The Tragedy of Bennie Cohen, Betty Schnadig Cohen’s Grandson

Betty Schnadig and Bernard Arie Cohen and two of their four children were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps. Their oldest child Arnold survived, but his story is also terribly tragic. Thank you once again to my cousin Betty, Arnold’s daughter, for sharing their story and the family photographs posted here.

Arnold was a traveling salesman, and he married Saartje Odenwald in Groningen, Holland, on October 18, 1936.1

Wedding of Saartje Odenwald and Arnold Cohen, 1936. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Their son, Bernard Arie, known as Bennie, was born a year later on November 15, 1937, in Den Bosch, where Arnold and Saartje had settled after marrying. Den Bosch is about 150 miles southwest of Groningen. Bennie was named in honor of his paternal grandfather, who was, however, still living at that time. Here are some photographs of Arnold, Saartje, and Bennie:

Bernard Arie “Bennie” Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard Arie “Bennie” Cohen Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Saartje, Bennie, and Arnold Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

When I started to search for what happened to Arnold and his family during the Holocaust, I was perplexed. Arnold and his wife Saartje both survived, but their son Bennie did not. He was only six years old. How could it be that he was murdered at Auschwitz and both his parents survived?

Researching that question led me to a truly devastating story that is recorded on the Stolpersteine website devoted to this family. Arnold and Saartje knew a couple who were active in the Resistance movement, Piet Toxopeus and Ellen Dwars, who arranged for a man named Geevers to take little Bennie into hiding. Geevers took three thousand guilders from the Cohens, but never in fact took Bennie into his home. Somehow instead Bennie ended up in a town called Dordrecht with a woman named Els van As, who took many Jews into her house to hide them from the Nazis. Dordrecht is 40 miles west of Den Bosch, and Bennie’s parents had no idea that that was where he had been taken.

Meanwhile, Piet and Ellen hid Arnold and Saartje in Bennekom. That placed them about 57 miles northeast of Dordrecht where their son was being hidden. In August 1942, Arnold and Saartje were then placed with an older couple, the Laars, in Ede, a town near Bennekom, where they stayed safely until after the war.

But their son Bennie was not as fortunate, as told in the Stolpersteine website:

It happened on Monday evening, October 25, 1943: the insensitive police officer Herman Gerard Feodor Wolsink from Dordrecht pulled 5-year-old Bennie Cohen into the horror of the war.

Here and there in Dordrecht, Jewish hunters had been working all day long at addresses where people might be in hiding…..In the house of the Van As family on the Vlietweg, they find a radio set and a money box with twenty thousand guilders in it. …. The Jew hunters suspect that a Jewish child is also hiding at this address. The Hague detective Cornelis Johannes Kaptein therefore orders Wolsink to take a closer look at the children who are sleeping in the attic. And then this happens, according to a maternity nurse who lived in rooms with the Van As family, and who told it after the war.

Bennie was impressed to always say his name was De Koning, and not Cohen. When Wolsink asked the boy for his name, he said: “Bennie de Koning.”

“Wolsink then asked,” said the nurse, “what his mother’s name was and then the poor child said: ‘Saartje’. To which Wolsink said: “Haha, a Jew after all!” Then he pulled down the little boy’s pajama bottoms and said, “It’s a Jew.” This child had to come along then. 

About 3.5 months later this child was dead: deported to Auschwitz via camp Westerbork and exterminated there on 11 February 1944. His life had already ended at the age of six.

I ask you to look at these photographs of this beautiful little boy. How could anyone do this to anyone, let alone a six year old child?

Bernard “Bennie” Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard “Bennie” Arie Cohen Courtesy of Betty de Liever

On November 9, 1945, Arnold Cohen posted this heartbreaking notice in the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, asking for information about his missing family members, including his son, his parents, his siblings, his nephews, and his in-laws, all of whom had been murdered by the Nazis:

Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad, November 9, 1945, found at https://tinyurl.com/yy2fyql6
09-11-1945

Arnold and Saartje somehow found the strength to go on. They had two daughters born after the war, and Arnold became a wholesaler of paper products in Groningen. Arnold died on December 15, 1967,2 and his wife Saartje on April 19, 1978.3 It’s hard to imagine how anyone finds hope after what they experienced, but having more children is certainly evidence that Arnold and Saartje believed that goodness and love can still exist and can prevail in this world.

De Telegraaf
December 16, 1967, found at https://tinyurl.com/y69tkn89

Thank you again to Bert de Jong and Rob Ruijs for all their help and especially to my cousin Betty for sharing these precious photographs and her family’s heartbreaking story. Betty lost her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins, and her brother Bennie in the Holocaust.


  1. Arnold Cohen, Gender: Mannelijk (Male), Age: 32, Birth Date: abt 1904, Marriage Date: 15 okt 1936 (15 Oct 1936), Marriage Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, Spouse: Saartje Odewald, BS Marriage, Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Civil Marriage Index, 1795-1950. Original data: BS Huwelijk. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  2. Arnold Cohen, Age: 63, Birth Date: abt 1904, Birth Place: Groningen, Death Date: 15 dec 1967, Death Place: Groningen, Father: Bernard Arie Cohen, Mother: Betty Schnadig, AlleGroningers; Den Haag, Nederland; Burgerlijke stand (overlijdensakten),Ancestry.com. Netherlands, Death Index, 1795-1969. Original data: BS Overlijden. WieWasWie. https://www.wiewaswie.nl/: accessed 24 May 2016. 
  3. Death notice, Nieuw Israelietisch weekblad, April 21, 1978, found at https://tinyurl.com/yxdljtf7 

Betty Schnadig Cohen’s Heartbreaking Story, Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arnold Cohen c. 1908 Courtesy of Betty de Liever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Betty Schnadig Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

Bernard Arie Cohen. Courtesy of Betty de Liever

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

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

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

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

De waarheid 08-11-1948

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann’s Daughter Meta: A Family Destroyed

Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann’s older daughter Clementine died in April 1942, just months before her husband Alexander Joel was deported to the concentration camp at Terezin, where he died in December 1942. But their daughters all survived the Holocaust as did their grandchildren.

Clementine’s younger sister Meta was not even that fortunate. She and her husband Adolf Hammerschlag and daughter Lieselotte were all murdered at Auschwitz. The page devoted to their Stolpersteine in Hamburg provides this biographical information:

[Adolph Hammerschlag], his wife Meta, and their daughters Lieselotte (*10 August 1910) and Irmgard (4 March 1915) lived in Göttingen, where he was a wealthy businessman, the co-owner of the grain company Bachmann Bros. …. Since profits fell rapidly after 1933, Hammerschlag moved the offices of his company to his private residence in Göttingen .… In the following years the political situation brought the company to a standstill.

Adolph Hammerschlag was arrested during the November Pogrom in 1938, and his company was “Aryanized” on 21 November. It was taken over by a grain merchant from Göttingen who was one of the first members of the Nazi Party.

