Max Goldschmidt: A Survivor

As seen in my last few posts, although my cousin Betty Goldschmidt and her husband (and our cousin) Jacob Goldschmidt had eight children, I only have adult records for one of them, their son Berthold. Berthold and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein had seven children, but their son Siegfried Goldschmidt was the only child of the seven to live long enough to marry and have a child of his own; Siegfried and his wife Frieda Fanny Pless had one child, a son Max born November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Siegfried and his wife were among the six million murdered in the Holocaust, but their young son Max, the last known remaining descendant of Betty and Jacob, survived. Max was only eight years old when Hitler came to power and not yet eighteen when his parents were deported in 1942. How had he survived? At first all I knew was that he had immigrated to the US from Israel in 1948, but thanks  to the generous assistance of Elan Oren of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook, I have been able to piece together much of the story of Max’s life.

Elan located Max’s file in the Israeli archives, which revealed that Max had escaped to Switzerland at some point during the Nazi era. After the war, Max sailed on the ship Plus Ultra from Barcelona, Spain, to Haifa, arriving in Haifa on June 19, 1945.

From Max Goldschmidt Israeli immigration file: Ship manifest for the Plus Ultra from Barcelona to Haifa, arriving June 19, 1945. Max is on line 94. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

Max’s file in the Israeli archives did not reveal how or when he got to Switzerland or to Barcelona, but Max’s A-file—his US immigration file—from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) revealed further details.1 According to a German police certificate included in Max’s application to the US Consul in Palestine for an immigration visa in 1947, Max lived in Warburg, Germany, from April 1927 until September 1936. That is also where his parents were residing during that time, according to records  at Yad Vashem.

On Max’s 1947 US visa application he stated that he’d immigrated to Switzerland in January 1939. He was only fourteen at that time. He lived in Basel, Switzerland, from January, 1939, until May, 1945, when he must then have left for Barcelona and ultimately Palestine. As for how he escaped from Germany in 1939, Elan Oren suggested that a Zionist youth group such as HeHalutz  might have helped him get out of Germany.

After arriving in Haifa, Max was transferred to Atlit, a detention camp built by the British, who were then in control of what was then Palestine. With the help of Elan Oren and his translation of Max’s Israeli naturalization file, I learned that Max left Atlit and first lived in Petach Tikvah and then moved to Tel Aviv to live with the Laks family. (More on them in a bit.)

Document that states that Max moved from Petah Tikvah to Tel Aviv where the Laks family lived. Translated by Elan Oren. http://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/?fbclid=IwAR1y3d5C1X3pi2R1_jyX0MAbgeHLQoNhL6TM7F5P7ZT7CE4sFJgPPuql11A#/Archive/0b0717068002258e/File/0b071706856dcab1

But Max decided not to settle permanently in Israel. Max left Haifa on January 29, 1948, and arrived in New York on February 14, 1948. The manifest lists Max’s occupation as a gardener, his primary languages as English and Hebrew, his last residence as Tel Aviv, Palestine, and his birthplace as Frankfort [sic], Germany.

Max Goldschmidt passenger manifest, Year: 1948; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7546; Line: 19; Page Number: 197, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

The second page of the manifest lists a friend named Pinil Laks as the contact person from Max’s prior residence of Tel Aviv and an uncle “Bernh Laks” of Blackwood, New Jersey, as the person he was going to join in the United States.

So who were the Laks? Bernhard Laks, also known as Bernhard Lachs, Berek Laks, and Bernard Laks, was married to Rosa Pless,2 who must have been a sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother, since Max identified Bernard as his uncle and Rosa as his aunt on various documents.  Moreover, Bernard Laks (then spelled Bernhard Lachs) was one of the witnesses on the marriage record for Max’s parents, Siegfried and Frieda.

Bernhard Lachs as witness on the marriage record of Siegfried Goldschmidt and Frieda Fanny Pless. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

When Max arrived at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948, he was denied admission to the United States because he did not have in his possession the immigration visa that he had been granted by the US consul in Palestine on November 17, 1947. A hearing was held on February 18, 1948 before a Board of Special Inquiry, at which Max testified that he had last seen his visa on the day he embarked from Haifa while at customs, that he had left it with his other papers in his baggage, and that while at sea he’d discovered that the visa was missing.

Max also testified that he had no relatives living outside of the US and no money. He stated that he was coming to the US in order to join his relatives, the Laks family of Blackwood, New Jersey, and that his uncle Bernard Laks had paid for his ticket from Haifa. In addition, Max presented an affidavit from Bernard and Rosa Laks in which they, as “his sole surviving relatives,” promised to “receive and care for [Max] and …not permit him to became a public charge.”

Although the Board of Special Inquiry found that Max had a valid Palestinian passport with a stamp indicating that a visa had been issued to him by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, they concluded that he was not admissible without possession of the actual visa. On February 20, 1948, however, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) recommended that the decision to deport Max be deferred for ninety days to give him time to locate the visa or to obtain a certified copy.

On March 3, 1948, the ninety day stay was granted, and Max was also granted parole during that period, meaning that on March 4, 1948, he was allowed to enter the country though he was required to report in writing on a monthly basis to the Deportation and Parole Section at Ellis Island. Max had thus been detained for eighteen days at Ellis Island before his parole.

On March 18, 1948, his attorney wrote to INS to notify them that the American Consulate in Jerusalem had confirmed that Max had been granted a visa on November 17, 1947, and that the Visa Division in Washington, DC, had been so notified.  On April 8, 1948, the State Department submitted a certified copy of the visa. However, it was not until four months later on August 11, 1948, that an order was entered to re-open Max’s case. A new hearing was scheduled for September 15, 1948.  Fortunately, Max had better luck at this hearing, and he was granted legal admission into the country on September 15, 1948, more than seven months after arriving at Ellis Island on February 14, 1948. (I assume Max had received extensions of the 90 day parole period initially granted in March, 1948.)

Then began the next chapter of his life and more experiences with the slowly grinding wheels of American bureaucracy. He started the process of becoming a US citizen on October 1, 1948, just two weeks after entering the country officially.  But before Max’s papers could be processed, he was inducted into the US Army on January 1, 1949, the very day the government had scheduled a meeting to discuss his citizenship application. He amended his address to reflect that he was now stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey as a member of the 9th Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged from the army on November 2, 1951, and on March 11, 1955, a certification of his service was issued to INS. His formal petition for naturalization was filed on October 14, 1955, with Bernard and Rosa Laks attesting to his character.

On January 24, 1956, the government received reports from the army that on January 2, 1951, while serving in the army, Max had “stated in substance … that if the Army is an example of democracy, he would take communism” and that on June 4, 1951 while giving a training lecture to his unit, “he introduced the Crusades as an illustrative example in this history of warfare, and then proceeded to interject his own thoughts on the persecution of Jews by Christians at the time of the Crusades, allegedly making rather strong remarks about the Roman Catholic Church. [Max] has at various times in the past tried to turn a topic of conversation into ‘making a case’ for Zionism.”

