Things People Find on eBay

Back in May 2020, I wrote about Ferdinand Meyer, my third cousin, twice removed, a great-grandson of Meyer Goldschmidt.

As I described in that post, Ferdinand and his two children, Eleanora and Erich, both left Germany in the 1930s to escape from the Nazis. But Ferdinand’s wife Friedericke Jaenecke Meyer stayed behind and did not leave Germany until the summer of 1941, when she came to the US and settled with Ferdinand in the Boston area.

Friedericke was not born Jewish, and I wondered whether she had stayed behind to protect the family’s assets, assuming that she would be safe (though she faced some persecution in Germany for being married to a Jew or perhaps for converting). I still have no answers to that question.

Nevertheless, I was quite tickled when a blog reader commented that he had found on eBay an envelope for a letter sent by Friedericke to Ferdinand, postmarked January 24, 1941.

As you can see, Friedericke was still living in Frankfurt at the time she sent this letter to Ferdinand, who was living on Beacon Street in Boston.

Unfortunately, there was no letter inside the envelope to reveal what was going on in Friedericke’s life and what her thoughts were about what was happening in Germany. By that time the war was raging across Europe, but the US was still a year away from entering the war. What were Friedericke and Ferdinand feeling and thinking? How was Friedericke able to escape when so many Jews were trapped inside Germany by that time?

And how in the world did this envelope end up on eBay?

Life is just filled with mysteries.

The Diaries of a Young Boy: An Update on the Family of Arthur Rapp

Before I move on to the last child of Meyer Goldschmidt, his son Falk, I have two updates that relate to Meyer’s two other sons, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Selig Goldschmidt. Today’s involves descendants of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt.

Once again I have had the good fortune of connecting with a Goldschmidt fifth cousin, my cousin Greg. Greg is the great-grandson of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, the youngest child of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt. Greg’s grandfather was Helmina’s son Arthur Rapp, and his father was Gordon (born Gunther) Rapp.

Greg shared with me numerous photographs and documents, including his father’s diaries written during World War II when he was a teenager. Greg also put together a timeline of his family’s travels from Germany to Italy to England to Brazil and finally to the US, all between the years of 1934 to 1941 or from when his father was eight years old until he was sixteen. In other words, the Rapp family lived in five countries in the span of seven years.

Although I have already written most of the skeleton of the Rapp family story in my earlier post, after reviewing the materials Greg shared and speaking with him, I want to supplement that post because I can now better describe the family’s life in Frankfurt and the journey that finally brought them to the US in 1941.

Arthur Rapp and his wife Alice Kahn were married in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. This photograph might be their wedding photograph, but Greg wasn’t certain.

Wedding of Alice Kahn and Arthur Rapp 1921. Courtesy of Greg Rapp

It was Arthur’s second marriage, and he had a daughter Rita from that first marriage who was born in 1908. Then Arthur and Alice had two sons, Helmut, born in 1923, and Gunther, born in 1925. These photographs of the family in the years before they left Germany in March 1934 illustrate their comfortable lifestyle with family vacations to the shore and to the mountains. I don’t have exact dates for these photographs but can only estimate from the presumed ages of Helmut and Gunther.

Helmut and Gunter Rapp c. 1926
Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut Rapp c. 1924 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The two brothers were very close:1

Helmut and Gunther, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp, c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Helmut and Gunther Rapp c. 1933 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

They went to the mountains:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp with unknown woman c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The beach:

Rapp family beach c. 1930 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Rapp family c. 1930

And skiing and ice skating:

Arthur Rapp skiing  Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Alice and Arthur Rapp Courtesy of Greg Rapp

During these years Arthur was working for the H. Fuld Telephone company as a director and salesman. H. Fuld was started by Arthur’s first cousin Harry Fuld, about whom I wrote in this blog post.

Gunther Rapp started school in Frankfurt on April 6, 1932, when he was six, and spent two years in school in Frankfurt, ending on February 23, 1934, as seen on this report card his son Greg shared with me. His first year was at the Holzhausen School, and his second year was at the Philanthropin School.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Then, one year after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, the Rapp family left their comfortable life in Frankfurt and moved to Milan, Italy, where on March 2, 1934, Gunther was enrolled in a Swiss school in Milan, as seen in this report card:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The family lived in Milan until about December 1937. Greg wasn’t sure what his grandfather was doing at that time but speculated that since the H. Fuld Telephone Company was international, he was continuing to work for that company during this time.

I think these photographs were probably taken during the time they were in Italy from March 1934 until December 1937, or from the time Gunther was eight until he was twelve; on the other hand, they might have been taken in England, their next home:

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936 Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther and Helmut Rapp c. 1936

Then the family moved again, this time to London. Gunther was now twelve, his brother Helmut was fourteen. Having learned Italian and studied French while in Milan, the boys now had to learn a fourth language, English. When he started school in England in January 1938 at the Normandie Preparatory School in Bexhill-on-the-Sea, Gunther knew only three words: please, thank you, and yes.2

Gunther’s report card a year later in December 1938 showed just how much progress he had made in English and in school in general (despite the comment about how he was doing in Scripture). Perhaps most telling is the comment at the bottom: “He is losing his shyness and beginning to talk more readily.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Gunther celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah that December as well, delivering his bar mitzvah speech in German, which he later translated to English. His speech was primarily an expression of gratitude to his parents and his grandmother for the way they instilled joy and love into all their lives. A note at the bottom contained Gunther’s admission (possibly added years later) that the rabbi wrote most of his speech (something that may be true for many bar/bat mitzvah students).

And then nine months later on September 1, 1939, World War II started. The headmaster of Gunther’s school wrote to his parents, trying to persuade them to keep Gunther at the school.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

Two things are of particular interest: first, the fact that the school had built a trench so that the students never had to go outside. And secondly, the letter assured Gunther’s parents that the fact that he was German-born would not be an issue, noting that, “We all know that you have exactly the same feelings as an Englishman about the tyrant in Germany….”

But the Normandale School was on the south coast of England on the English Channel, and the Rapps decided that boys would be safer elsewhere. Gunther and his brother Helmut were sent to High Bullen Farm in Lynton, Ilkerton-Devon, on the west coast of England. The farm had no electricity, only kerosene lamps, and water had to be pumped by hand. The Rapp brothers helped on the farm—milking cows, hunting rabbits, and watched the slaughtering of a pig.3

Starting in January 1940, Gunther began to keep a diary. The three months of the first year of his diaries are, interestingly, written in German, not English; many of the entries simply say he went to school or he was sick in bed or he played football (soccer, I assume) or hockey or golf.  In April 1940, he switched to English, which I found noteworthy. I wonder whether England being at war against Germany had anything to do with that or whether he just finally felt fluent enough in English to use it. There is no mention of the war, however, until May 8, 1940, when he included a small news clipping about the war after entering his activities for that day: “Go to school. Play cricket. Became a prefect.”

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

But his parents were already looking to get out of England:

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

From then on, Gunther made occasional entries about the progress of the war or entered news clippings, but mostly he reported on going to school and engaging in sports. In June 1940, he and Helmut left Devon and returned to the family home in Stanmore where their parents had built a house with a bomb shelter in the backyard to keep them safe.4

On June 26, 1940, Gunther wrote the following brief entry: “Pa is interned at 10 o’clock. Mu [his mother, I assume] is very worried. Read. Mu goes to Consuls and tries to get a visa.” On Friday, August 2, 1940, Gunther wrote, “We get a ‘phone call that we will shortly get the visa.” On August 16, he spoke of men coming to pack and of an air raid warning. There are then several more references to air raid warnings, and on August 29, he noted that his diary had been checked by a censor as the family was preparing to leave England.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

And then on September 6, 1940, he described their departure from England, commenting in part that “We are all very pleased. Pa came out of the internment camp.” They were headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gunther’s fourth country in six years. He was not yet fifteen years old.

From his description of the trip from England to Brazil, you would think he was on a pleasure cruise with his diary entries repeatedly saying, “Lie on deck. Read and play,” with an occasional reference to learning Portuguese—his fifth language after German, Italian, French, and English.

The Rapp family’s time in Brazil was relatively short, and Gunther’s diary entries mostly refer to learning Portuguese, going to the museum, exploring Sao Paulo, and engaging in some project with marble blocks. He also commented on Helmut’s fascination with watches and clocks and his work at a clock repair store. Then in December he started school and commented, “I hardly understand anything the teachers say.” But that same week in December, 1940, Gunther wrote about going with his parents to the American consul to get a visa to travel to the US.

Courtesy of Greg Rapp

The 1941 diary began by noting that he was going to school each morning to learn Portuguese and taking typing lessons in the afternoon. But meanwhile the family was preparing to sail to the US. Helmut continued to repair watches. On his last day at the school in Brazil, January 31, 1941, Gunther wrote, “I’m glad I don’t have to go there any more because I didn’t like it there.”  Overall, he seemed not to be the least bit sad when they left Brazil on February 5, 1941, and sailed to the United States.

