Gerson Blumenfeld II, Part II: Two Sons Killed in World War I Fighting for Germany

In the summer of 1914 after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, the countries of Europe and of the wider world declared war on each other based on mutual protection agreements those countries had previously formed. On one side were the Central Powers including Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey; on the other side were the Allies, including France, England, Italy, Russia, Japan, and later the US.

The three sons of Gerson Blumenfeld II and his wife Berta Alexander—Moritz, Friedrich, and Isaak—all served in the German army for the Central Powers. But only one of those sons came home alive.

Moritz, their oldest son, was killed on the Eastern Front of the War in Niedzieliska, Poland, on December 11, 1914, according to his German death record.1 The report of his death came from the commander of his reserve infantry unit, as indicated on the death record, and stated that he’d been shot in the abdomen.2

Moritz Blumenfeld, Death Age: 27, Birth Date: abt 1887, Death Date: 11. Dez 1914 (11 Dec 1914)
Death Place: Momberg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Momberg, Father: Gerson Blumenfeld, Mother: Bertha Blumenfeld, Certificate Number: 1, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 6225; Laufende Nummer: 915, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Niedzieliska was a small village about 42 miles east of Krakow. During the summer and into the fall of 1914, the Russians were successfully fighting the German and Austrian troops in that general area, winning an important battle in Lemberg (now Lviv) in the late summer of 1914 and then moving west and capturing Przemysl in the spring of 1915.

I am very grateful to Eric Feinstein of the GerSIG Facebook group for providing me with access to a description of the battle of Niedzieliska from a book entitled (as translated) Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 83: edited from official and private war diaries by Hans Wahrenburg, published in 1924 by Stalling Verlag in Berlin. Eric pointed me to page 42 which describes the Niedzieliska battle, and I used DeepL to translate it, though some of the references are not clear.

At 12:12, II and III Battalions will be moved out of the forward line during the morning and III Battalion will be housed and fed at Niedzieliska. At 1.30 a.m. the II Battalion also follows there, while at the same time the III Battalion from the eastern exit of the Dorsel is deployed for another assault against the Russian position at the windmill Wszeliwn in the subsection of the 49 RJB.

Heavy flank fire from the right initially hampered the advance of the companies and only after the arrival of II Battalion on the obstructed right wing did the assault proceed briskly, especially since the enemy apparently had little artillery, but was able to bring the assault to a halt with even more intense infantry and M.C. fire.

Exhausting effort! 4 o’clock in the morning the position on the Wszelimn-Dsief road was taken by assault, during which, among others, the leader of 12 Company, Captain a D Rudel, and by roughing up the enemy MC Sergeant Emilius and Muss. Cohn 11 Compagnie, Ref. Zinf. Kriegsfreim. Ludwig and Ref. harms 12th Compagnie and Ref. Deja quite particularly distinguish.

About 1500 prisoners and 12 MC find the spoils of the day. I Battalion advanced as a division reserve to the west exit of Niedzieliska, but failed to enter.

It was sometime during this battle that Moritz Blumenfeld II, oldest child of Gerson Blumenfeld II and Berta Alexander, was mortally wounded.

His younger brother Isaak was killed on the Western Front. Although I do not have a death certificate for Isaak, I have information from the lists of German casualties located on Ancestry and elsewhere. Isaak died in a field hospital in Sainghin-en-Weppes in the north of France on January 8, 1915, after being seriously wounded. He was only 21 at the time.

Isaack Blumenfeld, Residence Year: 1914, Residence Country: Deutschland (Germany)
List Date: 30. Jan 1915 (30 Jan 1915), List Number: 0345, Volume: 1915_VII, Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1919

Isaack Blumenfeld Residence Year: 1914 Residence Country: Deutschland (Germany) List Date: 20. Jan 1915 (20 Jan 1915) List Number: 0331 Volume: 1915_VII, Germany, World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1919

Like Niedzieska where Moritz was killed, Sainghin was just a small village with no obvious strategic importance, but it was located in the region of France where during this time period, thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed during trench warfare where the two sides were essentially deadlocked, going back and forth slaughtering each other’s young soldiers and others.

This UK website on World War I described it in these terms:

By the end of 1914 the battles of movement in the first weeks of the war had been  brought to a halt. The fierce defence of strategic landmarks by the Allied forces resulted in a situation which became one of deadlock. Carefully selecting the most favourable high ground the Imperial German Army began the construction of a strong defensive line from early in 1915.

The consolidation of the Front Lines consisted of trenches, wire defences, mined dugouts and deep bunkers, reinforced concrete emplacements and selected strongpoints, usually a reinforced farm, in an Intermediate, Second and Third defensive line. Gradually the building and digging was carried on on both sides of the wire along a distance of approximately 450 miles, creating a more or less continous line of trenches separating the warring belligerents along the length of The Western Front.

In 1915, 1916 and 1917 both sides made attempts to break the deadlock with major battle offensives. The characteristics of siege warfare which developed on the Western Front in these three years created conditions never witnessed before. Instead of expecting to achieve objectives at a considerable distance from the start of an offensive, the type of trench warfare fighting created a situation where attacks were carried out in phases with short distance objectives and usually following a bombardment of enemy trench lines beforehand. This strategy led to prolonged periods of fighting with success counted in gains hundreds of yards rather than miles. The human cost of casualties and dead in such a grinding type of siege warfare would be recorded in the thousands in the space of a single day.

Isaak Blumenfeld, Gerson II and Berta’s youngest son, was killed during the early days of this period of warfare, less than a month after the death of his brother Moritz.

A January 29, 1914 article in the Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienblatt reported, “The G. Blumenfeld family was hit by a heavy loss. Two hopeful sons both suffered heroic deaths for their fatherland. Both stood out from the enemy with their outstanding bravery honored, the eldest carried a seriously wounded man out of the most terrible shell fire at great risk to his life. The youngest last stood as a teacher in Petershagen on the Weser.”

The deaths of Moritz and Isaak left Gerson and Berta with just one surviving son, their middle son Friedrich. But Friedrich also served in the German armed forces. His great-nephew Michael Rosenberg shared with me Friedrich’s military record, including translations of the information on each page done by Richard Bloomfield.

As translated by Richard, this record indicates that Friedrich began his military service for Germany on August 24, 1915, just months after the deaths of both of his brothers. He was transferred to the homeland and away from the front in January 1917, perhaps because the family had already lost Isaak and Moritz. Friedrich was discharged from service on December 26, 1918, six weeks after the war ended, and came home alive.

His father Gerson Blumenfeld II, however, died in Momberg on July 29, 1919, just seven months after Friedrich returned home. Although Gerson was 66 and thus was not particularly young for that era when he died, I nevertheless wonder whether losing two of this three sons in some way hastened his death.

One might have thought that sacrificing two sons to the cause of Germany in World War I would have somehow kept the rest of this family safe from the Nazis, but it was not to be, as we will see.

  1. At least one secondary source reports that his death occurred on December 12, 1914, but I am relying on his actual death record. See the list of Jewish World War I casualties for Germany at 
  2. Thank you to the members of the GerSIG: German Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group on Facebook for transcribing and translating this record. 

Moritz Werner and Family Revisited, Part I

I will return to the Blumenfeld saga soon, but first I want to share another chapter in my Goldschmidt family history. In early May I received a comment on my blog from a woman named Joyce who turned out to be my fifth cousin on the Goldschmidt branch of my family tree. Since finding my blog, Joyce and her sister Judith have both been in touch and have been incredibly generous in sharing the stories and many photographs of their branch of the Goldschmidt family tree.1

Joyce and Judith and I are all descended from Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann, our mutual four-times great-grandparents. Joyce and Judith are descended from their son Meyer Goldschmidt, and I am descended from their son Seligmann Goldschmidt. This chart shows our relationship to each other with my line of descent to my father John Cohen on the left and Judith and Joyce’s line of descent to their father Max Werner on the right.