I suppose Max took the meaning of the First Amendment more literally than the US Army thought appropriate. Whether this had any impact on his citizenship application is not clear. On a page of examiner’s notes dated November 9, 1956, the examiner gave Max a final rating of “deny,” but then that was crossed out, and on May 17, 1957, his application was granted and he was finally issued a certificate of naturalization; he also changed his name to Goldsmith at that time. Despite his service in the US Army, it had taken almost eight years to complete the process of becoming a citizen.

Two months later in July 1957, Max married Shirley Larve in Trenton, New Jersey.3 Shirley was born in Trenton on May 29, 1923, to Joseph and Anna Larve.4 She was 34 when they married, and Max was 32. They did not have any children.

Shirley died at age 70 on July 24, 1993, in Broward County in Florida.5 Her obituary in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on August 15, 1993, filled in some of the gaps in their lives between 1957 and 1993.  Here are some excerpts:

…Shirley worked during WWII for the U.S. Army Finance Dept. and later for 25 years for the Department of Motor Vehicles, State of NJ, retired supervisor in 1985. Married Max Goldsmith July, 1957, an immigrant to the U.S.A. They resided at various locations throughout the U.S.A. … Her life was devoted to her husband, being a true companion to him who had lost his family of 68 members during the Nazi era.

She served two terms as President of the Ladys Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. Post 697 in Levittown, PA. A life member in the American Red Star of David for Israel. In 1989 she received the Lady of the Year award of the Star-Faye Post 672. She was very mild mannered, yet forceful. A lady in her own right. Always unpretending with an inherent sense of justice. She had her golds [goals?] and she never let go until accomplished. She had little patience for people who sat around and complained. Although small in stature yet big in ability and courage.

Shirley and Max thus lived in or near Trenton, New Jersey until 1985 when she retired after 25 years working for the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Levittown, Pennsylvania, is less than eight miles from Trenton.) By 1990, they had moved to Pompano Beach, Florida.6

I am troubled by the reference in her obituary to 68 members of Max’s family being killed in the Holocaust. Who were those 68 people? How were they related to Max? Were they his mother’s relatives? Or were they Goldschmidts I just haven’t found? It haunts me.

Max died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eleven years after Shirley on July 2, 2004, at age 80.7  He’d endured a great deal in his life—fleeing from his homeland and his family as a young teenager, the murder of his parents, the move to Palestine and then to the US, and all the hassles he endured to become first a legal resident and then a  citizen of the United States.

But I was very comforted after reading Shirley’s obituary; I assume that Max wrote it himself. It is clear from his words that he loved her very deeply and that he felt loved and taken care of by her.  It is wonderful to know how devoted they were to each other, especially after all he’d been through in the first 32 years of his life.

Max Goldsmith, my third cousin, once removed, was a true survivor.  As best I can tell, he was the only and last surviving descendant of  his great-grandparents, Betty Goldschmidt and Jacob Goldschmidt, two first cousins who married each other, both grandchildren of Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents. By remembering Max, I hope to honor not only him, but all those who came before him.

 

 

 


  1. The references in this post to documents relating to Max’s immigration to the US are all from his A-file from USCIS, copies of which are in my possession. References to his immigration to Palestine and his time there are from the Israeli archives here
  2. On the 1937 passenger manifest for Berek and Rosa Laks, the person they named as their closest relative living in their former residence of Frankfurt was E.Pless, identified as Berek’s mother-in-law and Rosa’s mother. From this I inferred that Rosa’s birth name was Pless and that she was the sister of Frieda Pless Goldschmidt, Max’s mother.  Laks family, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York;Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957;Microfilm Roll: Roll 6022; Line: 1; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Certificate Number: 21705, New Jersey State Archives; Trenton, New Jersey; Marriage Indexes; Index Type: Bride; Year Range: 1957; Surname Range: L – Z, Ancestry.com. New Jersey, Marriage Index, 1901-2016 
  4. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,SSN: 146160447 
  6.  Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 1. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings. 
  7.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166 

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 

Pittsburgh

Where do I start to express how I feel about what happened in Pittsburgh? Do I tell you how my heart didn’t stop racing all day on Saturday from when I first heard the news?  That I am just too sad and scared to be angry? That I feel like an outsider in my own country?

I didn’t know any of the individuals killed or injured in Pittsburgh, but I knew every single one of them. They are my friends and neighbors, my fellow congregants, my family, my ancestors. Yes, I have some actual ties to Pittsburgh—relatives from long ago who lived there including my great-grandfather, friends who grew up there, a brother who once lived there, and so on. But even if I didn’t, I knew these people. Because they were like me, a Jewish person living in America taking for granted all too often that we are safe. That it can never happen here. That people are basically good, that evil will not prevail.

Now I am not so sure. More and more we see the evil prevailing, the anger fanned, the hatred accepted and even condoned. Whether it is directed against someone because of their religion—be it Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity—or their skin color or their sexual orientation or their gender or their age or their nationality, the hatred is not only there, it is being acted upon. And it is not being condemned by our federal government in strong enough terms to be credible. In fact, it is encouraged.

I am beginning to lose faith in people. I no longer feel safe, I no longer believe it could never happen here. I have learned from studying my family history and Jewish history in general how much hatred and oppression and discrimination and violence have shaped my own history. Many of my ancestors came to this country in order to escape anti-Semitism and the oppression and lack of opportunity they faced in Europe. When I learned how many of my not-so-distant relatives died in the Holocaust or survived it against all odds or escaped just in time, I felt so grateful for America. America was supposed to be different. But is it really so different now?

Of course, in some ways it is. In Pittsburgh, the police took bullets to protect Jews. The mayor condemned what happened. The government there was not afraid to help the victims or condemn the murderer. On Facebook I am heartened when I see non-Jews standing up and making any kind of statement condemning what happened. We attended a gathering at our synagogue, and I was touched to see representatives there from other faiths and government officials pledging to stand by us. The service ended with the singing of The Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. As the rabbi said, we sing The Star Spangled Banner, the American national anthem, because this is our home.  And we sing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem which means “the hope,” because we are Jews and to remind us that that we must never abandon hope.

And as I write this, I realize that I am not afraid to publish these thoughts. Because somewhere deep inside I must still trust that I will be safe here. But not as much as I once did.

Tomorrow I will return to telling my family’s story—with even more urgency than before. Because people—not just my people, not just my family—need to know what we as Jews have endured and what we have learned, what we have suffered and what we have contributed. And people need to understand the dreams that brought our ancestors here. We must not let those dreams die.

Looking Back and Looking Forward: A Story for the New Year

For Rosh Hashanah this year, I want to share a story about one of my cousins. His life is a true example of how we as human beings are capable not only of inconceivable evil but more importantly of boundless love and undying hope and gratitude.

