Berthold Goldschmidt’s Surviving Child, Siegfried

As seen in the last post, six of the seven children born to Berthold Goldschmidt and his wife Mathilde Freudenstein died early in life, including their son Leopold, who was killed in World War I fighting for Germany. The only child who one survived to adulthood was their youngest son Siegfried.

Siegfried was born on April 15, 1896, in Oberlistingen:

Siegfried Goldschmidt birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 909; Signatur: 8079,  1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this record for me:

Nr. 10
Oberlistingen, at the 20st April 1896
To the below signing registrar came today the personally known merchant Berthold Goldschmidt,
residing in Oberlistingen Nr. 56, jewish religion, and reported, that by the
Mathilde Goldschmidt, born Freudenstein, his wife, jewish religion, residing at him,
in Oberlistingen, in his residence, at the 15th April of the year 1896, pre midday at four o’ clock a child of male gender was born, who got the firstname
Siegfried.
Readed, confirmed and signed  Berthold Goldschmidt

The registrar signature

Note the addition made to the right in 1938 after the Nazis required all Jewish men to take the name “Israel” as a middle name:

right text:
Oberlistingen, at the 17th December 1938
The beside named has “suddenly” taken the first name “Israel”
The registrar
(signature)
The correctness with the main register is herewith certified.
Oberlistingen, 17th December 1938

Siegried married  Fanny Frieda Pless on April 18, 1922, in Frankfurt, Germany.  Fanny Frieda was born on August 6, 1895 in Zachan, then part of Germany in the Pomeranian region, but today known as Suchan in Poland. As Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were married in Frankfurt, I assume that Fanny Frieda’s family must have relocated to Frankfurt sometime after her birth. According to the marriage record (also generously translated by Matthias Steinke), Siegfried was living at the time in Holzminden and Fanny Frieda in Frankfurt. Holzminden is about 180 miles north of Frankfurt and 36 miles north of Oberlistingen where Siegfried was born. How did Siegfried meet Fanny Frieda, a woman born far from where he was born and living far from where he lived? I don’t know.

Siegfried Goldschmidt and Fannie Pless marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903 Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Nr. 427
(bann-register nr. 235)
Frankfurt/Main, at the 18th April 1922

To the below signing registrar came today for the reason of a marriage:

1. the merchant Siegfried Goldschmidt, known personally, born at the 15th April of
the year 1896 in Oberlistingen, county of Wolfhagen, birth-register nr. 10 of the civil-registration-office
Oberlistingen, residing in Holzminden,

2. the Fanny Frieda Pless, warehouse assistant, known personally, born the 6th August 1895 in
Zachan, county of Saatzig, birth-register nr. 23 of the civil-registrationoffice in Zachan, residing
in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15.

As witnesses were present:

3. the hatmaker Bernhard Lachs, known personally, 37 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main,
grosse B…kt 12,

4. the merchant Jakobi Pless, known personally, 72 years old, residing in Frankfurt/Main, Uhlandstrasse 15,

The registrar asked the engaged couple one after another whether they want to marry each other.
After both confirmed this question, he declared, that they are from now on a legally married couple.

Read, confirmed and signed

(signatures)

This document was also amended in 1938 to reflect the Nazi requirement that Siegfried take the middle name Israel and Fannie the middle name Sara to identify them as Jews and then to reflect the cancellation of that amendment in 1949 after the war:

According the law from August 17, 1938 gets
the groom the additional first name Israel, the bride the additional first name
Sara,
24th July 1939
The regisrar

This order was cancelled by the registrar at the 24th July 1949.

As far as I have been able to find, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda had only one child, a son named Max born on November 30, 1924, in Frankfurt.1

Tragically, Siegfried and Fanny Frieda were both murdered in the Holocaust. They were deported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and killed sometime thereafter.2 These are the first Goldschmidt family members I’ve located who died in the Holocaust, but I fear not the only ones. I just haven’t yet found the others. Given that Siegfried’s brother Leopold had died fighting for Germany in World War I, Siegfried and Fanny’s deaths are that much more painful and infuriating. The cruel irony and immorality of that just leave me stunned.

Recently I had an opportunity to make that point to the Goldschmidts’ hometown, Oberlistingen. Back in September, I was contacted by my friend Ernst Klein, who had been our guide in Volkmarsen, Breuna, and Oberlistingen back in 2017. Ernst told me that he was involved in planning an event to take place in Oberlistingen to commemorate the  Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany in World War I. He asked whether I would be willing to write some remarks to be read at the ceremony since my cousin Leopold Goldschmidt was being honored at the ceremony.

When Ernst told me that Leopold had been killed in World War I, it was new information for me as I had not yet found any record of Leopold’s death. Nor did I then know what had happened to Leopold’s younger brother Siegfried.  How I wish I had known what I now know about Leopold and Siegfried so that I could have made my remarks more personalized and specific. Instead I drafted some general remarks and sent them to Ernst.

My remarks were translated into German and printed in the September 21, 2018, issue of Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein (p. 3):

Here is my best attempt at translating the article with much help from Google Translate and a dictionary:

Caption under picture: Changed in the footsteps of her Jewish ancestors: Amy Cohen of Massachusetts/America visited the home of her ancestors last year. Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, accompanied her and told her a lot about the history of the Jewish inhabitants in the area of North Hesse. 

May it never happen again

Peace Weeks: Remarks of Amy Cohen, a Jewish woman from America

OBERLISTINGEN. As a sign of peace and hope, a ginkgo tree was planted as part of Peace Week in Wolfhager Land at the cemetery in Oberlistingen. The war memorial commemorated the dead who died in the First World War, including Leopold Goldschmidt. The name Goldschmidt is on the plaque at the cemetery as “Goldsehmied” and is probably a distortion of the name. An additional plaque at the memorial calls for tolerance and vigilance. The lecture by Jürgen Damm, Honorary Chairman of the Volksbund German War Graves Welfare (VDK), addressed the history of German Jewish soldiers in the First World War.

As part of the prayer of peace in the church in Oberlistingen, Ernst Klein, chairman of the association Flashback-Against Forgetting, read aloud a greeting from Amy Cohen. She is a relative of Leopold Goldschmidt and lives in Massachusetts/USA. In her greeting, she writes:

“In May 2017, my husband and I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany to see where my father’s ancestors once lived. My visit here in northern Hesse was very moving. It was wonderful to meet so many kind-hearted and hard-working people like Ernst and his colleagues who do everything they can to preserve the history of the Jewish communities that once existed in this area. I am also moved that today people are reminded of the Jewish soldiers who fell in the fight for their German homeland in the First World War, as did my distant cousin Leopold Goldschmidt of Oberlistingen.

And it is also important to remember those Jewish men who survived their service in the German army. Far too many of these men were victims of Nazi persecution 20 years later, despite having fought for Germany in World War I.”

And she goes on to write: “I know that today there are many people in Germany, the US, and elsewhere in the world who are spreading hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism again. We must do everything we can to remember the past so that what happened under Hitler will never happen again.”

I am glad that I made that point about Jewish soldiers who fought in World War I becoming targets of Nazi terror, but I wish I could have told the specific story of Leopold and Siegfried instead. It would have been much more personal and more powerful.

There was one bright light left for this family.  Somehow Siegfried and Fanny Frieda’s only child, their young son Max, survived. His story in the next post.


  1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 129240166. 
  2.  https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507807&ind=12, https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11507231&ind=0 

Life of Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, Part III: 1919-1975

By the end of 1918, World War I had ended, and Frieda Bensew and Emanuel Loewenherz had married in Chicago. Soon thereafter there were troubles at KW, the battery company where they had met in 1913:

The man who was heading the company, supposedly an old friend of Manek whom we trusted, in fact idolized, turned out to be an embezzler. Not alone did he cheat the firm out of huge sums, but also my hard earned savings which I had given him, believing his promises of a speedy return. Besides Manek had signed notes for him and it took a long time to pay these off. But it was not the money but the great disappointment in a man, a close associate for years who took such an advantage of us, his true friends.

Manek had a heart to heart talk with Mr. Paepcke, in case this gentleman should harbor any doubt about him, in which case he would resign. But Mr. Paepcke not only expressed his full confidence but made Manek the head of the company, which he built up to a very successful enterprise -earning the respect of all associates and the community. We worked hard and there were many obstacles to overcome, but Manek met the challenge with perseverance. His kindness and generosity knew no bounds as well as his understanding, from the lowest laborer to the chairman of the Board.

KW Battery letterhead. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Thus, as my mother would say, from bad came good. The loss of the money and the betrayal by their friend led to Emanuel’s promotion to president of KW and a long and successful career there.

Frieda and Emanuel’s son Walter was born on August 6, 1920, and when Walter was 20 months old, Frieda took him to Europe to meet her family as well as Emanuel’s family, whom she herself had never met.

