Ruby Family History Project Blog

Margot Schattner was born in 1917-18

I wrote yesterday that Ze'ev Sharon (Wolf Schattner) was born in 1913, which Walter found surprising and possibly in error, primarily based on his understanding of the age difference between our mother and her cousin. 

Helga was born in October 1924. Walter had believed that Ze'ev was only a few years older than Helga, and certainly not as many as 11 years older as my information suggested. So I told him I would go check my sources and try to update the information. 

I should say here that ihere is one person in our family, Ze'ev's grandson Ahikam Finkel in Israel, who would know this and other family facts. So far, I have not touched base with Ahikam about my new findings. I plan to contact him by email soon, as soon as I have written up more of my information.

But back to Ze'ev's birthday. I find that I do not have a solid source for the 1913 date. I searched online thinking I might find a death announcement that would have his birth information. So far this morning, I have not turned up anything. 

One thing I did do was to review the Yad Vashem testimonies that I have seen before for Ze'ev's mother Rosa and sister Margot, that document their deaths in Belgrade in April 1942. These testimonies were submitted in Israel in 1955 by Dr. Artur Hendel, a relative of the Schattner family in Belgrade.

I'll report more about these records in a separate post, but the information I want to highlight here is that Margot's age is given as 24 at the time of her death in April 1942. That would put her birth date in 1917 or early 1918. Yesterday we learned that her father died in May 1917. So she would have been a classic case of a war baby born after her father's death.

From this I conclude that Ze'ev had to have been the older sibling. So until we get more definitive information, we know that Ze'ev was born in 1916 or earlier. Since his parents were married in 1911 (I have the marriage record), it would not be surprising if their first child was born in 1913 or thereabouts. 

Maybe Ze'ev was so vigorous and heroic in Walter's eye that he seemed more youthful than he actually was.

Update: I just found Ahikam's family tree on Geni. He gives Ze'ev's birth date as March 11, 1917, which is precisely two days after his father's death in Pecs, Hungary. Margot's birth is given as 1913. So maybe Artur Hendel testimony is wrong concerning Margot's age, and thus she would be the older sibling.

Their father David Schattner has a nickname "Drago" in Ahikam's tree. I see that there is not a date of death given for Drago,, so the death record I found yesterday will definitely be news to him.

Family Story:

The missing husbands of the Ringel sisters are now accounted for

Yesterday I wrote that I had not yet learned the histories of the two husbands of Hermann Ringel's sisters Rosa and Pessel (known as Betty). That was so yesterday.

I woke up this morning to email from Rodney who had already seen that and had done a little digging of his own. He also pointed out that I was in error yesterday when I wrote that only the front of the Ringel-Wohlgemuth marriage record was available. He found the back and sent it along, showing that the two marriage witnesses were Isaak Wohlgemuth and the merchant Martin Horowicz, who lived at Lothringer Straße 14. 

Anyway, about the husbands, Rodney had found a 1920 death certificate for David Schattner and a 1911 marriage record for Pessel Ringel and Pinkas Twiasschor. Neither record was straightforward. Schattner actually died in May 1917, apparently a military casualty of the First World War, but his death was not officially recorded until three years later. The Ringel-Twiasschor nuptual did not take place in Berlin as would be expected, but in a district of London, for some reason yet to be discovered. 

Thanks, Rodney. I surely would have found these records on my own at some point, but it is always nice to have a boost. The London business seemed especially odd. I brewed a pot of coffee and got to work. 

The David Schattner information was perfectly easy to confirm, though the circumstances of the military battle in which he was felled are yet to be ascertained. The record, shown here, says the place of death was Pecs, Hungary, which would have been behind the lines of battle on the Balkan front of the war. Perhaps he was wounded in battle and evacuated to Pecs, where he died. The reporting snafu was unfortunate, but possibly understandable with the confusion of war. Presumably, Rosa received notification of his death in a more timely way. Also, I expect she received a government pension after that. 