I was particularly pleased to hear from Joyce and Judith because I had, as the title of this post reveals, many unanswered questions about their grandfather Moritz Werner and his family. To recap what I did know, as you can see in greater detail and with citations and images in my earlier posts, Helene Katzenstein, the daughter of Amalie Goldschmidt, had first married Moritz Brinkmann, son of Susskind Brinkmann, who had founded the successful knitwear company LS Brinkmann. Moritz and his brother Levi Brinkmann were also partners in LS Brinkmann. (Levi Brinkmann was married to Lina Stern, daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt, Amalie Goldschmidt’s sister, so Levi and Moritz married two women who were first cousins.)

Joyce and Judith shared these photographs of Susskind Brinkmann, Levi Brinkmann, and Moritz Brinkmann.

Susskind Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Levi Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Moritz Brinkmann Courtesy of the family

Sadly, Moritz Brinkmann died just six years after marrying Helene on September 8, 1878, at the age of thirty-two. Three years later on February 7, 1881, Helene married Max Werner, who was also partner in LS Brinkmann.

Helene and Max had five children, and Joyce and Judith’s grandfather Moritz, born in 1888, was their fourth child and first son and was named, according to the family, in honor of Helene’s first husband Moritz Brinkmann. I find that an incredibly generous and loving gesture on the part of Max Werner—to have his own son named in memory of his wife’s first husband. But obviously Max had also worked with Moritz Brinkmann and thus had his own relationship with him.

Mortiz Brinkmann and Max Werner, the two husbands of Helene Katzenstein  Courtesy of the family

Helene Katzenstein Werner died on December 31, 1912, when she was 58. Here are a few photographs of Max and Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner, courtesy of their great-granddaughters.

Max Werner Courtesy of the family

Helene Katzenstein Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Max and Helene Werner Courtesy of the family

Helene and Max’s youngest child and second son Karl was killed on September 25, 1916, fighting for Germany in World War I, as I wrote about in greater detail here. Joyce and Judith shared this wonderful photograph of Karl in uniform (far right) with his parents Max and Helene and one of his sisters sitting in a carriage.

Karl Werner, far right. Max and Helene Werner in rear seat. Driver and a Werner daughter in front. Courtesy of the family

They also sent me these photographs of Karl’s gravestone and the memorial notice published in his memory by his parents.

Joyce translated the memorial notice as follows:

On 25th September our hopeful and beloved son, our brother, nephew, uncle and in-law, our pride and joy, went on patrol.


Karl Werner

Of the defence and infantry regiment


At the young age of barely 23 years died a hero’s death for his fatherland.

He was a son full of life, a faithful comrade. Those who knew him know what we have lost.

His sorely tried and bereft


Max Werner

Reading that conveys so painfully even after 106 years what the family lost and how heartbroken they were by this loss.

What I did not know before Joyce contacted me was that Max and Helene’s only other son, Moritz, also served in the German army during World War I, and he suffered grievous injuries during his service. Joyce was not certain about how he was injured, but he suffered a crushed hip perhaps from being run over by a tank or the wheels of a gun carriage while serving in France. He was physically impaired for the rest of his life, relying on crutches and later a wheelchair to get around.

Here are some photographs of Moritz before his injury and then afterwards.

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner in World War I uniform Courtesy of the family

Moritz Werner after suffering injuries in World War I Courtesy of the family

But before he was sent off to fight for Germany, Moritz had met a young woman named Jenny Kahn and fallen deeply in love. As Moritz’s granddaughters Joyce and Judith tell the story, Jenny’s father Moses Kahn arranged for Jenny to meet eligible men, but warned her not to make any commitments until after the war, fearing that the man she chose would be severely injured during the war. He allowed her to meet Moritz Werner since he came from a respectable Orthodox family and was a friend of Jenny’s brother.

Well, according to Joyce and Judith, Jenny and Moritz fell in love at first sight. She was taken by his good looks and his piercing dark eyes, and when he proposed that very afternoon, she accepted, ignoring her father’s request that she hold off making any commitments until after the war.

And then Moritz went off to war, and as Moses Kahn had feared, suffered a devastating injury. He wrote to Jenny from the field hospital, releasing her from their engagement and telling her to keep the ring and find someone else. According to Joyce, Jenny’s response was something like, “The engagement is off when I say it’s off!”

And so they were married on August 19, 1918. Joyce and Judith shared a photograph of their wedding. You can see that Moritz has a cane in his hands. According to his granddaughters, he had to be carried to the chuppah.

Wedding of Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn 1918 Courtesy of the family

Four years later on September 5, 1922, Jenny gave birth to their only child, Max Werner, named for his grandfather Max Werner, who had died on October 2, 1919, a year after his son’s wedding. Here is a photo of Jenny, one of Max, and one of the entire family.

Jenny Kahn Werner Courtesy of the family

Max Werner c. 1926  Courtesy of the family

Moritz, Jenny, and Max Werner c. 1928

Of course, the world would change for this family like so many in the 1930s. I wrote a bit about that in my earlier post, but there were many questions I could not answer that Joyce and Judith have now answered. More on that and more photos in my next post.


  1. All references to the stories shared by Joyce and Judith came in several emails exchanged during May and June 2022. 

Abraham Blumenfeld III’s Family 1909-1928: Births and Deaths

When Friedericke Rothschild Blumenfeld died on October 8, 1909, five of her nine children were married. There were also quite a few grandchildren born before and shortly after Friedericke’s death. To recap:

Dina and her husband Salomon Heldenmuth had two children: Gertrude (1897) and Siegfried (1902).

Auguste and her husband Menko Stern’s son Max was born in 1901, and their son Julius was born in February, 1910, a few months after Friedericke’s death

Katincka and her husband Samuel Heymann had lost their one child Frieda at ten months in July 1911. She was probably named for her grandmother Friedericke since she was born sometime around September 1910.

We saw that the family had a double/double wedding on June 30, 1909, when Nanny Blumenfeld married Jakob Stern and her brother Hermann Blumenfeld married Jeanette Stern, Jakob’s sister. Those two marriages produced more grandchildren born after Friedericke’s death

Nanny and her husband Jakob Stern had two children. Manfred Stern was born on July 3, 1910, in Treysa.

Manfred Stern birth record, Arcinsys Hessen Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 56

His brother Arthur Stern was born on November 12, 1914, in Treysa.

Arthur Stern birth record , Arcinsys Archives Hessen, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 792, p. 57

Hermann Blumenfeld III and his wife Jeanette had four children. Julius Blumenfeld was born on May 29, 1910, in Momberg.1His sister Frieda was born in Momberg on August 24, 1911;2 she was probably named for Friedericke, but might also have been named for her cousin Frieda Heymann, who had died the month before.

Hermann III and Jeanette’s third child was Max Blumenfeld, born in 1913.3

Abraham Blumenfeld III had lived to see the births of all ten of these grandchildren, and there were two more to come. But he died on December 8, 1913, at the age of 71.

Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6223, Year Range: 1913, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Although I have not been able to locate one record to verify this, according to several trees on Ancestry, Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld gave birth to a fourth child, Alfred, on April 23, 1915. If Jeanette did have this fourth child, it must have led to health problems because she died just a few weeks later on May 8, 1915, in Marburg, Germany.

Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5705, Year Range: 1915, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Jeanette was only 32 years old and left behind four children all under five years of age. Her husband Hermann was a widower at 35.