Frieda Loewenherz and her infant son Walter, 1920.
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda and Walter Loewenherz traveling to Europe 1922. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Uncle Julius [Mansbach, who had met her at the ship in Hamburg] took me all the way home to my parents in Melsungen. I can’t describe our emotions, they remain unforgettable! As I write this, more than 48 years later, I am reliving those days and weeks. Alas, the end was sad. My dear, gentle mother passed away, quietly and peacefully. My father, sister and everybody else who knew her said that her desire to see me and baby kept her alive and the fact that this wish was granted her alleviated my pain.

Breine Mansbach Bensew died on May 31, 1922, in Melsungen; she was 77 years old.1

After some weeks in Melsungen mourning with her family, Frieda took Walter to Vienna where she met for the first time Emanuel’s mother Charlotte and brothers Henryk and Josef, Henryk’s wife Rosa and their son Richard, and Josef’s wife Sofie and children Ada and Siegmund. After a wonderful visit with them, she and Walter visited her uncle Julius Mansbach and his wife Frieda (her cousin) and their son Alfred. She then returned to Chicago and her happy life with her husband.

In the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel settled into family life in Chicago, continuing their trips to Europe and to the West to see family. Here they are in Denver in 1926 with Frieda’s brother Julius Bensev:

Julius Bensev and Loewenherz family in Denver 1926. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

In 1929, they bought a house in Winnetka, Illinois, that would become the long-time family home.

Loewenherz home in Winnetka. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Two months after moving in, Frieda’s cousin Alfred Mansbach, son of her uncle Julius and her cousin Frieda, came from Germany and moved into their home.

Walter was in 4th grade in Greeley School and we sent Alfred, although he was 19 and had finished the “Gymnasium” (High School) in Germany, to New Trier High school for one semester, to get an idea of our schools and help his English. The following year he entered Northwestern University as freshman.

Then in 1932, Emanuel’s nephew Siegmund, Josef’s son, moved into their home:

In 1932 Siegmund came to us from Vienna. By then Alfred had moved to Chicago and was working and also taking courses in air conditioning – an industry in its infancy. Siegmund went to Northwestern University School of Music and also to English classes.

In 1934, the family made another trip to Europe—to France and Italy as well as Vienna. Here are Frieda and Emanuel in Venice:

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz in Venice, 1934
Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

But Hitler had taken power in Germany, and there were serious concerns about his intentions.

It was the spring of 1934 and Hitler had been in power in Germany a whole year. Manek was very apprehensive but [his brother] Josef did not think he would ever attack Austria. – How right Manek was – he pleaded then with the folks to get out of the country, to no avail. Grandma Charlotte could not even think of it- at her age. Josef was still convinced that Hitler would leave Austria alone – how the picture changed in a few years.

The family traveled on to Danzig and to Germany:

The next day we were welcomed at the Danzig Station by [Emanuel’s brother] Henryk. There we saw the first Bravo-shirts — I almost felt sick to my stomach. Danzig was already under the influence of Hitler, with Hitler youth, marching and Nazis in the higher echelons – Henryk lived in Oliva which was Polish a short train ride away. We were happy to be together but that cloud of Nazism hung over us like a dark shadow.

Dr. Greg from Cologne came to see us there … to persuade us to come to Cologne and be his guests. I was frank to state that I felt uneasy about it and feared that he might get into difficulties for having Jewish guests. He answered, “Nobody is going to dictate to me whom I can invite.” So we promised to come. -The days passed pleasantly – we did not fathom then that it would be our last visit together– We made a stopover at Berlin and visited my nephew Alfred [Stern, son of Frieda’s sister Roschen] and his wife Rita. It seems all we saw was uniforms and Nazi banners. – We were glad to leave although Cologne was not much better.

Since Frieda mentioned her nephew Alfred but not her sister Roschen, I have to wonder whether Roschen was no longer living by the spring of 1934. It remains the one big unsolved mystery of my Bensew relatives—the fate of Roschen Bensew Stern.

Three years later, Frieda lost her beloved uncle, Julius Mansbach, who had returned with his wife Frieda to the US just a few years before to join their son Alfred in Chicago.

In the spring of 1937 we planned to go to New Orleans for Walter’s Easter vacation. We did sightseeing for 2 days, then a telegram arrived from Alfred that his father had passed away suddenly. The shock was awful – He and Frieda had seen us off at the station and had all kinds of plans for our return. We took the freight train back to Chicago – Frieda [Bensew Mansbach] was numb with grief and I just could not accept the thought never to hear Uncle Julius’ voice again. He was so gay when we left, had all kinds of little packages for me “to open on the train,” he loved surprises – I don’t want to dwell on this sad time.

Meanwhile, things in Europe were getting more and more ominous.

Conditions in Germany were getting worse for the Jews and we made out many affidavits for family members. The first to come was [Emanuel’s nephew] Richard  in July 1937 – he had finished his studies at medical school and was interning in Vienna for a short while before.–He-stayed with us until he got an internship at a hospital in Chicago.

In March 1938, catastrophe struck Austria; Hitler marched into Vienna! The persecution of the Jews cannot be described. Josef together with all the leading members of the community was jailed for weeks. It became imperative to get Siegmund out as quickly as possible, perhaps with Ada. [Josef’s children] [Siegmond arrived in] July… Ada arrived in the U.S. in August. ….

In August 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and occupied it. Luckily, Micha [son of Emanuel’s brother Henryk] who was born in Danzig, could get a visa and he left the end of August. While en route, the war in Poland broke out but he was safe and arrived in New York on Sept. 3.- Manek and Walter met him, a 13 year old [boy] … It was a new experience to have another adolescent in the house and under such circumstances. We knew how hard it was for his parents to part with him and we did everything to make him feel at home. Since he did not speak English, it was fortunate that we could make his adjustment easier by speaking German to him and Walter was a real big brother to him.

Emanuel and Frieda had done everything to rescue the Loewenherz relatives in Europe and had largely succeeded. The children of Josef and Henryk were all safe—Siegmund, Ada, Richard, and Micha (who became Michael in the US).

But tragically they could not rescue Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

Many people fled without visas in small boats to Denmark which was so close and Denmark was most hospitable to Jews and hid them from the Nazis. But Henryk wanted to have official permission and our efforts, as well as Josef’s from Vienna were without success. And then came their notice that they were leaving for Cracow- From then on news were scarce, a card now and then. Finally, when we received permission from the British Consulate for a transit visa to England, it did not reach them any more – they had left Cracow- destination unknown.

Emanuel’s other brother Josef and his wife Sofie were still in Vienna, trying to get out. Then in December 1941, the US entered World War II.

Our lives were changed. Manek worked harder as war orders had to be filled, and restrictions in the economic appeared soon, although there was no food shortage. We could not communicate with the folks in Vienna. In January or perhaps later (I am not certain about the exact date) we were at war with Germany too) and the gigantic war machine was in full swing with all the heartaches, anxieties and hopes for an early peace– Everybody worked for the Red Cross- I knitted day and night, helmets, gloves with trigger fingers, scarves, sweaters, etc. ….

Walter knew he was going to be drafted. Meanwhile he continued school, hoping to finish. He had become friends with Bea, also at Northwestern U. in the School of Education. It was not too long until the friendship ripened and the outcome was their engagement after Bea graduated in June. Walter graduated in August. We were happy about it, although we knew that Walter would soon be drafted. It happened in Sept. and he was sent for basic training to Fort Lawton, Oklahoma. … We had, in addition the worry about the folks in Vienna.

Walter and Emanuel Loewenherz c. 1942. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

On top of all this stress, or maybe because of it, Emanuel suffered a serious heart attack in December, 1942. Fortunately he recovered, though he and Frieda could not attend Walter and Bea’s wedding in Oklahoma on March 20, 1943.

One had to accept this too – we were happy and grateful for Manek’s recovery and it was only a short time when Walter was ordered to the Officer’s Training School outside of Washington. Bea rented a room in Washington and did research work on her Master’s thesis. In June Walter was made 2nd Lieut. in G2 (Intelligence) and received a week’s leave which they spent in Winnetka. His first assignment was at the Brooklyn Army Base and they were fortunate to get an apartment there. … As he was specially trained because of his knowledge of German we figured that he would be sent to Europe, but he was sent to the Pacific in October.

Frieda, Emanuel, Bea, and Walter Loewenherz in NY before he was sent to the Pacific. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

The war ended in Europe in April, 1945, and then in the Pacific that August.  It was then that they learned the tragic fate of Emanuel’s brother Henryk and his wife Rosa:

What we dreaded was true – they were sent to the extermination camp.

According to the Yad Vashem database, Henryk and Rosa were murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

But Frieda was overjoyed to learn that somehow Josef and his wife Sofie had survived the war. (She did not go into details about how they managed to escape from the Nazi death machine.) Josef and Sofie came to the US and were reunited with their children, who were now grown adults.

After the war, life returned to peacetime conditions, and in the years that followed, Frieda and Emanuel were blessed with many grandchildren and a meaningful and joyful life. Walter worked with his father at KW, eventually taking over the company and freeing Emanuel and Frieda with more time to travel in retirement.