After his release, Adolph Hammerschlag and his wife fled to Hamburg to his sister, Mrs. Alexander Joel, [sic: Mrs. Alexander Joel was Adolph’s sister-in-law, not his sister]…. The formerly wealthy couple was now destitute. ….[They were deported to Auschwitz on July 11, 1942, and murdered there.]

Hammerschlag’s daughter Lieselotte Blum and her husband had lived in Brussels since 1939. They were deported to Auschwitz in 1942. His daughter Irmgard married Heinz Baehr in September 1936. The couple was able to emigrate to Haifa in Palestine.

Thus, only Meta’s younger daughter Irmgard survived. The immigration documents for her and her husband Heinz show that they arrived in Palestine in 1937 and became naturalized citizens in 1939.

Irmgard’s husband Heinz died in 1947, according to Geni; he was only 33 years old. Irmgard remarried later, but I don’t know if she had any children with either husband. Irmgard died in Haifa in 1977, according to My Heritage. She was 62.

Thus, Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann not only lost her husband Leopold and her son Karl before she died—both of her daughters, Clementine and Meta, and their husbands and one of her granddaughters died during the Holocaust. But her four other grandchildren survived as did their children.

Sometimes the randomness of who survived and who did not just overwhelms me.

Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann, Part II: Her Daughter Clementine

When Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann died in 1924, she was survived by her two daughters, Clementine and Meta, and one granddaughter, Clementine’s first child. By 1933, when the Nazis took power in Germany, there were five granddaughters to survive Fredericke—Clementine’s three daughters and Meta’s two daughters. The story of their fate during the Nazi era is not an easy one to tell. This post will focus on Clementine’s family.

Clementine and her husband Alexander Joel stayed in Germany during the Nazi era until it was too late. Clementine died in Hamburg on April 22, 1942. She was 65 years old.

Clementine Goldmann Joel death record, Year Range and Volume: 1942 Band 01
Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950. Original data:Best. 332-5 Standesämter, Personenstandsregister, Sterberegister, 1876-1950, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg, Deutschland.

Her husband Alexander Joel was deported to the concentration camp at Terezin on July 17, 1942, and died there on December 21, 1942. He was 71 years old.

Alexander Joel death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 926; Signatur: 607
Year Range: 1956, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958.

When I look at those dates, I find it troubling that Clementine’s death coincided fairly closely with the timing of Alexander’s deportation. I find myself speculating about the cause of Clementine’s death. Did she know they were about to be deported? Did she know what was coming and decide to deny the Nazis a chance to kill her? Or was it just coincidence–illness or stress causing her death shortly before her husband’s deportation and death?

UPDATE: Thank you so much to Cathy Meder-Dempsey of Opening Doors in Brick Walls for pointing out to me that in fact the death record above does give Clementine’s cause of death—coronary embolism and coronary artery disease. Cathy also wondered whether Clementine’s death and the fact that Alexander had to report that he was unemployed and had a Jewish identity card precipitated his deportation shortly thereafter.

COMMENT: Elizabeth Foote pointed out in the comments that this record shows Alexander Joel’s wife as Selma Koopman. For reasons explained in my response to this comment (see below), I think this record (which is dated 1956, after the war and 14 years after Alexander’s death) erroneously listed Selma Koopman as his wife. Selma Koopman was married to a different Alexander Joel. In addition, I found naturalization records for Alexander Robert Joel, married to Selma, showing that they immigrated to the US in 1934 and that Alexander died in Cook County, Illinois, in 1955, so obviously the death record above was for the Alexander Joel married to my cousin Clementine.

Fortunately, all three of Alexander and Clementine’s daughters survived the Nazi era. Their oldest daughter Esther Joel and her husband Hermann Wolf ended up in Mexico, but I don’t know whether they were there during or only after the war. All I know is that they were both living there when they died in 1945 and 1955, respectively. According to Esther’s death record from Mexico, she was “francesa,” or French, which leads me to believe that she and her family lived in France for some period of time before immigrating to Mexico.

Esther Edda Joel Wolf death record, Archivo de Registro Civil de Distrito Federal (Civil Registry Archives); Federal District, Mexico, Year: 1945, Ancestry.com. Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Deaths, 1861-1987

The death record also reports that Esther died from a massive pulmonary embolism and endocarditis and that she was buried in Israel (logar de inhumacion). She was only 44 years old when she died. Had the deaths of her parents and the stress of escaping with her family from Germany contributed to her early death? I don’t know.

Her husband Hermann died ten years later at the age of 57. From the death record, I learned that he had remarried and his widow was Carmen Hebert and that his son Fernando was originally from France, which is consistent with what I inferred from Esther’s death record.

Hermann Wolf Tannenberg death record, Archivo de Registro Civil de Distrito Federal (Civil Registry Archives); Federal District, Mexico, Ancestry.com. Federal District, Mexico, Civil Registration Deaths, 1861-1987

My deep gratitude to Steve Mordecai of Tracing the Tribe who spent a lot of time translating Hermann’s death record from Spanish to English, as quoted below:

In the City of Mexico, Federal District, at 12:00 noon, on the 14th of March 1955, before me, Dr. Fidel Guillen, Head of the office of Civil Registration, presents, Mr. Luis Vidales, of this area, a single man of 50 years, funeral employee, living in Ave Hidalgo 13, in this City; and presents for insertion a document related to the death of an adult, Hermann Wolf Tannenberg, the which was archived in accordance with the law and in part condercente (?) Says: “Mimeco (?) 178. In the City of Cuernavaca, at 18 eighteen hours of the day 13 thirteen of March 1955, nineteen hundred fifty-five, before me, citizen Filipe Rivera Crespo, judge of the Registration of the Civil State, appeared one Mr Fernando Wolf, age 32, thirty-two, a married, businessman or (Merchant), originally of France, and neighbor (or living outside) of Mexico, Federal District, traveling in this City and presented a certificate, archived, which says: “He that medically certifies, legally authorized to exercise his profession: “ an individual male, in the house number 7, of the street de Balsas –Cause of death: Principal illness Myocardial Infarction – Cuernavaca moz (?), 13 March 1955.-Signature of the Medic: Guillermo Vega Campos. – Residence: Degollado 28 – Complementary (?) Data – Day and hour of death 12:45 Sunday 13 March 1955, a male – Hermann Wolf Tannenberg -residence: Balsas #7. – Age 58 – place of birth, Hanover, Germany. Nationality Mexican, occupation – businessman (merchant) – civil status- married – name of father: Mauricio Wolf – mother Clare Tannenberg, (both) deceased. Name of spouse Carmen Hebert, living. – signature of the medic: Guillermo Vega Campos – at the request of the family(?)…. saw to the transfer of the cadaver to the City of Mexico, to be interred (?) Carried out this act in accordance with the family’s instructions (?) Signed: Felipe Rivera Crespo – F. Wolf – J Ferrrer. G (?) – Trio (?)” – Expedited bolete (?) to the Pantean Jardin de Villa Obergon, according to order 3061, of this date, (girade?) by the office of (Pante…?) Departament of the Federal District. Witnessed by Jose Martinez and Valente Lufran, ages 31 and 33. Of the same origen, occupation, civil status and residence of those appearing. Reading this act they ratify and confirm. Given (signed) Luis Vidal, J. Martinez and V. Lufran. [Emphasis added.]

