Visions of Grandmother in the Mountains of New Mexico (near the Sanctuario de Chimayo...)

17 May 2011
    A long-weekend, looking at photographs and papers of the GRAETZER family ended on the 83rd birthday of my second cousin Marianne YANCEY, geb. GRAETZER (1928-2005).  The papers she thought to keep gave us a great birthday present.

    On Friday night, my brother Don picked me up at the airport in Albuquerque.  He had driven that day from Austin, TX, a middle leg on his journey from Chapel Hill, NC back to Point Roberts, WA.  I had flown in from Philadelphia.  We were teaming up to descend on our cousin Margaret and her husband Gordon in Truchas, NM, about 2 hours north.
    After a wonderful breakfast meeting with a photographer and documentarian (eggs from her chickens), and a picnic lunch on the edge of the Santuario de Chimayo along a rushing stream, we arrived on Saturday afternoon at Tooley's Trees in Truchas.   We had come there to look at boxes and boxes of family papers and photographs which had passed from Marianne YANCEY to her son Will, and then to his sister Margaret, moving from New Mexico to Texas and back again -- after having traveled with Marianne's parents, and then Marianne, from Breslau to New York, and then to Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, back to Ohio, and finally to New Mexico.
    Before going back to help Gordon with tree customers, Margaret set us up with the first box with two photo albums, one from the 1920s, the other from the 1950s.   The old one started around the time of her parent's marriage in 1927 and quickly moved on to their first child Marianne.  The occasion of Marianne's christening led to a family photo without the baby Marianne, but showing the new parents Günther GRAETZER and Klare, geb. MILCH, and her parents the Breslau banker Fritz MILCH and Lisbeth, geb. FREUND.  Some of the other faces were unfamiliar; presumably members of the GRAETZER family.  One man, who we thought might be Günther's father Max, could not be, since Max had died two years earlier.

    Then Don noticed that a man on the right side of the gathering was our grandfather Dr. Walther FREUND.   It took us a few more minutes, maybe even a second look at the photograph, before we realized that the woman on his right (our left) was our grandmother Ellinor, geb. BACH.

    This discovery was very exciting.  We have only ever seen 3 or 4 small images of our grandmother -- very small ones, or enlarged and fuzzy versions thereof.   Now, we had added a new image to the scarce gallery, and one of full length, at a happy gathering, and with her husband by her side.  (My mother pointed out that it is the only photo she has seen of her parents together.)
    I took a photo of the photo with my iPhone so that I could walk to the top of the tree farm where there was said to be cellphone reception so that I could e-mail a copy to my mother.   I had made a photo of the entire photograph, and a second one zooming in on her parents.   We told her it was coming, so she got it using her iPad.   Unfortunately, since we did not have regular e-mail access, we did not see her note for a couple days.   She enjoyed this new image of her parents at least as much as we did.
    Later, we ran across photographs of our mother with her brother and cousins when they visited the GRAETZER's "Rittergut" in Langenau outside of Breslau.  In one, she was playing in a sandbox (I did not see edging, so it might have been a sand "area").  In another, the children were playing on a huge hay pile -- photographic evidence to corroborate stories we had heard about from time to time.
    We also saw lots of interesting documents - birth, marriage and death certificates, emigration documents, property records - and learned more about the GRAETZER family, filling in some missing pieces of information, and learning new things that led to new questions to answer (e.g., the relationship of three FUCHSs who married three GRAETZER siblings).   It was a great weekend of fun and family and discovery in a most unexpected, and beautiful location.


The Search for Max BORINSKI - The "Begins" -- The births and development of ideas: Being begets Begins

Where to begin.   When I first saw the black cloth-bound "Stammbaum der Familie Falk" (Breslau 1937), prepared by the genealogist Paul DOBRIN (1886-1942, Theresienstadt), I do not think it immediately occurred to me that that work, ending as it did in pre-War Nazi Germany could be, or needed to be, updated.  But I was probably 10 years old, or a bit younger, when those thoughts did not occur.

Where to begin:  At some point, I ran across the striking family line of Meyer FALK who had a son Wilhelm FALK who had a son Meyer FALK who had a son Wilhelm FALK.   I enjoyed the pattern without appreciating the tradition of naming a child in memory of a deceased grandparent, and without appreciating that that meant that each of these grandsons could never have known their grandfather.

Where to begin:   At some point, probably in the 1980s, maybe only after my father Hans FALK died in 1985, the Falk Stammbaum seemed like a sad book.  I knew about all the descendants of the youngest son Emanuel FALK (1832-1906), my great grandfather --  who was now where, who had been murdered in the Shoah.  But the rest of the book, the other 10 branches of the FALK Family descended from Emanuel's 3 brothers and 7 sisters who lived to adulthood and created their own thriving clans by the 1930s, those parts I simply assumed had been killed.

Where to begin:   Eventually, by the early 1990s, I wanted to try to update the Falk Stammbaum.   By chance, through seeing an interview of Prof. Wilhelm Ze'ev FALK (1923-1998) on television in Chicago, my aunt Eva WULKAN, geb. FALK (1911-2005) had gotten the address of the very Wilhelm at the end of that chain of Meyers and Wilhelms.   He was interested in family history, but also very busy.  After some correspondence (by postal letter in those days), we arranged to meet when he came to New York.  I went armed with my family's copy the Falk Stammbaum.   Ze'ev and I paged through the book, and he would say, "This family is in Tel Aviv.  That family is in Petach Tiqva."   It was a revelation of sorts.   The Falk Stammbaum was not almost exclusively a book of the dead; it was a guide to the living.   When I wrote Ze'ev after our meeting to request addresses of the cousins he knew about, they were not forthcoming.   Not until early 1996.

Where to begin:  I think Ze'ev must have finally retired from some of his teaching duties at Hebrew University, because in 1996, he sent me addresses for cousins in Israel, and a few outside of Israel.  That was the impetus for the start of a massive letter writing campaign.  Using those addresses, new addresses received in response to the first and subsequent rounds of letters, and addresses found on a CD-compilation of US residents, I started findings hundreds of new members of the greater FALK family.   I tried to find the family of Max BORINSKI who was born in 1923 and could still (then and now) have been alive.

Where to begin:   Over time, the family tree springing forth from R. Jacob Jehuda Loebel FALK (ca.1767-1838) and his third wife Sara NAUMBURG (ca.1787-1851) came to number about 5000, and almost every branch and twig of the family had been contacted and updated.  Some details remain (still) to be gathered, and the family keeps on growing at one end (and shrinking at the other), but there were only a few missing twigs or leaves, among them prominently, the BAREINSCHEKs and the BORINSKIs.

Where to begin:  The searching continued.   In 2004, I made contact with a British family descended, in part, from BORINSKIs of Upper Silesia.  Ultimately, the families turned out to be linked, but they did not know about Max BORINSKI, or his grandfather Max BORINSKI, the direct link to the rest of the clan.  (See, http://www.gen.scatteredmind.co.uk)

Where to begin:  In 2006, I created a website with the URLs www.familiymemory.org and www.mischpochologie.org.  I included my best guesses about the origins of the FALK family of Breslau, brief comments about the 11 branches of the family, and a short list of the inpenetrable search targets, Max BORINSKI, among them.

Where to begin:  In 2007, I visited the graves of Max LEVY (1893-1970) and Irma LEVY, geb. JONAS in the Neue Jüdischer Friedhof in Frankfurt am Main.  I left a card with my contact information.  Max LEVY was a half first cousin of Max' father Alfred BORINKSI.  I hoped an unknown member of Max BORINSKI's family might visit the grave and contact me.  Max LEVY had had one of the copies of the Falk Stammbaum.

Where to begin:  Last night, I checked the "spam filter" of my e-mail account and saw an e-mail from two days earlier with the subject line "Borinski Family".   I read it, found it very interesting, but did not know if it contained information about my cousin Max BORINSKI.   The e-mail from an Israeli member of the greater BORINSKI family, described a young Zwi BORINSKI who did not fit in her known BORINSKI family tree, but who was from Breslau, made aliyah in 1935 where he continued his schooling, joined the British Army in Palestine in 1941, became a member of Haganah, and died from cancer on 2 November 1948.   There was no mention of his birth date, the names of his parents, or how he came to be called "Zwi" in Palestine.   I wrote a quick acknowledgement, and went to sleep intrigued by the prospects.

