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. 

Marcel Goldschmidt’s Children: The Two Who Did Not Survive

Although Marcel Goldschmidt’s widow (and cousin) Hedwig and two of their children escaped safely from Germany and survived the Holocaust, their other two children, Nelly and Else, met tragic fates.

Nelly and Else were the two middle children, and they married brothers. Nelly was married to Moritz Gutmann and Else to Siegfried Gutmann. Each had one child; Nelly’s son was Karl Hermann Gutmann, and Else’s son was Hermann Gutmann; both were named for their paternal grandfather, Hermann Gutmann. Up until the Nazi era, both families were living in Frankfurt. I have no information about Siegfried Gutmann’s occupation, but his brother Moritz was an art dealer like so many of his Goldschmidt in-laws.1

Nelly Goldschmidt Gutmann’s story is particularly heartbreaking because she could have survived had the family made a different decision. On January 13, 1936, Moritz Gutmann arrived in the United States and filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen two months later. On his declaration he listed his wife Nelly and reported that she was residing in Frankfurt and that their son Karl was living in Holland. Moritz also indicated that his prior residence before entering the US had been Toronto, Canada, and that he had entered the US in Buffalo, New York, but was now residing in New York City.

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
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Moritz and Nelly’s son Karl arrived the following year on December 16, 1937 when he was fourteen. On the ship manifest he indicated that he was going to his father in New York and leaving behind his uncle, “S. Gutmann,” i.e. Siegfried Gutmann, in Amsterdam. Thus, by that time Else Goldschmidt and her husband Siegfried Gutmann had also left Germany.2

But where was Else’s Goldschmidt’s sister Nelly Goldschmidt Gutmann, the wife of Moritz Gutmann, mother of Karl Gutmann? She was still in Germany, now in Coblenz, according to the petition for naturalization that Moritz filed on November 21, 1941. She and Moritz had divorced in August, 1940 in Florida.3

Moritz Gutmann petition for naturalization, National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC; NAI Title: Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906; NAI Number: 5700802; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
(Roll 1347) Petition No· 390451 – Petition No· 390950, Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Nelly thus never came to live in the US and was still in Germany as late as November 21, 1941, two years after the beginning of World War II. According to the Page of Testimony filed at Yad Vashem by her cousin Regina Blanche Rosenberger, Nelly was living in a mental institution during the war and was killed sometime during the war. She was gassed on a train.

We don’t know all the circumstances surrounding Nelly’s life—why she was institutionalized and when, why her extended family wasn’t able to take her with them when they left Germany, or even where and when she was murdered. But we know that her life ended tragically and violently at the hands of the Nazis.

Fortunately, Nelly was survived by her son Karl, who did escape in time. As noted above, Karl had arrived in 1937 when he was fourteen years old. According to his declaration of intention filed on October 28, 1941, when he was seventeen, Karl was at that time a student at Pennington School, a boy’s college preparatory school in Pennington, New Jersey. (The declaration says Pennsylvania, but that’s incorrect.)

Karl Gutmann 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 638) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 507401-508300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Karl enlisted in the US Army on February 11, 1943, and petitioned for naturalization while stationed in Spartanburg, South Carolina.4 In August 1945 he was hospitalized in an unidentified hospital for a non-battle-related injury to his eye caused while cleaning a firearm.5 I could not (yet) find other records of his military service, but I did find him on a Navy transport ship returning from France on April 12, 1946, a year after the war in Europe had ended.6

Interestingly, Karl married Joan C. Fenton just six days after returning from Europe. They were married on April 18, 1946, in New York, and had three children.7  Karl and Joan later divorced, and he married Gisela Bartels in 1974.8 They moved to Florida, where Karl died on February 8, 1995, at the age of 71.9

Thus, although Nelly did not survive the Holocaust, she has descendants who are alive today and living in the United States. I hope that I can connect with them and learn more about their grandmother.