Hermann and Esther were survived by their two sons, Fernando Werner Moshe Wolf, who died in Mexico in 1997, and Pierre Kurt Wolf, who immigrated to the United States and settled in Florida, where he died in 1979.1

Clementine’s second daughter Lizzie Joel Haas and her husband Siegfried and their two daughters also immigrated from Germany in time to escape the concentration camps. They arrived in the US on March 12, 1940, and were heading to a cousin, Hermann Youngheim of El Reno, Oklahoma.

Siegfried and Lizzie Haas, ship manifest, Ship or Roll Number: Westernland
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

When I saw the name Youngheim and the Oklahoma address, it struck me that there might be a connection between Hermann Youngheim and my Katz relatives in Oklahoma who were the descendants of Meier Katz and Sprinzchen Jungheim of Jesberg, Germany. And sure enough, Herman Youngheim was the nephew of Sprinzchen Jungheim Katz. And in addition, Herman Youngheim was the son of Fanny Marx Jungheim, the sister of Fredericke Marx Haas, mother of Siegfried Haas.

So Herman was Siegfried’s first cousin and must have helped Siegfried, Lizzie and their daughters escape from Germany. Siegfried changed his name to Fred in the US, and by 1942 the family was living in Indianapolis, Indiana, as seen on Fred Haas’ draft registration for World War II.

Fred Haas, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Lizzie died at age 55 in Indianapolis on February 6, 1958.

Lizzie Joel Haas death certificate, Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1958; Roll: 03, Roll Number: 03, Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011

Her husband Fred later moved to Florida, where he died on July 27, 1971, at the age of 75.2 They were survived by their daughters and grandchildren.

The youngest Joel sister, Ille, also survived the Holocaust. I don’t have any primary sources for Ille. According to My Heritage, Ille and her husband Walter Cunow lived in Switzerland where Walter died in 1987 and Ille in 1994 and were survived by their two children. Unfortunately I have no further details or sources.

Thus, although Clementine Goldmann and her husband Alexander Joel did not survive the Holocaust, their three daughters all somehow managed to survive, and there are living descendants today to carry on their legacy.

As for Clementine’s younger sister Meta and her husband Adolf Hammerschlag and daughters Lieselotte and Irmgard, their story has more tragic endings, as you will see in my next post.


  1. Pierre Kurt Wolf, Birth Date: 30 Sep 1924, Birth Place: Saarbrucken, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Jun 1979, Father: Hermann W Tannenberg
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  2. Fred Haas, Social Security Number: 314-12-6142, Birth Date: 6 Feb 1896
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Indiana, Last Residence: 33134, Miami, Miami-Dade, Florida, USA, Death Date: Jul 1971, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/180016722/fred-haas 

Unanswered Questions: Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner

Although I was able to learn a fair amount about two of the children of Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner, Elsa Werner Loewenthal and Henriette Werner Cohen, it was much more difficult to find information about their other two children, Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner. I can only report what I’ve learned, primarily from secondary sources, and hope that perhaps by publishing this, someone who knows more about these relatives of mine will find this and provide me with more information and sources. This may be my worst sourced post ever!

Rosa Werner, as we saw, married Josef Wormser in Eschwege in 1908.  According to entries on My Heritage, Rosa and Joseph had four children, Esther (1909), Raphael (1911), Julius (1914), and Helene (1917), all born in Zurich, Switzerland, where Rosa and Joseph had relocated after marrying. It also appears that Rosa and Josef remained in Zurich during the Nazi era and survived, but I have no records of their lives there during that time. According to the information on My Heritage, Josef died in 1940 in Zurich, Rosa thirteen years later in 1953, also in Zurich.

As for their children, three of the four immigrated to Palestine/Israel. I have seen documents1 showing that Esther Wormser immigrated to Palestine, where she married Max Leo Koplowitz, who had immigrated there as early as March 28, 1932, and became a naturalized citizen of Palestine on November 19, 1937. Max was born on March 29, 1907, in Strasbourg when it was under German control before World War I (later and currently part of France). He was an agricultural worker in Palestine. According to a document in his immigration file, he and Esther Wormser married on May 21, 1939, in Petach-Tikvah, and she became a Palestinian citizen by virtue of her marriage to Max Koplowitz.

UPDATE: Thank you to Cathy Meder-Dempsey of Opening Doors in Brick Walls for finding the Strassbourg birth record for Max Koplowitz, which can be located here.

I do not have any further information yet for Esther, although David Baron and Roger Cibella reported that she and Max had two sons born in the 1940s. Max died October 26, 2006, in Israel, according to his gravestone at BillionGraves.com. There was no date or place of death reported for Esther.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for ישראל מקס קופלוביץ (1907 – 2006), BillionGraves Record 19495247 כפר הרא”ה, Central District, Israel

Update: Thank you to Aaron Knappstein who located Esther’s grave memorial on Billion Graves. She died on 8 Iyar 5739 or May 5, 1979, in Israel.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for אסתר קופלוביץ (), BillionGraves Record 18779827 כפר הרא”ה, Central District, Israel

Raphael Wormser also immigrated to Israel at some point. My Heritage reports that he married Greta Aufsasser in 1954. According to his gravestone at BillionGraves, he died August 5, 1973.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for רפאל וורמסר (), BillionGraves Record 12700234 Holon, Central District, Israel

As for Helene Wormser, My Heritage shows that she married Dr. Herman Halberstadt and that they had two children; in addition, My Heritage reports that she died in Jerusalem, but did not provide a date of death.

Update: Thanks again to Aaron Knappstein, who found this entry at Gravez, showing that Helene Wormser Halberstadt died on June 22, 2007, in Israel.

The only Wormser child who did not immigrate to Palestine/Israel was Julius. He remained in Zurich where he married Betty Loewenthal and had several children, according to Baron/Cibella. Julius died in Zurich on May 11, 1989, according to My Heritage.

Thus, my information about the Wormser family is quite thin and based almost completely on My Heritage profiles. I’ve sent a message to the manager of those profiles, but have not heard anything back.