When we talk about the Holocaust, the number six million is both overwhelming and numbing. Our minds can’t grasp what six million people looks like—what six million of anything would look like. Visiting the camps makes that number somewhat more comprehensible; when we visited Auschwitz in 2015 and saw the huge piles of eyeglasses, of shoes, of suitcases, each representing one of those six million killed, it made the scope of the horror more visceral. It gave us a concrete, visual way of imagining each of those killed. This video also helps to illustrate the immensity of that number:

 

But for me, it is the individual stories of those people who were killed that leave the biggest impact. If we read one story about one of the six million who were killed each day for our entire life, we still would hardly make a dent in the total numbers. Assuming we read a story a day for eighty years, we would still have read fewer than 30,000 stories—learned about only 30,000 of the six million who were killed. And that doesn’t even include the horrifying stories of many of the survivors—those who survived the camps, those who spent the years in hiding, those who escaped but who had lost their families and homes forever.

This is the story of a cousin whose life was forever changed because of the Nazis. He wishes to remain anonymous, so I will refer to him simply as J. J is my fifth cousin, another descendant of Jakob Falcke; his family left Oberlistingen, Germany at the end of the 19th century and moved to the Netherlands, where for many generations the men were butchers and cattle traders or worked in the textile and clothing business. J’s father was a butcher.

Their quiet lives were forever altered after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May, 1940. J’s father was taken to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was killed in October, 1941. J, who was just a young boy, and his mother and younger sister were left behind. When it became clear that the Nazis were going to start deporting all the Jews in Holland to concentration camps, J’s mother placed her two children in an orphanage in Utrecht, believing that the Nazis would not deport children because they would be too young to work. J’s mother and her sisters went into hiding with a non-Jewish family.

Description: Jewish Memorial in Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Austria main courtyard. 
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mauthausen-Jewish_memorial.jpg
Photographer: Gianmaria Visconti
Year: 2002

But then in December, 1942, those living in the orphanage were moved from Utrecht to the ghetto in Amsterdam, and J’s mother realized that her children were in imminent danger. She tried to get her children released from the orphanage, but it was impossible. Instead, a cousin who was working at a hospital in Amsterdam somehow managed to kidnap the children and bring them to a safe place in Amsterdam where J and his sister could then be placed in hiding.

At that point J’s mother relinquished her spot in the home where she and her sisters had been hiding so that her son, my cousin J, would have a safe place to hide. His sister was hidden somewhere else. J’s mother moved to different hiding places, but she was eventually discovered by the Nazis in the fall of 1943. She was deported to Auschwitz where she was murdered in October 1943. As J expressed it to me, she had given everything so that her children would survive.

Deportation of Jews from Amsterdam
By Anonymous (National Archives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

J and his sister survived the war in their hiding places. After the war, his sister immigrated to Israel, where she still lives. J stayed in the Netherlands and continued to live with the brave couple who had kept first his mother and aunts safe and then kept him safe. He described them as being like grandparents to him. They made it possible for him to go to college, where he trained to become a veterinarian.

Despite the horrible losses he experienced as a young boy, J has led a remarkably productive and happy life. In addition to achieving professional success, he has been married since 1958 and has four children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  He is another example of the resilience of human beings who, in the face of the darkest evil and the most heinous cruelty, somehow emerge into the light and are able to give and receive love and find the good and the beautiful in our world.

For me this is an appropriate story for Rosh Hashanah,  It reminds us that although we must always look back and remember, we also have to look forward with hope. We must be cognizant of all that is evil in the world, but we must embrace all that is good and beautiful.

May we all find the light of love and share all that is good and beautiful in the coming year.

L’shanah tova! A good year to you all, family and friends!

By Gilabrand (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Children of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh and Samuel Goldsmith

As we have seen, two of the children of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith died relatively young. Samuel, their youngest son, died in 1907 when he was forty, and Heloise, their oldest daughter, died in 1911 when she was fifty. Both left behind their spouses and children. Samuel’s daughter Catherine was just a baby when he died.  Heloise’s older daughter Irma was 23 when her mother died, and her sister Dorothy was only thirteen. This post is about these three granddaughters of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith.

Heloise’s children, who were my double-cousins as noted here, were living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with their father when their mother died. By 1920, however, neither daughter was living with Simon. Simon had moved in with his widowed mother, Auguste Bernheim Hirsh (my first cousin, five times removed). Simon was a merchant in gentlemen’s furnishings. He and his mother were living at 21 North Lime Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.1

His daughter Irma Hirsh was married to Daniel Manheimer by 1920 and had two children: Helene, born January 11, 1912, in Lancaster,2 and Sanford Hirsh Manheimer, born January 3, 1914, in Lancaster.3 Daniel Manheimer was born March 5, 1871, in Cassel, Germany4 and had immigrated to the US as a teenager. In 1900 he’d been living with a cousin in Lancaster and working as a traveling salesman.5 In 1920 he was in the cigar manufacturing business. Irma’s sister Dorothy was also living with Irma and Daniel and their children in 1920 at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster; she was working as a stenographer for a clothing store.

Daniel Manheimer and family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 54
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

By 1930, the family members had shifted around a bit. Simon was now living at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster with his daughter Irma and her family, his mother having died in 1922. Both Irma and her husband Daniel were now working in the life insurance business.6

Dorothy was still living with Irma and her family in 1927, according to the 1927 Lancaster directory, but by 1930, she was married. According to the 1930 census, she and Leon Jacobs had married when she was 29 or in 1927. Leon, the son of Alexander and Esther Jacobs, was born April 25, 1899, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.7 He was in the real estate business.8 Dorothy and Leon would have two children. In 1940, they were all living in Lancaster, and Leon was still in the real estate business. Irma and Daniel were also still living in Lancaster in 1940, and their children were grown by then. Daniel was still in the life insurance business.9

Leon Jacob, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1199
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Irma died from a heart attack on August 10, 1953, in Lancaster.  She was 65 years old. Her husband Daniel Manheimer had predeceased her; he died on January 3, 1951, when he was 79 years old.10 They are buried at Shomar Shaarayim Cemetery in Lancaster.

Irma Hirsh Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 069751-072450

They were survived by their children and Irma’s sister Dorothy, who was the informant on Helen’s death certificate.

The certificate states that Dorothy’s address was in Philadelphia, so Dorothy and Leon must have moved from Lancaster sometime after 1948, the last year I could find them in the Lancaster directory.  Dorothy died in Miami, Florida in January 1972,11 when she was 73. Her husband Leon also died in Miami in February 1979.12 They were survived by their children. So somewhere out there I have more double cousins, the descendants of Heloise Goldsmith and Simon Bernheim Hirsh.

As for Catherine Goldsmith, who lost her father Samuel Goldsmith before her second birthday, it appears that she and her mother lived abroad for some years after Samuel died. She and her mother are listed as passengers on a 1914 trip from Liverpool, England, to New York, giving their US address as Lawrence, New York, on Long Island.

Helen Goldsmith and Catherine Goldsmith, 1914 passenger manifest, Year: 1914; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2374; Line: 1; Page Number: 17. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

On her 1917 passport application, Helen attested that her permanent residence was in St. Paul, Minnesota, but that she had last been in the US in July 1915. She said that planned to return to the US “eventually” and to visit within two years. 13 Similarly, Catherine’s 1918 passport application attested that she had last been in the United States in July 1915 and had been living in Paris and that she planned to return to the US within six months “after the war,” i.e., World War I.  She listed her permanent domicile as New York City. She was then twelve years old.

Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

But Catherine and Helen did not return a few months after the end of World War I. Helen’s 1921 passport application gave her permanent address as Lawrence, New York, but also stated that she had lived in France since 1911, with two trips back to the US, the most recent one not since 1915. In a separate affidavit, Helen explained that the reason for her protracted absence from the US was her daughter’s education and that they expected to stay abroad “for some months yet” for her daughter to complete her education.14

In fact, it appears that Helen and Catherine lived in France for almost another twenty years. Although I do not have any records from France, from passenger manifests and other US records, I learned that Catherine married Gerard Maurice Lambert, who was born in France in about 1905. She must have married him sometime before 1934 because they had two children born in France between 1934 and 1937.15

Catherine and her children made at least two trips between France and the United States, one in 1938 for a few months16 and then in 1940, which was supposed to be for six months.17 But in fact they were still in the US  two years later, according to a document filed when Catherine and Gerard’s young son entered the US in San Diego from Mexico in November 1942. 18 I would imagine that the invasion of France by the Nazis and the persecution of Jews kept Catherine and her family from returning to France.

Gerard also immigrated to the US; he arrived in February 1942, having obtained a visa on December 8. 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor Day, the day the US entered World War II.  His passenger manifest indicates that he was an architect and that he was joining his wife in Los Angeles. In 1946 Gerard was living in Washington, DC, working for the government.19

Catherine and her children returned to France for an indefinite stay in August 1950, and at that time they were residing in Los Angeles. In 1951 they flew on a US Navy plane from England to Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Perhaps this was their return trip to the US. I am not sure where Gerard was at that point.20

Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.21 I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.

Thus ends my research on the family of my three-times great-uncle Meyer Goldsmith. Once again I am humbled by what he and all his children and grandchildren endured and experienced and accomplished. It is always such an honor to be able to learn and write about these families.  I am especially grateful to my newly discovered cousin–Meyer’s great-grandchild–who so generously shared the photographs and family stories with me.

 


  1. Simon B Hirsh, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 53. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Helene M Cohen, 1962 passenger manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at New York, New York.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 679. Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 188038636. 
  4. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  5. Daniel Manheimer, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 6, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0056. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Daniel Manheimer and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0049. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  7. Leon Jacob, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1199. Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. This is the only record that spells his name without a final S. 
  8. Leon Jacobs and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manheim, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0089. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Leon Jacobs and family, 1940 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03532; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 36-94. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  11. Number: 204-03-8654; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Number: 203-07-6982; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Helen Rau Goldsmith 1917 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 346; Volume #: Roll 0346 – Certificates: 45901-46300, 26 Jan 1917-30 Jan 1917. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  14. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1755; Volume #: Roll 1755 – Certificates: 89626-89999, 10 Oct 1921-11 Oct 1921.  Ancestry.com U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  15. Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  16.  Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 11; Page Number: 30. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  17. Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6473; Line: 27; Page Number: 24. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. 
  18. The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at San Ysidro (Tia Juana), California, April 21, 1908 – December 1952; NAI: 2843448; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004.; Record Group Number: 85; Microfilm Roll Number: 08. Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964 
  19.  Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Gerard Lambert 1946 passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  20. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 91. Ancestry.com. U.S., Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010. Original data: Records from Record Group 287, Publications of the U.S. Government; Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] and Record Group 36, Records of the United States Customs Service. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.  
  21. Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Last but Not Least, Levi Katzenstein and His Heroic Great-Grandson, Arye Katzenstein

How painful it must have been for this family to lose a son to terrorism in Germany in 1970 after escaping from the Nazis in Germany less than forty years before.  This is the story of the family of Levi Katzenstein, the youngest child of the nine children of my three-times great-uncle Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion. With this post I will have covered as best I can at this point the lives of all the descendants of Scholem Katzensten, my 4-times great-grandfather.

In some ways Levi’s story reflects the stories of all his siblings; there are children who died young or who were stillborn. There are children who were killed in the Holocaust. And there are children who escaped from Nazi Germany and whose descendants are alive today in various places in the world. And in this family, there was a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect other people.

Levi was born on May 29, 1851, in Jesberg. He married Jeanette Bendheim on August 13, 1878.  Jeanette was born July 17, 1858, in Friedberg, Germany, daughter of Wolf Bendheim and Johanette Schering or maybe Schwarz (the mother’s birth name is very hard to read; these were the possibilities given by members of the Jekkes group on Facebook. I can’t read it at all.).

Marriage record for Levi Katzenstein

Marriage record of Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 924; Laufende Nummer: 546

Levi and Jeanette had six children, four sons and two daughters. Their firstborn was Kathinka, born on November 25, 1879, in Jesberg.

Kathinka Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3810

Then came two sons, Jakob and David. Jakob was born February 25, 1882, six years after the death of his grandfather Jakob for whom he must have been named.

Jakob Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3813

David was born two years later on March 3, 1884.

David Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3815

Sadly, the fourth child did not make it to her first birthday. Sara was born July 14, 1886, and died on May 11, 1887.

Sara Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3885

The last two children were boys. Sally Katzenstein was born on April 10, 1890, and Max Katzenstein was born on May 15, 1893.

Sally Katzenstein birth record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3821

Max Katzenstein birth record
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3824 Standesamt Jesberg Geburtsnebenregister 1893, S. 29

Thanks to Barbara Greve, I can share this photograph of the house in Jesberg where Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein raised their children:

Home of Levi Katzenstein in Jesberg

Four of the five children of Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein married and had children. Kathinka married Meier Bamberger on August 8, 1905, in Jesberg. Meier was born on June 8, 1878, in Holzheim, Germany, the son of Joseph Bamberger and Settchen Meier.

Kathinka Katzenstein and Meier Bamberger marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3860

Kathinka and Meier Bamberger had one child who survived, a daughter Gertrud born in Holzheim on May 7, 1910, and also had a stillborn child on December 9, 1915.

stillborn child of Kathinka and Meier Bamberger
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 905; Laufende Nummer: 796

Kathinka’s brother Jacob married Auguste Wallach on February 11, 1908, in Oberaula, Germany. Auguste was the daughter of Manus Wallach and Roschen Stern, and she was born on August 7, 1882, in Oberaula.

Marriage record of Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6351

Jacob and Auguste had one child, a son named Benjamin Willi born in Jesberg on November 18, 1908, according to the research done by Barbara Greve.

David Katzenstein married Gertrude Spier on January 7, 1912 in Merzhausen, Germany. Gertrude, the daughter of Juda Spier and Jeanette Rothschild, was born in Willinghausen, Merzhausen, Germany, on December 10, 1887.

Marriage record of David Katzenstein and Gertrude Spier
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 8870

David and Gertrude had a stillborn baby on October 27, 1912, and then three more children: Heinz (1913), Erich (1919), and Ursula (1923). Here is David Katzenstein’s house, as provided to me by Barbara Greve:

David Katzenstein’s house in Jesberg

The fourth surviving child of Levi and Jeanette was Sally Katzenstein. He married Gretha Nussbaum on December 24, 1913, in Wurda, Germany. She was the daughter of Joseph Nussbaum and Rickchen  Stein, born in Rhina, Germany, on August 5, 1991.

