Salomon Blumenfeld’s Children Thekla and Felix: Killed by the Nazis

In April, 1933,  Salomon Blumenfeld’s two children from his first marriage, Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum and Felix Blumenfeld, were both living in Kassel, Germany. All of their children and grandchildren were also still in Germany. With Hitler’s rise to power, some of the family members left Germany not long afterwards. But others were not so fortunate.

Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum was murdered by the Nazis. She was first deported to Theriesenstadt on July 25, 1942.  Two months later on September 26, 1942, she was sent to the extermination camp at Treblinka where she was killed. She was seventy years old. She had lived a hard life—losing her mother when she was just a toddler, being left behind by her father a few years later, losing her husband, and then being killed at Treblinka.

Thekla’s daughter Caecilie and her husband Walter Herzog were living in Krefeld, Germany, before the war. I am still researching where and when, but the evidence indicates that the two children of Caecilie and Walter, Renata and Manfred, were sent to England before the war.1 Walter was a successful silk tie manufacturer and had deposited a fair amount of money in a Swiss banking account; that account was confiscated by the Nazis.2 In December 1941, both Walter and Caecile3 were deported to the concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. Walter was later transferred to Buchenwald where he was “declared dead” on May 8, 1945.

Caecile was sent from Riga to the Stutthof concentration camp.4 The Holocaust Encyclopedia provided this information about the Stutthof camp:5

Conditions in the camp were brutal. Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept the camp in the winter of 1942 and again in 1944. Those whom the SS guards judged too weak or sick to work were gassed in the camp’s small gas chamber. Gassing with Zyklon B View This Term in the Glossary gas began in June 1944. Camp doctors also killed sick or injured prisoners in the infirmary with lethal injections. More than 60,000 people died in the camp.

The Germans used Stutthof prisoners as forced laborers. … In 1944, as forced labor by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in armaments production, a Focke-Wulff airplane factory was constructed at Stutthof. Eventually, the Stutthof camp system became a vast network of forced-labor camps….

The evacuation of prisoners from the Stutthof camp system in northern Poland began in January 1945. When the final evacuation began, there were nearly 50,000 prisoners, the overwhelming majority of them Jews, in the Stutthof camp system. About 5,000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machine gunned. The rest of the prisoners were marched in the direction of Lauenburg in eastern Germany. They were cut off by advancing Soviet forces. The Germans forced the surviving prisoners back to Stutthof. Marching in severe winter conditions and treated brutally by SS guards, thousands died during the march.

In late April 1945, the remaining prisoners were removed from Stutthof by sea, since Stutthof was completely encircled by Soviet forces. Again, hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. … It has been estimated that over 25,000 prisoners, one in two, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps. 

Soviet forces liberated Stutthof on May 9, 1945, and liberated about 100 prisoners who had managed to hide during the final evacuation of the camp.

How did Caecilie manage to survive this ordeal? Was she one of the hundred who were hiding in the camp during its final evacuation? Her odds for survival were overwhelmingly low, yet somehow she did. After time as a displaced person and with the help of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), she was able to immigrate to the US in July 1946.

Arolesn Archives; Bad Arlosen, Germany, Resettlement Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. Free Acces Africa, Asia and Europe, Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons, 1946-1971

I was able to locate more information about Thekla’s brother Felix Blumenfeld through several sources, including a detailed and well-sourced biography online. Felix had studied medicine at both the University of Marburg and the University of Munich. He served as a ship’s doctor and later as doctor in a POW camp during World War I. As we saw, Felix lost his first wife Thekla Wertheim in 1917, and on February 16, 1920, in Nordhausen, Germany, he married his second wife Helene Petri, who was not Jewish. She was born on October 20, 1894, in Nordhausen, the daughter of Fritz Petri and Bertha Peter. Felix and Helene were living in Kassel, where Felix was a practicing pediatrician.

The detailed biography of Felix I found online describes in great detail all the contributions that Felix made as a doctor and citizen in Kassel.

Encouraged by the high infant mortality rate among children of poor parents, he began to use his position as a doctor and to get involved in society. At his suggestion, milk kitchens were built in which perfectly hygienic milk-grain mixtures were produced as baby food and sold using a deposit bottle system . The products were also given free of charge to the poor.

He also served as the medical director of the children and infant’s home/hospital in the city and also was involved in other charitable and civic organizations.

Despite his service in World War I and all these contributions he made as a doctor and citizen, Felix was persecuted by the Nazis. 

Just a few weeks after the National Socialists came to power on April 1, 1933, as a Jew, he was deprived of the management of the children’s hospital, he was banned from working and had to give up his apartment and practice…. His property and library were confiscated and owing to the fact that his wife Leni was not Jewish, he was initially allowed to live in his summer house a…. He was forced to do auxiliary and road construction work and had to collect rags and scrap at the municipal scrap yard . He was exposed to constant discrimination and surveillance by the Gestapo.

A second biography written for the occasion of the installation of Stolpersteine in Felix Blumenfeld’s honor in Kassel also reported this information and explained that Felix ultimately decided to end his own life in order to avoid deportation and also to protect his wife Helene.

Before killing himself on January 25, 1942, Felix wrote a long letter to his two sons in America, Edgar and Gerd, explaining why he had decided to take his own life. The first part of the letter details some of the abuse and persecution he had endured, and then he ends with these paragraphs, as translated by DeepL:

But enough of that ! Let’s get to the main thing ! Life is no longer bearable for me! All my hope, to which I had clung, was to get out of this hell and to be united with you in a near or distant time. I dare not count on that hope any longer. For with the years of war my years of life also increase. But the worst thing at the present moment is that out of sheer arbitrariness they have deprived me of all my property and referred me to my hands work or to public welfare. Subsequently, they also “expropriated the wife of the Jew”, although since 1939 there had been a legal separation of property, i.e. there was no legal basis for this. Leni was in Berlin and has the prospect of getting part of her property back if she gets a divorce. I want to agree to this divorce in order not to endanger Lenimutter’s livelihood again and again through my person. In that case, however, my life, which has been ruined through no fault of my own, has lost all the more meaning, especially since it is not known what else will be done to us.

Under these circumstances, death seems more desirable to me than an existence with ever new torments. I am therefore leaving this world of meanness, baseness and inhumanity in order to enter eternal peace and to seek the path that leads from darkness to light.

My last thoughts belong to my faithful comrade, on an often thorny path, and to you my beloved children, my Edgar, Gerd, Annchen, Lotte and Little Gerard ! You will be with me in the hour that demands strength and courage. Especially with you, my Gerd, I would have liked to hold a conversation, you dear, you good one! Stay as good as you have been so far, and be the one who makes sure that you always stay together faithfully. Then I am always in your midst and remain eternally connected with you. Without looking backwards, move forward and build a more beautiful life in a hopefully better world. May it be a comforting thought to you that your father is relieved of all fear, worry and pain after his departure. We remain united ! ! You will never forget me, I know that, because my love for you was, is and will be infinite.

V a t e r

*** Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***

Like his sister Thekla, Felix Blumenfeld lost his mother as a baby, then his father, and then his first wife. Nevertheless, he grew up to be a devoted father and pediatrician who contributed greatly to his community. Although not technically murdered by the Nazis, Felix is also rightfully counted among those whose deaths were caused by Nazi persecution.

There was one more death in the family attributable to Nazi Germany. Thekla Blumenfeld Gruenbaum’s grandson, Caecilie and Walter Herzog’s son Manfred, was killed in action while fighting for the Allies in Europe sometime in the spring of 1945.

Thus, the Nazis killed both Thekla and Felix, the two children Salomon Blumenfeld had with his first wife Caecilie Erlanger, as well as Thekla’s son-in-law Walter Herzog; in addition, Thekla’s grandson Manfred Herzog died fighting the Nazis in World War II. I can’t help but think about how Felix and Thekla’s lives would have been different if their father Salomon had taken them with him when he moved to Spain.

They were survived by the rest of the family. Their stories will be told in the next post.


  1. To be discussed in the next post. 
  2. Special Master’s Final Report on the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks Settlement), Case No. CV 96-4849 (ERK)(MDG) (Consolidated with CV 96-5161 and CV 97-461) United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, pp.28-30. 
  3. Cecilia Herzog [Cecilia Gruenbaum] Birth Date: 26 Apr 1900 Birth Place: Kassel
    Residence: Krefeld Camp: Riga/Stutthof Ancestry.com. Poland, German Jews at Stutthof Concentration Camp, 1940-1945; Entry at the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/online/hsv/person_view.php?PersonId=3187531 
  4. See Note 3. 
  5. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Stutthof.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/stutthof Accessed October 5, 2021. 