That tragedy was followed just a year later when Moritz Blumenfeld IV, the eighth and second youngest child of Abraham III and Friedericke, was killed on June 21, 1916, fighting for Germany while the German army was storming Fort Souville in France, a key battlefield in the Verdun battle during World War I. Moritz was 29 years old when he lost his life in battle. Like his cousin Siegmund Blumenfeld, he gave his life for the country that would persecute and murder his relatives just twenty years later.

His two brothers-in-law Jakob Stern and Menko Stern also fought for Germany in World War I, but they came back alive.

Thus, in three years the family lost Abraham Blumenfeld III, his daughter-in-law Jeanette Stern Blumenfeld, and his youngest son Moritz Blumenfeld IV.

On April 12, 1920, Hermann Blumenfeld III remarried five years after losing his first wife Jeanette. His second wife was Ida Stern, daughter of Samuel Stern and Guetel Loewenstein, born in Wehrda, Germany, on September 17, 1878. As far as I can determine, there was no relationship between Ida Stern and Hermann’s first wife Jeanette Stern, but there may very well have been some cousin relationship.

Hermann Blumenfeld and Ida Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 3583, Year Range: 1920, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Hermann and Ida had one child together, a son Kurt Siegfried Blumenfeld, born in Momberg on July 11, 1921.4

Neither Hugo Blumenfeld nor his sister Bertha Blumenfeld, the sixth and seventh of the nine children of Abraham Blumenfeld III, ever married or had children. In fact, there were no more weddings or births in the family until Emma Blumenfeld, the youngest sibling, married Siegmund Wetterhahn on September 17, 1923. Siegmund was born in Rimbach, Germany, on February 20, 1887, to Alexander Wetterhahn and Emilie Seligmann. Emma had lost her mother when she was a teenager and her father when she was 22. But she fortunately had seven older siblings and many nieces and nephews still living when she married Siegmund Wetterhahn.

Emma Blumenfeld and Siegmund Wetterhahn marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1923, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Siegmund and Emma had one child, a daughter Trude Ruth Friedericke Wetterhahn, born on April 9, 1925, in Frankfurt, Germany. She was the last born of the twelve grandchildren of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke Rothschild.5

Tragedy struck the family three years later when Hermann Blumenfeld III, widowed at 35 and left to raise four children on his own, died at age 48 in Momberg on October 17, 1928. He also left behind his second wife Ida and their seven year old son Kurt.

Hermann Blumenfeld death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6238, Year Range: 1928, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Thus, by the end of 1928, seven of the nine children of Abraham III and Friedericke were still living, but two of the three sons had died, Moritz in World War I and Hermann. Eleven of their grandchildren were also living.

How many of these descendants of Abraham Blumenfeld III and Friedericke would survive the Holocaust?

To be continued.

  1. Julius Blumenfeld, Gender: männlich (Male), Nationality: dtsch. Juden, Residence Age: 29, Record Type: Residence, Birth Date: 29 Mai 1910 (29 May 1910), Birth Place: Momberg, Last Residence: Momberg, Sojourn Start Date: 3 Mai 1940 (3 May 1940)
    Residence Place: Treysa Ziegenhain, Sojourn End Date: 18 Okt 1940 (18 Oct 1940)
    Notes: Foreigners who were living in the location during the war – permanently or temporarily, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70487480Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  2.  Frieda Blumenfeld S., Gender: weiblich (Female), Nationality: Deutsch Juden
    Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 24 Aug 1911, Birth Place: Momberg
    Residence Place: Momberg Marburg, Notes: Lists of judicial and official files concerning foreigners and German Jews, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70443455, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  3. Meir Max Blumenfeld, Name in Hebrewמאיר מקס בלומנפלדHebrew Nameמאיר מקס, Birth Date1913 Death Date21 Sep 2004 / ו תשרי תשסהDeath Place Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot /בי”ח קפלן Age at Death91Burial Date22 Sep 2004Burial Plotסא ד 29Burial PlaceRehovot, IsraelFather NameHerman /הרמןMother NameYenta /ינטהCemetery Burials197 
  4.  Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  5. Entry at Yad Vashem found at 

Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter and Her Family, Part I: A Son Killed in Battle

Having told the stories of seven of Abraham Blumenfeld IIA’s eight children,1 I now turn to his youngest child, his daughter Gelle. She was born on July 16, 1857. Later records refer to her as Caroline (or Karoline) and so I will refer to her by that name was as well.2

Birth record of Gelle Blumenfeld, Arcinsys Hessen Archives, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 608, p. 5

Caroline married Simon Hoxter on November 30, 1882, in Neustadt, Germany. Simon was born in Gemunden, Germany, on August 26, 1852, to Anselm Hoxter and Betty Blumenthal. (Hoxter is spelled with an umlaut or an “oe” in German, but for simplicity purposes, I am just going to spell it Hoxter.)

Jettchen Blumenfeld, Gender: weiblich (Female),Age: 25, Birth Date: 16 Jul 1857
Marriage Date: 20 Nov 1882, Marriage Place: Neustadt, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany)
Civil Registration Office: Neustadt (Hessen), Father: Abraham Blumenfeld, Mother: Güdel Blumenfeld, Spouse: Simon Thoxter, Certificate Number: 16, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 6492, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Thank you to my cousin Peter Keibel, great-grandson of Caroline and Simon, for sharing these two photographs of his great-grandparents.

Caroline Blumenfeld Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Simon Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Caroline and Simon had four children, one son and three daughters. Their son Siegmund was born on December 5, 1883, in Gemuenden.

Siegmund Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4110, Year Range: 1883, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Their daughter Toni was born on October 14, 1885, in Gemuenden.

Toni Hoxter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4112
Year Range: 1885, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Betty, born August 3, 1889, in Gemuenden.

Betty Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4116, Year Range: 1889, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Finally, Gerda, the youngest child, was born June 7, 1895, in Gemuenden.

Gerda Hoexter birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 4122, Year Range: 1895, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

I am grateful to my cousin Peter Keibel for sharing this wonderful photograph of the four children of his great-grandparents Simon Hoxter and Caroline Blumenfeld: Betty, Siegmund, Gerda, and Toni.

Betty, Siegmund, Gerda, and Toni Hoxter, c. 1910. Courtesy of the family

Toni married Sally (later Sol) Goldschmidt on July 6, 1910. He was born on July 4, 1881, in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, to Isaak Goldschmidt and Malchen Greif.

Marriage record of Toni Hoxter and Sally Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5625, Year Range: 1910, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Toni and Sally had two children, a daughter Miriam born on April 23, 1911, in Hersfeld,3 and a son Arthur born on August 9, 1913, in Hersfeld.4

The family’s life was cruelly disrupted when Caroline and Simon’s son Siegmund was killed while fighting for Germany in World War I. He was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres on May 8, 1915. His death record says that he was the Vizefeldwebel (vice-sergeant) of the Königlich-Preussisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 46 No. 234, 8. Kompanie and died in Wieltje, Belgium. He was one of over 35,000 German soldiers killed in that battle; the Allies lost roughly 59,000 troops, making this one of the costliest battles in World War I. It is perhaps mostly remembered as the first time the Germans used chlorine gas in combat on the Western front, explaining why so many more Allies died as compared to the German losses.[5]

Siegmund Höxter, Age: 31, Birth Date: abt 1884, Death Date: 8 Mai 1915 (8 May 1915)
Death Place: Marburg, Hessen (Hesse), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Marburg, Father: Simon Höxter, Mother: Karoline Höxter, Certificate Number: 331, 
Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5705, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Caroline and Simon thus lost their oldest child and only son fighting for Germany in the war. Here is a beautiful photograph of Siegmund wearing his World War I uniform, courtesy of Peter Keibel and the family.