That brings me to Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner’s youngest surviving child, Moritz. We saw that Moritz married Jenny Kahn in Frankfurt in 1918 and that they had a son, Max, born in 1922. The only records I have for Moritz and Jenny after their marriage record are the 1939 England and Wales Register and their exemptions from being deemed enemy aliens in England. Thus, they had immigrated to England by 1939. Unfortunately part of the of the right margin of the 1939 Register is not visible, but it looks like Moritz was the director of London Win(dow?) Display Ltd.

Moritz and Jenny Werner,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/828B, Enumeration District: BKER, Ancestry.com

He was exempted from being interned as an enemy alien; on this form he described his occupation as the company director of manufacturing company.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Here is Jenny’s exemption documentation:

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

This quotation, found on Moritz Werner’s Geni profile and translated by DeepL, from a book written by Anna Maria Zimmer, Juden in Eschwege:Entwicklung und Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinde, von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (1993), p. 272, provides some touching details about Moritz Werner and his life during and after the Nazi era:

Moritz Werner was – like his father Max Werner – a partner and manager of the important textile factory Brinkmann since 1916. Because of the National Socialist persecution, Moritz Werner was forced to sell the company and flee to England.

His son Max Heinz Werner recalls this:

“In mid 1938 the purchase was perfected. A Catholic named Rhode from Kassel, who produced goods for the armaments industry, had bought L.S. Brinkmann. After the war, when Rhode was terminally ill, he developed feelings of remorse and tracked down my father Moritz in England. Mr. Rhode asked for a visit and my father and he made a contract, i.e. my father bought the company back – that was at a time when there was no official reparation! In 1949 the takeover was perfected. …

When my father celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company in 1931, the staff donated a bronze plate with a dedication and two knitting hands for him. During the forced sale [1939] the plate suddenly disappeared.

In 1949, when my father was sitting in his office again for the first time, there was a knock at the door and a small delegation of employees came in… They struggled to carry a box containing this bronze plate. Before taking over the company, these employees had fastened the plate in the chimney with strong wires and thus hidden it.”

My Heritage reports that Moritz died in Lugano, Switzerland, on April 27, 1966, and that Jenny died in Chile (no date provided). When had Moritz and Jenny moved from England? Why did he die in Switzerland, she in Chile? So many unanswered questions.

I cannot find their son Max on either the 1939 Register or on an enemy alien registration. Max would have been a teenager at the time. Where could he have been? All I could find for Max was an entry in the England & Wales, Marriage Index on Ancestry for his marriage in 1947 to Clara Amalia Reiss,2 and I know nothing more about Clara or Max except what I found on My Heritage and on David Baron and Roger Cibella’s family report: that Clara was born in Vienna on September 27, 1920, that she and Max had two children, that Clara died on April 6, 2011, and that Max died eight months later on December 9, 2011. According to their profiles on My Heritage, both Max and Clara are buried in Jerusalem.

UPDATE: My cousin Joanne Warner-Loewenthal shared a link with me about Max Werner, her cousin. It reports that he graduated from the University of Leeds in England and became a naturalized English citizen. After the war, however, he returned to Germany to become a director of the LS Brinkmann knitwear company in Eschwege. He also developed an interest in race cars and in photographing racing, as described here.


  1. A month or so ago I saw Max’s immigration file on the Israel Archives and saved the link, but did not download the documents, figuring I’d come back later. Then the Archives shut down for several weeks. They’ve since come back online, but Max’s file is now listed as “not yet scanned.” Fortunately, I took notes on what is in that file, and when it becomes available, I will update this post. 
  2.  Max H Werner, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon
    Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss. Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 

Henriette Werner Cohen and Her Children: Escaping from Germany

Helene Katzenstein Werner died in 1912, and her husband Max died seven years later in 1919. Their son Carl was killed fighting for Germany in World War I. Helene and Max were survived by four of their five children—Henriette, Elsa, Rosa, and Moritz—and many grandchildren. What happened to those children and grandchildren when Hitler came to power in 1933?

We know that Elsa and her husband Julius Loewenthal survived and immigrated eventually to the US, as did two of their four children, but their daughter Ruth and her husband were killed in a terrible car accident in Switzerland in 1937, and Ruth’s orphaned daughter Margot was later murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor. Their son Herbert spent the war years in a sanitorium in Zurich and lived the rest of his life in Switzerland.

What about Elsa Werner Loewenthal’s three siblings? What happened to them? As we will see, they all survived, but ended up spread throughout the world. Today’s post is about her sister Henriette Werner Cohen.

Henriette and her family ended up in the United States, as had Elsa. But Henriette first endured the tragedy of losing her husband Julius Cohen. He died on June 7, 1933, in Hamburg, just two months after Hitler’s rise to power; he was 64.

Julius Cohen death record, Year Range and Volume: 1933 Band 01, Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950

Julius was survived by Henriette and their three children, Mary, Manfred, and Willy, who all left Germany for the US in the 1930s. Manfred left first; he arrived in the US on December 24, 1936, but the ship manifest indicated that he was only planning to stay for three months. The person he listed as his contact in the US was a cousin, Max Stern. I assume this referred to Hilda Loewenthal’s husband Max Stern, the founder of Hartz Mountain Corporation. Manfred listed his mother as his contact back in Germany; she was still living in Hamburg, but Manfred listed his last residence as Eschwege, his mother’s birthplace. I wonder whether he was working for his uncle/cousin Julius Loewenthal.1

Manfred returned home to Germany, but then came again to the US two years later on April 4, 1938, this time intending to stay permanently. By that time he was married to Caecilie Gundersheimer. Caecilie was born on February 10, 1915,2 the daughter of Samuel Gundersheimer and Bertha Schwarzschild.3  According to the ship manifest, she was born in “Kleinheubad,” Germany, which I assume is a misspelling of Kleinheubach, as I cannot find any place (in Germany or elsewhere) named Kleinheubad. When Caecilie’s parents immigrated to the US the following year, they were going to Reading, Pennsylvania, where Manfred and Caecilie had settled.4

Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 46, Ship or Roll Number: Queen Mary,
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Manfred’s brother Willy Wolf Cohen also immigrated permanently to the US in 1938. He arrived on August 19 of that year, listing his mother Henriette in Hamburg as the person left behind and his brother Manfred of Reading, Pennsylvania as the contact person in the US.5  He filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on October 12, 1938, at which time he was living in Reading, presumably with his brother Manfred.

Willy Wolf Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

Their mother Henriette and sister Mary finally arrived the following year, January 26, 1939, also listing Manfred as the person they were going to in the United States.6 On the 1940 census, Henriette was living with her son Manfred in Reading, along with his wife and his in-laws.  Manfred was the owner of a mushroom plant there, and his wife Caecilie worked there as well, as did her father Samuel Gundersheimer.

Manfred Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03679; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 70-53, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But when he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, Manfred listed his employer as the American Photocopy Equipment Company.

Manfred Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 439, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s siblings Mary and Willy do not appear on that 1940 census with him and his mother although Mary’s declaration of intention filed on June 26, 1939, shows she was still residing in Reading at that time.

