Die Familie Julius Wertheimer und ihre Geschichte

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Die Vorfahren von Julius Wertheimer, die Familien Frankenberg und Wertheimer, stammten zum überwiegenden Teil aus Marisfeld in Thüringen, wo sich bereits im 18. Jahrhundert rund um Themar mehrere jüdische Gemeinden angesiedelt hatten. In Coburg wurde die Etablierung einer neuen eigenen Gemeinde erst im späten 19. Jahrhundert unter Herzog Ernst II. möglich, der 1873 mit Zustimmung des Magistrats deren Gründung gestattete. Im Herbst des gleichen Jahres wurde die Synagoge in der Ketschendorfer Straße eingeweiht (heute bekannt als Nikolauskapelle) und die Einrichtung eines jüdischen Friedhofes am Glockenberg genehmigt.

Wann genau die Großeltern bzw. Eltern von Julius Wertheimer nach Coburg kamen, konnte noch nicht abschließend geklärt werden. Sie gehörten jedoch nicht zu den Gründungsmitgliedern der Gemeinde, sondern zogen erst einige Jahre später in die Residenzstadt.

Quelle: Jüdische Gemeinde Marisfeld, Matrikel.

Der eine Großvater von Julius Wertheimer war Jonas Wertheimer (geb. 1815). Er heiratete im Jahr 1855 Mathilde Frankenberg (geb. 1818). Beide stammten aus Marisfeld, ihr Sohn Nathan Wertheimer, der spätere Vater von Julius, kam 1859 dort zur Welt. Dessen ältere Schwester Jettchen war zwei Jahre zuvor geboren worden. Das dritte Kind („ein Söhnchen“) wurde 1863 totgeboren.

Der andere Großvater, Jakob Moses Frankenberg (geb. 1826 in Marisfeld), betrieb bereits seit Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts in Coburg eine Pferdehandlung mit der Bezeichnung „Gebrüder Frankenberg“. Die älteste datierte Adresse in der Viktoriastraße 1 stammt aus dem Adressbuch des Jahres 1895.

Mit seiner Frau Louisa, geb. Mai (geb. 1839 in Walldorf/Werra) hatte Jakob Frankenberg vier Kinder, die im Zeitraum von 1858 bis 1863 geboren wurden: Hannchen, Malwine, Max und Nathan Frankenberg. Als die Kinder zur Welt kamen, lebte die Familie noch in Marisfeld.

Zwischen den Familien Frankenberg und Wertheimer bestand bereits in Thüringen ein Verwandtschaftsverhältnis: Mathilde Wertheimer, geb. Frankenberg, und Jakob Moses Frankenberg waren Geschwister. Beide Familien sind etwa um die Jahrhundertwende nach Coburg gezogen. Es ist jedoch anzunehmen, dass nicht alle Mitglieder dauerhaft in Coburg ansässig geworden sind.

Hannchen, die älteste Tochter, heiratete Lazarus Ottensoser und bekam zwei Söhne. Über sie ist kein Eintrag zu finden, der über einen Wohnsitz in Coburg Auskunft geben könnte.

Malwine, die zweite Tochter, heiratete 1885 ihren Cousin Nathan Wertheimer. Beide waren im gleichen Jahr 1859 geboren worden, beide stammten aus Marisfeld. Nathan betrieb wie ihr Vater in Coburg ebenfalls einen Viehhandel und ist – wie seine Schwiegereltern — im Adressbuch von 1895 unter der Adresse Viktoriastraße 1 gemeldet. Die beiden bekamen drei Kinder, die allerdings noch in Themar geboren wurden: Julius (1886), Rosa (1887) und Bella (1890).

Im Coburger Adressbuch von 1919 ist Nathan Wertheimer bereits als Eigentümer des Hauses Viktoriastraße 1 eingetragen.

