13 September 2019

Black Market Passport Business - Berlin Clients - Friedländer, Kapauner-Freymann and Goldenberg

Preamble to Friedländer, Kapauner-Freymann & Goldenberg
Another blog in my series focused on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin during the Second World War. I highly recommended that you read my earlier blog for an overview of the sale of black market passports to Berlin Jews, as related by Josef Jakobs and Frau Lily Knips. Another key blog reviews the characters involved in the business which had several strands including Finnish and Irish passports. I am currently writing a blog series about the Jews who purchased forged Finnish passports via the Finnish smuggler, Algoth Niska. It was only in late September 1938 that Niska apparently made a deal whereby Ziebell purchased a batch of forged Finnish passports for his Jewish clients. As it turns out, Niska was selling forged passports to unsuspecting Jews all through July and August 1938 telling them that he was an official of the Finnish government or a Finnish policeman or... He was none of those things and you can read more about Niska in an earlier blog.

A key source for these stories is the 2009 Finnish thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen which I roughly translated with the help of Google Translate. It provides names and birth dates of Niska's clients which has been invaluable in tracing these individuals with certainty. Another key document was the MI6 report on Niska's activities, contained within one of the Security Service files on Josef Jakobs. These documents and a variety of genealogical sites form the backbone of the stories...

Individuals with a birth date are generally traceable, but not always. Part of the problem lies in the limits of genealogical resources which are rich for the UK, USA and, to some extent, Germany and Austria, but less so for other countries. For example, there isn't much online genealogical information for France, Switzerland, Palestine, Cuba, the Balkans or the Nordic countries. If Jewish refugees took any of these paths to freedom... they don't leave much of a trace. In many instances, no news is actually good news.

I am going to begin each individual story with the information from the Laitinen thesis and the MI6 report, as these provide a factual leaping off point.

Introduction
Today, we are looking at three young Berlin Jews who acquired forged Finnish passports from Algoth Niska: Hans Heinrich Friedländer, Hella Kapauner-Freymann and Sidonie Goldenberg. Only one would escape the Nazi horrors.

Three Young Jews: Hans Heinrich Friedländer,  Hella Kapauner-Freymann and Sidonie Goldenberg
Laitinen Thesis: Hans Heinrich Friedländer was born on 2 July 1900 in Berlin and owned a small wine shop in the city. He and two other women, girlfriend Hella Kapauner-Freymann (born 19 April 1909), and their friend Sidonie Goldenberg (born 5 September 1913), sought to escape Nazi Germany by getting forged Finnish passports from Niska. It was Hella who first approached Niska looking for three passports so the trio could escape to Holland where they had relatives and friends.

In this case, no price for the passports has been found and it may be that Niska simply gave the trio the passports. The three would travel to Holland in the autumn of 1938 where they would assist Niska with passport sales. In February 1939, they made their way to Paris and ultimately to Nice in the south of France. It wouldn’t be enough to save Friedländer. He was sent to the Drancy transfer camp and deported to Auschwitz on 14 August 1942. Goldenberg too apparently ended up in Auschwitz. The Laitinen thesis has no information on the fate of Hella Kapauner-Freymann.

It should be noted that Niska, in his book Over Green Borders, tells some quite fantastic tales about helping Hella get Hans out of trouble. Apparently Hans had been arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin for espionage (serving foreign customers at his wine shop) but Niska managed to get him out. Later, Hans was arrested again in Holland by the police but again, Niska, managed to break him out of a camp/prison. How much of this is truth vs poetic license will likely never be known.

MI6 report: Lists the names and birth dates for all three but states that Sidonie was thought to be in hiding with Niska in England. While birth locations are not noted in the Laitinen thesis, the MI6 document says that Hella Kapauner was born in Finland on 19 March or 19 May 1909.

Sidonie Goldenberg
It doesn’t take much research to confirm that both Friedländer and Goldenberg ended up in Auschwitz

According to information on the Yad Vashem site, Sidonie was born 5 September 1913 in Berlin-Charlottenburg to parents Adele (Lipovetski) and Arnold Goldenberg. She resided in Amsterdam briefly before perishing in a concentration camp. The Caserne Dossin site (former Mechelen transit camp near Brussels), notes that Sidonie was a secretary who was deported aboard Transport XI on 18 September 1942 to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She was 29 years old.