On February 17, 1941, the ship arrived in New York harbor. Gunther wrote on that day:

“We are getting nearer our destination. On our left and our right, we can see strips of land, with a blanket of snow on it. Hardly visible through the fog is the imposing statue of liberty, which guards the entrance of the N. York harbor. … We step ashore at 330 and are welcomed at the quay by aunt Alice [Rapp, his father’s sister] and [her husband] Sally and one or two other friends. It’s snowing and terribly cold. …. We go with Uncle Sally and Mr. Drey to the Whitehall Hotel by U-ground, which isn’t as nice as in London [ed.: that is still true today]. I haven’t seen much of N.Y. yet, but from what I have seen, I think I’m going to like it.”

He in fact lived the rest of his life in the greater New York City area, moving only as far as New Jersey in the mid-1970s.

Gunther (who became Gordon in the US) continued to keep his diaries through 1945, and when I have time I hope to read through more of them. But for now I have told the part of the story I wanted to share—the story of a boy who left his homeland at eight for Italy, then at twelve moved to England, at fourteen left for Brazil, and finally in February 1941 when he was fifteen, moved to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life.

As I wrote in my earlier post about the Rapp family, both Gunther/Gordon and his brother Helmut/Harold lived long and successful and productive lives in the US—Harold rising from doing watch repairs to becoming the president of Bulova International, Gordon obtaining degrees from Cornell University and Purdue University and becoming a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation.

From reading the diaries, looking at the photos, and reading the letters written about him by his teachers, it truly seems that Gunther Rapp’s bar mitzvah speech was truthful—even if the rabbi wrote much of it. Gunther seems to have always felt safe and secure with his parents and brother, well-loved and filled with joy, despite all the turmoil and changes going on in his external circumstances.

Thank you so much to my cousin Greg for sharing this incredible archive of photographs, diaries, and other documents. By doing so, he has brought his father to life for me and, I hope I have been able to honor the memory of this man whose boyhood was interrupted, but who never seemed to lose his joyfulness or his desire to succeed.

  1. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  2. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 
  3. Email from Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020
  4. Conversation with Greg Rapp, December 17, 2020. 

Children Orphaned by the 1918 Flu Epidemic: The Family of Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, Part I

As mentioned in an earlier post, Meyer Selig and Selma (Cramer) Goldschmidt’s daughter Clementine married Nathan Sondheimer in 1913 and had three children: Manfred born in 1914, Erich in 1915, and Auguste in 1918. I was very fortunate to connect with Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, daughter of Manfred Sondheimer, who generously shared with me family stories and photographs, including this wonderful photograph of the three Sondheimer children with their mother.1

Erich, Manfred, Auguste, and Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer, c. 1917. Courtesy of the family

Tragically, Clementine died on October 29, 1918, leaving behind three young children, Manfred, (four years old), Erich (three), and Auguste (one), and her husband Nathan Sondheimer. Clementine was only 25 years old and was a victim of the 1918 flu epidemic like her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer and millions of others. According to Clementine’s granddaughter Daniela, Clementine was pregnant with her fourth child at the time of her death.

Clementine Goldschmidt Sondheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10793, Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Daniela shared with me that after their mother died, her father Manfred and his siblings were raised in large part by their maternal grandmother, Selma Cramer Goldschmidt, the wife of Meyer Selig Goldschmidt, who himself died in 1922. The entire Goldschmidt extended family was extremely close and lived near each other, so there was a great deal of support for Clementine’s three young children. That was especially important when Auguste came down with tuberculosis and was extremely ill and in and out of sanitoria. Fortunately she eventually recovered and regained her strength.2

Here are three more photographs of the Sondheimer children, two of just the three of them and one with the extended family:

Manfred, Auguste, and Erich Sondheimer, c. 1921 Courtesy of the family

Manfred, Erich, and Auguste Sondheimer, c. 1923 Courtesy of the family

Members of the extended Goldschmidt and Sondheimer families at the North Sea, c. 1927. At far right in the first row is Nathan Sondheimer. To his right is Manfred and then Auguste with Erich behind them. Courtesy of the family

In 1928, ten years after Clementine’s death, her widower Nathan Sondheimer remarried, and he had two more children with his second wife, Anna Ettlinger, a doctor who graduated from the University of Heidelberg, according to my cousin Daniela. Anna was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on May 28, 1894, to Kaufmann Ettlinger and Dora Frankel.3 She was likely a distant cousin of Nathan through his mother Auguste Ettlinger as both were originally from Karlsruhe, Germany. I traced them both back four generations without finding a direction connection, but I assume there is one there.

Nathan Sondheimer and Anna Ettlinger marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Then just five years after he married Anna, Nathan died on May 13, 1933, in Washington, DC. According to his granddaughter Daniela, Nathan had traveled to Washington to promote his business. While there he secured a life insurance policy. Then, without warning, he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54.4

Nathan and Clementine’s three children were now teenaged orphans. Manfred was eighteen, Erich was seventeen, and Auguste was fifteen. Clementine’s children had lost both of their parents before reaching adulthood just as had happened to the children of her cousin Rosa Cramer Oppenheimer. It also left Nathan’s second wife Anna a widow with their two little children, Fritz and Marion, both under the age of five.

Fortunately, Nathan had successfuly secured that life insurance policy just days before his death, and the proceeds proved to be enough to get his body back to Germany for burial in Frankfurt and to get his widow Anna and his five children out of Germany.

According to the website of the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and smuggled eighteen sapphires out of the country by sewing them into the clothing of the family. Some of those sapphires are now in the museum’s collection.

It appears that Anna and her two children Fritz and Marion escaped to Holland. A ship manifest shows her sailing to the US with her sister Kate Ettlinger in June 1938; Anna listed her last permanent residence as The Hague, Holland, and indicated she intended to stay in the US permanently.5 Then in September 1938, she sailed from the US to England, listing her last residence as the US.

Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 1165, UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

On February 11, 1939, Anna returned to the US with Fritz and Marion and her mother, who had all been living in Holland. Anna and her children listed as the person they were going to in the US an A. Sondheimer—identified as Anna’s daughter and the sister of her two children, living at 1359 51st Street in Brooklyn, New York. (See the third image below.)

Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, with children and mother, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 33 Source Information New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island),

I first assumed that A. Sondheimer was Auguste Sondheimer, who was Anna’s stepdaughter and her children’s half-sister. But I found two manifests—one an outgoing manifest from England, the other an arrival manifest in New York—showing that Auguste sailed from England to New York in August 1939, six months after Anna’s arrival back to the US in February. Auguste was  accompanied by  Selma Sondheimer, who was the widow of Fritz Sondheimer, Nathan Sondheimer’s brother. Both of those manifests show that Auguste had been living in England, not in Brooklyn. They also reveal that Auguste was a photographer.6

I searched for any other A. Sondheimer who could have been living in Brooklyn at that time. Nathan did have two brothers who came to the US. One, Arthur, had died in New York in 1905;7 the other, Albert, arrived in the US in April 1939, so months after Anna’s arrival.8

And then the lightbulb went on. The “A. Sondheimer” they were going to in Brooklyn was Anna Ettlinger Sondheimer herself. Anna listed her last residence as Brooklyn on that February 1939 manifest. The poor shipping company clerk who entered the data must have been so confused. Look at how he crossed out the relationships in the first column for the person left behind, another A. Sondheimer, this one probably Albert Sondheimer, Nathan’s brother. And he also listed the A. Sondheimer they were going to as the daughter of both Anna’s mother and of Anna herself.

In any event, the 1940 US census shows that Augusta (spelled here with a A at the end, not an E) was then living in New York City with Anna, Fritz, Marion, Anna’s mother Dora Rudlia Frankel Ettlinger, and Anna’s sister-in-law Selma Ettlinger Sondheimer, the widow of Nathan’s brother Fritz and Nathan’s first cousin. Anna was practicing medicine.

Augusta Sondheimer, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02638; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 31-626, 1940 United States Federal Census

Auguste married Walter James Levy in New York in April, 1942.9 Walter was also a refugee from Germany; he was born in Hamburg on March 21, 1911, to Moses Levy and Bertha Lindenberger.10 Walter arrived in the US on March 19, 1941, and filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on August 6, 1941, listing his occupation as statistician and his last residence as England.11 He also by that time had registered for the World War II draft, listing his occupation as writer, statistician, economist. Most interestingly, he listed as his contact person a “friend,” Augusta Sondheimer. They were both living at 41 Central Park West in New York City. Less than a year later, they were married.

Walter Levy, World War II draft registration, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

During the war, they moved to Washington, DC, where Walter ran the petroleum section of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Walter’s obituary in The New York Times:

After the war, he guided the petroleum sector of the Marshall Plan. In 1948 he became chief of the petroleum, oil and lubricant division of the Economic Cooperation Administration, which administered the plan to mend Europe’s shattered economies and provide the political stability for democratic institutions to thrive. He filled that job until 1949 and continued to advise the E.C.A. until it ended its mission two years later.

During the 1940s, Walter and Augusta (as she later spelled it in the US) had two children, Robert and Susan. They returned to New York where Walter established his own international consulting business, Walter J. Levy Consultants Corporation, where he “helped renegotiate oil leases between states that wanted to tap their own resources effectively and companies that feared outright nationalization.”12

Augusta Sondheimer Levy died on September 19, 1981, in Westport, Connecticut; she was 64 years old.13 Her son Robert died only twelve years later on April 20, 1993; he was only 47.14 Walter Levy died at age 86 on December 10, 1997, in New York; he was described as “the dean of United States oil economists” in his obituaries.15 Sadly, Augusta and Walter’s remaining child also died relatively young; Susan Levy died on November 15, 2003, Altamonte Springs, California; she was 54.16 All four family members are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, where many other Sondheimer relatives are also buried. As neither Robert or Susan had children, there are no living descendants of Augusta Sondheimer Levy.