Auch Max, der ältere der beiden Söhne, betrieb in der Viktoriastraße 1 einen Viehhandel und lebte zunächst unter dieser Adresse. Nach seiner Heirat mit Meta Rosenthal zog er in die Löwenstraße 23. Das Paar bekam zwei Kinder: Arthur und Elsa. Arthur war Kriegsteilnehmer im 1. Weltkrieg und kam in Cambrai, Frankreich ums Leben. Er wurde 25 Jahre alt.

An ihn und sechs weitere jüdische Gefallene erinnert ein eindrucksvolles Denkmal im jüdischen Teil des Coburger Friedhofs, sowie ein Eintrag im Gedenkbuch der Stadt Coburger für die Gefallenen des 1. Weltkrieges.

Elsa, die Tochter von Max und Meta Frankenberg, heiratete Nathan Wertheimer jun., er war einer ihrer Cousins aus der großen Wertheimer-Familie. Zusammen mit ihrer damals zwölfjährigen Tochter Edith konnten sie 1938 nach Argentinien emigrieren.

Der jüngste Sohn Nathan Frankenberg scheint nur für vergleichsweise kurze Zeit in Coburg gelebt zu haben. Seine Frau Minna Gassenheimer stammte aus einer wohlhabenden Familie in Themar, ihr Sohn Siegfried wurde 1895 in Coburg geboren. Der Eintrag im Adressbuch des gleichen Jahres nennt Nathan als Kaufmann und Miteigentümer von „Frankenberg & Leopold, Modewaren und Damenkonfektion“, Mohrenstraße 34. Später zog die Familie nach Halle und Dessau.

Louisa Frankenberg starb 1907 im Alter von 77 Jahren, ihr Mann Jakob Moses überlebte sie um zwölf Jahre und starb mit 90 Jahren im März 1926 in Coburg. Beide liegen im jüdischen Teil des Coburger Friedhofes begraben. Doppelgräber waren zur damaligen Zeit eher unüblich, auch wurden keine Grabplätze in unmittelbarer Nähe freigehalten, was dazu führt, dass die beiden Gräber in einiger Entfernung voneinander liegen.

Ten years later, their daughter Malwine Wertheimer died at the age of 66 of complications from diabetes. Of the daughters and sons of Jakob Moses and Louisa Frankenberg and their spouses, Malwine and Hannchen will later be the only ones who died of natural causes and who did not fall victim to the Holocaust. Only Nathan’s wife, Minna Gassenheimer, will survive Theresienstadt and return. Malwine’s grave is in the Coburg cemetery, in the Jewish part, Hannchen was buried in Mellrichstadt.

****

The laying of the Stolpersteine ​​on March 9, 2020 is about the memory of the son of Malwine and Nathan Wertheimer, Julius Wertheimer, his wife Käthe, née Meinstein , and their sons Heinz  and Alfred . Julius is the only one of the Wertheimer siblings who was able to emigrate and survived the Nazi era.

His sister Rosa and her husband Jakob Edelmuth were picked up in Amsterdam and deported to Auschwitz. His youngest sister Bella Wertheimer, who was the last of the family to live in Coburg, initially tried to hide with relatives in Thuringia, but she too was deported to the Belzyce ghetto near Lublin on May 10, 1942. Bella had married her cousin Milton Wertheimer and therefore kept the family name. Milton was able to flee to Holland, which was initially still free. After the German invasion, he was deported via the Westerbork camp in 1943, initially to Theresienstadt, and a year later to Auschwitz. He died there in October 1944, presumably immediately upon arrival.

His father, Nathan Wertheimer , did not survive the war either; he died in Amsterdam in 1942, after the German troops marched in and immediately after the first wave of deportations. He was no longer able to leave the country. Since February 1939 he and the family of his daughter Rosa Edelmuth had been in Amsterdam at constantly changing addresses.

Those who did not flee far enough could hardly survive the madness of the Holocaust. Fortunately for Julius and his family there was a connection to the USA, where Käthe’s uncle Josef Kaltenbacher lived, the brother of her mother Ricka Meinstein, née Kaltenbacher. Apparently he had succeeded in obtaining the necessary documents in good time, so that in the course of 1936 to 1938 a total of more than a dozen of his immediate family members were able to emigrate to the USA. Among them also Julius, Käthe, Heinz and Alfred Wertheimer.

At first Julius hesitated because he had invested considerable financial resources in building the butcher’s shop at Steinweg 53, even though he did not own the house himself. He also didn’t believe that anything could happen to him in his familiar and familiar surroundings and trusted that the dark and threatening clouds would clear again. After all, it was his wife Käthe who, together with her family from Zirndorf, drove the emigration forward and spoke a word of power when Julius wanted to stay and persevere. Ultimately, it was very fortunate that the four Wertheimers left everything behind that they could not carry and sought their salvation in flight.

On June 24, 1936, they left the port of Hamburg on a ship called the HANSA. The original name of the ship was „Albert Ballin“, the name was changed to HANSA in 1935 because Albert Ballin was a Jew.

After eight days, on July 2, 1936, the Wertheimer family reached the safe haven of New York. Her first address there was that of Josef Kaltenbacher in Newark, NY.

Julius Wertheimer was 50 years old at the time, Käthe was 40, the children Heinz and Alfred were 10 and 6 years old, respectively. The HANSA ship’s papers show that Julius had named his sister Bella Wertheimer as the closest relative in Germany. Her address at that time was Coburg, Hohe Strasse 30. This is where the Jewish school and boarding school of preacher Hermann Hirsch were located, where Bella lived and worked as a domestic servant.

The 1940 US census shows the family settled in Kings, Brooklyn NY. It is not known how big the apartment was, but nine people lived there at the same time, because Kathe’s mother Ricka Meinstein was also registered there along with two other daughters, son-in-law and grandson. As already mentioned, a large part of the Meinstein family was able to emigrate, made possible by the help and support of Josef Kaltenbacher

In the meantime, Käthe Wertheimer had adapted her first name to the American language and writing habits and called herself Katie or Katy. The son Heinz became Henry, while Julius and Alfred kept their original names.

Katy and the two sons settled in relatively quickly in their new home, for Julius Wertheimer, on the other hand, getting used to and the new everyday life was problematic throughout their life, which was not only due to the language difficulties.

Presumably Heinz and Alfred found the trip across the ocean to be a unique and extremely exciting adventure, as did life in the United States, especially in New York, which was completely new, turbulent and exciting for them. No comparison to life in the small town of Coburg, where they grew up and went to school.

When Julius Wertheimer filled out a registration card in 1942, six years after the family arrived in New York, he gave the address 842 Park Place, Brooklyn. The name of his employer was „Car (a) mel Kosher“ 74 East, 4th Street, New York City (in the original below probably a typo), where he probably worked in his profession as a „butcher“.

The document of „naturalization“ for Julius Wertheimer is dated February 24, 1944, at which time the family lived in New York, 619 West, 144 Street.

Almost four years later to the day, Julius and Katy Wertheimer celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. They married on February 22, 1923 and now, after 25 turbulent years and a life on two continents, the two sons Henry and Alfred congratulated their “dear parents” in an advertisement in AUFBAU, the Jewish and originally German-language newspaper in the USA. Julius Wertheimer read this newspaper regularly and with great interest until the end of his life, as his granddaughter Pam remembers.

Katy Wertheimer was evidently a resolute woman who adapted to the circumstances and organized the family’s life. Photos of her with her husband Julius have survived from her later years.

*****

Julius Wertheimer died in New York in July 1971 at the age of 85. His wife Katy Wertheimer survived him by almost 20 years; she died in New York in August 1990 at the age of 95.

In the obituary in the „construction“ she was mourned by her sons Henry and Alfred, daughter-in-law Renee Wertheimer and granddaughters Pamela and Heidi. Katy was affectionately called „Omi“ by the two of them.

Henry Wertheimer lived with his family in Forest Hills, New York until his death. Alfred Wertheimer became an extraordinarily well-known photographer of Elvis Presley. In 2014 he visited his hometown Coburg for the first time. He died a few weeks later.