As mentioned above, Nelly’s sister Else Goldschmidt Gutmann did leave Germany before World War II started. She and her husband Siegfried Gutmann were in Amsterdam when their nephew Karl arrived in the US in 1937.  Unfortunately Else and Siegfried were not safe from the Nazis in the Netherlands. At some point after Hitler conquered the Netherlands, they were sent to the camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands and then from there on July 20, 1943, they were deported to the Sobibor concentration camp where they were murdered. These Pages of Testimony and a letter found in their files at Yad Vashem attests to the cruelty of their deaths:

Siegfried was 57 when he was killed, and Else only forty.

But as was the case with Else’s sister Nelly, Else and Siegfried were survived by their son, Hermann Goldschmidt. His story merits separate posts that will come next.


  1. Moritz Gutmann, Declaration of Intent, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  2. Karl Gutmann, passsenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 143, Ship or Roll Number: Statendam, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Moritz Gutmann, Gender: Male, Spouse’s name: Nelly Gutmann, Divorce Date: 1940, Divorce Place: Dade, Florida, USA, Certificate Number: 6976, Ancestry.com. Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001 
  4.  Karl Hermann Gutmann, Gender: Male, Declaration Age: 20, Record Type: Petition
    Birth Date: 4 May 1923, Birth Place: Frankfort On Maim, Germany, Arrival Date: 16 Dec 1937, Arrival Place: New York, NY,Declaration Date: 8 May 1943, Declaration Place: Greenville, South Carolina, USA, Court District: U.S. District Court for the Greenville Division of the Western District of South Carolina. (06/26/1926 – 03/18/1966)
    Petition Number: 2589, The National Archives at Atlanta; Morrow, Georgia, USA; Record Group Title: 21; Record Group Number: Records of District Courts of the United States, Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Naturalization Records, 1868-1991; Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  5. National Archives and Records Administration; Hospital Admission Card Files, ca. 1970 – ca. 1970; NAI: 570973; Record Group Number: Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775-1994; Record Group Title: 112,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954 
  6. Karl Gutmann, ship manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 285, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7.  Karl H Gutmann, Marriage License Date: 18 Apr 1946, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Joan C Fenton, License Number: 12447, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 18, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  8. Karl H Gutmann, Marriage License Date: 1974, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Gisela E Bartels, License Number: 23231, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  9. Karl Gutmann, Birth Date: 4 May 1923, Death Date: 6 Feb 1995, SSN: 067180184
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 

Escaping from Germany, Part II: Julius Loewenthal’s Family

Although the story of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s family had happy endings in that the entire family safely left Germany and made new lives for themselves in the US, the story of Selma’s brother Julius is more complicated and more heartbreaking.

Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa Werner had four children, as we have seen: Ruth, born in 1905, Herbert, born in 1907, Hilda, born in 1911, and Karl Werner Loewenthal, born in 1918. Ruth had married Leonhard Fulda on March 16, 1928, in Eschwege, where her family lived.

Marriage Record of Ruth Loewenthal and Leonhard Fulda, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1913
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

On September 21, 1930, Ruth gave birth to their daughter, Margot Fulda, in Mainz, Germany.1

That happy event was followed by the marriage of Julius and Elsa’s younger daughter Hilda Loewenthal to Max Stern on July 25, 1934, in Hamburg.

Hilda Loewenthal and Max Stern marriage record (found in a biography of Max Stern posted on Ancestry)

Max Stern was born in Fulda, Germany, on October 22, 1898, to Emanuel and Caroline Stern,2 and had immigrated to the United States in 1926.3 He brought with him a shipment of five thousand singing canaries he’d accepted as repayment for a debt4 and started a bird store, as seen on the 1930 census. That business eventually grew into the highly successful pet and pet food company, Hartz Mountain Corporation.

Max had returned to Germany to marry Hilda Loewenthal, and then he and his bride returned to New York in August 1934.5 They visited Germany in 1935,6 but returned to New York, where their three children were thereafter born.

Max Stern, 1930 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0270; FHL microfilm: 2341293, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, during these years, Hitler had taken power in Germany, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews had begun by the time Hilda and Max married in 1934. Herbert Loewenthal, Julius and Elsa’s second child and older son, left Germany and arrived in New York on February 22, 1935, with the intention of remaining permanently. He filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen on September 20, 1935, describing his occupation as international clearing and barter.