Mary Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

I am not certain, but I think I located both Mary and William living in New York at the time of the 1940 census. There is a Mary Cohen, age 35, working as a maid in Brooklyn, who could be Mary as her residence in 1935 was Hamburg, Germany. But Mary would have been 37 in 1940, so I can’t be positive this is the same Mary Cohen, although this is the only Mary Cohen who comes close to matching my Mary.7

There was a Willy Cohen living in Queens, New York, in 1940, married to a woman named Hilda who had last been living in Strasbourg, France.8  But I don’t think this is my Willy; according to my Willy Cohen’s petition for naturalization, filed in June 1944, he didn’t marry his wife, Hildegarde Goldbach, until March 15, 1942, at which time he was living in Cleveland. Hildegarde, who was born on May 13, 1920, in Eschwege, immigrated in August 1940; she was the daughter of Abraham Goldbach and Luise Muller.9

Willy Wolf Cohen, naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

So where was Willy Wolf Cohen in 1940? There is a William H. Cohen living in Manhattan as a lodger on the 1940 census, single, 34 years old, born in Germany, with no occupation listed. Again, I can’t be certain this is the right person, but he is the only other William Cohen on the 1940 census who matches the age and birthplace of my Willy, and as noted on his petition for naturalization, Willy had adopted the name William Henry Cohen in the US, matching “William H. Cohen.”

William H. Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02641; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31-736, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But not long after the enumeration of the 1940 census, Henriette, Mary, and William all moved to Cleveland, Ohio. As seen above, William’s 1944 petition for naturalization indicates that he’d moved to Cleveland by June 1, 1940; the petition also lists his occupation as a service engineer.

Henriette moved to Cleveland by November 1940, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944.10 Mary moved to Cleveland in March 1941, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944; she was working as a nurse at that time.11

Comparing all three petitions, it appears that Henriette, Mary and William were all living at the same address, 1040 Parkwood Drive in Cleveland, when they petitioned for naturalization. Henriette’s petition is also interesting in that it reports that by 1944, Manfred had moved to Philadelphia from Reading, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, I could not find any information for Henriette or any of her children after the 1940s except for information about their deaths. Henriette died in March 1951 in Cleveland, as seen in this death notice from the Cleveland Plain Dealer of March 21, 1951; she was 69 years old.

Henriette Cohen, obituary, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 21, 1951, p. 30.

Aside from a 1950 telephone directory listing, I cannot find any other record of Manfred in Philadelphia except for this obituary from the November 30, 1973 Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:

Manfred Cohen, obituary, The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, November 30, 1973, p. 67

He died on November 18, 1973, in Philadelphia; he was 69, the same age his mother had been when she died and just five years older than his father had been at his death in 1933.

But Henriette’s other two children both lived longer lives. Mary died on February 10, 1993, in Beachwood, Ohio; she was 90.11 William died at 89 on April 9, 1995. 12 Unfortunately I was unable to find an obituary or a death notice for either of them.

Henriette and her children were survived by the children of Manfred and William; Mary has no direct descendants. There are many other descendants living today because Henriette and her children were able to get out of Germany in time.

 


  1. Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 203, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Caecilie Cohen, Social Security Number: 179-14-7310, Birth Date: 10 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 21215, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, Death Date: 21 Jan 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. Obituary of Bertha Gundersheimer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 16, 1968, p. 32; Berta Gundersheimer, Maiden Name: Schwarzschild, Birth Date: 6 Sep 1887, Birth Place: Schluchtern, Last Residence: Frankfurt/M., Departure: Emigrated, Date of Departure: 2 Apr 1939, Destination: North America, German Special Interest Group of JewishGen, comp. Germany, Data on 7,400 North Bavarian Jews 
  4. Samuel and Bertha Gundersheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 46; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Willy Wolf Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 93, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Henriette Cohen and Mary Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 47, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9MY-RH6G?cc=2000219&wc=QZXR-H21%3A790105101%2C795835101%2C804245901%2C804301301 : accessed 27 August 2020), New York > Kings > New York City, Brooklyn, Assembly District 18 > 24-2048B New York City, Brooklyn Borough Assembly District 18 (Tract 343 – part) > image 1 of 16; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  8. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MB-GJSV?cc=2000219&wc=QZXT-HLF%3A790105101%2C805603701%2C805654201%2C805688901 : accessed 14 August 2020), New York > Queens > New York City, Queens, Assembly District 3 > 41-679B [from 41-679]: New York City, Queens Borough Assembly District 3 (Tract 271 – part) > image 18 of 30; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  9. Hildegarde Goldbach, petition for naturalization, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 106651 – 107164, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946. Hildegard Doris Cohen, [Hildegard Doris Goldbach] , Birth Date: 13 May 1920, Birth Place: Eschwege, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Mar 1993, Father: Abraham Goldbach, Mother: Luise Mueller, SSN: 285420684, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  10. Henriette Cohen, Naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 
  11. Mary Cohen, Age: 90, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1902, Death Date: 10 Feb 1993, Death Hospital: Other/Nursing Home, Death Place: Beachwood, Cuyahoga, USA, Father: Cohen, Occupation: Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, Ohio Department of Health; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2018 
  12. William H Cohen, Birth Date: 29 Mar 1906, Death Date: 9 Apr 1995, Claim Date: 14 Dec 1970, SSN: 063144546, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

A Photo And Its Story: Amalie Meyer Bloch in the Netherlands

Before turning to the fourth child of Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein, a quick update from my cousin-by-marriage Ralph Dannheisser, the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth Stern and grandson of Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, the sister of Charles Bloch, who was married to my cousin Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ralph sent me this photograph of his grandparents, Ludwig and Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, himself as an adorable toddler, and, in the center wearing the lovely hat, his grandmother’s sister-in-law Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ludwig Dannheisser, Amalie Meyer Bloch, Ralph Dannheisser, Johanna Bloch Dannheisser.  The Hague, May, 1939. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

According to the inscription on the back, it was taken in May, 1939, in The Hague in the Netherlands, when Ralph was a year old. Ralph’s grandparents and his parents had already escaped from Germany to the Netherlands by that time, and Ralph and his parents would leave for the US early in 1940. Tragically, his grandparents did not leave Europe and were sent to the concentration camps where they were murdered in 1944.

This is the first photograph I’ve seen of my cousin Amalie, and it raises more questions that I cannot answer. Why was she in the Netherlands in May, 1939? Had she left Germany for good by that point? Her naturalization papers say that when she came to the US in August 1941, her last residence was in Lisbon, but the ship manifest for her arrival in the US stated that her last permanent residence was Frankfurt, Germany. Neither mentions the Netherlands.

Was her husband Charles with her in the Netherlands in May 1939? He probably had already immigrated to France by then, so perhaps he and Amalie met in the Netherlands as a neutral meeting place? Perhaps Charles took this photograph? Or maybe Charles wasn’t there at all.