The Final Chapter of Baruch Blumenfeld’s Family: His Daughter Charlotte

Having told the story of Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert and that of her children Margot, Julius, and Elfriede and of her grandchildren Edith, Werner, Gunther, and Inge, I now turn to the story of Antonie’s younger sister, Charlotte Blumenfeld, daughter of Baruch Blumenfeld and Emma Docter.

Charlotte Jeanette Blumenfeld, as we saw, married Hermann Hammel on January 24, 1900, and they had one daughter, Klara, who was born on February 17, 1901, in Frankfurt, Germany, where Charlotte and Hermann resided. Hermann was a merchant.

On July 26, 1920, in Frankfurt, Klara Hammel married Siegfried Braun. He was more than eleven years older than Klara and was born in Nuernberg on August 27, 1889. His parents were Isidor Braun and Kathi Hermann; both had died by the time Siegfried served in the German army during World War I. Siegfried served for at least three years of the war in the infantry and in the automobile replacement unit. When he married Klara in 1920, he was living in Frankfurt and working as a merchant.

Marriage record, Klara Hammel to Siegfried Braun, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 18828. Kriegsstammrolle: Bd. 6, Volume: 18828- Kriegsstammrolle: Bd- 6, Ancestry.com. Bavaria, Germany, World War I Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918

Klara and Siegfried’s first child Lieselotte was born in Frankfurt on September 4, 1922.1 Her brother Walter Isidor Braun was born a year later on December 7, 1923, also in Frankfurt.2 A third child was stillborn on January 25, 1926, in Frankfurt.3

The life of this family changed dramatically once Hitler came to power. I am very grateful to Klara and Siegfried’s grandson Stephen for sharing their stories with me. They all immigrated to Amsterdam not long after Hitler’s rise to power. While there, Lieselotte, then a teenager, met the man who would later become her husband, Fritz (later Fred) Rothschild. He was son of Daniel Rothschild and Martha Aumann and was born in Bruchsal, Germany, on August 22, 1921. His family also had left Germany for Amsterdam to escape the Nazis.4

Hermann Hammel, Charlotte Blumenfeld’s husband, died in Amsterdam on February 19, 1939; he was 71 years old. After World War II started in September, 1939, the rest of the Hammel family left Amsterdam for Wales, where they were living at the time of the enumeration of the 1939 England and Wales Register. Lieselotte was thus separated from her boyfriend Fred Rothschild, but the two corresponded during the war; his family had also left Amsterdam and immigrated to Canada.5

Braun and Hammel, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/7534J, Enumeration District: ZDGM, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register (the two children of Siegfried and Claire Braun are hidden)

But even the UK was not a true safe harbor for the family. Siegfried was determined to be an enemy alien on October 12, 1939, and he and his family were sent to the Isle of Man like so many other Jewish refugees from Germany. Only Charlotte was not interned. They were released on September 30, 1940, and relocated to London where they lived for the duration of the war.6

Siegfried Braun, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/168, Piece Number Description: 168: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Bohrman-Bud, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Once the war ended, Lieselotte Braun was reunited with Fred Rothschild, and they were married in London on August 11, 1946.

The Montreal Gazette, August 23, 1946, p. 13

After marrying, Lieselotte and Fred immigrated to Canada and then the US and eventually settled in New York City; they would have two children.

A year after Lieselotte’s marriage, the rest of her family—her grandmother Charlotte, her parents Klara (now Claire) Hammel and Siegfried Braun, and her brother Walter—also immigrated to the US and settled in New York. They eventually owned a women’s clothing store in Washington Heights in New York.7

Walter Braun married Hannelore Delheim in 1954.8 She was born in Ludwigschafen, Germany, in August 1931, and came to the US with her parents, Friedericke and Rosette Delheim, and her brother in 1939.9 Walter and Hannelore had two children.

Charlotte Blumenfeld Hammel died on July 11, 1958; she was 83 years old.10 I found it poignant that she ended up in New York living not far from where her father Baruch had been living in 1920. I wonder whether she ever knew that.

Her son-in-law Siegfried Braun died on August 8, 1961 at the age of 71.11 His wife Claire Hammel Braun survived him by over twenty years. She died July 19, 1983, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She was 83 and was survived by her children and grandchildren.12

Claire’s son Walter Braun only survived her by three years. He was 62 when he died on March 15, 1986, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He was survived by his wife and children as well as his sister Lieselotte.13

Lieselotte lived to age 91 and died on October 13, 2013, in Palm Beach, Florida. Her husband Fred Rothschild died the following year, also in Palm Beach. He was 92 when he died on March 27, 2014.14 They are survived by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Thus, Baruch Blumenfeld, who left his family in Germany sometime before 1900 and came to the US where he died in 1923, has numerous descendants now living in the US. They are here because their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were either able to leave Germany before it was too late like Charlotte and her family and Antonie’s son Julius and his family and Gunther Goldschmidt or because they somehow managed to survive the tortures of the Holocaust like Antonie’s daughter Elfriede, her husband Rudolf and their daughter Inge.

Tragically, Baruch’s granddaughter—Antonie’s daughter—Margot, her husband Gustav, and their daughter Edith were not among those who survived or escaped in time. They are among the six million who must never be forgotten.


  1. Lieselotte Rothschild Arrival Age 38, Birth Date 4 Sep 1922, Birth Place, Frankfurt/Main, Arrival Date7 May 1961, Arrival Place New York, New York, USA, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; 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: 482, Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  2. Walter Isidore Braun, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1923
    Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Mar 1986
    Father: Frederick S Braun, Mother: Claire Hammel, SSN: 082240422, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  3.  Knabe Braun, Gender: männlich (Male), Death Date: 25 Jan 1926, Death Place: Frankfurt, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Frankfurt I
    Father: Siegfried Braun, Mother: Klara Braun. Certificate Number: 106, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10913, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  4. Email from Steve Rothschild, August 27, 2021. Fred Rothschild, Age: 31
    Birth Date: 22 Aug 1921, Issue Date: 11 Aug 1953, State: New York
    Locality, Court: Eastern District of New York, District Court, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957; Microfilm Serial: M1164; Microfilm Roll: 114, Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995. Geni Profile at https://www.geni.com/people/Fred-Fritz-Rothschild/6000000017506676383?through=6000000017506915284#name=Fred%20(Fritz)%20Rothschild? 
  5. Email from Steve Rothschild, August 27, 2021. 
  6. Email from Steve Rothschild, August 30, 2021. 
  7. Clara and Siegfried Braun, Walter Braun, Charlotte Hammel, ship manifest, Year: 1947; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Numbers: 190, 238, Ship or Roll Number: America,Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Email from Steve Rothschild, August 30, 2021. 
  8. Walter Braun, Gender: Male, Marriage License Date: 1954, Marriage License Place: Bronx, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Hannelore Dellheim, License Number: 423, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Bronx,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  9. Delheim family, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 4; Page Number: 127, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Charlotte Hammel, Age: 63, Birth Date: abt 1895, Death Date: 11 Jul 1958
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 15348, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  11. Frederick Braun, Age: 71, Birth Date: abt 1890, Death Date: 8 Aug 1961, Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 17272, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Death Index, 1949-1965 
  12.  Claire Braun, Social Security Number: 088-28-7956, Birth Date: 17 Feb 1901
    Issue Year: 1951-1953, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10964, Palisades, Rockland, New York, USA, Death Date: Jul 1983, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Walter Isidore Braun, Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 7 Dec 1923
    Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Mar 1986
    Father: Frederick S Braun, Mother: Claire Hammel, SSN: 082240422, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  14. “Fred Rothschild,” Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach, Florida
    30 Mar 2014, Sun • Page A002 

A Survivor’s Story: The Shoah Foundation Testimony of Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer

Antonie Blumenfeld and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 and thus were spared seeing that their daughter Margot and her husband Gustav Neuhaus were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and killed there in September 1942 and that their granddaughter Edith Neuhaus Kempner was killed at Auschwitz just two months later.

They were also spared knowing that their son Julius and his wife Ilse and son Werner were forced to leave Germany in 1939 to escape Hitler, but eventually survived and settled in the United States.

And they were spared knowing the terrible ordeals endured by their youngest child Elfriede and her husband Rudolf Goldschmidt and their children Gunther and Inge.

But we must remember their experiences and honor their memories. Thanks to the Shoah Foundation, we now have extensive interviews with many of the Holocaust survivors, including one with Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, my fifth cousin.

I was privileged to listen to Inge’s interview and will attempt in my own words to tell her story. I am grateful to the Shoah Foundation for allowing me to do so. Except where noted, all the information below came from Inge’s interview.1 All the photographs are courtesy of Inge’s daughter Marsha.

Inge was born to Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt on April 13, 1929, in Kassel, Germany, just four years before Hitler came to power. She had almost no memory of life in Germany before the Nazis took control. She and her family lived in Kassel until 1938 when they moved to Cologne. Her memories of life in Kassel were terrible because of the persecution and harassment they faced as Jews. She and her brother Gunther went to a Jewish school and were often beaten up on the way home by Nazi youth members. As a result of incidents like that, the school decided to close fifteen minutes before the non-Jewish schools so that children could get home safely.

