Adolf & Meta Schwab and children lived for some fifteen years in Themar between the mid-1880s and the early 1900s.The family was not one of the ‘core’ families of Themar, those families who were there from the early 1860s until the late 1930s/early 1940s. And, aside from an occasional advertisement in the local newspaper, they left few traces in the city records; we do not know where they lived, for example. The records we do have relate primarily to the Nazi regime and we know that the Holocaust extinguished the family, leaving no descendants to remember Themar.
It would therefore be easy for us to overlook the Katz family of Themar but to do so would be a mistake. We will probably never know a great deal about the Katz family but what we do know contributes to our growing knowledge about family dynamics in rural Thüringen in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Adolf Katz was born in 1862 in Bibra, the eldest child of Ludwig & Hannchen (née Stoll) Katz, He had two sisters and four step-siblings. His family was part of one of the largest Jewish families in Bibra, whose roots stretched back into the 1700s. Meta Schwab came from Rimpar, a town of some 2,000 residents in Unterfranken. Rimpar was home to many Schwab families but unfortunately the available records of the Rimpar Jewish community make it difficult to sort out Meta’s background (see Note 1 below).
According to the Themar Jewish Family Register, Adolf Katz and Meta Schwab had two marriage ceremonies, one religious and one civil, in December 1887. On 16 September 1888, their first child, Hedwig, was born in Themar; sadly, she lived only 12 days. Between 1889 and 1903, Meta bore eleven (11) more children, according to the Geburtsregister for Themar 1876-1920. While we believe that we know the names of all children, we know the stories of only five: Martha, Elka, Bettina, Josef, and Irma.
Sometime in the early 1900s, the family moved to the larger city of Meiningen, north of Themar, From there, the children started to fan out to other places in Germany. We know most about the Katzes who moved to Dessau, thanks to the research of the group, Die Werkstatt Gedenkkultur in Dessau-Roßlau, and the contributions of Dr. Bernd Ulbrich both to the work of that group and to this website.
Elka Katz married Berthold Goudsmid of Dessau in Sachsen-Anhalt, and together they ran a textile business. In 1930 they acquired the property at Franzstrasse 47, at the right of the photo below. Their daughter, Ruth Goudsmid, born in 1922, was considered ,geistig zurück-gebliebene/mentally retarded’ and she moved to the Israelitische Erziehungsanstalt für geistig zurück-gebliebene Kinder in Beelitz. The school accepted children as young as six years old so Ruth may have been admitted sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Elka’s husband, Berthold Goudsmid, died in 1933 at age 53.Elka’s sister, Bettina, and brother Joseph, joined the Goudsmid household at Franzstrasse 47 and helped both with the business and the household.
We know much less about the other Katzes. Bettina and Joseph joined the Goudsmid household at Franzstrasse 47 and helped both with the business and the household, but whether this was before or after Berthold Goudsmid’s death, we do not know. We know that Martha married and lived in Frankfurt am Main but as yet we cannot confirm the name of her husband or children (see Note 2 below). Irma continued to live with Adolf and Meta in Meiningen until the 1930s. We know that she she married Berthold Mauritz Zuikerberg of Amsterdam and we believe the marriage took place in 1936 (our source is a family genealogy website). But whether Irma moved to Amsterdam because of her marriage Zuickerberg or whether she met and married Zuikerberg after her move to Amsterdam we do not know. She was Zuikerberg’s second wife; he had divorced his first wife, Rebecca Swaep, in 1926.
Both Adolf and Meta Katz died of natural causes, Adolf in 1935 and Meta in 1937; both were in their seventies.
After that, death was unnatural, and, by the early 1940s, the family of Adolf and Meta Katz was destroyed. In late spring, 1939, Bettina Katz took her own life — the official date of death, 11 June 1939, is the date on which her body was recovered from the River Mulde — possibly/probably in despair over the events of Kristallnacht and fearing what the future threatened.
Bettina’s siblings and their families were all murdered: On 11/12 November 1941, in one of the early deportations of German Jews to occupied Poland, Martha Katz Hahn was deported from Frankfurt am Main to the Minsk Ghetto. On 13 April 1942, Elka Goudsmid (née Katz) was deported to the Warsaw Ghetto. Her daughter, Ruth, was deported on 13 June 1942, with a group of other children from Beelitz, to Sobibor. On 10 August 1942, Josef Katz, who had fled to France sometime in early 1939, was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz. On 6 July 1943, Irma Zuikerberg (née Katz) and her husband, Berthold Maurits Zuikerberg, were deported from Westerbork to Sobibor.