Marriage record of Sally Katzenstein and Gretha Nussbaum
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 907; Laufende Nummer: 6935

Sally and Gretha had two daughters, Elfriede (1914) and Ruth-Rika (1924).

The youngest child of Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim was their son Max. Tragically, Max was killed fighting for Germany in World War I on June 4, 1915. According to Barbara Greve’s research, Max served as a musketeer in the Third Company of the 7th Infantry, Regiment No. 142. He was 22 years old. Given what happened to some of his siblings, his sacrifice for Germany is especially tragic.

Max Katzenstein death record
HStAMR Best. 920 Nr. 3913 Standesamt Jesberg Sterbenebenregister 1915, S. 27

Levi and Jeanette Katzenstein had thus already lost two of their children—their daughter Sara and their son Max. Then on May 17, 1921, they lost yet another child, their only other daughter Kathinka Katzenstein Bamberger. She was only 41 years old and left behind her husband Meier and their eleven year old daughter Gertrud.

Kathinka Katzenstein Bamberger death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 905; Laufende Nummer: 797

Meier remarried seven months later on December 23, 1921; his second wife was Zerline Kahn, stepmother to little Gertrud.

After Kathinka’s death, Levi and Jeanette had only their three sons Jakob, David, and Sally surviving as well as their grandchildren. Levi died on April 3, 1929, and Jeanette died a year later on July 22, 1930.

Levi Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3920

Jeanette Bendheim Katzenstein death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3921

They are both buried in Jesberg, as seen in this photograph I took while in Jesberg in May:

Levi Katzenstein and Jeanette Bendheim Katzenstein, Jesberg cemetery

Levi and Jeanette’s remaining family did not get to stay in their ancestral town of Jesberg. According to Barbara Greve, David Katzenstein was forced to sell his home and farm after the Nazis came to power. He and his family left for Palestine in 1934. His brother Jakob left three years later in 1937.

Jakob and David and their families survived the Holocaust and settled in Palestine where, as these documents reveal, they became naturalized citizens.

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and
Gertrude Spier
http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Naturalization petition and citizenship order in Palestine for David Katzenstein and Gertrude Spier http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Palestine Application for Naturalization for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Palestine Citizenship Order for Jakob Katzenstein and Auguste Wallach http://www.archives.gov.il/en/

Their younger brother Sally and his wife Gretha as well as their niece Gertrud Bamberger and her father and stepmother were not as fortunate.  They were all murdered by the Nazis. Gertrud Bamberger, her father Meier Bamberger and stepmother Zerline Kahn Bamberger were deported to the concentration camp at Treblinka on September 30, 1942, where they were killed. (The links are to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

The fate of Sally Katzenstein and his wife Greta Nussbaum Katzenstein and their two daughters was described in detail on this website describing the Stolpersteine for the village of Minden, Germany. I will quote from this website, which tells in chilling terms the story of this Katzenstein family:

Sally Katzenstein was a teacher and a preacher. He taught in an Israeli school in Breitenbach, North Hessen, from 1911 and from 1921 until 1934 at the state school in Soest. At both schools he also had the responsibility for teaching four hours each week at a school for further education. In Soest he was [a] preacher to the Synagogue congregation.

Shortly after the National Socialists took over power on the 7th April, 1933, the law for the Reinstatement of the Career Civil Servants was passed. This was to enable the removal of unwanted officials, especially Jews, from governmental posts. Sally Katzstein also fell foul of this law and on 29th March, 1934, lost his occupation as a teacher.

On 1st September, 1935, the family moved to Minden and found a home in Wilhelmstrasse 18. Sally Katzenstein became the local representative for the National Association of Jews in Germany and later preacher to the Synagogue Community. As Jewish children were banned from State schools he held lessons in private rooms.

After the November Pogrom of 1938 Sally Katzenstein was required to pay 1.400 Reichsmark tax on his fortune. These taxes were cynically called ‘Jewish Punishment Tax’. With this money the Jews had to pay for damage that had been done to their property, by others, during the Pogrom.

In 1939 the family tried to emigrate to Palestine but only their daughter, Ruth Rika, was given permission to leave. Her sister, Elfriede, had emigrated in 1936. In 1941 Sally and Gretha submitted an application to emigrate to the USA and permission was granted but then was foiled by the USA entering the war.

In 1941 the Katzensteins were forced to leave their home and to move into the so called Jewish house in Kampstrasse 6, The Jewish community house together with lots of other Jews, in very cramped conditions.

In the spring of 1943 Sally and Gretha Katzenstein were the last Jews living in Minden but they were arrested and taken to Bielefeld and from there were deported to Teresienstadt. From there they were taken separately to Auschwitz where they were both murdered in October 1944.

Fortunately, both of Sally and Gretha’s daughters survived. Elfriede, their older daughter, married to Siegfried Berliner, settled in Palestine, now Israel, where she died on December 8, 2011, according to this obituary. She was 97 years old and had three children.  Her sister Ruth Rika Katzenstein married Harold Rosenberg and settled in Scotland where Ruth was registered as a nurse for many years. I have not yet found a death record for Ruth nor do I know whether she had any children.

There is one final tragic story to tell about the descendants of Levi Katzenstein. As noted above, two of his sons, Jacob and David, immigrated to Palestine in the 1930s. David and his wife Gertrude had three children: Heinz, Erich, and Ursula. Heinz had a son named Arye born in Haifa, Israel, in 1937.

On February 10, 1970, Heinz was seriously injured and Arye was killed during a terrorist attack on a bus that was supposed to take them from the Munich Airport terminal to an El Al jet they were planning to board. The details were described in a September 6, 2015, obituary for Uriel Cohen, an El Al pilot who had tried to stop the attack:

The attack in Germany occurred on February 10, 1970, at 12:50pm. An El Al plane on Flight 435 from Israel had landed at the airport shortly before. Some passengers intended to continue to London, [and] were on their way to a bus that would take them to a connecting flight. A scream was suddenly heard and three young Arab men came from the direction of the transit hall stairs, shouting and running towards the bus, ordering passengers to put their hands up.

The captain tackled the assailants, but they managed to toss two hand grenades at the bus. One of the terrorists pulled out a gun, and another grenade was thrown. Arye Katzenstein of Haifa, 32 at the time, was on the bus with his father and sprinted towards one of the grenades. He used his body to prevent other passengers from being wounded. He died at the scene and his father was severely wounded.

Arye Katzenstein, my fourth cousin, was a hero. His family had left Germany to escape from the Nazis, and almost forty years later he was killed in Germany while trying to protect others from a terrorist attack.

It does make me wonder whether hate will ever end.  It also makes me realize that there will always be good people who will fight that hate and provide us all with hope and inspiration.

