Goldfarbs 1916-1920: Years of Growth but One Tragic Loss

Sarah Brod Goldfarb’s first twenty years in the United States from 1896 to 1916 were years of change and growth. She arrived with four children and settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. She and her husband Sam had three more children, moved from New Jersey to New York City, and saw three of their seven children marry—Julius, Gussie, and Bessie. In addition, Sarah and Sam became grandparents during those years; Bessie and her husband Meyer Malzberg had their first child Norman, and Julius and his wife Ida had their first child Sylvia.

The next five years also saw much growth, but one tragic loss.

When the US entered World War I in 1917, Sarah’s adult sons had to register for the draft. Julius registered in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was working as a saloon keeper in his own establishment.

Julius Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712213; Draft Board: 10, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Morris’ World War I draft registration shows that in 1917 he was still living at 131 Avenue C with his parents and working as an operator for the B&R Cloak and Shirt Company.

Morris Goldfarb, World War I draft registration, egistration State: New York; Registration County: New York, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

By the time Joe Goldfarb registered in December, 1918 (after the war had ended), Sam and Sarah had moved to 526 Williams Avenue in Brooklyn. Joe was working as a claims adjuster for the American Railway Express Company.

Joseph Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: Kings, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

And Leo, the youngest son, also was working for the American Railway Express Company and living at 526 Williams Avenue with his parents.

Leo Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: Kings, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

As far as I can tell, none of the brothers ended up serving in the war, and Sam and Sarah were among the fortunate parents who did not lose a son in World War I.

But the year after the war ended, the family did suffer a tragic loss. Sarah and Sam’s daughter Gussie Goldfarb Katz died on May 13, 1919. She was about 31 years old (records vary). Her death certificate reports that her cause of death was acute lobar pneumonia. According to family lore, she was one of the millions of victims of the 1918-1919 pandemic.

New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WN5-B6V : 3 June 2020), Gussie Katz, 13 May 1919; citing Death, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,324,337.

Gussie was survived by her husband Max; they had no children. Max remarried within a few years and had children with his second wife.

There was also good news, however, during those years during and after World War I. Julius and Ida Goldfarb had a second daughter, Gertrude, who was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 28, 1917.1 And Bessie and Meyer Malzberg’s son Gustave was born in New York on June 4, 1919, less than a month after Bessie lost her sister Gussie.2 Gustave was perhaps named for his recently deceased aunt.

There was also another family wedding during this time. Morris Goldfarb, Sarah’s second oldest child, married Anna Grinbaum in Brooklyn on February 2, 1919. Anna, according to the marriage certificate, was born to Samuel Grinbaum and Molly Goldman in Austria/Galicia and was 21 when she married Morris. I could not find any records for Anna earlier than the marriage record, but later records indicate she immigrated to the US in about 1914 and was born in 1897.

Marriage record of Morris Goldfarb and Anna Grinbaum, Morris Goldfarb
Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 2 Feb 1919, Marriage Place: Kings, New York, USA
Certificate Number: 1346, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937

On May 26, 1920, Anna gave birth to their first child, Martin Goldfarb, in New York, New York, giving Sarah and Sam their fifth grandchild.3

The 1920 US census shows Sam and Sarah living at 526 Williams Street in Brooklyn with Joe and Leo, both working for the express company, and Rose, a dressmaker for a factory in New York. Sam was not employed and was now 64 years old, according to the census, and Sarah was 54.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

Julius and Ida and their two daughters Sylvia and Evelyn were living in Jersey City as of the 1920 census, which listed Julius’ occupation as “liquor business.”

Julius Goldfarb and family 1920 US census, lines 70-73
Year: 1920; Census Place: Jersey City Ward 3, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1043; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 135; Image: 1104

Unfortunately, despite searching anyway and anywhere I could, I could not locate either the family of Morris and Anna Goldfarb or Meyer and Bessie (Goldfarb) Malzberg on the 1920 census.

So as of 1920, the Goldfarb family had experienced much growth and one terribly tragic loss.

 


  1.  Gertrude Goldfarb Levy, Birth Date: 28 Jun 1917, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: Feb 1979, Father: Julius Goldfarb, Mother: Ida Hecht, SSN: 140449263, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  2. Gustav Malzberg, Birth Date: 4 Jun 1919, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 21712, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 
  3. Martin Goldfarb, Birth Date: 26 May 1920, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 25007, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 

The Goldfarbs 1910-1915: A Growing Family

We saw in the last post that Sarah Brotman and Sam Goldfarb and were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey with six children in 1900. By 1905, however, they had moved to the Lower East Side of New York City and were living across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie and her three youngest children including my grandmother. Their seventh and last child Rosie was born in 1902. By 1910, my Goldfarb relatives had moved to Avenue C in New York.

In 1915, Sam and Sarah were still living at 131 Avenue C with five of their seven children: Morris (25), Bessie (23), Joseph (17), Leo (15), and Rosie (13)(top of next page, see below). Sam and his son Morris were still working as tailors, and Joseph was an office clerk.

Sam Goldfarb and family, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

But this census revealed other important information. Living in the same building as Sam and Sarah Goldfarb in 1915 were two other families of great importance to the family history. First, listed almost immediately below the Goldfarbs on the 1915 New York State census was the family of Hyman Brotman, my grandmother’s brother, and thus Sarah’s nephew. He was a first cousin of Sarah’s children.

Second, right below Hyman’s family was the family of Jacob Hecht. As I wrote about in a post a few years back, Jacob Hecht was married to Taube/Toba/Tillie Brotman, my grandmother’s half-sister. Like Sam Goldfarb and Hyman Brotman, Jacob Hecht was a tailor.

Rosie Goldfarb, Hyman Brotman and family, and Jacob Hecht, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

The Hecht family also has great significance to the story of the Goldfarb family because Jacob and Taube (Brotman) Hecht’s daughter Ida married Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb’s son Julius on November 20, 1913, in New York. In other words, my great-grandmother Bessie’s stepgranddaughter Ida Hecht married Bessie’s nephew Julius Goldfarb.

Marriage certificate of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:243Y-5QW : 10 February 2018), Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, 20 Nov 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,807.

Julius and Ida’s great-granddaughter Lisa shared this photograph of Julius and Ida on their wedding day:

Julius and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb on the wedding day in 1913. Courtesy of the family.

Despite the fact—or maybe because of the fact—that Julius’ parents and Ida’s parents were living in New York in the same building in 1915, Julius and Ida were living in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1915. Julius described his occupation as a liquor dealer. Ida and Julius had one daughter at that point, Sylvia, who was born on May 7, 1915, less than a month before the enumeration of the 1915 New Jersey census on June 1, 1915.1

Also living with Ida and Julius was Joseph Goldfarb, Julius’ brother, who was then 17 and working as a bartender. I guess Joseph also was ready to get out of New York and perhaps thought living with his brother and working as a bartender would be more fun than being an office clerk. Julius and Ida also had a servant living with them, an eighteen-year-old named Annie, who was born in Hungary.

Julius Goldfarb and family, 1915 NJ census, New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, NJ, USA; State Census of New Jersey, 1915; Reference Number: L-13; Film Number: 32, Jersey City Ward 3 – Jersey City Ward 5, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1915

Although Bessie Goldfarb was listed as living with her parents on the 1915 New York State census, she was already married by that point. On August 9, 1914, Bessie married Meyer Malzberg in Detroit, Michigan. According to the marriage register, both were then residing in Detroit. How did Bessie end up in Detroit, I wondered? And how did she meet Meyer? I wrote about this back in 2016 as well, and I still don’t know the answers.