Frieda and Emanuel Loewenherz 1962. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda Loewenherz 1963. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Frieda was heartbroken when her beloved Manek died on December 22, 1963.

My world had crumbled and I did not know how to cope with what was left – then I did realize that Manek would want me to go on, as he so often emphasized in our conversations in our happy days. We used to discuss life from every angle and every phase of it and I admired his philosophy and his clear, human outlook. But above all was his deep love which I shared for over 45 years – how many people are that fortunate? And that helps me to go on, it is something precious and all my own.

Frieda did go on and enjoyed her extended family for another twelve years. She died on December 17, 1975, at the age of 89.2 Here is one final photograph of my cousin Frieda, one that I think reflects all her beauty, inside and out:

Frieda Bensew Loewenherz. Courtesy of Franz Loewenherz

Reflecting back on her life after reading this memoir several times now, I continue to be moved to tears and feel goosebumps as I do. Frieda and Emanuel lived an incredible life together.  Theirs was a true love story.

But they were much more than that.  Their love was not limited to love for each other, but for their entire extended family—the Mansbachs, the Bensevs, and the Loewenherzs. They made sure to stay connected to them all despite all the distances and obstacles. And they did what they could to rescue their family members in Europe and opened their home over and over again to those beloved family members. Despite all the evil they saw—the discrimination they personally faced during World War I and the hateful destruction of Jewish life in Europe under the Nazis—they remained positive, life-affirming, and loving.


All excerpts from Frieda Loewenherz’s memoir and all the photographs in this post are published with the permission of Franz Loewenherz, her great-grandson. My deep gratitude to Franz for his generosity.


  1. Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 4684,
    Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2. Ancestry.com. Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 

The Bensew Daughters, Roschen and Frieda: Who Was Mrs. Hon?

My last post covered the lives of the five sons of Breine Mansbach and Jakob Bensew: William, Lester, Julius, Heine, and Max. Breine and Jakob Bensew also had two daughters, Roschen, their first child, who was born in 1870, and Frieda, their last child, who was born in 1886. This post is about them and their families.

As we have seen, Roschen may have come to the US in 1890 with two of her brothers, but if she did, she returned to Germany where she married Josef Stern in 1899 and had at least two children born in Kassel, Alfred, born in 1900, and Edwin, born in 1905. According to some researchers, Roschen and Josef had three other children, but so far I have not found any evidence of those children in either German or US records. And although I was able to find a death record for Josef, who died in Kassel, Germany on February 2, 1927,1 I’ve been unable to find a record of Roschen’s death.

What I know about their sons Alfred and Edwin is that both immigrated to the US in 1937 to escape Nazi Germany. Edwin, the younger brother, was the first to leave Germany. He arrived in New York on January 6, 1937, listing his age as 31, his marital status as single, his occupation as merchant, and birthplace as Kassel, Germany. He reported that he was leaving behind his brother, “A. Stern,” of Berlin, Germany, and going to his uncle, “W. Bensev,” i.e., William Bensev, of Denver, Colorado. William was his mother Roschen’s brother.

Edwin Stern, passenger manifest, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5923; Line: 1; Page Number: 108
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Edwin’s brother Alfred followed ten months later. He arrived on October, 1937, listing his age as 37, occupation as bank clerk, and birthplace as Kassel. The manifest indicates that Alfred was married and resided in Berlin, and he reported on the manifest that the person he was going to was his uncle, “J. Loewenherz” of Winnetka, Illinois. I believe this was really Emanuel Loewenherz, who was married to Alfred’s aunt Frieda Bensev, his mother Roschen’s little sister.

Alfred Stern, passenger manifest, p. 1, Year: 1937; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6066; Line: 1; Page Number: 23
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Alfred also indicated that the person he was leaving behind was his wife Rita of the same address in Berlin. But there was also a second name listed in the column for those the person left behind, a Mrs. Hon of Nice, France, identified as his mother.

The form asks the person to provide the name of “the nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came or, if none there, then in country of which a citizen or subject.” Since Alfred came from Germany and was a citizen or subject of only Germany, supplying the name of someone in France would not have been correct. Is that why his wife’s name is written in instead? Was the Mrs. Hon in Nice, France, actually Alfred’s mother Roschen Bensew Stern? If so, I cannot find her. If anyone has any suggestions, please help!

I was a little worried that Alfred had left his wife behind, so was relieved to see on the 1940 census that Alfred, Rita, and their three-year-old daughter Renate (later Renee) were safely living in New York City where Alfred was working as a clerk for the telegraph company. Rita’s mother Elizabeth Garde and sister Charlotte Garde were also living with them.

Alfred Stern household, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02673; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 31-2013
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

Alfred’s brother Edwin Stern had gone to Denver to live with his uncle William Bensev. On the 1940 census, William not only had his wife Jessie, daughter Theodora, and three brothers—Heine, Max, and Julius—living with him.  He also had taken in his nephew Edwin, who was working as a salesman in a department store:

William Bensev household 1940 US census, Census Place: Denver, Denver, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00488; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 16-149
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

In 1942 when he registered for the draft, Edwin was still living with his uncle William and working for the May Company, the department store. Edwin served in the US military from May 1, 1942, until March 13, 1945.2 I unfortunately was not able to find out any information about Edwin during or after his service in World War II. He died on May 6, 1980, in San Francisco, California; he was 75.3 I do not know if he ever married or had children.

Edwin Stern, 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: 232
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Alfred Stern seems to have stayed in the New York City area for the rest of his life. As with Edwin Stern, the fact that his name is so common made it impossible to determine much else about his life. He died on August 7, 1991; he was 91 years old.4

Breine and Jakob Bensew’s other daughter Frieda had been in the US since 1907 and in 1910 was living in Chicago and working as a stenographer, as discussed here. Sometime in 1918, Frieda married Emanuel Loewenherz. I have no marriage record, but Emanuel did not arrive in the US until January 30, 1913.5 On his naturalization papers signed on April 22, 1918, he wrote that he was not married.6 But when he registered for the World War II draft, he was married to Frieda; unfortunately, there is no date on his registration card:

Emanuel Loewenherz, World War I draft registration, Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1452380; Draft Board: 01
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Emanuel was born in “Piwowsczyrna, Austria,” on October 5, 1882, according to his naturalization papers; the closest match I could find on a current map is Piwniczna-Zdrój, Poland.7 When he registered for the draft, he and Frieda were living in Chicago, and he was working as a work manager for the K.W. Battery Company. On the 1920 census, they were still living in Chicago, and Emanuel now reported his occupation as a machine engineer for a manufacturing company. Their son Walter was born later that year on August 6, 1920, in Chicago.8

Emanuel Loewenherz household, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 1, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_305; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 10
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

In 1927 Emanuel, Frieda, and young Walter traveled together on the SS Deutschland to Hamburg, Germany. In 1930 they again made a trip to Hamburg.9 In 1930 the family was living in New Trier, Illinois, a town about 20 miles north of Chicago. Emanuel owned a home worth $20,000—or equivalent to about $300,000 in today’s dollars. Emanuel had gone from being a work manager and then a machine engineer to being the president of the battery company. Also living with Emanuel, Frieda and Walter was Alfred Mansbach, Frieda’s cousin and the son of Julius Mansbach and the other Frieda Bensew. The family was at the same address in 1940; Alfred Mansbach was no longer living with them, but a nephew named Micha Loewenherz was. Emanuel was still the president of the battery company.10

Loewenherz household, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 2223; FHL microfilm: 2340238
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Walter Loewenherz enlisted in the military on October 6, 1942.11 On March 20, 1943, he married Beatrice Ganzoff in Comanche, Oklahoma. Since Beatrice, like Walter, was a Chicago native and resident, I assume they married in Oklahoma because Walter was stationed there.

Ancestry.com. Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995

Emanuel Loewenherz died in December 1963 in Chicago; he was 81.12 His wife, my cousin Frieda Bensew Loewenherz, died on December 17, 1975, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when she was 89.13

According to his obituary,14 Walter Loewenherz became president of the K.W. Battery Company, succeeding his father. He eventually moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was an active member of several civic and charitable organizations in both Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. He died when he was only 65 years old on November 16, 1985, in Fort Lauderdale. His wife Beatrice died on June 30, 2005, also in Fort Lauderdale; she was 84.15  Beatrice was quite an accomplished woman.  According to her obituary, she was Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University and a Fulbright Scholar. She taught at  Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, Illinois, and Nova Southeastern in Florida and was active in many civic organizations. After retiring, Beatrice and Walter had lived in a sailboat off of St. Bart’s before settling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.16They were survived by their four children.

With this post, I have written about all the children of my three-times great-aunt, Sarah Goldschmidt Mansbach. Moreover, I have now written about all the children of my three-times great-grandparents Seligmann Goldschmidt and Hincka Alexander except for the one child who never left Germany: Biele or Betty Goldschmidt. Her story comes next.