 

Two of The Less Fortunate Children of Jakob Katzenstein: Schalum and Rebecca

I will now return to the children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. I had already discussed their first two children and their descendants: Gelle and Mina.

Mina Katzenstein’s children and descendants were remarkably fortunate in many ways. They survived the Holocaust by escaping from Germany during the 1930s. Some went to the United States, some to South America, and some to South Africa. I don’t mean to say they were lucky. They were all torn from their homes and all that they knew and undoubtedly subjected to harassment and discrimination before they left and some painful adjustments after they left. But they did survive.  As we’ve seen, that was not true for many of the descendants of Mina’s sibling Gelle.

Now we can explore the fate of the other seven children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. Unfortunately, many of them do not have happy endings.

The third child of my great-great-grandfather’s brother Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion was their first son, Schalum Abraham Katzenstein, named for his grandfather, Jakob’s father and my three-times great-grandfather, Scholem Katzenstein. Jakob and Sarchen’s son Schalum was born in February, 1834, in Jesberg, according to the report of Reverend Bach provided to me by Barbara Greve.

Reverend Bach family sheet for Jakob Katzenstein

Schalum only lived to be 25. He died on July 7, 1859, in Jesberg. He is buried at Haarhausen cemetery, where I visited in May and took this photograph of his gravestone:

Jacob Katzenstein’s son, Schalum Katzenstein

The inscription was very faded, but it had been transcribed years ago on the LAGIS site from Hebrew to German, and Barbara Greve translated the German translation of inscription on the headstone for me into English. It describes Schalum as “a lovable youth of a beautiful stature who avoided evil and was attached to the good. He was quick and nimble in his work in the short time of his work. And there came death, and gathered him there in the blossom of his youth.” How bittersweet.

Jakob and Sarchen’s fourth child was Rebecca Katzenstein. According to her death certificate and the report of Reverend Bach, Rebecca was born on July 6, 1836. I was not able to locate a marriage record for Rebecca, but sometime before August, 1866, Rebecca married Wolf Lamm of Ober-Gleen, Germany. According to his death record, Wolf was the son of Joseph Lamm and Hanna Goldschmidt and was born in Ober-Glenn in about 1833.

Rebecca and Wolf had two children, Karoline, born August 4, 1866, in Ober-Gleen, and Joseph (obviously named for his paternal grandfather), born July 9, 1870, in Ober-Gleen.

Wolf died before either of his children married.  He died on March 13, 1897, in Ober-Gleen. He was 64 years old.

Wolf Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Their daughter Karoline married Seligmann Hoexter on March 3, 1908, in Ober-Gleen; he was born February 7, 1858, in Gemuenden, Germany, and had been previously married and widowed. Karoline was 41 when she married Seligmann, and he was fifty. They did not have any children.

Karoline Lamm andSeligmann Hoexter marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 921; Laufende Nummer: 715

Joseph Lamm, Karoline’s brother, married Bertha Baum on November 24, 1901. Bertha was born June 10, 1877, in Gielhausen, daughter of Abraham Baum and Gretchen Kaiser.

Marriage record of Joseph Lamm and Bertha Baum
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 905; Laufende Nummer: 317

Joseph and Bertha had two sons, Willi, born November 15, 1902, in Ober-Gleen, and Nathan, born December 21, 1903, also in Ober-Gleen.

Rebecca Katzenstein Lamm lived to see her children marry and her two grandsons born. She died on February 20, 1915, in Ober-Gleen at age 74.

Rebekka Katzenstein Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Just three years later, Rebecca’s daughter Karoline died on January 11, 1918, making her husband Seligmann a widower for the second time. Karoline was only 51 years old.

Karoline Lamm Hoexter death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 4233

Seligmann Hoexter died twenty years later on October 12, 1938. He was eighty years old and died at the Jewish community hospital in Frankfurt.

Unfortunately, all but one of the remaining family members were killed in the Holocaust. Joseph Lamm and his wife Bertha Baum Lamm were deported first to Theriesenstadt on September 1, 1942. Joseph was then taken to Treblinka, where he was murdered on September 29, 1942. Bertha died at Theriesenstadt on December 17, 1942.

Their older son, Willi, was killed at the concentration camp in Majdanek, Poland, on July 16, 1942. He was thirty-nine years old. Thanks to Linda Silverman Shefler, who is also related to the Lamm family of Ober-Gleen, I was able to learn that Willi had married Berta Dub, and she also was killed at Majdanek.  Neither Linda nor I have been able to find any children born to Willi and Berta, although I did find Berta’s sister’s family and hope to learn more from them. (The links are all to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

The only descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm to survive the Holocaust was their younger grandson, Nathan, Willi’s brother. Nathan had left Germany before Hitler even came to power. He had arrived in New York on November 27, 1927, reporting that he was a tailor and that he was going to a friend in Buffalo named Henry Geissler, who had been in the US since 1923 and was also from Ober-Gleen.

Nathan Lamm 1927 passenger manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4175; Line: 1; Page Number: 35 Description Ship or Roll Number : Roll 4175 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

At first I had no luck finding Nathan on the 1930 census, but then I found his naturalization papers, which indicated that he was using the name Max Nathan Lamm:

Nathan Max Lamm naturalization papers
The National Archives at Atlanta; Morrow, Georgia, USA; 2217062; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Greenville Petitions 1911-1965 (Box 6)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Naturalization Records, 1868-1991

Using the name Max Lamm to search for him, I found him in Buffalo in 1930, working as a laborer in a bakery and living as a boarder with two other men who were also working in the bakery:

Max Lamm 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: 1428; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0182; FHL microfilm: 2341163

In 1940, Max Lamm was still in Buffalo, living in a large guest house and working as a laborer in building construction.

Max Lamm 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: T627_2824; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 64-73

He enlisted in the US Army on December 1, 1942, and while in the army, he petitioned for citizenship, as the document above reveals. He was apparently stationed in South Carolina when he filed his petition.

After serving in the military for the United States during World War II, Max Nathan Lamm returned to Buffalo, New York; he is listed in Buffalo directories for 1957 and  1960, working as an employee of the Red Star Express, a trucking company.

Max Nathan Lamm died in 1968 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. He was 64 years old. It does not appear that he ever married or had children, and he had lost his brother and both his parents during the Holocaust. He was the only surviving descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm, and he died without survivors.

Courtesy of Jay Boone
Find A Grave Memorial# 82841920

Thus, neither Schalum or Rebecca Katzenstein has any living descendants.

The fifth child of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion was their daughter Johanna. Her story is covered in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters and Cousins

This is a brief addendum to my last post (which I have also updated). I wanted to share two new images I received from Martin Abrahams after he read the post about his aunt Mali Katz Baumann and her family.

First, Martin sent me his mother Senta’s passport from Germany. The photograph of Senta reveals the strong family resemblance between Senta and her sister Mali in the 1930s:

Mali Katz Baumann Courtesy of her grandchildren

Senta Katz Abraham Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

The second photograph was taken before the families left Germany in the 1930s.  In the front row are Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, and Margot Baumann, first cousins. After leaving Germany, the Baumanns lived in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the Abrahams in New York City.

