Katz Family

Katz name derivation

Oh boy, I have a lot to catch up on here. I visited the Mormon Family Research Center in Oakland, where I met Jeremy Frankel, the president of the SF Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. More on that, and what I learned about ordering LDS records, in an upcoming post.

Also, I connected online with Dave Howard, who is the leading researching about the Jewish community in Rezekne. His FamRoots.org and HorwitzFam.org sites are a treasure trove of information. I will be posting highlights and links to the most relevant stuff in an upcoming post.

For now, I thought I would post this excerpt from Alexander Beider's Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From the Russian Empire. Howard has a few small parts of the work available to view on his Horwitz site. Here is a section dealing with the surname Katz.

Since it is hard to read, I will summarize. Katz originates from the name Kohen, which means priest in Hebrew, possibly the same as Goan. Kats or Katz is an acronym for Kohen Tsadek (Kohen of righteousness). The name was common throughout the Russian Empire. Of course, our great-grandmother was Bette Katz, the wife of Julius Wolgemuth of Koenigsberg.

By the way, Beider has another volume on Jewish surnames in Galicia, which are likely to contain informative entries for Ringel and Kaufler. The books are published by Avotainu and are very expensive. I will be looking for where I can find them in a library.

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. 

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 Ancestry.com. 

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.

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: https://www.its-arolsen.org/en/archives/

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
 

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