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!