Herbert Loewenthal, 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 489) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 367301-368300), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius and Elsa came to New York to visit their children in February, 1936, but only for sixty days, according to the ship manifest.7

To learn more details about what happened to the family of Julius Loewenthal thereafter, I was fortunate to find the award and decision of the Claims Resolution Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the “Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion”) issued in response to a claim filed in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation by Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl Werner Loewenthal, also known as Garry Warner-Loewenthal .

According to the official website for the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation:

In 1996 and 1997, a series of class action lawsuits were filed in several United States federal courts against Swiss banks and other Swiss entities, alleging that financial institutions in Switzerland collaborated with and aided the Nazi Regime by knowingly retaining and concealing assets of Holocaust victims, and by accepting and laundering illegally obtained Nazi loot and profits of slave labor. All of the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“the Court”). ….

The lawsuits were filed because in the decades after the Holocaust, Swiss financial institutions had failed to return deposits to the Nazi victims (or their relatives) who had entrusted their assets to the banks. Although the issue of these bank accounts had been raised many times during the decades after the Holocaust, in the late 1990s, the banks’ behavior came under scrutiny of a type that Switzerland had not experienced before.

The litigation was settled in 2000, and a special master was appointed to establish a process for distributing compensation to claimants. Garry Warner-Loewenthal filed a claim for the account of his father, and the tribunal’s full decision on his claim can be found here. It details the facts alleged by Julius’ son in support of his claim, for which he was awarded 47,400 Swiss francs.

According to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, Herbert Loewenthal moved from the US to Zurich, Switzerland before 1937. Ruth Loewenthal and her husband Leonhard Fulda were planning to move to the US and in the fall of 1937, they went to visit Ruth’s brother Herbert in Switzerland before immigrating, accompanied by Ruth and Herbert’s father Julius Loewenthal. Central to the claim was the allegation that Julius had deposited money in a Swiss bank while in Zurich.

Tragically, Ruth and Leonhard were killed in a terrible automobile accident on October 3, 1937, while returning to Germany from Switzerland. Julius was seriously injured, but survived. Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot, orphaned at seven years old, went to live with her father’s parents, Isaak and Joanna Fulda in Mainz.

In November 1937, just a month after the accident that killed their daughter and son-in-law, Julius and Elsa again visited New York for a limited time but returned to Germany.8 I have to wonder whether at this point they wanted to immigrate, given what was happening in Germany. Perhaps they could not get a visa allowing them to stay permanently. According to information given to Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion, after the Nazis confiscated Julius’ business, he and Elsa fled to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to London. Finally, in May 1939, they were able to immigrate permanently to the United States.9

Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest from England to New York, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 . Original data: Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Outwards Passenger Lists. BT27. Records of the Commercial, Companies, Labour, Railways and Statistics Departments. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies. The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England.

By the time the 1940 census was enumerated, Julius and Elsa were living in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Neither listed an occupation.10 Their daughter Hilda and her family were living in Manhattan, and Max Stern listed his occupation as a bird food merchant.11

Julius and Elsa’s youngest child Karl had fled to England in 1938, according to the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion. In November, 1939, Karl was found exempt from being interned as an enemy alien. He was working as a trainee in a hosiery factory in Leicester.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56,  056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov
Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

During the war Karl joined the British Armed Forces and was advised to change his name to Garry Charles Warner “for his own protection.”  When he immigrated to the United States after the war in August, 1946, he added “Loewenthal” back to his name and was known as Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, as described in the Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion.

It might seem that Julius Loewenthal’s family was relatively fortunate as Julius, Elsa, Hilda and her husband Max Stern, Herbert, and Karl/Garry all survived the Holocaust and the war. Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed, but not by the Nazis; they died in a car accident. Of course, Ruth and Leonhard might never have been involved in an accident if they hadn’t gone to Switzerland to visit Herbert, who had been forced to leave Germany because of the Nazis.