Here is a photograph of Inge with her brother Gunther taken in about 1934.

Gunther and Inge Goldschmidt. c. 1934-1935. Courtesy of the family

Inge’s father Rudolf was a veteran of World War I and had suffered a serious head injury while fighting for Germany. As a result, he eventually became paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. The family was living on the pension he received for his service in the war while also being forced to endure the anti-Semitism promoted by the government. Rudolf was very well-informed and followed the news on a radio tuned to the BBC, and although he wanted to leave Germany, his disability and their limited resources made that impossible.

Here is a photograph of Rudolf in uniform during World War I.

Rudolf Goldschmidt, c. 1914-1918. Courtesy of the family

Instead the family decided to leave Kassel and move to Cologne in 1938, believing that in the larger city they would be safer and also that life would be easier because it was less hilly than Kassel and thus easier for Elfriede to push Rudolf’s wheelchair. Here are two photographs of Inge from around this time.

Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1938-1939. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Rudolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gunther celebrated his bar mitzvah in Cologne in the summer of 1938, and a few months later in October his parents registered him for a children’s transport out of Germany to the United States. He ended up in St. Louis living with a foster family for many years. He was only thirteen. Inge was only nine and too young for those transports, so she stayed in Cologne with her parents. The photograph below shows the family at the train station in Cologne the day Gunther left for the US.

Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Gustav Neuhas, Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, unknown man. 1938. Courtesy of the family

Although things were initially better in Cologne than they had been in Kassel, after Kristallnacht and then once the war started in September 1939, conditions worsened. Their phones were taken, then their bicycles, and they lived in constant fear of being arrested. Then when the Allies started bombing Cologne in the early 1940s, they lived in fear of the bombs and poison gas as well. They moved frequently from one apartment to another and were later rounded up with other Jews and taken to a temporary camp outside of the city. By then they were required to wear the yellow star to identify them as Jews. Inge had hers pinned instead of sewn on as required so that she could sneak out of the camp and shop for the family, removing her star to do so without revealing that she was Jewish.

The star Inge Goldschmidt wore in Germany. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt identity card, 1939. Courtesy of the family

Then in 1942 the family was deported to Theriesenstadt. Inge and her mother Elfriede were in one of the barracks together, and her father Rudolf was in a separate men’s barrack. Interestingly, he was living with other men who were disabled World War I veterans. Inge speculated that but for his service in World War I he never would have been allowed to survive at all, given his physical disability.

Inge’s memories of life in Theriesenstadt are horrendous. She was scared and hungry all the time and often very ill. Her knee became infected, and she had to have it drained in the camp hospital without receiving anesthesia. They lived with bed bugs, lice, and a lack of sanitary facilities. They had no news of what was happening in the war or outside the camp itself.

Inge lived at Theriesenstadt for two years, and then in 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz and separated from her family. She was now fifteen years old and sick with typhus. Despite being sick, she knew enough not to let on and so did not get transported with those who were ill and were instantly killed when they arrived at Auschwitz. The train to Auschwitz was a nightmare—all of them standing packed into the cars with no food and sleeping standing up with only a bucket for a toilet.

She remembered vividly her arrival at Auschwitz. They arrived at night, and it was bitterly cold. The Kapos (Jewish prisoners forced to act as guards and agents for the Nazis) were screaming at them all to move out of the train while armed Nazi guards surrounded them. Inge went with the other women into one large room where they were forced to strip and have their heads shaved. They took cold showers and were disinfected and given rags to wear. She recalled one woman going into labor and giving birth during this ordeal and remembered hearing the women around her screaming when they realized they would never see their children again.

Inge was only at Auschwitz for a few weeks, but her memories of that time and place were seared in her memory. She recalled standing for hours each day in the snow for inspection while the guards selected those who would go to the gas chambers. Once she needed to urinate so badly that she just squatted on the ground and was beaten by the guard for doing so. At one point she was so despondent that she was going to run into the electric fence and kill herself, as she’d seen others do. But a kind woman convinced her not to, and so she survived.

After a few weeks she was selected to be sent to another camp near Leipzig, Germany, called Oederan. Oederan opened in September 1944; three transports brought five hundred women from Auschwitz to work in a munitions factory in a converted thread factory. Inge worked in the munitions factory making bullets; she recounted how she and the other prisoners tried to do things to sabotage the machines, although they knew they could be killed if they were caught. While at Oederan, she saw bright lights in the distance and asked innocently if that was the sun. It was in fact the fires from the Allied bombing of Dresden, which was about 35 miles away. A guard, thinking she was being disrespectful, punched her in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth.

On April 12, 1945, the day before her 16th birthday, Inge heard that FDR had died, and she was bereft, believing that America was their one hope for survival and that FDR was a hero. But the news about the war was also starting to break through, and there were rumors that the Russians were coming to liberate them. What would she do if she survived to be liberated? What would she learn about the fate of her parents?

To be continued…


  1. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Antonie’s Children Margot Engelbert Neuhaus and Julius Engelbert

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert, daughter of Baruch Blumenfeld and Emma Docter, died in 1929, and her husband Siegfried Engelbert died three years later. They never knew what was going to happen to their family just a decade after their deaths.

Their oldest daughter Margot and her husband Gustav stayed in Goettingen after Hitler came to power in 1933. After Kristallnacht in November 1938, Gustav was forced by the Nazis to sell his cattle trading business far below its market value, a business that had been in his family since 1858 when it was started by his grandfather. Margot and Gustav were transported on March 31, 1942, to the Warsaw Ghetto, where they were killed on September 30, 1942. Here are the Pages of Testimony on file with Yad Vashem:1

Margot and Gustav’s daughter Edith also was murdered by the Nazis. After she was prohibited from attending the local high school for girls in Goettingen in 1938, she went to Hamburg and then to Berlin, where she met and married her husband Herbert Kempner in 1942. But Herbert and Edith’s marriage was short-lived because on November 29, 1942, they were both deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. I am so grateful to Dennis Aron, who shared with me the entries about Gustav, Margot, and Edith from Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch, including this photograph of Edith. 2

Tragically, Margot and Gustav and their daughter Edith have no living descendants because of the Nazis. Thus, we must all remember them instead.

The other two children of Antonie Blumenfeld and Siegfried Engelbert survived the Holocaust, but not without facing Nazi persecution.

Their son Julius Engelbert, his wife Ilse, and their nine-year-old son Werner fled to Bolivia on September 23, 1939.3 Six years later the family immigrated to the United States, arriving on December 23, 1945.4 They settled in Brooklyn, New York, and they all became US citizens in 1952. Werner Engelbert became a pharmacist after graduating from the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York in 1952.5 According to his niece Marsha, Julius saved the many wonderful photographs published in this series of posts when he fled Germany in 1939. How fortunate we all are that he did.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995

Julius Engelbert died in New York on July 25, 1965; he was 67. He was killed in a car accident driving to or from the Catskills.6 His wife Ilse survived him by twenty years, dying in February 1985 at the age of 78.7 Their son Werner died in 2019.8 He was survived by his wife and children and grandchildren.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt and her family also survived the Holocaust, but their path to survival was more complicated than that of her brother Julius and his family. I was privileged to listen to the testimony that Inge Goldschmidt Oppenheimer, Elfriede’s daughter, gave to the Shoah Foundation in 1996,9 and her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I will share her story in my next post.


  1. Margot Engelbert Neuhaus, Yad Vashem, at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306232&ind=2;  Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), pp. 190-191. 
  2. Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190.Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag Goettingen), p. 126. 
  3. Julius Engelbert, Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Miscellaneous
    Birth Date: 18 Okt 1897 (18 Oct 1897), Birth Place: Kassel, Residence Place: Kassel Kassel, Notes: Lists of judicial and official files concerning foreigners and German Jews
    Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70443285, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  4. Joseph Julius Engelbert, ship manifest, Year: 1945; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 22; Page Number: 41, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Werner J Engelbert, Yearbook Date: 1952, School: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York, School Location: New York, New York, USA, U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012″; School Name: College of Pharmacy of the City of New York; Year: 1952,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 
  6. Julius Engelbert, Gender: Male, Age: 67, Birth Date: abt 1898, Residence Place: Adelphi, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: 25 Jul 1965, Death Place: New York, USA, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Death Index,
    Ancestry.com. New York State, U.S., Death Index, 1957-1969. Email from Marsha Eidlin, September 25, 2021. 
  7. Ilse Engelbert, Social Security Number: 129-22-5815, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1906
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11210, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1985, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. https://jewishfunerals.com/service/werner-j-engelbert/ 
  9. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 

Baruch Blumenfeld’s Daughter Antonie: Life Before the Nazis

Although I have no definitive answer as to when Baruch Blumenfeld left his family in Germany, I do have information about what happened to his two daughters and their children.