Hans Heinrich Friedländer
Hans Friedländer’s story is a bit more complicated. He was indeed born 2 July 1900 in Berlin to parents Oskar Friedländer, a confectioner (Konditor) and Laya (Helene) Abraham.

On 16 June 1932, Hans married Edith Dorothea Karliner (born 16 August 1910) in Beuthen (now part of Poland). A marginal note on Hans’s birth registration states that this was his second marriage. What became of his first wife… or of Edith Dorothea… is a mystery. According to a marginal note on their marriage registration, Dorothea was assigned the forename Sara on 7 January 1939 by the Standesbeamte in Beuthen, suggesting that she was still in Germany at that time. Clearly she did not escape with Hans.

Laitinen does say that Hella Kapauner-Freymann was Hans’s “lover” but makes no mention of a previous marriage. According to the Yad Vashem site, Hans had been married to Edith, lived in Marseille and was deported aboard Transport 19, Train 901-14 from Drancy Camp, France to Auschiwtz-Birkenau on 14 August 1942.  A 1992 marginal note on his birth registration states that he died on 25 September 1942.

Hans's wife, Edith Dorothea Karliner, apparently managed to escape to Palestine. On 8 April 1952, Edith married Emil van Huiden (born 24 May 1902 in Holland) in Tel Aviv. Edith passed away in 2002 in Israel.

Hella Kapauner-Freymann
As for Hella Kapauner-Freymann, she too escaped the Shoah. There isn’t a lot of information about her prior to the end of the war but a few key documents provide some concrete information.

Hella was born in Leipzig (not Finland) on 19 April 1909, the child of Richard Freymann and Nellie May. I haven't been able to find any information about Hella's marriage to a Kapauner.

On 8 April 1946, Hella arrived in New York aboard the SS Drottningholm which had departed Gothenburg, Sweden on 26 March 1946. The passenger manifest of this vessel gives us a wealth of information on Hella.

Her nationality was “stateless”, not an uncommon status for Jewish refugees. Her full name was Hella Henrietta Freymann and she was divorced. Hella could speak both German and English and gave her occupation as secretary. She had been issued with a US Visa on 28 February 1946 in Zurich, Switzerland which was also her last place of permanent residence. We begin to see the trace of  the route that would have carried Hella to safety. The person/relative/friend she knew in Sweden was Dr. Micheulis of the World Jewish Congress. Hella was traveling to join her cousin, Eric Hoffman in Dearborn, Michigan, who had also paid for her passage. Many of the other stateless passengers on that boat had similar information - a Jewish Congress contact in Sweden or Switzerland and a relative in the US who had paid for passage.

In 1952, Hella was on another ship, this one departed Montreal for Le Havre France on 19 June 1952. Three months later, Hella made the reverse journey, sailing from Le Havre, France on 4 September 1952 and arriving in New York on 13 September 1952.

In 1957, Hella was naturalised in the United States. She was residing at 231 East 68th Street, New York and her birth date was 19 April 1909. As part of her naturalisation, she underwent a name change from Hella Henrietta Freymann to Helene Henriette Freymann. Hella/Helene traveled quite a bit. On 24 August 1958 she boarded a ship in Southampton bound for New York.  She was no longer stateless, but a citizen of the United States and a professor, a rather surprising occupation.

After a bit of digging, I came across a list of “American Doctoral Degrees Granted in the Field of Modern Languages in 1955-56”. Hella-Henriette Freymann was awarded a doctorate at Columbia in 1955-56, the topic of her dissertation being: “Aspects littéraires des tendances platoniciennes dans la France du XIXe siècle” (Literary Aspects of Platonic Tendencies in 19th century France). In 1961 and 1962, Hella/Helene made two trips to France aboard Air France but I have yet to discover where she taught as a professor.

We then lose her trace but pick her up again on 26 January 1995 when she passed away in Oceanside, California. Her death was registered under Hella Freymann, Helene H. Freymann and Helene Witmer. Based on the SSN notes, she had married Dr. Samuel Grenewald Witmer (1912-1983), likely in late 1976. Samuel had been born in the United States and was a dentist. He served in the US military from 1943-1946, entering as a First Lieutenant.

Conclusion
Whether Algoth Niska charged these three people a fee for the forged Finnish passports or not... it would seem pretty clear that the documents he provided did not save them from the Shoah. Sidonie Goldenberg and Hans Heinrich Friedländer both perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Hella Kapauner-Freymann did manage to escape but likely with the assistance of Jewish rescue organisations.