Meyer Malzberg and Bessie Goldfarb marriage record 1914
Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952. Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.

But I can tell a little more now about Bessie’s husband Meyer Malzberg. Meyer, the son of Herman Malzberg and Sarah or Selma Kaplan (records vary), was born on September 8, 1890 in Bialystok in what was then part of the Russian Empire and now is in Poland. He immigrated to the US in November 1900, according to his July 12, 1910 Declaration of Intention, but on the 1910 US census, it says that he came in 1902 as did his sisters Dora and Ida and that his father came in 1900.2  I found a ship manifest for his father, and in fact he arrived on February 27, 1903, and I found a ship manifest for the two sisters, and they arrived on September 30, 1903.3 But no matter how I looked or where I looked I couldn’t find a manifest for Meyer’s arrival.

Meyer Malzberg declaration of intention, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Vol 084-086 12 July-17 Aug 1910 (No 41487-42986), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

In any event, by 1905 fifteen year old Meyer was living with his widowed father and sisters on East 98th Street in New York; Meyer was in school, and his father was working as a cigar maker.4 In 1910, Meyer was working as a stock clerk for a department store and was still living with his father and sisters on 98th Street.5 For those unfamiliar with New York City, 98th Street is not anywhere near Avenue C where the Goldfarbs were living at that time. So I don’t know how Bessie Goldfarb met Meyer Malzberg.

I also don’t know how or why they ended up in Detroit. At first I thought perhaps Meyer had relatives there, but the Malzbergs I found in Detroit arrived there after Bessie and Meyer wed in 1914.

And why was Bessie back in New York with her parents when the 1915 New York State census was enumerated? As I speculated before, here’s my best guess. Bessie gave birth to her first child, Norman Malzberg, on May 2, 1915.6 The census record’s date is preprinted as June 1, but my guess is that it was actually enumerated earlier. Or alternatively, somehow little newborn Norman wasn’t included in the census. In any event, my hunch is that Bessie came home to her parents to give birth rather than be all alone without family in Detroit.

But where was her husband Meyer? I don’t know where he was when Norman was born, but two years later on June 5, 1917, he was still in Detroit when he registered for the World War I draft. He was supporting his wife, child, and his father, and he was working as a driver for the Detroit Creamery Company.

Meyer Malzberg World War I draft registration
Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 2024027; Draft Board: 06, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Thus, by 1915, three of Sam and Sarah Goldfarb’s children were married: Gussie, Bessie, and Julius. They had two grandchildren: Bessie’s son Norman and Julius’ daughter Sylvia. Gussie was living in Brooklyn with her husband, Max, who worked in the men’s clothing business. They did not have children. Julius was in Jersey City with his family and with his brother Joseph. The other Goldfarb children were still living at home on Avenue C, as was Bessie–at least temporarily.

More changes came in the next decade or so.

 

 


  1. Sylvia Goldfarb Leyner, [Sylvia Goldfarb Horowitz], Birth Date: 7 May 1915
    Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: 3 Jul 1999, Father: Juluis Goldfarb
    Mother: Ida Hecht, SSN: 147188949, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. Herman Malzberg and family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1016; Page: 30A; Enumeration District: 0354; FHL microfilm: 1375029, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  3. Chaim Malzberg ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 068 A; Page: 780; Microfilm No.: K_1742, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934. Dora and Ida Malzberg (Dvaire and Ita) manifest, Year: 1903; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 19; Page Number: 79, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. 
  4. Herman Malzberg and family, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 32 E.D. 05; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 90, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 
  5. Herman Malzberg and family, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1016; Page: 30A; Enumeration District: 0354; FHL microfilm: 1375029, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 
  6. Norman Malzberg, Birth Date: 2 May 1915, Birth Place: New York City, New York,
    Death Date: 10 Jul 1999, Father: Meyer Malzberg Mother: Bessie Goldfarb
    SSN: 140039073, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

The Goldfarbs in America 1892-1910

As seen in my last post, from US records we know that Sam/Solomon Goldfarb likely arrived in the US in about 1892 and was about 32 years old at that time. Four years later his wife Sarah Brod Goldfarb and their four oldest children—Joel (Julius), Moische (Morris), Gitel (Gussie), and Pesie (Bessie)— arrived in Philadelphia on September 13, 1896. Sarah was about thirty years old, Joel was ten, Moische eight, Gitel four, and Pesie only two.

In 1900, they were living in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. According to that census record, Sarah and Sam had been married eighteen years in 1900, meaning they were  married in 1882. Sarah had given birth to six children by that time, and all six were living with them. As listed on the 1900 census record, they were Joseph (actually Joel and later Julius, born in 1884), Moses (later Morris, 1885), Kate (really Gussie,1888; although the record says 1880, it also says she was 12), Bessie (1890), Joseph (1897), and Lewis (later, Leo, 1899). The errors in the names likely were due to the enumerator not understanding what he was told. The first four children were born in Europe, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were born in New Jersey.

Here is a photograph of young Joe and Leo Goldfarb shared with me by Joe’s granddaughter Alyce:

Leo and Joe Goldfarb, c. 1901. Courtesy of Alyce Shapiro Kunstadt

Sam was working as a tailor. Sam and Sarah’s oldest child, listed here as Joseph, but actually Joel and later known as Julius, was 15 and working as a tailor also. The three other older children were in school, and Joseph and Lewis/Leo were home with Sarah.

Solomon Goldfarb and family, 1900 US census, Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

One question that intrigued me was why did Sarah and Sam settle in Pittsgrove? I knew that in 1900 Sarah’s sister Bessie and brother-in-law Joseph Brotman were living in New York City.1 And I knew that in 1900 Joseph’s brother Moses Brotman was living in Pittsgrove.2 Why would Sarah and Sam have chosen Pittsgrove over New York? At first I assumed it was because Moses lived there.

But when I looked at Moses Brotman’s record on the 1895 New Jersey census, I noticed that living right next door to him was the family of Lazer (Louis) and Minnie Goldfarb—Sam Goldfarb’s brother and sister-in-law.

Families of Morris Brotman and Lazer Goldfarb, 1895 NJ census, Locality or ImageSet: Pittsgrove
Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1895

This tells me two things: one, that Sam and Sarah probably settled in Pittsgrove because Sam’s brother was there when Sam arrived in 1892 (although I cannot find Sam on the 1895 New Jersey census) and two, that Moses Brotman’s family and the Goldfarbs were connected through blood or marriage or at a minimum by their prior residence in Europe. I think it’s safe to assume that these two families knew each other well from the old country and in the new.

Interestingly, in 1900 when Sam and Sarah Goldfarb were living in Pittsgrove, Sam’s brother Lazer/Louis Goldfarb was living on Delancey Street in New York City’s Lower East Side, just a few blocks from where my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie were living.3 So Sam’s brother moved away from Pittsgrove within a few years of Sarah’s arrival there.

But as seen in 1905 New York State census, Sam and Sarah also soon moved from New Jersey to the Lower East Side, following Sam’s brother Louis. But even more exciting to me was to see where Sam and Sarah were living in 1905—85 Ridge Street—right across the street from my great-grandmother Bessie and my grandmother and her siblings, who were living at 84 Ridge Street. My great-grandfather Joseph Brotman died in 1901, and perhaps Sarah was drawn to New York to help her widowed sister Bessie.