As we saw, Baruch and Emma had two daughters: Antonie and Charlotte Jeanette, born in 1872 and 1875, respectively. This post and the three that follow will focus on Antonie and her descendants. I am deeply grateful to Antonie’s great-granddaughter Marsha for sharing her collection of family photos with me so that I can bring Antonie and her family to life.

Antonie married Sussel Siegfried (known as Siegfried) Engelbert in Neustadt, Germany, in 1894, and they had three children: Margot (born 1895), Joseph Julius (known as Julius) (born 1897), and Elfriede (born 1900). Siegfried owned a clothing store in Kassel, shown in this photograph.

Engelbert store, c. 1900, Kassel. Courtesy of the family.

The photograph below is of Antonie and below that are three photographs of her children, one taken in 1911 of Elfriede and Margot and an unknown little girl, the other taken in about 1920 of all three of Antonie and Siegfried Engelbert’s children, and the last a photograph of Julius Engelbert with his parents Antonie and Siegfried.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert undated. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede Engelbert, unknown girl, Margot Engelbert, 1911. Courtesy of the family

Margot, Julius, and Elfriede Engelbert, c. 1920. Courtesy of the family

Julius, Antonie, and Siegfried Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Margot married Gustav Neuhaus on December 3, 1920. He was born on December 5, 1884, in Bremke, Germany, to Hermann Neuhaus and Bernhardine Neuhaus. He was a cattle dealer in Goettingen, Germany; his grandfather had started the business in 1858.1

Marriage record of Margot Engelbert and Gustav Neuhaus, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1920, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Margot and Gustav had one child, a daughter Edith, born on March 9, 1922.

Elfriede Caroline Engelbert married Ruben Rudolf (known as Rudolf) Goldschmidt on August 19, 1924, in Kassel, Germany. Rudolf, the son of Gabriel Goldschmidt and Jettchen Levi, was born in Spangenburg, Germany, on January 23, 1887.2

Marriage record of Elfriede Engelbert and Ruben Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 910, Year Range: 1924, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a photograph of Elfriede and Rudolf taken when they were engaged in 1924.

Elfriede Engelbert and Rudolf Goldschmidt, 1924. Courtesy of the family

Marsha also shared the menu from Elfriede and Rudolf’s wedding. It must have been quite a lavish celebration.

Elfriede and Rudolf had two children, Gunther, born July 17, 1925,3 and Inge, born April 13, 1929,4 in Kassel where they resided.

Here are some photographs of Gunther and Inge as young children.

Gunther and Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, 1925. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, 1931. Courtesy of the family

Inge and Gunther Goldschmidt, c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Elfriede, Gunther, and Inge Goldschmidt c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Antonie lived long enough to see her three grandchildren born, but she died on May 23, 1929, a month after Inge’s birth. She was survived by her husband and her children and grandchildren.

Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5619, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Here is one more photograph of Antonie and Julius and a photograph of Antonie’s headstone.

Siegfried Engelbert and Antonie Blumenfeld Engelbert. Courtesy of the family

Courtesy of the family

Julius Engelbert married a few months after his mother’s death. On August 29, 1929, he married Ilse Wolf in Marburg, Germany. She was born in Marburg on March 31, 1906. Julius and Ilse had one child, Werner, born in Kassel in 1930.5

Julius Engelbert and Ilse Wolf marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5652, Year Range: 1929, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Two years later Siegfried Engelbert died on July 12, 1932, in Kassel.6 He was 65 and died before the Nazi takeover of Germany the following year.  He and Antonie were spared seeing what would happen to their children.

In this photograph are Elfriede, Rudolf, and Inge with Margot and her daughter Edith taken in 1936.  No one could have predicted what was to happen to them all in the next decade.

Elfriede Engelbert Goldschmidt, Inge Goldschmidt, Rudolf Goldschmidt, Edith Neuhaus, Margot Neuhaus, 1936. Courtesy of the family

To be continued.

 


  1. Gustav Neuhaus, Yad Vashem entry,  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1306229&ind=2 and from the Neuhaus Family Tree on Ancestry found at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60044058/person/342252900990/facts. See also Uta Schaefer-Richter and Joerg Klein, Die Juedischen Buerger im Kreis Goettingen 1933-1945: Ein Gedenkbuch (Wallstein Verlag 1992), p.190. 
  2. Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 782, p. 63. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  3. Gunther Goldschmidt, Social Security #: 488207584, Gender: Male
    Birth Date: 17 Jul 1925, Death Date: 30 Nov 1972, Death Place: San Francisco, Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997 
  4. Inge Oppenheimer, Interview 11370. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1996. Accessed 17 August 2021. 
  5. Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947; Werner Jack Engelbert, Age: 22, Birth Date: 21 Jul 1930, Issue Date: 29 Jan 1952, State: New York
    Locality, Court: Eastern District of New York, District Court, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957; Microfilm Serial: M1164; Microfilm Roll: 53, Ancestry.com. U.S., Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995 
  6. LAGIS Hessen Archives, Nr 587, p. 291, Standesamt Kassel I Sterberegister 1932, Eintrags-Nr. 301-600 (StadtAKS Best. A 3.35.1 Nr. 3.1.310) Autor Stadtarchiv Kassel Erscheinungsort Kassel IErscheinungsjahr 1932 

My Cousins Karoline, Franziska, and Rosa: Unanswered Questions, Tragic Endings

The second, third and sixth children of Meier Blumenfeld and Sarah Strauss, Karoline, Franziska, and Johanna are three about whom I know very little, but I will report what I do know and hope that eventually I will discover more information. (I will discuss the fourth child Rosa and fifth child Sophie out of order in the next post.)

Karoline Blumenfeld was born on February 27, 1869, in Momberg.

Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 6

She must have married a man named Dannenberg because her death record shows her surname as Dannenberg. That death record is unfortunately the only other record I have for Karoline. I cannot find a marriage record, even after searching on Ancestry and JewishGen and on two databases of vital records for the Hesse region. One profile on Geni and several Ancestry trees report that her husband’s name was Sally Dannenberg, but there are no sources given to corroborate that information.

Karoline died on August 18, 1919, in Frankfurt at the age of fifty. Sadly, that is all I could learn about her life. I don’t know when she married or whether they had children.

Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10823
Year Range: 1919, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Meier and Sarah’s third child Franziska was born on November 3, 1870, in Momberg.

Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 7

She married Aron Oppenheim on October 10, 1905, in Marburg, Germany. Aron was fifteen years older than Franziska; he was born on February 5, 1855, in Rhina, Germany, to Salomon Oppenheim and Ester Klebe. He had been previously married to Hannchen Klebe, with whom he’d had a number of children. Franziska was thirty-four when they married, and Aron was fifty. I could not find any record of children born to Franziska and Aron.

Franziska Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich (Female), Age: 34, Birth Date: 3 Nov 1870
Marriage Date: 10 Okt 1905 (10 Oct 1905), Marriage Place: Marburg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Marburg, Father: Meine Blumenfeld, Mother: Sarchen Blumenfeld, Spouse: Aron Oppenheim, Certificate Number: 101, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5620, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Aron died on June 7, 1921, in Halle, Germany. He was 66 years old.1 Franziska survived him, but tragically she was sent to the Therienstadt Concentration Camp by the Nazis on August 18, 1942, from Frankfurt where she was then living. She died there a month later on September 28, 1942. She was 71 years old.

Meier and Sarah’s sixth child, Johanna, like Karoline and Franziska, is a sibling about whom I know very little. Johanna was born on December 22, 1878, in Marburg, Germany.

Johanna Blumenfeld birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5557 Description Year Range: 1878 Source Information Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Tragically, the only other record I have for Johanna is her record with Yad Vashem. According to that record, Johanna was deported on October 20, 1941, from her home in Frankfurt to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in Poland, where she was murdered on March 15, 1942. I had never heard of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto before seeing this listing at Yad Vashem, but learned it was another name for the Lodz Ghetto, which I had known about. You can read more about it here. Johanna was 63 when she was killed.

Thus, two of Meier and Sarah (Strauss) Blumenfeld’s daughters were murdered by the Nazis, Franziska and Johanna. As far as I know, neither of them had children nor did their sister Karoline. They thus have no living descendants.

Fortunately, the remaining three siblings—Rosa, Sophie, and Hugo—left Germany long before the rise of Hitler and have stories that do not end tragically. Their stories come next.