  1.  Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 910; Signatur: 5608, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  2.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 
  3.  Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997, Social Security #: 524052638. 
  4.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 059125292. 
  5. Emanuel Loewenherz, passenger manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1827, Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934. 
  6. Emanuel Loewenherz, naturalization records, National Archives at Chicago; Chicago, Illinois; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, 1906 – 1991; NAI Number: 6756404; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21,  Petitions, v 64-68, no 6270-6700, 1918,
    Ancestry.com. Illinois, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1991. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Ancestry.com. U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, SSN: 329163469. 
  9. Loewenherz family on passenger manifests, Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3997; Line: 8; Page Number: 163, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists. Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4885; Line: 3; Page Number: 90, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Loewenherz household, 1940 US census, Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00783; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 16-322, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. 
  12. Number: 340-07-2609; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Number: 356-38-3307; Issue State: Illinois; Issue Date: 1963,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14.  Fort Lauderdale News, 16 Nov 1985, Page 15 
  15. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, SSN: 329019705. 
  16.  Evanston Review, obit for Dr. Beatrice Loewenherz, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/111A841C55ED24D8-111A841C55ED24D8 : accessed 28 September 2018); South Florida Sun-Sentinel () , obit for Loewenherz, Beatrice, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/doc/obituaries/obit/10B49B19E169FC50-10B49B19E169FC50 : accessed 28 September 2018) 

The Children of Heloise Goldsmith Hirsh and Samuel Goldsmith

As we have seen, two of the children of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith died relatively young. Samuel, their youngest son, died in 1907 when he was forty, and Heloise, their oldest daughter, died in 1911 when she was fifty. Both left behind their spouses and children. Samuel’s daughter Catherine was just a baby when he died.  Heloise’s older daughter Irma was 23 when her mother died, and her sister Dorothy was only thirteen. This post is about these three granddaughters of Meyer and Helena Goldsmith.

Heloise’s children, who were my double-cousins as noted here, were living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with their father when their mother died. By 1920, however, neither daughter was living with Simon. Simon had moved in with his widowed mother, Auguste Bernheim Hirsh (my first cousin, five times removed). Simon was a merchant in gentlemen’s furnishings. He and his mother were living at 21 North Lime Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.1

His daughter Irma Hirsh was married to Daniel Manheimer by 1920 and had two children: Helene, born January 11, 1912, in Lancaster,2 and Sanford Hirsh Manheimer, born January 3, 1914, in Lancaster.3 Daniel Manheimer was born March 5, 1871, in Cassel, Germany4 and had immigrated to the US as a teenager. In 1900 he’d been living with a cousin in Lancaster and working as a traveling salesman.5 In 1920 he was in the cigar manufacturing business. Irma’s sister Dorothy was also living with Irma and Daniel and their children in 1920 at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster; she was working as a stenographer for a clothing store.

Daniel Manheimer and family, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 54
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

By 1930, the family members had shifted around a bit. Simon was now living at 643 East Orange Street in Lancaster with his daughter Irma and her family, his mother having died in 1922. Both Irma and her husband Daniel were now working in the life insurance business.6

Dorothy was still living with Irma and her family in 1927, according to the 1927 Lancaster directory, but by 1930, she was married. According to the 1930 census, she and Leon Jacobs had married when she was 29 or in 1927. Leon, the son of Alexander and Esther Jacobs, was born April 25, 1899, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.7 He was in the real estate business.8 Dorothy and Leon would have two children. In 1940, they were all living in Lancaster, and Leon was still in the real estate business. Irma and Daniel were also still living in Lancaster in 1940, and their children were grown by then. Daniel was still in the life insurance business.9

Leon Jacob, 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: 1199
Source Information
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Irma died from a heart attack on August 10, 1953, in Lancaster.  She was 65 years old. Her husband Daniel Manheimer had predeceased her; he died on January 3, 1951, when he was 79 years old.10 They are buried at Shomar Shaarayim Cemetery in Lancaster.

Irma Hirsh Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 069751-072450

They were survived by their children and Irma’s sister Dorothy, who was the informant on Helen’s death certificate.

The certificate states that Dorothy’s address was in Philadelphia, so Dorothy and Leon must have moved from Lancaster sometime after 1948, the last year I could find them in the Lancaster directory.  Dorothy died in Miami, Florida in January 1972,11 when she was 73. Her husband Leon also died in Miami in February 1979.12 They were survived by their children. So somewhere out there I have more double cousins, the descendants of Heloise Goldsmith and Simon Bernheim Hirsh.

As for Catherine Goldsmith, who lost her father Samuel Goldsmith before her second birthday, it appears that she and her mother lived abroad for some years after Samuel died. She and her mother are listed as passengers on a 1914 trip from Liverpool, England, to New York, giving their US address as Lawrence, New York, on Long Island.

Helen Goldsmith and Catherine Goldsmith, 1914 passenger manifest, Year: 1914; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2374; Line: 1; Page Number: 17. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

On her 1917 passport application, Helen attested that her permanent residence was in St. Paul, Minnesota, but that she had last been in the US in July 1915. She said that planned to return to the US “eventually” and to visit within two years. 13 Similarly, Catherine’s 1918 passport application attested that she had last been in the United States in July 1915 and had been living in Paris and that she planned to return to the US within six months “after the war,” i.e., World War I.  She listed her permanent domicile as New York City. She was then twelve years old.

Catherine Goldsmith 1918 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 604; Volume #: Roll 0604 – Certificates: 39250-39499, 14 Oct 1918-15 Oct 1918. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

But Catherine and Helen did not return a few months after the end of World War I. Helen’s 1921 passport application gave her permanent address as Lawrence, New York, but also stated that she had lived in France since 1911, with two trips back to the US, the most recent one not since 1915. In a separate affidavit, Helen explained that the reason for her protracted absence from the US was her daughter’s education and that they expected to stay abroad “for some months yet” for her daughter to complete her education.14

In fact, it appears that Helen and Catherine lived in France for almost another twenty years. Although I do not have any records from France, from passenger manifests and other US records, I learned that Catherine married Gerard Maurice Lambert, who was born in France in about 1905. She must have married him sometime before 1934 because they had two children born in France between 1934 and 1937.15

Catherine and her children made at least two trips between France and the United States, one in 1938 for a few months16 and then in 1940, which was supposed to be for six months.17 But in fact they were still in the US  two years later, according to a document filed when Catherine and Gerard’s young son entered the US in San Diego from Mexico in November 1942. 18 I would imagine that the invasion of France by the Nazis and the persecution of Jews kept Catherine and her family from returning to France.

Gerard also immigrated to the US; he arrived in February 1942, having obtained a visa on December 8. 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor Day, the day the US entered World War II.  His passenger manifest indicates that he was an architect and that he was joining his wife in Los Angeles. In 1946 Gerard was living in Washington, DC, working for the government.19

Catherine and her children returned to France for an indefinite stay in August 1950, and at that time they were residing in Los Angeles. In 1951 they flew on a US Navy plane from England to Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Perhaps this was their return trip to the US. I am not sure where Gerard was at that point.20

Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.21 I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.

Thus ends my research on the family of my three-times great-uncle Meyer Goldsmith. Once again I am humbled by what he and all his children and grandchildren endured and experienced and accomplished. It is always such an honor to be able to learn and write about these families.  I am especially grateful to my newly discovered cousin–Meyer’s great-grandchild–who so generously shared the photographs and family stories with me.

 


  1. Simon B Hirsh, 1920 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 2, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1583; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 53. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  2. Helene M Cohen, 1962 passenger manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at New York, New York.; NAI Number: 2848504; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A3998; NARA Roll Number: 679. Ancestry.com. New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967 
  3. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. SSN: 188038636. 
  4. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  5. Daniel Manheimer, 1900 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster Ward 6, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0056. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census 
  6. Daniel Manheimer and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0049. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  7. Leon Jacob, 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: 1199. Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. This is the only record that spells his name without a final S. 
  8. Leon Jacobs and family, 1930 US Census, Census Place: Manheim, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0089. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census 
  9. Leon Jacobs and family, 1940 US Census, Census Place: Lancaster, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03532; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 36-94. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  10. Daniel Manheimer death certificate, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 003601-006150. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966. Certificate 3797. 
  11. Number: 204-03-8654; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  12. Number: 203-07-6982; Issue State: Pennsylvania; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  13. Helen Rau Goldsmith 1917 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 346; Volume #: Roll 0346 – Certificates: 45901-46300, 26 Jan 1917-30 Jan 1917. Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  14. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1755; Volume #: Roll 1755 – Certificates: 89626-89999, 10 Oct 1921-11 Oct 1921.  Ancestry.com U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  15. Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  16.  Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 11; Page Number: 30. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  17. Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6473; Line: 27; Page Number: 24. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. 
  18. The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at San Ysidro (Tia Juana), California, April 21, 1908 – December 1952; NAI: 2843448; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004.; Record Group Number: 85; Microfilm Roll Number: 08. Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964 
  19.  Gerard Lambert, 1942 passenger manifest, Year: 1942; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6610; Line: 23; Page Number: 73. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Gerard Lambert 1946 passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58. Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 
  20. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from New York, New York, 07/01/1948-12/31/1956; NAI Number: 3335533; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: A4169; NARA Roll Number: 91. Ancestry.com. U.S., Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010. Original data: Records from Record Group 287, Publications of the U.S. Government; Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] and Record Group 36, Records of the United States Customs Service. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.  
  21. Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann: A Final Update

The process of finding the story of Rosa Abraham has been a challenging one. At first all I had was her birth record and one passenger manifest for a Rosa Zechermann with the same birth date and birth place.

