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Six Degrees of Connection -- Spirals of Georg SIMMEL

1 May 2011 -- Yom haShoah - 27 Nisan 5771
    This week the genealogy research went in a few different directions.
    The main thrust was a result of Don seeing a book on Ray's bookshelf, "Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age" by the sociologist Duncan J. Watts.  In that book, Don found reference to Prof. Georg SIMMEL (1858, Berlin - 1918, Strasbourg), a "father of sociology" (not sure how many father's that field has...).   According to information on one website, Georg SIMMEL's studies" pioneered the concept of social structure, and he was a key precursor of social network analysis."  That is entirely apt to this work in general (mine, not his), and to the waves of connections flowing from even a superficial exploration of his life.
     Don quickly learned two things about Georg SIMMEL that created "connections" -- defined in our work as a link to someone already in the ever-expanding family tree.  A third connection appeared a bit later.  A fourth is only a connection precursor.

1)   The first link comes from the story of Georg SIMMEL's early life.  Georg was the youngest of seven children of Edward SIMMEL and Flora BODSTEIN.  Edward SIMMEL, who had a successful chocolate business in Berlin, died in 1874.  Although the family was apparently financially secure, Georg seems to have been taken under wing by Julius FRIEDLAENDER, a family friend who was owner of a Berlin music publishing house.
     This appears to be the same Julius FRIEDLAENDER whom I have been researching since February.  He was the owner of the music publisher C.F. Peters, a Leipzig based enterprise that he acquired in 1860.  Based on the following entry in Jacob JACOBSON's “Die Judenbürgerbücher der Stadt Berlin” (p. 443), Julius was the uncle of my great great grandmother Lina IMMERWAHR, geb. SILBERSTEIN, who is gazing down at me from her portrait hanging over the fireplace.  The entry:
Nr. 2388 -  8.4.1845:    Friedländer, Julius Carl, Disponent - Buch- u. Musikalien-hdlr., Werderscher Markt 6, geb. Breslau 14.6.1820, Konz. 29.3.1845, 9 Rtl. 239 f. N.B.H., Inhaber eines Musikalien-Leih-Instituts, Fa. Stern & Co.
V.: Buchhdlr. = Marcus Friedlaender
(Angabe über Marcus Friedländer nach brieflicher Mitteilung von Dr. Brilling aus dem Geburtsregister der ehem. Synagogengem. Breslau.)

     If JACOBSON and BRILLING were correct in identifying the Julius FRIEDLAENDER in Berlin as the one born to Marcus FRIEDLAENDER (and Philippine SCHWEITZER), then it was our cousin who was a family friend of the SIMMELs, and who looked after Georg SIMMEL.  If some of the internet sources are correct, Georg's inheritance from Julius FRIEDLAENDER enabled him to pursue his academic career.
     (Some webpages that have dates 1813 to 1884 for this Julius FRIEDLAENDER seem to be confusing him with Eduard Julius Theodor FRIEDLAENDER, the son of Benoni FRIEDLAENDER (1773-1858), son of David FRIEDLAENDER (1750-1834) of Berlin -- unless the confusion is mine...  That other Julius FRIEDLAENDER may have been the numismaticist.)

2)   The second link comes from a later chapter in Georg SIMMEL's life.  In 1890, he married Gertrud KINEL.  However, there was a second important Gertrud -- the art historian Gertrud KANTOROWICZ (1876, Posen - 1945, Theresienstadt), with whom he had a daughter in 1904.  She was a first cousin of the historian Ernst Hartwig KANTOROWICZ (1895, Posen - 1963, Princeton) -- who found his way into the extended family tree since his father is descended from the KALIFARI family and his mother is descended from the HEPPNER family.

3)   The third link is that a scholar of Georg SIMMEL's was the philosopher Prof. Michael LANDMANN (1913, Basel - 1984, Haifa).  Not only does Michael LANDMANN happen to be a third cousin of my father (through the KALISCHER family), in Basel in the 1940s, he was a friend of my mother.  He told her she should marry someone Jewish, and said that if she did he would give her coffee pot.   (She did, but since she did not report that news, she did not receive the coffee pot.)
     A recurring theme among these people is that they were members of the George-Kreis, a circle of historians, writers and other intellectuals attracted to the writings (and/or the person) of the poet Stefan GEORGE (1868, Bingen - 1933, Locarno).  This applies to Georg SIMMEL, his wife Gertrud KINEL, Gertrud KANTOROWICZ, her cousin Ernst KANTOROWICZ, and Edith LANDMANN, geb. KALISCHER (mother of Prof. Michael LANDMANN).   (Another member of the George-Kreis was Percy GOTHEIN, a possible distant cousin, and the subject of research in early April -- to be subject of a future blog about past research.)

4)   A possible fourth link related to Georg SIMMEL is still a work in progress.  Both his father and his mother were born in Breslau, with family roots in the Breslau Jewish community.  Edward SIMMEL is said to have been born in Breslau, ca.1810 (although he does not appear in the available birth records).  Georg's mother Flora BODSTEIN was born in Breslau in 1818.  More work will be needed to see if there is a connection between Edward's father or grandfather Isaac SIMMEL and the Isak Itzig SIMMEL whose son Israel Isser SIMMEL married in Breslau in 1797.   I have been in contact with one of Georg SIMMEL's grandsons in an attempt to explore this unanswered question.
     The exploration of these disparate connections seems very fitting as a tribute to Georg SIMMEL, and the field of social network analysis.

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Reader Comments (2)

thanks for putting it in order, capping the week and posing a relationship between social science and our personal fascination.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdonald h falk md

My step-great grandfather was Morris Simmel. My great grandma Margot Grundland (nee. Kirchheim) married him in 1946. He had a son called Harry. They lived in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Nykerk-Jones

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