Climbing the tree one branch at a time
With the anti-refugee sentiment happening in certain pockets of our country I wanted to share the story of some refugee’s close to my heart and had they not been allowed into the country during the Holocaust I would not be here.
Judith Polak –
My grandmother was born on September 7, 1923 to Alfred Polak and Seraphina van Cleeff-Polak in the town Tilburg, Netherlands. On May 10, 1940 the Netherlands was invaded by Nazi Germany after having declared themselves neutral. On that day my grandmother, with her parents, sisters, uncle, future aunt, and cousins, left their homes in Tilburg and everything they knew. One cousin, Bertram, was still in the army and was left behind never to be seen by his family again. Thankfully her father and uncle were prepared and through their dealings in the hide industry had resources in America. As they made their way they encountered the possibility of destroyed bridges or getting stopped by invading Nazi’s. At one point the family got split up and my grandmother’s uncle exclaimed that he had lost all his children that day. However eventually they got back together and made their way to family and friends in London. Afterwards they boarded a ship to Canada which by chance had some other cousins escaping the Netherlands. They arrived on July 29th, 1940 in Quebec.
Harry Rothstein –
My grandfather was born on May 19, 1924 in Vienna to Markus Rothstein and Bertha Tillinger-Rothstein. Austria was annexed by Germany in March of 1938 as part of the Anschluss Österreichs and two months later Markus was sent to Dachau. While Markus was in Dachau Harry and his sister Paula were at the ages of 14 and 18 respectively were sent to the US to live with relatives already here while Bertha stayed behind. In September, Markus was transferred to Buchenwald before being released in a prisoner exchange thanks to a Senator Robert Wagner who has some sort of relationship to various family members. In 1943, Harry became a citizen because he joined the army, but up to that point he was minor refugee living with relatives and then his parents. Markus petitioned to become a citizen in 1944 but as of this writing I have not found any other naturalization documentation for him or Bertha.
From 1933 to 1945 the US only took in 132,000 Jewish refugees which was 10% of what was allowed by law. Part of the reasoning for this was because people thought that Nazi’s would be hiding among the Jewish refugees. It was also fueled by the anti-semitic rhetoric of demagogues. Where would the 79 of 80 descendants of my grandmother’s father and uncle be had they been turned away? Where would the 28 descendants of Markus and Bertha be had Harry and Paula been turned away as unaccompanied minors? Where would any of us be if our ancestors were turned away due to irrational fears of the “other”.
Finally I wanted to share the names of other relatives who perished in the Holocaust so their names will live on.
Bertram Polak (Judith’s first cousin)
Joachim Hans Sanders (Judith’s first cousin)
Bernard Keijzer (Judith’s uncle)
Emma Polak-Keijzer (Judith aunt)
Albertine Frouwke Keijzer (Judith’s first cousin)
Julius Barend Keijzer (Judith’s first cousin)
Siegmund van Cleeff (Judith’s uncle)
Jeanette Helena Weiner (Judith’s aunt)
Henny van Cleeff (Judith’s first cousin)
Albert van Cleeff (Judith’s first cousin)
Other Dutch cousins of varying degrees –
Louisa van Dantzig-Cats
Wilhelmina Cats-van Dantzig
David van Dantzig
Anna van Dantzig
Paul van Dantzig
Betsy Adele Wiener-Frenkel
Salomon Philip Frenkel
Meijer de Leeuwe
Nathan de Leeuwe
Mozes de Leeuwe
Andries de Leeuwe
German cousins of varying degrees –
Emmy Levy (Alfred’s second cousin)
Max Levy (Alfred’s second cousin)
Lisolette van Leeuwen (Judith’s third cousin)
Hans van Leeuwen (Judith’s third cousin
Max van Leeuwen (Alfred’s second cousin)
Anna van Leeuwen (Alfred’s second cousin)
Helene van Leeuwen (Alfred’s second cousin)
Fritz Cohn (Judith’s second cousin
Salomon Isaak Tillinger (Harry’s uncle)
Israel Wolf Tillinger (Harry’s uncle)
Julia Silver-Tillinger (Harry’s aunt)
Charlotte Luisa Tillinger (Harry’s first cousin)
Aleksander Tillinger (Harry’s first cousin)
Ernestyna Tillinger-Tilllinger (Harry’s Aunt)
Israel Chaim Tillinger (Harry’s uncle)
Francia/Fanny Tillinger (Harry’s first cousin)
Tsvi Seid (Harry’s second cousin)
Mendel Kaczer (Markus’ first cousin)
Pola Kaczer (Harry’s second cousin)
Nechamka Kaczer (Markus’ first cousin)
Lionel Kosser (Harry’s second cousin)
Eugenia Dzunia Kaczer (Markus’ first cousin)
Hirsch Leib Kaczer (Markus’ first cousin)
Henryk Krochmal (Markus’ first cousin)
Obviously as a genealogist I have many more names I could add to this list.
