The Rothenbergs



Lieber Vater!

Von Robert hörtest Du ja, daß es uns gut geht. Hier wird feste gefaulenzt, sodass ich sicher kugelrund zurückkomme. Hansel fühlt sich sehr wohl. Ich habe ein Mädchen für ihn, das ihn gut betreut. Wie gefällt Dir das Bild?

Grüße bitte Johanne und Leopold, Du selbst herzliche Grüße


Herzliche Grüße sendet Euch Eure Mutter Kann


I came across these real photo postcards in a photo lot from German ebay. They were addressed to members of a certain Rothenberg family from Germany. I couldn’t resist my urge to look them up on Ancestry. I did not expect to find their story unfold as it did:

I identified the receiver of most of the postcards as Isaak Rothenberg, born on June 4th, in 1880 in Nürnberg, Germany, to parents Emil Rothenberg (1853-1934) and FannKarpoff (1859-1913) as the oldest of 7 children, followed by Siegfried (born 1881), Adolf (born 1884), sister Johanne (born 1886), Josef Justin (born 1888), Louis (born 1889), and Robert (born 1889).



Isaak married Dora Moses (born on June 9th, 1888) on March 20, 1914 in Hessen, Germany) and the couple had two sons, Helmut ((born 01.01.1917) and Henry (born 22.01.1915, original name Heinz).



The next real photo postcard, that was sent separately to both Isaak and their father Emil, in 1925, was written by Bertha (nicknamed “Bertel”), Isaak’s brother Robert’s wife. The photo shows Robert and Bertha’s first-born son Hans with who I assume to be the boy’s maternal grandparents, the Kanns.



Robert, who was born on  December 19th, 1889, had married Bertha  Kann (born 24.11.1895) on January 24, 1921, in Friedberg, Hessen. They had 2 sons, Hans (born July 8th, 1922) und Werner (born February 3rd, 1927). 

When I discovered that Isaak’s family belonged to the German Jewish community, I feared what I would find when I dug deeper. I found out that both Isaak and Robert were survivors of the Holocaust. Isaak together with his family as well as his brother Adolf could get out of Germany in 1939 and flee to England. Isaak passed away in Cheshunt, England, in 1957; his wife Dora in 1964. Helmut passed away in 2003 and Henry (Heinz) in 1968.

His brother Robert fled Germany to New York in February 1938 and became US citizens. The application for citizenship states the names of Robert’s sons as Jack and William instead of Hans and Werner, probably as the result of cutting all ties with Germany and knowing they would never return. Robert died in 1957 in New York. His wife Bertha remarried.

Some of the other family members did not share Robert and Isaak’s fate of escape. Their brother Siegfried with his family and their sister Johanne’s husband Leopold Weiß were lost to the Holocaust.

Their sister Johanne married Leopold Weiß on Oct 17, 1922 in Nürnberg. Leopold, born 18.01.1879, served in WWI for Germany. During WWII he died as a victim of the Holocaust. She died on Nov 1, 1974 in Nürnberg.

Their brother Siegfried and his wife Anna Hanna born Hiller perished in 1942 in Majdanek, Poland. 

Their brother Adolf who had fled Germany in 1939 together with Isaak, died just after the end of WWII in 1946 in London.

I’ve also borrowed a streetview photo of Isaak and Dora’s house in Rheimstrasse 19 in Frankfurt, Germany, that the family was forced to leave behind in 1939.





I’ve identified a possible relative of the Rothenberg family on Ancestry and contacted them. Hopefully I can add to this family’s photo album some memories of more joyful times, of togetherness and warmth.

Thank you for stopping by.




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