Ruby Family History Project Blog

Pinkas Twiasschor's flight went through Slovenia and Italy's Asti province

The data above is given for Pinkas Twiasschor in an Italian web site Escape stories: from Vicenza to the United States about the Fort Ontario experience. There are several important details to note. First, under "Family ties" he is described as "Solo." There is no mention of having had a wife and two daughters. Second, the three locations given for "Place of residence or internment before Fort Ontario" give us an idea of the route of Pinkas' flight from the Nazis. 

He was first in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, then the northern Italian town of Nizza Monferrato, and finally the southern Italian town of Ferramonti where a large internment camp was located. 

There will be more to learn here, but for starters is this page on the History of the Holocaust in Slovenia. I will cite a short section.  

In light of these circumstances, in 1941 the Jewish refugees from the Slovenian territory occupied by Germans managed to retreat to safety temporarily. Most of them initially fled to Ljubljana, where they joined large numbers of other Jewish refugees. In the end of August 1941 over 400 Jewish refugees from the Slovenian Styria and Upper Carniola, Germany, Austria, and more and more often from Croatia were located in Ljubljana. Usually they did not intend to stay in Ljubljana for long, but rather headed onwards to Italy. Despite the strict Italian anti-Jewish legislation Italy was an attractive destination for the refugees fleeing from the Nazi persecution. Until 1943 the level of the Italian anti-Jewish violence was extremely benign in comparison with the Nazi Germany. Jewish refugees and other Jews with foreign citizenship, also those in the Ljubljana Province, were soon subject to internment in Italy in accordance with the Italian racial legislation.

Family Story:

Regina Twiasschor Scott died in April 1974

Yesterday I could not find a death record for Regina Twiasschor Schoenwald. This morning I tried again with Scott instead of Schoenwald. A record for Regina Scott with the correct birth date popped right up.

She died in April 1974 in St. Marlyebone, London.

I did not find a death record for Ernest Scott, so I don't know which one of them died first. 

Family Story:

Regina's husband changed his name

This item ran in The London Gazette on January 17, 1947.

Scott, Ernest Arthur (formerly Ernst Schoenwald); Germany; Manager; 6, Aldridge Road Villas, London, W.n. 7 November, 1946

That would be Regina's husband. As foreshadowed by the crossouts in the registry record, Ernst Schoenwald officially changed his name to Ernest Arthur Scott.

So Gina's new name will be Regina Scott, which I am looking for in Google but everything is about the romance novelist who goes by that name. 

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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. 

Family Story:

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. 

Family Story:

Edith Twiasschor's birthdate is given on a British security document

Edith Twiasschor was born in Berlin on December 20, 1911, a very proper 11 months after her parents married in London.

I have not yet found her actual birth record, the information comes on this British security document from November 1939, when she was 28 years old and already resettled in England. It provides her with an exemption from internment as an enemy alien. Although she is a German national, she has refugee status and is therefore exempt. 

Edith's birth date in 1911 makes her almost 13 years older than Helga. I'm still looking for any record of Gina; this would suggest that she is the younger sister.

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.

Family Story:

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.

Family Story:

The fate of the Belgrade Jews

I'm sure there are better sources on the German occupation of Serbia in 1941-44, but the Wikipedia article on The Holocaust in German-Occupied Serbia has all we need to know. I'll go through the key points. 

Yugoslav Foreign Secretary Anton Korošec, who was Roman Catholic priest and leader of Slovenian conservatives, stated in September 1938, that "Jewish issue did not exist in Yugoslavia…. Jewish refugees from the Nazi Germany are not welcome here." In December 1938 Rabbi Isaac Alkalai, the only Jewish member of government was dismissed from the government.

This would be the situation in the critical months before Kristallnacht when Berliners like our grandmother were scrambling to escape the country. Elly and Helga fled to Belgium and then France. Despite the unwelcome attitude of the Yugoslav government to Jewish refugess, Elly's sister-in-law, Rosa Ringel with her daughter Margot, fled to Belgrade to be with other members of the Shatner family. 