But Augusta survived the loss of her mother, her father, and then her homeland. Her name and her story should not be forgotten.

What about Augusta’s older brothers, Manfred and Erich?

To be continued.

  1. My fifth cousin Daniela Sondheimer Klein and I exchanged numerous emails in November and December and also spoke by Zoom on December 1, 2020. All references to matters in this post that I was told by Daniela came from those emails and that conversation. 
  2. See also Arnold S. Oppenheimer, The Story of My Life (2007, Jerusalem), pp. 15-18. 
  3. Anna Ettinger, Gender: weiblich (Female), Birth Date: 28 Mai 1894 (28 May 1894)
    Birth Place: Karlsruhe, Baden (Baden-Württemberg), Deutschland (Germany), Civil Registration Office: Karlsruhe, Father: Kaufmann Ettinger, Mother: Dora Frünkel, Certificate Number: 968, Signatur: 3_B_A_I_47, Bestand: 3/B, Title: Enthält: Einträge Nr. 938 – 1875, Date: 1894, Lange: 20, Laufende Nummer: A/I/47, Zahlung Gesamter Bestand: 47, Karlsruhe, Germany, Births, 1870-1904. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  4.   Nathan Sondheimer, Gender: männlich (Male), Nationality: Deutsch Juden, Record Type: Inventory, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Death Date: 13 Mai 1933 (13 May 1933), Notes: Inventories of personal estates of foreigners and especially German Jews, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70367447, Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947. Conversation with Daniela Sondheimer Klein, December 1, 2020. 
  5. Anna Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 2, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  6. Auguste and Selma Sondheimer, ship manifests, UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960, and Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 149, Ship or Roll Number: Champlain, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949″, database, FamilySearch ( : 3 June 2020), Arthur Sondheimer, 1905. 
  8. Albert Sondheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 15; Page Number: 26, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 
  9.  Auguste Sondheimer, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 10 Apr 1942, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Walter Levy, License Number: 7458, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  10. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  11. Walter J Levy, Declaration Number: 496713, Box Number: 370, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, New York, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  12. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  13. State File #: 19446, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  14. Walter James Levy, [Walter J Levy], Gender: Male, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Mar 1911, Birth Place: Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 10 Dec 1997, Claim Date: 17 Dec 1975, Father: Moses Levi, Mother: Bertha Lindenberger
    SSN: 110240194, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007. “Walter James Levy, 86, Oil Consultant, Dies,” The New York Times, December 15, 1997, Section B, p. 7. 
  16. Susan Beatrice Levy, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 23 Sep 1949, Birth Place: New York City, New York, Death Date: 1 Nov 2003, SSN: 065384544, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild’s Family: From Frankfurt to England

Once again I’ve been fortunate to connect with one of my fifth cousins, this time a great-grandson of Recha Goldschmidt and Alfred Schwarzschild. My fifth cousin Alan and I exchanged emails and chatted by Zoom earlier this week, and he has greatly enriched my understanding of his family history by sharing family stories and photographs.

Selig Goldschmidt’s third daughter Recha and her husband Alfred Schwarzschild were living a good life in Frankfurt with their three children as the twentieth century began. Here are some wonderful photographs of Recha and Alfred that my cousin Alan shared with me as well as a copy of their wedding invitation and menu:

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family.

Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

Recha and Alfred Schwarzschild. Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their daughter Clementine, Alan’s grandmother. It appears that this is a graduation photograph, taken perhaps in around 1906:

Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1906 Courtesy of the family

And here are their three children, Clementine, Robert, and Jacob, taken in around 1907:

Jacob, Robert, and Clementine Schwarzschild c. 1907

Sadly, their son Robert Meier Schwarzschild died as a young man, just 22, on July 12, 1909, in Frankfurt. Alan believes that he died from appendicitis.

Robert M Schwarzschild death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10651 Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Recha and Alfred’s youngest child Clementine Schwarzschild married Zacharias Max Hackenbroch, son of Maximilian Hackenbroch and Getta Neuberger, on December 24, 1908, in Frankfurt; he was born on December 3, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Clementine Schwarzschild marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Zacharias Hackenbroch was, like his Goldschmidt in-laws, an art collector and dealer. Here are two photographs of him, one in uniform during World War I and one of him in his study. Zacharias received the Iron Cross for his service for Germany during the war and was at one point the attache to the Crown Prince of Germany, according to his grandson Alan.

Zacharias Hackenbroch Courtesy of the family

Zacharias Hackenbroch. Courtesy of the family

Clementine and Zacharias had three daughters. Lucie was born on May 17, 1910,1 Yvonne was born April 27, 1912,2 and Irene was born June 23, 1918.3 All were born in Frankfurt. This lovely photograph is of Clementine with her daughter Lucie, taken in 1910:

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch and her daughter Lucie Hackenbroch, c. 1910 Courtesy of the family

Here are two photographs of the Hackenbroch daughters, one of Irene Hackenbroch and one of Lucie and Yvonne:

Irene Hackenbroch c. 1922
Courtesy of the family

Lucie and Yvonne Hackenbroch. c. 1922 Courtesy of the family

This is a photograph of their home at Untermainkai 34 in Frankfurt before World War II:

In 1911, Recha and Alfred’s son Jacob Schwarzschild married Elsa Stern, his second cousin, as I discussed here. Jacob and Elsa had one child, Elizabeth, born in 1915, but their marriage did not last. They were divorced in 1920, and Jacob married his second wife, Sonja Hepner, in Rome, Italy later that year, and they had one child together, Robert Boris Schwarszchild, born October 20,1921.4 According to my cousin Alan, Sonja’s father was a very wealthy sugar merchant from Russia who escaped from that country after the Revolution.

Jakob Schwarzschild and Elsa Stern marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland, Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Recha Goldschmidt Schwarzschild died on March 3, 1929, in Frankfurt. She was sixty-five.5 Her husband Alfred Schwarzschild died on May 15, 1936, in Frankfurt.6 They were survived by their two surviving children, Jacob and Clementine.

Both Jacob and Clementine and their families escaped to England in about 1938.

Jacob/Jack Schwarzschild

Jacob Schwarzschild and his second wife Sonja Hepner were living in London in 1939, and Jacob was working as a stockbroker.7 Jacob (known as Jack in England) was interned for some time as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, but released on September 19, 1940 and granted an exemption.

Jacob Schwarzschild enemy alien registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/195
Piece Number Description: 195: German Internees Released in UK 1939-1942: Schmil-Seer UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Sonja died in England on September 9, 1950.8

I didn’t know where Jack and Sonja’s son Robert Boris Schwarzschild (presumably named in part for his uncle Robert but known as Boris) was living in 1939 when the English census was taken, but Alan told me that Boris left Germany in about 1937 and went to school in Switzerland and later came to England and went to boarding school there, so he was not living with his parents in 1939. He served in the British army during World War II, fighting against his former homeland.9

In 1947 Boris was living in England, using the name Robert Boris Shields.10 In 1955 he married Elizabeth Ullmann11 with whom he had two children. He and his family had moved to Canada by 1962 and were living in Ontario.12

His father Jack died December 11, 1978, in England.13 He was 93 years old. Robert died in Canada in 2014.14

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch

Clementine’s husband Zacharias Hackenbroch died on August 9, 1937, in Frankfurt, where they were still living. Alan didn’t know the precise medical cause of death, but many  believe that the stress of Nazi persecution contributed to his early death. He was fifty-two.15

Zacharias Hackenbroch death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 11062 Description Year Range: 1937 Source Information Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

After Zacharias died, the family lost their home to the Nazis, which turned it into the headquarters for Nazi youth. Once she had a visa for England in September 1938, Clementine packed up much of her furniture and art and left Germany with her daughter Irene. Her daughter Yvonne was already living there. Alan said that Yvonne had received a doctorate in art history from Munich University in December 1936 or January 1937 and had then done research in Italy before arriving in England in May 1938. In 1939 Clementine was living with her two younger daughters Yvonne and Irene in London, although they were in Sussex at the time the 1939 Register was enumerated. Yvonne was working at the British Museum in their medieval antiquities department.16

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2600C, Enumeration District: EMKJ, 1939 England and Wales Register

Alan, Clementine’s grandson, described Clementine as having a wonderful personality, always finding the silver linings even in the loss of her home in Germany, for example, noting that because of the Nazis, she learned to cook, having had a cook in her home in Frankfurt.

