Ringels of Berlin

Upcoming trip to Berlin, Warsaw and Gdansk

I’m getting ready for a journey of discovery to Germany and Poland coming up in a few weeks. Here is the itinerary.

I will have 10 days in my mother’s birthplace, Berlin, with hopes to uncover more information about her family’s life before and during the Nazi persecutions. The top items on my research agenda are learning more about the Nazi expropriation of my grandfather’s clothing business and learning the cause of death of my great grandmother’s death in 1942.

Then I’ll attend the annual Jewish genealology conference, held this year in Warsaw for the first time in Eastern Europe. I have a magazine assignment to blog about the conference, part of an article package about Ashkenazi genealogy. I’ve been to two IAJGS conferences before, and have made great strides forward as a result of the people I have met and the knowledge gleaned. I expect all that and more at the Warsaw conference.

For an add-on adventure after the conference I had several options in Poland and Belarus. I decided to go to the former West Prussian region when one side of my Berlin family, the Wohlgemuths, originated. I’ll go first to Starogard Gdanski (at one time, Preussich Stargardt), where the family resided for most of the 19th century. Then I will have two ads in Gdansk, formerly Danzig, where Isaac and Julius Wohlgemuth prospered in the hauling business.

I hope to be blogging regularly with updates before and during the trip. The magazine has asked me for some video blog items, so I am going to try out that format as well.

Looking for Hermann's shul

Joanne is in Berlin, ailing from an infection she may have caught in Budapest. She is looking to visit the Berlin locations where our Ringel relatives lived their lives during the 1930s—namely the Ringel apartment at Schüterstrasse 12, the orthodox synagogue Hermann Ringel attended, the Weissensee cemetery where he is buried, possibly the school that Helga attended.

Today, she visited the address of the synagogue on Pestalozzistrasse, near to the apartment, which Helga had mentioned in her interview for Walter's Ruby Family Narratives. However, all she finds is a plaque on the wall and a cluster of memorial Stolpersteine in the street.

The synagogue is marked but not here now to see.  Do we think Herman came to this shul? I have not had time to find out if these stone markers are here because they were members of this shul or if this was later a large apartment building.  The dates of deportation vary.  Chilling.  We later saw other gold stones.  Need to read more about it.

Germany and restored citizenship

Joanne and Walter have been talking for some time about the possibility of Helga's descendants having the option of obtaining dual German citizenship based on Helga's status as a displaced former citizen. I have regarded that possibility with skepticism, but prompted by my latest health insurance woes my two siblings have gone to the trouble of learning the German law.

Walter spoke with an official at the German consulate in New York and found that all the relevant information is here. The applicable law reads: "Former German citizens who between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored."

The information page continues with the following explanation:

Between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 there were basically two laws pertaining to the loss of German citizenship. With the 'Law on the Revocation of Naturalizations and the Deprivation of the German Citizenship' of July 14, 1933, some persons were deprived of their German citizenship individually. Their names were listed in the Reich Law Gazette ('Reichsgesetzblatt') and with the publication of the particular Reichsgesetzblatt they lost their German citizenship.

The main group of former German citizens, however, lost their citizenship with the 'Eleventh Decree to the Law on the Citizenship of the Reich' of November 25, 1941. This stipulated that Jews living outside Germany could not be German citizens. This mainly affected Jews who had left Germany in the years before or shortly after the beginning of the Second World War.

I recently came across a listing of our Aunt Hilda, Elly's sister, having her citizenship revoked by name, but the second paragraph is the one that would apply to Elly Ringel and her daughter Helga. Walter writes that the official told him that if we have the proper documentation (and we do), then we could become citizens of Germany and of Europe within a year of filing the application.

What that means for any of us Rubys remains to be fully considered, but it is certainly interesting to understand that acquiring European citizenship (presumably without renouncing U.S. citizenship) is a realistic option for any of Helga's children and grandchildren.

"Tracing Ringel family roots"

Shalom, It is Danny here adding my deep sympathies for all of Ze'ev's wonderful family. I regret that I have not visited you in all these many years and that I did not renew my connection with Ze'ev before his passing.

One small contribution I can make is to review some of the knowledge of the Ringel family history that I gained during my research project into our family roots. Sad to say, that work has been on hold for most of the past year, but this solemn occasion might be the catalyst for me to take up that work again, just as our initial project was set in motion by the deaths of parents, Helga and Stan.

So here is some of what we learned: Ze'ev's grandparents on his mother's side were Schija Ringel (1856-?) and Feigla Kauffler (1854-1921). Schija was a merchant who had came to Berlin from Rzeszow in Galicia as a young man. It was not uncommon by the second half of the 19th century for Jewish youth to be leaving their traditional towns for the progress and opportunities of cosmopolitan cities.

Similarly, Feigla had come from Krakow to make a living as a housekeeper. She came to work for Schija in that role, but their relationship later became personal. Their first child, Herman, arrived in November 1885, though they didn't formalize their marriage until July 1888. Later they would have two other children, Bette and Rosa.

Your family members will know much more than I do about Rosa's family, and also Bette's, and I would love to learn more from you about Ze'ev's life story, as well as what you have learned about his cousins Edith and Gina. About Hermann, we know that he served in World War I, became prosperous in the garment business, married Elly and had a daughter Helga. Walter's account of Helga's early life is very rich (link below). There are some good photos on the blog (links below). Hermann died of natural causes in Berlin in 1938, and his widow and daughter fled Germany soon after, eventually settling in New York in 1942.

[Ruby Family History text (Helga's story begins on page 35): http://www.festivalpreview.com/files/RFH7.pdf
[Page with photos and documents for Hermann Ringel: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/search/label/Ringels%20of%20Berlin]

Going back in the other direction, we have located official records from their ancestral towns for both Schija and Feigla and a number of their relatives. Schija's birth record (link below) does not provide a great deal of information, but we see that his parents are Moses and Rose. I also have similar records for several other Ringels that are not posted on the blog. Another artifact in my possession is a copy of the yizkor book for Rzeszow, which does not have specific information on the Ringels, as far as I can tell, but paints a rich picture of life in the town in the 19th century. There are also census records that I have not yet obtained. As I say, there are lots of loose ends and I hope to post more of this information on the blog sometime soon.

[Schija Ringel birth record: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/07/schija-ringel-birth-record.html]

Information about the Kaufflers in Krakow is much more extensive, and we can trace our ancestors back quite a few generations to Nachman Kaufler (born in Krakow in 1755). Nachman had Izaak, Izaak had Schulim, and Schulim had 10 children including Abraham Mojzesa Kaufler (b. 1829). Abraham married Chaja Esther Grunberg (b. 1826) and Feigla was one of their three children. An assortment of vital records are linked below. The full Kaufler family tree is provided in a link below.

[Feigla Kaufler 1854 birth record: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/07/first-lds-document-arrives.html]
[Schulim Kaufler and Reisel Bluma Singlust 1825 marriage record: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/07/schulim-kaufler-and-reisel-bluma....
[Schulim Kaufler 1847 death record: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/07/schulim-kaufler-death-record.html]
[Bayla Kaufler 1831 death record (mother of Schulim): http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/07/bayla-kaufler-death-record.html]
[Kaufler family tree: http://rubyfamily.blogspot.com/2008/06/major-breakthrough-kaufler-family...

In the coming days, I plan to post news of Ze'ev's passing along with stories and images from Joanne and Walter. If there is anything that any of you might wish to contribute to our small memorial, especially text that helps to fill in his life story, I would appreciate that very much. In the meantime, I hope this little bit of Ringel family information is interesting and helpful to you.

With great sorrow for the passing of our elders but great hope for our children and their future,

Danny

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