The Ringels in Berlin—the Nazi years

The Ringel family endured Nazi persecutions in the 1930s leading up to Hermann's sudden death in July 1938 on the eve of his family's planned flight from Germany. In October, Elly and Helga escaped the country, leaving behind their German legacy. The Nazi authorities seized and sold the assets of the Hermann Ringel Co. 

Betty Twiasschor was apparently separated from her husband Pinkas

Back in Berlin after getting married in London, Betty and Pinkas produced two daughters, Edith and Geena, in the following years, let's say before 1920. I have not found their birth records and there are not any residence records for the family in those years. The next time Betty shows up it is in a 1926 address book and she is  living at 54 Lothringer, apparently without Pinkas. 

In my experience with German address books it is usually the husband's name that is listed. When a women is the head of household, she is listed under her married name with her maiden name identified. That's how Betty's listings read: Betty Twiasschor, geboren Ringel. She is in the directory in 1926, 1929, 1931 [recheck these] that I have found so far. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the address is an apartment adjacent to another one where her sister Rosa lived with her two children. Later Rosa moved to the Tiergarten district, but they shared a floor of an apartment building for at least five years, maybe more. 

I lose track of Pinkas through these years but he shows up again rather dramatically in 1944, when he is among the passengers on a celebrated refugee ship that came to the United States, and who were held for nine months at a military base in Oswego NY. The ship had refugees from various locations. Pinkas Twiasschor came from a intern camp in Italy, where he had been a prisoner. The plight of the refugees was the subject of a Congressional investigation and a 1983 best-selling book, Haven, by Ruth Gruber.

The image shows Pinkas registering for the U.S. military while in the Fort Ontario refugee camp. Later, he re-enters the United States at Niagara, New York, and becomes a legal U.S. immigrant.

So what was the deal with Betty's marriage to Pinkas? Am I reading too much into the address listing? Maybe they stayed together until he was possibly forceably expelled from the country in the so-called Polen-aktion of October 28, 1938. That is exactly what happened to his brother-in-law Israel Goldstein, who, on grounds of his Polish birth, was separated from his family on that day in Berlin, transported to the Polish border and forced to leave German territory. 

I learned all about his experience, and what happened next to Israel and Dina Goldstein, at a wonderful site that tells the stories behind Berlin's memorial "stumbling stones," or Stoperstine. Read on.

What happened to the Goldstein family

The other Berlin couple that married in London in January 1911, Dina Twiasschor and Israel Goldstein, prospered as a family and in business in Berlin in the 1910s and '20s. Their daughter Sally was born in 1912, and then two other children, Alfred and Ruth, followed a decade later. Israel ran a furniture and textile store on Brunnenstraße.

We know this and quite a bit more because of a comprehensive biography of Dina Goldstein that is posted at the Finding Stolpersteine site, where you find all the documentation about the three stones in the photo placed in the sidewalk at Zehdenicker Str. 25. You should follow the link and read the English translation yourself, but I will summarize. 

The family faced tough times during the persecutions of the 1930s. The store on Brunnenstraße was closed, and the family invested instead in a mattress store on Lothringer Straße, where Israel also worked. They investigated ways to leave Germany. Israel actually visited his two brothers in the United States to secure sponsorship documentation. However, the Goldsteins still were not able to get a U.S. visa. 

On October 28, 1938, along with thousands of other Polish citizens in Germany, Israel was forceably evicted from Germany in what is known as the Polen-aktion. However, Poland would not accept the evicted Jews to return to their native land, and thousands languished for months in a no-man's land around the town of Zbasyn. On the Stolpersteine page, we learn that Israel was able to make his way to his birth village of Kolomea in south Poland, and that after a time Dina and their son Alfred were able to join him there. The two daughters, 24 and 12 years old, stayed behind in Berlin. 