We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But Ralph is certain that the woman standing in the center of this photograph with the big smile was Amalie Meyer Bloch, my third cousin, twice removed, and his great-uncle’s wife.

What amazes me is how happy Ralph, Johanna, and Amalie look. They’d left Germany, faced terrible acts of anti-Semitism, but were still finding something to smile about. Quite remarkable. Another sign of the resilience of human beings and our desire for love over hate.

Thank you, Ralph!

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part V: Leaving Germany

This is the final chapter in the memoir of my cousin Julius Loewenthal. We saw in the prior chapter how his life began to fall apart after the Nazis took control of Germany and their persecution of the Jews began in 1933. Then the family suffered a great personal tragedy in October 1937 when Julius and Elsa’s daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed in a terrible car accident after traveling to Switzerland to find a sanitorium for Herbert Loewenthal, who was struggling with mental illness and was soon after confined to a sanitorium in Zurich.

In this last section of his memoir, Julius writes about the decision to leave Germany and their ultimate departure in December 1938.


Eventually the life of the German Jew became impossible. No longer could we travel. Our passports were taken away. Thus, we finally decided to sell the business. It was a very difficult decision. Our life blood and that of our ancestors was sentimentally involved in this enterprise, its buildings, its history.

If my departure from my desk after 45 years was difficult and slow, my departure from my homeland, however, was made brutally swift and final by the following events. During the night from the 9th to the 10th of November [1938], approximately 30 Nazi Storm Troopers broke into our home in Eschwege. They destroyed everything they could get their hands on. Furniture was broken. Upholstery was cut to shreds, china was broken, even paintings of internationally known artists were cut up. Even the marble window sills were broken in two.  My wife and our servant…had taken refuge in the upstairs bedroom as I was out of town on this night. They [the Nazis] broke into the bedroom, and my wife and [servant] took refuge on the outside balcony where they remained all night because had they been discovered, they would have been killed. It was a very cold and lonely frightful night.

I was reached by phone and came back to Eschwege to find my home in shambles and my wife frightened to the marrow of her bones. On the evening of my return, the Gestapo arrived at my home and told me that on order from higher authority, my life and that of my wife was not in danger. At that time I did not understand in full the meaning of this communication because it was not until later that I found out that nearly all the members of the Jewish congregation were arrested on that day, brutally mistreated, and shipped to the Concentration Camp at Buchenwald. Many, very many, never came back. I, however, had a guardian angel, as I was to find out later.

At night we drove to the Schlosshotel in Kassel where we were accepted and could stay, as in those days no Hotel accepted Jews anymore. We remained there two nights and obtained the necessary papers to emigrate from Germany….

It was the unbelievable energy and presence of mind of my dear wife that brought us through these hours, as it was she who arranged for the damaged silver and furniture to be repaired, arranged the travel papers, and supervised the packing of that which was possible to be taken with us. Thus, we were later able to sell a lot of these items in the USA in order to obtain some money and survive. …

During the second night of our stay in the Hotel in Kassel, the Hotel was checked by the Gestapo. We were not bothered this time, but preferred to move to Frankfurt where no Hotel accepted us. We took refuge in the empty Apartment of my niece Lotte Posen, my brother Siegfried’s daughter. Her husband had been arrested, and she had moved to her parents.

We had arrived on Friday afternoon, and our cousin Sitta Mainz sent us some fish and bread to eat; it was very nice of her. On Saturday morning my niece Lotte came to me and told me I could no longer stay in her Apartment as I resembled her father too much. My wife was at the English Consulate. What could I do? In spite of it being Shabbos, I took a taxi and drove to the English Consul in order to meet my wife. She became very upset when she saw me with my luggage, but she managed to take us to my cousin Selma Frankel, who took us with much love and cooperation and helped us in a very difficult situation. …

We returned once more to Eschwege for the final packing for just a few days and then back to Frankfurt where we stayed at the house of my aunt Hana Stern. [This must refer to Johanna Goldschmidt, wife of Abraham Stern, who was the brother of Julius’ mother Kiele Stern. Johanna was also, however, Kiele Stern’s first cousin, as Kiele’s mother Sarah Goldschmidt was the sister of Johanna’s father Selig Goldschmidt.] The house was occupied by her son-in-law who fled for his life in the middle of the night. [This must refer to Siegfried Oppenheimer, the husband of Alice Stern, as I wrote about here.] It was a terrible feeling as everyone around you took steps to save his naked life. Still living in the house upstairs lived the other son-in-law of my aunt, Albert Mainz [husband of Sitta Stern]. We had a last supper together, and the following morning we travelled to Stuttgart to ask at the American Consul for our visa. When we returned that same night, Albert Mainz and family also had fled. Our fright increased; we were very shaken and terrified. We decided to cross the Border that night. This move was long overdue.

We had just obtained the necessary railroad tickets and travel papers when 3 Gestapo Agents arrived and confiscated all my wife’s jewelry, even though we had received permission on a prior occasion to retain the same and take it with us. Now what? It was my last possession as I knew that none of the money I had left in the Bank would ever be transferred.

At that terrible moment I made a dangerous decision, unheard of in those days and beyond imagination. I called the head of the Internal Revenue for the State of Hessen, the top authority in the State, and requested his intervention. … My guardian angel who had protected me in the past so visibly also protected me now, and the Gestapo Agents were ordered to return the jewelry, which they did with much reluctance. Of course, this individual knew me as the seat of his Bureau was in Kassel and knew very well who I was, as in the past we were the largest taxpayers in the county of Eschwege.

We took the train to Holland. At the Border, the town of Emmrich, the passport control came through. After they had inspected us, the customs inspectors came through. In this sleeping car only people who were emigrating into Holland were travelling. All had to open their luggage and all had to surrender their jewelry and watches. When the inspectors came to me, they read my name and passed on. I did not have to open my bags nor did I have to surrender anything. My wife and myself looked at each other. We could not believe it. Fright was still deep in our bones. In a few minutes we were in Holland and finally able to sleep again. Our guardian angel was indeed a guardian to us.

It was the 8th of December, a dark and rainy day, but a happy day. We were only allowed to take with us 10 Marks in Dutch currency. Thus, I who had left Millions behind was happy to find a room on the third floor of a Pension where we could rest as now we were in a free land, and we were able to eat meat again. We were saved, but unfortunately without our Grandchild Margot. She eventually was brought out by her Grandfather Fulda, who even then still liked it in Germany. At this writing she is still in Amsterdam. I hope and with God’s help I will see her again. …

Thus, our lives’ work, our homes, our fortunes, absolutely everything went to nothing. I cannot express in this writing the feelings in my heart of how they have influenced my views on life itself. However, let me say that this is a Jewish destiny, which has not swayed me one iota in my faith in the Lord of our forefathers.


Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa left Holland for England and then immigrated to New York City in May, 1939, where their daughter Hilda and son-in-law Max Stern lived. When Julius wrote this memoir in 1940, his son Garry Warner was enlisted in the British Army. Garry immigrated to New York City a year after the end of World War II.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal.
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

Julius died of a heart attack in Manhattan on November 26, 1946, at the age of 72. I assume he knew before he died that his beloved granddaughter Margot had been murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor along with her other grandparents. Elsa died in 1961, also in New York City.

According to Garry’s notes after his translation of the memoir, the firm of L.S Brinkmann, the knitwear company owned by Levi Brinkmann and later by Julius and his brother-in-law/second cousin Moritz Werner, was re-established after the war by Moritz and Garry and resumed business in 1949. It was once again a very successful business for many years, closing down in 1974.

Garry also commented on the fate of his brother Herbert, who was a patient in a sanitorium in Zurich during the war. He was released in 1953 and cared for by a Swiss guardian. He worked and was well liked and respected in the community. He was “an extremely intelligent and cultured person, a man of many abilities, the least of which was to become a painter.” Herbert died of a heart attack in Zurich in 1962. Garry and his wife and five year old daughter were in Europe at that time and on their way to visit him when he died.

According to his daughter Joanne, Garry continued to work in the knitwear business until 1969. He then moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. He died March 1, 2005, when he was 87. I am so grateful to him for translating his father’s memoir and to Joanne for sharing it with me.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

These are stories that must be shared. We must never, ever forget what these people endured or their courage and resilience in carrying on after surviving Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part IV: Tragedy Strikes

When we last left Julius Loewenthal, he was still a successful businessman, living in Eschwege, Germany, with his wife Elsa, but he was worried about the dark clouds of anti-Semitism and the economic disasters that were feeding it.

In this next section, Julius writes about the period between 1933, when the Nazis took control of Germany, and the death of his daughter Ruth and son-in-law Leonhard Fulda in October 1937. This section was obviously painful for him to write, and I had to do a bit of reorganizing to tell his story in chronological order. The text is so powerful that it needs no images, which would only detract from it.


When I look back today on my life, I must say that I made every effort, spared no money to give my children the opportunity to learn and obtain an education in some trade. My daughter Ruth went to business college, Herbert went to other plants in Germany and England, Hilde went to the famous Art College in Berlin and Basel, Switzerland, and Karl Werner [Garry] went to the Textile College in Leicester, England as well as having served an apprenticeship in our factory for some years. The small town we lived in forced us to send our children away at an early age as they did not have the opportunity in Eschwege.

To describe the time between 1933 and our final departure from Germany causes my hand to hesitate. The wounds are too deep. Only an expert writer could describe the torture and the poison with which the German Fuhrer persecuted the Jews wherever they were. It started already in 1933 and the events were such and so often and so horrible that I will not recount the same here, and they are and will be well documented in the time to come. Little by little the personal life, the business activity was choked off with rules, laws and regulations that in the end nothing was left, and no Jew could work. The congregations which existed for 1000 years became mere shadows. … No one in the beginning was able to understand or to comprehend. After all we were descendants of people who had lived in the communities throughout Germany for 1000 years.

… When I traveled to Palestine (Israel) in the year of 1933, I received news of the Nazi takeover of Germany. Our business still operated, and the profit was no smaller. However, the political events cast a very dark shadow. At first the peace between employer and employees was being disturbed by a daily dose of stories of the unmoral character of the Jews. One would think that mature men who had been with us for long times, many 40 years, were mature enough to form their own opinions. It was, however, different. Little by little the whole German nation was saturated with the antisemitic poison, a steady unrelenting barrage. Thus, we were eventually forced to sell our business as we no longer were masters in our own house.

….[In 1933] I was forced to sell my home in Bad Sooden. It was a sad hour for me as I had spent many happy hours there. We rented a small house in Frankfurt where we spent many happy hours in seclusion. However, the pressure of the German Internal Revenue was such that we were forced to give up the house in 1937. Frankfurt had become a disappointment for me. The many once well established relatives, the many wealthy and substantial families had become poor, and many lived in worse than pleasant circumstances. Many had left or wanted but did not have the funds to do so as the tax levied on leaving the country meant leaving absolutely everything behind.

…We made the salient mistake of not leaving Germany in 1933. It was a most difficult decision, and no one anticipated the murderous and vicious intentions and its consequences in a Nation of such high culture. In 1934, I fell [and broke both legs] and was confined to a hospital for better than one year and that also contributed in not making a decision. We bought property, land, and a house, in Israel in order to have some possibility of having funds or roots abroad, but as it turned out the Company who sold us the land was operated by Jews abroad who would prey on the adversity of others, and the whole huge amounts of money were fleeced except for the land itself. It was later sold.

… In 1935 my son Herbert left Germany. He recognized the situation better than we did. It was a blow because I had hoped that some day he would take over the reins of the business. He went to New York where he became active in the business world at once. Unfortunately [he was afflicted by] a lingering ever progressing sickness which might have been overlooked because of the troubled and unstable times with its unbelievable personal and survival problems, together with the limited medical knowledge which was available at the time….

[In October 1937, My daughter Ruth, her husband Leonhard Fuld and I] traveled together to Muensingen in Switzerland in order to find a Sanitorium for Herbert. …. We arrived in Zurich, where we stayed over, then on to Muensingen, then Interlaken, and after Shabbos we started back to Germany…. We remained in our room because the place was full of Nazis.

The following morning on October 2nd, 1937, we continued the trip toward Rottweil when a Truck with an empty trailer came toward us, and it was speeding. The trailer swung around like a huge baseball bat and hit us. Ruth, who was driving, and Leonard, who was sitting behind her, had both their heads crashed in. Ruth fell dead in my arms, and Leonard died on October 4, 1937, in the hospital in Rottweil. … The death of my beloved children was a terrible blow to all of us and to the Jewish community of Germany…. …. We were forced to travel to America in January 1938 and escort [Herbert] to Switzerland where he was confined to a Sanitorium….

The world had grown dark for us. We had to bear this burden and much more what was to come toward us. Today when I write this almost 3 years have passed, and I am convinced that the good Lord arranged it so, as much pain and suffering was spared my children as the destiny of the Jew in Germany was to end in tragedy.


It was not long after the tragic deaths of Ruth and Leonhard and the commitment of Herbert to a sanitorium in Switzerland that Julius and Elsa made the heart-wrenching decision to leave Germany. More about that in the next post.

 

 

Charles Bloch Redux, Part II: A Surprising Twist in the Family Tree

Although I ran into a brick wall trying to learn more about the time Charles Bloch spent in France during World War II, in the course of that research I discovered another twist in the Goldschmidt family tree.