Where to end:   This morning, after a more thoughtful acknowledgment of the information about Zwi, I tried doing some internet searches to see what I could learn.  Having no success, I wrote to a friend in Israel hoping he might find more information about Zwi BORINSKI.  In about 15 minutes I had an exciting reply.  He had information, but not from any fancy database.   With Yom haZikaron, Remembrance Day about to start, and having read about Zwi's involvement in the military, he went straight to the (Hebrew only) Yizkor website of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, where a search for Zwi BORINSKI brought the answers (www.izkor.gov.il/HalalView.aspx?id=90238), and even a grainy photograph of Sgt. Zwi (Max) BORINSKI (http://www.izkor.gov.il/HalalKorot.aspx?id=90238).  With birth date, birth place, parents' names, death date and grave location, this information confirmed what a kind stranger had suggested a few days before.

Where to end:  Having come of age during the Second World War, being in the military for all his adult life, and dying from an illness at the age of only 25, I currently assume that Max (Zwi) BORINSKI did not marry and did not have children.   He was the last prospect for descendants to continue this smallest branch of the FALK family.  He was an only child.  One of his uncles, Ernst, died in the First World War, and the other, Leo, married, but had no children.   His father and uncles had two "half" first cousins, Max LEVY mentioned above, who made aliyah in 1936, but returned to Germany after the War, and his sister Lina who worked at the Zionist organization in Breslau and was deported to Theresienstadt where she died in 1942.

Where to end:  Seeing the photograph of my young cousin whom I had been trying to find for over 15 years made the search and the outcome more powerful.   He was a name on a family tree.  He might just have become a name with a few more facts.  With the image, I feel a real connection -- even though I do not know the man at all.   That sense of connection is also enhanced as a result of the thoughtfulness and contributions of the people in Israel, England the US who made this result possible.


Max BORINSKI - in memoriam - 1923-1948

Max Borinski
(1923, Breslau - 1948, Israel)
I plan to write more on this very soon, but in the mean time, here is a photograph and a make-shift memorial to one of the last "missing" members of the extended FALK family, my third cousin Max BORINSKI.  He was the last descendant of Tobias FALK who might have been the link to continued generations in that line.  Instead, he died of cancer in 1948 at the age of only 25.

He can now return to the memory of his family, us.


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.



25 April 2011
     A rough blog posting.
     Unsendable e-mail correspondence from the weekend started to arrive today – to and from the niece of Walter Leubuscher’s wife whom I tried to reach on Friday (see Post No. 1).   She did have contact with Walter’s niece Jolante SONNTAG, who had no children and may have been unmarried, lived in Santa Monica, CA, and died probably died quite some time ago (b.ca.1914).
     I tried to find information on Jolante (Jola) using Ancestry.com and other sources with no success.
     Since her mother must be a LEUBUSCHER, I tried to find her in the California Death Index just using mother’s surname as the search criteria.   I still did not find her, but I did get two hits.  One was for a Rosalie WACHSMANN (1866-1949) who was born in Peiskretcham in Upper Silesia – she might even be in the tree already, or in a separate tree I might have made to keep record of unconnected LEUBUSCHERs.  (She is not in the tree (yet), but her mother Johanna PERL, geb. LEUBUSCHER is.

     When I checked for her in New York Passenger Lists, I found her arrival, with husband Otto, in 1940, sailing from Genoa.  She listed a son Fritz in Oppeln as her contact back in Germany, and she heading for a Franz WACHSMANN at an address in Hollywood.
     A search on Franz WACHSMANN quickly found that he was a successful Hollywood composer, under the name Franz WAXMAN, with Academy Awards, and involvement in lots of major movies.
     He was married twice, and had a son from his first marriage.  He also had several siblings:

   Paul (1895-1982)
   Elfriede (Frieda) (1896-1988)
   Fritz (1897-1945)
   Max (1898-1918)
   Dorothea (1902-1903)
   Ernst (1904-1966)
   Alfred (1905-1906)

and they could have some descendants.