Front row: Eva Baumann, Fred Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, Margot Baumann. Courtesy of Martin Abrahams

Such happy, innocent children whose lives were about to be changed forever.

Days of Wine and Sichels

You might want to open a bottle of wine as you read this post.

As I wrote last time, Caroline Seligmann (my 4x-great-aunt) and Moses Morreau had two children, Levi and Klara. This post will focus on Klara and her descendants.

Klara was born in Worrstadt on July 9, 1838:

Klara Morreau birth record, July 9 1838
Morreau birth records 1838-29

 

I have not had success in finding a marriage record for Klara, but I know from her death record and her son’s birth record that she married Adolph (sometimes Adolf) Sichel. I have neither a birth nor a death record for Adolph, but I do have a photograph of Adolph’s gravestone in Bingen, which identifies his birth date as April 10, 1834. [1]

Adolph Sichel was the son of Hermann Sichel and Mathilde Neustadt of Sprendlingen, later Mainz. Hermann Sichel was the founder of the renowned wine producing and trading business, H. Sichel Sohne. Although it is beyond the scope of my blog to delve too deeply into the story of the Sichel wine business, a little background helps to shed light on Adolph, Klara, and their descendants. According to several sources, Hermann Sichel started the family wine business with his sons in 1856 in Mainz, Germany.

In 1883, the company expanded to Bordeaux, France, where it established an office to procure wines for sales by Sichel in Mainz, London, and New York City. The sons and eventually the grandsons worked in various branches of the business, some working in the French office, some in London, and some in Mainz. The business continued to expand and is still in business today; it is perhaps best known in popular culture as the maker of Blue Nun, a wine that was quite successful in the 1970s and 1980s. One writer described it as “a single, perfectly positioned product, a Liebfraumilch whose blandness seemed just the ticket for the hundreds of thousands of new wine drinkers, not just in the US but also in the UK. “

Adolph was not one of the sons who relocated from Germany. He and Klara had two children born and raised in Germany. Their daughter Camilla Margaretha Sichel was born on February 4, 1864, in Sprendlingen, according to Nazi documentation:

Camilla Sichel Blum info from Nazi files from MP

UPDATE: Aaron Knappstein was able to get a copy of Camilla’s birth record:

Camilla Alice Morreau birth record

Camilla Sichel married Jakob Blum, who was born April 3, 1853, in Nierstein, Germany. They had four children, all born in Mainz: Paul (1884), Willy (1886), Richard (1889), and Walter (1893):

Paul Blum birth record, September 7, 1884
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Willy Blum birth record
February 21, 1886
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Richard Blum birth record
June 8, 1889
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Walter Blum birth record
August 4, 1893
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Paul died as a young boy in 1890 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Mainz.

Paul Blum, Mainz Jewish Cemetery Courtesy of Camicalm Find A Grave Memorial# 176111502

Camilla Sichel Blum’s husband Jakob Blum died August 22, 1914; he was 61 years old:

Jakob Blum death record
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Deaths, 1876-1950 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950. Mainz Stadtarchiv.

He was buried in the Mainz Jewish cemetery where his young son Paul had also been buried:

Jakob Blum gravestone, Mainz Jewish Cemetery
Courtesy of Camicalm
Find A Grave Memorial# 177633476

His wife Camilla would survive him by almost thirrty years.

Adolph Sichel and Klara Morreau also had a son named Hermann. I found Hermann’s birth date and place, June 24, 1869, in Sprendlingen, in the Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime database on Ancestry, a horrifying but presumably reliable source, given the meticulousness with which the Nazis kept records on Jews:

Hermann Sichel in Ancestry.com. Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

On April 14, 1905, Hermann married Maria Franziska Trier, who was born on May 11, 1883, in Darmstadt, Germany, to Eugen Trier and Mathilde Neustadt. Maria was 21, and Hermann was 35.

Marriage record of Hermann Sichel and Maria Trier
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 901; Laufende Nummer: 98

Hermann and Maria had two sons, Walter Adolph (1906) and Ernst Otto (1907).

Camilla and Hermann’s father Adolph Sichel died on April 30, 1900, as seen above on his gravestone; Hermann’s older son Walter Adolph was obviously named at least in part for Adolph. Klara Morreau Sichel died on April 2, 1919. Adolph and Klara are buried in Bingen.

Klara Morreau Sichel death record, Apr 2, 1919
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Deaths, 1876-1950 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950. Mainz Stadtarchiv.

Klara Morreau Sichel gravestone at Bingen Jewish cemetery
http://www.steinheim-institut.de/cgi-bin/epidat?id=bng-818&lang=de

The families of both Camilla Sichel Blum and Hermann Sichel remained in Germany until after Hitler came to power in 1933. Then they all left for either England or the United States.

Two of Camilla’s sons, Richard and Walter, ended up in the US. Walter arrived first—on April 27, 1939.

Walter Blum ship manifest 1939
Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6319; Line: 1; Page Number: 42
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 6319
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line].

(Walter had actually visited the US many years before in 1921 when he was 27 years old; the ship manifest indicates that he was going to visit his “uncle” Albert Morreau in Cleveland. Albert was in fact his first cousin, once removed, his mother Klara Morreau’s first cousin.)

Walter Blum 1921 ship manifest
Ancestry.com. New Orleans, Passenger Lists, 1813-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.
Original data: Selected Passenger and Crew Lists and Manifests. National Archives, Washington, D.C.View all sources.

Richard arrived a few months after Walter on August 29, 1939, listing his brother Walter as the person he was going to:

Richard Blum 1939 ship manifest
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

On the 1940 census, both Richard and Walter were living in the Harper-Surf Hotel in Chicago. Richard was fifty, Walter 46. Both were unmarried and listed their occupations as liquor salesmen. Walter had changed his surname to Morrow, I assume to appear less German. It seems he chose a form of his grandmother Klara’s birth name, Morreau:

Richard Blum and Walter Morrow on 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T627_929; Page: 81A; Enumeration District: 103-268
CHICAGO CITY WARD 5 (TRACT 613 – PART)
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]

Walter had his name legally changed to Morrow on February 7, 1944, in Chicago, according to this notation on his birth record:

Notation on Walter Blum’s birth record regarding his name change; Walter Blum birth record
August 4, 1893
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Both brothers registered for the World War II draft in 1942.  Richard was now living at the Hotel Aragon in Chicago and working for Geeting & Fromm, a Chicago wine importing business.

Richard Blum World War II draft registration
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097

Walter was still living at the Harper-Surf Hotel and working for Schenley Import Corporation, a liquor importing business.

Walter Blum Morrow draft registration World War II
The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097

Both brothers also became naturalized citizens of the United States in 1944.

Richard died in 1961; his death notice reported that he was still a sales representative for Getting & Fromm at the time of his death.

Richard Blum death notice
July 9, 1961 Chicago Tribune, p. 71

Walter died on October 26, 1978, in Wiesbaden, German, according to a notation on his birth record; interestingly, he apparently had returned to live in Germany, as the US Social Security Death Index reported his last residence as Frankfurt, Germany.

