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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

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

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild’s Family: From Frankfurt to England

Once again I’ve been fortunate to connect with one of my fifth cousins, this time a great-grandson of Recha Goldschmidt and Alfred Schwarzschild. My fifth cousin Alan and I exchanged emails and chatted by Zoom earlier this week, and he has greatly enriched my understanding of his family history by sharing family stories and photographs.

Selig Goldschmidt’s third daughter Recha and her husband Alfred Schwarzschild were living a good life in Frankfurt with their three children as the twentieth century began. Here are some wonderful photographs of Recha and Alfred that my cousin Alan shared with me as well as a copy of their wedding invitation and menu:

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family.

Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

Recha and Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their daughter Clementine, Alan’s grandmother. It appears that this is a graduation photograph, taken perhaps in around 1906:

Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1906 Courtesy of the family

And here are their three children, Clementine, Robert, and Jacob, taken in around 1907:

Jacob, Robert, and Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1907

Sadly, their son Robert Meier Schwarzschild died as a young man, just 22, on July 12, 1909, in Frankfurt. Alan believes that he died from appendicitis.

Robert M Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10651 Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Recha and Alfred’s youngest child Clementine Schwarzschild married Zacharias Max Hackenbroch, son of Maximilian Hackenbroch and Getta Neuberger, on December 24, 1908, in Frankfurt; he was born on December 3, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Clementine Schwarzschild marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Zacharias Hackenbroch was, like his Goldschmidt in-laws, an art collector and dealer. Here are two photographs of him, one in uniform during World War I and one of him in his study. Zacharias received the Iron Cross for his service for Germany during the war and was at one point the attache to the Crown Prince of Germany, according to his grandson Alan.

Zacharias Hackenbroch Courtesy of the family

Zacharias Hackenbroch. Courtesy of the family

Clementine and Zacharias had three daughters. Lucie was born on May 17, 1910,1 Yvonne was born April 27, 1912,2 and Irene was born June 23, 1918.3 All were born in Frankfurt. This lovely photograph is of Clementine with her daughter Lucie, taken in 1910:

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch and her daughter Lucie Hackenbroch, c. 1910 Courtesy of the family

Here are two photographs of the Hackenbroch daughters, one of Irene Hackenbroch and one of Lucie and Yvonne:

Irene Hackenbroch c. 1922
Courtesy of the family

Lucie and Yvonne Hackenbroch. c. 1922 Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their home at Untermainkai 34 in Frankfurt before World War II:

In 1911, Recha and Alfred’s son Jacob Schwarzschild married Elsa Stern, his second cousin, as I discussed here. Jacob and Elsa had one child, Elizabeth, born in 1915, but their marriage did not last. They were divorced in 1920, and Jacob married his second wife, Sonja Hepner, in Rome, Italy later that year, and they had one child together, Robert Boris Schwarszchild, born October 20,1921.4 According to my cousin Alan, Sonja’s father was a very wealthy sugar merchant from Russia who escaped from that country after the Revolution.

Jakob Schwarzschild and Elsa Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild died on March 3, 1929, in Frankfurt. She was sixty-five.5 Her husband Alfred Schwarzschild died on May 15, 1936, in Frankfurt.6 They were survived by their two surviving children, Jacob and Clementine.

Both Jacob and Clementine and their families escaped to England in about 1938.

Jacob/Jack Schwarzschild

Jacob Schwarzschild and his second wife Sonja Hepner were living in London in 1939, and Jacob was working as a stockbroker.7 Jacob (known as Jack in England) was interned for some time as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, but released on September 19, 1940 and granted an exemption.

Jacob Schwarzschild enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/195
Piece Number Description: 195: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Schmil-Seer UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Sonja died in England on September 9, 1950.8

I didn’t know where Jack and Sonja’s son Robert Boris Schwarzschild (presumably named in part for his uncle Robert but known as Boris) was living in 1939 when the English census was taken, but Alan told me that Boris left Germany in about 1937 and went to school in Switzerland and later came to England and went to boarding school there, so he was not living with his parents in 1939. He served in the British army during World War II, fighting against his former homeland.9

In 1947 Boris was living in England, using the name Robert Boris Shields.10 In 1955 he married Elizabeth Ullmann11 with whom he had two children. He and his family had moved to Canada by 1962 and were living in Ontario.12

His father Jack died December 11, 1978, in England.13 He was 93 years old. Robert died in Canada in 2014.14

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch

Clementine’s husband Zacharias Hackenbroch died on August 9, 1937, in Frankfurt, where they were still living. Alan didn’t know the precise medical cause of death, but many  believe that the stress of Nazi persecution contributed to his early death. He was fifty-two.15

Zacharias Hackenbroch death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11062 Description Year Range: 1937 Source Information Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

After Zacharias died, the family lost their home to the Nazis, which turned it into the headquarters for Nazi youth. Once she had a visa for England in September 1938, Clementine packed up much of her furniture and art and left Germany with her daughter Irene. Her daughter Yvonne was already living there. Alan said that Yvonne had received a doctorate in art history from Munich University in December 1936 or January 1937 and had then done research in Italy before arriving in England in May 1938. In 1939 Clementine was living with her two younger daughters Yvonne and Irene in London, although they were in Sussex at the time the 1939 Register was enumerated. Yvonne was working at the British Museum in their medieval antiquities department.16

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2600C, Enumeration District: EMKJ, 1939 England and Wales Register

Alan, Clementine’s grandson, described Clementine as having a wonderful personality, always finding the silver linings even in the loss of her home in Germany, for example, noting that because of the Nazis, she learned to cook, having had a cook in her home in Frankfurt.

Clementine remarried after the war. Her second husband was Harry Cahn, also a refugee from Frankfurt, Germany.17 He was the son of Albert Cahn and Lilly Wolff and was born on November 25, 1899, in Frankfurt.18

Clementine’s oldest daughter Lucie had been to England many times before the war, starting as early as 1928 when she went to improve her English. She stayed in England several times in the 1930s on visitor visas that expired; she would leave and return on a new visa. Then she met Elliot Elias Philipp on February 18, 1939, and the two fell madly in love. They were married in a civil ceremony on March 22, 1939, which enabled Lucie to obtain a British passport. Lucie and Elliot then had a religious wedding ceremony on May 19, 1939, in Paris. 19

Elliot was born in London on July 20, 1915, the son of Oscar Philipp and Clarissa Weil.20  The Royal College of Surgeons of England website provides this biographical information about Elliot’s background:

Elliot Philipp was an eminent gynaecologist and obstetrician, author of numerous popular and technical medical works, and a committed religious and charitable Jew. He was born on 20 July 1915 to Oscar Isaac and Clarisse Philipp (née Weil) in Stoke Newington, London. He was educated at Warwick House and St Paul’s School. His father, a metal dealer from Hamburg, had come to England in 1908 to open an office, which in due course became the hub of a large and internationally successful operation. Elliot settled on a different career, deciding by the age of seven he would be a doctor, and went on to study at Cambridge University.

….At the start of the Second World War, only a month after qualifying, Elliot left his first appointment at Middlesex Hospital to join the RAF. He joined Bomber Command in East Anglia, where he was responsible for the medical centres at Feltwell and Mildenhall, and by the end of hostilities held the rank of squadron leader. He was offered a long term commission in the RAF to stay as a doctor and medical researcher, but declined, returning to Middlesex Hospital and Addenbroke’s, where he had been a clinical student.

Subsequent appointments included St Thomas’, Royal Free and University College hospitals. During this time, Elliot was writing books and newspaper articles. His first, for which he had help from his distant relative, Sigmund Freud, was The techniques of sex (London, Wales Publishing Company), first published in 1939 under the pseudonym ‘Anthony Havil’. At a time when such guides were few and far between, it became a bestseller, with numerous editions over the next 40 years. …. He married Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch in 1939, five weeks after meeting her.

Here are two photographs of Lucie and Elliot—at their May 1939 wedding in Paris and on their honeymoon:

Lucie Hackenbroch and Elliot Philipp, 1939. From Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography” (unpublished), p. 3.

Although Alan told me that his parents bought a house in London in 1939 after marrying, Lucie and Elliot were not listed together on the England census in 1939. Lucie was listed with Elliot’s family in Sussex, and Elliot was listed in Middlesex; he was finishing his last year of medical school at that time and may have been on an emergency assignment  Alan and I speculated as to why they were living in different locations on the day the Register was enumerated. The 1939 Register was taken in late September, 1939, after the war had started. 21

And then I found the answer in Elliot Philipp’s autobiography:22

I was a medical student at the Middlesex Hospital and had been evacuated to the Harrow hospital when Mr.Neville Chamberlain made his famous announcement that we were at war with Germany. Within minutes the air-raid sirens shrilled out and no one knew what to do. Lucie and my parents were at a hotel in Brighton and within a very short time she and her mother had rented a small house in Worthing because it was thought to be safer than staying in London where the bombs were bound to drop. In fact no bombs dropped for at least nine months – the period of the ‘phoney war’.

Lucie Philipp, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2599C, Enumeration District: EMKG, 1939 England and Wales Register

Lucie and Elliot had two children born in the 1940s.

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch Cahn lived in England the rest of her life, dying on June 26, 1984 at the age of 9523. Harry Cahn, her second husband, died four years later on January 19, 1988; he was 88.24

Lucie Hackenbroch Philipp died on July 4, 1988, in London at the age of 78;25 her husband Elliot Philipp died on September 27, 2010 when he was 95 years old after a long and well-respected career as a doctor and author of many medical articles and books.

Clementine’s daughter Yvonne Hackenbroch became an internationally renowned art curator. She had studied art in Italy and in Munich before the family emigrated from Germany. She was the last Jew to be awarded a doctorate at the University of Munich; her topic was medieval Italian enamels. After working at the British Museum during World War II, in 1946 she was sent by the British government to Canada to be responsible for curating a valuable collection of Renaissance art that had been donated to Canada, and then three years later she was invited to become a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where she spent the rest of her career.

According to an obituary in the New York Times, “Her many publications established her reputation as the world’s foremost expert on Renaissance jewelry.” Yvonne died on September 7, 2012, in London, where she had retired after leaving the Metropolitan in 1987.

Clementine’s youngest daughter Irene lived the rest of her life in England. Like her sister Yvonne, she never married or had children. She traveled frequently to the United States—perhaps to visit her sister in New York—and also traveled to Brazil, indicating on her temporary immigration card that she was a secretary. Alan said that his aunt Irene was very quiet and worked for the same company for many years. She died November 9, 1987, in London.26

I am deeply grateful to my cousin Alan for taking the time to chat with me by Zoom and for sharing all these wonderful photographs and the background about his family. One final set of photographs from Alan. These three show the Hackenbroch home in Frankfurt before, during, and after the war. Today it has been torn down and a view on Google Maps shows just a hole in the ground. What an apt metaphor for what the Nazis did to the once proud Jewish community of Frankfurt.

Untermainkai 34 before the war

During the war when it was the headquarters of Nazi Youth, showing damage from Allied bombing.

After the war with the top floors of the building rebuilt

  1.  Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch, Birth Date: 17 Mai 1910, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main
    Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 3, Fränkel, Werner – Hartmann, Hermann, Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  2.  Yvonne Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1912, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  3.  Irene Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1918
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Robert Boris Schwarzschild,
    Birth Date: 20 Okt 1921, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 8, Schafranek, Lizzi – Stern, Moritz, Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  5. Recha Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1863
    Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany, Death Date: 3 Mrz 1929 (3 Mar 1929), Father: Seelig Goldschmidt, Mother: Clementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342026, Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  6. Alfred Isaac Schwarzschild, Gender: Male, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 14 Mai 1858 (14 May 1858), Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Death Date: 15 Mai 1936 (15 May 1936), Father: Isaac Schwarzschild, Mother: Roslaie Kulp, FHL Film Number: 342021, Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  7. J A Schwarzchild, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 12 Feb 1885
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Cambridge Gate, Residence Place: St Pancras, London, England, Occupation: Stockbroker on Half Cou, Line Number: 23, Schedule Number: 151, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: ASAY, Borough: St Pancras, Registration district: 9/1., Inferred Spouse: Sonia Schwarzschild, Household Members Age, J A Schwayschild 54, Sonia Schwayschild 39, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/473D, 1939 England and Wales Register 
  8. Sonia Schwarzschild, Death Date: 9 Sep 1950, Death Place: London, England
    Probate Date: 14 Feb 1951, Probate Registry: London, England, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  9. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  10. Robert Boris Shields, Electoral Date: 1947, Street Address: 27, Ward or Division/Constituency: Finchley East, County or Borough: Finchley, England
    London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Electoral Registers, London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 
  11. Robert B Schwarzschild, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1955, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Ullmann, Volume Number: 5e
    Page Number: 1475, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1475, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  12. Robert Boris Shields, Residence Date: 1962, Residence Place: York, Ontario, Canada, Electoral District: York East, Occupation: Chartered Accountant, Reference Number: M-5044, Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980, Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 
  13. Jack Alfred Schwarzschild, Death Date: 11 Dec 1978, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 23 Mar 1979, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  15. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  16. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Zoom conversation with Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  17. Clementine Hackenbroch, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1946, Registration District: Hampstead, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Harry Cahn, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 1447, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 1447, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  18. Harry Cahn, Gender: männlich (Male), Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1899, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt/Main, Mainzerlandstrasse 4, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Father: Albert Cahn
    Mother: Idlli Wolf, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70346089
    Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  19. Lucie R Hackenbroch,Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1939, Registration District: Kensington, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Elliot E Philipp, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 291, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 291, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020; conversation with Alan Philipp on December 14, 2020. Alan said that Lucie had known Elliot’s family for a while, but really only got to know Elliot the month before their March 22, 1939, civil ceremony. 
  20. Elliot E. Philipp, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1915
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 58 Residence Place: Harrow, Middlesex, England
    Occupation: Medical Student (Final Year), Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 65
    Sub Schedule Number: 5, Enumeration District: BIDH, Borough: Harrow, Registration district: 130/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/788F, 1939 England and Wales Register 
  21. Ibid. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  22. Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography,” (unpublished), p. 54. 
  23. Clementine Cahn, Death Age: 95, Birth Date: 30 Aug 1888, Registration Date: Jun 1984, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: London, Volume: 15
    Page: 1838, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 1838, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  24. Harry Cahn, Death Date: 19 Jan 1988, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 6 May 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  25. Lucie Ruth Philipp, Death Date: 4 Jul 1988, Death Place: York Gate London, Probate Date: 12 Dec 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  26. Irene Maximiliane Hackenbock, Death Date: 9 Nov 1987, Death Place: East London, Probate Date: 12 Feb 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco and Her Family: Hiding from the Nazis in France

When Selig Goldschmidt died on January 13, 1896, he was survived by his six children and eighteen grandchildren. In his will, he had wished them happiness and love and hoped they would live good lives, following the faith and practices of Judaism and giving back to their communities.

For the first thirty years of the twentieth century, his hopes for his children were largely fulfilled. Then everything changed. In the next series of posts I will look at each of the children of Selig and Clementine (Fuld) Goldschmidt and their lives in the 20th century, starting with their oldest child, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

As we saw, Helene Goldschmidt, the oldest child of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, married Leon Tedesco on June 9, 1876, in Frankfurt.  I was very fortunate to find and connect with Helene’s great-great-grandson Lionel, and he has generously shared with me many wonderful photographs as well as the story of his family including information about his 3x-great-grandfather, Leon’s father, Giacomo (Jacob) Tedesco.

Leon’s father Giacomo Tedesco was born in Venice, Italy, on August 27, 1799, and in 1833 he married Therese Cerf, a Parisian, and started a small art supplies store in Paris.  Giacomo provided art supplies to artists in exchange for some of their art work. From that collection, he created what grew to be the famous and extremely successful Tedesco Freres gallery. Giacomo was also a very committed Jew who helped build a modern mikvah in Paris, contributed to the development of a synagogue, founded the first kosher butcher shop in Paris, and served as a mohel.

After Giacomo died in 1870, his sons Leon and Arthur took over the business of the gallery. Leon became a close friend of the artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, the famous French landscape painter and printmaker who was considered “the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century.” The National Gallery in Washington, DC, has several works that came from the Tedesco Freres collection, including this work of Corot:

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo was born in Paris on July 28, 1879, and was obviously named for his recently deceased grandfather. Giacomo, the grandson, married Henriette Lang on February 9, 1901, in Paris; she was the daughter of Louis Lang and Louise Blum and was born in Paris on January 31, 1882.1 Giacomo worked with his family in the art gallery. He and Henriette had two daughters, Irene, born December 23, 1902, and Odette, born July 16, 1907.2

Here is an absolutely gorgeous photograph of young Odette with her mother Henriette:

Odette and Henriette Lang Tedesco
Courtesy of the Family

This wonderful photograph is of Leon Tedesco, his granddaughter Odette, her mother Henriette Lang Tedesco, and her grandmother, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

Front: Leon Tedesco, Odette Tedesco, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco. Rear: Henriette Lang Tedesco. Courtesy of the family

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo served in the French armed forces during World War I. It must have been strange to be on the opposite side of the war from his Goldschmidt family living in Frankfurt.

Giacomo Tedesco during World War I
Courtesy of the family

Odette married Mathieu Charles Weil on October 24, 1929. Mathieu was born in Strasbourg, France, on August 21, 1894, to Isidore Weil and Jeanne Levy.3 Lionel shared this beautiful photograph from their wedding day:

Odette Tedesco and Mathieu Weil on their wedding day
Courtesy of the family

Leon Tedesco died on August 7, 1932, at the age of 79.4 Lionel described his great-great-grandfather as “a strong and handsome man who looked like the King of Belgium.” This photograph of Leon with Helene certainly reflects Lionel’s description:

Leon was survived by his wife Helene, his son Giacomo, his two granddaughters and his great-granddaughter. All of them then had to face the Nazi era.

According to Lionel, the Tedesco family left Paris after the invasion of France by the Nazis in 1940. The family lost everything they had—which was substantial as Leon Tedesco’s art business had been extremely successful. Not only did they lose the business, they also lost most of the valuable art and antiques they’d owned.

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco died in Marseille, France, on August 21, 1942; she was 84 years old. Her  granddaughter Irene Tedesco died on November 12, 1942, in Oberhoffen, France, in the Alsace region. Lionel had no information regarding Irene’s cause of death, except to say that she had apparently had some health challenges since birth.5

The rest of the family survived the Holocaust and the war years by being safely hidden.  Nadine, Lionel’s mother, still remembers that between the age of 9 and 14, after fleeing from Paris, she lived and went to school in many locations in southern France: Annet, Bordeaux, Arcachon, Salles, Sariac, Cassis, Marseille, Grenoble, Villars de Lans, and Autran. Most of the time she lived with her parents and her grandmother Henriette. Her grandfather Giacomo was hiding elsewhere in France. During the war, Nadine used two different names to hide her identity as a Jewish girl: Nicole Varnier and Mady Mercier.

Mathieu Weil joined the resistance movement and is depicted in this photograph with others who were fighting against the Nazis:

Mathieu Weil, third from right, as part of the French Resistance Courtesy of the family

At one point the family was hiding in the Vercors region with a woman named Charlotte Bayle, who had known the Tedesco family for six generations. When Mathieu Weil, Odette’s husband, was very ill with typhoid, the Gestapo came to Charlotte’s door looking for him. Charlotte lied and said he had left three days ago when in fact he was lying in bed in the next room. The whole family left immediately. Lionel credits Charlotte Bayle with saving the lives of his mother, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Here is a photograph of Charlotte Bayle with Odette Tedesco Weil:

Charlotte Bayle and Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the family

After the war the family returned to Paris and began to rebuild their lives. Giacomo Tedesco died in Paris on June 29, 1950; he was seventy years old. Giacomo’s wife Henriette Lang Tedesco died on March 3, 1961, in Paris.6

Although Lionel did not know his great-grandparents Giacomo and Henriette, he knew his grandmother Odette very well. He described her as a very fine and elegant woman. He also said that although the family had been very religious before the war, their level of observance faded in the aftermath of the war. But their commitment to Judaism always remained strong and central to their lives. Odette died on July 16, 1987;7 she was predeceased by her husband Mathieu Weil on August 20, 1972.8 Both died in Paris.

Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the Family

Thank you so much to my fifth cousin Lionel and his mother Nadine for sharing these wonderful photographs and the story of his family.


  1. Giacomo Jacob Tedesco, Marriage Bann Date: 9 févr. 1902 (9 Feb 1902)
    Father’s Name: Léon Tedesco, Mother’s Name: Hélène Goldschmidt, Spouse’s Name: Henriette Lang, Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902 
  2.  Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018. Irene’s birth date came from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella. 
  3. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  4. Name: Leon Tedesco, Death Date: 7 Aug 1932, Death Place: Paris, France
    Probate Date: 8 Jun 1933, Probate Registry: London, England, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. These dates come from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella and are also seen on the Geni profiles for Helene and Irene. 
  6. These dates come from Baron and Cibella and also from Geni. 
  7. Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  8. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 

Sophie Katz Vogel and Her Family: A Brick Wall Falls in My Katzenstein Family

Back in October 2017, I wrote about a brick wall I could not break down involving the children of my cousin Rosa Katzenstein. Rosa was my second cousin, twice removed. She was the granddaughter of Jacob Katzenstein, the older brother of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

Rosa was the oldest child of Mina and Wolf Katzenstein, born on June 19, 1859, in Frankenau, Germany.

Rosa Katzenstein birth record arcinsys
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174, p. 7

She married her third cousin, once removed, Salomon Feist Katz, son of Joseph Feist Katz and Brendel Katz of Jesberg. Rosa and Salomon were married on June 28, 1881, in Jesberg. They had four daughters, one of whom died as a child, but three survived to adulthood: Sara, Sophie, and Recha.

Marriage record of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3836

I had a great deal of trouble learning what happened to two of those daughters, Sara and Sophie. I knew that Sara had married Otto Loew and had two children and that Sophie had married Isaac Vogel, with whom she’d had two sons, Heinz and Carl, but that was all I could find. Then, with incredible help from my friend Aaron Knappstein, I learned that Sara and Sophie as well as their sister Recha had all left Germany in the 1930s and escaped to Argentina.

But I did not know what had happened to the two sons of Sophie Katz Vogel, Carl and Heinz. Now, thanks to more wonderful research done by Aaron Knappstein, I not only know more about their story, I actually have photographs of the family and am in touch with two new cousins.

In April, 2019, Aaron received an email with a packet of information and photographs from Ingo Sieloff, the director of the Borken museum. Back in 2009, Carl Vogel’s daughter had exchanged emails with Heinrich Broz, then the archivist for the town of Borken, and had sent him photographs and other documents and a history of her family. Mr. Sieloff sent all of this to Aaron, and  Aaron sent them on to me. Last week I took a chance and sent Carl’s daughter an email using the email address she’d had in 2009. That same day she responded and shared it with Heinz’s daughter, and now I have two new cousins with whom to share and exchange family information.

Here is more of the story of Sophie Katz and Isaac Vogel. Most of the information in this post came from my correspondence with their granddaughters and the documents and photographs they shared with me.

Sophie Katz married Isaac Vogel on June 9, 1909:

Sophie Katz marriage to Isaak Vogel
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5624

Their son Carl was born on March 30, 1910, in Borken, Germany:

Birth record of Carl Vogel

His brother Heinz was born two years later on July 18, 1912, also in Borken:

Birth record of Heinz Vogel. Courtesy of the Vogel family

During World War I Isaac Vogel served in the Germany military, fighting in France, and then was a city councilor in Borken in the 1920s.

Isaac Vogel (right). Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac Vogel, seated far right. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac worked with his brother Moritz as a cattle trader. It was a business that Isaac and Moritz had taken over from their father Ephraim. It was a small business, but enough to support two families adequately.

Here are three photos of Carl and Heinz and their parents taken between about 1910 to about 1924 in Borken, Germany:

Heinz and Carl Vogel, c. 1910. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Sophie, Heinz, Isaac, and Carl Vogel, c. 1917. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Vogel family, c. 1924. Courtesy of the Vogel family

According to Ingo Sieloff,  the Vogel home in Borken was located at Hintergasse 125 and included a house and a stable; the house was 105 square meters or about 1130 square feet in area. It appears to be larger than that in this photograph:

Hintergasse 125, Borken. Courtesy of the Vogel family

I don’t know when this photograph was taken or the identities of the people standing in front.

As a child, Carl Vogel was an avid reader and a good student, and his parents decided to send him to grammar school in Kassel. During the week he lived with his uncle Moritz Vogel. Carl graduated from high school and then studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. He also attended lectures at Rabbinerseminar and worked as a religion teacher.

These three photographs are labeled “Schule,” one with year 1921. I can find Carl in the Gymnasium photograph below (the third one); he is the young man standing fourth from the left in the back row. I assume that either Carl or Heinz is somewhere in the other two photos. Can you find them? I have guesses, but am not sure.

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Heinz Vogel was also a very talented boy, but his parents could not afford to send both boys to high school. Instead, Heinz completed his apprenticeship as a retail merchant in Kassel at the Tietz department store.

Until 1933, the family lived a normal life. They saw themselves as Jews and as good Germans. They lived a quiet life, although there were occasional verbal anti-Semitic attacks .  But once the Nazis came to power, the Vogel cattle business suffered because farmers were not allowed to do business with Jews. Heinz Vogel also found his livelihood affected; although he was considered the best salesman in the store, he was released from his job. He then completed an apprenticeship in a practical trade in Frankfurt to prepare for emigration.

Carl read Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and recognized that the family needed to leave Germany. Sophie’s sister Recha Katz Goldschmidt had already left  for Argentina by 1932 after her husband Julius was beaten by the Nazis.

Carl and Heinz prepared to emigrate to Palestine, but then decided to go to Argentina since they already had relatives living there. Heinz and Carl first emigrated in 1935, and one year later their parents Isaac and Sophie and Sophie’s mother Rosa Katzenstein Katz followed. They sold their home in Borken for 9113 Reichsmarks. One source says that there were 2.5 Reichsmarks to a US dollar during World War II, so the price of the house would have been about $3,645 in US currency or about $48,000 in today’s dollars, according to this inflation calculator. They settled in Buenos Aires.

In Argentina, Carl and Heinz had to start their lives all over. But the family adapted well to their life in Argentina. The philanthropic association Asociación Filantrópica Israelita or Jüdischer Hillfsverein helped the newcomers adjust to their new country. In Buenos Aires, Isaac and Sophie continued to have a traditional Jewish home and went regularly to the liberal synagogue founded by German Jews; services were conducted in German and Hebrew and in later years, also in Spanish. Isaac and Sophie never learned Spanish, but it did not matter because they were living amidst other German Jews who had escaped from the Nazis. Isaac also tutored boys for their bar mitzvahs.

In 1943 Carl Vogel married Beate Hamburger from Frankfurt; Carl was very active and well known in the Jewish community and served as a deputy rabbi and as a bar mitzvah tutor. He also taught German and Latin. Beate also was a teacher; she gave private instruction in German and English. Carl and Beate had two children.

Heinz Vogel married Gertrud Lippman from Ludwigshafen in 1943. They had one child. Heinz started work in Argentina as an industrial worker in the meat business. Then he became a white collar worker in a big Argentina-owned multinational firm called Bunge & Born. For his job he was required to travel all over the world, including a six-month stay in India in 1954. He became the General Manager of the Jute department and traveled many times to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Although Heinz lacked the formal education his brother Carl had received in Germany, his daughter described him as a “very cultured and interesting person.” She said that her parents lived a secular life and had friends from many different backgrounds; their connection to the synagogue was limited to Yom Kippur and lifecycle events for family and friends. Heinz’s daughter also told me that Heinz was very proud to be an Argentine citizen and that when he received a diploma from the Argentine government on the fiftieth anniversary of his becoming a citizen, he was very emotional.

Isaac Vogel died on April 16, 1960, in Buenos Aires;1 his wife Sophie died five years later on May 5, 1965.2  Carl died in 1981, and Heinz in 2005.

I feel so fortunate to have found the granddaughters of Sophie and Isaac and to have learned so much more about the courage and determination of Sophie, Isaac, Carl, and Heinz, who all started their lives over in a new place after being forced to escape from Nazi Germany in the 1930s.



Cousin Jane’s Parents

In my last post I shared the photograph of my second cousin, once removed, Jane Schlesinger Bruner—the woman my father called the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen when he met her the first time when he was a young boy.

Today I received this photograph of Jane’s parents—Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger.

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

Sidney and Nan (Levis) Schlesinger

I have already written about Sidney and Nan in my earlier posts, but just to recap here. Sidney was the fourth child and third son of Jacob Schlesinger and Brendina Katzenstein, my great-grandmother’s older sister.  He was born in Philadelphia in 1880 and lived his whole life there.  He was a successful furniture salesman.

In 1911, Sidney married Anna Levis, who was known as Nan. Nan was born in Philadelphia in 1886 to William Levis and Caroline Bopp; her father died when she was eleven years old. She had been working as a stenographer in a bolt factory before marrying Sidney.  Sidney and Nan’s daughter Jane was born in 1913.  She was their only child and the only grandchild of Jacob and Brendina Schlesinger.

Sidney died in 1935 when he was 54.  Nan survived him by forty years, dying at age 89 in 1975.  As I wrote earlier, she was the first member of my father’s family to meet my mother after my parents were engaged.

I am once again so grateful to Jane’s granddaughter for sharing this photograph and allowing me to see the faces behind the stories.


My Father Wasn’t Wrong

In a prior post, I told the story of my father’s first impression of his second cousin Jane Schlesinger whom he met her for the first time when he was a young boy.  He thought Jane was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and told her so.  Jane, who was thirteen years older than my father, must have been quite charmed by this little boy, who was quite adorable himself.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr.

When I heard the story and wrote the post, I wished that I had a photograph of my cousin Jane.  Now, like manna from heaven, I do.  I’ve been in touch with one of Jane’s grandchildren, and she sent me these two photographs of Jane and her husband Marvin.

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner

Jane Schlesinger and her husband Marvin Bruner


Jane (Schlesinger) and Marvin Bruner

My father was not wrong.  She was indeed a stunning woman.


Are These Two Photographs of the Same Woman?

Sharon, one of my readers and a fellow genealogy blogger, asked in response to my last post whether I thought the woman in this photograph of Lawrence Baer and his son John Degen Baer could be John’s grandmother. Certainly the way his hand rests on her shoulder suggests that she was someone he knew well and felt comfortable with:

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

Lawrence Baer, John Degen Baer, unknown person, 1924

John’s paternal grandmother was Amalia Hamberg, the woman in the photo I’d posted in an earlier post. People thought that photo was taken in the 1880s or about 40 years before the one above:


Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer


Could the woman in the top photo also be Amalia? In 1924, Amalia would have been 73 years old. Her face is obviously much thinner in the later photograph, but are the mouth, nose, and eyes similar? Do you think this is the same woman in both photographs?

And if any of Amalia’s descendants can help, please let me know.

(I tried to use the pictriev tool that Cathy Meder-Dempsey blogged about, but the photo of Amalia and Jacob was too small for pictriev to detect the faces.)

Double Cousins…Everywhere!

The best part of my discoveries of the Goldfarb and Hecht families is that I have found more new cousins, three of whom are my double cousins—Sue, Debrah, and Lisa. They are descendants of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht. Sue’s daughter Lisa shared this wonderful wedding photograph of Julius and Ida.


Wedding photograph of Julius Goldfarb, my grandmother’s first cousin, and Ida Hecht, my grandmother’s niece. Courtesy of the Goldfarb/Hecht family


Julius was the son of Sarah Goldfarb, my great-grandmother’s sister; Ida was the daughter of Tillie Hecht, my grandmother’s half-sister.   So I am related to both of them.

Julius and Ida had four daughters, Sylvia, Gertrude, Ethel and Evelyn. Sue, Sylvia’s daughter, shared with me this precious photograph of her grandmother Ida holding her as a baby:


Ida Hecht Goldfarb and granddaughter Sue

And Debrah shared this photograph of her grandparents, Julius and Ida, with her mother Evelyn:


Julius, Evelyn, and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb

Julius, Evelyn, and Ida (Hecht) Goldfarb

One thing I wanted to define is how, if at all, Julius and Ida were related to each other, aside from being husband and wife.  Hecht/Goldfarb family lore says Julius and Ida were “distant cousins.”

Julius was the son of Sarah Goldfarb.  Sarah’s sister Bessie Brotman was the stepmother of Ida’s mother, Toba, as Bessie married Toba’s father Joseph after his Toba’s mother died.  Although that makes things complicated, it does not alone create any genetic connection between Julius and Ida since Bessie (and thus Sarah) had no blood relationship with Toba.


But if Brotman family lore is correct and Bessie and her husband Joseph Brotman were first cousins, then Joseph Brotman and Bessie’s sister Sarah were also first cousins. Sarah’s son Julius married Ida, who was the granddaughter of Sarah’s first cousin Joseph, making Julius and Ida second cousins, once removed.


That is, assuming that Joseph and Sarah were first cousins as Brotman family lore reports, Ida and Julius were in fact “distant cousins,” as Hecht/Goldfarb family lore indicates.  So maybe together the Brotman family lore and the Hecht/Goldfarb family lore validate each other.

Sue and Debrah, who are granddaughters of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, thus are both the great-granddaughters of Sarah Brotman Goldfarb, making them my third cousins on my great-grandmother Bessie’s side, and the great-great-granddaughters of Joseph Brotman, making them also my second cousins, once removed, on my great-grandfather Joseph’s side. (Lisa is one more step removed on both sides.) Renee is my second cousin; her mother Jean Hecht was my mother’s first cousin; her grandmother Toba was my grandmother Gussie’s half-sister. And then I’ve also found a cousin Jan, whose grandfather was Harry Hecht, Toba’s son, and my mother’s first cousin.


Harry Hecht and his wife and children 1945 Courtesy of the family

And, of course, if my great-grandparents Joseph and Bessie Brotman were in fact first cousins, the relationships get even more convoluted. But I think I will skip that calculation.  At least for now.  Maybe some brave soul out there wants to try and figure it out?

With all this shared DNA, I was very curious to see if there were any family resemblances among the various members of the Goldfarb, Hecht, and Brotman families.  My newly found double cousins Debrah, Sue, and Lisa shared some family photos with me, including this one of Toba/ Taube/Tillie Brotman Hecht:


Toba/Taube/Tillie Brotman Hecht Courtesy of the Goldfarb/Hecht family

Here is a photograph of her brother Max Brotman that I’d earlier received from his family:

Max Brotman

Max Brotman, courtesy of the family

Do you see a resemblance? Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs of Toba’s other full siblings, Abraham and David, to help with the comparison.

But here are photographs of Toba’s half-siblings, Hyman, Tillie (Ressler), Sam, and my grandmother Gussie:

Hyman Brotman

Hyman Brotman

Tilly Brotman

Tilly Brotman Ressler

Sam Brotman

Sam Brotman

Gussie Brotman

Gussie Brotman Goldschlager

I can see some similarities—in particular in the shape of the noses.  But it appears that Max and Toba do not have faces that are as round as those of their half-siblings.  Perhaps the shape of their faces was a genetic trait they inherited from their mother Chaye, not their father Joseph Brotman.

Here is one other photograph of the extended Goldfarb and Hecht family.


Goldfarb Hecht family gathering for Chanukah

Standing on the far left is Julius Goldfarb.  Seated at the head of the table is Ida Hecht Goldfarb.  On the right side of the table starting at the front are two of Ida’s sister, Etta and Jean Hecht.  Also in the photograph are Julius and Ida’s four daughters as well as their spouses and a few of the grandchildren and other cousins.

It’s sad to think that in 1917 Julius and Ida were close enough to my grandmother that they came to visit when my aunt was born, as did Ida’s mother, my grandmother’s sister Toba Hecht, but somehow the families all lost touch, and my mother only has a few  memories of some of the Goldfarbs from her childhood.

On the other hand, I feel very fortunate that now, almost a century after my aunt was born, I know who the Goldfarbs and Hechts were and I am in touch with a number of these “new”  cousins of mine.


Like Manna from Heaven

Last Monday I posted about my third cousin, Betty Oestreicher Jacob, who passed away on July 19, 2016.  Betty and I were related through our mutual great-great-grandparents, Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  Her great-grandmother Hannah Schoenthal and my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal were sister and brother.  Betty’s grandparents were Sarah Stern, Hannah’s daughter, and Gustav Oestreicher.  Her parents were Sidney (Oestreicher) Striker and Esther Siff

At the time I posted about Betty’s passing, I had only one photograph of Betty and none of her grandparents, parents, or siblings.  But within hours of publishing my post, I received a comment on the blog and then emails from Betty’s nephew, Steve, the son of her brother Gerald.  And Steve generously shared with me numerous photos of all those people and then some. Now I can place faces to the names of the people I have researched and written about.  And what gorgeous photos these are.

In this post, I will share some photographs of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  In a later post, I will share the photos of Sidney’s children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.  All are courtesy of Steve Striker, who so generously spent his time scanning and emailing these to me and answering my many questions.

First, here are some photographs of Sarah Stern Oestreicher, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin.  I’ve written about Sarah’s life here.

Sarah Stern as a child edited

Sarah Stern as a young child in Germany, probably before her mother married Solomon Stern in 1874. Sarah was born in 1865, so this picture was probably taken between 1870 and 1872.

The photograph below of Sarah was taken in Pittsburgh.  She emigrated to the US by herself around 1884 when she was nineteen years old.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

I assume the photograph below was taken sometime later than the one above, but I am not sure. Does Sarah look older or younger in this photograph? The hairstyle in the one above seems more “contemporary,” but Sarah’s face seems softer and somewhat younger than in the one immediately below.

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Sarah Stern Oestreicher


A while back I had posted the next photograph, which I’d received from my cousin Maxine Stein, and she and I had wondered whether the woman on the left was Sarah Stern, her grandmother’s sister.  Now I am quite certain that it is in fact Sarah.  What do you think? Is the woman on the far left of the photograph the same woman as the one in the photo directly above?


Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the right and Edith Stern Good on the right

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the left and Edith Stern Good on the right

Sarah married Gustav Oestreicher, the man she met while he was staying at her mother’s boarding house in Pittsburgh in about 1890. Gustav, an immigrant from Austria, was working as an artist and photographer in 1900.

Gustav Oestreicher

Gustav Oestreicher

What a dashing man he was!

Here are Sarah and Gustav’s three children, Sidney (1891), Francis (Frank) (1893), and Helen (1895).  You can see that the children inherited their father’s piercing light-colored eyes.  I would guess that these were taken in the late 1890s, perhaps 1898 or 1899, from the ages of the children.  They were also probably taken at the same time as the photos above of Gustav and Sarah, as all five photos were mounted together in a frame.  Perhaps Gustav himself took these photos.

Sidney Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher

Frank Oestreicher as a boy

Helen Oestreicher

This photo of Gustav and Sarah was taken in 1915, when their children were already grown.  By this time Gustav was no longer working as an artist, but was a merchant in Pittsburgh.
Gustav and Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher store in Pittsburgh:

Oestreicher store

Here’s a photo of Gustav and Sarah and their three children in about 1910, I’d guess, given the ages of the children. Unfortunately, Sidney’s head was cut off either in the photo itself or in the scan.

Rear: Frank, Helen, Gerald (with head cut off) Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Rear: Frank, Helen, Sidney (with head cut off)
Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher (later Striker) married Esther Siff on November 16, 1915, in Chicago. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman, and as his daughter Betty told me, he met Esther at a dance in Chicago while there on business.  Esther’s father was also a traveling salesman. (I have more pictures of Sidney and Esther, but will share them in my next post.)

Sidney and Esther 1915

The second son, Francis, better known as Frank, served his country in World War I. (Sidney was exempt as he had a wife and young child.)  The postcard below shows Frank’s dates of service:

Frank postcard with military service dates

He was gone for just over a year—from June 25, 1918, when he left for camp, until July 17, 1919, when he arrived home.  He had gone overseas on September 24, 1918.  As I wrote about here, Frank served in the Meuse Argonne Offensive, one of the most important if not the most important battle in World War I. He was a member of Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train in the American Expeditionary Forces.

According to Richard Rubin’s book, The Last of the Doughboys:The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), p.220, a water tank train was actually a caravan of white trucks used to carry water to the front.  According to his honorable discharge papers, Frank served as a private, which Rubin’s book suggests meant he was likely an assistant driver of one of the trucks.

I found this photograph online depicting Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train.  I wonder if Frank is in the photograph:

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train, H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I Photographs

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train,
H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur
Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

As you can see below, he was awarded a Victory medal for his service. (Steve has also sent me some of the letters Frank wrote home during World War I; I will post those separately once I have a chance to review and transcribe them.)

Frank Striker WW1

Francis Oestreicher, later known as Frank Striker

Frank Striker WW1 medal

Frank Striker’s Victory Medal for service in World War I

Gustav and Sarah’s third child was their daughter Helen. Here she is in 1917 when she was 22 years old.

Helen Oestreicher 1917

Helen Oestreicher 1917

As I wrote earlier, Helen married Robert Steel Kann in 1920, but he died a year later at age 26.  Sometime before 1929, she married Aaron Mitchell Siegel, known as Mickie, and they had a daughter Betty.

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

I was tickled to see this item in Steve’s collection:

invitation to Henry Schoenthal 50th anniv party

As you can see, it is an invitation to the 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1922 for Henry Schoenthal and Helen Lilienfeld, about whom I’ve written extensively.  Henry Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle, was Sarah Stern Oestreicher’s uncle, brother of her mother Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

Steve sent me this photo labeled Aunt Helen by his uncle Frank, and I wonder whether this is Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, who would have been Frank’s great-aunt.  Frank received a long letter from his great-aunt Helen and great-uncle Henry while he was serving in Europe; the tone and content of that letter suggest that Helen and Henry Schoenthal had a very close relationship with the Oestreicher family. (I will post the letter in a separate post.)

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

Frank returned to Pittsburgh after the war and worked as a salesman in the family dry goods store. After the family store went bankrupt in 1933, the Oestreicher family began its migration west to California. Although neither Steve nor his cousin Ron was sure of who first went to California or why, the 1940 census indicates that by 1935 at least Helen and her family and Gustav and Sarah had settled there.  I was not able to locate Frank on the 1930 or the 1940 census,nor do I have any address for him between 1920 and 1942, but his World War II draft registration indicates that by then he was definitely living in California along with his parents and his sister Helen.  Sidney and his family did not move west until the 1940s.

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher family in Los Angeles in 1936.

Oestreicher family edited 1936

I found this letter written by Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank in 1933 to be very touching in its religious tone and its affection for her son.  Perhaps it was written around the time that family members were planning to move to California.  From the text of the letter, it appears that Frank had just visited, perhaps before he was leaving to move out west or his parents were.



Letter from Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank, dated January 11, 1933

My dear Francis!

Always remember that The present is under God’s guidance, the future in His keeping. God is guiding, directing, controlling and suplying His children with all good.  His Love and [?] is with you always. Thanking you for all your kindness and the pleasure of having you with us will be the the most pleasant memmories to us.

With my love I remain your devoted Mother. January 11—1933

Here is a photo of Frank in 1940.

Frank Striker 3

One of Steve’s favorite stories about Frank is that he offered to take photographs at Steve’s bar mitzvah, only to discover there was no film left in the camera.  There is only this one photo taken by Frank that day.


Although Steve has many photographs with Frank with women throughout the years, Frank never married. He died in Los Angeles on April 23, 1990, at the age of 96.  His sister Helen died in 1989 when she was 94.

I am so grateful to my cousin Steve for sharing these amazing photographs with me and allowing me to post them on my blog. There is just nothing better than a photograph to help bring to life the people whose lives I’ve researched.

More photos and stories about the Oestreicher family in my next post.



Ray, Arizona: Home of Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal

Some of you may remember that about six months ago I wrote about Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal, two of the daughters of Simon Schoenthal, brother of my great-grandfather Isidore.  Gertrude had married Jacob Miller in 1898 and moved to Arizona. Jacob and his brothers were merchants in the Tucson area. Gertrude’s younger sister Hettie followed her out there around 1906, where she met her husband Henry Stein and eventually settled as well.

Eventually both the Millers and the Steins moved to the small mining town of Ray, Arizona, where they lived for several years before returning to Atlantic City, where most of the members Schoenthal family were still living.   Hettie and her son Walter Stein wrote wonderfully descriptive memoirs of their rough and tumble pioneer life in Ray, Arizona.  I quoted extensively from their writings in this blog post.

A week ago I was Skyping with Sharon Lippincott, who is married to Ezra Lippincott, grandson of Hettie Schoenthal, and Sharon and Ezra were excited to share with me a photograph that their daughter-in-law had found somewhere on the internet.  It is a panoramic view of Ray, Arizona, taken in the time that Hettie and her sister Gertrude were living there.  In fact, you can see the Miller Brothers store in the photo if you zoom in to the right side of the picture.  Just click, and then click again to zoom in to the photograph to see it more clearly.

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet

Here’s a closeup of the section showing the Miller store:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (2)

Both Hettie and Walter described their first house in Ray.  Walter wrote:

Our first house was placed on the side of a hill with one door. The back of the house was against the hill. To reach the house you walked up steps that also took care of other householders on the hill. I cannot remember the location of the outhouse. I do remember to bathe, water was heated on the stove and then poured into a galvanized tub that had been placed on the floor.

Hettie’s description is similar:

I will tell you a little about the house. It was up on a hill, just four rooms no bath or toilet. It was terrible. I did not think I could live there, but we did. Your grandfather and a helper built a room and we bought a tub. The pipes had to be on top of the ground. Well, the sun was so hot we had to draw the water and let it stand for hours before bathing.

Can you locate the house in the photograph above?  The houses are all to the far right in the panoramic photograph, and I have a guess as to which one was the home of Hettie Schoenthal and Henry Stein and their children.  Which one do you think it was?  (Look first before looking at my guess at the bottom of this post.)


In my head I am humming the Final Jeopardy theme song.














Here’s my guess:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (3)

See the house in the left foreground with the huge cactus in front?  I think that’s it.  It’s built into the hill, and there is a staircase behind that leads to the other houses.  It looks like the outhouse was right in front of the house.

What do you think?

My thanks to Ezra and Sharon Lippincott and their daughter-in-law Carrie for sharing the photograph with me.