But that is not the end of the story. Recall that Ruth and Leonhard’s daughter Margot had gone to live with her paternal grandparents, the Fuldas, in Mainz after losing her parents in October 1937. The Fulda family—Isaac and Johanna, their son Ernst and his wife Emma, and Margot, Ruth and Leonhard’s orphaned daughter—all escaped to Amsterdam in 1939. But they were ultimately deported from there to Sobibor, where every single one of them was murdered by the Nazis in 1943, including little Margot, who was not yet thirteen years old.12

Julius Loewenthal had survived a terrible car accident that caused him serious harm, the deaths of his daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard in that accident, the confiscation of his business, the loss of his homeland, the escape first to the Netherlands, then England, and finally to the US, and, worst of all, the murder of his granddaughter Margot. Having survived all that, he died not long after the war ended on November 20, 1946, at the age of 72.13

Four years later, his daughter Hilda divorced Max Stern. She would marry again, but that marriage also did not last.14 Her mother Elsa Werner Loewenthal died in 1961 in New York at the age of 77,15 and then her brother Herbert died in Zurich in 1962; he was only 53 and had never married.16 Hilda Loewenthal Stern Duschinsky died on July 29, 1980; she was 68 and was survived by her children and grandchildren.17

That left only Garry Charles Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal. He had married after the war and had one child.18 I could not find much other information about Garry, but we do know that just a few years before he died when he was already in his eighties, he filed a claim in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation and received some compensation for all that his family had lost. Garry died at the age of 87 in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 1, 2005.19

The story of the family of Julius Loewenthal serves as a painful reminder that even those who survived the Holocaust suffered greatly and lived with those scars forever after.

 

 

 

 


  1. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.,
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897, found at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu 
  2. Birth record of Max Stern, Familien- und Geburtsregister der Juden von Fulda 1748-1899 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 345)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 202. 
  3.  Staats Archiv Bremen; Bremen, Germany; Bremen Passenger Lists; Archive Number: AIII15-18.08.1926-2_N, Ancestry.com. Web: Bremen, Germany, Passenger Lists Index, 1907-1939 
  4. “Max Stern, Founder of Hartz Mountain,” The Herald-News
    Passaic, New Jersey, 21 May 1982, Fri • Page 31 
  5. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5526; Line: 1; Page Number: 118, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island) 
  6. Max and Hilda Stern, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5683; Line: 1; Page Number: 8,
    Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5769; Line: 1; Page Number: 4, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  8. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6081; Line: 25; Page Number: 48, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6328; Line: 1; Page Number: 6, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Julius and Elsa Loewenthal, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02746; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 41-1374B, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Max and Hilda Stern and family, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02642; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 31-774, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12. German Federal Archives Residents’ List Annotations:Für tot erklärt.
    1939 Census ID Number(s):VZ392415, German Federal Archive ID Number: 871897 at https://tinyurl.com/vb6ntsu  Also, see the entries at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/ts3xacc 
  13. Certificate Number: 9313, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  14. Divorce Date: Mar 1950, County: Elmore, Ancestry.com. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Original data: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Alabama Divorce Index, 1950-1959. Montgomery, AL, USA: Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Marriage of Hilda Stern to Eugene Duschinsky, License Number: 609, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  15. Death Date: 22 Mar 1961, Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 3535, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  16. See Warner-Loewenthal Claims Resolution Tribunal Opinion 
  17.  Social Security Number: 057-38-8878, Birth Date: 22 Oct 1911, Death Date: Jul 1980, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  18.  License Number: 650, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Queens, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  19. Death Date: 1 Mar 2005, SSN: 056244639, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Holocaust Education in Germany

In June 2018, my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann sent me a paper written by a German high school student named Johanna Petry. Johanna’s paper1 was done as part of a school project about the Holocaust. I am really impressed by Johanna’s work, and she has graciously allowed me to share it on my blog.

Johanna researched the family of my cousin Anna Seligmann, who once lived in Johanna’s hometown of Neuenkirchen. Anna Seligmann was the daughter of August Seligmann and Rosa Bergmann and a sister of Wolfgang’s grandfather, Julius. She was also the first cousin of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.

