The Ringels in Berlin—time of prosperity

Video: A surprise on the Woelckpromenade

The good times in Berlin

Isaak took this opportunity to move his family once again, this time to the cultured capital city of the one-time German Empire. He was forty-eight in 1914 and most likely didn’t serve in the Great War. Most Jewish men of age from Isaak’s class and background proudly did their service. Some paid the ultimate price, including several Wohlgemuths from West Prussia who are found on German casualty lists. 

The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 altered the map. Prussian territories including West Prussia were ceded to Poland, and Danzig was made an autonomous “free city.” For the Wohlgemuths in postwar, early Weimar Berlin, life was beset by inflation and political unrest, but Isaak and Betty nevertheless found Berlin to be a more congenial locale for their style of cosmopolitan Jewishness. They lived in the suburb of Weißensee. As their two daughters came of age, there was no shortage of eligible suitors.

A match was made for Elly with a handsome Jewish war veteran, Hermann Ringel, who was fifteen years her senior. Hermann was already successful in business as a wholesaler of ready-made outerwear for men and boys. He also ran a separate import-export clothing business together with a partner.

Hermann and Elly lived at first in Weißensee and later moved to the fashionable Charlottenburg neighborhood. They enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle even though their marriage was not an entirely happy one. Their only child, whom they named Helga Fanny Ringel, was born at Empress Auguste Victoria Hospital in Charlottenburg on October 20, 1924. Elly’s sister Hilde, who was six years younger, later married another eligible Jewish businessman, Herbert Peiser, and little Helga was a flower girl at the wedding.

Both of our German branches are getting bigger

There were two significant breakthroughs in the last 24 hours. It may take me a while to write them up fully, so I will just give the summaries for now. 

• The Paechter family in Tiegenhof included two sons, Meier and Isaak, in addition to our great-grandmother Friederike Wohlgemuth and her sister Rosalie Kleemann. Meier ran the department store in Tiegenhof until his death in 1891, after which several of his sons took over. Isaak had relocated to Crossen in the early 1880s. His two children had children that went to every continent during the war. There are descendants in Israel, Australia, South Africa, South America, and the United States. 

• Our Ringel family from Rzeszow has three additional siblings that we did not know of. Many of them and their children also went to Berlin, so the Ringel family in Berlin just got much bigger. Hirsch Zvi Ringel, the brother of our ancestor Schija Ringel, was a Berlin rabbi. Schija also gets a middle name. He was Schija Wolf Ringel, significant because his grandson Wolf Schattner (aka Ze'ev Sharon) was probably named for him. Zeev was born in 1917, so that suggests that Schifa Wolf may have died during the preceding year (his death date is one of our remaining unanswered questions).

So both sides of our German family are suddenly considerably larger than we used to think they were. I will write up the details when I get the time. 



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