Sophie Katz Vogel and Her Family: A Brick Wall Falls in My Katzenstein Family

Back in October 2017, I wrote about a brick wall I could not break down involving the children of my cousin Rosa Katzenstein. Rosa was my second cousin, twice removed. She was the granddaughter of Jacob Katzenstein, the older brother of my great-great-grandfather Gerson Katzenstein.

Rosa was the oldest child of Mina and Wolf Katzenstein, born on June 19, 1859, in Frankenau, Germany.

Rosa Katzenstein birth record arcinsys
HHStAW Fonds 365 No 174, p. 7

She married her third cousin, once removed, Salomon Feist Katz, son of Joseph Feist Katz and Brendel Katz of Jesberg. Rosa and Salomon were married on June 28, 1881, in Jesberg. They had four daughters, one of whom died as a child, but three survived to adulthood: Sara, Sophie, and Recha.

Marriage record of Rosa Katzenstein and Salomon Feist Katz
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 920; Laufende Nummer: 3836

I had a great deal of trouble learning what happened to two of those daughters, Sara and Sophie. I knew that Sara had married Otto Loew and had two children and that Sophie had married Isaac Vogel, with whom she’d had two sons, Heinz and Carl, but that was all I could find. Then, with incredible help from my friend Aaron Knappstein, I learned that Sara and Sophie as well as their sister Recha had all left Germany in the 1930s and escaped to Argentina.

But I did not know what had happened to the two sons of Sophie Katz Vogel, Carl and Heinz. Now, thanks to more wonderful research done by Aaron Knappstein, I not only know more about their story, I actually have photographs of the family and am in touch with two new cousins.

In April, 2019, Aaron received an email with a packet of information and photographs from Ingo Sieloff, the director of the Borken museum. Back in 2009, Carl Vogel’s daughter had exchanged emails with Heinrich Broz, then the archivist for the town of Borken, and had sent him photographs and other documents and a history of her family. Mr. Sieloff sent all of this to Aaron, and  Aaron sent them on to me. Last week I took a chance and sent Carl’s daughter an email using the email address she’d had in 2009. That same day she responded and shared it with Heinz’s daughter, and now I have two new cousins with whom to share and exchange family information.

Here is more of the story of Sophie Katz and Isaac Vogel. Most of the information in this post came from my correspondence with their granddaughters and the documents and photographs they shared with me.

Sophie Katz married Isaac Vogel on June 9, 1909:

Sophie Katz marriage to Isaak Vogel
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5624

Their son Carl was born on March 30, 1910, in Borken, Germany:

Birth record of Carl Vogel

His brother Heinz was born two years later on July 18, 1912, also in Borken:

Birth record of Heinz Vogel. Courtesy of the Vogel family

During World War I Isaac Vogel served in the Germany military, fighting in France, and then was a city councilor in Borken in the 1920s.

Isaac Vogel (right). Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac Vogel, seated far right. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Isaac worked with his brother Moritz as a cattle trader. It was a business that Isaac and Moritz had taken over from their father Ephraim. It was a small business, but enough to support two families adequately.

Here are three photos of Carl and Heinz and their parents taken between about 1910 to about 1924 in Borken, Germany:

Heinz and Carl Vogel, c. 1910. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Sophie, Heinz, Isaac, and Carl Vogel, c. 1917. Courtesy of the Vogel family

Vogel family, c. 1924. Courtesy of the Vogel family

According to Ingo Sieloff,  the Vogel home in Borken was located at Hintergasse 125 and included a house and a stable; the house was 105 square meters or about 1130 square feet in area. It appears to be larger than that in this photograph:

Hintergasse 125, Borken. Courtesy of the Vogel family

I don’t know when this photograph was taken or the identities of the people standing in front.

As a child, Carl Vogel was an avid reader and a good student, and his parents decided to send him to grammar school in Kassel. During the week he lived with his uncle Moritz Vogel. Carl graduated from high school and then studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. He also attended lectures at Rabbinerseminar and worked as a religion teacher.