In April 1941, axis forces led by Nazi Germany invaded Yugoslavia and installed a puppet government, setting the stage for implemention of anti-Jewish measures. 

The destruction of Serbian Jews by the Nazi Germans was carried out in two distinct phases. The first, which lasted between July and November 1941, involved the murder of Jewish men, who were shot as part of retaliatory executions carried out by German forces in response to the rising anti-Nazi, partisan insurgency in Serbia.

Altogether some 30.000 people were executed by the Nazi's during the first 2 months of this policy, including nearly all Serbian Jewish males, as well as tens of thousands of Serbs.[10] Despite executing tens of thousands of Jewish men, the Wehrmacht in Belgrade refused to kill women and children because that would have been "dishonourable".[11]

Such niceties were not observed for long.

The second genocidal activity, between December 1941 and May 1942, involved the incarceration of the women and children at the Semlin concentration camp and former fairgrounds in Belgrade and their gassing in a mobile gas van called a Sauerwagen. The German concentration camp, the old fairgrounds or Stare Sajmište, near Zemun was established across the Sava river from Belgrade, on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, to process and eliminate the captured Jews, Serbs, Roma, and others. 

This second period encompasses the April 1942 date given by Hendel for the killing of Roza and Margot Schattner. Referring to the Zemun camp, SS-commander Harald Turner, Chief of the German military administration in Serbia, described the operation in a letter that month to a Nazi colleague. 

Already some months ago, I shot dead all the Jews I could get my hands on in this area, concentrated all the Jewish women and children in a camp and with the help of the SD (i.e. Sicherheitsdienst – Nazi Security Services) got my hands on a "delousing van," that in about 14 days to 4 weeks will have brought about the definitive clearing out of the camp...

So that is how it went for the Shatner family in Belgrade. The men were killed first, primarily by roundup and gunshot, in the second half of 1941. The women and children came next, sent first to a local concentration camp and then killed a truckload at a time in mobile gas vans. 

Emanuel Schäfer, commander of the Security Police and Gestapo in Serbia... famously cabled Berlin after last Jews were killed in May 1942: Serbien ist judenfrei.[19]

Family Story:

The Shatner family of Belgrade

Before getting back to the Twiasschor story, let's dig deeper into the family of Rosa Ringel's in-laws, the Schattners from Belgrade. First of all, in Serbia the name seems to be rendered as Shatner, the same way that actor William Shatner spells it. In fact, here is a relevant clip from Shatner's Wikipedia page:

Shatner was born in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a Conservative Jewish household.[3] .... His paternal grandfather, Wolf Schattner, anglicized the family name to "Shatner."[7]

Wolf Schattner, by the way, was Ze'ev's name at birth. Ahikam Finkel's family tree on Geni shows us all the Shatner family members in Belgrade. The family elders are Samuel and Flora Shatner. Samuel's name is also given as Satner, and he is the son of an Adolf Jakov Satner. Samuel and Flora had five children. Their exact birth dates and birth order are not given in the Geni tree. David "Drago" Schattner is one of them and he has two brothers, Heinrich and Alfred, and two sisters, Regina (married name Hendel) and Tereza (married name Bihaly). Each of these Shatners had one or more children, except for Heinrich who died in 1913.

One of the Hendel children is Artur, who will later report the fate of family members to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. His testimonies are all there in the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database. All together in 1955, Dr. Hendel reported on 35 of his family members who were murdered by the Nazis in Belgrade. Five of them are Shatners. Besides Rosa (spelled Roza) and Margot, the others were David's brother Alfred and his wife Mica and their son Rihard. 

Regina Hendel, Artur's mother and David's sister, is also on the list, along with Artur's sister Hedwiga. 

The "fate" of these individuals that is given in the database is simply "murdered." For somewhat more detail we can view the source documents in Hebrew and (I think) Serbian. To understand better how and when they were murdered, we'll turn to the history.  


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