Johanna researched and wrote about Anna, her husband Hugo Goldmann, and their children, Grete, Heinz, and Ruth Goldmann, and what happened to them during the Holocaust. As I have written before, Hugo and Anna and their three adult children were all killed in the Holocaust, but until I read Johanna’s report, I did not know the details.

Johanna obtained documents from the International Tracing Service at Arolsen and also searched Yad Vashem, the archives in Neunkirchen, and other sources she found on the internet. In the course of doing her research about the Goldmann family, Johanna discovered my blog and then found Wolfgang as a result of finding my blog. Wolfgang provided her with more information about the Goldmanns and the extended Seligmann family.  Using what she learned in all this research, Johanna wrote a detailed and well-researched report on the fate of Hugo and Anna and their children.

The report is written in German, and with Johanna Petry’s very gracious permission, I am providing a link to it here so that those who are interested in the full report can read it. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen.

For others, I will translate and summarize Ms. Petry’s overall findings, which are near the end of her report:

Anna Seligmann was born on November 30, 1889 in Gau-Algesheim near Bingen, where her father August ran a successful wine trade. She had three siblings and married Hugo Goldmann, who was born on March 24, 1885, in Gundersheim. Professionally, Hugo worked as managing director and moved to Neunkirchen in 1906.

From 1912 Hugo and Anna lived in Neunkirchen where they had three children. First, Grete Rosa Goldmann was born on July 8, 1913. Then, Heinz Leo Goldmann was born on March 28, 1916, and the youngest daughter Ruth Goldmann was born on July 23, 1924.

In 1935 the Goldmann family moved to nearby Saarbrücken. Grete moved in 1936 to Giessen [140 miles from Saarbrucken] where she worked as a milliner. In 1937 she was forced to move into the “Jew’s House” in Bergstrasse 8 in Hannover [340 miles from Saarbrucken, 188 miles from Giessen].

Johanna was interested in the term “Jew’s House” and did some further research. She wrote:

I had never encountered the term “Jewish house” before, but I suspected that it was a place of residence for Jews. My internet research revealed that “Jewish houses” were actually the homes of Jews who were forced to live there. The houses were often Jewish owned and many Jews had to live in very small spaces. In addition, they should prevent the maintenance of social contacts with non-Jews and contributed to the ghettoization. In Hanover on 3 and 4 September 1941, 1,200 Jews had to move into 15 Jewish houses, which were completely overcrowded. The Judenhaus in Bergstraße 8 was the Alte Synagoge.

Hugo Goldmann was imprisoned from November to December 1938 in the Dachau concentration camp and after his release did forced labor for a family. When parts of the Saarland and the Rhine-Palatinate were evacuated in 1939-1940, Hugo, Anna and their youngest daughter Ruth moved together to Halle [345 miles from Saarbrucken]. Ruth worked there as an intern in a retirement home of the Jewish community.

On May 30, 1942, Hugo, Anna, and their daughter Ruth were deported to Lublin in Poland, where they died immediately after their arrival at the Sobibor death camp on June 3, 1942.

Their son Heinz Leo worked in Berlin and was taken to the Auschwitz extermination and concentration camp on January 29, 1943. He died there three weeks later on February 19, 1943.

Anna and Hugo’s daughter Grete was deported from Hannover in 1941 to the Riga ghetto. She was transferred to the Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp when it opened in 1943.  When this camp was evacuated by the Nazis as the Allied forces approached, Grete and the others being kept at Riga-Kaiserwald were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp, where Grete died on December 27, 1944.

Here is a map showing the places where the Goldmann family lived and then were forced to live and die:

 

Reading Johanna’s report not only provided me with more specific details about the Goldmann family; it also gave me insight into the mind and feelings of a young woman in Germany today as she learned what happened to a family that once lived in her town. Johanna’s personal reflection on her findings is both sad and uplifting:2

The sober, objective style of writing does not fit in with this terrible fate of this family – a destiny shared by millions of Jews at that time, and yet every life story is special to itself.