Germany invaded Poland in June 1941 and the town of Kolomea came under the law of German occupation. A Jewish ghetto was established and the Goldsteins survived there into the early months of 1942, when they fell victim to one of the periodic actions in the ghetto. They perished in the Nazi death camp at Belzec.

Sally and Ruth got out of Germany and made it to the United States. It is Ruth who sponsored the laying of the memorial stone in 2009. She has also donated a collection of Goldstein family photos and papers to the USHMM. When I page through the photos of the Goldstein family on resort at Bad Flinsberg and other locales, they look just like many of the Ringel-Wohlgemuth photos we have of happy German Jewish vacationers in their bathing costumes. 

Dina Twiasschor was the sister-in-law of Helga's Tante Betty. And that makes her and the rest of the Goldsteins a part of our own mishpocha. Welcome to the Ruby family, Dina. I will pay my respects at the Stolpersteine on Zehdenicker Straße the next time I come to Berlin.

Pinkas became Paul Twiasschor in the U.S.

We know that Pinkas Twiasschor was one of the 1000 specially chosen refugees who came to the U.S., spent 18 months in an Army camp in Oswego, New York, and were finally admitted as legal immigrants in January 1946. I have begun reading the 1983 bestseller Haven, by Ruth Gruber, about her role in the operation and her experiences with the refugees. It is a gripping read. However, Pinkas Twiasshor is not specifically mentioned in the book. I'll come back and write about the book in a future installment.

As for our relative, after his January 1946 re-entry into the United States at Niagara Falls, there were no more records on Ancestry for Pinkas Twiasschor but there were some for a Paul Twiasschor. When I first saw these I discounted them, because I had previously encountered another Paul Twiasschor in the Berlin address books who was clearly a different person. But when I examined the records again, a 1951 Social Security appllication and a 1954 New York State death index listing, I realized they both had birth dates that matched Pinkas Twiasschor's birth. 

This shows that Pinkas Twiasschor became Paul Twiasschor in the United States, and that he died in New York at age 72. Helga's uncle, while evidently estranged from the family, was alive and living in New York at the same time that Helga lived there too. 

The missing Twiasschor sister is found

I was looking again at the UK marriage listing for Betty Twiasschor when I saw that it was not the only Twiasschor record in the UK marriage listings. The first other one I noticed was Augusta Twiasschor, who married Lewis Weisberg in Prestwich, Lancashire in 1897. Next, there was a Regina Twiasschor who married in Barnstaple, Devon. I'm thinking, maybe it was a Twiasschor family tradition to go to England to marry.

But the Regina Twiasschor marriage happened considerably later, in October 1940. Her spouse was named Ernst Schoenwald. I searched some more on Regina's name and found an alien exemption card for her from the same file as Edith Twiasschor's exemption that I examined yesterday. 

And then it came to me. The missing Twisasschor sister, who we also knew by the name Gina, is this Regina Twiasschor. She, of course, did not go to England on a lark to be married. She was a war refugee, having fled to England with her sister in 1938 or '39. In the image, you see that she shows up in a 1939 civic registry for the Willesden area of London employed as a domestic servant.

There are a lot of crossouts in the Surnames column. The first name crossed out was meant to be Twiasschor, but reads to the record indexer as Tevasschen. Then her future husband's name Schoenwald is entered and crossed out. And then it finally settles on Scott, which may be the name Ernst would go by in England. Underneath Scott is written her first name, "Gina or Regina."

Note that her birth date is given as June 28, 1913, which agrees with another of the documents we have. So she was about 18 months younger than her sister Edith. 

There is more to learn about Gina's future life. As I mentioned before, we thought Edith and Gina were both single old ladies when we met them in 1961, but now we know that they were both married. Edith's husband Rudolf Krauss was definitely still alive at that time. I'll see if I can find what became of Ernst Schoenwald. 

As for Augusta Twiasschor in 1897, I still have to figure that one out. 

Update: I just looked at Edith's exemption card and her address is given as the same Willesden location as shown here, so the sisters lived together at that address. 


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