First, I learned that Charles Bloch had a sister. Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg, parents of Charles Bloch, had a daughter named Johanna Bloch born in 1879.

Johanna Bloch, birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8931, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna married a man named Ludwig Dannheisser in 1900.

Johanna Bloch marriage record to Ludwig Dannheisser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a beautiful photograph of Johanna taken in 1921 in Frankfurt when she was 42:

Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, 1921, Frankfurt, Germany. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Tragically, both Johanna and Ludwig were killed at Auschwitz on May 22, 1944, after being deported from the Netherlands.1

Page of Testimony for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas

But their son Paul Dannheisser escaped from Germany to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to the US in 1940, settling in New York with his wife Dora Anni (known as Anni) nee Rosenthal and their son Ralph.2

This is a photograph taken at Paul and Anni’s wedding in October, 1932.

Wedding of Paul and Anni Dannheisser, October, 1932. Front row: Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, Anni Rosenthal Dannheisser, Paul Dannheisser, and Bertha Kaufmann Rosenthal. Standing behind Anni is her father-in-law Ludwig Dannheisser. Behind Paul to the right is Max Rosenthal.  Others are not identified. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

When I saw the name Dannheisser, I knew something was familiar about it. Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, was known as Elizabeth Dannheisser near the end of her life, according to the Social Security Claims and Applications Index.3 I had not found a marriage record for Elizabeth showing a marriage to someone named Dannheisser, only records showing a Paul Dannheisser married to Anni, but when I saw that Charles Bloch had a brother-in-law Ludwig and a nephew Paul with that surname, I wondered if there was a connection.

Fortunately, I was able to find and connect with Paul Dannheisser’s son Ralph, and he confirmed that in 1973, his father Paul Dannheisser had married my cousin Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Saly Stern and Alice Rapp. He even shared a copy of the marriage certificate I couldn’t locate.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Paul was 72 at the time, and Elizabeth was 54. Paul was a widower, his wife Anni having died the year before, and Elizabeth had divorced her first husband Gerhard Hirsch in 1950.4  Paul and Elizabeth had been introduced to each other by Ilse Bloch, known in the US as Helen Bloch, the daughter of Amalie Meyer and Charles Bloch.

Helen was Elizabeth’s second cousin; they were both great-granddaughters of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn:

Helen Bloch was also Paul Dannheisser’s first cousin; they were both the grandchildren of Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg:

First cousins, Helen Bloch and Paul Dannheisser, 1961. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

So Elizabeth Stern, the granddaughter of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, married the nephew of Charles Bloch, who was the husband of Amalie Meyer, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. Regina was Helmina’s older sister. Here’s another chart to show the connection.

Ralph, Paul Dannheisser’s son and the great-nephew of Charles Bloch, was thus the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth (known as Elsbeth). He also knew Charles and Amalie (whom he called Ama) Bloch. He often visited them in their New York City apartment on West 56th Street. He and his parents would go for monthly Sunday dinners. Ralph would listen to the radio or be entertained by Charles and Amalie’s daughter Helen while his parents and Charles and Amalie played bridge. Helen, who was an avid photographer, would show Ralph her photography magazines.

Ralph described Charles as a heavy-set bald man and Amalie as a handsome woman who wore her hair in a bun, and he said they were both very kind to him, as was Helen. In fact, he stayed close to Helen for many years, bringing his own children to visit her often. Unfortunately, however, Ralph was not able to tell me any more details of how Charles Bloch spent the years he was in France.5

Ralph shared the certificates of naturalization issued to Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth Stern; these were particularly exciting to me because they included photographs of each of them. He also shared a collage of photos including one of Walter Stern, Elizabeth’s brother.

Ralph was very fond of Elizabeth Stern, his father’s second wife. He described her as a lovely woman who was very warm and wonderful to him and to his father. Ralph was very pleased when his father married her (he was already an adult by that time). Sadly, Elizabeth developed a terrible illness not long after she married Paul Dannheisser and spent many of the years at the end of her life in a nursing home, dying in February 1997.6

Her brother Walter Stern also endured difficult times. Ralph had a file filled with letters written to or about Walter that revealed much about his character and his work history and ethic. In Germany, Walter was a very well-regarded employee of a book dealer named J. Kauffmann before he immigrated to the US, and then for some time after he immigrated, he worked for a jewelry company in Washington, DC, where he was living when his parents and sister Elizabeth immigrated to the US. His employer at the jewelry company had written a letter in April 1939 to the American Consul in London (where his family was then living), extolling Walter’s virtues. My hunch is that this was a character reference to support the Consul’s issuance of a visa to Saly, Alice, and Elizabeth Stern so they could immigrate to the US.7

Walter returned to New York after his family arrived in March 1940 and worked for a company called Tonerde Incorporated, as listed on his World War II draft registration in October 1940. He left there on December 8, 1941, and received another positive letter of recommendation. But that draft registration hinted that something else was going on with Walter:

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

Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Why was he “under care”? Family lore, according to Ralph, is that Walter was mugged and suffered a brain injury from which he never recovered. But as late as 1944, Walter received letters of thanks from the Treasury Department for his efforts in selling war bonds. 8

Ralph and I couldn’t put together the whole picture of what happened to Walter. In a December 1946 letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to Alice Rapp Stern, Walter’s mother, there is a reference to a warrant for Walter’s arrest that was being cancelled. My hunch is that once Walter’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen had expired after seven years, or in August, 1945, and he had not yet become a naturalized citizen, he was subject to deportation. How Alice Rapp Stern persuaded INS to close the case and cancel the arrest warrant is a mystery yet to be solved. I have filed a request for documents from the USCIS to see if I can learn more.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

What we do know is that by the end of 1947, Walter was institutionalized at the Rockland State Hospital and later at Brooklyn State Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his life, dying in October 1996, just a few months before his sister Elizabeth.9

I still have no details about how Charles Bloch survived the war in France, the original question that led me down this ambling path. But what an adventure the search for answers to that question has been: learning about the ITS document request process, thanks to Barbara; making the connection to Danny, who spent so much time helping me find French records; and then finding Ralph, my distant cousin by marriage, who brought to life some of the people I’d been researching.  All these connections and discoveries have made this a wonderful experience. I may not have all the answers, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


  1. Entry for Ludwig Dannheisser in Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y5s4hkjj; Entry for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas 
  2. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 22, 2020. 
  3. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch] [Elizabeth Dannheisser] Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern, Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714
    Notes: Mar 1942: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH STERN; Jul 1943: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTHHENRIETTA HIRSCH; Oct 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH DANNHEISSER; Dec 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUT DANNHEISSER; 22 Feb 1997: Name listed as ELIZABETH DANNHEISSER, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Ralph has a copy of Elizabeth’s Mexico divorce decree, dated August 5, 1950, as well as copy of her “get,” the Jewish divorce decree, dated July 3, 1952. 
  5. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 29, 2020 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser