Ruby Family History Project Blog

Was Bette deported?

I also re-read mom's story and saw that it was the German Red Cross who notified them of Bette's capture by the Gestapo. When I Google about it, I end up at the archives of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, which is the international center for documentation of Nazi war crimes. Here's the link:

The archive is not in Berlin but there are several memorials to the deportaion of Berlin Jews, besides the Stolper stones that are everyone. I may try to go to the actual deportation office today after visiting Weissensee. — Joanne

Family Story:

Margot Shattner in the Yad Vashem victims database

Yesterday, I mentioned searching for Betty Katz in the Yad Vashem Names Database, which is a consolidated collection of all information about Holocaust victims. I did find several entries that were close (a Betty Katz from Berlin with with the right birth year, for example) but they did not match up on other details (our Betty should be Wohlgemuth and the birth location and exact date were wrong). 

Today I reread "Helga's Story" from the Ruby Family History and came upon references to Ze'ev Sharon's younger sister, Margot Shattner, having been killed by the Nazis in Yugoslavia. I looked for her in the Names database and she immediately came up in four records. Two are personal testimony forms, one by Ze'ev and another by a Shattner cousin named Artur Hendel. She is also on the 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. 

See for yourself by following the link. Click on the gray triangle to the left of each entry to see the detail. Click on the pointer icons to the right for Google maps with Margot's locations shown.

Family Story:

Berlin Landesarchiv collected the new family records

Why did the Wohlgemuth-Katz records recently become available? For two wonderful reasons. 

First, a 2009 amendment to civil status law designated the Berlin Landesarchiv as the agency to centralize disparate historical records and make them available to the public. Second, a Landesarchiv project begun in 2014 to put many records online via a partnership with the German office of 

So all the info I found yesterday was made available on Ancestry beginning sometime in 2015. The same information is also available on a German genealogy site, probably also recently published.

The Landesarchiv has reading rooms open to the public at their building in a former munitions factory in Borsigwalde in North Berlin near the Eichborndamm S-Bahn stop. This is also the place where the German liquidated-business database project was conducted. I don't think there is any reason for Jo to go there on her last day. Probably I would spend time in these archives if I visit next year.

Wohlgemuth-Katz family names and towns

Here's a summary of the new Wohlgemuth-Katz information. 

Elly Ringel's father was Isaak Wohlgemuth, born 1865 in Stargard near Danzig. His parents were Leopold Wohlgemuth (dates unknown) and Friederike Paechter (1938-1910, died in Danzig). Isaak had a sister Rosa (or Roza). 

Elly's mother was Betty Katz, born 1875 in Kolberg, West Prussia, about 150 miles west of Danzig on the Baltic coast. Betty's parents were Kolberg merchant Louis Levin Katz (b. 1839) and Henriette Müllerheim (b. 1849). Betty had a sister Klara born a year later and then Henriette died the year after that at age 28. Louis remarried and the children were raised by the second wife Paula Perl Lewy. Paula also died when Betty was 18 and Louis took a third wife, Bertha. 

Betty and Isaak were married in Kolberg in April 1898. By now, he was living in Elbing near to Danzig, and that is where they began married life together. Their first child was Elly Wohlgemuth, born July 3, 1901 in Elbing. A second daughter Hilda Wohlgemuth was born Jan. 20, 1906 in Danzig. 

Betty's sister Klara married Siegfried Jacobson in 1904, but there is no record of children. 

We had heard information that Isaak was in business in Königsberg, 100 miles to the east, and that the family lived there. That is possible, but pending some evidence about Königsberg I'm inclined to believe the family stayed in either Elbing or Danzig until they later moved to Berlin when Elly was of marriageable age. 

Isaak died in 1929 and is buried at Wiessensee. I am pretty sure his sister Rosa is buried near to him. 

Yad Vashem has a centralized database of Shoah victims that includes all or most of those deported on more than 60 transports from Berlin to the east between October 1941 and early 1945. I can't find our Betty Katz Wohlgemuth in the database. 

Found! Wohlgemuth-Katz marriage certificate

Following up on Joanne's question about Bette Wohlgemuth, I just found the March 28 1898 marriage certificate for Isaak Wohlgemuth and Betty Katz. Wow! It has names of both of their parents. The marriage took place in Kolberg in West Pomerania, Prussia, today Kolobrzeg in Poland. There is also a new town, Stargard, for the Wohlgemuth family.