As Walter pointed out when I told him this morning, it means that Helga's cousin Wolfie, later the Israeli Ze'ev Sharon, who was born in 1913, grew up without a father. More to reflect and ponder on that in the future. Now, it on to the Twiasschor situation, which I'll cover in the next post. 

 

Family Story:

There was a second Ringel son, Solomon, who did not survive

After all the other Ringel news, this item seems anticlimactic, but it is nevertheless significant that Schija and Feigl Ringel had a fourth child. Salomon Ringel was born on April 15, 1893, and he died on December 18 of the same year. His birth and death records are among the new Ringel vital records that have become available recently from the Berlin Landesarchiv. You have to wonder how the death of a young son affected the Ringel parents and their other children. Hermann was five years old at the time, the sisters a few years older.

It is interesting to think that Helga, who only had aunts, would also have had an uncle if young Salomon had survived.. 

Family Story:

The Ringel sisters and their children lived in adjacent apartments on Lothringerstraße

We already knew that Betty Twiasschor and her two daughters Edith and Gina were living at Hermann's old address at Lothringerstraße 4A in the late 1920s and early '30s. Today we discover from Berlin address directories that Betty's sister Rosa Schattner and her children Margot and Wolfie (Zeev) lived in 1929 and 1930 at Lotheringerstraße 4B. 

Both sisters were evidently widowed already by 1929. (I have yet to learn the histories of their two husbands.) Hermann lived there himself before his marriage, which we now know was in the spring of 1922. Their mother Fanny Ringel had lived there too until her death the year before. I'm thinking that Hermann held on to the property and later set up his sisters there where they were each widowed.  

Actually there is a slight anamoly with the address. In the earlier records, it is recorded as I have shown. In the later telephone directory records, the address is given as Lotheringstraße 54-4a and Lotheringstraße 54-4b. I think it is the same place but that the number 54 was added to the address some time in the mid-1920s. Also, the 4a and 4b seem to suggest adjacent apartments on the fourth floor.

I didn't know about the 54 business when I tried to find the place when I was in Berlin in 2018. Lothringerstraße had been renamed to Torstraße after the war, and it is a major avenue on the north border of the old Scheunenviertel district. At the time, I couldn't find a good candidate for No. 4, but when I look now on Apple and Google Maps, I see that Torstraße 54 is right at the place where Rosa Luxembourg Straße and Alte Schonhauser Straße come together, which was perfectly located close to Hermann's several places of business.

Mostly there are new buildings at that busy intersection today, but the image above from Google Street View shows a building at Torstraße 56 that looks like it could go back to the 1920s or before. Could that be similar to the building, or the exact right one, where our Ringels lived in two apartments on the top floor?

Family Story:

Hermann and Elly's marriage certificate among several major Ringel developments

The hits keep on coming. One of our most long-sought-after documents has just turned up, courtesy again of the Berlin Landesarchiv and its publishing arrangement with Ancestry.com. It is the marriage record of Hermann Ringel and Elly Wohlgemuth in Berlin-Weissensee on April 20, 1922.

Other than the date that we did not know, the other information is consistent with what we know. The groom resides at Lothringer Strasse 4a in Berlin, the bride at Woelckpromenade 6 in Weißensee. The back page of the record with witnesses and signatures is not provided. The date, too, is not especially surprising, coming roughly 18 months before the birth of the daughter Helga. Still, it is excellent to have that information and the image of the front of the record. 

The funny thing is that I could not get this information from the Landesarchiv when I was there two years ago. At that time, they could only retrieve the record if I knew the date, which of course I did not. Now it seems all marriages in Berlin from 1874 to 1936 are accessible in a Landesarhiv database. Ancestry provides a search form where you can enter just the names of the marriage parties and the record is found. 

Even better, with Ancestry hints, I didn't even have to go looking for it. There was a new leaf for Hermann Ringel and there it was, lo and behold!

This happened in the afternoon on a day that I had already made two other important Ringel discoveries. I will cover them in the next post.

Family Story:

Bankhaus Meyer und Gelhorn did business at Brötbankengasse 9

The seat of the Bankhaus Meyer und Gelhorn at 40 Langer Markt (Długi Targ).

A few days ago I posted a translated excerpt of the Gadanopedia entry for Meyer and Gelhorn. Look again. 

BANKHAUS MEYER UND GELHORN , a banking company operating for the Gdańsk trade and craft, with headquarters at Langer Markt 40 (Długi Targ), after 1900 at no. 38/39. In 1920, it also owned a back house at Brotbänkengasse 9 (Chlebnicka Street).  

Back house or bank house? In Polish, it is "dom tylni," so I think it is a secondary office or maybe a back office like we say today. The photo is of the main office on Langer Markt.

Anyway, the important thing to take note of is the address at Brotbänkengasse 9. Heinrich's residential address was Brotbänkengasse 19, so this seems to suggest a close connection between Heinrich and the bank. Hilda says he owned it. We shall see.

Family Story:

Heinrich Wohlgemuth lived on prestigious Brotbänkengasse

Closeup from Frederike Wohlgemuth's death certificate

My German script reading ability is improving but I'm not yet good enough to decipher many of the written notations on the old German records we are working with. In this closeup of Frederike Wohlgemuth's death record, we can read that the death is reported by the merchant Heinrich Wohlgemuth who resides in Danzig at [unknown street name] No. 19. 

Below that, we see the deceased is Frederike Wohlgemuth, born Paechter, 72 years and 7 months old, of "mosaische" religion, living in Danzig at [that same address]. At the bottom, we see she was born is Tiegenhof and was the widow of the merchant Leopold Wohlgemuth. (Also, there is mention of Marienburg, another nearby city known today as Malbork.)

Okay, but what is the street name?  It would be nice to know the precise location of Heinrich's home in Danzig, especially now that we know his mother Fredericke also lived there. 

I asked Rodney Eisfelder for help reading the script. He's the Australian leader of the Danzig record indexing project that I have been a part of, and he has been my coach in learning to read the old German. Here is his email reply.

It looks to me like Brotbänkengasse. The street name is mentioned on a few web pages, such as here. So the street still exists, but with a new name (Chlebnicka), right in the centre of town, one block from the town hall. — Regards, Rodney

Wow. I never would have seen that, but can sort of make it out now. Brotbänkengasse. Bread banks street.

But there's a bigger wow. Chlebnicka is one of the main touristed streets in Danzig's old town. My hotel there in 2018 was a few blocks away on Ogarna. The Chlebnicka Gate at the end of the street is one of the important landmarks of Old Town. 

Following one of Rodney's links, we learn that "bread banks" provided an early form of commercial credit enabling the distribution of bread during the Middle Ages. From these beginnings, a system of interconnected warehouses, markets and banks developed that remains central in the European economy to this day. 

We will study this more, but it is enlightening to learn that the old name of ul. Chlebnicka in Gdansk was Brotbänkengasse, evidently the street of bread banks. It was the commercial and financial center of old Danzig, and that is where our Wohlgemuth family members lived 110 years ago.

I don't know if the street address on Brotbänkengasse corresponds to today's numbering, but Chlebnicka 19 is located at the east end of the street, adjacent to the gate. That was no doubt a central, important and prestigious address in the banking world of turn-of-the-century Prussia.

In terms of Wohlgemuth geography, Heinrich's home in the center of town was about a half mile north of the J. Wohlgemuth company location on Zabi Kruk in the Alte Vorstadt. The Isaac Wohlgemuth home at Abegg Gasse on Granary Island was a half mile east of that, forming an easily walkable triangle, the nexus of the Wohlgemuth's world.

From Hilda's description, they traveled more often by horse and carriage. 

Family Story:

The Reichsanzeiger listings with Elly's record were posted just two weeks ago

JewishGen.org does yeoman work in making available data sets of vital and historical records to genealogy enthusiasts like me. As much as has already been indexed and put online, there are dozens of ongoing indexing projects that provide a continuous influx of new content into the JewishGen databases. The projects are rigorous in their sourcing and verification of data before any new assets are posted to the JewishGen databases. This is a necessary requirement to eliminate errors and ensure quality control in the databases, but it works to slow the production and availability of new content. 

I know a little about this from my work with the JewishGen Danzing Special Interest Group, where I'm involved in an indexing project for 40 years of civic vital records. Each registry volume of about 200 records in old German script is examined by two independent indexers. Only when their data is in agreement is it considered verified. It is painstaking work, and it has taken our small group several years to post our first tranche of data. 

JewishGen's Holocaust Database Project has a team of up to 100 group leaders, transcribers and validators led by project leader Nolan Altman. That's the group that this month updated the JewishGen Holocaust database with the 90,000 records from the Herbert Beritt spreadsheet. This includes a list previously published in book form (but not available online) and other records collected by Beritt, including Elly Ringel's, that have never previously been compiled in any form. 

On August 13, 2020, JewishGen announced the publication in a press release. Read it below. And thank you to the JewishGen for bringing so much quality information to researchers like me.

New Holocaust Database Set: Revoked Citizenship and Property Seizures, 1933-1945

by Nolan Altman, Director of Special Projects – Holocaust Database

JewishGen is pleased to announce that a significant data set, Reichsanzeiger – Revoked Citizenship and Property Seizures 1933-1945, has been added to the Holocaust Database.

Beginning in 1933, the German Government revoked German citizenship for tens of thousands of German Jews as well as persons seen as political opponents, e.g. communists.  This affected not only persons resident in Germany, but also persons who had left Germany and were resident in other countries.  It took similar action against persons resident in parts of Czechoslovakia which had been annexed.  Less well known was the revocation of business licenses or even seizure of firms which had been owned by Jews or political opponents.  These public actions, totaling nearly 90,000 names of persons and firms, mixed together, were regularly published in the Reichsanzeiger, the German equivalent of the Federal Registry.

 In 1985, a compilation of the citizenship revocations was published in book form by K.G. Saur, Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehoriger 1933-1945 (The Expatriation of German Citizens, 1933-1945).  However, persons resident outside Germany, as well as firms whose names/assets had been seized, were not included. The nature/location of property/assets which had been seized was not identified. 

The information contained in this database came from Herbert Birett, a German researcher. The original data can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/y7w4ue6j. Reformatting was done by JewishGen volunteers. 

To learn more about this data set, please see: https://www.jewishgen.org/databases/holocaust/RevokedGermanCitizenship.html

Family Story:

Elly Ringel whereabouts were tracked by the Charlottenburg finance office

Elly Ringel citation in the Herbert Birett database

To find out more about the Elly Ringel database listing, we click on the link behind the database title. Revoked German Citizenship and Property Seizures 1933-1945

Beginning in 1933, the German Government revoked German citizenship for tens of thousands of German Jews as well as persons seen as political opponents, e.g. communists.  This affected not only persons resident in Germany, but also persons who had left Germany and were resident in other countries.  It took similar action against persons resident in parts of Czechoslovakia which had been annexed.  Less well known was the revocation of business licenses or even seizure of firms which had been owned by Jews or political opponents.  These public actions, totaling nearly 90,000 names of persons and firms, mixed together, were regularly published in the Reichsanzeiger, the German equivalent of the Federal Registry.

In 1985 a compilation of the citizenship revocations was published in book form by K.G. Saur, Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehoriger 1933-1945.  (The Expatriation of German Citizens, 1933-1945).  However, persons resident outside Germany as well as firms whose names/assets had been seized were not included. The nature/location of property/assets which had been seized was not identified. 

The complete compilation, i.e. all names of individuals, companies and organizations, was prepared by Herbert Birett, a German researcher. The spreadsheet from his original work can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y7w4ue6j

So this researcher Herbert Birett compiled a spreadsheet of 90,000 notices of citizenship revocation and property seizure published in the official newspaper of the German Reich. I followed the link to view Birett's original spreadsheet and searched through it to find the Elly Ringel record. Birett's full data is displayed in the image, and we find additional information here that did not make it into the JewishGen indexed version. 

Number 1 is the source and it is identified by a source ID number. Number 3 reads "grounds for pursuit (persecution)" and is designated on all 90,00 records as either U or J. I don't know the meaning of the designations. Elly is listed as U. 

Some of the numbered fields are not shown in my snapshot. That's because they were blank in the Birett spreadsheet. Next we see Elly's full name and maiden name, her gender, birthplace and birthdate. At number 9 we see the anomaly about Basel that needs investigation. Number 13 says she is a widow. The labels in 18 and 19 means simply Column D and E. Number 18 has a date of October 10, 1938 and a number, 4222, whose meaning eludes me. Number 19 gives the what seems to be the source of the information in the report. It is the Finanz Amt - Berlin Charlottenburg East. That is the finance office in the section of Berlin where the Ringels resided. 

The date is interesting. It is possibly the date of publication, or it could be a last known date of residence. Either way, it may move our understanding of their departure date to weeks later than we have earlier believed. We will very likely learn more on this when we examine the Landesarchiv Ringel file scans. For now, it is a revelation that Elly's whereabouts were closely watched by the government tax office, and that her citizenship was officially revoked after her flight for nonpayment of taxes.

Now one more matter. Why did this record show up for the first time online just in the last few weeks. Read on.

Family Story:

Elly Ringel listed in new Holocaust database of revoked citizenship and property seizures

Elly Ringel listing in new Holocaust database.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on this new Elly Ringel citation in the JewishGen Holocaust database. What do we learn from the database record? What is the source of the record and how did it recently show up on JewishGen?

First, the information itself. Besides the correct information listed for maiden name, gender, birth date and birthplace, the listing tells us her last residences were Berlin and Basel, and her "status" was "Reichsfluchtsteuer." The latter translates as "federal emigration tax."

To learn more about the term, here is the introduction to a comprehensive Wikipedia article about the history of the tax under German law.

The Reich Flight Tax (GermanReichsfluchtsteuer) was a capital control law implemented in order to stem capital flight from the Weimar Republic. The law was created through decree on 8 December 1931 by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg. The Reich Flight Tax was assessed upon departure from the individual's German domicile, provided that the individual had assets exceeding 200,000 Reichsmark (ℛℳ) or had a yearly income over 20,000 ℛℳ. The tax rate was set at 25 percent. In 1931, the Reichsmark was fixed at an exchange rate of 4.2 ℛℳ per USD; 200,000 ℛℳ was equivalent to $47,600 USD (equivalent to $800,000 in 2019).

During the Third Reich, the use of the Reich Flight Tax shifted away from dissuading wealthy citizens from moving overseas and was instead used as a form of "legalized theft" to confiscate Jewish assets. The departure of Jewish citizens was desired and permitted by the Nazi government – even after the Invasion of Poland – until a decree from Heinrich Himmler forbade Jewish emigration on 23 October 1941. The tax was used as a "partial expropriation"[1]:12 to seize the assets of Jewish refugees who were persecuted and driven to flee their homeland.

Okay, it looks like our grandmother's citizenship was revoked for non-payment of the Reich Flight Tax. That is consistent with what we know of Elly's departure with Helga from Berlin in the months following Hermann Ringel's death in July 1938. However, it is significant to know that her flight was observed and recorded in an official government record. 

What about Basel? I want for Walter to weigh in on this. We know that reaching Switzerland offered a possible escape route for German Jews. We've heard about Elly and our family members attempting to get there via Lyon, France, in 1940, before encountering a Gestapo agent who was tracking them and caused them to change escape destinations. Could this Basel reference relate to that? Walter?

That is what we can read from the JewishGen database record itself. But what is the original source of the information and how did it just become available in a JewishGen search? I'll answer in the next post.

 

Family Story:

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