  1.  Aron Oppenheim, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1855, Death Date: 7 Jun 1921
    Death Place: Halle-Nord, Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Deutschland (Germany)
    Civil Registration Office: Halle-Nord, Spouse: Franziska Oppenheim, Certificate Number: 417, Stadtarchiv Halle (Saale); Halle (Saale), Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: A 2.1; Signatur: A 2.1 3_S_1921_1,
    Ancestry.com. Halle (Saale), Germany, Deaths, 1874-1957 

Abraham Blumenfeld II’s Granddaughter Dina and Her Sons Ernst and Otto Blum

Tackling the Blumenfeld branch of my family tree will be a long process, given that the limb I am starting on—the limb based on my four-times great-uncle Moses Blumenfeld and his children—is already such a long limb. As we saw, Moses had only three children—Abraham II, Isaak, and Gelle. But Abraham II had eight children, seven of whom lived to adulthood.

And his first child Meier had nine, seven of whom lived to adulthood, as seen on this chart.

As discussed in my prior post, Meier was born on December 11, 1840 in Momberg and married Sarah Strauss, his first cousin, on January 10, 1866, in Amoeneburg. The first child of their eight children was Dina, who was born on April 20, 1867, in Momberg.

Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 6

She married Moritz Blum on November 2, 1896, in Marburg, Germany. Moritz was born in Battenfeld, Germany, on December 14, 1861, to David Blum and Roschen Herstein. He was a merchant.

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5609
Year Range: 1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Dina and Moritz had two children. Ernst Jacob Blum was born in Frankenburg, Germany, on November 10, 1897, and his brother Otto Blum was born on July 20, 1900, in Frankenburg.

Ernst Blum birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 3586
Year Range: 1897, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Otto Blum birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 3589
Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Moritz Blum died when he was 61 on February 17, 1923, in Frankenburg.1

Three years later Dina and Moritz’s younger son Otto left for the United States. He arrived in the US on November 1, 1926. According to the ship manifest, he was a clerk and was heading to Chicago where his uncle Hugo Blumenfeld, Dina’s younger brother, was then living.2 Indeed the 1930 US census finds him living with Hugo and his family in Chicago where Otto was working as a clerk in a mail order factory.

Otto Blum on 1930 US census with Hugo Blumenfeld, Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 27B; Enumeration District: 0260; FHL microfilm: 2340159, Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Meanwhile, back in Germany, Otto’s older brother Ernst Jacob had married Erna Bachrach on January 25, 1925, in Marburg.3 Erna was the daughter of Solomon Bachrach and Frederike Heilbrunn and was born in Frielendorf, Germany, on May 19, 1901.4 In 1926 their first child was born in Frankenburg, and a second child was born three years later.

Unfortunately Dina did not live to see the birth of this second grandchild. She died in Frankenburg on May 21, 1928, when she was 61.

Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 3706
Year Range: 1928, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Dina also did not live to endure the Nazi persecution of the Jews that began a few years after her death. Fortunately, her son Otto was already in the United States, and in 1936, Ernst and his family also immigrated to escape the Nazis. Like his brother Otto, Ernst was headed for Chicago. He listed his uncle Ignaz Herzka as the person he was going to on the ship manifest. Ignaz Herzka was married to Rosa Blumenfeld, younger sister of Ernst’s (and Otto’s) mother Dina. Ernst reported that he was a merchant on the ship manifest.5

Ernst and his family settled in Chicago where in 1940 he was working as a salesman.6 His brother Otto is not listed in his household on the 1940 census, but by 1942 he was living at the same address as his brother Ernst, 5340 Cornell Avenue in Chicago. Otto was working for his uncle Ignaz Herzka who was a tailor. Ernst was working for a company called Hillman’s in Chicago. His 1942 petition for naturalization stated that he was working as a food clerk.

Ernst Blum, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 151, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Otto Blum, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 151, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Ernst Blum petition for naturalization, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,  Petitions, V· 1032-1034, No· 254210-254835, 1942, Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991

Otto served in the US Army during World War II from October 16, 1942, until June 23, 1943. He was a private in the 976th Field Artillery Battalion, fighting against his native country and against Hitler.7 It does not appear that Ernst served during the war.

After the war Otto married Mary Shields on February 11, 1949, in Chicago.8 She was born in Indiana on February 23, 1904. I do not know her father’s name, but her mother was Mary Jane (Medda) Shields. Mary had been previously married to Irving Bartlett with whom she’d had one child.9 Otto and Mary did not have children together.

Otto Blum died on October 9, 1967, in Chicago; he was 61.10 He was survived by his widow Mary, who died sixteen years later on April 6, 1983, at 79.11

Ernst Jacob Blum also survived his younger brother Otto. He died October 2, 1985 at the age of 87 in Chicago.12 His wife Erna had predeceased him; she was 70 when she died on October 11, 1971, in Chicago.13 They were survived by one of their daughters and their grandchildren.

Thus, Dina Blumenfeld Blum was fortunate that her sons left Germany in time to survive the Holocaust, and she has living descendants today because of that.

Next, Dina’s younger sisters Karoline, about whom I know very little, and Franziska and Johanna, who were not as fortunate as Dina’s family when it came to the Holocaust.


  1.  Moriz Blum, Gender: männlich (Male), Age: 61, Birth Date: abt 1862
    Death Date: 17 Feb 1923, Death Place: Stadtbezirk-Frankenberg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Stadtbezirk-Frankenberg, Spouse: Dina, Certificate Number: 10, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Signatur: 3701,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Otto Blum, ship manifest, Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 8; Page Number: 42, Ship or Roll Number: Deutschland,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Erna Blum, Declaration of Intention, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991 
  4. Arcinsys Archives of Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 191, p. 54. 
  5.  Ernst Blum, Gender: Male, Ethnicity/ Nationality: German;Hebrew (German), Marital status: Married, Age: 38, Birth Date: abt 1898, Birth Place: Germany
    Other Birth Place: Frankenberg, Last Known Residence: Frankenberg, Germany
    Place of Origin: Germany,Departure Port: Hamburg, Germany, Arrival Date: 29 May 1936, Arrival Port: New York, New York, USA, Final Destination: Chicago, Illinois
    Years in US: Permanently, Citizenship Intention: Yes, Height: 5 Feet, 10 Inches
    Hair Color: Dark Blonde, Eye Color: Brown, Complexion: Fair, Money in Possession: $50, Person in Old Country: Salomon Bachrach, Person in Old Country Relationship: Son-In-Law, Person in Old Country Residence: Frielendorf, Person in US: Ignatz Hertzka, Person in US Relationship: Uncle, Ship Name: Hamburg, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 9; Page Number: 64, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Ernst Blum and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00929; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 103-262, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  7. Otto Blum, Rank: PVT, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1900, Service Number: 36617489
    Service Branch: Army, Unit: Hq Battery 976th Field Artillery Battalion, Enlistment Date: 16 Oct 1942, Discharge Date: 23 Jun 1943, Death Date: 9 Oct 1967, Cemetery: Oak Woods, Cemetery Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA, National Archives at St. Louis, MO; St. Louis, MO, USA; Applications for Headstones, 1/1/1925 – 6/30/1970; NAID: NAID 596118; Record Group Number: 92; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970 
  8. Otto Blum Marriage Date 11 Feb 1949 Spouse Mary BartlettMarriage Location Cook County, IL Marriage license{4D14C476-31B6-41F4-AF45-4CAA7C27AE2D} File Number 2071238 Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages) Archive repository location Chicago, IL Archive repository name Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 
  9. Mary E Fogarty, Spouse Name: Irving G Bartlett, Marriage Date: 3 Jun 1924
    Marriage County: Tippecanoe, Birth Date: 23 Feb 1903, Age: 21, Tippecanoe County, Indiana; Index to Marriage Record Jan. 1, 1921 to Dec. 31,, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: M-39; Page: 558, Ancestry.com. Indiana, U.S., Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Mary E. Shields, [Mary E. Bartlett], Gender: Female
    Registration Year: 1929, Spouse: Irving Bartlett, Child: Mary Jane Bartlett, Certificate Number: 52941, Roll Number: 022, Agency: Indiana State Dept. of Health, Volume Range: 106 – 110, Ancestry.com. Indiana, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1907-1940 
  10. Otto Blum, Death Date: 9 Oct 1967, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 672811, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  11. Obituary for Mary E. Blum, News-Press, Fort Myers, Florida
    08 Apr 1983, Fri • Page 30 
  12. Ernst Blum, Death Date: 2 Oct 1985, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 6019403, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 
  13. Erna Blum, Death Date: 11 Oct 1971, Death Location: Cook County, IL
    File Number: 628510, Archive collection name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Deaths), Archive repository location: Chicago, IL, Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk, Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part II

In the last post we saw that after Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer died in 1918 and then her husband Nathan Sondheimer died in 1933, there were three children left orphaned: Manfred, Erich, and Augusta. They were still just teenagers at the time. But fortunately for them their grandmother Selma Cramer Goldschmidt and their extended family in Frankfurt cared for them as did their stepmother Anna.

