in the Holocaust.  On November 9, 2008, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the memorial was dedicated by Nathan and many members of his extended family.[6]  Included in the headstones remaining in the cemetery was this one for a woman named Rosa Gebmann Seligmann who was born in 1853 and died in 1899 and married someone who was probably my relative.

With the help of two members of the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group, I can provide this translation of the German and the Hebrew on the headstone.  The German says, “Here rests in peace my unforgettable wife and good mother Rosa Seligman, nee Bergman, born May 11, 1854, died Feb.1 8, 1899. Deeply missed by her husband and children.  The Hebrew at the bottom says, “Here is buried Mrs. Roza wife of Alexander Seligman Died (on the) holy Shabbos 8(th day of) Adar 5659 by the small count. May her soul be bound in the bonds of life.”

There is also a plaque in town commemorating the Jewish citizens of Gau-Algesheim who were killed by the Nazis. It says, as translated by Google Translate, “The city of Gau-Algesheim commemorates their Jewish fellow citizens who were victims of Nazi violence and domination.”


There is another plaque hanging on the wall of the cemetery listing the Jews born in Gau-Algesheim who were murdered during the Holocaust according to Memorial Book: Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945.  It says, “Standing in this sacred place our hearts turn to the memory of those who fell victim to the violence of the Nazis, and we vow to keep their memory alive. In solemn testimony of the unbroken faith that connects us with them, their names are referred to in profound awe. We say the Kaddish—the prayer for the dead— and remember the terrible tragedy of the Jewish people.”

Among the names listed on this second plaque were these individuals: Bettina Elisabeth Arnfeld born Seligmann (1875), Johanna Bielefeld born Seligmann (1881), Anna Goldmann born Seligmann (1889), and Moritz Seligmann (1881),.[7]

On the site, I found two more Seligmanns born in Gau-Algesheim: Jacob Seligmann, born April 8, 1869, who became a resident of Neunkirche and emigrated in 1935 to Luxembourg, and Laura Seligmann Winter, born June 9, 1870, who was also a resident of Neunkirche and immigrated to Luxembourg in 1935. [8]

These may have been my relatives.  Given the small size of the Jewish community that lived in Gau-Algesheim, I have to assume that at least some if not all of those named Seligmann were related to my great-great-grandfather Bernard and were thus related to me.  When I saw those names, I was stunned.   Because I have not found where my Brotman relatives lived in Galicia, because I have not found any Goldschlagers from Iasi who were killed in the Holocaust, because my Cohen relatives left Europe long before Hitler was even born, I had not ever before seen the names of possible relatives who were victims of the Holocaust.  But Bettina, Johanna, Anna, Moritz, Jacob, and Laura Seligmann—they were likely the nieces and nephew or the cousins of Bernard, Sigmund, Adolph and James Seligman.  They were likely my family.

Now I need to see what I can learn about them and what happened to them.  I need to be sure that their names are not forgotten.  This is what I know so far from the Yad Vashem names database:

Bettina Elizabeth Seligmann Arnfeld, born March 17, 1875, was residing in Muelheim Ruhr, Dusseldorf, Rhine Province, and was deported to Theresienstadt on July 21, 1942, and she died there on January 23, 1943.



Johanna Seligmann Bielefeld, born March 13, 1881, was living in Mainz during the war.  She died in Auschwitz.



Anna Seligmann Goldmann, born November 30, 1889, was living in Halle der Saale, Merseburg, Saxony Province.  She was deported from there May 30, 1942.  Her husband Hugo Goldmann, born in 1885, and their daughter Ruth Sara, born in 1924, were also deported that same day.  They were all murdered.



Moritz Seligmann, born in 1881, was not listed in the Yad Vashem database.  On the memorial plaque placed at the cemetery in Gau-Algesheim the only notation after his name is Verschollen, which means “missing, lost without a trace,” according to one source.



Jacob Seligmann, despite escaping Germany in 1935 and moving to Luxemburg, did not escape the Nazis.  He was killed in 1941 in Luxemburg, according to the Yad Vashem website.

Laura Seligmann Winter, who may have been Jacob’s sister, was a widow; on August 28, 1940, she also was killed in Luxemburg.



I will continue to look for more records that will tell something about the lives of these people and their families so that they can be remembered not only for how they died but also for how they lived.


“Dachau never again” by Forrest R. Whitesides – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –














[1] See



[2] See



[3] See



[4] See



[5] See



[6] See








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