Sources
Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009 [Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Crook or saint? Participation of Algoth Niska in smuggling Jews in Central Europe during 1938; University of Joensuu; 2009]
Algoth Niska & J. Jerry Danielsson - Over Green Borders (1995) - English translation of Yli vihreän rajan published in 1953.
National Archives, Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27
Ancestry - genealogical information
Geni.com - genealogical information
Yad Vashem - Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names
American Doctoral Degrees granted in the field of Modern Languages - pdf for Hella Freymann
Dutch Ancestry Trees of Jewish Families - has an entry for Dorothea Edith Karliner

09 September 2019

Black Market Passport Business - Berlin Clients - Gerhard Neumann

Preamble to Gerhard Neumann
Another blog in my series focused on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin during the Second World War. I highly recommended that you read my earlier blog for an overview of the sale of black market passports to Berlin Jews, as related by Josef Jakobs and Frau Lily Knips. Another key blog reviews the characters involved in the business which had several strands including Finnish and Irish passports. I am currently writing a blog series about the Jews who purchased forged Finnish passports via the Finnish smuggler, Algoth Niska. It was only in late September 1938 that Niska apparently made a deal whereby Ziebell purchased a batch of forged Finnish passports for his Jewish clients. As it turns out, Niska was selling forged passports to unsuspecting Jews all through July and August 1938 telling them that he was an official of the Finnish government or a Finnish policeman or... He was none of those things and you can read more about Niska in an earlier blog.

A key source for these stories is the 2009 Finnish thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen which I roughly translated with the help of Google Translate. It provides names and birth dates of Niska's clients which has been invaluable in tracing these individuals with certainty. Another key document was the MI6 report on Niska's activities, contained within one of the Security Service files on Josef Jakobs. These documents and a variety of genealogical sites form the backbone of the stories...

Individuals with a birth date are generally traceable, but not always. Part of the problem lies in the limits of genealogical resources which are rich for the UK, USA and, to some extent, Germany and Austria, but less so for other countries. For example, there isn't much online genealogical information for France, Switzerland, Palestine, Cuba, the Balkans or the Nordic countries. If Jewish refugees took any of these paths to freedom... they don't leave much of a trace. In many instances, no news is actually good news.

I am going to begin each individual story with the information from the Laitinen thesis and the MI6 report, as these provide a factual leaping off point.

Introduction
Today, we are looking at Gerhard Neumann who, in late August 1938, purchased a double passport from Niska in Berlin. Gerhard would pay one of the highest amounts for a forged document.

Gerhard Neumann
Laitinen thesis: Gerhard Neumann was born 12 June 1903 in Berlin. He bought a forged Finnish passport from Niska at the end of August 1938, paying the princely sum of 20,000 German Marks for it. The passport was different in that it was a double passport, allowing a husband and wife to travel on the same document. Neumann apparently believed Niska’s story that he was a Finnish policeman and that the passport was legitimate. Neumann traveled to southern Holland in October 1938 and onwards to Amsterdam later in the year. By then, the Dutch police were aware of the need to pay attention to German-speaking foreigners who presented Finnish passports when they registered with the authorities. In early 1939, the Amsterdam police became aware of Neumann’s arrival in southern Holland the previous fall and he was arrested and prosecuted for using a false passport. Neumann was imprisoned as an undesirable alien. Laitinen has nothing on the fate of Neumann.

MI6 report: Simply notes that Gerhard Neumann was born 12 June 1903 in Berlin and that he had been detained in Holland.

Gerhard Benjamin Neumann was born 12 June 1903 in Berlin to manufacturer Berthold Benny Neumann (1868-1934) and Ella Margarete Friedländer (1880-1976). Normally, it would be extremely difficult to determine what sort of a manufacturing business but... Gerhard's son has posted some amazing photos on Flickr. Berthold's father, Julius (Jedhuda) Neumann founded a cigar firm in 1850: J. Neumann Cigarren and Aktiengeselllschaft (AG). There is a photograph of Berthold (all rights reserved) on Flickr. Berthold passed away of a heart attack in 1934 and Gerhard took over the directorship of the company.

J. Neumann Cigarren AG - with a boycott signs  displayed in the window  (from USHMM site - picture #07425)
J. Neumann Cigarren AG - with a Nazi boycott sign
displayed in the window
(from USHMM site - picture #07425)
Gerhard had a younger sister, Eva Neumann who married surgeon Dr. Carl Felix List in Berlin in 1931. By 1934, Eva and Carl had departed Germany for the United States, settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It would appear that Eva was later able to help her mother escape to America, for in 1940 and thereafter, Ella was a resident of the United States, passing away in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1976.