Samuel Goldfarb, 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 32, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905

Bessie Brotman and family 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 12 E.D. 06; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 59  Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1905 (Terrible errors in names, but this is the right family.)

Sam and his two oldest sons, Julius (20) and Morris (19), were all working as cloakmakers, meaning likely doing piece work at one of the sweatshops in New York. Gussie (17) and Bessie (15) were in school. Joseph, now 8, was at home, and presumably so was Louis/Leo (5). And Sarah had had another child—Rosie, who was three, bringing the total number of children to seven—four boys and three girls. Rosie was born on February 9, 1902.

Rose Goldfarb birth record, New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWR-NVT : 11 February 2018), Rosie Goldfarb, 09 Feb 1902; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 7347 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,983,509.

By 1910, the family had moved from Ridge Street to 131 Avenue C in New York. Sam was working as a tailor in a cloak factory, but Julius, now 25, was working as a conductor for a car company, presumably meaning a streetcar, and Morris, now 23, was a cutter for a neckwear company. The other children were all at home except Gussie.

Samuel Goldfarb 1910 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 11, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1012; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0259; FHL microfilm: 1375025
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Gussie Goldfarb had married Max Katz on April 11, 1910, in New York. Max, the son of Louis Katz and Becky(?) Shuster, was born in Russia in 1884.

Marriage of Gussie Goldfarb and Max Katz,New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24ZW-DLF : 10 February 2018), Marx Katz and Josi Gossi Goldfarb, 12 Apr 1910; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,503,728.

In 1910 Gussie and Max were living with Max’s parents in Brooklyn, and Max was working as a window dresser, but had been out of work for 25 weeks in the past year. His father owned a candy store.4

Thus, as of 1910, Sam and Sarah Goldfarb still had six of their seven children living at home. The next five years would bring more changes.


  1. Joseph Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0283; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  2. Moses Brotman and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Pittsgrove, Salem, New Jersey; Page: 18; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240993, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  3. Louis Goldfarb and family, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 41; Enumeration District: 0291; FHL microfilm: 1241094, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  4. Louis Katz and family, Year: 1910; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 26, Kings, New York; Roll: T624_978; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0796; FHL microfilm: 1374991,
    Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census 

Two Cousins Whose Lives Tell the Overall Story of the Goldschmidts

As I draw to the close of my Goldschmidt family history project, it seemed quite appropriate that I recently received photographs of two members of that family who  exemplify two very different stories of this family’s history, my cousins Herman Goldsmith and Hannah Goldsmith. Hannah was born in America in 1848 and lived until 1939, and Herman was born in Germany in 1912 and lived until 2016.

First I received this photograph of Herman Goldsmith and my cousin Susan and her husband Richard. Susan said it was taken in June 2013 when Herman was 100 years old. He would turn 101 on December 6, 2013, and live until October 27, 2016, just a little over a month before he would have turned 104.

Richard and Susan (Vogel) Neulist and Herman Goldsmith, June 2013. Courtesy of Susan Neulist

I wrote about Herman here. He was the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt. Julius Falk Goldschmidt was the son of Falk Goldschmidt, and Leni Goldschmidt was the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Since Falk and Jacob Meier were brothers, Julius and Leni were first cousins, once removed, making Herman his own cousin.

After escaping from Nazi Germany to the US in the 1930s, Herman settled in New York City where so many Goldschmidt family members ended up. He remained in touch with his Goldschmidt relatives. Susan said he visited her grandmother, Grete Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, every week for many years.

Grete was also a double cousin as she was the daughter of Marcel (Maier) Goldschmidt, son of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and Hedwig Goldschmidt, daughter of Falk Goldschmidt. Hedwig and Marcel were first cousins, and so like Herman, Grete was her own cousin.

And since Hedwig Goldschmidt, Grete’s mother, and Julius Falk Goldschmidt, Herman’s father, were siblings, Grete and Herman were first cousins, both the grandchildren of Falk Goldschmidt.

But they were also both descended from Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, Herman’s great-grandfather and Grete’s grandfather, so they were also first cousins, once removed, through Herman’s mother Helene “Leni” Goldschmidt and Grete’s father Marcel Goldschmidt. Oy vey! No wonder they were so close! Susan described Herman as “quite the gentleman and full of wonderful stories.” I wish I knew more of his stories.

I also received a wonderful photograph from my cousin, Bruce, the great-great-great-grandson of Fradchen Schoenthal, sister of my great-great-grandfather Levi Schoenthal, and also the great-great-grandson of Simon Goldschmidt, brother of my three-times great-grandfather Seligmann Goldschmidt.

So Bruce is my double cousin. He’s my fourth cousin, once removed, through our Schoenthal side and my fifth cousin through our Goldschmidt side.

Isn’t Jewish genealogy fun?

Anyway, Bruce’s great-great-grandmother was Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, daughter of the above-mentioned Simon Goldschmidt. Hannah and her brother Henry were the first Goldschmidts born in the US, Henry in 1847 and Hannah in 1848. I’ve written much about Hannah and her family—here and here and here  and here and here and here and here. Hannah married Joseph Benedict in 1867, and they had five children, including Jacob Benedict, Bruce’s great-grandfather. Jacob had two daughters with his wife Clara Kaufman: Helen, born in 1907, and Marian, born in 1908. Helen was Bruce’s grandmother.

Bruce told me that this photograph was dated August 24, 1908, and shows Hannah Goldsmith Benedict with her husband Joseph and their two granddaughters Helen and Marian. At that time Jacob Benedict and his family were living in Paducah, Kentucky, and Hannah and Joseph were living in Pittsburgh. Jacob’s brother Herschel was living in Pittsburgh, and his brother Harry was living in Michigan by 1910.  But the photograph was apparently taken in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I wonder how that happened….

Joseph Benedict, Helen Benedict, Marian Benedict, and Hannah Goldsmith Benedict. August 24, 1908. Courtesy of Bruce Velzy

Another mystery to solve. But seeing one of my earliest American-born relatives with her granddaughters is very exciting.

It’s so fitting to close my Goldschmidt family blog posts with photographs of these two members of the family. Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith were first cousins, twice removed, since Hannah’s father Simon Goldschmidt and Herman’s great-grandfather Meyer Goldschmidt were brothers.

Hannah was born in the United States when the country was still very young. She lived through the Civil War, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression, dying in November 1939 while her German cousins were being persecuted and fleeing from Nazi Germany. She was 91 years old.

Just two months before Hannah died, her cousin Herman arrived in the US as one of those cousins escaping from Germany. Herman Goldsmith was born in 1912 in Frankfurt, Germany, and had grown up in the comfort of the large and well-to-do Goldschmidt family. Unlike Hannah, his life was radically changed by the events of the 1930s. But like Hannah, he saw so much in his lifetime, living until he was almost 104. He not only lived through World War I, the Weimar Republic years, the Depression, and World War II—he saw the radical changes that came after the war—the creation of the state of Israel, the Cold War, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the moon landing, the gay rights movement, the rise of the internet, 9/11, and the election of the first Black man to serve as president of the US.

Can you imagine the stories Herman and Hannah could tell each other as well as us?  They lived such different lives in such different places and times, overlapping in time between only 1912 and 1939, but on different continents. But together the lives of Hannah Goldsmith and Herman Goldsmith tell us so much not only about the richness of the Goldschmidt family’s story, but also about the history of Jews in America and in Germany.

Thank you to Susan and to Bruce for sharing these photographs. And thank you to each and everyone of my Goldschmidt cousins who have helped me understand and appreciate our shared history.