During the evaluation of the documents and the search my thoughts wandered again and again. I wondered how Anna, Hugo, Ruth, Grete and Heinz Leo went, what they thought and what they were most afraid of. I would like to know more personal details from their lives, because I find these much more exciting than dates and dates. Unfortunately, such information is extremely rare. All the more I was pleased that we were able to locate a descendant of the Seligmann family and, thanks to him, learned still more details.

And yet the fates of the victims of the National Socialist regime repeatedly make me deeply affected and thoughtful, especially since there are currently again racist and anti-Semitic tendencies in Germany. That’s why I find it all the more important to do commemoration work and to deal with this dark part of German history.

I find it very heartening that German schools are providing their students not only with an education about the Holocaust but with the research skills necessary to learn more about those who were killed during the Holocaust. Given the anti-Semitism and hatred of others that continues to exist in all parts of the world, including the United States and Germany, it is critical that all children and adults learn these same lessons that Johanna Petry learned. We all must remember the past and do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

 

 

 


  1. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen. 
  2. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen. 

My Cousin Wolfgang and The Lessons of History: Will We Ever Learn Those Lessons?

When I started this blog back in October, 2013, I never anticipated that it would help family members find me.  But that has proven to be an incredible unexpected benefit of publishing this blog.  This is one of those stories.

Several weeks ago, I received a comment on the blog from a man named Wolfgang Seligmann, saying he was the son of Walter Seligmann, that he lived near Gau-Algesheim, and that he had found my blog while doing some research on his family.  He asked me to email him, which I did immediately, and we have since exchanged many emails and learned that we are third cousins, once removed:  his great-great-grandparents were Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld, my great-great-great-grandparents.  His great-grandfather August was the brother of Sigmund, Adolph and Bernard Seligman, the three who had settled in Santa Fe in the mid-19th century.   Wolfgang sent me a copy of August’s death certificate.

August Seligmann death certificate

August Seligmann death certificate

(Translations in this post courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann except where noted: Registry-Office Gau-Algesheim: August Seligmann, living in Gau-Algesheim died the 14th of May 1909 at 8 a.m. in Gau-Algesheim. He was 67 years old and born in Gau-Algesheim. He was a widower.)

Our families had probably not been in touch since Bernard died in 1902 (or perhaps when Adolph died in 1920).  And now through the miracle of the internet and Google, Wolfgang had found my blog with his family’s names in it and had contacted me.  What would our mutual ancestors think of that?  It even seems miraculous to me, and I live in the 21st century.

Fortunately, Wolfgang’s English is excellent (since my knowledge of German is…well, about five words), and so we have been able to exchange some information about our families, and I have learned some answers to questions I had about the Seligmanns who stayed in Germany.  With Wolfgang’s permission, I would like to share some of those stories.

Wolfgang’s grandfather was Julius Seligmann, the second child and oldest son of August Seligmann and his wife Rosa Bergmann.  Julius was born in 1877 in Gau-Algesheim.  As I wrote about here, Julius was one of the Seligmanns written about in Ludwig Hellriegel’s book about the Jews of Gau-Algesheim.  He had been a merchant in the town.  On December 1, 1922, Julius had married a Catholic woman named Magdalena Kleisinger, who was born in Gau-Algesheim on July 9, 1882, and had himself converted to Catholicism.  Julius and Magdalena had two sons, Walter, who was born February 10, 1925, and Herbert, born July 27, 1927.  Julius and his family had left Gau-Algesheim for Bingen in 1939 after closing the store in 1935.

I had wondered why Julius had closed the store and then relocated to Bingen, and I asked Wolfgang what he knew about his grandfather’s life.  According to Wolfgang, his father Walter and uncle Herbert did not like to talk about the past, but Wolfgang knew that when Julius married and converted to Catholicism, his Jewish family was very upset and did not want to associate with him any longer.  In fact, Julius was forced to pay his siblings a substantial amount of money for some reason relating to his store in Gau-Algesheim, and that payment caused him and his family a great deal of financial hardship.  According to Wolfgang, Julius no longer had enough money to pay for his own home, and thus he and his family moved to Bingen in 1939 where they lived with Magdalena’s family or friends for some time.