Gerhard also had an older brother, Julius Neumann who married in 1930 in Riga, Latvia and ended up in Sweden.

As for Gerhard… he married a fellow Jewish refugee from Berlin, Inge Erna Heidemann. Inge had been born 4 January 1911 in Berlin-Charlottenburg to Siegfried Heidemann and Martha Fischbein (married 1907). The couple had two other daughters: Herta (nee Heidemann) Steinert and Marie Louise (nee Heidemann) Rose.

Heidemann Villa - Griegstrasse 5/7 - Grunewald - Berlin (from Landesdenkmalamt Berlin site)
Heidemann Villa - Griegstrasse 5/7 - Grunewald - Berlin
(from Landesdenkmalamt Berlin site)
The Heidemann family lived in a villa at Griegstrasse 5/7 in Berlin- Dahlem and Siegfried was a retired textile manufacturer, the owner of S. Wolle GmbH, located at Bischofstrasse 19/21 in Berlin-Mitte, and which had factories in Saxony. In 1935, Siegfried had to give up the business and the villa under Nazis persecution. The family then moved to a rented flat in Clauswitzstrasse 9.

A few years earlier, in 1933, two of the daughters, Marie Louise and Inge, had immigrated to Holland, while the other, Herta, had immigrated to the UK at an unknown date with her husband (Heinz Steinert) and their daughter Renate.

As the Nazi persecution worsened, in April 1937, Siegfried and his wife moved to a rental flat at Beethovenstraat 132/III in Amsterdam. That fall, Siegfried went to Zurich, Switzerland and deposited money that hadn't already been stolen in the hope that it would strengthen the case to allow Swiss immigration.

It was around this time that Inge and Gerhard were married but the exact date and location of their marriage is uncertain. A Dutch newspaper index has two entries related to the marriage of Inge and Gerhard: 24 March 1937 and 7 January 1938. Information on the MyHeritage site indicates that the couple were married in Berlin on 19 January 1938. And... information on the Flickr site of Gerhard's son indicates that his parents were married after January 1937. A picture of Gerhard, taken in preparation for his wedding, is available on the Flickr site (all rights reserved).

J. Neumann AG share certificate with the name replaced by Gildemann Cigarren Fabriken AG
J. Neumann AG share certificate with the name replaced by
Gildemann Cigarren Fabriken AG
According to Gerhard's son, the J. Neumann cigar firm underwent a forced sale at the end of January 1938 to Martin Brinkmann KG, part of the Aryanisation of Jewish businesses. Over the next few months, the firm's shareholders and directors such as Gerhard and his mother, along with others, fled to England and Holland with what little they had left. Some were arrested and perished in concentration camps such as Sobibor in Poland. In 1941, J. Neumann Cigarren AG was renamed Gildemann Cigarren Fabriken AG.
After escaping to Amsterdam in 1938 [Gerhard] was arrested by the Dutch for a problem with his passport. [Interestingly, Gerhard's son has a picture of the Finnish embassy on his Flickr account, but no caption with it. Did he know about the Finnish passport?] [Gerhard] remained in jail in Amsterdam for several months, but with the help of Hadassah [Women's Zionist Organization of America] he was not sent back to Germany and set free. With the help of family, in England, including his cousin Fritz Oppenheimer, he obtained a visa and moved to England in early 1939. (David Neumann's Flickr stream - caption for his father's picture)
Sterling Cable Co. (from Britain from Above site)
Sterling Cable Co.
(from Britain from Above site)
By 21 November 1939, both Inge and Gerhard were living in the UK as aliens, both exempt from internment. Gerhard gave his former occupation as manager, quite a step down from his present occupation as trainee at the Sterling Cable Works in Enfield on the outskirts of London. According to Gerhard's son, it was quite remarkable that a German-Jewish refugee should be involved in the manufacture of degaussing wire used by ships to detonate mines before the ships encountered them.

Even more interesting given that Gerhard's in-laws, Herta (Heidemann) Steinert and her husband Heinz Steinert had been rousted out of their home at 10 Lancaster Lodge, Lancaster Road, and interned on the Isle of Man from the end of 1939 until early 1941 as Category B aliens. Heinz had apparently applied to the Auxilliary Military Pioneer Corps but been rejected on medical grounds.

