Ruby Family History Project Blog

Menk names search tool

Because of my interest in the Jewish history of Danzig, I have been contributing as a volunteer in a project to index Danzig marriage records. Among other things, this involves recognizing the surnames of Jewish brides and grooms written on documents in longhand German script. With some practice, this becomes fairly routine but sometimes you come up with a speculative spelling is not a commonly known name.

At these times, it is helpful to consult a comprehensive resource called A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames by Lars Menk. Many times, that weird name whose spelling you are not quite sure of turns out indeed to be among the more than 20,000 names in the directory. 

Menk's Dictionary includes extensive information for each surname entry, including geographical distribution, which would be helpful for my use. It is a costly reference book and I do not have a copy. However, the publisher provides a complete list of just the surnames available as a download. 

I took advantage of that and created a quick and handy tool for searching the Menk names list. You can quickly confirm that a spelling of a name is or isn't in the directory. You can also do complex searches like "Starts With" or "Contains" if you recognize part of the name but not all of it. 

The Menk Names search tool is available here on Family History Machine. 

Family Story:

Fanny Ringel was the familiar name of Feigla Kauffler

Also in the previous post was the question of the identity of Fanny Ringel Twiasschor, who is listed as the resident of a Ringel apartment in 1920. I looked up name derivations for Fanny and found that among Jews it was often a variant of Feiga. The directory listing was published in the year before the death of Feigla Kaufler Ringel.

So it must have been Feigla, Hermann's mother, who was living in the apartment and is listed in the directory as Fanny Ringel Twiasschor. She died in November 1921. It seems Helga got her middle name in 1924 in honor of her deceased grandmother. 

I just went and looked at Feigla's death certificate, which was one of the original documents Elly carried with her to America. I had previously misread the year of her death of 1925 when the date is really Novemeber 28, 1921. She was 67. Her address was Lothringerstraße 4a. Bingo!

I also reviewed the chronology of directory listings for Ringel family members at the address at Lothringerstraße 4. 

Table to come.

Family Story:

Discrepancy on Betty’s place of death

Following up the previous post to resolve discrepancies in the two Betty Twiasschor records, The two records are from distinct sources. The second one records the details of her Berlin deportation on April 4, 1942, where it says her destination is the Warsaw ghetto. It also shows a place of death as Majdanek, but that may be incorrect. The first record (I should swap the order) shows her second transport from Warsaw to Sobibor two months later on June 13, 1942. I would regard that as more likely to be accurate as to her place of death. 

Family Story:

Found! Hermann Ringel’s sister Betty Twiasschor

Until now, we didn't have much information about Hermann Ringel's sister Betty. We knew about Rosa Ringel Shatner, the mother of Zeev, who died with her daughter Margot after a roundup in Belgrade. We knew Betty had two daughters, Edith and Gena, who later lived in London. 

Today I was searching in the Yad Vashem database in order to mention it in my article, Searching on Ringel and Rzeszow, the eleven matching records included one name, Zierel Apfelbaum, that was familiar to me, and another, Betty Twiasschlor, that just seemed weird. I checked up on Zierel and saw she was a daughter of Schija Ringel's brother Judah, thus Hermann's first cousin. She also came to Berlin and married Josef Apfelbaum. She was deported from Berlin 9/27/1942 and perished at Auschwitz.

At first I paid no attention to Betty with the funny last name, but when I idly clicked through the detailed information I saw that her maiden name was Ringel and she was born in Rzeszow in 1880. There are actually two records about her in the YV database with slightly different information about her date and place of death. I will copy both records in full below. 

So then I started looking in Ancestry and JewishGen to see what I could find out about a Betty Twiasschor in Berlin. Well, there was another Twiasschor family in Berlin (the name goes back to several towns in east Galicia/Ukraine), so that made the search slightly difficult. This other Twiasschor was in business and had phone and address listings in many directories. He and his wife were also deported and their family sponsored a Stolpersteine for them, so most of the Google hits are about that. 

However, several of the directories had an address for another Twiasschor resident, possibly a widow, at an address on Lothringerstrasse that looked familiar. I checked and confirmed that it was indeed the same building as one of Hermann Ringel's old addresses. Several other directory listings had tantalizing bits. One listing was for the Geschwister Twiasschor, meaning siblings. Another listed Fanny Twiasschor, geboren Ringel, as the occupant. (I don't know if Fanny was another name for Betty or if that is someone else, but the name sure rings a bell.)

I didn't see anything about an Edith or Gina at first, but then this 1945 item in Die Aufbau showed up. The Aufbau was the German language Jewish paper that published lists of victims and survivors after the war. It also covered happier news, such as this paid announcement of the engagement of Edith Twiasshor and Rudi Krausz in London. I am not sure what "fly" means, but it seems to suggest the bride came originally from Berlin and the groom from Vienna. 