Siegmund Hoxter. Courtesy of the family

Five months after Siegmund’s death, his sister Betty married Max Oppenheimer on October 5, 1915. Max, a doctor, was born on August 28, 1886, in Hadamar, Germany, and was the son of Adolf Oppenheimer, a teacher, and Johanna WInkelstein.5

Betty and Max had two children, Lotte and Franz Siegmund. Lotte was born on January 29, 1917, in Posen in what was still a province of Germany at that time and  is now part of Poland, as it became in the aftermath of World War I.6 Franz Siegmund, presumably named in memory of Betty’s brother, was born on February 17, 1920, in Friedberg, Germany.7 I don’t know why Betty and Max’s children were born in two different cities, one quite far from the Hesse region where both Betty and Max were from.

Betty’s younger sister and Caroline and Simon’s youngest child Gerda married Adolf Goldschmidt on May 8, 1922, in Marburg, Germany. Adolf was the son of Louis Elieser Goldschmidt and Sophie Adler and was born on March 11, 1885, in Eldagsen in the Hanover region of Germany. Adolf Goldschmidt and Toni’s husband Sally Goldschmidt were first cousins, both grandsons of  Feist Goldschmidt and Minna Wallach.8

Marriage record of Gerda Hoxter and Adolf Goldschmidt, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5640, Year Range: 1922, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Gerda and Adolf’s grandson Peter shared this beautiful photograph of his grandparents:

Gerda Hoxter and Adolf Goldschmidt. Courtesy of the family

Gerda and Adolf had two daughters. Inge was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1923, and Lore was born three years later on March 23, 1926, in Elberfeld, a section of Wuppertal not far from Dusseldorf where Adolf now owned a department store.9 This adorable photo of Inge (later Jane) and Lore (later Alice) was provided by Jane’s son, my cousin Peter.

(Alice) Lore Goldschmidt and (Jane) Inge Goldschmidt, c. 1931. Courtesy of the family

Thus, by 1926, Caroline Blumenfeld and her husband Simon Hoxter had six grandchildren. They had tragically lost their son Siegmund during his service for Germany in World War I, but I hope they were finding joy in those grandchildren and with their three daughters in the years after Siegmund’s death.

Of course, the family’s life would change drastically in the 1930s.

To be continued.

  1. As mentioned earlier, the sixth child Rebecca died when she was four years old, and the seventh child Heinemann married my cousin Caroline Katzenstein and their story and that of their children was told when I was writing about my Katzenstein family line. 
  2. Her marriage record refers to her as Jettchen Blumenfeld, but I don’t see that name used on any other records. 
  3.  Miriam Lauter, Social Security Number: 112-05-7561, Birth Date: 23 Apr 1911
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 11375, Flushing, Queens, New York, USA, Death Date: 7 Jan 1988, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  4. Arthur Goldschmidt, World War II draft registration, National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York State, 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  5. The marriage date came from Peter Keibel, grandson of Toni Hoxter and Sally Goldschmidt, and thus the nephew of Betty Hoxter Oppenheimer. Peter also provided me with some other information, as will be noted. Max’s birth and parent information was found on his birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 912; Laufende Nummer: 1832, Year Range: 1886, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901. Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group for helping me to decipher Adolf’s mother’s birth name. 
  6. Lotte’s birth information was found in her immigration file at the Israel State Archives, which can be found by searching for her name at 
  7. Franz Siegmund’s birth information was found in his father’s immigration file at the Israel State Archives, found by searching for his name at 
  8. The familial connection between Adolf and Sally Goldschmidt was pointed out to me Peter Keibel; I then found the marriage records of their respective parents, which corroborated that their fathers were both the sons of Feist Goldschmidt and Minna Wallach. 
  9. Inge is still living, so I will not reveal her exact birth date; Lore’s birth information came from U.S., Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Volume 2. Inge (later Jane)’s son Peter provided the information about his grandfather’s store in Wuppertal. 

Taube Brotman Hecht’s Son Harry: A Son of Immigrants and a World War I Hero

In 1910, the family of Jacob and Taube (Tillie) Hecht was living in Brooklyn, as we saw. But by 1913, they had returned to Manhattan. Their oldest daughter Ida married Julius Goldfarb on November 20, 1913. Both she and Julius were living at the same address, 131 Avenue C, in Manhattan, according to their marriage certificate.

Marriage certificate of Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Julius Goldfarb and Ida Hecht, 20 Nov 1913; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,613,807.

But no, they weren’t living together before they married. Their families lived in the same building. The 1915 New York State census shows that the family of Sam and Sarah (Brod) Goldfarb and the family of Taube (Brotman) and Jacob Hecht were all living at that same address. As I’ve mentioned before, also living at that address were my great-uncle Hyman/Herman Brotman, Taube’s half-brother, and his family.

Goldfarb, Hyman Brotman and family, and Jacob Hecht, 1915 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 18; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 85
Description District: A·D· 06 E·D· 18, New York, U.S., State Census, 1915

The 1915 NYS census reported that Jacob was 50, Taube (Tillie) 40, that both were born in Austria, had been in the US for 30 years, and were still not citizens of the United States. Jacob was working as a tailor. They still had seven children living at home with them. Their oldest child Harry was 23 and a salesman at a department store. David (19), Etta (16), Gussie (14), Sadie (12), Rosie (9), and Eva (7) were all in school.

I am very grateful to my cousin Jerry for sharing this photograph of Taube and Jacob and all eight of their children, taken probably around 1915.

Standing rear: Julius Goldfarb, Ida Hecht Goldfarb, Harry Hecht, David Hecht, Etta Hecht. Standing front: Sadie (Shirley) Hecht, Taube “Tillie” Hecht, Eva (Evelyn) Hecht, Jacob Hecht, Ruth Hecht, Gussie (Jean) Hecht. c. 1915 Courtesy of Jerold Oshinsky

Meanwhile, Ida and Julius had moved to Jersey City, and I’ve told their story here, here, and here, so will not repeat it again, except to note that Taube and Jacob became grandparents when Ida gave birth to her first daughter Sylvia on May 7, 1915, in Jersey City. Ida had had her second child, Gertrude, on June 28, 1917, in Jersey City, giving Taube and Jacob their second grandchild.

By that time, the US had entered World War I, and both of Taube and Jacob’s sons registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. They were living at 306 East 11th Street in Manhattan, showing that the Hecht family had moved yet again.

Harry was working as a salesman at B. Altman’s department store. He described himself as tall and slender with brown hair and brown eyes.

Harry Hecht, World War I draft registration, New York; Registration County: New York U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

David was a student and employed by City College of New York. He also described himself as tall, slight, with brown hair and brown eyes. David claimed an exemption from service for physical reasons not specified. David did end up working as a clerk for the War Department.

David Hecht, World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Harry, however, was drafted into the US Army on September 28, 1917. He was sent to Camp Upton for basic training and  assigned to Company K of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion of the 77th Division. He was promoted to a bugler in December, 1917,1 and shipped out to Europe with his company on April 16, 1918.2

His granddaughter Jan shared this photograph of Harry in uniform.

Harry Hecht, c. 1918. Courtesy of Jan Lisa Huttner

A detailed journal of the wartime activities of the 305th Machine Gun Battalion written by Henry W. Smith can be found here. It provides an almost day by day description of the training and experiences and the course of the battles these soldiers fought in France.

Harry spent a year serving overseas in France in some of the most important and most deadly battles of World War I. He served in the Baccarat Sector, where this video was filmed and shows the arrival of the 77th Division.3

He also served in the Vesle Sector and fought in the third Oise Aisne offensive in the late summer of 1918, one of the most important battles of the war as the Allied forces began to force the Germans to retreat. Here is a film of the Oise Aisne offensive.

Harry was gassed during the Oise Aisne offensive on September 5, 1918, and evacuated to the 305th Field Hospital. But he returned to the battlefield and fought in the Meuse Argonne offensive in the fall of 1918.4

As described on the National Archives website:

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties.

Fortunately, Harry was not among those killed in this horrific battle. He was promoted to the rank of private first class in November, 1918, and received a regimental citation for his outstanding service. The citation specified that, “For extraordinary heroism in the Bois de la Naza, Argonne Forest, when the battalion was held up by heavy machine gun fire from Oct. 1 to 5, 1918, P.F.C. Hecht continuously delivered messages to 3 Bat. Hdqtrs. and also maintained liaison with Cos. M & L 305 Inf who were on our right at that time, being subjected at all times to machine gun and shell fire.”5

Harry was discharged from the Army on May 9, 1919,6 and returned home, an American hero: a son of Jewish immigrants, a boy whose father worked in a sweatshop sewing coats to provide for his wife and eight children, and my mother’s first cousin. I am proud to call him my cousin as well.


  1. Harry Sidney Hecht, New York, U.S., Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917-1919; Harry Hecht, Series II: Questionnaires: Jews; Record Group Description: (B) Casualties (Boxes 6-9); Box #: 6; Folder #: 6; Box Info: (Box 6) H-Hez, U.S., World War I Jewish Servicemen Questionnaires, 1918-1921 
  2.  Harry Sidney Hecht, Departure Date: 16 Apr 1918, Departure Place: New York, New York, Address: 306 E 11th St, Residence Place: New York, New York
    Father: Jacob Hecht, Ship: Cedric, Rank: Bugl, Service Number: #1698294
    Notes: Company “K” 305th Infantry NA, The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 404, U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 
  3. See note 1, above. 
  4. See note 1, above. 
  5. See note 1, above. 
  6. See note 1, above. 

Goldfarbs 1916-1920: Years of Growth but One Tragic Loss

Sarah Brod Goldfarb’s first twenty years in the United States from 1896 to 1916 were years of change and growth. She arrived with four children and settled in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. She and her husband Sam had three more children, moved from New Jersey to New York City, and saw three of their seven children marry—Julius, Gussie, and Bessie. In addition, Sarah and Sam became grandparents during those years; Bessie and her husband Meyer Malzberg had their first child Norman, and Julius and his wife Ida had their first child Sylvia.

The next five years also saw much growth, but one tragic loss.

When the US entered World War I in 1917, Sarah’s adult sons had to register for the draft. Julius registered in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was working as a saloon keeper in his own establishment.

Julius Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712213; Draft Board: 10, Registration State: New Jersey; Registration County: Hudson Source Information U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Morris’ World War I draft registration shows that in 1917 he was still living at 131 Avenue C with his parents and working as an operator for the B&R Cloak and Shirt Company.

Morris Goldfarb, World War I draft registration, egistration State: New York; Registration County: New York, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

By the time Joe Goldfarb registered in December, 1918 (after the war had ended), Sam and Sarah had moved to 526 Williams Avenue in Brooklyn. Joe was working as a claims adjuster for the American Railway Express Company.

Joseph Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: Kings, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

And Leo, the youngest son, also was working for the American Railway Express Company and living at 526 Williams Avenue with his parents.

Leo Goldfarb World War I draft registration, Registration State: New York; Registration County: Kings, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

As far as I can tell, none of the brothers ended up serving in the war, and Sam and Sarah were among the fortunate parents who did not lose a son in World War I.

But the year after the war ended, the family did suffer a tragic loss. Sarah and Sam’s daughter Gussie Goldfarb Katz died on May 13, 1919. She was about 31 years old (records vary). Her death certificate reports that her cause of death was acute lobar pneumonia. According to family lore, she was one of the millions of victims of the 1918-1919 pandemic.

New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,” database, FamilySearch ( : 3 June 2020), Gussie Katz, 13 May 1919; citing Death, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,324,337.

Gussie was survived by her husband Max; they had no children. Max remarried within a few years and had children with his second wife.

There was also good news, however, during those years during and after World War I. Julius and Ida Goldfarb had a second daughter, Gertrude, who was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 28, 1917.1 And Bessie and Meyer Malzberg’s son Gustave was born in New York on June 4, 1919, less than a month after Bessie lost her sister Gussie.2 Gustave was perhaps named for his recently deceased aunt.

There was also another family wedding during this time. Morris Goldfarb, Sarah’s second oldest child, married Anna Grinbaum in Brooklyn on February 2, 1919. Anna, according to the marriage certificate, was born to Samuel Grinbaum and Molly Goldman in Austria/Galicia and was 21 when she married Morris. I could not find any records for Anna earlier than the marriage record, but later records indicate she immigrated to the US in about 1914 and was born in 1897.

Marriage record of Morris Goldfarb and Anna Grinbaum, Morris Goldfarb
Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 2 Feb 1919, Marriage Place: Kings, New York, USA
Certificate Number: 1346, New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937

On May 26, 1920, Anna gave birth to their first child, Martin Goldfarb, in New York, New York, giving Sarah and Sam their fifth grandchild.3

The 1920 US census shows Sam and Sarah living at 526 Williams Street in Brooklyn with Joe and Leo, both working for the express company, and Rose, a dressmaker for a factory in New York. Sam was not employed and was now 64 years old, according to the census, and Sarah was 54.

Sam and Sarah Goldfarb 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Brooklyn Assembly District 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T625_1146; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 82; Image: 21

Julius and Ida and their two daughters Sylvia and Evelyn were living in Jersey City as of the 1920 census, which listed Julius’ occupation as “liquor business.”

Julius Goldfarb and family 1920 US census, lines 70-73
Year: 1920; Census Place: Jersey City Ward 3, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1043; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 135; Image: 1104

Unfortunately, despite searching anyway and anywhere I could, I could not locate either the family of Morris and Anna Goldfarb or Meyer and Bessie (Goldfarb) Malzberg on the 1920 census.

So as of 1920, the Goldfarb family had experienced much growth and one terribly tragic loss.


  1.  Gertrude Goldfarb Levy, Birth Date: 28 Jun 1917, Birth Place: Jersey City, New Jersey, Death Date: Feb 1979, Father: Julius Goldfarb, Mother: Ida Hecht, SSN: 140449263, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. 
  2. Gustav Malzberg, Birth Date: 4 Jun 1919, Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 21712, New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 
  3. Martin Goldfarb, Birth Date: 26 May 1920, Birth Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 25007, New York, New York, U.S., Birth Index, 1910-1965 

Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner: Losing A Son in World War I

When Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein died in 1903, she was survived by four of her children and eleven grandchildren. As we move into the twentieth century, I will focus on each of those four children separately, starting with Amalie’s oldest child, Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner.

We already saw that Helene had first married Moritz Brinkmann in 1872 and that he had died six years later; she then married Max Werner in 1881, and they had three daughters and two sons.

Their first child was Henriette, born on January 15, 1882, in Eschwege.

Henriette Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1836, Year Range: 1882, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Elsa, who was born on June 27, 1883, in Eschwege.

Elsa Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1837, Year Range: 1883, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Rosa, the third daughter, was born in Eschwege on January 15, 1885.

Rosa Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1839, Year Range: 1885, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Moritz was born September 12, 1888, in Eschwege.

Moritz Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1842, Year Range: 1888, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And finally their fifth child Carl was born on February 21, 1894, in Eschwege.

Carl Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1848, Year Range: 1894, Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Helene and Max’s children began to marry in the first decade of the 20th century. Henriette Werner married Julius Cohen on November 11, 1901, in Eschwege. Julius was born January 9, 1869, in Altona, Germany, a town neighboring Hamburg, to Salamon Cohen and Emma Moeller.

Henriette Werner marriage to Julius Cohen, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1886, Year Range: 1901, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Henriette and Julius settled in Altona, where their daughter Mary was born on September 21, 1902.1 She was followed by her brother Manfred on June 1, 1904,2 and a second brother, Willy Wolf, on March 29, 1906.3

Henriette’s sister Elsa Werner married Julius Loewenthal on November 16, 1903, in Eschwege; as has already been discussed, Julius was her second cousin as his grandmother Sarah Goldschmidt Stern was the sister of Elsa’s grandmother Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

Having already discussed the story of Elsa and Julius and their children here and here, as well as in Julius’ memoir, discussed here, here, here and here, I will simply refer you back to those sources.

Helene and Max’s third daughter Rosa Werner married Josef Wormser on June 15, 1908. Joseph was the son of Raphael Wormser and Fanni Hirsch and was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on October 17, 1874.

Rosa Werner marriage to Josef Wormser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923, Year Range: 1908, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Josef had four children, all born in Zurich, Switzerland, where Rosa and Josef had settled. Esther was born on October 13, 1909, Raphael on April 17, 1911, Julius was born on January 8, 1914, and Helene on January 22, 1917.4

Unfortunately, Helene Katzenstein Werner did not live to see the birth of her grandchildren Julius and Helene. She died on December 31, 1912, in Eschwege. She was 58. Her granddaughter Helene Wormser was presumably named for her.

Helene Katzenstein Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1957, Year Range: 1912, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

In some ways Helene’s death was a blessing because she was spared the suffering caused by World War I, including the death of her son Carl (sometimes spelled Karl) on September 25, 1916, while fighting for Germany. According to his death record filed in Eschwege, he died at the eastern front in Russia-Poland at the Schtschara-Serwetsch battle site. Thank you to the members of the GerSIG group on Facebook for their help in transcribing and translating Carl’s death record:

Karl Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1962, Year Range: 1916, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Translation: Eschwege, October 11, 1916 The commander of the replacement battalion Landwehr Infantry Regiment 6 has announced that the non-commissioned officer in the 8th company of this regiment, businessman Karl WERNER, 22 years old, Mosaic religion, living in Eschwege, Friedrich Wilhelmstrasse 48, born in Eschwege, is single , Son of the businessman Max WERNER, residing in Eschwege, and his late wife Helene, née KATZENSTEIN, most recently residing in Eschwege, where the Shchara in Russian Poland died on the twenty-fifth (25) September of the year thousand nine hundred sixteen. The exact time of death has not been established.

The Shchara River is in what is now Belarus, not too far from the border with Poland. As noted on the death record, Carl was a member of the Third Landwehr-Division, Infantry Regiment No. 6. According to Wikipedia, “The 3rd Landwehr Division fought on the Eastern Front in World War I. It was on the front in Poland from the early days, and participated in the Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive, crossing the Vistula in July and advancing toward the Bug, and eventually reaching the line between the Servech and Shchara rivers, where the front stabilized. It remained in the line there until the armistice on the Eastern Front in December 1917.” It was obviously during one of the battles at this front that young Carl Werner was killed; he was only twenty-two years old when he gave his life for Germany.

Third Landwehr Division at the Eastern Front in World War I, found at (public domain)

Max Werner died almost exactly three years after his son Carl on October 2, 1919; he was seventy.

Max Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1965, Year Range: 1919, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Neither Max nor Helene lived to see the birth of their last grandchild. Their son Moritz married Jenny Kahn on August 19, 1918; Jenny was born May 7, 1894, in Baisingen, Germany. She was the daughter of Moses Kahn and Amalie Marx.

Moritz Werner marriage to Jenny Kahn, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1918, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn had one child, born in Eschwege in 1922, named Max, presumably for his paternal grandfather Max Werner.5

Thus, Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner were survived by four of their five children and numerous grandchildren. They lost their son Carl in World War I, but despite that sacrifice, Carl’s siblings all had to flee from Germany during the Nazi era. We’ve already seen the fate—some tragic—of Elsa Werner Loewenthal and her family. In the next post we will see what happened to Carl and Elsa’s sister Henriette and her family.

  1. Mary 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, Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 
  2. 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, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-194 
  3. William Wolf Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Ohio, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 261, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  4. I have no primary sources for these birth dates. They come from family trees on My Heritage and gravestones on BillionGraves. More on that later. 
  5. My source for this date is My Heritage. 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part III: World War I and Its Aftermath of Darkening Clouds

By the turn of the 20th century, Julius Loewenthal was a young man in his late twenties who was making his mark as a business leader in his uncle’s knitwear business in Eschwege, Germany. The first three decades of the new century would provide him with many personal and professional challenges, as we will see.

In 1903 I married my second cousin Elsa Werner. I was 29 years old, and she was 20. We lived in the Reichensachser Strasse in an small apartment. In 1905 my daughter Ruth was born. Our happiness was great… Now that I had become a family man I was happy in a time before the 1st World War. The record player was invented and we were able to sit and listen to records. It was a monumental experience, to sit and listen to the latest opera and concerts. Guests came, and everybody was enchanted by the quiet life we were leading and the good food. In 1909 my son Herbert was born. He was a good son but had later on many problems, some of which were hard for me to understand.

Julius and Elsa (Werner) Loewenthal.
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

In 1907 my dear uncle Levy died. The sorrow was great.

[Julius then described the growth of the family knitwear business in Eschwege after Levy Brinkmann’s death.]

The outbreak of the war changed everything. Jobs which had been done by men were now being done by women. There was great shortage of every imaginable item. Regulations came down which made life impossible and business worse. We worked full blast for the Army making sweaters and underwear. We were very strictly controlled and regulated, and one had one foot always in jail. German industries were not at all prepared for war, and chaos prevailed….

There were great shortages of raw materials, and we started to manufacture underwear from paper yarns which stood up well considering….Food was very short. My dear wife ran around the surrounding villages begging for a few eggs, milk, and butter. Our Matzoh on Passover was black like coal. Butter and meat could only be bought on the black market.

During the third year of the war I received prisoners from Belgium….They unfortunately all died of different diseases they contracted in the war zone. I lived between the living and the dead. I had to empty bed pans and play nurse, Doctor, Business Manager, etc. Doctors were not available because they were all at the front.

I was unable to have a free minute. I yearned for a vacation spot and a place of recreation. Thus, I got the idea to buy a house in Bad Sooden near Eschwege where we could vacation and spend the weekends. We called it Villa Elsa. It had a beautiful view of the forests and surroundings, and we owned the house from 1917 to 1933. …We spent as much time as we could in Bad Sooden. We kept 2 horses in Eschwege, which were used by the factory for hauling cases to and from the Station. On weekends we used them to take us to Sooden in a Landau, which was an experience in itself to travel the 10 miles by horse drawn carriage.

Bad Sooden, Germany
Jörg Braukmann / CC BY-SA (

In 1920 a lot of refugees came to Eschwege and in particular to Sooden… One of the outstanding events of those days was the fact that already Antisemitism reared its ugly head. It became very widespread in Sooden. Our friendly relations with our neighbors became more and more strained because people lived from hand to mouth. Taxes were very high, and there existed sorrow and desperation among most people.

The stories were spread that the Jews were the cause of all that sorrow and were the cause of the War when the truth was that the Jews participated equally in the war and made their own bloody sacrifices as well as participated in the rebuilding of the country…. We were of the belief that this had all disappeared with the middles ages; however, we were wrong. … The hate remained and had nothing to do with reason. The seeds which were planted already then throughout the country were to blossom out in full during Hitler’s time.  We did not recognize the depth of all this and were subsequently taught a terrible lesson.