Clementine remarried after the war. Her second husband was Harry Cahn, also a refugee from Frankfurt, Germany.17 He was the son of Albert Cahn and Lilly Wolff and was born on November 25, 1899, in Frankfurt.18

Clementine’s oldest daughter Lucie had been to England many times before the war, starting as early as 1928 when she went to improve her English. She stayed in England several times in the 1930s on visitor visas that expired; she would leave and return on a new visa. Then she met Elliot Elias Philipp on February 18, 1939, and the two fell madly in love. They were married in a civil ceremony on March 22, 1939, which enabled Lucie to obtain a British passport. Lucie and Elliot then had a religious wedding ceremony on May 19, 1939, in Paris. 19

Elliot was born in London on July 20, 1915, the son of Oscar Philipp and Clarissa Weil.20  The Royal College of Surgeons of England website provides this biographical information about Elliot’s background:

Elliot Philipp was an eminent gynaecologist and obstetrician, author of numerous popular and technical medical works, and a committed religious and charitable Jew. He was born on 20 July 1915 to Oscar Isaac and Clarisse Philipp (née Weil) in Stoke Newington, London. He was educated at Warwick House and St Paul’s School. His father, a metal dealer from Hamburg, had come to England in 1908 to open an office, which in due course became the hub of a large and internationally successful operation. Elliot settled on a different career, deciding by the age of seven he would be a doctor, and went on to study at Cambridge University.

….At the start of the Second World War, only a month after qualifying, Elliot left his first appointment at Middlesex Hospital to join the RAF. He joined Bomber Command in East Anglia, where he was responsible for the medical centres at Feltwell and Mildenhall, and by the end of hostilities held the rank of squadron leader. He was offered a long term commission in the RAF to stay as a doctor and medical researcher, but declined, returning to Middlesex Hospital and Addenbroke’s, where he had been a clinical student.

Subsequent appointments included St Thomas’, Royal Free and University College hospitals. During this time, Elliot was writing books and newspaper articles. His first, for which he had help from his distant relative, Sigmund Freud, was The techniques of sex (London, Wales Publishing Company), first published in 1939 under the pseudonym ‘Anthony Havil’. At a time when such guides were few and far between, it became a bestseller, with numerous editions over the next 40 years. …. He married Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch in 1939, five weeks after meeting her.

Here are two photographs of Lucie and Elliot—at their May 1939 wedding in Paris and on their honeymoon:

Lucie Hackenbroch and Elliot Philipp, 1939. From Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography” (unpublished), p. 3.

Although Alan told me that his parents bought a house in London in 1939 after marrying, Lucie and Elliot were not listed together on the England census in 1939. Lucie was listed with Elliot’s family in Sussex, and Elliot was listed in Middlesex; he was finishing his last year of medical school at that time and may have been on an emergency assignment  Alan and I speculated as to why they were living in different locations on the day the Register was enumerated. The 1939 Register was taken in late September, 1939, after the war had started. 21

And then I found the answer in Elliot Philipp’s autobiography:22

I was a medical student at the Middlesex Hospital and had been evacuated to the Harrow hospital when Mr.Neville Chamberlain made his famous announcement that we were at war with Germany. Within minutes the air-raid sirens shrilled out and no one knew what to do. Lucie and my parents were at a hotel in Brighton and within a very short time she and her mother had rented a small house in Worthing because it was thought to be safer than staying in London where the bombs were bound to drop. In fact no bombs dropped for at least nine months – the period of the ‘phoney war’.

Lucie Philipp, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2599C, Enumeration District: EMKG, 1939 England and Wales Register

Lucie and Elliot had two children born in the 1940s.

Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch Cahn lived in England the rest of her life, dying on June 26, 1984 at the age of 9523. Harry Cahn, her second husband, died four years later on January 19, 1988; he was 88.24

Lucie Hackenbroch Philipp died on July 4, 1988, in London at the age of 78;25 her husband Elliot Philipp died on September 27, 2010 when he was 95 years old after a long and well-respected career as a doctor and author of many medical articles and books.

Clementine’s daughter Yvonne Hackenbroch became an internationally renowned art curator. She had studied art in Italy and in Munich before the family emigrated from Germany. She was the last Jew to be awarded a doctorate at the University of Munich; her topic was medieval Italian enamels. After working at the British Museum during World War II, in 1946 she was sent by the British government to Canada to be responsible for curating a valuable collection of Renaissance art that had been donated to Canada, and then three years later she was invited to become a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where she spent the rest of her career.

According to an obituary in the New York Times, “Her many publications established her reputation as the world’s foremost expert on Renaissance jewelry.” Yvonne died on September 7, 2012, in London, where she had retired after leaving the Metropolitan in 1987.

Clementine’s youngest daughter Irene lived the rest of her life in England. Like her sister Yvonne, she never married or had children. She traveled frequently to the United States—perhaps to visit her sister in New York—and also traveled to Brazil, indicating on her temporary immigration card that she was a secretary. Alan said that his aunt Irene was very quiet and worked for the same company for many years. She died November 9, 1987, in London.26

I am deeply grateful to my cousin Alan for taking the time to chat with me by Zoom and for sharing all these wonderful photographs and the background about his family. One final set of photographs from Alan. These three show the Hackenbroch home in Frankfurt before, during, and after the war. Today it has been torn down and a view on Google Maps shows just a hole in the ground. What an apt metaphor for what the Nazis did to the once proud Jewish community of Frankfurt.

Untermainkai 34 before the war

During the war when it was the headquarters of Nazi Youth, showing damage from Allied bombing.

After the war with the top floors of the building rebuilt

  1.  Lucie Ruth Hackenbroch, Birth Date: 17 Mai 1910, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main
    Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 3, Fränkel, Werner – Hartmann, Hermann, Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  2.  Yvonne Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1912, Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  3.  Irene Hackenbroch, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 23 Jun 1918
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/32, UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  4. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Robert Boris Schwarzschild,
    Birth Date: 20 Okt 1921, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt am Main, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, DC; Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality Was Annulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center); Record Group: 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958; Record Group ARC ID: 569; Publication Number: T355; Roll: 8, Schafranek, Lizzi – Stern, Moritz, Germany, Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935-1944 
  5. Recha Goldschmidt, Gender: Female, Death Age: 65, Birth Date: 11 Jun 1863
    Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preussen, Germany, Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany, Death Date: 3 Mrz 1929 (3 Mar 1929), Father: Seelig Goldschmidt, Mother: Clementine Fuld, FHL Film Number: 342026, Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  6. Alfred Isaac Schwarzschild, Gender: Male, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: 14 Mai 1858 (14 May 1858), Birth Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Residence Place: Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany
    Death Date: 15 Mai 1936 (15 May 1936), Father: Isaac Schwarzschild, Mother: Roslaie Kulp, FHL Film Number: 342021, Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 
  7. J A Schwarzchild, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 12 Feb 1885
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 8 Cambridge Gate, Residence Place: St Pancras, London, England, Occupation: Stockbroker on Half Cou, Line Number: 23, Schedule Number: 151, Sub Schedule Number: 1, Enumeration District: ASAY, Borough: St Pancras, Registration district: 9/1., Inferred Spouse: Sonia Schwarzschild, Household Members Age, J A Schwayschild 54, Sonia Schwayschild 39, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/473D, 1939 England and Wales Register 
  8. Sonia Schwarzschild, Death Date: 9 Sep 1950, Death Place: London, England
    Probate Date: 14 Feb 1951, Probate Registry: London, England, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  9. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  10. Robert Boris Shields, Electoral Date: 1947, Street Address: 27, Ward or Division/Constituency: Finchley East, County or Borough: Finchley, England
    London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Electoral Registers, London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 
  11. Robert B Schwarzschild, Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep 1955, Registration District: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Ullmann, Volume Number: 5e
    Page Number: 1475, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1475, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  12. Robert Boris Shields, Residence Date: 1962, Residence Place: York, Ontario, Canada, Electoral District: York East, Occupation: Chartered Accountant, Reference Number: M-5044, Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980, Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 
  13. Jack Alfred Schwarzschild, Death Date: 11 Dec 1978, Death Place: London
    Probate Date: 23 Mar 1979, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  15. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. 
  16. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020. Zoom conversation with Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  17. Clementine Hackenbroch, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1946, Registration District: Hampstead, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Harry Cahn, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 1447, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 1447, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  18. Harry Cahn, Gender: männlich (Male), Record Type: Miscellaneous, Birth Date: 25 Sep 1899, Birth Place: Frankfurt am Main, Last Residence: Frankfurt/Main, Mainzerlandstrasse 4, Residence Place: Frankfurt am Main, Father: Albert Cahn
    Mother: Idlli Wolf, Reference Number: 02010101 oS, Document ID: 70346089
    Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees, Free Access: Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947 
  19. Lucie R Hackenbroch,Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar 1939, Registration District: Kensington, Inferred County: London, Spouse: Elliot E Philipp, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 291, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 291, England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Email from Alan Philipp, December 13, 2020; conversation with Alan Philipp on December 14, 2020. Alan said that Lucie had known Elliot’s family for a while, but really only got to know Elliot the month before their March 22, 1939, civil ceremony. 
  20. Elliot E. Philipp, Gender: Male, Marital Status: Married, Birth Date: 20 Jul 1915
    Residence Year: 1939, Address: 58 Residence Place: Harrow, Middlesex, England
    Occupation: Medical Student (Final Year), Line Number: 27, Schedule Number: 65
    Sub Schedule Number: 5, Enumeration District: BIDH, Borough: Harrow, Registration district: 130/1, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/788F, 1939 England and Wales Register 
  21. Ibid. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 
  22. Elliot Philipp, “An Autobiography,” (unpublished), p. 54. 
  23. Clementine Cahn, Death Age: 95, Birth Date: 30 Aug 1888, Registration Date: Jun 1984, Registration District: Westminster, Inferred County: London, Volume: 15
    Page: 1838, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 15; Page: 1838, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  24. Harry Cahn, Death Date: 19 Jan 1988, Death Place: London, Probate Date: 6 May 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  25. Lucie Ruth Philipp, Death Date: 4 Jul 1988, Death Place: York Gate London, Probate Date: 12 Dec 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  26. Irene Maximiliane Hackenbock, Death Date: 9 Nov 1987, Death Place: East London, Probate Date: 12 Feb 1988, Probate Registry: London, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Email from Alan Philipp, December 14, 2020. 

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco and Her Family: Hiding from the Nazis in France

When Selig Goldschmidt died on January 13, 1896, he was survived by his six children and eighteen grandchildren. In his will, he had wished them happiness and love and hoped they would live good lives, following the faith and practices of Judaism and giving back to their communities.

For the first thirty years of the twentieth century, his hopes for his children were largely fulfilled. Then everything changed. In the next series of posts I will look at each of the children of Selig and Clementine (Fuld) Goldschmidt and their lives in the 20th century, starting with their oldest child, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

As we saw, Helene Goldschmidt, the oldest child of Selig Goldschmidt and Clementine Fuld, married Leon Tedesco on June 9, 1876, in Frankfurt.  I was very fortunate to find and connect with Helene’s great-great-grandson Lionel, and he has generously shared with me many wonderful photographs as well as the story of his family including information about his 3x-great-grandfather, Leon’s father, Giacomo (Jacob) Tedesco.

Leon’s father Giacomo Tedesco was born in Venice, Italy, on August 27, 1799, and in 1833 he married Therese Cerf, a Parisian, and started a small art supplies store in Paris.  Giacomo provided art supplies to artists in exchange for some of their art work. From that collection, he created what grew to be the famous and extremely successful Tedesco Freres gallery. Giacomo was also a very committed Jew who helped build a modern mikvah in Paris, contributed to the development of a synagogue, founded the first kosher butcher shop in Paris, and served as a mohel.

After Giacomo died in 1870, his sons Leon and Arthur took over the business of the gallery. Leon became a close friend of the artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, the famous French landscape painter and printmaker who was considered “the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century.” The National Gallery in Washington, DC, has several works that came from the Tedesco Freres collection, including this work of Corot:

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo was born in Paris on July 28, 1879, and was obviously named for his recently deceased grandfather. Giacomo, the grandson, married Henriette Lang on February 9, 1901, in Paris; she was the daughter of Louis Lang and Louise Blum and was born in Paris on January 31, 1882.1 Giacomo worked with his family in the art gallery. He and Henriette had two daughters, Irene, born December 23, 1902, and Odette, born July 16, 1907.2

Here is an absolutely gorgeous photograph of young Odette with her mother Henriette:

Odette and Henriette Lang Tedesco
Courtesy of the Family

This wonderful photograph is of Leon Tedesco, his granddaughter Odette, her mother Henriette Lang Tedesco, and her grandmother, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco.

Front: Leon Tedesco, Odette Tedesco, Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco. Rear: Henriette Lang Tedesco. Courtesy of the family

Helene and Leon’s son Giacomo served in the French armed forces during World War I. It must have been strange to be on the opposite side of the war from his Goldschmidt family living in Frankfurt.

Giacomo Tedesco during World War I
Courtesy of the family

Odette married Mathieu Charles Weil on October 24, 1929. Mathieu was born in Strasbourg, France, on August 21, 1894, to Isidore Weil and Jeanne Levy.3 Lionel shared this beautiful photograph from their wedding day:

Odette Tedesco and Mathieu Weil on their wedding day
Courtesy of the family

Leon Tedesco died on August 7, 1932, at the age of 79.4 Lionel described his great-great-grandfather as “a strong and handsome man who looked like the King of Belgium.” This photograph of Leon with Helene certainly reflects Lionel’s description:

Leon was survived by his wife Helene, his son Giacomo, his two granddaughters and his great-granddaughter. All of them then had to face the Nazi era.

According to Lionel, the Tedesco family left Paris after the invasion of France by the Nazis in 1940. The family lost everything they had—which was substantial as Leon Tedesco’s art business had been extremely successful. Not only did they lose the business, they also lost most of the valuable art and antiques they’d owned.

Helene Goldschmidt Tedesco died in Marseille, France, on August 21, 1942; she was 84 years old. Her  granddaughter Irene Tedesco died on November 12, 1942, in Oberhoffen, France, in the Alsace region. Lionel had no information regarding Irene’s cause of death, except to say that she had apparently had some health challenges since birth.5

The rest of the family survived the Holocaust and the war years by being safely hidden.  Nadine, Lionel’s mother, still remembers that between the age of 9 and 14, after fleeing from Paris, she lived and went to school in many locations in southern France: Annet, Bordeaux, Arcachon, Salles, Sariac, Cassis, Marseille, Grenoble, Villars de Lans, and Autran. Most of the time she lived with her parents and her grandmother Henriette. Her grandfather Giacomo was hiding elsewhere in France. During the war, Nadine used two different names to hide her identity as a Jewish girl: Nicole Varnier and Mady Mercier.

Mathieu Weil joined the resistance movement and is depicted in this photograph with others who were fighting against the Nazis:

Mathieu Weil, third from right, as part of the French Resistance Courtesy of the family

At one point the family was hiding in the Vercors region with a woman named Charlotte Bayle, who had known the Tedesco family for six generations. When Mathieu Weil, Odette’s husband, was very ill with typhoid, the Gestapo came to Charlotte’s door looking for him. Charlotte lied and said he had left three days ago when in fact he was lying in bed in the next room. The whole family left immediately. Lionel credits Charlotte Bayle with saving the lives of his mother, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Here is a photograph of Charlotte Bayle with Odette Tedesco Weil:

Charlotte Bayle and Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the family

After the war the family returned to Paris and began to rebuild their lives. Giacomo Tedesco died in Paris on June 29, 1950; he was seventy years old. Giacomo’s wife Henriette Lang Tedesco died on March 3, 1961, in Paris.6

Although Lionel did not know his great-grandparents Giacomo and Henriette, he knew his grandmother Odette very well. He described her as a very fine and elegant woman. He also said that although the family had been very religious before the war, their level of observance faded in the aftermath of the war. But their commitment to Judaism always remained strong and central to their lives. Odette died on July 16, 1987;7 she was predeceased by her husband Mathieu Weil on August 20, 1972.8 Both died in Paris.

Odette Tedesco Weil
Courtesy of the Family

Thank you so much to my fifth cousin Lionel and his mother Nadine for sharing these wonderful photographs and the story of his family.


  1. Giacomo Jacob Tedesco, Marriage Bann Date: 9 févr. 1902 (9 Feb 1902)
    Father’s Name: Léon Tedesco, Mother’s Name: Hélène Goldschmidt, Spouse’s Name: Henriette Lang, Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902 
  2.  Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018. Irene’s birth date came from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella. 
  3. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  4. Name: Leon Tedesco, Death Date: 7 Aug 1932, Death Place: Paris, France
    Probate Date: 8 Jun 1933, Probate Registry: London, England, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. These dates come from the work of David Baron and Roger Cibella and are also seen on the Geni profiles for Helene and Irene. 
  6. These dates come from Baron and Cibella and also from Geni. 
  7. Odette Tedesco, Gender: femme (Female), Death Age: 80, Birth Date: 16 juil. 1907 (16 Jul 1907), Birth Place: Paris-16e-Arrondissement, Paris, Death Date: 16 juil. 1987 (16 Jul 1987), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France, Certificate Number: 1005, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1987.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 
  8. Mathieu Charles Weil, Gender: homme (Male), Death Age: 77, Birth Date: 21 août 1894 (21 Aug 1894), Birth Place: Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Death Date: 20 août 1972 (20 Aug 1972), Death Place: Paris-16E-Arrondissement, Paris, France
    Certificate Number: 1230, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (Insee); Paris, France; Fichier des personnes décédées; Roll #: deces-1972.txt, Web: France, Death Records, 1970-2018 

A Survivor’s Story

Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger, the daughter of Julius Goldschmidt, granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt, and great-granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, was my third cousin, twice removed, and I first wrote about her here and here, but now need to update those posts.

The earlier post established that Regina was born in Frankfurt on March 7, 1900, and married Siegfried Rosenberger on March 10, 1921, in Frankfurt, and had two children in the 1920s. In my second post about Regina, I wrote:

I don’t know a great deal about what happened to Regina, her husband Siegfried Rosenberger, and their two children during the Holocaust. It appears that at least until 1937 they were still living in Frankfurt and that after the war, according to Roger Cibella and David Baron, their two children were both married in the Netherlands and had children born there. Eventually they all immigrated to Canada where Regina died in February 1992…

And that was all I knew. Until a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from a sixth cousin named Mark Isenberg. I had first heard from Mark a few years back when he contacted David and Roger regarding his research establishing that his paternal four-times great-grandfather Joseph Falk Neuwahl and Roger’s and my four-times great-grandfather Jacob Falk Goldschmidt were probably brothers.

This time Mark was writing about his relationship to Siegfried Rosenberger, husband of Regina Goldschmidt. Siegfried was Mark’s third cousin, once removed, on his maternal side. Mark had seen my blog post quoted above and kindly alerted me to the fact that Siegfried and Regina’s daughter Ruth had done an interview with the Shoah Foundation in 1997. I’ve now watched the two and a half hours of her testimony and can report in much greater detail what happened to Regina, Siegfried, and their two daughters Ruth and Margo during the Holocaust. All the information below except where otherwise noted comes from that testimony of Ruth Rosenberger Steinert.1

Ruth Rosenberger was born in Frankfurt on December 6, 1922. Her sister Margo was born almost exactly two years later on December 19, 1924. Ruth described their childhood in Frankfurt in idyllic terms. They lived in a very large apartment with a nanny, cook, and other servants, and were surrounded by their Goldschmidt grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, having regular shabbat dinners with the extended family as well as holidays. Their father Siegfried was a successful stockbroker. He was very proud of being a German and of his service to Germany in World War I, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross.  Their mother Regina lived a good life, playing tennis daily, socializing with friends, and overseeing the household staff. The family was very observant, and Ruth and Margo went to an Orthodox day school in Frankfurt. Watching Ruth talk about her childhood was very moving; she so well expressed how safe and loved she felt.

Khal Adath Jeshurun synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue attended by the Goldschmidt family.

Everything was destroyed once the Nazis came to power. Ruth said that until 1936, she and her sister were fairly unaware of what was happening because the adults did not talk about the Nazis in front of the children. She knew that there were restrictions, mentioning as an example that they were not allowed to sit on the park benches, but she nevertheless felt safe.

But after 1936, it became impossible to hide what was happening from the children. Her father lost his stockbroker business because Jews were no longer allowed to engage in business. Ruth talked about how devastated her father was when they came and stripped away the telephones he needed for the business. The nanny, cook, and other servants had to leave the household because non-Jews were no longer allowed to work for Jews. Their mother Regina became terribly depressed.

Fortunately, Siegfried was able to secure another job with an international metals company called Lissauer. The position required him to travel to France and to Holland and enabled the family to continue to live fairly comfortably. As Ruth described it, this job ultimately saved their lives. Siegfried would never have left Germany despite all the oppression and fear. But in September 1938 while traveling for work in Paris, he was unable to return to Germany. Finally he agreed that the family should leave Germany, and through his business connections, he was able to obtain papers for them to immigrate to the Netherlands.

Ruth, not yet sixteen years old, took charge of packing and getting them ready to leave. They took a train to Paris, and Ruth put on lipstick so that she would look older. When they got to the French-German border at Emmerich, the German border guards gave them trouble with their papers, but fortunately a cousin was able to straighten matters out, and the next day they arrived in Paris. They remained in Paris for a few days, and then the whole family spent about ten days at the beach in the Netherlands. Ruth remembered it as a wonderful time and one of the very last times all four of them were together as a family.

Siegfried returned to Paris for work and would travel back and forth to Amsterdam. Regina and her daughters were living in a very nice apartment on the canal in Amsterdam. Margo attended high school, and Ruth spent a year at an art academy, learning design.  For a year life was fairly normal.

As one uncle had said to the family when they arrived in Paris, they had, however, gone from “the rain into the storm” because war was brewing, and no place was really safe. After the war started in September 1939 and then Holland and France were occupied by the Nazis in the spring of 1940, Siegfried could no longer travel to Amsterdam. From that point on, things went downhill.

Ruth recalled standing on a corner in Amsterdam with a crowd of other people from the neighborhood as the Germans marched into Amsterdam.

Nazi troops and supporters in front of De Bijenkorf, Dam Square, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1941 (crop of original 1941 public domain photo). 47thPennVols, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

But even on that dark day, the family found a silver lining. A man named Benot Hess was also standing on that corner and engaged Regina and daughters in conversation. Hess was married to a non-Jewish Swedish woman, and because Sweden was neutral during the war, he was given some extra protection based on that marriage. Hess and his wife became close friends with the Rosenberger women—like family, according to Ruth. He made sure that they had enough money by helping Ruth obtain work, sewing and then manufacturing travel kits and other items. The products sold well, giving the family an economic cushion.

By 1942, however, conditions worsened. Jews were required to wear the yellow stars with Jood to mark them as Jews. Ruth said that they lived in a constant state of angst for all their waking hours. Eventually they were forced to move into what Ruth described as a ghetto where all Jews were forced to live, and SS men on trucks barreled through the neighborhood every night, coming to arrest people and take them to Westerbork, the detention camp outside of Amsterdam.

At that point, they had to make a choice: stay and see what would happen or go into hiding. Ruth favored going into hiding, but her mother was not willing, and Margo did not want to leave their mother. For some time they remained safe from deportation as both Ruth and Margo had positions assigned by the Judenrat (the Jewish council) that kept them protected. Once the SS came to their apartment, and Ruth managed to convince them that they were not Jewish. She claimed that because of her light hair and coloring and straight nose, she was able to fool them.

But when the SS arrived a second time, Ruth was not successful, and in March 1943, Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger was arrested and taken to Westerbork. Ruth described it as the worst moment in her life, watching her mother being taken away. She said that at that time they did not know about the death camps, only about what were being referred to as work camps. Soon thereafter Margo lost her position with the Judenrat and was also taken to Westerbork where she joined her mother.

Ruth contacted her father to see if he could arrange false identification papers for her, which he was able to accomplish, and Ruth went to Bussum, a town in Holland, and hid with a family there for the duration of the war. She was almost caught once when the SS came to look for hidden Jews, but again was smart enough and lucky enough to convince them that she was not Jewish.

Meanwhile, Regina and Margo had been taken from Westerbork to Terezin. Once again, Benot Hess came to their rescue. He also was imprisoned at Terezin, and when he learned that Regina and Margo were to be placed on the next train to Auschwitz, he intervened, using the Honduran passports that Siegfried had obtained for them, and Regina and Margo were taken off the list.

Jewish prisoners’ cell, Terezin (c) A Cohen 2015

When the war ended in Europe in April 1945, Ruth was reunited with her mother and sister, and they all moved to Bussum. Margo married her fiancé, Robert Engel, who had been at Westerbork throughout the war period, and Ruth met and married Otto Steinert. In 1950, Otto was offered a job in Canada through the family’s connections to another family, and Ruth and Otto and soon thereafter Regina, Margo, and her husband all moved to Canada.

Siegfried was never reunited with the family. He remained in Paris, where he died not long after the war. Regina Goldschmidt Rosenberger lived a long life, dying in Canada in February 1992 when she was almost 92 years old.

Her two daughters also lived long lives. Ruth Rosenberger Steinert died at the age of 93 on December 22, 2013, in Montreal. Her sister Margo Rosenberger Engel died just this past June 30, 2020, in Toronto; she was 95. They are survived by their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Watching Ruth’s testimony was a moving, inspiring, and heartbreaking experience. Despite everything she had experienced—all the losses, the fear, the separation, the loneliness—she remained a strong, optimistic, and loving woman who spoke about her parents, her husband, her sister, her children and grandchildren with so much affection and warmth. She was not going to be defeated by what happened around her—not while it was happening and not afterwards. How blessed we are to have this testimony to remember what happened and to inspire us all.

  1. Steinert, Ruth. Interview 35432. Visual History Archive, USC Shoah Foundation, 1997. Accessed 1 October 2020. 

The “Disappearance” of Arthur Cohen, My Grandfather’s First Cousin

Way back in July, 2014, I wrote about my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s youngest sibling, his brother Abraham, the thirteenth child of my great-great-grandparents Jacob Cohen and Sarah Jacobs. What I reported was that Abraham, born in Philadelphia on March 29, 1866, had married Sallie McGonigal in 1886, and they had five children, but three of those children died in childhood. Only two children survived—their son Leslie, their second child, and their son Arthur, their fifth and youngest child. There were almost twenty years between the two boys: Leslie was born in 1889, Arthur in 1907.  They lost their mother Sallie to the dreadful flu epidemic on March 14, 1919.

Gravestone for Sallie and Abraham Cohen, courtesy of Michael DeVane

Abraham Cohen remarried in 1920, and I was able to trace Abraham and his son Leslie up through their deaths, as described here.

But Arthur’s story was unfinished. The last record I had for him was the 1930 census when he was living with his father Abraham and stepmother Elizabeth in Philadelphia and working in a gas station. He was 23 at the time. After that, he disappeared. I could find other Arthur Cohens who matched in some ways, but not in others. Thus, I was unable to find anything after 1930 that was definitely about my Arthur Cohen.

Abe Cohen and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0505; FHL microfilm: 2341874 1930 United States Federal Censu

Until, that is, about a month ago when I received a comment on the blog from someone named Michael DeVane, who wrote, “I came across your blog while searching for information on Abraham Cohen, my grandfather. My father was Arthur Cohen. You really helped me fill in some of the missing information on my family. If you want to reach out to me, I will gladly help fill in some missing information to our family tree.” I immediately wrote back to Michael, and we arranged to chat by telephone a few days later.

To prepare for the conversation, I went back to all the research I’d done about Abraham and his family. One thing puzzled me. If Michael’s father was Arthur Cohen, why was his surname DeVane? Well, that clue led me to find more information, and then my conversation with Michael confirmed what I’d uncovered and added more insights. There was a very good reason that I’d not been able to find Arthur Cohen after 1930. By 1931, he’d changed his name to Arthur DeVane.

Once I knew that Arthur had in fact changed his name to DeVane, I located a marriage in the Philadelphia marriage index for Arthur DeVane and Ruth Bussard dated 1931. 1 Michael found in his family records the following document that confirmed that this marriage record was indeed for his father, born Arthur Cohen. It is his father’s baptismal certificate under the name Arthur Cohen with his parents identified.

On the reverse, it notes that Arthur changed his name to DeVane and that he married Ruth Bussard on September 30, 1931, at St. Agnes Church in Philadelphia. Michael thought he might contact the church authorities to see if the record for the name change can be located.

Michael had understood that his father changed his name from Cohen to avoid anti-Semitism, but now we both wonder whether it also had to do with the marriage to Ruth Bussard. Perhaps she didn’t want to take on such an obviously Jewish name. As you can see from the headstone above, both of Arthur’s parents identified as Catholic and are buried in a Catholic cemetery, so Arthur was neither raised Jewish nor identified himself as Jewish.

In any event, the marriage to Ruth did not last. In September 1939, Ruth filed for divorce, and in February 1940, divorce was granted.2 Ruth remarried later that year.3

On the 1940 census, Arthur was living as a lodger with a family, listing his marital status as single and his occupation as a signal man for the railroad.4

On January 8, 1942, Arthur DeVane enlisted in the US armed services and served during World War II until September 5, 1945, including almost two and a half years serving overseas.5 During that time, while stationed in England , he met his second wife, Nellie Keep. Nellie was born April 1, 1917, in Oxford, England to Edward Keep and Nellie Massey. She and Arthur were married in New Hampshire on December 18, 1947. Like Arthur, Nellie had been previously married and divorced.

Marriage record of Arthur Devane and Nellie Keep, New England Historical Genealogical Society; New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire, Ancestry,com. New Hampshire, Marriage and Divorce Records, 1659-1947

The record for their marriage is interesting. Arthur reported that his father’s name was Leslie DeVane, not Abraham Cohen, the true name of his father. He also reported that his father had been a jeweler, when in truth, like so many of my Cohen relatives, Abraham had been a pawnbroker. Michael wasn’t sure whether Arthur did this to hide his background from his new wife or for some other reason, but Nellie did at some point know the truth of Arthur’s family background because she revealed it to Michael.

Part of the family lore is that Arthur had hoped to take over his father’s pawnbroker business, but that his father Abraham lost the business when his second wife Elizabeth died in 1939 and her family acquired it and apparently pushed Abraham out. That is why, as noted in my earlier post, Abraham’s death certificate in 1944 listed his occupation as elevator operator—a job he’d had to take after losing his business.

Abraham Cohen death certificate.

That meant Arthur also lost the business. Instead, Arthur ended up rejoining the military and spent most of his career serving his country in the US Air Force, as has his son Michael. Arthur was stationed over the years in England, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. He retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force after twenty years of service.

Arthur DeVane, born Arthur Cohen, died on April 16, 1976, in Burlington, New Jersey. He was sixty-eight years old.6  He was survived by his wife Nellie, who died in 2005, 7 and their three children and their grandchildren.

Michael kindly shared with me the following photograph of his father as a boy.

Arthur Cohen (later DeVane). Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I saw some similarity between young Arthur and his first cousin, once removed, my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen, Sr., as a little boy, but it could just be the haircut.

John Cohen Sr as a baby

Michael also shared the following photograph of his father Arthur in 1948:

Arthur DeVane, 1948. Courtesy of Michael DeVane

I don’t see many resemblances here to either my father or my grandfather, except perhaps around the mouth and the large forehead.

John N. Cohen, Sr., 1921

John N. Cohen, Jr. c. 1945

I am so grateful to my cousin Michael, my father’s second cousin, for finding me and sharing his father’s story and photographs with me.



  1. Arthur J DeVane, Gender: Male, Spouse: Ruth H Bussard, Spouse Gender: Female
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1931
    Marriage License Number: 606549, Digital GSU Number: 4141671, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  2. The Philadelphia Inquirer – 27 Feb 1940 – Page 11, found at 
  3. Ruth Devane, Gender: Female, Spouse: Marturano, Spouse Gender: Male
    Marriage Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Marriage Year: 1940
    Marriage License Number: 716706, Digital GSU Number: 4141873, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951 
  4.  Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03723; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 51-1118, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  5. Arthur J DeVane, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907, Birth Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Gender: Male, Residence Date: 2 May 1950, Residence Place: Upper Darby, Delaware, Pennsylvania, USA, Pennsylvania, World War II Veteran Compensation Application Files, 1950-1966 
  6. Arthur Devane, Social Security Number: 182-10-8245, Birth Date: 9 Dec 1907
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 08016, Burlington, Burlington, New Jersey, USA, Death Date: Apr 1976, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  7.  Nellie A Devane, Social Security Number: 144-38-3406, Birth Date: 1 Apr 1917
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New Jersey, Death Date: 26 Jun 2005, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Meier Katzenstein: The One Who Left Home

Having discussed the three daughters of Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein—Helene, Fredericke, and Henriette—and their families, we now finally reach their last child and only son, Meier Katzenstein.1  And his story is far different from that of his sisters, all of whom lived almost all their lives in Germany, not far from where they were born in Eschwege, and whose descendants either were killed by or escaped from the Nazis.

Meier was born on August 6, 1860, in Eschwege, as we have seen, but in 1888 he immigrated to the United States, changing the path of his life as well as that of his descendants. According to his passport application (depicted below), he arrived in New York on October 10, 1888, and settled there.

Meier Katzenstein, 1903 passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 623; Volume #: Roll 623 – 13 May 1903-18 May 1903 U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

I love the physical description of Meier on his application: five foot seven inches tall, high forehead, light blue eyes, straight nose, small mouth, round chin, blond hair, florid complexion, and a round face. He sounds quite adorable.

Meier married Emma Bacharach in New York on October 27, 1891.2 Emma, the daughter of Jakob Bacharach and Sophia Pfann, was also a recent immigrant. She was born in Mainz, Germany, on July 5, 1869,3 and came to the US on November 5, 1889, accompanied by someone named Isaac Bachrach who was 48 years old. I’ve not been able to identify Isaac’s connection to Emma, but presumably he was an uncle or cousin.4

Emma and Meier had one child, a daughter Sophia (presumably named for Emma’s mother Sophia Pfann), born on August 19, 1892, in New York.5 Emma must have taken little Sophia back to Germany during her first year to meet her family because I found a ship manifest showing them sailing together from Hamburg to New York in the summer of 1893.

Sophia and Emma Katzenstein, ship manifest, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 085; Page: 958; Microfilm No.: K_1750, Month: Direkt Band 085 (1 Jul 1893 – 31 Aug 1893), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Meier became a naturalized citizen of the United States on May 4, 1894.

“New York Naturalization Index (Soundex), 1792-1906,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 4 February 2015), Roll 128, K324-K400 (Kutzelmann, Adam J-Klee, Johannes) > image 348 of 5224; citing NARA microfilm publication M1674 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

In 1900, Meier, Emma, and Sophia were living in New York City with another family. The head of household was Rosenthal (first name not legible); living with him was his wife Ida Rosenthal and their son Julian Rosenthal, two servants, and Meier, Emma, and Sophia.

Meier Katzenstein, 1900 US census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0862; FHL microfilm: 1241119, Enumeration District: 0862; Description: City of New York, 31st Assembly Dist; 22nd Election District (pt) bounded by E 129th, Park Ave, E 126th, Madison Ave, 1900 United States Federal Census

I was thrown off by this census record because it identifies Emma as the daughter, Sophia as the granddaughter, and Meier as the son-in-law of the head of household.  If Emma’s birth name was Bacharach and her parents were Jakob and Sophia, how could she be the daughter of Ida Rosenthal and her husband? It took a couple of hours to sort out that Ida Rosenthal was born Ida Pfann and was the sister of Sophia Pfann, Emma’s mother. Thus, Emma was Ida Rosenthal’s niece, not her daughter.

Meier’s occupation on the 1900 census is extremely hard to read as it is very faint, but I think I can discern the word “Sales” and perhaps “Linens,” the same occupation listed above for Emma’s cousin Julian Rosenthal. His passport application in 1903, depicted above, is more specific. He listed his occupation there as “manufacturer and importer of embroideries.”

By 1910, Meier and his wife and daughter had their own home in Manhattan, and Meier’s occupation this time is easily read as Manager, Fancy Linens. They also had a servant living with them.

Meier Katzenstein, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1024; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0622; FHL microfilm: 1375037 1910 United States Federal Census

The family did some traveling in 1911—to Hong Kong and to Hawaii. Meier must have been doing well in his business, having a servant and traveling to exotic locations.6

His daughter and only child Sophia Katzenstein married Elias Lustig on February 19, 1914, in New York.7 Like Sophia, Elias was a native of New York City, born there on May 31, 1890, and the son of David and Rachel Lustig.8 Elias and Sophia’s first child David Miles Lustig was born on August 22, 1916, in New York.9

Unfortunately, Meier Katzenstein did not live to see the birth of his grandson; on February 20, 1916, at the age of 55, he died in New York City, just six months before his grandson’s birth. My guess is that his grandson’s middle name Miles was in Meier’s memory.10

In his will, Meier left everything to his wife Emma and then to his daughter Sophia in the event Emma did not survive him. Interestingly, he provided that in the event that Emma predeceased him and Sophia was still a minor, his “brother-in-law Max Werner of Eschwege” was to be her guardian. Max was married to Meier’s older sister Helene Katzenstein Werner. But why would Meier have appointed someone living in Germany to be the guardian of his daughter in New York? Imagine how Sophia’s life would have been different if in fact her parents had both died before she reached adulthood and she had moved to Germany?

Meier Katzenstein’s will, Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York, Notes: Wills, 1021-1023, 1915-1916, New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999

Of course, it all was irrelevant since Emma did not predecease Meier, and Sophia was already an adult when Meier died. In 1920, Emma was living with Sophia and Elias and their son David Miles (listed here as Miles) in New York City. Elias was working as a merchant. 11 In 1921, Sophia and Elias had a second child.

I could not find Emma on the 1930 or 1940 census, but in 1930 Sophia and Elias were living in Queens in 1930 with their children, and Elias was the owner of a hat factory.12 Sometime thereafter, the marriage between Sophia and Elias ended, and in 1936 she married Saul Baron, with whom she and her children were living in New York in 1940. Saul was an attorney in private practice.13

Emma Bacharach Katzenstein died on February 18, 1941, in New York; she was 71.14

Meier Katzenstein’s choice to leave Germany for the United States back in 1888 spared his family the tragedies endured by so many of his relatives back in Europe during the Holocaust, but in one way the actions of Hitler still indirectly inflicted tragedy on his descendants. His grandson David Miles Lustig, named in his memory, was killed during World War II. While returning from a mission over China in early 1945, his plane was shot down, and David drowned in a small river after bailing out of the plane. He was 28 years old and a graduate of Princeton University.15

His mother Sophia Katzenstein Lustig Baron died just nine years later at the age of 58 on November 9, 1950.16  She was survived by her husband Saul Baron, her daughter and grandchild.

Having now covered all the children of Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein, I have a few updates to other relatives to write about before turning to Amalie’s younger brothers, Selig and Falk Goldschmidt, the last two children of my 4x-great-uncle, Meyer Goldschmidt.

  1. The spellings of his name vary on different documents between Meyer and Meier,  but I’ve opted to use Meier. 
  2. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Meier Katzenstein and Emma Bacharach, 27 Oct 1891; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,452,198. 
  3. Emma Bacharach birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 72, Year Range: 1869, Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875 
  4. Emma Bacharach, passenger manifest, Year: 1889; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 15; List Number: 1524, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Sophia Katzenstein, 19 Aug 1892; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 32010 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,266. 
  6.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 02/13/1900 – 12/30/1953; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3422; Roll: 031; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, Honolulu, Hawaii, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959. 
  7.  Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 9 Feb 1914, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias Lustig, License Number: 4135, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018; Sophie Katzenstein, Gender: Female, Marriage Date: 19 Feb 1914, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Elias S Lustig, Certificate Number: 5033, New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  8.  Elias Lustig, Marital status: Married, Birth Date: 31 May 1890, Birth Place: New York, USA, Street Address: 601 W 162, Residence Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 
  9. David Miles Lustig, Birth Date: 22 Aug 1916, Birth Place: New York City, New York
    Registration Date: 16 Oct 1940, Registration Place: New York City, New York, New York
    Next of Kin: Elias Lustig, U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  10. Meier Katzenstein, Age: 57, Birth Year: abt 1859, Death Date: 20 Feb 1916
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 5960, New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948 
  11. Elias Lustig and family, 1920 US census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 23, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1226; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 1489, Enumeration District: 1489; 1920 United States Federal Census 
  12. Elias Lustig and family, 1930 US census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0296; FHL microfilm: 2341330, 1930 United States Federal Census 
  13.  Sophie K Lustig, Gender: Female, Marriage License Date: 22 May 1936, Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA, Spouse: Saul J Baron
    License Number: 10611, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 5, New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Saul Baron and family, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02656; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 31-1351, 1940 United States Federal Census 
  14.  New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1941, New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  15. David Miles Lustig obituary, Daily News, New York, New York
    07 Mar 1945, Wed • Page 352 
  16. Sophie Baron, Age: 58, Birth Date: abt 1892, Death Date: 9 Nov 1950
    Death Place: Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 23658 New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part V: Leaving Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garry Warner-Loewenthal
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

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


Charles Bloch Redux: A Lesson in French Genealogy Research

A few weeks ago I published my second post about Charles Bloch, searching for information about the time he spent in France during World War II. Charles was married to Amalie Meyer, granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. He wasn’t related to me except by marriage, but I can’t seem to let go of his story. So this is my third Charles Bloch post. And there will be one more.

All I knew at the time of that second post was that Charles was still in Germany as of December, 1938, when he was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that he arrived in the US from Toulouse, France, in 1946. I knew that his wife, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and his daughter Ilse Bloch, had both left Germany and were in the US by 1941, at which time Amalie reported on her declaration of intention that her husband Charles was in France.  But despite receiving additional documents from the International Tracing Service, I still didn’t know when Charles arrived in France or where or how he spent those war years.

I received a few suggestions from readers for additional research, but the most significant help came from a member of Tracing the Tribe named Danny Breslow. Danny has expertise in French genealogy research and was incredibly generous with his time helping me to find information.

First, he noticed something I should have noticed. On Charles’ ship manifest coming to the US in 1946, he listed as the person left behind in his former place of residence a person named Gaston Bloch, residing at 27 “Pomme St.” in Toulouse.

Charles Bloch, passenger manifest p. 2, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Fort Royal New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Danny then searched the 1936 Toulouse census (the most recent one available online) and discovered that in 1936, a couple named Gaston and Alice Alexandre lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse.

City of Toulouse, Municipal Archives, Call Number 1 F94, p. 301 (1936)

Could Charles have mistakenly referred to Gaston Alexandre as Gaston Bloch? Possibly, but not necessarily, as you will see.

Danny discovered that a boy named Jean Bloch had also lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. He was born in Marseilles, and according to an article Danny found in a French publication about the Jewish children of Toulouse, Jean Bloch was living in Toulouse with his grandmother and his older brother in 1944. Jean was only fourteen when he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Drancy and then to Auschwitz on March 24, 1944. He survived Auschwitz, but was later killed on a death march on April 17, 1945.


A profile on Geni managed by Jean Bloch’s nephew’s wife Hanna revealed that Jean Bloch was the son of Lucie Alexandre and Georges Bloch and that Lucie Alexandre was the daughter of Gaston and Alice Alexandre. Thus, young Jean Bloch had a grandfather named Gaston. Was this the “Gaston Bloch” living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that Charles Bloch named on his manifest? Connecting those dots proved challenging.

Danny and I tried to find some link between the lineage of Georges Bloch, whose in-laws lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme, and the lineage of Charles Bloch. According to Geni, Georges Bloch, Jean’s father, was the son of Albert Fortun Salomon Bloch, who in turn was the son of Joseph Bloch.1

Danny’s knowledge of French genealogy came in handy as he located a birth record for Jules Bloch, Charles Bloch’s father, showing he was born in Scherwiller, France, in 1855. (That explained why Charles was identified as French on the ITS documents even though he was born in Frankfurt; his father was French-born.)

Birth record of Jules Bloch, 1885, Scherwiller – Etat civil – Registre de naissances 1855 – 4 E 445/5  found at

As seen on Jules Bloch’s birth record, he was the son of Meyer Bloch and Sarra Weill. I’ve tried to dig back further to see if I could find a tie between the Scherwiller Blochs and the Marseilles Blochs, but without success. With Danny’s help and my discovery of a Scherwiller Bloch family tree on Ancestry, a tree that is well sourced, we were able to trace Charles Bloch’s lineage back to the 1700s without finding a link to the Marseille Bloch family.

I also contacted Hanna, the manager of that Geni profile of Jean Bloch and  the daughter-in-law of Jean Bloch’s brother Michel; Michel had survived the war and immigrated to Israel. Hanna did not know of any connection to Charles Bloch and pointed out that there had been another Bloch family also living at 27 Rue de la Pomme who were not related to the Alexandre family. I’ve yet to find any records for that family though.

In addition, Danny discovered that a young Jewish woman named Nicole Bloch Klein, a resistance activist in France, also once lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. Perhaps Bloch was a common enough name and 27 Rue de la Pomme was a big enough building that it’s purely coincidental that Charles Bloch ended up knowing people living in that building who also happened to be named Bloch?

I went back to look at the 1936 census again and counted five households living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that year. I don’t know what the odds are that, ten years later in 1946 when Charles Bloch reported a Gaston Bloch living at that address, there would have been another family named Bloch, unrelated to the family of Jean Bloch, living at that address.

So I cannot prove that there was a familial tie between Georges Bloch, the son-in-law of Gaston and Alice Alexandre of 27 Rue de la Pomme, and Charles Bloch, who listed the same address on his ship manifest. And I still don’t know how Charles survived the war. Who did he live with? How did he avoid deportation? Why did he wait a year after the war ended before joining his wife and daughter in the United States?

I still don’t know. But, in the course of researching the Bloch family, I discovered another interesting twist in the family tree.

To be continued…

  1. There were no records on Geni to support this, but since the profile is managed by a close family member, I assume that it is reliable.