On 27 October 2011, the City of Dessau laid Stolpersteine in front of Franzstrasse 47 (now Franzstrasse 111-115) to honour the four Katzes who lived there: Elka Goudsmid (née Katz) and her daughter, Ruth Goudsmid, and Elka’s siblings, Bettina and Josef Katz.
If you have any information or questions about the Adolf & Meta Katz family, which you would like to share, please contact Sharon Meen @ firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We would be pleased to hear from you.
- Adolf KATZ, b. 16 Nov 1862 Bibra, d. 15 Nov 1935 Meiningen
- ∞ Meta SCHWAB, b. 17 Nov 1859 Rimpar, d. 18 May 1937 Meiningen (Note 1)
- 1. Hedwig KATZ, b. 15 Sep 1888 Themar, d. 27 Sep 1888 Themar
- 1. Martha KATZ, b. 18 July 1889 Themar, murdered Minsk Ghetto
- ∞ HAHN (See Note 2 below)
- 1. Elka KATZ, b. 16 July 1890 Themar, dep. 13 June 1942 to Warsaw Ghetto
- ∞ Berthold GOUDSMID, b. abt 1878, d. abt 1933 Dessau
- 2. Ruth GOUDSMID, b. 28 May 1922 Dessau, murdered Sobibor
- Hugo KATZ, b. 20 Sep 1891 Themar
- 1. Bettina KATZ, b. 30 Nov 1892 Themar, d. May/June 1939 Dessau (suicide)
- 1. Josef KATZ, b. 27 Dec 1893 Themar, dep. 10 Aug 1942 from Drancy/France to Auschwitz
- 1. Max KATZ, b. 17 Feb 1895 Themar, d. 20 Aug 1895 Themar
- 1. Siegfried KATZ, b. 22 Jan 1896 Themar
- 1. Erich KATZ, b. 16 June 1898 Themar
- 1. Walter KATZ, b. 31 Mar 1900 Themar
- 1. Irma KATZ, b. 30 May 1903 Themar, murdered 09 Jul 1943 Sobibor
- ∞ Berthold Maurits ZUIKERBERG, b. 26 Feb 1877 Winschoten/Holland, murdered 09 Jul 1943 Sobibor
1. re: Meta Schwab: The information that we presently have about Meta Schwab comes from the Family Register in the Themar Matrikel records, and the entry in the Siegfried Wolf data (Juden in Südthüringen: Biographischen Daten 1933-1945) compiled in the 1990s from available records, mostly in the former DDR, after the Wall fell. In December 2015, we received an email providing information about the Schwab family of Rimpar and identifying three possibilities in the Index of the Jewish Register of Rimpar. However, the Schwab female born in 1859 is identified as “Merle” not “Meta,” so we’re unable to confirm parents or siblings at this time.
2. re: Martha Hahn: A list of the Jews of Frankfurt deported to Minsk on 11/12 November 1941 has entries (see below) for Martha Hahn, geb. Katz, living at the same address as Hugo Hahn, b. 17.5.1884, and a R Hahn, b. 30.10.1923. This suggests that these three comprised Martha’s family.
The German National Archives Memorial Book has entries for the same people with the same birth dates, etc., with the one difference that the young woman born in October 1923 is identified as Margot R. Hahn.
With many thanks to Dr. Bernd G. Ulbrich of Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg for his generous contributions to our knowledge of the Katz family in Dessau.
Ancestry.com, online Datenbank
Das Bundesarchiv. Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945 (online).
Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands.
Gottwaldt, Alfred u. Diane Schulle. Die ‘Judendeportationen’ aus dem Deutschen Reich: Eine kommentierte Chronologie, 1941-1945. Wiesbaden: Marix Verlag, 2005.
Grossert, Werner. Geschichte Der Dessauer Juden: Verfolgung, Vertreibung, Deportation, 1933-1945. 2004.
Jüdische Gemeinde Themar (Kr. Hildburghausen). Matrikel 1820-1938, Koblenz: Bundesarchiv 1958
Staatsarchiv Thüringen Meiningen. Geburtsregister jüdischer Gemeinde Themar 1876-1937.
Stadtarchiv Dessau-Roßlau, courtesy Dr. Ulbrich
Stamboden von Nederlands Joodse families
Werkstatt Gedenkkultur in Dessau-Roßlau, STOLPERSTEINE für Dessau-Roßlau: Ein Beitrag zur lokalen Gedenkkultur, Broschüre. Dezember 2008
Wolf, Siegfried. Juden in Thüringen 1933-1945: Biographische Daten. Band 1. 2000.
Yad Vashem. The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (online)
Yad Vashem, “Trains to Extinction” database, “Transport, Train Da 53 from Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Hesse-Nassau, Germany to Minsk, Minsk City, Minsk, Belorussia (USSR) on 11/11/1941”