Ricchen Rosa Abraham birth record Nov 20 1892 Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Bestand: 920; Laufende Nummer: 6177

Rosa Abraham passenger card
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Miami, Florida.; NAI Number: 2788541; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: 85

Then with the incredible help of members of the Jekkes Facebook group, I learned that Rosa had married Isidor Zechermann and immigrated to Chile to escape Hitler. I had not found a marriage record, but several bits of circumstantial evidence supported that conclusion.

Most recently I’d received Rosa and Isidor’s request for repatriation as German citizens and Rosa’s application for reparations from the German government for the loss of her occupation. I also was able to deduce from various documents and directories that Rosa and Isidor must have married sometime between 1930 and 1932. But I still didn’t have a marriage record that proved when they were married and, perhaps most importantly, that the Rosa who married Isidor was in fact my cousin Rosa Abraham.  All the evidence pointed in that direction, but I had no official record, just secondary sources and circumstantial evidence.

I wrote to the city of Frankfurt to request a marriage record, and Sigrid Kaempfer of the Institut fuer Stadtgeschichte responded not only with Isidor and Rosa’s long sought marriage record, but with three other interesting documents as well. First, that much hoped-for marriage record:

Marriage record of Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann

It states that Isidor Zechermann, merchant, born on February 25, 1878, in Frankfurt and living in Frankfurt, married Ricchen Rosa Abraham, business owner, born on November 20, 1892, in Niederurff, on September 17, 1930, in Frankfurt. Finally, I had the proof I needed to get closure. My cousin Ricchen Rosa Abraham, daughter of Hirsch Abraham and Pauline Ruelf, born on November 20, 1892, was the wife of Isidor Zechermann and had married him in the time period I had determined in my last post about Rosa.

Also of interest—the two witnesses to the marriage were Adele Trier, geb. Abraham, Rosa’s sister, and Alfred Trier, Adele’s husband. Adele and Alfred were the couple Rosa and Isidor went to visit in Queens in 1952, as I wrote about here.

Ms. Kaempfer also sent me a link to Isidor’s birth record, confirming that he was born on February 25, 1878, in Frankfurt. With the help of the German Genealogy group, I learned that Isidor was the son of Schaye Zechermann, a shoemaker, and Fanny Benedikt. (Special thanks to Heike Keohane and Carolina Meyer for their extraordinary help in decoding Schaye’s first name!)

Isidor Zechermann birth record
HStAMR Best. 903 Nr. 8916 Standesamt Mitte (Frankfurt) Geburtsnebenregister 1878, S. 61

And Ms. Kaempfer sent me two documents relating to the businesses operated by Rosa and Isidor. For Rosa, she sent me this record of her tax payments from 1924 through 1932 for her “Damenkonfektion” or ladies’ clothing business. The form also notes the change to her married name Zechermann. And it indicates that Rosa’s business was shut down on August 31, 1938, and deregistered on September 8, 1938, presumably by the Nazis.

Rosa Abraham business record 1924-1938

For Isidor, Ms. Kaempfer sent me the record of his registration as a haberdasher in Frankfurt. He first registered on September 6, 1933.

Isidor Zechermann business registration and deregistration

I am not sure how to interpret the various entries on the first line below the solid line on the right side of this card, which asks about the location and personnel of the management of the business, but the last two notes there—-“isr./isr” —-are quite obviously a reference to the fact that the owner of the business was Jewish (“Israeltisch”). And the red stamped entries on this card—indicating that the business was shut down on August 31, 1938 and deregistered on September 3, 1938—are clearly a reflection of Nazi persecution as presumably was the case with Rosa’s business.

With these final records, I now have closure on the life of Rosa Abraham and Isidor Zechermann.  I know when and where they were born, when and where they married, where they lived and worked in Frankfurt, when they emigrated from Germany and moved to Chile, and when they died. But it truly took a village to get here.

This search has proven once again that this work cannot be done alone and depends on the generosity of many people.  Thank you all! As this year draws to a close, I am mindful of and grateful for all the help I have received in 2017.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all my friends, family, and readers who celebrate Christmas a joyful and loving holiday.  I will be taking a short break from blogging, but will return in 2018 to start the saga of my Goldschmidt family.

Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year! Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone!

 

Two of The Less Fortunate Children of Jakob Katzenstein: Schalum and Rebecca

I will now return to the children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. I had already discussed their first two children and their descendants: Gelle and Mina.

Mina Katzenstein’s children and descendants were remarkably fortunate in many ways. They survived the Holocaust by escaping from Germany during the 1930s. Some went to the United States, some to South America, and some to South Africa. I don’t mean to say they were lucky. They were all torn from their homes and all that they knew and undoubtedly subjected to harassment and discrimination before they left and some painful adjustments after they left. But they did survive.  As we’ve seen, that was not true for many of the descendants of Mina’s sibling Gelle.

Now we can explore the fate of the other seven children of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion. Unfortunately, many of them do not have happy endings.

The third child of my great-great-grandfather’s brother Jakob Katzenstein and his wife Sarchen Lion was their first son, Schalum Abraham Katzenstein, named for his grandfather, Jakob’s father and my three-times great-grandfather, Scholem Katzenstein. Jakob and Sarchen’s son Schalum was born in February, 1834, in Jesberg, according to the report of Reverend Bach provided to me by Barbara Greve.

Reverend Bach family sheet for Jakob Katzenstein

Schalum only lived to be 25. He died on July 7, 1859, in Jesberg. He is buried at Haarhausen cemetery, where I visited in May and took this photograph of his gravestone:

Jacob Katzenstein’s son, Schalum Katzenstein

The inscription was very faded, but it had been transcribed years ago on the LAGIS site from Hebrew to German, and Barbara Greve translated the German translation of inscription on the headstone for me into English. It describes Schalum as “a lovable youth of a beautiful stature who avoided evil and was attached to the good. He was quick and nimble in his work in the short time of his work. And there came death, and gathered him there in the blossom of his youth.” How bittersweet.

Jakob and Sarchen’s fourth child was Rebecca Katzenstein. According to her death certificate and the report of Reverend Bach, Rebecca was born on July 6, 1836. I was not able to locate a marriage record for Rebecca, but sometime before August, 1866, Rebecca married Wolf Lamm of Ober-Gleen, Germany. According to his death record, Wolf was the son of Joseph Lamm and Hanna Goldschmidt and was born in Ober-Glenn in about 1833.

Rebecca and Wolf had two children, Karoline, born August 4, 1866, in Ober-Gleen, and Joseph (obviously named for his paternal grandfather), born July 9, 1870, in Ober-Gleen.

Wolf died before either of his children married.  He died on March 13, 1897, in Ober-Gleen. He was 64 years old.

Wolf Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Their daughter Karoline married Seligmann Hoexter on March 3, 1908, in Ober-Gleen; he was born February 7, 1858, in Gemuenden, Germany, and had been previously married and widowed. Karoline was 41 when she married Seligmann, and he was fifty. They did not have any children.

Karoline Lamm andSeligmann Hoexter marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 921; Laufende Nummer: 715

Joseph Lamm, Karoline’s brother, married Bertha Baum on November 24, 1901. Bertha was born June 10, 1877, in Gielhausen, daughter of Abraham Baum and Gretchen Kaiser.

Marriage record of Joseph Lamm and Bertha Baum
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 905; Laufende Nummer: 317

Joseph and Bertha had two sons, Willi, born November 15, 1902, in Ober-Gleen, and Nathan, born December 21, 1903, also in Ober-Gleen.

Rebecca Katzenstein Lamm lived to see her children marry and her two grandsons born. She died on February 20, 1915, in Ober-Gleen at age 74.

Rebekka Katzenstein Lamm death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 921; Laufende Nummer: 717

Just three years later, Rebecca’s daughter Karoline died on January 11, 1918, making her husband Seligmann a widower for the second time. Karoline was only 51 years old.

Karoline Lamm Hoexter death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 922; Signatur: 4233

Seligmann Hoexter died twenty years later on October 12, 1938. He was eighty years old and died at the Jewish community hospital in Frankfurt.

Unfortunately, all but one of the remaining family members were killed in the Holocaust. Joseph Lamm and his wife Bertha Baum Lamm were deported first to Theriesenstadt on September 1, 1942. Joseph was then taken to Treblinka, where he was murdered on September 29, 1942. Bertha died at Theriesenstadt on December 17, 1942.

