Main | "Stammbaum der Familie Falk" »

The Bleichröder Connection

In August 1991, my uncle Andreas FREUND (1925, Breslau - 1996, Paris) finished the original version of his "Chronique Familiale", a family history of the FREUND, IMMERWAHR, SILBERSTEIN, BACH, PERL and associated collateral families -- written in French for the primary benefit of our French cousins.   I am no longer certain, but I think it took me a couple years before I noticed this sentence at the start of two paragraphs about Gerson von BLEICHRÖDER (p.19):

"Les célébrités reliés aux Freund par une parenté plus ou moins lointaine via l'une ou l'autre des branches citées, comprennent encore, au siècle dernier, le baron Bleichröder qui, un peu comme les barons Périere à Paris auprès de Napoléon III, fut le banquier au roi de Prusse Guillaume 1er, futur empereur de toute l'Allemagne."

I do not recall whether I ever asked Andreas about the family story that there was a connection to the famous Gerson BLEICHRÖDER (1822-1893).  I do not think I did.  Even if there were no other details to back up the story (I would guess there were none), I regret not asking about the source of the story -- was it his father / my grandfather, or some other member of the FREUND or IMMERWAHR family?

By 1997, I had put a note in the family tree under Marie GUTTENTAG, wife of Otto IMMERWAHR (1836-1867):  "sister (?) of bank director Gerson Bleichroder".  That was close to the beginning of my interest in the GUTTENTAG families of Breslau and Silesia.

It was not until 2002 that I found the first helpful clue (well, it must have been the second clue after the tip that Marie GUTTENTAG was a part of the story).  That was when I reviewed the "Bleichroeder Family Collection" in the archives of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York (file no. AR 6410).  There, I learned that Gerson BLEICHRÖDER's wife was Emma GUTTENTAG from Breslau.  Her parents were the Breslau banker Loebel GUTTENTAG and Fanny WIENER

I must not have known Emma's birth year because I speculated that it was about 1825 (since Gerson was born in 1822), and I speculated that Marie was born about 1840, since her husband Otto was born in 1836.  Adding speculation on top of speculation, I wondered whether Emma and Marie would turn out to be aunt/niece or sisters.

In 2003, in Breslau Jewish community birth data, I found information on the family of Loebel GUTTENTAG and Fanny WIENER.  There was information on 4 other children, Bertha, Ida, Agnes and Julius.  Emma's birth was not mentioned in the birth lists -- and neither was Marie.

The next step came in 2009 when Don and I visited the Schönhauser Allee Jewish cemetery in Berlin.  We went there after learning at the Weissensee cemetery that Dorothea MARCUS geb. SILBERSTEIN (1805-1887) was not buried there, but in the Schönhauser Allee cemetery.  The burial information for Dorothea did give the grave location, so when we got to the Schönhauser Allee cemetery, we just wandered all around.  Among the gravestones we saw where those for Gerson and Emma BLEICHRÖDER.   This only added her birth and death dates -- showing that Emma was either a twin sister to Bertha (or for some reason Bertha (Blume) became known as Emma).

With Emma born in 1830, the likely age gap between Emma and Marie dropped from about 15 years to only 10 years.  That is where things stood until last Sunday.

Back in January 2012, thanks to a cousin and friend in Dallas, I learned about a great initiative underway in Europe to digitiize and post online archival files from Judaica collections across the continent, called Judaica Europeana.  One of the participating archive is the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (JHI - ZIH in Polish) -- which has scanned and posted its files from the Breslau Jewish community.

The file I opened last week was "Legat des Löbel Guttentag" (file no. 105_0762c).  Löbel’s will lists his wife Fanny, geb. Wiener and children Bertha Sachs, Emma Bleichröder, Marie Immerwahr and Julius.  There was the answer I had been hoping to find for over 15 years, and which had caused me pay special attention to GUTTENTAG family information all that time.  Marie and Emma were sister after all (and Emma and Bertha were not the same person).

With that confirmation, the connection of my family to Gerson von BLEICHRÖDER was really rather close; particularly from the perspective of Andreas' father / my grandfather who might have been Andreas' source for the story.  For Dr. Walther FREUND (1874-1952), the link was as close as his uncle Otto's sister-in-law's husband.

Mystery solved.

(The phrase "Andreas' father / my grandfather" is used in tribute to my uncle Andreas who liked to sprinkle his conversation with such references, particularly, "my sister / your mother".)

References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>