With the occupation of the Ruhr district by the French Army came the Inflation. Nobody knew what it was, nobody understood what it was, and subsequently poor were made out of the wealthy overnight and turned the whole nation into beggars and brought sorrow and desperation to each and every household. The wealth of my own family and that of my relations were gone overnight. Only a few ever recovered in their lifetime. Only those who had a business were able to recover and pull themselves out of the poorhouse.

In spite of that, the house in Sooden became a beautiful escape spot even though we no longer spoke with the neighbors. We lived alone for us. We were still respected and tolerated, but the Sun had grown darker.

Ruth had married Dr. Leonard Fulda from Mainz. He was a wonderful kind man, and the two were very happy with each other….

Already before the 1st World war was it our intention to build ourselves a house in Eschwege. The houses which were available were old, old-fashioned, and many without gas or electric. ….[w]ith the outbreak of the war we postponed the building. I was not called to the colors as my work was considered more important.

In 1926 we started to build…It was a house that was the talk of many throughout Europe as it incorporated many features which at that time were new, modern, unheard of, and the house remains just as modern today as it was at that time. [What follows is a detailed description of the house.] My daughter Hilde was married in the house, and the ceremony as well as the set table for more than 30 guests did not interfere with each other. We lived in this house from 1926 until 1938. We lived there happily until we were chased out of Germany by the Nazis. At this moment [1940] the Nazis have converted the house into a temporary hospital.

Home of Julius and Elsa (Werner) Loewnethal in Eschwege Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

[In the next section of his memoir, Julius described how despite the economic conditions in Germany generally, he was able to make extensive expansions in the family business including the construction of a new factory.]

The years 1924 through 1933 passed with growing political and unemployment tensions. …and the Jews became a very convenient place to heap the blame …[i]n spite of the fact that the German Jews were through their activity still one of the stable areas in the floundering economy. There were many Jewish owned businesses of different sizes throughout Germany, and nearly all commanded the respect of the business world including my own fine reputation, which reached far beyond the borders of Germany. This, while other non-Jewish businesses went bankrupt, contributed to the hate and jealousy of those unfortunate and unemployed. It was a vicious circle.

Somehow despite the awful economic suffering experienced throughout Germany after World War I, Julius Loewenthal managed to continue to expand his business and live comfortably both in Eschwege and in their vacation home in Bad Sooden. But he and his family were already experiencing the growth of anti-Semitism. They likely, however, had no idea just how bad things were going to get.

More in the next segment of Julius Loewenthal’s memoir in my next post. I will be taking a short break this week, but will post Parts IV and V next week.


The Court-Martial of Albert F. Cahn

I want to start 2020 with a story that is in many ways one of the most disturbing and challenging stories I’ve researched. It’s a story about bullying and military (in)justice and the folly of youth.

Felix Albert Cahn, who was known as Albert, was my fourth cousin, once removed.

Remembering the tragic start to Albert’s life makes his story especially poignant. To recap what I’ve already written about him:

Felix Albert Cahn was the son of May Sigmund and Gerson Cahn. May was the biological daughter of Lena Sigmund and Solomon Sigmund. Her mother Lena died when May was a year old.  Solomon, May’s biological father, seems to have disappeared from her life after Lena died. So May was effectively an orphan from the time she was a toddler, and was raised and seemingly adopted by her grandparents, Ella Goldschmidt and Albert Sigmund.

May married Gerson Cahn on April 24, 1898, and their son Albert was born on November 6, 1899 in Baltimore.  His father Gerson died on November 23, 1903, and his mother May died just four months later on March 18, 1904. Albert was only four years old and had lost both his parents. Albert, like his mother, was orphaned as a young child.

Marriage record of Gerson Cahn and May Sigmund,

In 1910 when Albert was ten, he was living with his biological first cousin and adoptive aunt, Mollie Sigmund Goldman, and her family. Albert engaged in charitable work, collecting money for sick children, when he was thirteen, and he was confirmed at Har Sinai Temple in Baltimore when he was fourteen. He seemed to be growing up just fine.

Harry Goldman and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Baltimore Ward 15, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland; Roll: T624_558; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0250; FHL microfilm: 1374571 1910 United States Federal Census

Then Albert entered the military. According to a volume compiled in 1933, Maryland In the World War, 1917-1919: Military And Naval Service Records, Albert was inducted into the US Army on June 20, 1917, when he was seventeen. He was promoted to private, first class, on August 3, 1917, and was serving with the Ambulance Corps, but not overseas. Then on December 13, 1917, he went absent without leave and was found guilty of desertion. He was sent to prison at Fort Jay in New York City on August 20, 1918, and was dishonorably discharged from the army on March 14, 1919.1

The only additional information I could initially find about Albert’s military record was this brief news item that was published on September 27, 1918, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 27, 1918, p. 19

I was quite disturbed by this news story and the report in the Maryland in the World War book, and I was determined to learn more about Albert’s case. I sent a request to the National Archives National Personnel Records Center and received this reply:

Thus, it appeared that there was no file about Albert Cahn’s military record that survived the 1973 fire at the National Archives.  I then decided to see if there was a record of Albert’s court-martial that existed separately from his military records. I wrote again to the National Archives asking if there would be a transcript of a court-martial from 1919. And sure enough there was.

The file is 35 pages long, and I won’t reproduce it here in its entirety, but if you are interested, you can find it here; CahnAlbertF_1760263_GCM  I will summarize most of it and share some of the pages. The pages in the citations refer to the page numbers in the file I received from NARA.

Albert was charged with desertion, to which he pled not guilty, as articulated here:

Court Martial file of Albert F. Cahn, p. 14

There were only three witnesses at the trial. The first witness was Harry Goldman, Mollie Sigmund’s husband. Harry described Mollie as Albert’s guardian and as “his mother’s niece,” that is, May Sigmund Cahn, Albert’s mother, was Mollie’s niece (as well as her adoptive sister). (p. 15) Mollie herself was the second witness, and finally Albert testified on his own behalf. Rather than recount the testimony in the order it was given, I thought it would be more helpful to tell Albert’s story in chronological order as described by the three witnesses.

Harry testified that after Albert’s father Gerson Cahn died, Albert’s mother May asked her aunt/adoptive sister Molly if she and Albert could temporarily live with Molly’s family. Then May died a few months after moving in to Molly’s home, leaving Albert an orphan. Harry testified that Albert’s grandfather had no interest in Albert, and Harry and Molly’s children persuaded them to take care of Albert on a permanent basis. Thus, Albert had been living with Harry and Molly since he was four years old. Harry agreed that his relationship with Albert was like that of father and son. (p. 18) Molly’s testimony corroborated these facts. (p.21)

File of Court-Martial of Albert F Cahn, p. 18

I was puzzled by the reference to Albert’s grandfather since Harry did not identify which grandfather he meant when he said that the grandfather had taken no interest in Albert. Was that Gerson Cahn’s father, Felix? He was living in Baltimore in 1904 when Albert was orphaned and in his sixties with grown children. Or did Harry mean Albert’s maternal grandfather, Solomon Sigmund, who seemed to disappear from the family after Lena died in 1875? I suppose neither grandfather was interested in taking care of young Albert.