I am pretty sure this must be Helga's cousin Edith. I don't know if she was still married to Herr Krausz when we visited Edith and her sister for tea in 1961. I had the impression they were both unmarried but what did I know? 

Other than the Aufbau item, there wasn't any other information I could find about Edith or Gena. But now we have their birth surname and have learned of their mother's fate. Both of Hermann's sisters were killed in extermination camps. 

See the detailed info about Betty below. 

  Deportations from Berlin Murdered Jews from Germany
Last Name Twiasschor Twiaschor
First Name Betty Betty
Maiden Name Ringel Ringel
Gender Female Female
Date of Birth 03/05/1882 03/05/1882
Place of Birth Rzeszow,Rzeszow,Lwow,Poland Rzeszow,Rzeszow,Lwow,Poland
Citizenship Germany  
Permanent Place of Residence Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany
Place during the War Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany
Origin of Deportation Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,
Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany
Destination of Deportation Sobibor,Extermination Camp,Poland Eastern Europe
Place of Death   Majdanek,Camp,Poland
Deporation Date and Details 13/06/1942 Transport from Berlin,Berlin (Berlin),City of Berlin,Germany to Warszawa,Ghetto,Poland on 14/04/1942
Status according to Source murdered missing
Source List of Jewish victims from the Memorial book "Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 - 1945" prepared by the German Federal Archives Source Gedenkbuch Berlins der jüdischen Opfer des Nazionalsozialismus, Freie Universität Berlin, Zentralinstitut für sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung, Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1995 (Memorial Book of the Jewish victims of National Socialism in Berlin, Free University of Berlin)
Type of material List of murdered Jews from Germany List of deportation from Berlin
Item ID 11647578 4137642

Family Story:

Video: Scant remains--my bittersweet visit to Starogard Gdanski

Book excerpt with info on the Wasserreichs

I came across this book excerpt that gives a flavor for the life of the Wasserreich family in Montevideo in the 1940s. The author Eva Ross was born in Austria as Eva Stoessl. The uncle David she describes below had the surname Stossl, which is the married name of Erich Wasserreich's daughter. 

Making a Rose After the Diaspora: An Autobiography

by Eva E. Ross

pp 54-55

On weekends in the summer we would go to the beach; if my uncles picked us up in their car we would go to Carrasco, a nicer and more exclusive beach. We could also take the bus, but they were always terribly crowded and we had to stand the whole way for 30 minutes. Coming back in the evening it was even worse; people would hang like grapes from the bus. Nevertheless, Montevideo was a city where one could live quite well without a lot of money or a car. The transit system was very good, going from east to west and south to north, but often overloaded. One could stay on the beach all day without paying a penny, and food was not expensive.

My uncle David, who had divorced his first wife with whom he had a son, Ernesto, was dating a very pretty young German refugee by the name of Eva Wasserreich, who had come with her parents from Berlin where her father had been a prosperous businessman. New her father was selling butter from door to door! My uncle’s hobby was horseback riding, and with his factory taking off, he was able to afford a car and to join the equestrian club. He taught Eva to ride also and they went riding every weekend in winter, but in summer they loved to go to the beach. As the club was near Carrasco and the best beach happened to be there as well, we sometimes had the opportunity to get a ride in their car to Carrasco.

David and Eva eventually got married and moved into an apartment near her parents. We often had meals together, especially for the Jewish holy days. My uncle would often say to me, a twelve-year-old, “Children should be seen but not heard.” Or, “You keep quiet, you are too young to participate in this discussion.” Such comments did not encourage me to be outgoing. 

Family Story:

Wasserreich family shows up in a Montevideo cemetery

I think I found the final resting place of Erich Wasserreich and his wife and daughter. Wasserreich was the Hermann Ringel business partner who we think acted dishonorably following Hermann's death in 1938. According to Helga Ruby's memory as recorded by Walter in "The Early Lives of Stan and Helga Ruby," Hermann's business partner made off with funds Hermann had hidden away to finance the Ringel family's escape from Germany.

In my recent review in Berlin of the aryanization files of the Hermann Ringel & Co. business, I saw several pieces of correspondence from shortly after Hermann's death that show Wasserreich attempting to gain sole ownership of the company. A later letter in the file from a Nazi official reports that Wasserreich had since departed Germany for Montevideo. In all the correspondence, Wasserreich's full name is given as Erich Ignatz Wasserreich. 

Now here we see a Chajim Ignacy Wasserreich buried in a Montevideo Jewish cemetery on October 5, 1950. Missing is the given name Erich, but the middle name, cemetery location and age all align perfectly what we know of Hermann's deceitful partner. Wasserreich's wife Else (died 1968) and daughter Eva (died 1994) are buried with him.

It appears that Eva married and she may have left living children. Not that they would bear any responsibility for Wasserreich's suspected dishonesty, but it would be interesting to see how they are getting along in Uruguay.

The burial listing from the Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) is below. 

(Other Surnames)
Date of Death
Date of Birth
/ Age
More Information
Cemetery Name / Section
City / Country

Age: 71 
View Full Burial Record
Cementerio Israelita de La Paz / 
Montevideo / Uruguay

WASSERREICH, Chajim Ignacy
Age: 60 
View Full Burial Record
Cementerio Israelita de La Paz / 
Montevideo / Uruguay

Age: 81 
View Full Burial Record
Cementerio Israelita de La Paz / 
Montevideo / Uruguay

Family Story:

Summary of Wohlgemuth records research

Despite my earlier belief that all the Wohlgemuths in Pr. Stargardt were our family members, I have found quite a few people in town with that surname who were not related. In the Naldex database, we see the name was adopted in at least seven West Prussian towns, some near to Stargardt, and some descendants of these Wohlgemuths also show up in the Stargardt community Jewish records that I have been busily studying.

Unfortunately the two Wohlgemuth graves in the Starogard Jewish cemetery, Teile Wohlgemuth Blau and Pauline Weiss Wohlgemuth, are not from our branch. Many of our Wohlgemuth relatives are buried there, but none of their headstones survive.

I have spent the last several days extracting Wohlgemuth vital record data from Jewish community logbooks covering the period from 1812 to 1910. They are mainly in hand-scripted German with some Yiddish language records mixed in. I have downloaded images of the most important records, and have entered the birth, marriage and death dates for all the descendants of Moses Wohlgemuth (born 1729), whom I consider to be the original Wohlgemuth.

Actually I am not at all done with that work and there is much more to be learned about maternal family lines in particular. But I need to get back to work on my magazine assignment, so this is a good time to put out some highlights of my findings.   

"W" index page showing all Wohlgemuth deaths in Pr. Stargardt in order from 1847 to 1874. Some are our family members; others are not.

Although the earliest records are from 1812, household residence lists from that year record the birth dates of residents much older than that. This is where we see records of the birth dates for Moses Salomon, the original Wohlgemuth (1729), and his wife Yette (1738). Moses was 83 years old when he adopted the Wohlgemuth name. In that year, his sons Herz and Salomon were in their 50s with grown families of their own 

Salomon (1763-1827) and wife Selme had a bunch of children, of whom two sons, Marcus and Raphael, had families. The daughters may have had families too, but these are harder to find. Anyway there are a number of Wohlgemuths in town who are descendants of Salomon.

We are more interested in Herz. He and his wife Rose had three sons, one daughter who died at 13, and another who I haven’t tracked yet. The sons were Jacob, Abraham and Baruch, born between the years 1799 and 1809. Jacob and Abraham married sisters, Henriette and Rebecca Altmann. All three sons left children but we will focus here on Abraham’s branch.

Abraham and Rebecca had two children who survived to adulthood. One was our GG grandfather Leopold, discussed further below. The other was a daughter Rose, with whom we see the first sign of intermarriage in the family. She went with her mother to Danzig after Abraham’s death in 1873, but the following year she married in Berlin to Salomon Razinski. The marriage record obtained by hint on Ancestry is from a collection of Lutheran records. I conjecture that Razinski was half-Jewish and raised as Christian. I’m not sure that being married in a Lutheran rite means that Rose necessarily converted. 

Leopold Wohlgemuth was born in 1833 and married in 1863 to Friederike Pächter from the town of Tiegenhof, across the Vistula River near to Elbing. They had a daughter and three sons, plus two children who died young. As usual, the daughter, another Rose or possibly Rosalie, is yet to be tracked. The sons were Isaac, Heinrich and Julius. 

Of the siblings, we already know a lot about Isaac’s family (Betty Katz, Elly and Hilda) and we recently learned about Julius’s only child, Leopold, who went to Brazil after the war. The interesting new one is Heinrich whom we did not know of until I recently found Aunt Hilda’s restitution affidavit. She says he was a banker in Danzig and I have more work to do to confirm that and find any family information about him.

One thing I will note is Heinrich's name, which is the Germanized version of his Yiddish given name Herz, which was probably already altered from an earlier form of Hirsch or Hersch. We have already seen this Germanizing of given names with Heinrich's father Leopold, who was given the name Lewin but was called Leopold. Julius and Isaac are similarly Germanized versions of Hebrew names Yehuda and Yitzhak, which in Yiddish might have been Juda and Itzik. By the way, based on the records, I am now spelling Isaac's name with a 'c' instead of a 'k.' 

Leopold Wohlgemuth died fairly young at age 42 in 1876, It is possible but not proven that Friedericke moved her family to her Pächter family town, Tiegenhof, which could account for Isaac and Julius later entering business in Elbing.

I now put aside my Wohlgemuth work for a few weeks while I work on other business. 

Family Story: