Betty Schnadig Cohen’s Heartbreaking Story, Part I

As we saw, Betty Schnadig married Bernard Arie Cohen from Holland, and they had four children born in Groningen in Holland: Arnold, Anita, Simona Hedda, and Adolf. Bernard Arie Cohen was a merchant in the rag, scrap metal, and paper business in Groningen.

I was very fortunate to connect with my fifth cousin Betty, Betty Schnadig Cohen’s granddaughter and namesake, who kindly shared the family photographs I’ve included in this blog post. Thank you also once again to Bert de Jong and also to Rob Ruijs who found many of the notices from Dutch newspapers and introduced me to the Delpher.nl website for Dutch research.

Here, for example, is a May 7, 1903, wedding announcement for Betty and Bernard, thanking everyone for their kind wishes.

Nieuwsblad van het Noorden 07-05-1903 (May 7, 1903), 
found at https://tinyurl.com/y6enc386

In this photograph, Betty and Bernard are dressed in costume to celebrate Purim:

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

This adorable little boy in the sailor outfit is their first-born child, Arnold, probably taken in Groningen when he was about three or four, or in about 1908:

Arnold Cohen c. 1908 Courtesy of Betty de Liever

This is a newspaper notice announcing Arnold’s bar mitzvah in February, 1917.

Centraal blad voor Israëlieten in Nederland
02-02-1917
found at https://tinyurl.com/y6fl8gsa

This is a lovely photograph of all  four children probably taken in the early 1920s.

Arnold, Anita, Adolf, and Simona Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

And here is an announcement of Adolf Cohen’s bar mitzvah in 1929:

Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad
August 9, 1929 found at https://tinyurl.com/y66damno

The family that celebrated these joyous occasions was destroyed just fifteen years after Adolf’s bar mitzvah.

According to a Stolpersteine website devoted to the Cohen family, when World War II started in 1939, Bernard very quickly realized the dangers ahead. After a swastika was painted on the front of their home in Groningen along with the word “Jood,” he knew they had to go into hiding.

House of Bernard and Betty Cohen in Groningen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

But their efforts to hide were not ultimately successful. Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen did not survive; they were arrested on November 11, 1942, and sent to the detention camp at Westerbork, from which they were then deported to Sobibor on May 18, 1943, and immediately gassed to death upon arrival.

Betty Schnadig Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Of their four children, only two survived. One was their older daughter Simona Hedda. I located a card for her in the Arolsen Archives showing she was registered with the Judenrat in Amsterdam. The card has very little information other than Simona’s name, birth date, and address, and it’s not dated, but it appears that Simona was living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

1 Incarceration Documents / 1.2 Miscellaneous / 1.2.4 Various Organizations /
1.2.4.2 Index cards from the Judenrat (Jewish council) file in Amsterdam /
Reference Code 124200009/ ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Somehow Simona avoided deportation and survived the war. On August 29, 1946, in Groningen, Simona married Jan de Jong, who was born on March 22, 1914, in Ooststellingwerf. Simona (apparently known as Mona) and Jan had a son Bernard de Jong (presumably named for Simona’s father) born November 4, 1948, but he died two and half months later on January 12, 1949.1 Sadly, Simona’s marriage to Jan did not long survive the loss of their child. They were divorced on April 28, 1950, in Groningen.

Thank you so much to Rob Ruijs, who found most of this information about Simona and her family, including these two newspaper notices for the birth and death of Simona and Jan’s infant son Bernard.

De waarheid 08-11-1948

Thanks to Rob, I also know that Simona moved to Amsterdam after her divorce and worked for the city, eventually becoming the bureau chief. She died on February 5, 2005, in Amsterdam at the age of 93. As far as I can tell, she did not remarry or have more children. Simona was blessed with a long life.

UPDATE: Another reader, N. Aronson, found Simona’s Amsterdam residency card, which showed that she lived in Groningen until 1953, then in Nunspeet, and then in 1954 she moved to Amsterdam. Thank you!!

But Betty and Bernard’s other daughter Anita Cohen did not survive. She married Abraham Jacob van Dam on December 23, 1935, in Groningen, Netherlands.2 Abraham was born in Groningen on June 24, 1898, the son of Jakob van Dam and Netje Kisch.3 Abraham and Anita had two children, a son Jacob Abraham van Dam, born on July 3, 1938, and a son Bernard, born December 24, 1939. The photo below depicts Anita and her two little sons probably in 1941.