 

The Drey Family: More Cousins, More Small World Connections, More Photographs

A few weeks ago another new cousin found me through my blog, and the ensuing emails and additional new cousin connections have resulted in many small-world coincidences as well as a collection of family photographs. So even when I thought I was just about finished with my Goldschmidt family line, I have been reminded once again that this work is never really finished.

Let me start at the beginning. The cousin who first contacted me through my blog, Diane, is my fifth cousin, once removed. She is the daughter of Claude Drey, whose photographs I wrote about here, and the granddaughter of Arthur Drey and Caroline Lilly Cramer, who I now know was always called Lilly, not Caroline. Caroline was the daughter of David Cramer and Clementine Fuld. Here’s a chart showing the rest of our connection:

Diane and I both have children and grandchildren living in Brooklyn. She then connected me to other members of her family, including her first cousins Florence, George, and Linda, who are also my fifth cousins, once removed. They are the children of Dorothy Drey, Claude’s sister and the daughter of Arthur Drey and Lilly Cramer. And here’s where the small world connections piled up. Florence, George, and Linda grew up in White Plains, New York, where I went to junior high and high school. In fact, we lived around the corner from each other. Linda was just one year ahead of me in school. But we never knew of each other’s existence.

Then I learned that George’s wife grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Florence went to college there. I’ve lived right outside of Springfield since 1983. George is a lawyer, and Florence is engaged in genealogical research and activities. And finally, George, Florence, and I are now currently in Florida and not far from each other. But for COVID, we could all easily get together and meet in person. As a result of all these overlapping connections, we all likely know many of the same people, and when we do get together, it will be fun to discover more connections.

And then Diane sent me a collection of family photographs and has given me permission to share them here. Here are some of those photographs.

First, this is a photograph of Clementine Fuld Cramer with her two children Sally and Lilly. Clementine was the daughter of Helene Goldschmidt and Salomon Fuld and the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. I wrote about Clementine here and here. I am not sure when this would have been taken. If Lilly was not yet married, it had to be taken before January 27, 1919.

Sally Cramer, Clementine Fuld Cramer, Caroline Lilly Cramer. Courtesy of the Drey family

Here are photographs taken on January 27, 1919, when Lilly married Arthur Drey:

Arthur Drey and Lily Cramer, January 1919. Courtesy of the Drey family

Arthur Drey and Lily Cramer, January 1919. Courtesy of the Drey family

Lilly and Arthur Drey had three children. This photograph shows Lilly with their first two children, Claude and Dorothy in 1921 when Dorothy was born.

Lilly Cramer Drey, Claude Drey, Dorothy Drey. c. 1921. Courtesy of the Drey family

Their third child Elizabeth was born five years later in 1926. Here she is as a young child:

Elizabeth Drey c. 1927 Courtesy of the Drey family

This photograph of the entire family was taken in Frankfurt in about 1927 before their lives were forever altered by the Nazis:

Drey family in Frankfurt c. 1927. Courtesy of the Drey family

These photographs of Claude and Dorothy as children were also taken in Germany before the family escaped from Germany to Milan, Italy, in 1933:

Claude Drey c. 1928 Courtesy of the Drey family

Dorothy Drey c. 1932-1933 Courtesy of the Drey family

Diane also shared photographs taken in the US in the 1940s and beyond. What I found most remarkable about those were the photographs of Clementine Fuld Cramer with her great-grandchildren, including Diane, George, and Florence. Clementine died in 1962 at 87. She had lived through the early years of a unified Germany, World War I, the oppression of Jews by the Nazis in the 1930s, immigration to the US during World War II, and the post-war years adjusting to the United States. She lived to see the births of not only her grandchildren but also a number of great-grandchildren. What a remarkable life she had. I bet she had some amazing stories to share.

Clementine Fuld Cramer with one of her great-grandchildren in the US

Finally, I love this photograph of Caroline Lilly Cramer Drey taken in New York City sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. She had held on to the grace and sophisticaion of the world she’d known as a well-to-do woman living in the Frankfurt Jewish community before the Nazi era.

Lilly Cramer Drey in New York City
Courtesy of the Drey family

 

 

The Diaries of a Young Boy: An Update on the Family of Arthur Rapp

Before I move on to the last child of Meyer Goldschmidt, his son Falk, I have two updates that relate to Meyer’s two other sons, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Selig Goldschmidt. Today’s involves descendants of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Once again I have had the good fortune of connecting with a Goldschmidt fifth cousin, my cousin Greg. Greg is the great-grandson of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, the youngest child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Greg’s grandfather was Helmina’s son Arthur Rapp, and his father was Gordon (born Gunther) Rapp.

Greg shared with me numerous photographs and documents, including his father’s diaries written during World War II when he was a teenager. Greg also put together a timeline of his family’s travels from Germany to Italy to England to Brazil and finally to the US, all between the years of 1934 to 1941 or from when his father was eight years old until he was sixteen. In other words, the Rapp family lived in five countries in the span of seven years.

Although I have already written most of the skeleton of the Rapp family story in my earlier post, after reviewing the materials Greg shared and speaking with him, I want to supplement that post because I can now better describe the family’s life in Frankfurt and the journey that finally brought them to the US in 1941.

Arthur Rapp and his wife Alice Kahn were married in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. This photograph might be their wedding photograph, but Greg wasn’t certain.

Wedding of Alice Kahn and Arthur Rapp 1921. Courtesy of Greg Rapp

It was Arthur’s second marriage, and he had a daughter Rita from that first marriage who was born in 1908. Then Arthur and Alice had two sons, Helmut, born in 1923, and Gunther, born in 1925. These photographs of the family in the years before they left Germany in March 1934 illustrate their comfortable lifestyle with family vacations to the shore and to the mountains. I don’t have exact dates for these photographs but can only estimate from the presumed ages of Helmut and Gunther.

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp with unknown woman c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

During these years Arthur was working for the H. Fuld Telephone company as a director and salesman. H. Fuld was started by Arthur’s first cousin Harry Fuld, about whom I wrote in this blog post.

Gunther Rapp started school in Frankfurt on April 6, 1932, when he was six, and spent two years in school in Frankfurt, ending on February 23, 1934, as seen on this report card his son Greg shared with me. His first year was at the Holzhausen School, and his second year was at the Philanthropin School.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Then, one year after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, the Rapp family left their comfortable life in Frankfurt and moved to Milan, Italy, where on March 2, 1934, Gunther was enrolled in a Swiss school in Milan, as seen in this report card:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The family lived in Milan until about December 1937. Greg wasn’t sure what his grandfather was doing at that time but speculated that since the H. Fuld Telephone Company was international, he was continuing to work for that company during this time.

I think these photographs were probably taken during the time they were in Italy from March 1934 until December 1937, or from the time Gunther was eight until he was twelve; on the other hand, they might have been taken in England, their next home:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

Then the family moved again, this time to London. Gunther was now twelve, his brother Helmut was fourteen. Having learned Italian and studied French while in Milan, the boys now had to learn a fourth language, English. When he started school in England in January 1938 at the Normandie Preparatory School in Bexhill-on-the-Sea, Gunther knew only three words: please, thank you, and yes.2

Gunther’s report card a year later in December 1938 showed just how much progress he had made in English and in school in general (despite the comment about how he was doing in Scripture). Perhaps most telling is the comment at the bottom: “He is losing his shyness and beginning to talk more readily.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah that December as well, delivering his bar mitzvah speech in German, which he later translated to English. His speech was primarily an expression of gratitude to his parents and his grandmother for the way they instilled joy and love into all their lives. A note at the bottom contained Gunther’s admission (possibly added years later) that the rabbi wrote most of his speech (something that may be true for many bar/bat mitzvah students).