Being orphaned at such a young age and being abandoned by his grandparents must have had some psychological effect on Albert. Molly’s description of Albert’s personality should probably be seen in that light. She testified:

File of Court-Martial of Albert F. Cahn, p.22

Molly further testified that Albert had not gone to high school or into business and that his employment record was very spotty—that he’d left eight to ten jobs without justification. She agreed that he was “very” excitable and eccentric. But she also testified that Albert was “always extremely honest.” And she agreed that his behavior was “due to lack of serious thought—boyishness.” (p. 23)

Harry testified that in December, 1916, when Albert would have been just turning seventeen, he ran away from home with a friend and ended up in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he (and the friend) enlisted in the Navy without consent from his guardians. After his friend died from spinal meningitis, Albert wrote to Harry and Molly, indicating that he wanted to get out of the Navy. Harry intervened with the Navy, knowing that Albert was underage when he enlisted, and Albert was discharged. (p. 19) Albert himself corroborated these facts in his own testimony. (p. 27)

According to Harry, Albert then went to Cleveland, where Harry and Molly’s daughter Adele was living with her family. In contrast, Albert testified that he returned to Baltimore and stayed home until a little before the “war broke out” (I assume he meant the United States’ entry into World War I in April 1917). In any event, both Albert and Harry testified that sometime in the spring of 1917, Albert ran away again, this time to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he enlisted again on June 20, 1917, this time in the Army. He was still not eighteen years old. (pp.19, 27)

He was first stationed at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia and then at Camp Dix in New Jersey. (p. 19) Harry testified that Albert would come to visit them in Baltimore when he had a furlough and that he seemed to be getting along fine. But Albert’s testimony revealed that things did not go well after some time at Camp Dix.

Court-Martial File, Albert F Cahn, p. 27

Harry testified at length about his efforts to convince Albert to return to the Army. Both Harry and Molly testified that they had not heard from Albert after December 1917 until August 1918 when Harry persuaded Albert to return to Camp Dix. (pp. 15-20)

Albert’s attorney argued in his closing statement that “this fellow is nothing but a mere child and has never really considered his status in the army at all, his military status. … I really think he did not consider the consequences of his act in going away from here.” (p. 29)

The court was not convinced and on September 16, 1918, found Albert guilty of the charge of desertion and issued the following sentence: “To be dishonorably discharged the service, to forfeit all pay and allowance due or to become due, and to be confined at hard labor, at such place as the reviewing authority may direct for twenty (20) years.” (p. 29)

I don’t know anything about military justice, but sentencing a young man–a teenager–for twenty years hard labor because he ran off after being bullied by his fellow soldiers seemed awfully harsh. I realize that desertion is a very serious offense, but Albert was not in a war zone, no one was endangered by his desertion, and he had had a hard life. Some mercy could have been shown.

Eight days later, on September 24, 1918, Major General Scott reduced the sentence to ten years hard labor and designated Fort Jay in New York as the place of confinement.

File of Court-Martial of Albert F Cahn, p. 31

But Albert did not serve even a year of that sentence. On February 13, 1919, Harry Goldman submitted a request for clemency supported by affidavits from a doctor and from Molly regarding Albert’s poor condition .

Court-martial file of Albert F Cahn, p. 2

Unfortunately, there were no copies of those affidavits in the file. But Harry’s request was granted, and Albert was released from imprisonment on March 4, 1919.

Court-martial file of Albert F. Cahn, p. 3

Court-martial file of Albert F Cahn, p. 1

Thus, in the end Albert served less than six months. What did Albert F. Cahn do after his release? What was the rest of his life like? Did he learn from this experience? Did he mature? That is a story for another post.







  1. Maryland. War records commission, Karl Singewald, and Stuart Symington Janney. Maryland In the World War, 1917-1919: Military And Naval Service Records. Baltimore: Maryland War Records commission, 1933, p. 303. 

Another Lawyer in Henry Goldsmith’s Family

As seen in my prior post, the years between 1910 and 1920 were busy and productive ones for three of Henry Goldsmith’s children; Helen, Walter, and Florence all married in that decade and also engaged in meaningful work (teaching, dentistry, and music, respectively) and Walter and Helen also had children.

This post will focus on the other five children of Henry Goldsmith: Jacob (JW), Benjamin, Milton, Samuel (SR), and Oliver, and their lives during the second decade of the twentieth century.

JW, as we saw, was living in Connellsville in 1910 with his wife Jennie and two children, Eleanor and J. Edison. He was a clothing merchant in business with his brother Benjamin. He continued this work in the 1910s. By 1918, his daughter Eleanor, then seventeen, was a student at Wellesley College.

“Personal,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, June 19, 1918, p. 2

In 1920 they were all still living in Connellsville, and JW was still a clothing merchant.

Jacob W. Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 5, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 13 1920 United States Federal Census

On November 10, 1917, Benjamin Goldsmith was involved in a terrible accident in which his car struck a three-year-old child, fatally injuring him.  Benjamin, however, was found not to be at fault and was completely exonerated of any criminal culpability:

“Driver Exonerated,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, November 16, 1917, p, 3

In 1920, Benjamin was still living with his father Henry, his sister Florence, brother Oliver and cousin Lena Katz in Connellsville. Henry was still in the insurance business, Benjamin continued to work as a clothing merchant with JW, Florence was teaching music and soon to be married, and Oliver—well, his story is still to come below.

Henry Goldsmith and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 1, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 7 1920 United States Federal Census

Milton, the third Goldsmith sibling, and his wife Luba were both practicing medicine in Pittsburgh in  1910. They had a second child, Albert Robin Goldsmith, born on April 10, 1915, in Pittsburgh.1 Henry volunteered to provide medical services in 1918 to the mining town of Cool Run located in McIntyre, Pennsylvania, where the Spanish flu epidemic had affected one hundred of the 125 homes.

“Dr. Milton Goldsmith,” The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, October 11, 1918, p, 2

In 1920, Milton, Luba, and their sons Norman and Albert were living in Pittsburgh where both Milton and Luba continued to practice medicine.2

SR (Samuel) Goldsmith continued to practice law and live in Connellsville with his wife Rae and son Jack in the 1910s.3 During this decade he was joined by another member of the family as a member of the profession. His younger brother Oliver graduated from Dickinson Law School in Pennsylvania and became a member of the Pennsylvania bar in August, 1917.4 The newspaper reported on his first case:

The Connellsville Daily Courier, August 6, 1917, p. 1

But Oliver did not have much time to use his license to practice law before he was inducted into the army on September 22, 1917 and sent to Fort Lee, Virginia, where he became a training sergeant. He was ultimately promoted to a corporal and then quartermaster sergeant and was stationed at Fort Lee until his discharge on April 11, 1919.5

“Well Known Connellsvile Boy at Camp Lee,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, March 7, 1918, p. 1

Once he returned from his time in the service, Oliver joined his brother SR in his law practice in Connellsville:

“New Law Firm,” The Connellsville Daily Courier, April 30, 1919. p. 2

As noted above, in 1920 Oliver was living with his father Henry, brother Benjamin, and sister Florence in Connellsville.

Thus, by 1920, all of Henry Goldsmith’s children were adults. All but Benjamin and Oliver were married, and Henry had eight grandchildren. What is perhaps most remarkable is how educated and successful Henry’s children were: a doctor, a dentist, and two lawyers among his sons (with the other two working together as clothing merchants) and two daughters who were both educated, one a teacher, the other a music teacher and composer.

That is quite impressive for the children of a German immigrant mother and a father who was born in the US shortly after his parents immigrated from Germany and who lost his mother when he was only three years old. I wonder who or what inspired them to seek higher education.

And what would the 1920s bring for Henry and his children and grandchildren? Unfortunately, it was not all good news.


  1. Albert Goldsmith, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 914, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  2. Milton Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 14, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1522; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 550, 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. Samuel R Goldsmith, 1920 US census, Census Place: Connellsville Ward 1, Fayette, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1568; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 7, 1920 United States Federal Census 
  4. The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier, June 5, 1916, p. 2, and August 6, 1917, p. 1 
  5. Olilver Goldsmith, World War I draft registrations, Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Fayette; Roll: 2022796; Draft Board: 2, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948;.