Julius and Magdalena Seligmann

Julius and Magdalena Seligmann 1960s  Courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann

The Hellriegel book also made some puzzling (to me) references to the military records of Wolfgang’s father and uncle, saying that they had been “allowed” to enlist in the army, but then were soon after dismissed.  Wolfgang explained that the German authorities did not know how to treat Catholic citizens with Jewish roots.  Wolfgang said that his father Walter had trained to be a pharmacist, but the Nazis would not allow him to work with anything poisonous.  In addition,  his father was not permitted to be in the army; instead  he was ordered by the authorities to work on the Siegfried Line, which was  originally built as a defensive line by the Germans during World War I.  In August 1944, Hitler ordered that it be strengthened and rebuilt, and according to Wikipedia, “20,000 forced labourers and members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labour Service), most of whom were 14–16-year-old boys, attempted to re-equip the line for defence purposes.”  Walter Seligmann was one of those forced laborers.

Map of the Siegfried line.

Map of the Siegfried line. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a photograph of Walter Seligmann, Wolfgang’s father:

Walter Seligmann  Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann

Walter Seligmann Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann

As for Wolfgang’s uncle Herbert, he was sent by the local police to the army, but the army would not accept him.  He was dismissed and sent back to Bingen, where he was required to work in a warehouse until the war ended.

Herbert Seligmann courtesy of Christoph Seligmann

Herbert Seligmann courtesy of Christoph Seligmann

Julius Seligmann died in 1967, and his wife Magdalena died the following year.  Walter Seligmann died in 1993, and his brother Herbert died in 2001.

Julius Seligmann death notice

Julius Seligmann death notice

Magdalena Seligmann death notice

There are some very bitter ironies in these stories.  Julius and his family were not accepted by his Jewish family because they were Catholic, but the Nazis did not accept them either because they had Jewish roots.  As I commented to Wolfgang, prejudice of any sort is so destructive and unacceptable.  His family experienced it from two different directions.

Not that the two examples here can be equated in any way.  Although all prejudice is wrong, prejudice that leads to genocide is utterly reprehensible, an evil beyond comprehension for anyone who has a moral compass.  I have already written about my own personal horror and pain when I realized that I had family who had been murdered by the Nazis.  Wolfgang told me more about some of those who lost their lives to Hitler and his evil forces.

One victim was his great-uncle Moritz Seligmann (the grandson of Moritz Seligmann, my 3x-great-grandfather, and a son of August Seligmann).  My information about his fate comes from two websites that Wolfgang shared with me. According to these two sites, Moritz Seligmann, Julius’ younger brother, was born on June 25, 1881.  He fought in World War I for Germany, spent two years in captivity, and was honored with the Hindenburg Cross or Cross of Honor for his service.  Despite this, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, on November 11, 1938, Moritz was arrested in Konigstein, where he had been living since 1925.  He was sent to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.

German Cross of Honour 1914-1918

German Cross of Honour 1914-1918 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moritz wrote to the authorities in Konigstein, pointing out that he was the recipient of the Hindenburg Cross.  He was released from Buchenwald in December on the condition that he emigrate by March 31, 1939.  He was required to report to the police in Konigstein twice a week until then, and if he had not emigrated by the deadline, he was to be arrested.  On March 28, 1939, however, the Gestapo lifted the emigration order and the reporting requirement in light of Moritz’s service during World War I.

Here is a copy of the Gestapo letter, lifting the emigration order.  I found this a particularly chilling document to see.

Gestapo letter re Moritz Seligmann

Wolfgang helped me translate this letter as follows: Frankfort, March 20, 1939. Concerning: the “Aktionsjude” Moritz Seligmann born June 25, 1881, Gau-Algesheim, residing in Konigstein.  Seligmann has provided proof that he was a soldier in the World War as a combatant.  Therefore the reporting obligation and emigration order is lifted for him. I would ask the emigration (?) to supervise and notify us here.

As explained to me by Wolfgang and by Wikipedia,  the “Aktionsjude” referred to 26,000 Jews who were deported in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, as was Moritz Seligmann, as part of an effort to frighten other Jews to leave Germany.  Unfortunately, not enough of them did.