And then nine months later on September 1, 1939, World War II started. The headmaster of Gunther’s school wrote to his parents, trying to persuade them to keep Gunther at the school.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Two things are of particular interest: first, the fact that the school had built a trench so that the students never had to go outside. And secondly, the letter assured Gunther’s parents that the fact that he was German-born would not be an issue, noting that, “We all know that you have exactly the same feelings as an Englishman about the tyrant in Germany….”

But the Normandale School was on the south coast of England on the English Channel, and the Rapps decided that boys would be safer elsewhere. Gunther and his brother Helmut were sent to High Bullen Farm in Lynton, Ilkerton-Devon, on the west coast of England. The farm had no electricity, only kerosene lamps, and water had to be pumped by hand. The Rapp brothers helped on the farm—milking cows, hunting rabbits, and watched the slaughtering of a pig.3

Starting in January 1940, Gunther began to keep a diary. The three months of the first year of his diaries are, interestingly, written in German, not English; many of the entries simply say he went to school or he was sick in bed or he played football (soccer, I assume) or hockey or golf.  In April 1940, he switched to English, which I found noteworthy. I wonder whether England being at war against Germany had anything to do with that or whether he just finally felt fluent enough in English to use it. There is no mention of the war, however, until May 8, 1940, when he included a small news clipping about the war after entering his activities for that day: “Go to school. Play cricket. Became a prefect.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

But his parents were already looking to get out of England:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

From then on, Gunther made occasional entries about the progress of the war or entered news clippings, but mostly he reported on going to school and engaging in sports. In June 1940, he and Helmut left Devon and returned to the family home in Stanmore where their parents had built a house with a bomb shelter in the backyard to keep them safe.4

On June 26, 1940, Gunther wrote the following brief entry: “Pa is interned at 10 o’clock. Mu [his mother, I assume] is very worried. Read. Mu goes to Consuls and tries to get a visa.” On Friday, August 2, 1940, Gunther wrote, “We get a ‘phone call that we will shortly get the visa.” On August 16, he spoke of men coming to pack and of an air raid warning. There are then several more references to air raid warnings, and on August 29, he noted that his diary had been checked by a censor as the family was preparing to leave England.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

And then on September 6, 1940, he described their departure from England, commenting in part that “We are all very pleased. Pa came out of the internment camp.” They were headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gunther’s fourth country in six years. He was not yet fifteen years old.

From his description of the trip from England to Brazil, you would think he was on a pleasure cruise with his diary entries repeatedly saying, “Lie on deck. Read and play,” with an occasional reference to learning Portuguese—his fifth language after German, Italian, French, and English.

The Rapp family’s time in Brazil was relatively short, and Gunther’s diary entries mostly refer to learning Portuguese, going to the museum, exploring Sao Paulo, and engaging in some project with marble blocks. He also commented on Helmut’s fascination with watches and clocks and his work at a clock repair store. Then in December he started school and commented, “I hardly understand anything the teachers say.” But that same week in December, 1940, Gunther wrote about going with his parents to the American consul to get a visa to travel to the US.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The 1941 diary began by noting that he was going to school each morning to learn Portuguese and taking typing lessons in the afternoon. But meanwhile the family was preparing to sail to the US. Helmut continued to repair watches. On his last day at the school in Brazil, January 31, 1941, Gunther wrote, “I’m glad I don’t have to go there any more because I didn’t like it there.”  Overall, he seemed not to be the least bit sad when they left Brazil on February 5, 1941, and sailed to the United States.

On February 17, 1941, the ship arrived in New York harbor. Gunther wrote on that day:

“We are getting nearer our destination. On our left and our right, we can see strips of land, with a blanket of snow on it. Hardly visible through the fog is the imposing statue of liberty, which guards the entrance of the N. York harbor. … We step ashore at 330 and are welcomed at the quay by aunt Alice [Rapp, his father’s sister] and [her husband] Sally and one or two other friends. It’s snowing and terribly cold. …. We go with Uncle Sally and Mr. Drey to the Whitehall Hotel by U-ground, which isn’t as nice as in London [ed.: that is still true today]. I haven’t seen much of N.Y. yet, but from what I have seen, I think I’m going to like it.”

He in fact lived the rest of his life in the greater New York City area, moving only as far as New Jersey in the mid-1970s.

Gunther (who became Gordon in the US) continued to keep his diaries through 1945, and when I have time I hope to read through more of them. But for now I have told the part of the story I wanted to share—the story of a boy who left his homeland at eight for Italy, then at twelve moved to England, at fourteen left for Brazil, and finally in February 1941 when he was fifteen, moved to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life.

As I wrote in my earlier post about the Rapp family, both Gunther/Gordon and his brother Helmut/Harold lived long and successful and productive lives in the US—Harold rising from doing watch repairs to becoming the president of Bulova International, Gordon obtaining degrees from Cornell University and Purdue University and becoming a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation.

From reading the diaries, looking at the photos, and reading the letters written about him by his teachers, it truly seems that Gunther Rapp’s bar mitzvah speech was truthful—even if the rabbi wrote much of it. Gunther seems to have always felt safe and secure with his parents and brother, well-loved and filled with joy, despite all the turmoil and changes going on in his external circumstances.

Thank you so much to my cousin Greg for sharing this incredible archive of photographs, diaries, and other documents. By doing so, he has brought his father to life for me and, I hope I have been able to honor the memory of this man whose boyhood was interrupted, but who never seemed to lose his joyfulness or his desire to succeed.


  1. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  2. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  3. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020
  4. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part II

In the last post we saw that after Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer died in 1918 and then her husband Nathan Sondheimer died in 1933, there were three children left orphaned: Manfred, Erich, and Augusta. They were still just teenagers at the time. But fortunately for them their grandmother Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and their extended family in Frankfurt cared for them as did their stepmother Anna.

All three were able to escape from Nazi Germany in time. We saw that  Augusta ended up in the US in early 1939 and lived with her stepmother Anna and her aunt Selma Ettlinger Oppenheimer until she married Walter Levy in 1942.

As for Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich, by 1939, they were living in England, according to the 1939 England and Wales Register. The Sondheimer brothers were living in Surrey with a couple named Friedrich and Ruth Hirsch, who were not much older than they were; Friedrich was a metal broker. Manfred was working as the secretary and Erich as a clerk for a company identified as Messrs. Tonerde on their enemy alien registration cards (see images below). That was the same company where their cousin Ernst Bodenheimer was employed.

Manfred and Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1938C, Enumeration District: DNEA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Manfred married another Frankfurt native, Ruth Blumenthal, on June 16, 1940, in the Hendon district of London; Ruth was born on June 4, 1920, to Samuel Blumenthal and Gutta Spangenthal. She had come to London after finishing school in Germany.1 Their daughter, my fifth cousin Daniela, kindly shared a scan of their marriage registration:

Marriage certificate of Manfred Sondheimer and Ruth Blumenthal

Both Manfred and Erich were eventually interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Here is Manfred’s enemy alien registration card showing that he was then living in Surrey and working for Messrs. Tonerde. Although he was originally found to be exempt from internment, he was later interned on the Isle of Man, where he was put in charge of one of the barracks,2 and released on September 8, 1940.