Their older son, Willi, was killed at the concentration camp in Majdanek, Poland, on July 16, 1942. He was thirty-nine years old. Thanks to Linda Silverman Shefler, who is also related to the Lamm family of Ober-Gleen, I was able to learn that Willi had married Berta Dub, and she also was killed at Majdanek.  Neither Linda nor I have been able to find any children born to Willi and Berta, although I did find Berta’s sister’s family and hope to learn more from them. (The links are all to their entries in the Yad Vashem database.)

The only descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm to survive the Holocaust was their younger grandson, Nathan, Willi’s brother. Nathan had left Germany before Hitler even came to power. He had arrived in New York on November 27, 1927, reporting that he was a tailor and that he was going to a friend in Buffalo named Henry Geissler, who had been in the US since 1923 and was also from Ober-Gleen.

Nathan Lamm 1927 passenger manifest Year: 1927; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4175; Line: 1; Page Number: 35 Description Ship or Roll Number : Roll 4175 Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957

At first I had no luck finding Nathan on the 1930 census, but then I found his naturalization papers, which indicated that he was using the name Max Nathan Lamm:

Nathan Max Lamm naturalization papers
The National Archives at Atlanta; Morrow, Georgia, USA; 2217062; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description
Description : Greenville Petitions 1911-1965 (Box 6)
Source Information
Ancestry.com. South Carolina, Naturalization Records, 1868-1991

Using the name Max Lamm to search for him, I found him in Buffalo in 1930, working as a laborer in a bakery and living as a boarder with two other men who were also working in the bakery:

Max Lamm 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: 1428; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0182; FHL microfilm: 2341163

In 1940, Max Lamm was still in Buffalo, living in a large guest house and working as a laborer in building construction.

Max Lamm 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Buffalo, Erie, New York; Roll: T627_2824; Page: 82A; Enumeration District: 64-73

He enlisted in the US Army on December 1, 1942, and while in the army, he petitioned for citizenship, as the document above reveals. He was apparently stationed in South Carolina when he filed his petition.

After serving in the military for the United States during World War II, Max Nathan Lamm returned to Buffalo, New York; he is listed in Buffalo directories for 1957 and  1960, working as an employee of the Red Star Express, a trucking company.

Max Nathan Lamm died in 1968 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. He was 64 years old. It does not appear that he ever married or had children, and he had lost his brother and both his parents during the Holocaust. He was the only surviving descendant of Rebecca Katzenstein and Wolf Lamm, and he died without survivors.

Courtesy of Jay Boone
Find A Grave Memorial# 82841920

Thus, neither Schalum or Rebecca Katzenstein has any living descendants.

The fifth child of Jakob Katzenstein and Sarchen Lion was their daughter Johanna. Her story is covered in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indomitable Human Spirit: The Descendants of Minna Ruelf Spier

Although the story of Minna Ruelf Spier is, like that of her sisters Esther and Bette, a story that includes much tragedy and suffering, in its way it is also uplifting for what it reveals about the human spirit and the will to survive. As we move closer to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I find Minna’s story appropriate for these days and inspiring.

I have been in touch with one of Minna’s direct descendants, my fourth cousin- once removed Jennifer Spier-Stern, and she has shared with me what she knows about the family history as well as some family photographs. I am so very grateful to Jennifer for her help and her generosity.

Minna Ruelf was born on February 16, 1859, in Rauischholzhausen, Germany:

Minna Ruelf birth record
Geburtsregister der Juden von (Rauisch)Holzhausen (Ebsdorfergrund) 1824-1874 (HHStAW Abt. 365 Nr. 452)AutorHessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Wiesbaden, p. 10

Three days after her 21st birthday, on February 19, 1880, she married Isaak Spier. Isaak was born June 12, 1850, in Leidenhofen, Germany, another town in the Hesse region, the son of Abraham Spier and Esther Schaumberg. Isaak was a merchant.  Minna and Isaak settled in Ebsdorf, a small village a mile from Leidenhofen, where they had the first of their three sons, Abraham, who was born on January 18, 1881.

Minna Ruelf and Isaak Spier marriage record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 2524

Their two younger sons, Julius (July 26, 1883), and Siegfried (November 29, 1886), were born in Rauischholzhausen.

Isaak Spier died on June 17, 1910, in Rauischholzhausen. He was sixty years old. At that time none of his sons had married.

Isaak Spier
Courtesy of  Jennifer Spier-Stern

Isaak Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8036

Abraham, the oldest son, married nine years later on November 3, 1919; he was 38 years old. He married Jenny Wertheim, who was born on June 4, 1890, in Hatzbach, Germany, to Wolf Wertheim and Sanchen Edelmuth.

Marriage of Abraham Spier and Jenny Wertheim
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Collection: Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Signatur: 915; Laufende Nummer: 5047

 

Abraham Spier, c. 1914
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Jenny Wertheim  Spier Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Abraham and Jenny had five children, one daughter and four sons: Edith (1920), Julius (1922),[1] Alfred (1924), Martin (1925), and Walter (1927); they were all born in Rauischholzhausen.

Edith, Julius, and Alfred Spier , c. 1926 Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Family of Abraham and Jenny Spier, Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Just three weeks after Walter’s birth, his grandmother Minna Ruelf Spier died at age 68 on November 5, 1927.

Minna Ruelf
Courtesy of her great-granddaughter Jennifer Spier-Stern

Minna Ruelf Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8053

The youngest son of Isaak Spier and Minna Ruelf, Siegfried, died when he was 48 years old in Rauischholzhausen on February 21, 1935, just seven months before the Nuremberg Laws were adopted by the Nazis in Germany. Siegfried was unmarried.

Siegfried Spier death record
Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 915; Laufende Nummer: 8061

Not long after Siegfried’s death, Julius Spier (Abraham’s brother, not his son) left Rauischholzhausen. According to Alfred Schneider’s book, Die Juedischen Familien im ehemaligen Kreise Kirchain (p. 350), Julius was still in Rauischholzhausen in 1935, but as of 1936, his location was unknown. One source says that he went to Frankfurt where he had a seat on the stock exchange.  That same source said that he immigrated to England by 1945, perhaps as early as 1938.  (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:SB2K-RMP : accessed 2017-09-06), entry for Julius /Spier).

According to Jennifer, Julius Spier married Lucie Henrietta Cohn. According to this website located by Jennifer, Lucie was the daughter of Hugo Cohn and Selma Marcuse of Halberstadt; she was born on October 28, 1897. The website also states that she’d gone to Frankfurt and married (no date or place was given, nor the name of her husband). If futher states that after getting divorced in 1938, Lucie had immigrated to England and worked in the fashion industry.  Although I have no marriage record or other document showing her marriage or divorce, Lucie appears on many passenger manifests between 1947 and 1960—first residing in London, later in the US, listed at various times as a commercial traveler, a housewife, and a nurse.

Julius died in London on February 25, 1959. (England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, on Ancestry.com)

UPDATE: Thank you to Anne Callanan of the German Genealogy for sending me some records she found on FindMyPast, a genealogy service to which I do not (yet) subscribe. Anne found Enemy Alien registration cards for several family members including Julius Spier and Lucie Henrietta Spier. From those records, I now know that Julius was in England by November 1939, working as an agent. He was at first granted an exemption from being detained as an enemy alien, but that decision was reversed and he was interned on June 21, 1940, but was released two months later on August 23, 1940.

Lucie also had to register as an enemy alien. She registered on December 8, 1939, when she was living in Manchester, England (thus not with Julius) and working as a house servant for a Mr. M. I. Marks in his home. She was granted an exemption and was not interned. The card does not reveal any information about her marital status.

Julius Spier (son of Minna Ruelf and Isaak Spier)
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

Abraham and Jenny Spier and their children were still in Germany during the Nazi era, but they were eventually able to get some of their children to England. According to my cousin Jennifer, Edith Spier left Germany on one of the early Kindertransports to England where she worked as au pair; according to the Schneider book (p. 351), Edith left on October 20, 1937, when she was seventeen. She eventually went to New York, where in 1943 she married Alfred Baumann, who was born in Adelsberg, Germany, in 1913, and had immigrated to the US in 1938.

Julius Spier (Abraham and Jenny’s son) was arrested along with ten thousand other Jewish men  in the aftermath of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, and sent to Buchenwald. His daughter Jennifer wrote this about his experiences:

My father, John Sanders (nee Julius Spier) was born in Rauischholtzhausen, Germany on June 17, 1922. At the age of 16, on November 9, 1938 he was arrested in his home by the Gestapo. It should have been my grandfather, but he was in a few towns over at his mother’s home. Rumors around the towns were that the Gestapo were going from house to house to arrest the eldest male.

My father was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp where he remained for 10 weeks. During this time, his mother heard about the organized efforts of the Jewish Agency of Bloomsbury, London to get as many Jewish children, between the ages of four to 17, out of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. She went to the Jewish Agency and the police, where she was told to get all the documents ready, as well as a visa to leave Germany.

Upon release from Buchenwald, my father had only two weeks to leave Germany. His father took him to the Frankfurt train station, where he was to meet the Kindertransport train that would take him to England. At the train station there were other families with children. The parents and their young ones had to say their good-byes inside the train station. The children, regardless of age, had to go onto the platform and then onto the train by themselves. Families with infants gave the infants to the older children. It is difficult to comprehend all sides. How does a parent give up a baby and how does a young adult care for one. My father said goodbye to his father, not realizing that this was the last time he would ever see him.  …

After his tenure in Dover Court, my father was taken into the home of an Orthodox family in Westgate, London. He was there until June of 1939 when his brother [Alfred] came over from Germany. Together, they went to a hostel in London. Shortly thereafter they were taken to a farm in Aberdeen, Scotland. An aristocrat owned the farm by the name of Sir Robert Grant. He treated my father and his brother with the utmost of respect and kindness. One memorable time for my father was when the chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce took him and his brother to Harrod’s department store in London and they were able to pick out all that they needed. Sir Robert Grant applied for visas to get my father’s parents and brothers out of Germany. Unfortunately war broke out a few days later and all visas were denied. 

Julius Spier, son of Abraham and Jenny (Wertheim) Spier, c. 1935
Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

That left Abraham and Jenny and their two youngest children, Martin and Walter, stranded in Germany. On September 7, 1942, all four were deported to Theriesenstadt. Then on May 18, 1944, all four were transported to Auschwitz, where Abraham and Jenny were murdered. Martin and Walter survived. Walter Spier talked movingly about his experience in this video. I implore you all to watch it. It’s less then fifteen minutes long, and when you considered what he suffered for years, you know you can spare fifteen minutes to hear him talk.

 

When I think of the two young men being reunited in Rauischholzhausen in 1945, it moves me to tears.

Meanwhile, their older siblings were for a time in the United Kingdom. But like many other Jews who were sent to England for safety from the Nazis, Julius and Alfred were sent to the Isle of Man as possible “enemies of the state” after England declared war on Germany in September, 1939.

According to this article from B’nai Brith Magazine, the first inmates arrived on the Isle of Man in May, 1940, and by August, 1940, there were over 14,000 men, women, and children imprisoned on the Isle of Man, some being Nazi sympathizers, many others being Jews who’d been born in Germany and thus were considered enemy aliens, ironically.  Because of overcrowding, in July, 1940, England decided to send some of the inmates to Canada or to Australia. (Cheryl Klemper, “Imprisoned On The Isle Of Man: Jewish Refugees Classified As “Enemy Aliens”, ” B’nai Brith Magazine, September 19, 2016)

Julius and Alfred Spier were among those sent to Australia. According to Jennifer, they both were on the ship known as the HMT (Hired Military Transport) Dunera. According to the Australian website for the Migration Heritage Centre:

On board the HMT Dunera were about 2,000 male German Jewish refugees aged between 16 and 45, who had escaped from Nazi occupied territories. Also on board were 200 Italian POWs and 250 Nazis. The voyage lasted 57 days. The conditions were appalling. Apart from overcrowding on the ship with the attendant problems of hygiene and harsh treatment by crew members, the journey was also made unpleasant by the fear of torpedo attacks, the uncertainty of the destination, and by tensions between Jewish refugees and Nazi passengers.

After arriving in Australia, Julius and Alfred spent two years interned at camps in Hay and Tatura in Australia. The Migration Heritage Centre website reported this about the Hay camp:

The Hay POW camp was constructed in 1940. The first arrivals were 2036 German and Austrian Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis. They were mostly professionals who had simply fled for their lives. They were placed along side 451 German and Italian POWs many of whom were pro Nazi and fascist.

While awaiting release, the Dunera Boys developed a rich cultural and intellectual programme at their camp, giving concerts and establishing an unofficial university. The small group of strictly Orthodox Jews also managed to organise a kosher kitchen. After a period of time the injustice of their situation was realised and they were permitted to return to Britain.

Here is a record identifying Julius Spier as a POW in Australia during the war:

Courtesy of Jennifer Spier-Stern

According to Jennifer, when Julius and Alfred were finally released, they were given a choice  either to return to Germany or join the British Army, so they both joined the British Army, where they served for the duration of the war and then returned to England.

UPDATE: Thanks again to Anne Callanan, I now have enemy alien registration cards for both Edith and Julius Spier.  Edith registered on December 12, 1939, and was granted an exemption; she was working as a domestic. Her brother Julius registered as an enemy alien on November 28, 1939, when he was working on Sir Robert Grant’s farm in Scotland. But as we know he was denied an exemption and interned until June 21, 1942, when he was returned to the UK from Australia.

In the years immediately after the war Edith was in New York City, Julius and Alfred were in England, and Martin and Walter were in Germany. Martin and Walter both stayed in Rauischholzhausen for a year after their liberation from the camps in 1945, and then both immigrated to New York City where both of them later married.

In England, Alfred married Hannelore Reimers, who was from Bielefeld, Germany. Hannelore wanted to return to Bielefeld where her family still lived[2], so Alfred and Hannelore ended up back in Germany.

Julius married Helene Trunec in England in 1952; Julius and Helene stayed in England until 1963 when they immigrated to the United States and were reunited with Edith, Martin, and Walter in New York City. Julius and Helene had two children, Jennifer and Mark.

The five children of Abraham Spier and Jenny Wertheim thus all survived the Holocaust, although their parents did not. The five siblings not only suffered the loss of their parents and of their home; two were tortured and suffered terribly in the Nazi concentration camps, and two were imprisoned like criminals by England, the country where they had sought sanctuary. It’s hard to imagine how any of them coped with what they had endured.

But listening to Walter Spier on that video reveals that somehow the human spirit can endure unimaginable suffering and still have faith, hope, and love. All five of the Spier siblings went on to have children after the war, one sign of the incredible power of faith, hope, and love.

 

[1] I find it interesting that Abraham named a son Julius since his brother Julius was still alive. I assume the son was named for another family member, not his uncle.

[2] Hannelore was not born Jewish, but converted when she married Alfred.

Cruising to Cologne

 

On Friday, May 5, our fourth day in Germany, we left the Mainz-Bingen region behind and took a three hour cruise on the Rhine from Bingen to Koblenz.  The weather was still quite dreary and cool, but the views out the window was nevertheless quite scenic—castles, little towns clustered at the shoreline, high cliffs and fields, and other boats cruising on the river.  It was very peaceful and relaxing, just what we needed after several very full and exciting days.

Burg Ehrenfels

We disembarked in Koblenz and walked through that city for an hour or so before taking a train to our next major stop, Cologne or Köln, as it is called in German.

Koblenz

Deutsches Eck where the Moselle meets the Rhine in Koblenz

Once we got to the Cologne train station, we realized we had no idea how far our hotel was, so we checked Google Maps on my phone and were delighted to see that our hotel, the Marriott, was just a short few blocks away.  Although the Marriott is a large, American-style hotel, we were not very pleased with it.  I won’t get into details here, but if anyone is planning a trip to Cologne, check with us first.  The best thing about it was its location. We should not have “played it safe” and chosen a known brand.  Live and learn.

Nevertheless, we very much enjoyed the two days we had in Cologne.  The first night we had dinner at a very chic Italian restaurant, Da Damiano.  It wasn’t far from the hotel, but somehow we got a bit twisted around looking for it.  But that gave us our first glimpse of the Dom, the huge Gothic cathedral that dominates everything in Cologne.  The Dom dwarfs all the churches we’d seen before and even cathedrals we had seen in other cities such as Milan and Paris.  It is awesome in the literal sense of the word.  And you can see its spires almost anywhere in the city.

Cologne Dom

The following morning we went to the Ludwig Museum, which is almost right behind the Dom.  (The Dom quickly became our point of orientation for anything in the city.) The Ludwig is an extremely well-planned museum with lots of light and open space and a very impressive and enjoyable collection of 20th century art.  There were many works by Picasso including a very provocative sculpture of a mother pushing a child in a stroller, a rich collection of Expressionist and Surrealist artists, and a collection of art that had been rescued by a collector during the 1930s when Hitler condemned all modern art as degenerate and corrupt.

But the piece that really took us aback was a lifelike sculpture of a modern-dressed woman staring at art in one of the galleries.  Both of us had at first thought it was an actual person and only realized it was a sculpture on a second or third look.  It really made us think about what is art and what is real and how we often walk by real people without realizing they are real.

Woman with a Purse, Sculpture, by Duane Hanson (1974) at Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany Photo found on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/26317979044298519/

In the afternoon we went on a walking tour of Cologne with Free Walk Cologne (there is no fee, but tips are encouraged early and often).  Julian, our tour guide, was fluent in English and very engaging, knowledgeable, and entertaining.  We met at the Eigenstein Tur, one of the old Roman gates that still exist in the city, and our group was made up of people from Switzerland, Poland, Ecuador, and Scotland, as well as Philadelphia and California.  Julian provided us with some background in Cologne’s long history—it was once a military garrison during the Roman Empire, and a woman from Cologne married the Emperor and made Cologne an important outpost in the empire.  Julian claimed that Cologne still had more of an Italian feel to it—more laidback and liberal than most of Germany.