Snip from Walter Blum Morrow’s birth record; Walter Blum birth record
August 4, 1893
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Birth Records, 1872-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Personenstandsregister Geburtenregister 1876-1900. Digital images. Stadtarchiv Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Meanwhile, their older brother Willy, known as Wilhlem and then William, had immigrated to England. Although I don’t have any records showing when William left Germany, I believe that he must have been living in England before 1943, as his mother Camilla Sichel Blum died in York, England, in 1943 (England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2006).  William is listed as living in York on a 1956 UK passenger ship manifest for a ship departing from New York and sailing to Southampton, England. I assume that Camilla had been living in York with her oldest son, William, at the time of her death in 1943.

Willliam Blum 1956 ship manifest,
The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1364; Item: 65

That 1956 manifest reports that William was married, a wine merchant, living at 13 Maple Grove, Fulford Road, York, England, and a citizen and permanent resident of England. I also found him listed in several phone books at the same address from 1958 until 1964. Aside from that I have no records of his whereabouts or his family or his death. I don’t know whether he was involved in the Sichel wine business or a different wine company. I also don’t know whether he was married or had children. I have contacted the York library and have requested a search of the newspapers and other records there, so hope to have an update soon.

As for the sons of Hermann Sichel and Maria Trier, they appear to have remained more directly connected to the Sichel wine business than their Blum cousins. Walter Adolph Sichel, the older brother, was in charge of the British side of the Sichel import business.  According to an article from the January 31, 1986 edition of The (London) Guardian (p. 10), Walter first came to England in 1928:

Anti-German feeling still lingered when young Sichel came to Britain in 1928 and travelled the country with his case of sample bottles from the family firm, H. Sichel Sohne of Mainz. Youthful persistence apart, he was lucky to have with him some of “the vintage of the century,” 1921. Potential customers found his wines easy to like, but impossible to pronounce.

(“The nun in the blue habit with something to smile about,” The (London) Guardian, January 31, 1986, p. 10)

Walter had moved permanently to England by 1935, as he is listed in the London Electoral Register for that year; also, he gave a London address on a ship manifest dated January 16, 1935.

Walter Sichel, 1935 ship manifest,
Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5597; Line: 1; Page Number: 93
Description
Ship or Roll Number : Roll 5597
Source Information
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

In December 1936, Walter Sichel married Johanna Tuchler in Marylebone, England; Johanna (known as Thea) was born in 1913 in Berlin. (Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005)

Walter Sichel’s younger brother, Ernst Otto Sichel (generally known as Otto), immigrated to the US.. He first arrived for a four month visit in October 1936, entering the country in Buffalo; he listed agents of the Taylor Company as those he was coming to see, so I assume this was a business trip with the Taylor Wine Company in upstate New York.

Ernst Otto Sichel 1936 arrival in Buffalo, NY
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1480; Roll Number: 127

But Otto returned to settle permanently in the US on September 30, 1937.

Otto Sichel 1937 ship manifest
Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6054; Line: 1; Page Number: 8
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

By May 1938, Hermann Sichel and Maria Trier, Otto and Walter Sichel’s parents, had also left Germany as they listed themselves as residing in London on a ship manifest when they traveled to New York on that date. In August 1939, Otto listed them on a ship manifest as residing in Buckinghamshire, England, when he sailed from New York to England at that time.

Hermann and Maria Sichel on 1938 ship manifest
Ancestry.com. UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
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.

Otto Sichel 1939 ship manifest—address of parents in England
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Hermann Sichel died on August 22, 1940, in Buckinghamshire. He was 71 years old; his wife Maria died in London in June 1967; she was 84. (England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2006)

In 1940, their son Otto was listed on the US census as a paying guest in a home on East 84th Street in New York City. There was a notation on his entry that I’ve never seen before: “No response to this after many calls.” Was Otto avoiding the enumerator? Or was he just away on business?

Otto Sichel, 1940 US census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2655; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 31-1339
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Perhaps this seeming evasiveness created some suspicion about Otto because in 1943 a request was sent by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to the FBI to request clearance for Otto because he was “pro-German but anti-Hitler, and may be guilty of subversive activity.” I consider myself pro-American even when I do not like my country’s leaders or actions at certain times; I assume that that was how Otto felt—affection for the country of his birth, but opposed to its actions under the Nazis.

Inquiry into Otto Sichel
Ancestry.com. U.S. Subject Index to Correspondence and Case Files of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1903-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010

Otto must have passed the FBI investigation because on August 15, 1944, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States:

Ernst Otto Sichel naturalization papers 1944
Ancestry.com. Selected U.S. Naturalization Records – Original Documents, 1790-1974 [

On January 3, 1942, Otto married Margarete Frances Chalon in Westwood, New Jersey; Margarete was born in New York in 1919; she was 22 when they married, and Otto was 34. The marriage did not last, and they were divorced in Florida in 1949. The following year Otto married again; his second wife was Anne Marie Mayer. She was born in Germany in 1921. Otto and Anne Marie eventually moved to Port Washington, New York.

Otto died on May 10, 1972, in San Francisco. He was 65 years old. According to his obituary, he was the vice-president of Fromm & Sichel, a subsidiary of Jos. E. Seagram & Sons, at the time of his death and had been working for that company for twenty years. “E. Otto Sichel Dies; Wine Expert Was 65,” The New York Times, May 13, 1972 (p. 34).

Without going into the full corporate history, there are obvious links here between the various Sichel/Blum cousins—Richard Blum worked for the Chicago wine distributor Geeting & Fromm, which was founded in part by Paul Fromm, whose brother Alfred Fromm and Franz Sichel, first cousin of Walter Sichel and Richard Blum, founded the company where Walter Sichel worked, the San Francisco wine distributor Fromm & Sichel .

Finally, to bring this story back to its beginning, both Walter Blum and Otto Sichel listed a Mr. I(saac) Heller (“Hella” as spelled on Walter’s manifest) as the person sponsoring them in the US when they immigrated to the US in the 1930s:

Walter Blum 1939 manifest naming I Hella as friend going to in US
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867

Isaac Heller named as person Otto Sichel was going to on 1937 manifest
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Who was this friend Isaac Heller?

He was the brother of Leanora Heller Morreau. Yes, the Leanora I had researched back in 2014 to try and understand why she had tried to rescue Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld from Nazi Germany.  The same Leanora whose husband Albert was the grandson of Caroline Seligmann Morreau and a first cousin of Camilla Sichel Blum, Walter’s mother, and Hermann Sichel, Otto’s father.

Leanora may not have been able to help her late husband’s cousin Bettina Seligmann Arnfeld, but obviously she and her brother Isaac were able to help Albert’s cousins Walter Blum and Otto Sichel.

And so I lift a glass of wine (not Blue Nun, preferably a prosecco) to toast Leanora Heller Morreau! L’chaim!

by tracy ducasse (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

[1] Unfortunately, the online records for Sprendlingen do not cover the years before 1870, and although there are some death records for the 1900s, the year 1900 is not included.