Despite the lifting of the order to emigrate, Moritz had hoped to immigrate to the US.  For various bureaucratic reasons described here, he was unable to get clearance to emigrate.  On June 10, 1942, he was picked up by the Nazis and transported somewhere to the east.  Exactly where and when he died is not known.

Wolfgang and his family, after researching the fate of Moritz, informed the town of Konigstein of their findings, and the town agreed to place a “stolperstein” in memory of Moritz Seligmann near his home in Konigstein.  A stolperstein (literally, a stumbling blog) is a memorial stone embedded in the ground to memorialize a victim of the Holocaust.  Here is a photograph of Wolfgang at the ceremony when Moritz Seligmann’s stolperstein was installed in Konigstein.

Wolfgang Seligmann

Wolfgang Seligmann  Courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann

Behind him is a man who knew Moritz and remembered when Moritz was initially arrested in 1938, clinging to his Hindenburg Cross, believing it would save him from the murderous forces of the Nazis.  It may have stalled his murder, but it did not save him.

Wolfgang also told me about the fate of another sibling of his grandfather Julius, his younger sister Anna.  Anna, born in Gau-Algesheim in 1889, had married Hugo Goldmann, and they had a daughter Ruth, born in 1924 in Neunkirchen, a town about 80 miles southwest of Gau-Algesheim, where Anna and Hugo had settled. Between 1939 and 1940, many people from this area near the border with France were evacuated to locations in central Germany, and Anna, Hugo, and Ruth ended up in Halle, Germany, 350 miles to the northeast of Neunkirchen.  On June 1, 1942, they were all deported from Halle to the Sobibor concentration camp where they were all killed.  Click on each name to see the memorial pages established by the town of Halle in memory of Anna, Hugo, and Ruth.

Finally, Wolfgang told me about another member of the family.  Moritz Seligmann (the elder) had had a daughter Caroline with his first wife, Eva Schoenfeld.  Caroline was the half-sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard. She had married a man named Siegfried Seligmann, perhaps a cousin.  Their son, Emil, died in Wiesbaden on August 9, 1942, when he was 78 years old.

Death record of Emil Seligmann, husband of Carolina Seligmann

Death record of Emil Seligmann, husband of Carolina Seligmann

(Wiesbaden: The Emil Jakob Israel Seligmann, without profession, “israelitisch”  [presumably meaning Jewish], living in Wiesbaden, Gothestraße Nr. 5, died on 9th of August 1942 in his Apartment. He  was born on 23th of December 1863 in Mainz.

Father: Siegfried Seligmann, deceased.  Mother: Karoline Seligmann, nee Seligmann, deceased.  He was widower of Anna Maria Angelika born as Illien. The death was announced by Emil Seligmann, his son, living Goethestraße Nr.5.

The stamp in the left hand margin says:  Wiesbaden, 31th of May 1949.  The “Zwangsvorname”Israel is deleted.  Zwangsvorname translates as “forced first name,” meaning that the name Israel had been required by the Nazis, I assume as a way to identify him as Jewish.

Emil had a son, also named Emil, who died in Buchenwald, as this record attests.

Emil Seligmann-KZ (1)

(To: Miss Christine Seligmann, Wiesbaden, Goethestr. Nr. 5,1

From: Special registry-office in Arolsen-Waldeck, department Buchenwald

Subject: death-certification for Emil-Jakob Seligmann, Your letter from the 1. of March 1950

Based on the documents of the International Tracing Service in Arolsen it is proved, that your brother died on 14th of February 1945 in the Concentration Camp Buchenwald. )

I imagine that this is not the end of the list of the Seligmanns who were murdered during the Holocaust, and I imagine that there are also many other family members I never knew about who were killed by the Nazis, whether they were named Schoenfeld, Nussbaum, Dreyfuss, Goldschlager, Rosenzweig, Cohen, or Brotman or something else.  I just haven’t found them yet.

Wolfgang and I plan to keep on exchanging stories, pictures, documents, and other information.  We have also already talked about meeting someday and walking in the footsteps of our mutual ancestors.  What an honor it will be to be with him as we share our family’s story.