Eigenstein Tur

We also learned that one of the reasons Cologne has such a tremendous cathedral is that the remains of the Three Kings are kept there.  That made Cologne a pilgrimage destination long ago and thus a wealthy city filled even in early times with constant visitors.

The symbol of Cologne —the three crowns for the Three Kings and eleven tears for the eleven virgins killed by Attila the Hun

Julian then skipped to modern times and informed us that over 90% of Cologne had been destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II and that the city was rebuilt as cheaply and quickly as possible after the war, leaving it with buildings that are eclectic in style and not very well-planned.  People were allowed to build whatever they wanted, including a building that is only two meters wide.

Two meter wide building on Eigenstein Strasse

Eigenstein Strasse

Mural by artists protesting the takeover of space in Cologne by media corporations

Many immigrants from Greece and Turkey came to Cologne after the war to do this rebuilding as the male population of Cologne had been greatly reduced by wartime casualties.  These immigrants stayed, giving Cologne a diversity that was for a long time unusual for Germany.  (Now there are many immigrants living in Germany from all over the world.)

We saw a church, St Maria Himmelfahrt, that was bombed during the war and restored afterwards:

before the war

after bombing during WW II

Today

St Maria Himmelfahrte

Perhaps the most bizarre thing we saw was a Roman wall that was discovered in recent years during excavation for a parking lot near the Dom.  The wall was preserved and now can be seen in the middle of a modern parking lot.

Roman wall in parking lot under the Dom

There was also a Roman floor mosaic discovered nearby, and that also can be seen today by looking into the window of the city’s archaeological museum.

Roman mosaic

Our last major stop with Julian was the Dom itself.  He explained how it took over 600 years for the cathedral to be completed—with a three hundred year gap when nothing was done.  It was started in the 13th century and not completed until the 19th.  I’ve already mentioned how awesome the Dom is from the outside—the interior is equally breathtaking.  The height of the vaults, the almost delicate feel of the structure, and the stained glass windows are magnificent.

After the tour we had a beer along the Rhine with a few people from the tour and then returned to our hotel before dinner in the Belgian Quarter where we once again had Italian food.  That made it our third night in a row eating pasta plus the lunch in Gau-Algesheim—and it wouldn’t stop there.  German food just didn’t work for us—too much meat, too little fish.  It’s a real challenge for someone who is kosher and lactose intolerant. So we ate mostly Italian food throughout the trip.  And it was very good.  On the other hand, we also ate a lot of delicious German bread, pastries, and pretzels and drank wonderful German beer.  My favorite lunch was a fresh German roll with either a hard-boiled egg or smoked salmon.  I learned that salmon in German in Lachs—hence, the Yiddish term “lox.”  Believe me, we ate quite well—too well!

Marketplace in Cologne

People relaxing along the Rhine

Our second day in Cologne focused on its Jewish past and present.

Annlis Schäfer Seligmann 1924-2017

We have returned from our trip to Germany, and I have many things to share about the experience.  It was a trip filled with many joyous moments as well as many sad and heartbreaking moments.  One of the greatest joys and definitely the saddest moment involved Annlis Seligmann, mother of my dear cousin Wolfgang.

Annlis and Wolfgang

When Wolfgang found my blog almost two and half years ago, it was the result of a family research project he was sharing with his mother.  Annlis was not born a Seligmann; she was born Annlis Schäfer on April 12, 1924.  But in 1965 she married Wolfgang’s father Walter Seligmann, who died in 1993, and she was fascinated with the history of his family.  When the Seligmann family discovered the “magic suitcase” that had belonged to Walter’s brother Herbert, Annlis and Wolfgang began to search through the documents to learn more about the Seligmann family history.  Because Wolfgang could not read the old German script, Annlis had to decipher many of the old records and documents for him.

At some point in this process, Wolfgang discovered my blog, and together the three of us—Annlis, Wolfgang, and I—all worked together to find many of the missing pieces of the Seligmann family.  We were able to figure out how many of the people named in those documents were related to us all.  Without their help, I would not have found many of the Seligmanns who died in the Holocaust or who, like my cousins Lotte Wiener Furst and Fred Michel, were able to escape Germany before it was too late.

So when I was planning my trip to Germany, one of my priorities was to meet not only Wolfgang, his wife Bärbel, and daughter Milena, but also his mother Annlis.  We arrived in Germany on May 2, and the first thing we were scheduled to do on May 3 was meet Annlis.  We went with Wolfgang to the senior residence where she was living in Mainz (like an assisted living facility in the US) first thing that morning. Annlis did not speak English, so I was able to test my baby German.  With Wolfgang’s help, we were able to communicate.

She and Wolfgang showed me some family photographs, and I shared with her photographs of my parents, children, and grandchildren.  We looked through the magic suitcase together (there are still hundreds of letters and postcards still to be translated). Despite the language obstacles, I felt a strong connection to Annlis and was sad to say goodbye when our visit ended.

Annlis had been in declining health in recent months.  Her vision had become so poor that she could no longer read and help translate the documents, but she remained very interested in the family history and, according to Wolfgang, had been very anxious to meet me.  After our visit, she expressed to Wolfgang how happy she had been to meet me.  I was so touched and, of course, felt the same way.

So you can imagine my shock when less than ten days later while still in Germany, I received a message from Wolfgang telling me that his mother had died.  I was stunned and so sad.  And heartbroken for Wolfgang and his family.

Annlis lived a long and full life.  From Wolfgang I know that she grew up in Mainz where she also lived for the last five years of her life.  During World War II, she was working in Bingen.  In September, 1944, she witnessed the murder of an American soldier, Odis Lee Apple, whose plane had been shot down and crashed nearby.  As described here by Wolfgang himself on the website for the radio station where he works, the caretaker for the building where Annlis worked notified the people in the office that an American soldier was walking on the street outside the building.

Annlis and three of her co-workers left the building and followed Apple, whom she described as a man with a friendly face.  Then suddenly the building’s caretaker rushed out onto the street in his SA uniform and shot Apple.  He did not die right away, but was suffering terribly from the gunshot wound.  At some point someone else shot him, and he died.

Street in Bingen where Annlis worked and witnessed the murder of Odis Lee Apple

After the war, the US Army investigated Apple’s death; Annlis provided testimony, and several people were sentenced to prison.  The caretaker, however, had died not long after the shooting during a bombing attack on Bingen.

According to Wolfgang, his mother never forgot this incident and was horrified by what she had witnessed. Even though at that point the US was at war against Germany, Annlis knew it was wrong to kill someone in cold blood like that.

Tribute to Odis Lee Apple at the spot where he was shot

It was not until twenty years after the war that Annlis married Walter Seligmann in 1965.  Together they raised their son Wolfgang in a neighborhood outside of Mainz in an apartment overlooking the valley.  She lived in that apartment until five years before her death when she moved to the building where I met with her on May 3.

Annlis Seligmann lived a good and long life; she had just turned 93 a month before her death.  I feel so privileged and fortunate that I was able to be a part of her life in the last two years and especially that I was able to meet her in person, share some time with her, and give her a hug.  My heart goes out to Wolfgang, Bärbel, Milena, and the entire extended family.  May her memory be a blessing.

 

 

Ernest Lion’s The Fountain at the Crossroad: An Unforgettable Book

I am very excited to announce that Ernest Lion’s memoir, The Fountain at the Crossroad, has now been published and is available on Amazon.com both as a paperback ($10.50) and an ebook ($2.99). [UPDATE: the Kindle version is now available!] It has been my honor and privilege to bring this book to the public with the permission and assistance of Ernest’s son Tom.  I did this because I found the book unforgettable and because I don’t want Ernest or his life to be forgotten.  Tom and I are not deriving any financial gain from sales of the book. All net proceeds received from sales of the book will be donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in memory of Ernest Lion.

I have written about some aspects of Ernest’s life on the blog as he was married to my cousin, Liesel Mosbach, granddaughter of Rosalie Schoenthal, my grandfather’s sister.  Ernest and Liesel were deported from Germany to Auschwitz in early 1943; Liesel was murdered there, but Ernest survived.

The story of what he endured and how he survived is moving and horrifying.  His determination and courage in the face of unimaginable suffering is a story of what it means to be human when you are surrounded by inhumanity. And Ernest’s escape from the Nazis kept me on the edge of my seat even though I knew that he would survive.

But the book is not only about Ernest’s experience during the Holocaust.  It also tells the story of his childhood growing up with his parents in Germany and of his early adulthood when he dreamed of being an actor.  In addition, Ernest wrote about his life after the war—how he rebuilt his life in the US, starting all over, scarred by his experiences, but nevertheless determined to have a full and meaningful life.

Ernest only started talking about his Holocaust experiences late in his life, and then he was persuaded to write his memoirs.  In doing so, he relived much of the pain, but also reached a very poignant conclusion about the value of his own life.

If you have an interest in history, in World War II, in the Holocaust, in fact, if you have an interest in human beings and what they are made of, you should read this book. You can find it here.