Manfred Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Manfred’s brother Erich Selig Sondheimer also was interned on the Isle of Man. According to his enemy alien registration card, he was living with his brother Manfred in Surrey at the time of  registration and was also working for Messrs. Tonerde. But he also was later sent to the internment camp where he was the chauffeur to the commander of the camp.3 Eric was  released from the camp on September 7, 1940, the day before his brother Manfred.

Erich S Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On September 9, 1940, Ruth and Manfred and Erich all left England for Cuba. They had decided they would go wherever they first got a visa, and although Ruth would have preferred to go to Palestine where her parents and sister were living, the visa for Cuba came through first.4

On the same ship were their cousins Ernst and Clementine (Eisemann) Bodenheimer, who had also been interned on the Isle of Man. According to their daughter Daniela, Ruth and Manfred had a religious wedding ceremony aboard the ship to solemnize the civil ceremony they had had in London in June.5

Ernst and Clementine Bodenheimer, Manfred and Ruth Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer, ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On February 17, 1941, Manfred and Ruth arrived in Miami, Florida, from Cuba. Manfred reported that the person they were going to at their destination was Anna Sondheimer in New York City. Manfred stated that he was a merchant who last permanently resided in London. He could speak five languages: German, English, French, Dutch, and Hebrew.

Manfred Sondheimer, Ancestry.com. Miami, Florida, U.S., Index to Alien Arrivals by Airplane, 1930-1942

By the time Manfred filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on September 12, 1941, he and Ruth were living in New York City. Manfred listed his occupation as the vice-president/secretary of an importing business.

Manfred Sondheimer, 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 630) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 500201-501100), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On his World War II draft registration, he identified that company as Campro, Inc. Manfred and Ruth had two children born in New York after the war, their son Adrian and their daughter Daniela, who has generously shared so much of her family’s story with me.

Manfred Sondheimer World War 2 draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s marriage to Ruth Blumenthal ended in divorce in 1966, and in 1968, he married another Ruth—Ruth Darmstadter Grunebaum.6 He became the vice-president of the Hugo Neu Company, a business that, as described on its website, “is a privately held company with deep experience in investing, building and managing businesses in recycling, real estate and related industries.” Manfred worked there for fifty years. One of his favorite charities was the Bibleland Museum in Jerusalem, and he worked hard to provide support and to obtain support from others for that institution.7

Manfred died on January 8, 2006, at the age of 91. He was survived by his children and grandchildren as well as his brother Erich. Those descendants have carried on the Goldschmidt commitment to Jewish education as both of Manfred’s children and all of his grandchildren have attended or are attending Jewish day school.8

Instead of going directly to the US from Cuba like his brother Manfred, Erich Sondheimer agreed to stay in Cuba so that another relative, one of his Sondheimer cousins, could leave for the US. Because he was unable to get a visa to the US, Erich ended up living for some years in Ecuador,9 where he married his wife Joan Charlotte Salomon on October 26, 1943. She was born in Berlin on March 31, 1912, to Herman and Gertrud Salomon.10

Erich and Joan immigrated to the US on August 22, 1946, arriving in Miami, Florida. On an information sheet filed with INS upon his arrival, Erich indicated that they were heading to Long Beach, New Jersey, where Anna Sondheimer, his stepmother, was living. (This is probably a mistake and should have been Long Beach, New York, according to Erich’s niece Daniela.) Erich described his occupation as “industrial” and noted that he, like his brother Manfred, was able to read five languages: German, Dutch, French, Spanish, and English.

Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2788537; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 133, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963

Erich (later spelled Eric in the US) and Joan settled in New York and made several trips to South America as well as other destinations over the years. They did not have children. Joan died November 22, 2009; she was 97 years old.11 Eric died March 8, 2010, less than four months after Joan. He was 94.12

Eric worked for many years for the Melanol Corporation, an oil trading business, but his niece Daniela said that his real passion was his volunteer work for an organization called Selfhelp Community Services that Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer was also involved in developing.13 Selfhelp describes itself on its website as follows:

Selfhelp Community Services was founded in 1936 to help those fleeing Nazi Germany maintain their independence and dignity as they struggled to forge new lives in America. Today, Selfhelp is one of the largest and most respected not-for-profit human service agencies in the New York metropolitan area, with 46 programs offering services throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Westchester. Selfhelp provides a broad set of services to more than 20,000 elderly, frail, and vulnerable New Yorkers each year, while remaining the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America.

In a death notice published in The New York Times on March 9, 2010, Selfhelp paid tribute to Eric Sondheimer and his long and dedicated service to their organization:14

Selfhelp Community Services deeply mourns the passing of the esteemed elder statesman of our Board, Eric S. Sondheimer. For over fifty years, Mr. Sondheimer demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Selfhelp’s historic mission of supporting life with dignity to survivors of the Holocaust. His passion for independent living is evidenced by Selfhelp’s six residences, built under his guidance and direction, which house 1,000 seniors. Mr. Sondheimer will be lovingly remembered as a true gentleman whose exceptional kindness and wit was matched only by his insightful wisdom and vision. He left an extraordinary legacy for which he will always be remembered.

Thank you to my fifth cousin Daniela for sharing her family stories and photographs, including these two of her Sondheimer family. First, a photograph of Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Daniela’s mother, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan Sondheimer’s brother Fritz, and Joan Charlotte Salomon Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer’s wife:

Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family

This last photograph is of four of the Sondheimer siblings and their spouses. It includes Manfred and Eric Sondheimer’s half-siblings, Fred (previously known as Fritz) and Marion. Their sister Augusta had already died when this photo was taken.

Robert Couturier, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Fred Sondheimer, Marion Sondheimer Couturier, Ruth Grunenbaum Sondheimer, Manfred Sondheimer, Eric Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family.

Reading about Manfred and Eric and their sister Augusta and how successful and well-loved they all were was reassuring and uplifting. Here were three children who lost their mother as preschoolers and their father as teens and then had to escape from Nazi Germany. Eric and Manfred were both interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Both brothers then escaped to Cuba because they couldn’t get into the US as quickly due to visa issues and quotas. And then finally they both settled in New York and lived very long and productive lives.

Once again I am inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of people to survive terrible losses and displacement and yet go on to find joy and meaning in life.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Jun 1920, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1996
    Father: Samuel Blumenthal, Mother: Gutta Spagenthal, SSN: 060405088, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Volume Number: 3a
    Page Number: 2220, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 2220, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Divorce documents provided by Daniela Sondheimer Klein. Ruth Grunebaum
    Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 1968, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Manfred Sondheimer, License Number: 2434,
    New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Death notices for Manfred Oppenheimer, The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2006, Section C, Page 17. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  8. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Manfred Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 051-18-3476, Birth Date: 27 Oct 1914, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Jan 2006, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  10. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 25 Feb 1952
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  11. Joan Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 094-24-2094, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 22 Nov 2009, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12.  Eric Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 070-24-6828, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1915
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Mar 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  14. Death notice for Eric Sondheimer, The New York Times, March 9, 2010. 

Meier Katzenstein: The One Who Left Home

Having discussed the three daughters of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein—Helene, Fredericke, and Henriette—and their families, we now finally reach their last child and only son, Meier Katzenstein.1  And his story is far different from that of his sisters, all of whom lived almost all their lives in Germany, not far from where they were born in Eschwege, and whose descendants either were killed by or escaped from the Nazis.

Meier was born on August 6, 1860, in Eschwege, as we have seen, but in 1888 he immigrated to the United States, changing the path of his life as well as that of his descendants. According to his passport application (depicted below), he arrived in New York on October 10, 1888, and settled there.

Meier Katzenstein, 1903 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 623; Volume #: Roll 623 – 13 May 1903-18 May 1903
Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

I love the physical description of Meier on his application: five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face. He sounds quite adorable.

Meier married Emma Bacharach in New York on October 27, 1891.2 Emma, the daughter of Jakob Bacharach and Sophia Pfann, was also a recent immigrant. She was born in Mainz, Germany, on July 5, 1869,3 and came to the US on November 5, 1889, accompanied by someone named Isaac Bachrach who was 48 years old. I’ve not been able to identify Isaac’s connection to Emma, but presumably he was an uncle or cousin.4

Emma and Meier had one child, a daughter Sophia (presumably named for Emma’s mother Sophia Pfann), born on August 19, 1892, in New York.5 Emma must have taken little Sophia back to Germany during her first year to meet her family because I found a ship manifest showing them sailing together from Hamburg to New York in the summer of 1893.

Sophia and Emma Katzenstein, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 085; Page: 958; Microfilm No.: K_1750, Month: Direkt Band 085 (1 Jul 1893 – 31 Aug 1893), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Meier became a naturalized citizen of the United States on May 4, 1894.

“New York Naturalization Index (Soundex), 1792-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G937-NSGK-M?cc=2043782&wc=SFCB-HZ9%3A1399296801 : 4 February 2015), Roll 128, K324-K400 (Kutzelmann, Adam J-Klee, Johannes) > image 348 of 5224; citing NARA microfilm publication M1674 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

In 1900, Meier, Emma, and Sophia were living in New York City with another family. The head of household was Rosenthal (first name not legible); living with him was his wife Ida Rosenthal and their son Julian Rosenthal, two servants, and Meier, Emma, and Sophia.

Meier Katzenstein, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0862; FHL microfilm: 1241119, Enumeration District: 0862; Description: City of New York, 31st Assembly Dist; 22nd Election District (pt) bounded by E 129th, Park Ave, E 126th, Madison Ave, Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

I was thrown off by this census record because it identifies Emma as the daughter, Sophia as the granddaughter, and Meier as the son-in-law of the head of household.  If Emma’s birth name was Bacharach and her parents were Jakob and Sophia, how could she be the daughter of Ida Rosenthal and her husband? It took a couple of hours to sort out that Ida Rosenthal was born Ida Pfann and was the sister of Sophia Pfann, Emma’s mother. Thus, Emma was Ida Rosenthal’s niece, not her daughter.

Meier’s occupation on the 1900 census is extremely hard to read as it is very faint, but I think I can discern the word “Sales” and perhaps “Linens,” the same occupation listed above for Emma’s cousin Julian Rosenthal. His passport application in 1903, depicted above, is more specific. He listed his occupation there as “manufacturer and importer of embroideries.”

By 1910, Meier and his wife and daughter had their own home in Manhattan, and Meier’s occupation this time is easily read as Manager, Fancy Linens. They also had a servant living with them.

Meier Katzenstein, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1024; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0622; FHL microfilm: 1375037
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

The family did some traveling in 1911—to Hong Kong and to Hawaii. Meier must have been doing well in his business, having a servant and traveling to exotic locations.6

His daughter and only child Sophia Katzenstein married Elias Lustig on February 19, 1914, in New York.7 Like Sophia, Elias was a native of New York City, born there on May 31, 1890, and the son of David and Rachel Lustig.8 Elias and Sophia’s first child David Miles Lustig was born on August 22, 1916, in New York.9

Unfortunately, Meier Katzenstein did not live to see the birth of his grandson; on February 20, 1916, at the age of 55, he died in New York City, just six months before his grandson’s birth. My guess is that his grandson’s middle name Miles was in Meier’s memory.10

In his will, Meier left everything to his wife Emma and then to his daughter Sophia in the event Emma did not survive him. Interestingly, he provided that in the event that Emma predeceased him and Sophia was still a minor, his “brother-in-law Max Werner of Eschwege” was to be her guardian. Max was married to Meier’s older sister Helene Katzenstein Werner. But why would Meier have appointed someone living in Germany to be the guardian of his daughter in New York? Imagine how Sophia’s life would have been different if in fact her parents had both died before she reached adulthood and she had moved to Germany?

Meier Katzenstein’s will, Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York, Notes: Wills, 1021-1023, 1915-1916, Ancestry.com. New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Of course, it all was irrelevant since Emma did not predecease Meier, and Sophia was already an adult when Meier died. In 1920, Emma was living with Sophia and Elias and their son David Miles (listed here as Miles) in New York City. Elias was working as a merchant. 11 In 1921, Sophia and Elias had a second child.

I could not find Emma on the 1930 or 1940 census, but in 1930 Sophia and Elias were living in Queens in 1930 with their children, and Elias was the owner of a hat factory.12 Sometime thereafter, the marriage between Sophia and Elias ended, and in 1936 she married Saul Baron, with whom she and her children were living in New York in 1940. Saul was an attorney in private practice.13

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died on February 18, 1941, in New York; she was 71.14

Meier Katzenstein’s choice to leave Germany for the United States back in 1888 spared his family the tragedies endured by so many of his relatives back in Europe during the Holocaust, but in one way the actions of Hitler still indirectly inflicted tragedy on his descendants. His grandson David Miles Lustig, named in his memory, was killed during World War II. While returning from a mission over China in early 1945, his plane was shot down, and David drowned in a small river after bailing out of the plane. He was 28 years old and a graduate of Princeton University.15

His mother Sophia Katzenstein Lustig Baron died just nine years later at the age of 58 on November 9, 1950.16  She was survived by her husband Saul Baron, her daughter and grandchild.


Having now covered all the children of Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein, I have a few updates to other relatives to write about before turning to Amalie’s younger brothers, Selig and Falk Goldschmidt, the last two children of my 4x-great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt.


  1. The spellings of his name vary on different documents between Meyer and Meier,  but I’ve opted to use Meier. 
  2. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:24HL-R32 : 10 February 2018), Meier Katzenstein and Emma Bacharach, 27 Oct 1891; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,452,198. 
  3. Emma Bacharach birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 72, Year Range: 1869, Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875 
  4. Emma Bacharach, passenger manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 15; List Number: 1524, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W9D-B77 : 11 February 2018), Sophia Katzenstein, 19 Aug 1892; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 32010 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,266. 
  6.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 02/13/1900 – 12/30/1953; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3422; Roll: 031; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, Ancestry.com. Honolulu, Hawaii, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959. 
  7.  Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 9 Feb 1914, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias Lustig, License Number: 4135, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018; Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 19 Feb 1914, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias S Lustig, Certificate Number: 5033, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  8.  Elias Lustig, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 31 May 1890, Birth Place: New York, USA, Street Address: 601 W 162, Residence Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  9. David Miles Lustig, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1916, Birth Place: New York City, New York
    Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: New York City, New York, New York
    Next of Kin: Elias Lustig, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  10. Meier Katzenstein, Age: 57, Birth Year: abt 1859, Death Date: 20 Feb 1916
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 5960, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  11. Elias Lustig and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1226; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 1489, Enumeration District: 1489; Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elias Lustig and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0296; FHL microfilm: 2341330,
    Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  13.  Sophie K Lustig, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 22 May 1936, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Saul J Baron
    License Number: 10611, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Saul Baron and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 31-1351, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  14.  New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  15. David Miles Lustig obituary, Daily News, New York, New York
    07 Mar 1945, Wed • Page 352 
  16. Sophie Baron, Age: 58, Birth Date: abt 1892, Death Date: 9 Nov 1950
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 23658
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 

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.