The image is attached in a large size so you can make out the names and places. None of this was available when I have looked previously. Some new collection must have recently been added (hat tip to Ancestry). 

Here is the vital info. Look at those new ancestor names! I'll put this in context in an upcoming post.

Isaak Wohlgemuth
Gender: männlich (Male)
Marriage Age: 32
Event Type: Heirat (Marriage)
Birth Date: 29 Okt 1865 (29 Oct 1865)
Marriage Date: 28 Mrz 1898 (28 Mar 1898)
Marriage Place: Kolberg, Preußen (Germany) [Polen (Poland)] 
Civil Registration Office: Kolberg, Krs Kolberg-Körlin
Father: Leopold Wohlgemuth
Mother: Friederike Paechter
Spouse: Bettÿ Katz
Certificate Number:    23

Name: Bettÿ Katz
Gender: weiblich (Female)
Marriage Age: 23
Event Type: Heirat (Marriage)
Birth Date: 1 Jan 1875
Marriage Date: 28 Mrz 1898 (28 Mar 1898)
Marriage Place: Kolberg, Preußen (Germany) [Polen (Poland)] 
Civil Registration Office: Kolberg, Krs Kolberg-Körlin
Father: Louis Katz
Mother: Henriette Müllerheim
Spouse: Isaak Wohlgemuth
Certificate Number:    23

Dan's quick reply: What we know of Wohlgemuth history

Jo, Great to read your reflections. Quick answer on the Wohlgemuth history. That's the one family branch I have been able to discover very little about. We don't have any vital records for Isaak or Bette (nee Katz). I have looked and have not found a record of Bette as a Holocaust victim, so the Auschwitz info is unproven. Do you recall Helga saying that or something similar? I have not recently reread Walter's version of Helga's story to see if it is covered there. I doubt that Isaak lived on Schlüterstr. Maybe Bette did when she was widowed. 

If you will be at the cemetery, it would be helpful to ask at the office for any information they have about Isaak. (Same for the third grave there for another Wohlgemuth relative, possibly a Tante Rose.)  I'll think about any other searches you could do and will write to you directly. Glad you're having a fun, busy time. - Dan

Reply from Joanne 8/17 at 2:19 PST

Didn't Bette live upstairs on Schluterstasse?.  Thought for sure it was an upstairs/downstairs thing. - Jo

Joanne's reflections from Berlin

Here I am finally with some quiet time [at our house swap in Berlin], after Lani and Bill have left for Copenhagen and my friend Gina and her daughter have also departed.  I'm still very low from this lousy viral infection that hit me 19 days ago after my second visit to Budapest's most glorious bathhouse (photos to follow).  

This city is amazing.  To feel the history at every turn, and to see and learn about changing neighborhoods, to see the vibrant creative communities, the crazy club scene, talk about old and new immigrant issues, to see the tolerance out there, like graffiti and signs saying, 'immigrants welcome' yesterday in east Kruetzberg.  As I hung out at the Turkish market, swaying to the tunes of a Mayan Hip Hop band, and taking in the stalls, I was reminded of my love of the east Jerusalem markets, and markets in general.   This one ranks:  people from everywhere, and people loving who and what others are and have to offer.  As I meandered, I got the hit that had maybe been coming:  we really, really should rent an apt here for a while and all of us hang. 

Twyla, if your plans come to be, the Max Plank Institute in two years, some of us should be here too.  Dan, I can so see you here.  I think it should be sooner rather than later, as the healthcare is an issue, as I've discovered.  I would have to apply for German national healthcare [to be eligible for benefits even with citizenship].

Meeting Donna was a joy.  She is moving forward with her book, no publisher yet, and would love our contribution.  She sees it as contributing to educating and providing history about how the citizenship law works, and has been changed.  She feels it could help build the argument for a change, i.e. Eliminating the arbitrary date, eliminating split decisions within families.  At the same time she feels this will be a way off, with a new Chancellor.  She sees it and believes it's important as part of the overall changing face of the country, the acceptance and move toward greater diversity.  She confirms that the law was not about reaching out to Jewish community, or reparations or the like.  She has data on number who have reclaimed citizenship under Article 116 since 2000 (when records became public) but did not tell me.  Says the Israeli population is ~15-20K now.

As for individual cases like ours, she suggests that others have hired an attorney.  She offered her attorney, who could see if there might be anything in our case that is compelling and be enough to allow for Dan/Walt to become citizens.  I told her of Twyla's interest, and she said she is happy to introduce her attorney to you, Twyla, if you are coming to Berlin next month.  At the same time, I am meeting all kinds of people who are living, studying, working here, who don't have citizenship.  It is very exciting to think of you here, Twyla.  Feels like a fit.  I encourage you to contact Donna.  So easy going, and informative and involved.

Dan, Walt: I have a few of my own family history questions and is there something you want me to do next two days to shed light on anything? Do we have death record of Betty and Isaak?  Couldn't remember why we believe she died in Auschwitz? Was she deported from Schluterstasse 12?  Or did she sell the house (was Isaak long dead?).  Did we think about doing a Stolpersteine block? I am going inside the house tomorrow morning! I will take what you gave me, Dan, and take photos of course. Any questions outstanding about Herman's grave:  I may go to cemetery on Friday.

Walt, a funny little story that was not funny at the time.  Bill got taken by a sheister outside the currency exchange at Prague train station.  Nice and simple, gave the guy 40 euro for some Check Republic currency.  Handed it to me; it didn't work in the ticket machine; showed it to agent who said, 'not Check money, from Belarus.'  So Walt, on your next visit back to do family history on the Tulbowitz clan, you've got some cash...

Going to take short walk, maybe you will get this, and we can write more before I go to bed in 2-3 hours.  Love from Helga's beautiful Charlottenberg,


Hermann in database of liquidated Berlin businesses

There are two Hermann Ringel businesses listed in this database that was fairly recently compiled at Humboldt University in Berlin. The second one has a partner's name, Reichenthal, that is new to us.

The compilers produced a wonderful museum exhibit and catalog titled "Final Sale in Berlin" that tells the story of expropiation and profiles about 25 or so businesses. The exhibit was first shown at Humboldt University and later traveled to several places, including the Leo Baeck Institute in New York. Unfortunately, it is not now on display. However, you can browse through the book at the link. 

  • Hermann Ringel & Co, Herren-, Burschen- und Jünglingskonfektion
    Herren-, Burschen- und Jünglingskonfektion (textiles and clothing)
    Founded 1924 , Possession Transfer 1938 , Liq.: 1939
    Memhardstrasse 12 (Mitte)
  • Reichenthal & Ringel Herrenkonfection Engros-Export
    Herrenkonfection Engros-Export (textiles and clothing)
    Founded 1919 , Liq.: 1939
    Schönhauser Allee 8 (Mitte)

Ruby-Rehms at Schlüterstrasse 12

Dan, it's a beautiful building.  The front door was open.  There is construction going on, but I didn't find a person to talk to.  I phoned and sent email just now to the agent showing the units.  Hope to hear back so we can tour and see how much is left from the 20s-30s. - Jo

Ringel home and business directory listing

Dan replies to Joanne questions about the synagogue:

I don't think I have anything about their synagogue. As for the address, see the attached 1937 phone directory page with both home and business listings. The home listing reads "Kfm. Chlb 2, Schlüterstraße 12". Kfm is short for Kaufmann, or merchant. Chlb is Charlottenburg. The 2 could be a division of Charlottenburg, or possibly it is an apartment number. That's the best I have on the apartment. 

The business listing reads "Herrenkonf. en gros", which means wholesale ready-made men's wear. Some earlier listings also mention boy's clothing. The business address is Memhardstraße 12. There are similar listings in 1935, 1937 and 1938. Earlier listings from the mid to late 20s show a business address at Alexanderstr. 55 and a couple of other home addresses. Both business addresses are in the old Stralauer district, which was later in East Berlin. The district was heavily damaged in the war and was rebuilt with Stalinist high rise apartments.

I am also finding listings for S. Ringel, who could be Hermann's father Schija. The last listing for him is 1928, which might indicate a death date. The listings identify him as a butter wholesaler. Whether this S. is our relative is uncertain but we can be fairly sure of the Hermann info.