The Ringels in Berlin—time of prosperity

Hermann Ringel’s partner is identified

A couple of years ago, I found the names of two clothing businesses owned by our grandfather Hermann Ringel listed in a database of Jewish businesses expropriated by the Nazis. One was his own outerwear manufacturing company, Hermann Ringel & Co. The other, an export-import menswear wholesaler, was co-owned with a partner. The database gave us something we hadn’t known—the name of the wholesale business.

The company was Reichenthal & Ringel, with addresses in the heart of the Scheunenviertal, first on the Spandauer Bridge and then at Schönhauser Allee 8. We never knew much about this partner, except for his own treacherous act of stealing the money Hermann had set aside to get his family out of Germany. Walter recorded our mother Helga’s account of the thievery in his Ruby Family Histories.

But we never had a name for the partner who took Hermann’s money after he died in 1938, and nearly scuttled the desperate escape of Hermann’s widow and daughter. The database told us his name was Reichenthal, but I had not tried to identify him precisely. 

Today, in compiling a list of Berlin addresses associated with Hermann Ringel, I looked for the first time for a telephone directory listing for Reichenthal & Ringel. I found several listings, dating back to 1921. In each case the business listing was associated with a residential listing for Isser Reichenthal.

So now we have the full name of the man who helped to establish Hermann in business, but who betrayed him in the end when it was a matter of life and death. I’ll be looking further into the life and postwar fate of Isser Reichenthal during my upcoming trip to Berlin.

Wohlgemuth death certificates located in Berlin Landesarchiv

The record requests I put in last month with the Berlin Landesarchiv came through yesterday in the mail—copies of the official death records for Isaak and Betty Wohlgemuth. Hurrah!

The archive holds historical Berlin vital records that are at least 100 years old. More recent records such as the 1929 and 1942 deaths of our Wohlgemuth ancestors are held in the local registry offices in specific districts around the city. To locate these records, you need both the right district office (usually the residence location) and the date of the recorded event. 

After returning from Berlin last year, when I visited the archive, I took an inventory of vital records for our Wohlgemuth and Ringel relatives who lived in Berlin. This revealed a target list of missing documents. The big four on the list were the marriage record for Hermann and Elly and the death records of Schija Ringel and Isaak and Betty Wohlgemuth.

With the the first two on the list, I am missing a necessary piece of information, the date. For the Wohlgemuth death records, I realized that I had everything needed and I submitted my search request during the holiday period a month ago. 

I'll review Isaak's record here and then go on to Betty in the next post.

This rounded form of German handscript is something I have seen before, which doesn't make it any easier to make out. Fortunately, this is all fairly straightforward. The merchant Hermann Ringel reported the death of his father-in-law, the merchant Isaak Wohlgemuth, age 63, born in Preußisch Stargard, husband of Betty Wohlgemuth nee Katz.

Hermann lived at No. 5 and Isaak at No. 6 Woelckpromenade in Weißensee. This is significant because it means the Ringel move to Charlottenburg happened after Isaak's death, which makes sense. 

Maybe the most interesting thing on the record is Hermann's signature affixed at bottom, with its little flourish on the final letter. I think I have other documents with his signature, but this is the first time I've noticed that flourish. 

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