These three photographs are labeled “Schule,” one with year 1921. I can find Carl in the Gymnasium photograph below (the third one); he is the young man standing fourth from the left in the back row. I assume that either Carl or Heinz is somewhere in the other two photos. Can you find them? I have guesses, but am not sure.

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Courtesy of the Vogel family

Heinz Vogel was also a very talented boy, but his parents could not afford to send both boys to high school. Instead, Heinz completed his apprenticeship as a retail merchant in Kassel at the Tietz department store.

Until 1933, the family lived a normal life. They saw themselves as Jews and as good Germans. They lived a quiet life, although there were occasional verbal anti-Semitic attacks .  But once the Nazis came to power, the Vogel cattle business suffered because farmers were not allowed to do business with Jews. Heinz Vogel also found his livelihood affected; although he was considered the best salesman in the store, he was released from his job. He then completed an apprenticeship in a practical trade in Frankfurt to prepare for emigration.

Carl read Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and recognized that the family needed to leave Germany. Sophie’s sister Recha Katz Goldschmidt had already left  for Argentina by 1932 after her husband Julius was beaten by the Nazis.

Carl and Heinz prepared to emigrate to Palestine, but then decided to go to Argentina since they already had relatives living there. Heinz and Carl first emigrated in 1935, and one year later their parents Isaac and Sophie and Sophie’s mother Rosa Katzenstein Katz followed. They sold their home in Borken for 9113 Reichsmarks. One source says that there were 2.5 Reichsmarks to a US dollar during World War II, so the price of the house would have been about $3,645 in US currency or about $48,000 in today’s dollars, according to this inflation calculator. They settled in Buenos Aires.

In Argentina, Carl and Heinz had to start their lives all over. But the family adapted well to their life in Argentina. The philanthropic association Asociación Filantrópica Israelita or Jüdischer Hillfsverein helped the newcomers adjust to their new country. In Buenos Aires, Isaac and Sophie continued to have a traditional Jewish home and went regularly to the liberal synagogue founded by German Jews; services were conducted in German and Hebrew and in later years, also in Spanish. Isaac and Sophie never learned Spanish, but it did not matter because they were living amidst other German Jews who had escaped from the Nazis. Isaac also tutored boys for their bar mitzvahs.

In 1943 Carl Vogel married Beate Hamburger from Frankfurt; Carl was very active and well known in the Jewish community and served as a deputy rabbi and as a bar mitzvah tutor. He also taught German and Latin. Beate also was a teacher; she gave private instruction in German and English. Carl and Beate had two children.

Heinz Vogel married Gertrud Lippman from Ludwigshafen in 1943. They had one child. Heinz started work in Argentina as an industrial worker in the meat business. Then he became a white collar worker in a big Argentina-owned multinational firm called Bunge & Born. For his job he was required to travel all over the world, including a six-month stay in India in 1954. He became the General Manager of the Jute department and traveled many times to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Although Heinz lacked the formal education his brother Carl had received in Germany, his daughter described him as a “very cultured and interesting person.” She said that her parents lived a secular life and had friends from many different backgrounds; their connection to the synagogue was limited to Yom Kippur and lifecycle events for family and friends. Heinz’s daughter also told me that Heinz was very proud to be an Argentine citizen and that when he received a diploma from the Argentine government on the fiftieth anniversary of his becoming a citizen, he was very emotional.

Isaac Vogel died on April 16, 1960, in Buenos Aires;1 his wife Sophie died five years later on May 5, 1965.2  Carl died in 1981, and Heinz in 2005.

I feel so fortunate to have found the granddaughters of Sophie and Isaac and to have learned so much more about the courage and determination of Sophie, Isaac, Carl, and Heinz, who all started their lives over in a new place after being forced to escape from Nazi Germany in the 1930s.