From the Mailbox

Several months ago (April!) I received an email from a German researcher, Heinz-Jörgen K.-v.H. who has been tracing the lives of the Katz family.

Those who follow this blog might recall that Lily (née Katz) Knips was a Jewish widow living in Berlin, who in 1938, was introduced to Josef Jakobs by friends.

Josef tried to convince her to buy a "legitimate" passport/visa (actually forged) from Ziebell in order to escape to England.

Lily managed to escape without availing herself of Ziebell's shady services and joined her grown-up son in London in April 1939. She left behind her sister - Elsa (née Katz) Majewski (deported to Sobibor on 13 June 1942) - and their father - Jakob Katz (died on 15 April 1942 in Hannover's Jewish hospital after a long illness).

Heinz-Jörgen had come across my post on Lily Knips and wanted to share some information about Jacob Katz's siblings.

"Perhaps you'd be interested in a little visit to Mollenfelde, a village not far from Göttingen. Jakob Katz, the father of Lily Knips, was born there. His brother Gustav had a son Iwan, who was known as a politician during the Weimar Republic. This is my main research area, but I am also interested in the family. So we were able to lay stumbling blocks for Oskar Katz and another sister, Erna Brodacz née Katz in Hannover."

I looked up Mollenfelde and it's just a few dozen kilometres northeast of Kassel where I have aunts and uncles. Who knows, once this virus lets up, I may just make a trip to Mollenfelde.

With the information Heinz-Jörgen has provided, I've pieced together a bit more about the Katz family and learned what happened to some of the aunts, uncles and cousins of Lily Knips.

Katz Family Tree

 Isaak Katz - * 18 October 1818 in Mollenfelde, + 16 November 1908 in Hannover

     ∞ Minna (née Magnus) Frank - *27 July 1828 in Oldendorf I, + 6 March 1896 in Hannover

The couple had several children but I've only managed to stitch together four of them:

  • Jakob Katz - *1855 in Mollenfelde, ∞ Jenny Goldschmidt (+1922 in Hannover). Jakob Katz died 15 April 1942 in Hannover.
  • Alexander Süsskind Katz - *11 January 1866 in Mollenfelde. In 1942, Alexander was deported to Theresienstadt and then onwards to the Treblinka extermination camp where he likely perished.
  • Emilie Katz - ∞ Otto Magnus. Three of their daughters were to have received Stolpersteine this past autumn in Hannover, but I'm not sure that the laying of the stones took place thanks to Covid-19. The three daughters - Henny, Hulda and Frieda - along with their spouses, all perished in various concentration camps.
  • Gustav Katz - ∞ Johanne Magnus. The couple had at least three children all of whom had very different fates.
    • Iwan Katz - *1 February 1888 in Hannover. Iwan was a German politician who was sent to Mauthausen concentration camp where he served as a physician (given his medical training). Iwan survived the war and passed away in 1956 in Castagnola, Italy.
    • Oskar Katz ca. 1940 (from Hannover site)
      Oskar Katz ca. 1940
      (from Hannover site)

      Oskar Katz
      - * 17 January 1893 in Hannover, ∞Meta Proskauer (*1894). Oskar and Meta departed Bremerhaven on 18 April 1939 aboard the Scharnhorst bound for Shanghai. Both Oskar and Meta survived the war but, sadly, Meta passed away on 2 August 1947, just a few months before the couple was due to sail for America. A grieving Oskar departed Shanghai aboard the Marine Adder on 28 October 1947 bound for California where he was likely reunited with their daughter, Margot (born 1923). Oskar and Meta had made the very hard decision to send Margot to the USA in 1935 (at the age of 12) via the German Jewish Children's Aid society. Margot married a John Shanton Gardner and had several children. Oskar passed away on 9 August 1962 in Wyoming, USA. Stolpersteine were laid for Oskar, Meta and Margot in 2016 in Hannover (link opens as a pdf).
    • Erna Katz - *28 April 1895 in Hannover, ∞ Rachmil Emil Brodacz, both deported to Poland in 1938, along with their son Jan Jochen (or Hans-Joachim) Brodacz (born 02 February 1921). Their fates are unknown, presumed murdered.

It's always a sad thing to write these blog posts, to learn how many of them perished during the Shoah, or on their way to freedom, like Meta (née Proskauer) Katz. Their stories do need to be remembered, told and retold.

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