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

Emily Kahn, Gunther, and Helmut 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 

Arthur Rapp and Family: From Germany to England to Brazil to New York

In my last post, we saw that Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp and her daughter Alice Rapp Stern, son-in-law Saly Stern, and their daughters Elizabeth and Grete had first escaped to England from Nazi Germany, with Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth later immigrating to the US where their son Walter had already settled. Today’s post is about Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son Arthur Rapp and his family.

Arthur and his wife Alice and their sons Helmut and Gunther also were in England by 1939. Arthur reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a retired telephone salesman. (The two black lines are presumably for Helmut/Harold and Gunther/Gordon, who must still have been living when the document was scanned.)

Arthur Rapp and Family,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6823F, Enumeration District: WFQC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

But like his sister Alice, Arthur did not stay in England. First, in 1940, he and his family immigrated to Brazil. I love having these photographs of Arthur and his family. Gunther is particularly adorable. But then I remember that these people had to leave their home in Frankfurt and then uproot themselves again to go from England to Brazil.

Arthur Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004816338, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Alice Kahn Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Helmut Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004871140, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Gunther Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

But a year later on February 27, 1941, they uprooted themselves again and left Brazil for New York where they settled in Forest Hills, New York, as seen on Arthur’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen.

Arthur Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur reported on his declaration of intention that he was unemployed, but his son Helmut, now using the name Harold, reported on his declaration that he was a watchmaker.

Harold (Helmut) Rapp, 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 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur and Alice’s younger son Gunther, who became Gordon, was sixteen when they immigrated; on his World War II draft registration in 1943, he was living in Monmouth, New Jersey, working for Modern Farms.

Gordon (Gunther) Rapp, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 539
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Arthur’s daughter from his first marriage, Henriette Rapp, also ended up in the US. She had married Siegmund Schwarz in Berlin on May 6, 1929, and they were living in Kirtof, Germany, in 1935.

Henriette Rapp marriage record to Siegmund Schwarz, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, 1929 (Erstregister)
Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

They immigrated to the US in 1937 and in June 1938 when Henriette, now using Rita, filed her declaration of intention to become a US citizen, they were living in San Francisco.

National Archives at Riverside; Riverside, California; NAI Number: 594890; Record Group Title: 21; Record Group Number: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009
Description: Petitions, 1943 (Box 0247), Ancestry.com. California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999

On the 1940 census, Rita and Siegmund, now going by Henry, were living in Los Angeles, and Henry reported no occupation, but Rita reported that she was a dressmaker.1 When Henry filed his World War II draft registration in 1942, he was still living in Los Angeles, but listed Alfred Kahn, not Rita, as  the person who would always know where he was, so perhaps they were no longer together.2 Rita did remarry on April 14, 1956, in Los Angeles, to Max Altura.3

Arthur Rapp died in New York on January 10, 1951, at the age of 66.4 He was survived by his wife Alice and his three children, Rita, Harold, and Gordon. Alice survived him by 26 years; she died in May 1977 at 82 years old.5

Rita died in Los Angeles on June 10, 2003; she was 94. According to her obituary in the June 13, 2003 The Los Angeles Times, Rita was a “life member and generous benefactor of Hadassah, Rita was devoted to Israel and the Jewish people.”6

Arthur Rapp’s two sons also lived long lives. Harold Rapp, who had started his career as a watchmaker, became the president of Bulova International in Basel, Switzerland, for many years and was 93 when he died on February 11, 2016.7

His brother Gordon died the following year at 92. According to his obituary, he graduated from Cornell University and received a master’s degree from Purdue University. His early interest in agriculture stayed with him. He had a career in poulty genetics before spending twenty years as a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation . His obituary described him as follows: “He was known for his kindness, creativity, humor, wisdom, and talent as a prolific artist, photographer and writer. He was a Renaissance man of many interests, including tennis, tai chi and chess. He enjoyed museums and classical music concerts in New York City and later in Chapel Hill, NC.”8

I was struck by the fact that Harold and Gordon both continued to work in the same fields where they had started as young men, Harold in watches, Gordon in agriculture. Harold Rapp and Gordon Rapp were survived by their widows, children, and grandchildren.

Although Arthur Rapp did not have the blessing of a life as long as those of his three children, he was blessed with the good fortune of escaping with them from Nazi Germany and thus giving them the security and safety to live those long lives, during which they each made important contributions to their new homeland and left a legacy of their accomplishments and future generations to carry on the Rapp name.

 

 


  1. Rita and Henry Schwarz, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00403; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 60-828, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. Henry Schwarz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1619,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Rita H Rapp, Estimated birth year: abt 1909, Age: 47, Marriage Date: 14 Apr 1956
    Marriage Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Spouse: Max D Altura, Spouse Age: 55
    Ancestry.com. California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959 
  4. Arthur Rapp, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1885, Death Date: 10 Jan 1951
    Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 481
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  5.  Alice Rapp, Social Security Number: 105-36-2290, Birth Date: 24 Feb 1895
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Rita H. Altura, Social Security Number: 555-16-5231, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1908
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: California, Last Residence: 91335, Reseda, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 10 Jun 2003, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Obituary can be seen at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=rita-altura&pid=1083894 
  7. I could not find Harold Rapp in the SSDI or any obituary, just this listing on FindAGrave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/159069023 However, I found numerous articles about his work at Bulova, and this wedding announcement for his son that mentions his career at Bulova. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/fashion/weddings/shelley-grubb-and-kenneth-rapp.html?searchResultPosition=2 
  8. Gordon Rapp, The New York Times, December 26, 2017, found at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=gordon-d-rapp&pid=187633991 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part II: Leaving Germany with Alice Rapp Stern

As we saw, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child Helmina was widowed as a young woman and raised her three children alone from an early age. By the 1920s all three of those children were married and had children of their own.

When the Nazis came to power, Helmina and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany before it was too late. Today’s post will look at Helmina and her youngest child Alice and their escape from Germany.

By 1939, Helmina, her daughter Alice and son-in-law Saly and their daughter Grete were living in Harrow, Middlesex, England. Saly reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a refugee and thus not allowed to do business. Grete was a secretary for a leather goods manufacturer. All four family members were living in one household along with a housemaid.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/799H
Enumeration District: BIHB, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alice and Saly Stern’s son Walter Stern had instead immigrated to the United States. According to his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, he arrived from Germany to New York on May 16, 1938, and was working as a shipping clerk when he filed his declaration on August 2, 1938.  He was living on Wadsworth Avenue in New York City in the Washington Heights neighborhood where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. (In yet another small world coincidence, my husband lived on Wadsworth Avenue in his early childhood, although his parents were not German Jewish refugees.)

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 539) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 417601-418600)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Although I cannot find any record showing that Alice and Saly’s daughter Elizabeth was with them in England, I believe she must have been living there because on March 27, 1940, Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth all joined Walter in the United States. Strangely, this ship manifest shows all three sailing to New York, but Saly is listed separately and with a different English address.

Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On their US ship manifest, Alice and her daughter Elizabeth are again listed together, but Saly is listed on a different page. They all, however, were on the same ship arriving at the same time. And Alice’s declaration of intention shows that she and Saly arrived together and were residing together in New York on Ft. Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights neighborhood where Walter had been residing in 1938.

Alice Stern, 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,  (Roll 590) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 463201-464100), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But the ship manifests for Alice, Elizabeth, and Saly report that by the time of their arrival in the spring of 1940, Walter was living in Washington DC.

However, when Walter registered for the World War II draft in October 1940, he was back living in New York. His registration card has three New York City addresses, all crossed out, but lists his father Saly as his contact person, residing on Ft. Washington Avenue.

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

Saly Stern’s draft registration, filed on April 26, 1942, two years after that of Walter, shows that he was then self-employed as a salesman and living at 612 West 188th Street in New York with his wife Alice.

Saly Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

The following year their younger daughter Elizabeth Stern married Gerhard Hirsch, another German Jewish refugee, on March 28, 1943, in New York. Gerhard was born on September 24, 1908, in Berlin, and immigrated to the US in 1938.1

Meanwhile, Saly and Alice’s older daughter Grete Stern remained in England, as Alice reported on her naturalization papers, as did Alice’s mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp. Helmina died in England in July 1941, not long after her children in England had all left for the US.  She was 77 years old.2

Saly Stern died in New York on December 7, 1946.3 He was 69 years old. He had lived long enough to see most of his family settle safely in the US, except for his daughter Grete, who’d remained in England. Unfortunately he did not live to see Grete’s wedding. In 1948, Grete Stern married Kurt Lissauer, who was also a German Jewish refugee. He was born in Luebeck, Germany, on January 10, 1909. They were married in England.4

Elizabeth Stern’s marriage to Gerhard Hirsch did not last very long. She remarried in 1973 when she was 54; her second husband was Paul Dannheisser, a widower who was also a refugee from Germany.

Alice Rapp Stern outlived her husband by almost thirty years. She died in New York on January 28, 1974, at the age of 83.5 She was survived by her three children, Grete, Walter, and Elizabeth, all of whom died within a year of each other. Grete and Walter both died in October 1996; Grete was 85,6 Walter was almost 79.7 Their younger sister Elizabeth died just four months later on February 13, 1997.8 She had just turned 78. None of the three siblings had children, so there are no descendants.

The next post will tell the story of Alice Rapp Stern’s brother and Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son, Arthur David Leopold Rapp, and his family.

 


  1.  Elizabeth Stern, Marriage License Date: 24 Mar 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Gerhard Hirsch, License Number: 5751, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Also, Elizabeth’s declaration of intention, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-2S59?cc=2060123&wc=M5P7-PTY%3A351618501 : 14 August 2019), Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1945 box 1026, no 515801-516050 > image 728 of 983; citing NARA microfilm publication M1972, Southern District of New York Petitions for Naturalization, 1897-1944. Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 – 2009, RG 21. National Archives at New York. 
  2.  Helmina Rapp, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1863, Registration Date: Jul 1941
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Volume: 3a, Page: 656, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 656, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3.  Saly Stern, Marital status: Married, Age: 69, Birth Date: 26 Nov 1877, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 612 W 188 St, Residence Place: New York
    Death Date: 7 Dec 1946, Death Street Address: 612 W 188th St, Death Place: New York City, Manhattan, New York, USA, Occupation: Clerk Stock’s, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Marcus Stern, Mother: Francisca Stern, Spouse: Alice, Informant: Alice Stern, Informant Relationship: Wife
    Executor: Alice Stern, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 25862
    New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  4. Greta Stern, Registration Date: Apr 1948, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Kurt Lissauer
    Volume Number: 5e, Page Number: 1260, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1260, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Kurt Lissauer, Enemy Alien Registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56, Piece Number Description: 056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5.  Alice Stern, Social Security Number: 051-18-8391, Birth Date: 4 Oct 1890
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York,Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jan 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Grete Lissauer, Death Age: 85, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911, Registration Date: Oct 1996, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London, Register Number: A41C, District and Subdistrict: 2351A, Entry Number: 108, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Walter Stern, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 1918, Death Date: 9 Oct 1996
    Claim Date: 2 Dec 1970, SSN: 056162574, Death Certificate Number: 350302
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch], [Elizabeth Dannheisser]
    Gender: Female, Race: White, 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, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Marcel Goldschmidt’s Children: The Two Who Survived

Marcel (born Mayer) Goldschmidt, the fourth child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, died in 1928 and was survived by his wife and first cousin, Hedwig Goldschmidt, and their four children, Jacob, Nelly, Else, and Grete. Hedwig and two of those children, Jacob and Grete, would survive the Holocaust. Nelly and Else were not as fortunate. This post will tell the story of Hedwig and the two children who escaped.

Grete and her husband Berthold Heimerdinger and their daughter Gabrielle were the first to leave Germany. They arrived in New York on June 22, 1934, and were going to Berthold’s brother Leonard Heimerdinger in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger and family, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 101, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Two months later Berthold declared his intention to become a US citizen.  He was working as a securities dealer at that time, and the family was residing at 1212 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Berthold Heimerdinger, Declaration of Intent, 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, (Roll 478) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 355901-357000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Grete’s mother Hedwig came to visit them in New York in April, 1935, for a four month stay, listing her son Jacob as the person to contact back in Frankfurt,1 but Hedwig returned to Germany after her visit. She returned for another visit two years later on October 29, 1937, but this time listed her residence as Zurich, Switzerland, where her contact person was a friend named Julius Wolf.2

Sometime thereafter Hedwig must have left Switzerland because when she arrived in England on March 18, 1938, she listed her last address as Amsterdam.3 I don’t know where she was during World War II. More on that in a later post. By 1952, she was living in the United States.

Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 [

In 1940, Grete, Berthold, and Gabrielle Heimerdinger were living in Queens, New York, and Berthold was working as a jewelry dealer.4 According to Berthold’s draft registration for World War II, he was self-employed.

Berthold Heimerdinger, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Grete’s brother Jacob arrived in New York on August 30, 1941, from Lisbon, Portugal, with his last residence being Nice, France. On his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Jacob listed his occupation as an art dealer, like so many of his extended family members from Frankfurt.

Jacob Goldschmidt, Declaration of Intent, 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 Description: (Roll 644) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 512901-513900) Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

According to his World War II draft registration completed the following year, Jacob was living at 26 East 63rd Street in New York and listed Herman Goldschmidt as the person who would always know where he was. Herman was his cousin, the son of Julius Falk Goldschmidt and Helene Goldschmidt II, and was living at the same address, 26 East 63rd Street.

Thus, Jacob was living with his cousins, not his sister Grete. Jacob did not list an occupation on his draft registration, but listed his place of business as the same address as his (and his cousins’) residence, 26 East 63rd Street. (Note also that on the naturalization index card for his mother Hedwig above, she also listed 26 East 63rd Street as her address in 1952.)

Jacob Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Jacob had reported on his declaration of intent that he was not married and had no children. However, David Baron and Roger Cibella’s research reported that Jacob married in France on June 20, 1940, and thereafter had two children born in France, one in December 1941 and one in 1952. Although I have no documentation of the marriage or the births of the children, I did find airline documents showing that the wife and two children visited Jacob in New York City during the 1950s.[^5] By 1964, Jacob had relocated to France, presumably to be closer to his family.5

Gabrielle Heimerdinger, Grete and Berthold’s daughter, married Erwin Vogel on September 8, 1943, in New York City.6 Erwin was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 23, 1921, to Kurt and Edith Vogel, and had immigrated to the US with his family in 1937, coming from Antwerp, Belgium. They settled in Chicago, where they were living in 1940.7

On his 1942 draft registration for World War II, Erwin was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, and working for the Stevens Institute of Technology, from which he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1944. Gabrielle and Erwin had four children.8

Erwin Vogel, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 686
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Thus, Hedwig and her son Jacob and her daughter Grete and Grete’s family all survived the Holocaust. Grete’s husband Berthold Heimerdinger died in June 1961 at the age of 71.9 Hedwig died on December 9, 1964; she was 87.10 Jacob Goldschmidt died in October 1976 in France. He was eighty years old.11

Grete was the last surviving child of Marcel and Hedwig Goldschmidt. She lived a long life, dying on January 2, 2003, in New York at the age of 98.12 She had outlived her daughter Gabrielle Heimerdinger Vogel, who died January 19, 1990, in Rockville, Maryland, where she and her family had relocated in 1972.13 Gabrielle was 65 and was survived by her husband Erwin and their four children.

Grete and Jacob were fortunate to have left Germany when they did. The other two siblings, Else and Nelly, faced tragic deaths at the hands of the Nazis, as we will see in my next post.

 

 

 


  1. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 80, Ship or Roll Number: Albert Ballin, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 8, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Hedwig Goldschmidt, ship manifest 1938, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1158, Month: Mar, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 
  4. Berthold Heimerdinger and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02732; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 41-614, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. This information came from his mother’s death announcement in the December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  6.  Gabrielle J Heimerdinger, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 8 Sep 1943, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Erwin Vogel, License Number: 21889, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 9, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Kurt Vogel and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00934; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 103-447, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. 
  8. “Unconventional Aeronautics Engineer Erwin Vogel, 88, Dies,” The Washington Post, October 28, 2009, found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102703825.html 
  9.  Berthold Heimerdinger, Social Security Number: 085-28-3608, Birth Date: 10 Sep
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Death Date: Jun 1961, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. December 11, 1964, New York Times, p, 39, found at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1964/12/11/97361257.html?pageNumber=39 
  11.  Jacob Goldschmidt, Social Security Number: 085-28-0743, Birth Date: 1 Jul 1896
    Issue Year: 1952-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 912, (U.S. Consulate) Paris, France, Death Date: Oct 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Greta Goldschmidt Heimerdinger, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1904, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 2 Jan 2003, Father: Marcel Goldschmidt
    Mother: Hedwig Goldschmidt, SSN: 064167857, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  13. Gabrielle Joan Heimerdinger, [Gabrielle Vogel], Birth Date: 16 Dec 1924, Birth Place: Wiesbaden, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 19 Jan 1990, Father: Berthold Heimerdinger, Mother: Grete Goldschmidt, SSN: 102185390
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Amalie Meyer Bloch: Where Was Her Husband During the War?

Although I said I was going to write next about Ferdinand, Regina Goldschmidt Meyer’s youngest son, I have just connected with one of his descendants and hope to get more information before I post. So I am skipping ahead to the youngest of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer’s children, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and will return to Ferdinand in a later post.

Amalie Meyer was married to Charles Bloch and had one child, their daughter Else, born in 1913. They escaped from Nazi Germany in time and ended up in England and then the US.

By 1939, Else, now spelling her name as Ilse, was living in England, working as a domestic servant.

Ilse Bloch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1599D, Enumeration District: DEBC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Registe

But she left England for the US and arrived in New York on July 29, 1940. When she filed her declaration of intention on September 2, 1941, she was living in New York City and working as a factory worker.

Ilse Bloch, 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 628) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 498401-499300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Her mother Amalie had arrived on August 9, 1941. On the ship manifest she was sailing without Charles and indicated she was heading to her daughter Ilse in New York and leaving behind her husband’s cousin, “Friedrike Meyer,” who, I believe, must have also be the same Friederike who was married to Amalie’s brother, Ferdinand.1

On her declaration of intention, Amalie wrote that her last residence had been Lisbon, Portugal.

Amalie Meyer Bloch, declaration of intent, 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 641) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 510101-511000), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But where was her husband Charles? She still listed him as her husband, but she had not listed him on the passenger manifest as the person she was leaving behind. It would appear he was still living, but not in Germany or Portugal. So where was he?

This document, prepared by the occupying forces after the war, indicates that Charles, here identified as Carl, had most recently been living in Paris while Amalie had gone to the US.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

This one identifies him as Charles:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

I was also able to locate a ship manifest dated April 12, 1946, listing Charles Bloch going to his wife Amalie in New York. According to the manifest, he had last resided in Toulouse, France, and this was his first time in the United States. It also indicated this his wife had paid his fare and that he was coming permanently.

Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7093; Line: 7; Page Number: 40, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

But I still don’t know exactly where Charles spent the years during the war or why he and Amalie ended up in separate countries or where he was for the year after the war ended in Europe until he left on April 12, 1946. Perhaps a displaced persons camp.

The good news, however, is that Amalie, Charles, and Ilse all survived and were living in New York City by the end of April, 1946.

Charles died eleven years later on November 11, 1957; he was 76.2 Amalie survived him less than four years; she died on May 31, 1961, at the age of 69.3 Ilse, who appears to have gone by her middle name Helen in the US, lived to 91, dying on November 28, 2004.4 It appears that she never married or had children.

Thus, there are no descendants of Amalie Goldschmidt Bloch to answer my questions about her husband’s whereabouts during World War II. Maybe there is a relative out there who will knows the answer. Or maybe a reader will have some suggestions for how to learn the answers.

 

 


  1. Amalie Bloch, Year: 1941; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6568; Line: 6; Page Number: 80, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Name: Charles Bloch, Age: 76, Birth Date: abt 1881, Death Date: 11 Nov 1957, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 24005, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  3. Amalie Bloch, Age: 69, Birth Date: abt 1892, Death Date: 31 May 1961, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 12285, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  4. Helen I Bloch, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 30 May 1913, Death Date: 28 Nov 2004
    SSN: 100121080, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Escaping from Germany, Part VII: Children Separated from their Parents

This is the final chapter in the story of my cousin Sarah Goldschmidt, daughter of my fourth great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt. These last seven chapters about her descendants’ struggles during and for the most part survival of the Nazi era have been an inspiration to me during this pandemic. We need to remember that human beings have survived many other challenges as we continue to fight this one.

The youngest child of Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern was their son Mayer. As we have seen, Mayer was married to Gella Hirsch, and they had two children, Elsa (1891) and Markus Kurt (1895)(later known as Kurt Marco).

As of 1930, Mayer and Gella were living in Frankfurt. Their daughter Elsa had been married to her second cousin Jacob Schwarzschild, with whom she’d had a daughter Elizabeth (1915). That marriage ended in divorce, and in 1920, Elsa had married Alfred Hirsch, with whom she had three children in the 1920s. Kurt Stern was married to Rhee Mess; they had no children.

With the rise of Hitler, the family began to disperse. Kurt and Rhee left Germany first. From 1918 to 1923, Kurt had worked as an art dealer in Frankfurt with his father and Goldschmidt relatives in the firm of I & S Goldschmidt (more on them to come). He and Rhee had then moved to Paris, where he became an independent art dealer.1 Then they immigrated to the US, arriving in New York on October 4, 1934. Kurt declared his intention to become a US citizen on February 19, 1935, four months after arriving in New York.

Kurt Marco Stern declaration of intention, The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 1256
Archive Roll Descriptions: (Roll 1256) Petition No· 352904 – Petition No· 353350
Ancestry.com. New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944

Kurt registered for the US draft on April 26, 1942, at which time he was a self-employed art dealer, living in New York City.

Kurt Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Kurt’s parents Mayer and Gella Stern also left Germany around that time. According to Mayer Stern’s immigration papers, he and Gella arrived in Palestine on April 12, 1935. Sadly, Gella died less than two months later on June 1, 1935, in Haifa. She was 71 years old. Mayer remained in Haifa and became a Palestinian citizen on August 24, 1938.2

Mayer Stern, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62

But Mayer did not live much longer. He died on September 15, 1939, in Haifa, where he is buried. He was 78.

The grave site of מאיר שטרן. Cemetery: Haifa Mahane David – Sde Yehoshua Cemetery, Location: Haifa, Haifa District, Israel. Birth: 7 Jan 1861, Death: 15 Sep 1939. Found at https://tinyurl.com/whnye25 Photographer  Nadezda

As for Mayer and Gella’s daughter Elsa Stern Schwarzschild Hirsch, she and her husband Alfred Hirsch and three children also immigrated to Palestine, arriving in 1938, according to their immigration file.3

The file includes letters indicating that two of Elsa and Alfred’s children returned to Europe after arriving in Palestine, one to Antwerp to study, the other to Italy for health reasons. Alfred requested that the two children be granted Palestinian passports expeditiously because they each had limited visas from those countries that would expire before they could return to Palestine to sign their new passports.

Alfred received a response that the Palestinian officials would ask the British consul to issue Palestinian passports to the two children once Alfred himself was naturalized. Alfred and Elsa were naturalized on August 14, 1938. Alfred was working as the general manager of the Palestine Milling & Trading Company at that time.4

Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Palestinian citizenship certificate, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq

I assume the two children were able to return soon thereafter to Palestine to join their family. But can you imagine the anxiety experienced by them all, thinking that the two young teenagers might be stranded in Europe as the Nazi persecution of Jews intensified in 1938, culminating in Kristallnacht just a few months after Alfred and Elsa received their naturalization certificate?

One of their children immigrated to the US as early as 1940 and was residing without any family members in New York City at the YMHA on the 1940 US census;5 his uncle Kurt was, however, residing in New York at that time, where he was the owner of an “art shop,” according to the census.6

The rest of the family joined them in the US after the war. Alfred and Elsa arrived in New York on December 24, 1946.7 Alfred died less than two months later on February 6, 1947; he was only 56 years old.8 Elsa outlived him by over forty years; she died in Dallas, Texas, on October 4, 1988.  She was 97 years old.9

Elsa’s brother Kurt Stern unfortunately did not have his sister’s longevity. He died on April 16, 1962 at the age of 67 after a long illness, according to his obituary.10 He was survived by his wife Rhee, who died in August 1986 at the age of 91,11 and his sister Elsa and her three children.

Thus ends not only the story of Mayer Stern, but that of his parents Sarah Goldschmidt and Salomon Stern. Their story is overall a story shared by so many German Jews. They went from being successful merchants living in comfort and security, raising children and grandchildren in a country that they saw as their home, to being refugees from the worst kind of persecution and violence anyone can imagine.

Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants were, however, among the more fortunate ones. Out of all of Sarah’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Germany during the Nazi era, only one, little Margot Fulda, just thirteen years old, was murdered by the Nazis. The rest were uprooted from their homes and torn from the comfort they’d known, but were able to escape to Palestine, to England, and to the United States. Their descendants live among us today in places all over the world. How fortunate and blessed we are that they do.

Next I will turn my attention to Sarah’s younger brother Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and his family.


  1. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  2. Mayer Stern, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/ugr2b62 
  3. Elsa and Alfred Hirsch, Immigration and Naturalization File, Israel Archives, found at https://tinyurl.com/vebdvxq 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Stephen Hirsch, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02663; Page: 83B; Enumeration District: 31-1658, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  6. Kurt M. Stern, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-1368, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Alfred and Elsa Hirsch, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7250; Line: 1; Page Number: 10,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  9. Else Hirsch, Social Security Number: 119-36-5922, Birth Date: 4 Jan 1891
    Issue year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 75219, Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, Death Date: 4 Oct 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  10. Kurt M Stern, Birth Date: 28 Jan 1895, Death Date: 16 Apr 1962, Claim Date: 17 Aug 1962, SSN: 060070787, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Kurt M. Stern Dies; Art Dealer Was 67,” The New York Times, April 17, 1962, p.34. 
  11.  Rhee Stern, Social Security Number: 065-52-1280, Birth Date: 12 Jun 1895
    Issue year: 1973, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Aug 1986, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014