Jakob van Dam, Bernard van Dam, and Anita Cohen van Dam c. 1941. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Anita, Abraham, and those two little boys in this photograph were murdered by the Nazis.

Just stop and think about that. Little Jacob van Dam was four years old, his brother Bernard not yet three. They and their mother Anita were murdered at Auschwitz on November 2, 1942. Their father Abraham survived until March 31, 1944, when he also died at the hands of the Nazis. Although it always takes my breath away when I discover yet another family member who was killed in the Holocaust, finding the Pages of Testimony for my cousins Jacob and Bernard, sweet innocent little boys, just sent me reeling.

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Cohen’s son Adolf married Henriette Sara Barnstijn on March 12, 1942.4 They both were murdered at Auschwitz before their first anniversary. Henriette was killed on December 15, 1942; Adolf was killed two months after his new bride on February 28, 1943. Henriette was 22, Adolf was 26.

Thus, Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen and two of their children, Anita and Adolf, were murdered by the Nazis as were Anita and Adolf’s spouses and Anita’s two little boys. Betty and Bernard’s first born child Arnold survived, but not without tragedy. His story merits a separate post.


  1.  Bernard de Jong, Age: 2/12, Birth Date: abt 1948, Birth Place: Groningen
    Death Date: 12 jan 1949, Death Place: Groningen, Father: Jan de Jong, Mother: Simona Hedda Cohen, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten), Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  2.  Anita Cohen, Gender: Vrouwelijk (Female), Age: 28, Birth Date: abt 1907
    Marriage Date: 23 dec 1935, Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen
    Mother: Bettij Schnadig, Spouse: Abraham Jakob van Dam, BS Marriage,
    Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  3.  Abraham Jakob van Dam, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 37
    Birth Date: abt 1898, Marriage Date: 23 dec 1935, Marriage Place: Groningen
    Father: Jakob van Dam, Mother: Netje Kisch, Spouse: Anita Cohen
    BS Marriage, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  4.  Adolf Cohen, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 25, Birth Date: abt 1917
    Marriage Date: 12 mrt 1942 (12 Mar 1942), Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, Spouse: Henriëtte Sara Barnstijn
    BS Marriage, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, Part II: Her Daughter Elsa Schnadig Cats, The Survivor

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, the third daughter of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein, died in 1924 in Hamburg at the age of 66. She was survived by her three daughters, Helene, Betty, and Elsa, and ten grandchildren.

Twenty years after Henriette’s death in 1924, only one of her daughters was still alive, her youngest daughter, Elsa.

I don’t know exactly how Elsa and her husband Salomon Cats survived the Holocaust. But thanks to the amazing help of Bert de Jong of the Tracing the Tribe group, I learned a great deal more about Elsa and Salomon than I had been able to find on my own.

UPDATE: According to Elsa’s great-niece Betty, Elsa and Salomon escaped to Suriname during the war.

First, in my initial research, I had not found any evidence that Elsa and Salomon had children, but as seen in my last post, thanks to the family register located by Bert de Jong, I now know that they had two sons—Marcel, born February 25, 1916, in Schaerbeek, Belgium, and Harry, born August 20, 1919, in Amsterdam. So it appears that for some time, Elsa and Salomon were in Belgium before returning to Amsterdam.

Family register of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 152 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, Resident registration card
https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22marcel%20cats%22%7D
Amstserdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

But at some point—it’s not clear exactly when—Elsa and Salomon moved back to Belgium. Bert found a death notice for Salomon’s brother Leo Cats dated February 26, 1939, that shows that S.A. Cats and E. Cats-Schnadig were living in Brussels. Since that was more than six months before the start of World War II, it’s not likely that Salomon and Elsa left Holland because of the Nazis.

Bert also located a residency card for Elsa and Salomon’s son Marcel that shows that he married Betty Agsteribbe in Tel Aviv on November 20, 1949, and had been residing in Haifa until 1956 when he returned to the Netherlands.1

Marcel’s younger brother Harry married Sipora Englelanger. Sipora was born in Amsterdam on October 9, 1920. Death notices for Sipora’s father Louis Engelander show that Harry and Sipora were living in Antwerp in 1953.

In 1981, they were still living in Belgium, now Berchem, when Sipora’s mother Judith Engelander died.

According to an index of  Dutch genealogy, Salomon Cats died in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 9, 1978,1 when he was 96 years old. Elsa survived him by nine years, dying on June 8, 1987, also in Antwerp. She was 97.2 I have not found a death record for their son Marcel, but their son Harry died in April 16, 2008 in Strassbourg, France.3

UPDATE: Betty de Liever shared a cemetery listing confirming these dates of death and also shared this photograph of Elsa and Salomon and of their graves.

Elsa Schnadig and Salomon Cats Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Graves of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig Cats. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

The fact that Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig lived such incredibly long lives makes what happened to Elsa’s sisters and their families even more upsetting. I wonder how long the others would have lived and what they would have contributed to our world and to each other if they had not been murdered by the Nazis.

More on Elsa’s sisters in the posts to follow. Thank you once again to Bert de Jong for his incredible help.

 


  1.  Salomon Aron Cats, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 3 jun 1882, Birth Place: Rotterdam, Zh, Nl, Death Date: 9 jun 1978, Death Place: Antwerpen, Antwerpen, België, Death Age: 96, Father: Aron Salomon Cats, Mother: Louisa Friezer, Spouse: Elsa Schnadig
    Ancestry.com. Web: Netherlands, GenealogieOnline Trees Index, 1000-2015. Original data: GenealogieOnline. Coret Genealogie. http://www.genealogieonline.nl/en/: accessed 31 August 2015. 
  2.  Elsa Schnadig, Gender: f (Female), Birth Date: 14 jan 1890, Birth Place: Frankfurt Am Main, Hessen, D, Death Place: Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgie, Father: Simon Schnadig, Mother: Henriette Katzenstein, Spouse: Salomon Aron Cats
    Ancestry.com. Web: Netherlands, GenealogieOnline Trees Index, 1000-2015. Original data: GenealogieOnline. Coret Genealogie. http://www.genealogieonline.nl/en/: accessed 31 August 2015. 
  3. “France, Indice de décès de la sécurité sociale de l’Insee, 1970-2019”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:C55D-T2W2 : 10 May 2020), Harry Leo Cats, 2008. 

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, Part I: Two Dutch Sons-in-Law

The third surviving daughter of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein was Henriette. As we saw, she was born on February 13, 1858, in Eschwege, and married Simon Schnadig on August 20, 1877, in Eschwege. Henriette and Simon had four children—Julius, Helene, Betty, and Elsa—-but only three survived to adulthood.

Their son Julius only lived two years. He was born on May 13, 1878, in Frankfurt, where Henriette and Simon were then living, and died in Frankfurt on August 13, 1880.

Julius Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8917, Year Range: 1878, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Julius Schnadig death record, Certificate Number: 1961
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10336
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Ten months later Henriette gave birth to their second child, Helene, born in Frankfurt on June 26, 1881.

Helene Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8956, Year Range: 1881, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

I found it odd that Henriette named her daughter Helene since that was the name of her older sister, who was definitely still living in 1881, and I cannot find any other close relative of Henriette or Simon with that first name. Perhaps the Hebrew names were different.

Betty Schnadig, the second daughter, was born August 27, 1882, in Frankfurt.

Betty Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8970, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Henriette and Simon’s third daughter Elsa was born in Frankfurt on January 14, 1890, seven and a half years after Betty, making me wonder whether Henriette and Simon had other babies or pregnancies that did not survive.

Elsa Schnadig birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9071, Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

The oldest daughter Helene Schnadig married Emil Cohn on May 28, 1900, in Frankfurt. She was only eighteen, and Emil was thirty. He was born in Hamburg on February 4, 1870, to Simon Cohn and Malvine Josaphat.

Helene Schnadig and Emil Cohn marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helene and Emil had four children, all born in Hamburg. Meta was born on April 3, 1901.

Meta Cohn birth record, Year Range and Volume: 1901 Band 03
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Births, 1874-1901. Original data:Best. 332-5 Standesämter, Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg, Deutschland.

Siegbert was born April 23, 1905;1 Hertha Johanna was born September 1, 1906;2 and Lissy Sitta was born July 21, 1910.3

Betty Schnadig, the middle sister, married Bernard Arie Cohen on April 21, 1903, in Darmstadt, where Betty’s parents Henriette and Simon Schnadig were living at that time. He was born January 5, 1879, in Groningen, Holland, and was the son of Arie Cohen and Amalia Breslour. Since Groningen, located in the very northernmost part of the Netherlands, is over 300 miles from Darmstadt and in an entirely different country, I wonder how Betty and Bernard connected.

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 901; Laufende Nummer: 223, Year Range: 1903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Betty and Bernard had four children. Arnold was born February 2, 1904, in Groningen, Holland, where Betty and Bernard had settled and where all their children were born.4 Anita was born on November 25, 1907;5 the third child Simona Hedda was born January 16, 1912,6 and the youngest child Adolf was born July 17, 1916.7

Elsa Schnadig, the youngest child of Henriette Katzenstein and Simon Schnadig, also married a Dutch man. She married Salomon Aron Cats, the son of Aron Salomon Cats and Louisa Frieser; he was born on June 3, 1882, in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. Elsa and Salomon were married on August 9, 1909, in Offenbach am Main, where her parents were then living.

Elsa Schnadig and Salomon Cats marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 918; Laufende Nummer: 517, Year Range: 1909, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

So between 1900 when their oldest daughter Helene was married in Frankfurt and 1909 when Elsa was married, Simon and Helene had moved from Frankfurt to Darmstadt to Offenbach. I wonder why since in those days people seemed to stay in one place for many years if not their entire lives.

Elsa and Salomon had two sons. Marcel was born on February 25, 1916, in Schaerbeek, Belgium, and Harry was born August 20, 1919, in Amsterdam, where the family was then living as seen on this family register from the Amsterdam archives.

Family register of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig, Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 152 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, Other information
Resident registration card, Web Address https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22marcel%20cats%22%7D, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

I want to express my deep gratitude to Bert de Jong of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook for his generous efforts in finding this Dutch record and many other Dutch records for the family of Salomon Cats and Elsa Schnadig. I would never have known of these records without his help.

If you look closely at the above record (click to zoom in), you will see that Elsa’s mother Henriette was also living with Elsa and her family in Amsterdam for some time. The record depicted below is from a registry of foreign residents and shows more specifically when Henriette spent time in Amsterdam. It appears that she was there for a period in 1917-1919 and then returned to Germany in June 1919. There is no mention of Simon so it appears he was not with her while she was living in Amsterdam.

Source reference Reproduction parts , archive number 5416 , inventory number 213 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1930 Web Address https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22schnadig%22%7D  Amstserdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev

Thus, two of Simon and Henriette’s children, Betty and Elsa, married Dutch men and relocated from Germany to the Netherlands long before the Nazi era.

Simon Schnadig died on May 7, 1920, at the age of seventy in Brussels, Belgium.8 I don’t know whether Simon and Henriette had moved once again, this time to Brussels, or whether he just happened to die there while traveling either to visit one of his daughters in Holland or on business. If Simon had relocated to Brussels, Henriette must have moved back to Hamburg either before or after Simon died because she was living in Hamburg when she died on May 27, 1924, at the age of 66. Her son-in-law Emil Cohn was the informant on her death record.

Henriette Katzenstein Schnadig, death record, Year Range and Volume: 1924 Band 01
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950

Simon Schnadig and Henriette Katzenstein were survived by their three daughters and ten grandchildren. Unfortunately, those descendants faced tragic times ahead during the Nazi era, as we will see in the posts to follow.


  1. Siegbert Armin Israel Cohn, Gender: Male, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 23 abr 1905 (23 Apr 1905), Birth Place: Hamburgo, Arrival Date: 1939, Arrival Place: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Father: Emil Cohn, Mother: Helene Cohn, Traveling With Children: Yes, FHL Film Number: 004542471, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 
  2. Hertha Johanna Cohn, Amsterdam Archives Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchiev, Source reference Archive cards , archive number 30238 , inventory number 159 Municipality : Amsterdam Period : 1939-1960, Web Address
    https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/persons?ss=%7B%22q%22:%22hertha%20cohn%22%7D 
  3. Lissy Sitty Cohn, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/14, Piece Number Description: 014: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Cohn-Cz, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4.  Arnold Cohen, Birth Date: 2 feb 1904, Birth Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Bettij Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  5.  Anita Cohen, Birth Date: 25 nov 1907, Birth Place: Groningen, Residence Year: 1907, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  6.  Simona Hedda Cohen, Residence Age: 0, Birth Date: 16 jan 1912, Birth Place: Groningen, Residence Year: 1912, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Bettij Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  7.  Adolf Cohen, Birth Date: 17 jul 1916, Birth Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; BS Birth,
    Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784-1917 
  8. https://www.genealogieonline.nl/stamboom-bouweriks-neervoort-frenk/I29524.php