Gerhard and Inge were living at 20 Lancaster Lodge, Lancaster Road in Notting Hill, London. Unlike some Jewish refugees, Including Herta & Heinz Steinert, there is no evidence that either Gerhard or Inge tried to become naturalised citizens of the UK. Around that same time (the last quarter of 1939), the couple had a son, David Berthold Benjamin Neumann.

On 24 May 1945, Gerhard, Inge, and their son David arrived in the United States from Liverpool, having sailed on the 13 May. All three were stateless but had US immigration visas issued in London on 25 April 1945. Gerhard gave his occupation as testing engineer and all three had been living in Cuffley, north of London. Their nearest relation in England was Gerhard’s brother-in-law, Heinz Steiner[t] living at Lancaster Lodge, Lancaster Road in Notting Hill. Their nearest relation in the United States was Gerhard’s mother, Ella Neumann living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Gerhard and his family would not reside in Michigan, however, eventually settling in New York.

On 18 December 1950, Gerhard and Inge became naturalised citizens of the United States giving their address as 120 Haven Avenue, New York. Inge would later go on to become a fashion designer. Their son David became a physical chemist, married Ruth in 1967, earned a PhD in 1968 and had two sons and a daughter in the early 1970s. Gerhard and Inge lived to see some of their grandchildren, with Gerhard passing away in New York in March 1972 while Inge passed away in 1977.

As for Inge's parents, their story is a sad one. Although all three of their daughters managed to escape Nazi-occupied Europe, Siegfried and Martha would not be so fortunate. From the Find-a-Grave entry on Siegfried:
Siegfried and Martha were forced to sell off furnishings to survive. They were forced to wear the Yellow Star and on January 27th, 1943, arrested and taken to Westerbork Camp. They were able to delay deportation by paying bribes, but on February 1st, 1944, they both were sent to Bergen-Belsen.
Siegfried died in Bergen-Belsen on 1 April 1945 while Martha died on 10 April 1945. In a cruel twist, British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen five days later on 15 April.

In the case of Gerhard and Inge, forged Finnish passports did not save them. Family connections, particularly Herta's immigration to the UK, and their cousin Fritz Oppenheimer, likely tipped the balance in their favour.

Sources
Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009 [Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Crook or saint? Participation of Algoth Niska in smuggling Jews in Central Europe during 1938; University of Joensuu; 2009]
Algoth Niska & J. Jerry Danielsson - Over Green Borders (1995) - English translation of Yli vihreän rajan published in 1953.
National Archives, Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27
Ancestry - genealogical information
Geni.com - genealogical information
GenTeam.at - Austrian genealogical information
Yad Vashem - Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names
Jewish Businesses in Berlin 1930-1945 - Database
Find-a-Grave - entry for Siegfried Heidemann
Claims Resolution Tribunal - for estate of Siegfried Heidemann
Berlin Baudenkmal - Heidemann villa in Grunewald
Flickr - David Neumann's photo stream of his family's Berlin Company - J. Neumann Cigarren AG
Wikiwand - Neumann Family
Imperial War Museum - Liberation of Bergen-Belsen 

04 September 2019

Black Market Passport Business - Berlin Clients - Fritz Lasch & Family

Preamble to Fritz Lasch & Family
Another blog in my series focused on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin. I highly recommended that you read my earlier blog for an overview of the sale of black market passports to Berlin Jews, as related by Josef Jakobs and Frau Lily Knips. Another key blog reviews the characters involved in the business which had several strands including Finnish and Irish passports. I am currently writing a blog series about the Jews who purchased forged Finnish passports via the Finnish smuggler, Algoth Niska. It was only in late September 1938 that Niska apparently made a deal whereby Ziebell purchased a batch of forged Finnish passports for his Jewish clients. As it turns out, Niska was selling forged passports to unsuspecting Jews all through July and August 1938 telling them that he was an official of the Finnish government or a Finnish policeman or... He was none of those things and you can read more about Niska in an earlier blog.

A key source for these stories is the 2009 Finnish thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen which I roughly translated with the help of Google Translate. It provides names and birth dates of Niska's clients which has been invaluable in tracing these individuals with certainty. Another key document was the MI6 report on Niska's activities, contained within one of the Security Service files on Josef Jakobs. These documents and a variety of genealogical sites form the backbone of the stories...

Individuals with a birth date are generally traceable, but not always. Part of the problem lies in the limits of genealogical resources which are rich for the UK, USA and, to some extent, Germany and Austria, but less so for other countries. For example, there isn't much online genealogical information for France, Switzerland, Palestine, Cuba, the Balkans or the Nordic countries. If Jewish refugees took any of these paths to freedom... they don't leave much of a trace. In many instances, no news is not actually good news.

I am going to begin each individual story with the information from the Laitinen thesis and the MI6 report, as these provide a factual leaping off point.

Introduction
In August 1938, Niska returned to Berlin from Prague and met Fritz Lasch who wished to purchase three passports from himself and his family. The Lasch family story deserves its own blog post as it is quite involved.

Fritz Lasch & Family
Laitinen thesis: Fritz J. Lasch was born on 4 August 1892 in Berlin. He was the former owner of J. Lasch & Sons Ltd, a glove factory. Lasch bought three passports from Niska in August 1938, paying 6000 German Marks for the forged documents. Lasch apparently believed Niska’s story that the passports were genuine. That autumn, the Lasch family, Fritz, his wife Basjo Beila (Sudarsky) (born 25 April 1897 in Lithuania) and their son Heinz (born 5 May 1924), departed for Amsterdam and then on to Paris. The Lasch family tried to live an unobtrusive existence in Paris, staying under the radar of the authorities who, in September 1938, had become aware of the forged Finnish passports circulating through Europe (thanks to Alfred Schapiro's sale of one of them). In mid-April 1939, Fritz Lasch was called to the Finnish embassy in Paris to verify his identity. The Finns quickly discovered that his passport was forged. Laitinen ends his brief paragraphs on the Lasch family by stating that Fritz Lasch boarded a transport on 22 November 1942 bound for Auschwitz and then on to Riga.

MI6 report: Simply notes “Fritz Lasch, particulars unknown”.

The Laitinen thesis had no information on Fritz's wife or son. It is a rather sad story but there is some good news: Basjo Beila Lasch and her son Heinz did escape the horrors of the Shoah. Why Fritz perished in the Shoah is unknown.

Fritz was born on 4 August 1892 to factory owner Emil Lasch and his wife Hertha Behrendt. He and Bassia Beila Sudarski were married on 17 December 1920 in Berlin. Beila had been born on 25 April 1897 in Wirballen, Lithuania (now Virbalis). Normally the marriage registrations list the names of the parents of the bride and groom but that is not the case on this registration. Although one Emil Lasch, age 59 (born 1861), was a witness to the marriage and is likely Fritz’s father.

There was also a glove manufacturer in Berlin called J. Lasch & Sohn at Oranienstrasse 70. The business was founded in 1903, transferred in 1934 (likely to Aryan ownership) and liquidated in 1941. This is likely the same company as mentioned in the Laitinen thesis.

Fritz and Bassia's marriage registration also had a marginal note which stated that the groom (Fritz) Lasch was declared deceased on 25 January 1980 and that the date of death was declared as 31 December 1945. This would seem to be one of the post-Shoah death declarations which are all too common in German vital records.

Fritz Lasch appears in the Yad Vashem database as a victim of the Shoah. According to their records, Fritz was deported on Transport 45, Train Da.901/38 from Drancy Camp France to Auschwitz on 11/11/1942. He was then sent on to Riga.

The Yad Vashem records include two pages of testimony for Fritz, one from 1977 and one from 1995, both from Fritz’s son, Henry I. Lasch of California. Knowing that Heinz/Heinrich/Henry Lasch ended up in the United States makes his trail relatively easy.

Heinrich Isaac Lasch was born 5 May 1924 in Berlin to Fritz Lasch and Bassia Beila Sudarsky. We know that he was naturalised in the United Kingdom on 24 July 1948. How he came to the UK is partially explained by a London Gazette notice of 17 August 1948 which published his naturalisation. According to the Gazette, Heinz Isaac Lasch was a student, formerly of Palestine, living at 85 Priory Road in London. Once Heinz was naturalised in the UK, he didn’t linger long, making the leap across the Atlantic to North America on 25 September 1948. He sailed from Liverpool aboard the SS Ascania, destination Montreal, Canada. This was not his final destination, however, as he arrived at St. Alban, Vermont border crossing by train on 4 October 1948.

Heinz/Henry was a strapping young man, standing just under 6 feet tall and weighing 189 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. On 21 December 1953, he married divorcee Jindra Hanna (nee Bakrlikova) Cermak (or Cermakova), born 4 October 1919 (or 1909) in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Jindra’s parents were Jindrich Bakrlik and Anna Poesler, both of Czechoslovakia. Jindra had arrived in the US via New York on 22 February 1948 aboard the SS Hastings. There is an intriguing letter that Jindra wrote to the US Consulate in 1957 seeking assistance regarding her family’s villa in Czechoslovakia. The villa had been confiscated by the authorities and Jindra was seeking the assistance of the US authorities. The letter also noted that:
“After the World War II, I worked for about 3 years for the U.S. Government, first in Czechoslovakia, then in Germany. (Sudeten German expulsion and later tracing children, kidnapped by the Nazis, in Germany). Due to this job my life was endangered and I was granted a special visa to enter this country in 1948.”
Jindra was naturalised on 26 June 1953. Heinz/Henry applied for naturalisation in 1954 while living in Los Angeles, California. He gave his occupation as “Manufacturer’s Representative”.

Jindra passed away on 5 January 2006 in San Diego, California at the age of 86. Heinz/Henry passed away ten days later on 15 January 2006 in San Diego at the age of 85. Was it an accident? Or an illness? Or perhaps Henry couldn’t carry on without his beloved wife.

This, at least, answers the question surrounding Fritz Lasch’s son. What, however, became of his wife: Bassia/Bassjo Beila (Sudarski) Lasch? The answer lies in that Gazette notice of Heinz Lasch stating that he had come to the UK via Palestine.

After a few dead ends which suggested that Bassia had died in the United States as Beatrice Sudarsky… I found an entry on the Geni website which seems more of a match.

Wirballen, Lithuania postcard from Wikipedia
Wirballen, Lithuania postcard from Wikipedia
The Geni site notes that Batja (Bassja) Lasch (Sudarsky) was born 1895 in Vershkolov, Lithuania. This is likely supposed to be Verzhbolovo - the Russian name for Wirballen (or Virbalis) according to the JewishGen website. [Thank you to Traugott Vitz for directing me to this site!]

The date of birth isn’t that far off and errors like around birth dates can be quite common when relatives/friends are giving an individual’s information at their death. The Geni site says she was born in 1895 while her marriage registration states she was born in 1897.

The Geni information notes that Batja/Bassja was the daughter of Itzchak (Itzale) Sudarsky and Hinde Sudarsky. She had several siblings: Chaje-Sara (Chajsara), Zelig, Mendel (Dr.), Eliezer, Efraim, Braina, Chaim-Leib, Libbie, Nissan and Jakob. A rather large family!

According to the Geni info, Batja/Bassja was the wife of Fritz Lasch and the mother of Heinz Lasch and Ernst Lasch. Batja/Bassja passed away in September 1980 in Tel Aviv at the age of 85. The note about Ernst Lasch, another possible son, is intriguing. I have come across no other information to confirm this and it is possible that: (a) Ernst was older than Heinz and had already left Germany by 1938 or (b) Ernst had passed away prior to 1938.

The Geni information was posted online by one Nadav Gruengard. I did notice that a “Faivel” Grüngard had been a witness at Fritz and Batja/Bassia’s wedding in 1920. Some searching and it turns out that Nadav’s father was Jehuda Isaac Gruengard, born 1912 in Virbalis (Wirballen) Lithuania. And that Jehuda’s father was Feivel Gruengard. Perhaps the Gruengards and Sudarskys are distantly related.

We now know what happened to the rest of Fritz Lasch’s family. Somehow Bassia and her son, Heinz, escaped France and made their way to Palestine. Why they escaped and Fritz did not is a mystery. From Palestine, Heinz then made his way to the UK and ultimately the United States. It would seem pretty clear at this point, that their forged Finnish passports did not provide them with a ticket to safety and freedom, as evidenced by Fritz’s own death in the Shoah.

Sources
Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009 [Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Crook or saint? Participation of Algoth Niska in smuggling Jews in Central Europe during 1938; University of Joensuu; 2009]
Algoth Niska & J. Jerry Danielsson - Over Green Borders (1995) - English translation of Yli vihreän rajan published in 1953.
National Archives, Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27
Ancestry - genealogical information
Geni.com - genealogical information
GenTeam.at - Austrian genealogical information
Yad Vashem - Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names