So first off, obviously I failed in my personal #FamilyTree365 challenge. I will have to come up with something more doable.
So this past year I have made some great strides in my research, especially on my German branch. Upon reviewing some microfilms from the LDS as well as some books and websites I subsequently found I was able to add about 1000 people to my tree. I also managed to find some things for some in-law branches and non-related tress that I am looking at. I also go some answers to some of my dead ends and will update that page accordingly.
And now for some numbers –
Back to my 14th great grandparents of whom I know of one, I know who a total 350 out of a possible 131070 are. That does not take into account the 5 sets of know duplicate ancestors. After tree collapse 131070 drops down to 126504.
Beyond my 14th great grandparents is speculation as far as I know. Some of my collaborators on Geni have my ancestry going back to about 100AD. If this is accurate my two oldest known ancestors through Rashi (supposedly my 27th and 28th great grandfather) are –
41st great grandfather – Meshullam Kalonymides 740-780
42nd great grandfather – Yehoshua Zimri (earliest recorded ancestor of Rashi) birth estimated around 100 AD
Since the connection between what I can prove and what I cannot is not sourced (yet) I don’t count it as part of my statistics. But it is interesting to think about and gives myself and others something to look at.
I am complete as far back as my 2nd great grandparents. I am missing 7 out 32 3rd great grandparents. Six are on my father’s side and one is on my mother’s side. My father’s side will always be the most difficult for me. The one on my mother’s side I have a chance of actually finding if I ever find the right birth, marriage or death record in Zabolotov, Kolomyya, or Stanislwow.
At my fourth great grandparents I have my first instance of pedigree or tree collapse. Of my 29 known fourth great grandparents, one set appears twice on my father’s side. Of 62 possible 4th great grandparents (not 64 since I have one duplicate set) I have 29 so I am missing 33 individuals. This makes me my own fifth cousin.
From my 5th to my 8th great grandparents I have no known tree collapse. But taking into account previous tree collapse my numbers are not base 4.
5th Great grandparents – I have 34 and missing 90
6th Great grandparents – I have 47 and missing 201
7th Great grandparents – I have 42 and missing 454
8th Great grandparents – I have 50 and missing 942
At my 9th great grandparents I have 3 sets + 1 of duplicate ancestors. All 3 sets areWrite on my mother’s side. The extra 1 is because one known ancestor is also my 10th great grandparent. This makes me my own 10th cousin three times as well as my own 10th cousin once removed. So to keep the number crunching going –
9th Great grandparents – I have 50 and missing 1927
10th Great grandparents – I have 21 and missing 3932
At my 11th-14th Great grandparents I have nothing spectacular to report.
#FamilyTree365 – Day 53 October 23, 2016 #Genealogy #Stolpersteine #Tilburg
So as some (if not all of you) know in April of 2011 I attended a ceremony for the laying of a Stolpersteine for my grandmother’s first cousin Bertram Polak.
Bertram was born in 1918 to my great grandfather Alfred’s brother Max Henri (Hans) and his wife Bertha Cohen in the town of Tilburg. He was the oldest of four children. As a child he lived two doors down from my grandmother’s family. After 1937 he joined the Army. In 1940 his father and uncle’s families escaped the Netherlands for America, with plans for Bertram to join them later. However he never made it. When he returned to Tilburg after the capitulation he took over the family’s hide tanning business up until he went into hiding and was eventually arrested. in July of 1942 he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and was murdered two months later.
So on the day of the Stolpersteine ceremony for Bertram the current owner of the house Bertram’s family lived in and the person who started the whole process, Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld, asked if I would like to help him write a book about my grandmother’s family, their life in Tilburg, and how memory affects family history. So over the past few years my extended family and I have provided what information we could and will be available to the public in the Netherlands on December 7 and in the US on December 11.
Link to purchase the book
#FamilyTree365 – Day 44 October 14, 2016
The last of the three brothers is my 3rd great grandfather Moses Levy. Moses was born in Duisburg in 1814 to Gompel Levy and Esther Markus. Like his brothers he was a cattle trader and butcher. In 1851 he married Regina Mendel, the daughter of Andreas Mendel and Amalie Benedict. Together they had 8 children – Sophie, Albertine, Julie, Gustav, August, Emma, Salomon, and Max. Gustav and August died when they were children.
I go more into their family in my section about my German research so this just some highlights.
Sophie married Seligman Lazarus Cohn from Muhlheim an der Ruhr and they had 7 children – Max, Anna, Gustave, Sally, Alfred, Hedwig, and Paul.
Albertine, my 2nd great grandmother, married Barend Polak, a hide tanner from Tilburg, and they had four children – Alfred, Max Henri (Hans), Roza Johanna, and Emma.
Julie married Maurits van Leeuwen from Eindhoven and they had five children – Max, Anna, Ida Amalia, Helene Emmij, and Philip.
Emma married Benjamin Sanders and they had no children.
Salomon was married to Marie Else Bing/Birq and they had no children.
I have no idea at this time what happened to Max
#FamilyTree365 – Day 43 October 13, 2016
The second of these three brothers that married 2 sisters and their cousin’s cousin is Abraham Levy, also my fourth great uncle. Abraham was married to Henriette Mendel, the sister of my 3rd great grandmother Regina Mendel who was married to Abraham’s brother. Abraham was born about 1816 to Gompel Levy and Esther Markus in Duisburg and, like his brothers was a cattle trader and butcher. Abraham married Henriette in 1860 and they had 8 children – Gustav, Albert, Emma, Elise, Hermann, Moritz, Siegmund, and Max. Albert, Emma and Elise died as children.
Gustav married Anna Steinberg from the town of Hoxter and they had two children – Lore and Erna. I already posted about Erna. Lore married Otto Orzegow from Raitborg and they had one son. That son and his descendants live in Chile.
Hermann married Aurelie Klestadt from Wuppertal and they had no children. However I thought I remembered reading somewhere that Aurelie’s sister Helene married into some noble family. I will have to re-find what I read.
Siegmund married Johanna Josephs from Neustadt-Goedens and it appears they had no children.
Max married Emma Blatt who also happens to be a very distant cousin through my Dutch ancestry. Emma was born in 1879 in the town of Hottenbach. Max and Emma had one daughter, Else, who was born in 1913 in Duisburg. Else married Siegfried Wurzel in 1937 before they came America to live with her aunt’s family. At some point they divorced and she married Henry Leo Lehmann.
#FamilyTree365 – Day 42 October 12, 2016
So Rosetta Kaufmann (possible cousin of the cousins of Regina and Henriette Mendel, possible daughter of Moses Kaufmann and Jeanette Davids from Wevelinghoven) was married to my fourth great uncle Markus Levy. Markus, born in 1810 in Duisburg, was the son of Gompel Levy and Esther Markus. Markus and Rosetta had five children – Moritz, Jakob, Jeanette, Flora, and Julie. I have been unsuccessful in tracing his children for the most part. I know Moritz died in 1918. Jakob was married to Sophia Lowenbach. Jakob died in 1908 and Sophia in 1926. Jakob and Sophia had two children – Emmy and Max, both who whom were murdered in the Lodz Ghetto in 1945. Julie was married to Louis Ries from Schwanewede and I have not found any children for them yet. Louis died in 1942 in Bremen and Julie died in 1926 in Schwanewede.
#FamilyTree365 – Day 41 October 11, 2016
I had meant to talk about Rosetta Kaufmann in this entry however I said what I had to say in Veronika Davids entry.
#FamilyTree365 – Day 40 October 10, 2016
I meant to talk about Veronika’s sister Jeanette in this entry but I said what I had to say in the previous entry
#FamilyTree365 – Day 39 October 9, 2016
The wife of the previously mentioned Bernard Mendel was Veronika/Veronique Davids. She was born in Huls around 1779 to Salomon Davids and Matgen Meyer. What I find interesting about her is she might the aunt of the previously mentioned Regina Mendel’s sister-in-law Rosetta Kaufmann. Veronika’s sister Jeanette was married to Moses Kaufmann and they lived in Wevelinghoven which is where Rosetta was from. They had a daughter named Rosetta and one of Rosetta and Markus’ children was named Jeanette.
I plan on getting Rosetta’s birth record soon which will hopefully clear somethings up. However this is very interesting and makes sense that two sisters and a cousin of their cousin (Rosetta is not a cousin of Regina and Henriette from what I can tell) married three brothers.
#FamilyTree 365 – Day 38 October 8, 2016
Bernard Mendel was the brother of my fourth great grandfather Andreas Mendel. He was born in 1777 in Elsdorf to Samuel Mendel and Sophia Bernard. He married a woman named Veronika/Veronique Davids sometime before 1823. Together they had two children Sophia and Samuel. Samuel died when he was 3 years old. Sophia, on the other hand, married a man named Joseph Levie Stern.