All three were able to escape from Nazi Germany in time. We saw that  Augusta ended up in the US in early 1939 and lived with her stepmother Anna and her aunt Selma Ettlinger Oppenheimer until she married Walter Levy in 1942.

As for Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich, by 1939, they were living in England, according to the 1939 England and Wales Register. The Sondheimer brothers were living in Surrey with a couple named Friedrich and Ruth Hirsch, who were not much older than they were; Friedrich was a metal broker. Manfred was working as the secretary and Erich as a clerk for a company identified as Messrs. Tonerde on their enemy alien registration cards (see images below). That was the same company where their cousin Ernst Bodenheimer was employed.

Manfred and Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1938C, Enumeration District: DNEA, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Manfred married another Frankfurt native, Ruth Blumenthal, on June 16, 1940, in the Hendon district of London; Ruth was born on June 4, 1920, to Samuel Blumenthal and Gutta Spangenthal. She had come to London after finishing school in Germany.1 Their daughter, my fifth cousin Daniela, kindly shared a scan of their marriage registration:

Marriage certificate of Manfred Sondheimer and Ruth Blumenthal

Both Manfred and Erich were eventually interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Here is Manfred’s enemy alien registration card showing that he was then living in Surrey and working for Messrs. Tonerde. Although he was originally found to be exempt from internment, he was later interned on the Isle of Man, where he was put in charge of one of the barracks,2 and released on September 8, 1940.

Manfred Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Manfred’s brother Erich Selig Sondheimer also was interned on the Isle of Man. According to his enemy alien registration card, he was living with his brother Manfred in Surrey at the time of  registration and was also working for Messrs. Tonerde. But he also was later sent to the internment camp where he was the chauffeur to the commander of the camp.3 Eric was  released from the camp on September 7, 1940, the day before his brother Manfred.

Erich S Sondheimer enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/240
Piece Number Description: 240: Dead Index (Wives of Germans etc) 1941-1947: Siderer-Steppacher, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On September 9, 1940, Ruth and Manfred and Erich all left England for Cuba. They had decided they would go wherever they first got a visa, and although Ruth would have preferred to go to Palestine where her parents and sister were living, the visa for Cuba came through first.4

On the same ship were their cousins Ernst and Clementine (Eisemann) Bodenheimer, who had also been interned on the Isle of Man. According to their daughter Daniela, Ruth and Manfred had a religious wedding ceremony aboard the ship to solemnize the civil ceremony they had had in London in June.5

Ernst and Clementine Bodenheimer, Manfred and Ruth Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer, ship manifest, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On February 17, 1941, Manfred and Ruth arrived in Miami, Florida, from Cuba. Manfred reported that the person they were going to at their destination was Anna Sondheimer in New York City. Manfred stated that he was a merchant who last permanently resided in London. He could speak five languages: German, English, French, Dutch, and Hebrew.

Manfred Sondheimer, Ancestry.com. Miami, Florida, U.S., Index to Alien Arrivals by Airplane, 1930-1942

By the time Manfred filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on September 12, 1941, he and Ruth were living in New York City. Manfred listed his occupation as the vice-president/secretary of an importing business.

Manfred Sondheimer, Declaration of Intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 630) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 500201-501100), Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

On his World War II draft registration, he identified that company as Campro, Inc. Manfred and Ruth had two children born in New York after the war, their son Adrian and their daughter Daniela, who has generously shared so much of her family’s story with me.

Manfred Sondheimer World War 2 draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s marriage to Ruth Blumenthal ended in divorce in 1966, and in 1968, he married another Ruth—Ruth Darmstadter Grunebaum.6 He became the vice-president of the Hugo Neu Company, a business that, as described on its website, “is a privately held company with deep experience in investing, building and managing businesses in recycling, real estate and related industries.” Manfred worked there for fifty years. One of his favorite charities was the Bibleland Museum in Jerusalem, and he worked hard to provide support and to obtain support from others for that institution.7

Manfred died on January 8, 2006, at the age of 91. He was survived by his children and grandchildren as well as his brother Erich. Those descendants have carried on the Goldschmidt commitment to Jewish education as both of Manfred’s children and all of his grandchildren have attended or are attending Jewish day school.8

Instead of going directly to the US from Cuba like his brother Manfred, Erich Sondheimer agreed to stay in Cuba so that another relative, one of his Sondheimer cousins, could leave for the US. Because he was unable to get a visa to the US, Erich ended up living for some years in Ecuador,9 where he married his wife Joan Charlotte Salomon on October 26, 1943. She was born in Berlin on March 31, 1912, to Herman and Gertrud Salomon.10

Erich and Joan immigrated to the US on August 22, 1946, arriving in Miami, Florida. On an information sheet filed with INS upon his arrival, Erich indicated that they were heading to Long Beach, New Jersey, where Anna Sondheimer, his stepmother, was living. (This is probably a mistake and should have been Long Beach, New York, according to Erich’s niece Daniela.) Erich described his occupation as “industrial” and noted that he, like his brother Manfred, was able to read five languages: German, Dutch, French, Spanish, and English.

Erich Sondheimer, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida; NAI Number: 2788537; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 133, Ancestry.com. Florida, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1898-1963

Erich (later spelled Eric in the US) and Joan settled in New York and made several trips to South America as well as other destinations over the years. They did not have children. Joan died November 22, 2009; she was 97 years old.11 Eric died March 8, 2010, less than four months after Joan. He was 94.12

Eric worked for many years for the Melanol Corporation, an oil trading business, but his niece Daniela said that his real passion was his volunteer work for an organization called Selfhelp Community Services that Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer was also involved in developing.13 Selfhelp describes itself on its website as follows:

Selfhelp Community Services was founded in 1936 to help those fleeing Nazi Germany maintain their independence and dignity as they struggled to forge new lives in America. Today, Selfhelp is one of the largest and most respected not-for-profit human service agencies in the New York metropolitan area, with 46 programs offering services throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Westchester. Selfhelp provides a broad set of services to more than 20,000 elderly, frail, and vulnerable New Yorkers each year, while remaining the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America.

In a death notice published in The New York Times on March 9, 2010, Selfhelp paid tribute to Eric Sondheimer and his long and dedicated service to their organization:14

Selfhelp Community Services deeply mourns the passing of the esteemed elder statesman of our Board, Eric S. Sondheimer. For over fifty years, Mr. Sondheimer demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Selfhelp’s historic mission of supporting life with dignity to survivors of the Holocaust. His passion for independent living is evidenced by Selfhelp’s six residences, built under his guidance and direction, which house 1,000 seniors. Mr. Sondheimer will be lovingly remembered as a true gentleman whose exceptional kindness and wit was matched only by his insightful wisdom and vision. He left an extraordinary legacy for which he will always be remembered.

Thank you to my fifth cousin Daniela for sharing her family stories and photographs, including these two of her Sondheimer family. First, a photograph of Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Daniela’s mother, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan Sondheimer’s brother Fritz, and Joan Charlotte Salomon Sondheimer, Erich Sondheimer’s wife:

Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family

This last photograph is of four of the Sondheimer siblings and their spouses. It includes Manfred and Eric Sondheimer’s half-siblings, Fred (previously known as Fritz) and Marion. Their sister Augusta had already died when this photo was taken.

Robert Couturier, Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Fred Sondheimer, Marion Sondheimer Couturier, Ruth Grunenbaum Sondheimer, Manfred Sondheimer, Eric Sondheimer. Courtesy of the family.

Reading about Manfred and Eric and their sister Augusta and how successful and well-loved they all were was reassuring and uplifting. Here were three children who lost their mother as preschoolers and their father as teens and then had to escape from Nazi Germany. Eric and Manfred were both interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man. Both brothers then escaped to Cuba because they couldn’t get into the US as quickly due to visa issues and quotas. And then finally they both settled in New York and lived very long and productive lives.

Once again I am inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of people to survive terrible losses and displacement and yet go on to find joy and meaning in life.

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Ruth Blumenthal Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 4 Jun 1920, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 27 Oct 1996
    Father: Samuel Blumenthal, Mother: Gutta Spagenthal, SSN: 060405088, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Volume Number: 3a
    Page Number: 2220, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 2220, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  2. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Divorce documents provided by Daniela Sondheimer Klein. Ruth Grunebaum
    Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 1968, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Manfred Sondheimer, License Number: 2434,
    New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  7. Death notices for Manfred Oppenheimer, The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2006, Section C, Page 17. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  8. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. Manfred Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 051-18-3476, Birth Date: 27 Oct 1914, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Jan 2006, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  10. David Baron and Roger Cibella, Goldschmidt Family Report. Joan Charlotte Sondheimer, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912, Age: 39, Naturalization Date: 25 Feb 1952
    Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  11. Joan Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 094-24-2094, Birth Date: 31 Mar 1912
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 22 Nov 2009, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12.  Eric Sondheimer, Social Security Number: 070-24-6828, Birth Date: 10 Nov 1915
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10024, New York, New York, New York, Death Date: 8 Mar 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  14. Death notice for Eric Sondheimer, The New York Times, March 9, 2010. 

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part I

As mentioned in an earlier post, Meyer Selig and Selma (Cramer) Goldschmidt’s daughter Clementine married Nathan Sondheimer in 1913 and had three children: Manfred born in 1914, Erich in 1915, and Auguste in 1918. I was very fortunate to connect with Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, daughter of Manfred Sondheimer, who generously shared with me family stories and photographs, including this wonderful photograph of the three Sondheimer children with their mother.1

Erich, Manfred, Auguste, and Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, c. 1917. Courtesy of the family

Tragically, Clementine died on October 29, 1918, leaving behind three young children, Manfred, (four years old), Erich (three), and Auguste (one), and her husband Nathan Sondheimer. Clementine was only 25 years old and was a victim of the 1918 flu epidemic like her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer and millions of others. According to Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, Clementine was pregnant with her fourth child at the time of her death.

Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10793, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Daniela shared with me that after their mother died, her father Manfred and his siblings were raised in large part by their maternal grandmother, Selma Cramer Goldschmidt, the wife of Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, who himself died in 1922. The entire Goldschmidt extended family was extremely close and lived near each other, so there was a great deal of support for Clementine’s three young children. That was especially important when Auguste came down with tuberculosis and was extremely ill and in and out of sanitoria. Fortunately she eventually recovered and regained her strength.2

Here are three more photographs of the Sondheimer children, two of just the three of them and one with the extended family:

Manfred, Auguste, and Erich Sondheimer, c. 1921 Courtesy of the family

Manfred, Erich, and Auguste Sondheimer, c. 1923 Courtesy of the family

Members of the extended Goldschmidt and Sondheimer families at the North Sea, c. 1927. At far right in the first row is Nathan Sondheimer. To his right is Manfred and then Auguste with Erich behind them. Courtesy of the family

In 1928, ten years after Clementine’s death, her widower Nathan Sondheimer remarried, and he had two more children with his second wife, Anna Ettlinger, a doctor who graduated from the University of Heidelberg, according to my cousin Daniela. Anna was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on May 28, 1894, to Kaufmann Ettlinger and Dora Frankel.3 She was likely a distant cousin of Nathan through his mother Auguste Ettlinger as both were originally from Karlsruhe, Germany. I traced them both back four generations without finding a direction connection, but I assume there is one there.

Nathan Sondheimer and Anna Ettlinger marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Then just five years after he married Anna, Nathan died on May 13, 1933, in Washington, DC. According to his granddaughter Daniela, Nathan had traveled to Washington to promote his business. While there he secured a life insurance policy. Then, without warning, he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54.4

Nathan and Clementine’s three children were now teenaged orphans. Manfred was eighteen, Erich was seventeen, and Auguste was fifteen. Clementine’s children had lost both of their parents before reaching adulthood just as had happened to the children of her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer. It also left Nathan’s second wife Anna a widow with their two little children, Fritz and Marion, both under the age of five.

Fortunately, Nathan had successfuly secured that life insurance policy just days before his death, and the proceeds proved to be enough to get his body back to Germany for burial in Frankfurt and to get his widow Anna and his five children out of Germany.

According to the website of the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and smuggled eighteen sapphires out of the country by sewing them into the clothing of the family. Some of those sapphires are now in the museum’s collection.

It appears that Anna and her two children Fritz and Marion escaped to Holland. A ship manifest shows her sailing to the US with her sister Kate Ettlinger in June 1938; Anna listed her last permanent residence as The Hague, Holland, and indicated she intended to stay in the US permanently.5 Then in September 1938, she sailed from the US to England, listing her last residence as the US.

Anna Sondheimer, 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: 1165, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

On February 11, 1939, Anna returned to the US with Fritz and Marion and her mother, who had all been living in Holland. Anna and her children listed as the person they were going to in the US an A. Sondheimer—identified as Anna’s daughter and the sister of her two children, living at 1359 51st Street in Brooklyn, New York. (See the third image below.)

Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, with children and mother, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 33 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island),

I first assumed that A. Sondheimer was Auguste Sondheimer, who was Anna’s stepdaughter and her children’s half-sister. But I found two manifests—one an outgoing manifest from England, the other an arrival manifest in New York—showing that Auguste sailed from England to New York in August 1939, six months after Anna’s arrival back to the US in February. Auguste was  accompanied by  Selma Sondheimer, who was the widow of Fritz Sondheimer, Nathan Sondheimer’s brother. Both of those manifests show that Auguste had been living in England, not in Brooklyn. They also reveal that Auguste was a photographer.6

I searched for any other A. Sondheimer who could have been living in Brooklyn at that time. Nathan did have two brothers who came to the US. One, Arthur, had died in New York in 1905;7 the other, Albert, arrived in the US in April 1939, so months after Anna’s arrival.8

And then the lightbulb went on. The “A. Sondheimer” they were going to in Brooklyn was Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer herself. Anna listed her last residence as Brooklyn on that February 1939 manifest. The poor shipping company clerk who entered the data must have been so confused. Look at how he crossed out the relationships in the first column for the person left behind, another A. Sondheimer, this one probably Albert Sondheimer, Nathan’s brother. And he also listed the A. Sondheimer they were going to as the daughter of both Anna’s mother and of Anna herself.

In any event, the 1940 US census shows that Augusta (spelled here with a A at the end, not an E) was then living in New York City with Anna, Fritz, Marion, Anna’s mother Dora Rudlia Frankel Ettlinger, and Anna’s sister-in-law Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan’s brother Fritz and Nathan’s first cousin. Anna was practicing medicine.

Augusta Sondheimer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02638; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 31-626, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Auguste married Walter James Levy in New York in April, 1942.9 Walter was also a refugee from Germany; he was born in Hamburg on March 21, 1911, to Moses Levy and Bertha Lindenberger.10 Walter arrived in the US on March 19, 1941, and filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on August 6, 1941, listing his occupation as statistician and his last residence as England.11 He also by that time had registered for the World War II draft, listing his occupation as writer, statistician, economist. Most interestingly, he listed as his contact person a “friend,” Augusta Sondheimer. They were both living at 41 Central Park West in New York City. Less than a year later, they were married.

Walter Levy, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

During the war, they moved to Washington, DC, where Walter ran the petroleum section of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Walter’s obituary in The New York Times:

After the war, he guided the petroleum sector of the Marshall Plan. In 1948 he became chief of the petroleum, oil and lubricant division of the Economic Cooperation Administration, which administered the plan to mend Europe’s shattered economies and provide the political stability for democratic institutions to thrive. He filled that job until 1949 and continued to advise the E.C.A. until it ended its mission two years later.

During the 1940s, Walter and Augusta (as she later spelled it in the US) had two children, Robert and Susan. They returned to New York where Walter established his own international consulting business, Walter J. Levy Consultants Corporation, where he “helped renegotiate oil leases between states that wanted to tap their own resources effectively and companies that feared outright nationalization.”12

Augusta Sondheimer Levy died on September 19, 1981, in Westport, Connecticut; she was 64 years old.13 Her son Robert died only twelve years later on April 20, 1993; he was only 47.14 Walter Levy died at age 86 on December 10, 1997, in New York; he was described as “the dean of United States oil economists” in his obituaries.15 Sadly, Augusta and Walter’s remaining child also died relatively young; Susan Levy died on November 15, 2003, Altamonte Springs, California; she was 54.16 All four family members are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, where many other Sondheimer relatives are also buried. As neither Robert or Susan had children, there are no living descendants of Augusta Sondheimer Levy.

But Augusta survived the loss of her mother, her father, and then her homeland. Her name and her story should not be forgotten.

What about Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich?

To be continued.


  1. My fifth cousin Daniela Sondheimer Klein and I exchanged numerous emails in November and December and also spoke by Zoom on December 1, 2020. All references to matters in this post that I was told by Daniela came from those emails and that conversation. 
  2. See also Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem), pp. 15-18. 
  3. Anna Ettinger, Gender: weiblich (Female), Birth Date: 28 Mai 1894 (28 May 1894)
    Birth Place: Karlsruhe, Baden (Baden-Württemberg), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Karlsruhe, Father: Kaufmann Ettinger, Mother: Dora Frünkel, Certificate Number: 968, Signatur: 3_B_A_I_47, Bestand: 3/B, Title: Enthält: Einträge Nr. 938 – 1875, Date: 1894, Lange: 20, Laufende Nummer: A/I/47, Zahlung Gesamter Bestand: 47, Ancestry.com. Karlsruhe, Germany, Births, 1870-1904. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  4.   Nathan Sondheimer, Gender: männlich (Male), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Death Date: 13 Mai 1933 (13 May 1933), Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70367447, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1, Ancestry.com. Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  5. Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 2, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  6. Auguste and Selma Sondheimer, ship manifests, Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960, and Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 149, Ship or Roll Number: Champlain, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27BT-FK8 : 3 June 2020), Arthur Sondheimer, 1905. 
  8. Albert Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 15; Page Number: 26, Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  9.  Auguste Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Apr 1942, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Walter Levy, License Number: 7458, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  10. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. Walter J Levy, Declaration Number: 496713, Box Number: 370, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21,
    Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  12. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  13. State File #: 19446, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  14. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  15. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80079636/robert-levy 
  16. Susan Beatrice Levy, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 23 Sep 1949, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 1 Nov 2003, SSN: 065384544, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

A Survivor’s Story

Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, the daughter of Julius Goldschmidt, granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, was my third cousin, twice removed, and I first wrote about her here and here, but now need to update those posts.

The earlier post established that Regina was born in Frankfurt on March 7, 1900, and married Siegfried Rosenberger on March 10, 1921, in Frankfurt, and had two children in the 1920s. In my second post about Regina, I wrote:

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992…

And that was all I knew. Until a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from a sixth cousin named Mark Isenberg. I had first heard from Mark a few years back when he contacted David and Roger regarding his research establishing that his paternal four-times great-grandfather Joseph Falk Neuwahl and Roger’s and my four-times great-grandfather Jacob Falk Goldschmidt were probably brothers.

This time Mark was writing about his relationship to Siegfried Rosenberger, husband of Regina Goldschmidt. Siegfried was Mark’s third cousin, once removed, on his maternal side. Mark had seen my blog post quoted above and kindly alerted me to the fact that Siegfried and Regina’s daughter Ruth had done an interview with the Shoah Foundation in 1997. I’ve now watched the two and a half hours of her testimony and can report in much greater detail what happened to Regina, Siegfried, and their two daughters Ruth and Margo during the Holocaust. All the information below except where otherwise noted comes from that testimony of Ruth Rosenberger Steinert.1

Ruth Rosenberger was born in Frankfurt on December 6, 1922. Her sister Margo was born almost exactly two years later on December 19, 1924. Ruth described their childhood in Frankfurt in idyllic terms. They lived in a very large apartment with a nanny, cook, and other servants, and were surrounded by their Goldschmidt grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, having regular shabbat dinners with the extended family as well as holidays. Their father Siegfried was a successful stockbroker. He was very proud of being a German and of his service to Germany in World War I, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross.  Their mother Regina lived a good life, playing tennis daily, socializing with friends, and overseeing the household staff. The family was very observant, and Ruth and Margo went to an Orthodox day school in Frankfurt. Watching Ruth talk about her childhood was very moving; she so well expressed how safe and loved she felt.

Khal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue attended by the Goldschmidt family. https://www.kajinc.org/about/history

Everything was destroyed once the Nazis came to power. Ruth said that until 1936, she and her sister were fairly unaware of what was happening because the adults did not talk about the Nazis in front of the children. She knew that there were restrictions, mentioning as an example that they were not allowed to sit on the park benches, but she nevertheless felt safe.

But after 1936, it became impossible to hide what was happening from the children. Her father lost his stockbroker business because Jews were no longer allowed to engage in business. Ruth talked about how devastated her father was when they came and stripped away the telephones he needed for the business. The nanny, cook, and other servants had to leave the household because non-Jews were no longer allowed to work for Jews. Their mother Regina became terribly depressed.

Fortunately, Siegfried was able to secure another job with an international metals company called Lissauer. The position required him to travel to France and to Holland and enabled the family to continue to live fairly comfortably. As Ruth described it, this job ultimately saved their lives. Siegfried would never have left Germany despite all the oppression and fear. But in September 1938 while traveling for work in Paris, he was unable to return to Germany. Finally he agreed that the family should leave Germany, and through his business connections, he was able to obtain papers for them to immigrate to the Netherlands.

Ruth, not yet sixteen years old, took charge of packing and getting them ready to leave. They took a train to Paris, and Ruth put on lipstick so that she would look older. When they got to the French-German border at Emmerich, the German border guards gave them trouble with their papers, but fortunately a cousin was able to straighten matters out, and the next day they arrived in Paris. They remained in Paris for a few days, and then the whole family spent about ten days at the beach in the Netherlands. Ruth remembered it as a wonderful time and one of the very last times all four of them were together as a family.

Siegfried returned to Paris for work and would travel back and forth to Amsterdam. Regina and her daughters were living in a very nice apartment on the canal in Amsterdam. Margo attended high school, and Ruth spent a year at an art academy, learning design.  For a year life was fairly normal.

As one uncle had said to the family when they arrived in Paris, they had, however, gone from “the rain into the storm” because war was brewing, and no place was really safe. After the war started in September 1939 and then Holland and France were occupied by the Nazis in the spring of 1940, Siegfried could no longer travel to Amsterdam. From that point on, things went downhill.

Ruth recalled standing on a corner in Amsterdam with a crowd of other people from the neighborhood as the Germans marched into Amsterdam.

Nazi troops and supporters in front of De Bijenkorf, Dam Square, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1941 (crop of original 1941 public domain photo). 47thPennVols, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

But even on that dark day, the family found a silver lining. A man named Benot Hess was also standing on that corner and engaged Regina and daughters in conversation. Hess was married to a non-Jewish Swedish woman, and because Sweden was neutral during the war, he was given some extra protection based on that marriage. Hess and his wife became close friends with the Rosenberger women—like family, according to Ruth. He made sure that they had enough money by helping Ruth obtain work, sewing and then manufacturing travel kits and other items. The products sold well, giving the family an economic cushion.

By 1942, however, conditions worsened. Jews were required to wear the yellow stars with Jood to mark them as Jews. Ruth said that they lived in a constant state of angst for all their waking hours. Eventually they were forced to move into what Ruth described as a ghetto where all Jews were forced to live, and SS men on trucks barreled through the neighborhood every night, coming to arrest people and take them to Westerbork, the detention camp outside of Amsterdam.

At that point, they had to make a choice: stay and see what would happen or go into hiding. Ruth favored going into hiding, but her mother was not willing, and Margo did not want to leave their mother. For some time they remained safe from deportation as both Ruth and Margo had positions assigned by the Judenrat (the Jewish council) that kept them protected. Once the SS came to their apartment, and Ruth managed to convince them that they were not Jewish. She claimed that because of her light hair and coloring and straight nose, she was able to fool them.

But when the SS arrived a second time, Ruth was not successful, and in March 1943, Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger was arrested and taken to Westerbork. Ruth described it as the worst moment in her life, watching her mother being taken away. She said that at that time they did not know about the death camps, only about what were being referred to as work camps. Soon thereafter Margo lost her position with the Judenrat and was also taken to Westerbork where she joined her mother.

Ruth contacted her father to see if he could arrange false identification papers for her, which he was able to accomplish, and Ruth went to Bussum, a town in Holland, and hid with a family there for the duration of the war. She was almost caught once when the SS came to look for hidden Jews, but again was smart enough and lucky enough to convince them that she was not Jewish.

Meanwhile, Regina and Margo had been taken from Westerbork to Terezin. Once again, Benot Hess came to their rescue. He also was imprisoned at Terezin, and when he learned that Regina and Margo were to be placed on the next train to Auschwitz, he intervened, using the Honduran passports that Siegfried had obtained for them, and Regina and Margo were taken off the list.

Jewish prisoners’ cell, Terezin (c) A Cohen 2015

When the war ended in Europe in April 1945, Ruth was reunited with her mother and sister, and they all moved to Bussum. Margo married her fiancé, Robert Engel, who had been at Westerbork throughout the war period, and Ruth met and married Otto Steinert. In 1950, Otto was offered a job in Canada through the family’s connections to another family, and Ruth and Otto and soon thereafter Regina, Margo, and her husband all moved to Canada.

Siegfried was never reunited with the family. He remained in Paris, where he died not long after the war. Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger lived a long life, dying in Canada in February 1992 when she was almost 92 years old.

Her two daughters also lived long lives. Ruth Rosenberger Steinert died at the age of 93 on December 22, 2013, in Montreal. Her sister Margo Rosenberger Engel died just this past June 30, 2020, in Toronto; she was 95. They are survived by their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Watching Ruth’s testimony was a moving, inspiring, and heartbreaking experience. Despite everything she had experienced—all the losses, the fear, the separation, the loneliness—she remained a strong, optimistic, and loving woman who spoke about her parents, her husband, her sister, her children and grandchildren with so much affection and warmth. She was not going to be defeated by what happened around her—not while it was happening and not afterwards. How blessed we are to have this testimony to remember what happened and to inspire us all.


  1. Steinert, Ruth. Interview 35432. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1997. Accessed 1 October 2020.