 

Charles Bloch Redux, Part II: A Surprising Twist in the Family Tree

Although I ran into a brick wall trying to learn more about the time Charles Bloch spent in France during World War II, in the course of that research I discovered another twist in the Goldschmidt family tree.

First, I learned that Charles Bloch had a sister. Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg, parents of Charles Bloch, had a daughter named Johanna Bloch born in 1879.

Johanna Bloch, birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8931, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna married a man named Ludwig Dannheisser in 1900.

Johanna Bloch marriage record to Ludwig Dannheisser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a beautiful photograph of Johanna taken in 1921 in Frankfurt when she was 42:

Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, 1921, Frankfurt, Germany. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Tragically, both Johanna and Ludwig were killed at Auschwitz on May 22, 1944, after being deported from the Netherlands.1

Page of Testimony for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas

But their son Paul Dannheisser escaped from Germany to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to the US in 1940, settling in New York with his wife Dora Anni (known as Anni) nee Rosenthal and their son Ralph.2

This is a photograph taken at Paul and Anni’s wedding in October, 1932.

Wedding of Paul and Anni Dannheisser, October, 1932. Front row: Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, Anni Rosenthal Dannheisser, Paul Dannheisser, and Bertha Kaufmann Rosenthal. Standing behind Anni is her father-in-law Ludwig Dannheisser. Behind Paul to the right is Max Rosenthal.  Others are not identified. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

When I saw the name Dannheisser, I knew something was familiar about it. Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, was known as Elizabeth Dannheisser near the end of her life, according to the Social Security Claims and Applications Index.3 I had not found a marriage record for Elizabeth showing a marriage to someone named Dannheisser, only records showing a Paul Dannheisser married to Anni, but when I saw that Charles Bloch had a brother-in-law Ludwig and a nephew Paul with that surname, I wondered if there was a connection.

Fortunately, I was able to find and connect with Paul Dannheisser’s son Ralph, and he confirmed that in 1973, his father Paul Dannheisser had married my cousin Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Saly Stern and Alice Rapp. He even shared a copy of the marriage certificate I couldn’t locate.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Paul was 72 at the time, and Elizabeth was 54. Paul was a widower, his wife Anni having died the year before, and Elizabeth had divorced her first husband Gerhard Hirsch in 1950.4  Paul and Elizabeth had been introduced to each other by Ilse Bloch, known in the US as Helen Bloch, the daughter of Amalie Meyer and Charles Bloch.

Helen was Elizabeth’s second cousin; they were both great-granddaughters of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn:

Helen Bloch was also Paul Dannheisser’s first cousin; they were both the grandchildren of Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg:

First cousins, Helen Bloch and Paul Dannheisser, 1961. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

So Elizabeth Stern, the granddaughter of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, married the nephew of Charles Bloch, who was the husband of Amalie Meyer, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. Regina was Helmina’s older sister. Here’s another chart to show the connection.

Ralph, Paul Dannheisser’s son and the great-nephew of Charles Bloch, was thus the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth (known as Elsbeth). He also knew Charles and Amalie (whom he called Ama) Bloch. He often visited them in their New York City apartment on West 56th Street. He and his parents would go for monthly Sunday dinners. Ralph would listen to the radio or be entertained by Charles and Amalie’s daughter Helen while his parents and Charles and Amalie played bridge. Helen, who was an avid photographer, would show Ralph her photography magazines.

Ralph described Charles as a heavy-set bald man and Amalie as a handsome woman who wore her hair in a bun, and he said they were both very kind to him, as was Helen. In fact, he stayed close to Helen for many years, bringing his own children to visit her often. Unfortunately, however, Ralph was not able to tell me any more details of how Charles Bloch spent the years he was in France.5

Ralph shared the certificates of naturalization issued to Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth Stern; these were particularly exciting to me because they included photographs of each of them. He also shared a collage of photos including one of Walter Stern, Elizabeth’s brother.

Ralph was very fond of Elizabeth Stern, his father’s second wife. He described her as a lovely woman who was very warm and wonderful to him and to his father. Ralph was very pleased when his father married her (he was already an adult by that time). Sadly, Elizabeth developed a terrible illness not long after she married Paul Dannheisser and spent many of the years at the end of her life in a nursing home, dying in February 1997.6

Her brother Walter Stern also endured difficult times. Ralph had a file filled with letters written to or about Walter that revealed much about his character and his work history and ethic. In Germany, Walter was a very well-regarded employee of a book dealer named J. Kauffmann before he immigrated to the US, and then for some time after he immigrated, he worked for a jewelry company in Washington, DC, where he was living when his parents and sister Elizabeth immigrated to the US. His employer at the jewelry company had written a letter in April 1939 to the American Consul in London (where his family was then living), extolling Walter’s virtues. My hunch is that this was a character reference to support the Consul’s issuance of a visa to Saly, Alice, and Elizabeth Stern so they could immigrate to the US.7

Walter returned to New York after his family arrived in March 1940 and worked for a company called Tonerde Incorporated, as listed on his World War II draft registration in October 1940. He left there on December 8, 1941, and received another positive letter of recommendation. But that draft registration hinted that something else was going on with Walter:

Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Why was he “under care”? Family lore, according to Ralph, is that Walter was mugged and suffered a brain injury from which he never recovered. But as late as 1944, Walter received letters of thanks from the Treasury Department for his efforts in selling war bonds. 8

Ralph and I couldn’t put together the whole picture of what happened to Walter. In a December 1946 letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to Alice Rapp Stern, Walter’s mother, there is a reference to a warrant for Walter’s arrest that was being cancelled. My hunch is that once Walter’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen had expired after seven years, or in August, 1945, and he had not yet become a naturalized citizen, he was subject to deportation. How Alice Rapp Stern persuaded INS to close the case and cancel the arrest warrant is a mystery yet to be solved. I have filed a request for documents from the USCIS to see if I can learn more.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

What we do know is that by the end of 1947, Walter was institutionalized at the Rockland State Hospital and later at Brooklyn State Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his life, dying in October 1996, just a few months before his sister Elizabeth.9

I still have no details about how Charles Bloch survived the war in France, the original question that led me down this ambling path. But what an adventure the search for answers to that question has been: learning about the ITS document request process, thanks to Barbara; making the connection to Danny, who spent so much time helping me find French records; and then finding Ralph, my distant cousin by marriage, who brought to life some of the people I’d been researching.  All these connections and discoveries have made this a wonderful experience. I may not have all the answers, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


  1. Entry for Ludwig Dannheisser in Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y5s4hkjj; Entry for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas 
  2. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 22, 2020. 
  3. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch] [Elizabeth Dannheisser] Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern, Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714
    Notes: Mar 1942: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH STERN; Jul 1943: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTHHENRIETTA HIRSCH; Oct 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH DANNHEISSER; Dec 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUT DANNHEISSER; 22 Feb 1997: Name listed as ELIZABETH DANNHEISSER, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Ralph has a copy of Elizabeth’s Mexico divorce decree, dated August 5, 1950, as well as copy of her “get,” the Jewish divorce decree, dated July 3, 1952. 
  5. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 29, 2020 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser