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. 

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 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part I: Another Young Widow

For the past month I’ve been writing updates  to earlier posts, mostly about my Goldschmidt relatives but also a few from my Seligmann relatives. I am finally ready to return to the Goldschmidts with new research, starting with the youngest of the five children of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, Helmina Goldschmidt.

Helmina was born on October 23, 1863, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Helmina Goldschmidt birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8824, Description Year Range: 1863, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

She married Leopold Rapp on November 2, 1883, in Niederrad-und-Oberrad, Germany. Leopold was the son of David Rapp and Rebecka Kulp and was born in Frankfurt on July 18, 1854.

Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, marriage record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 9427,  1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helmina and Leopold had three children.  David Leopold Rapp (later known as Arthur Rapp) was born on November 15, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Arthur David Leopold Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8997, Year Range: 1884, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Helene Rapp was born on August 25, 1887, in Frankfurt.

Helene Rapp birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9032, Description, Year Range: 1887, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Alice Rapp was born in Frankfurt on October 4, 1890.

Alice Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9076, Description, Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Unfortunately, Leopold Rapp died just three years after the birth of their last child. He died on October 13, 1893, in Frankfurt, leaving Helmina a widow with three very young children. Arthur was turning nine, Helene was seven, and Alice was three.

Leopold Rapp death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10465
Description, Year Range: 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene Rapp married when she was only nineteen. On February 8, 1907, she married Sally Lehmann in Frankfurt. Sally was the son of Isaak Lehman and Bertha Neu and was born in Kannstadt on September 2, 1877.

Marriage record of Helene Rapp and Sally Lehmann, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

They had three children. Ludwig Lehmann was born February 9, 1908, in Frankfurt.1 His sister Felise was born four years later in 1912, but died as a child on May 5, 1918, in Frankfurt. A third child, Else Berta was born January 8, 1922.2

Felise Lehmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10805, Year Range: 1918, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene’s older brother David Leopold Rapp also married in 1907. He married Herta Landsberg on December 19, 1907, in Frankfurt. Herta was the daughter of Sally Landsberg and Martha Lorch and was born in Frankfurt on June 14, 1887.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Herta Landsberg, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Arthur and Herta had one child, Henriette “Rita” Rapp, born on September 21, 1908, in Frankfurt.3

Arthur and Herta’s marriage did not last; they were divorced on November 10, 1917, as seen on the notation on their marriage record above, and Arthur later married Alice Johanna Kahn in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. She was the daughter of Markus Kahn and Emilie Kahn and was born in Frankfurt on February 24, 1895.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Alice Kahn, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

The notation on both David’s birth record and his marriage record to Alice was translated for me by Cathy Meder-Dempsey; it provides that as of March 8, 1924, David Leopold Rapp had received authorization to add the additional first name Arthur to his name. He was thereafter referred to as Arthur and will also be so on the blog.

Arthur and Alice Rapp had two sons. Helmut Leopold Rapp was born on February 11, 1923, in Berlin.4 His brother Gunther Rapp was born in Frankfurt on December 10, 1925.5

Finally, the youngest child of Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, Alice, was married on September 23, 1910, in Frankfurt to Saly Stern, the son of Markus Stern and Franziska Oppenheimer. Saly was born on November 26, 1877, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1910, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Saly had three children. Grete was born on September 16, 1911 in Frankfurt.6 Walter was born December 3, 1917, in Frankfurt,7 and Elizabeth Ruth Stern was born on January 21, 1919, in Frankfurt.8

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp had thus managed to raise all three of her children to adulthood, and by the 1920s, all three were married and raising children of their own and living in Frankfurt. Obviously, everything changed in the 1930s with the rise of the Nazis.


  1. E.g., Louis Ludwig Lehman, [Yehuda Ludwig Lehman] , Birth Date: 9 Feb 1908
    Age: 58, Naturalization Date: 27 Jun 1966, Residence: New York, New York
    Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District. Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  2. Else Berta Spitzer, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1922, Age: 36, Naturalization Date: 5 Jan 1959, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  3. Henriette Rapp marriage record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, Description
    Register Year or Type: 1929 (Erstregister), Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936 
  4. Helmut Harold 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, (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400),
    Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  5. Gordon 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 
  6.  Grete Stern, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  7. Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, 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