Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hi, my name is Andrea Levine and the reason for this Blog is: A way to share information about my family history, to other family members and those in Bloggerland, who are interested in Germany/Jewish genealogy. It would be wonderful to share stories and information about our families who lived in the  Westerwald area of Germany.

Here is my journal of my trip to Germany June 29, 2011
Max & Bertha Weinberg and children

Preface:  Early 1980’s

I was sitting at my Grandfather (my actual grand uncle) (Pop-pop) Ernst and Grandmother (Nana) Minnie Weinberg’s kitchen table, in Miami, Florida. He had a suitcase, which was packed with family photos and memorabilia.  As he told me who these people were, how they were related and where the pictures were taken, we labeled the back of the pictures.  Now I wish I actually wrote down everything he told me.  At the time, I never would have dreamed how the Weinberg Family Tree history would become an important part of my life.
Ernst Weinberg S.S. Pres. Roosevelt 1934 to USA

 Through the years I added information that my grandparents and family members gave me.  At this point I was interested but not passionate about our family history.
The next push to gather as much information on our family history happened when I went to visit Rita Kahn, about 3 years ago, in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Rita Kahn
 Rita is from my grandmother’s side of the family (Loeb). When I told Rita, that I was interested in the family history she pulled out a journal. I could not believe how much information was in it! It had a hand written family tree in it.  I knew now was the time to really pursue this project, before Rita's generation passes on. With them, stories, dates would be lost and forgotten.

My goal was to find as many family members, both past and present. Acquiring, pictures, information on families, and stories, that members might want to pass along. This would be a legacy I can pass on to my children, grandchildren and future generations. I also want it accessible to any family members who would be interested in their family history.
It has been a wonderful journey meeting so many wonderful people from all over the world!

After many years of wanting to go to my grand parents homeland, we finally made the trip to Hachenburg and the small towns in the Westerwald region this past summer (2011). It truly was a magical experience. We met many people who were interested in our family history and were kind enough to show us their towns and my ancestor’s homes. Ken and I were in awe of their passion and enthusiasm in honoring their Jewish people who perished. There is a project going on in Germany, which I will explain in detail later, which honors those Jews who were taken from us.
The people we met had a great deal of information and knowledge about the Jewish families, which will help me with my project. It amazed us that these people, who were not Jewish, were so interested in the Jewish heritage, and spent years on their projects. They have no Jewish family ties, just a need to see that history is continued and some history never forgotten.
Bruno Struif, Sabine Herrmann, Beata Weiler and Regina Klinkhammer, are from the Hachenburg Historial Assocation which is dedicated to Hachenburg’s history, and the Jews that were part of it.  We met Dr. Stefan Grathoff of the Stadt Archiv Hachenburg and Dr.Manfrid Ehrenwerth who is the head of Hachenburg’s museum. Johannes Kempf (Judge) who co authored Zachor Ein Buch des Gedenkens (A book of the memory) and  Rolf Wuest from Neuwied who is a member of the German Israel Circle of Friends.
Here is the recount of my “Back to Roots” journey. Sit back, put your feet up, laptop, on lap and  enjoy. 

1590 Hachenburg
In Bruno Struif's book about Hachenburg

Hachenburg 1750
Picture in the Vogtshof

Hachenburg Old Market 2011(Me and Bruno)

Coat of Arms symbol of the city of Hachenburg 1314

Hachenburg is located in the Rhineland-Palatinate, one of the most beautiful regions of the country. It received town chapter, municipal rights in 1314. In 2014 it will be celebrating 700 years. They are planning a big celebration. Jews have been living there since the Middle Ages. They were recorded during the plague time 1348/49.              
Hachenburg Castle 
 Hachenburg Castle & the town:

 The Hachenburg Castle was founded about 1180, by Count Heinrich II of Sayn. The building was finished in 1212 under Count Heinrich III, the founder’s son. At the same time, under the Counts overlordship, came the building of Marienstatt Cistercian Monastery. In the Middle Ages, the town’s population was most likely never more than about 500 to 1,000, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it was between 1,000 and 1,500. After the Second World War the town’s population reach 3,000, Population today is  about 6,000. October 1654, a fire destroyed the original castle and much of the town.  Counts Manderscheid and Friedrich von Sayn undertook to build the town anew and also the castle, this time as a Baroque structure. The castle as it looks now was finished in the mid-1700’s. The inner castle today still bears the shape that they gave it. You can walk around the grounds of the castle, which is now a financial building and a College.

In the Second World War, Hachenburg was largely spared any great damage, but other disasters had ravaged it in the past. There were several great fires (in 1400, 1439, 1484,1541, 1594 and 1654) and war beset the town several times, bringing suffering, especially the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and both the so-called Coalition Wars (1792-1797 and 1799-1802).

If you want more information on Hachenburg’s  history, look online:  and go into my Hachenburg. Google translation for English is available.
Church of Maria Himmelfahrt & Zur Krone (The Crown Hotel)

We stayed at The Crown Hotel, formerly known as ‘das Steinerne Huys” (The Stone House), is reputed to be Germany’s oldest inn. Built in the 14th century. “The Stone House” is first mentioned in 1707 as an inn and a brewery, and also as a centre for trade and transport in the “Sayn” county.
We met Bruno Struit, the Chairman of the Hachenburg Historial Association, and Beata Weile, treasurer of the Hachenburg Historial Association and Regina Klinkhammer, at the Hotel in the Old Market. We went into the Church which is next to the Crown Hotel, Church of Maria Himmelfahrt.                                                                                             

Church of Maria Himmelfahrt

We then walked around the Old Market. The architecture of the town is quintessential German, high, narrow, colorful row houses and shops.

                                                                                                                                                    Municipal Building where the tourist information, town administration and weddings take place. The building was renovated and has the statue of Ledwig the Bayer who became King and Emperor 1698.  Tomorrow we will return to meet with Dr. Stefan Grathoff of the Stadt Archiv Hachenburg at the Vogtshof.  Just out side the Vogtshof is the Reading Garden, and a Jewish Memorial.

Vogtshof (Historial Archives)

City Hall (Municipal Bldg.)

Memorial in Reading Park
Then we went to visit the Castle of Hachenburg

We walked down the Jewish section (Judengasse).
The building with the black roof on the left was the butcher. The roof slates depict a bull and chicken.

Bertha, Max, Adolf, their oldest son and new wife Minnie Loeb (my grandparents) 1921 on their honeymoon.

Then next stop, my great grandparents home.
            Max and Bertha Weinberg’s home, was built in 1900 at the corner of Bahnhofstrasse and Neumarkt.

Max & Bertha's home today
Today the house still has the store on the bottom level. Max and Bertha sold (among other things) cigarettes, with the name Salem Gold, which are produced in Dresden with oriental tobacco. He also sold pipes, which is written on the bigger window. Later another tobacco shop was built at the new market with name Havanna House, which sold primarily Cuban products. 

Bruno then showed us where Abraham Weinberg's house stood. It is now a parking lot. Abraham was  my great, great grandfather, Max Weinberg’s father.

We strolled around the town and then went back to the hotel. We exchanged information and talked about the Jewish families in Hachenburg. Sitting in this old Hotel where so many people of the past have been, including my ancestors, was incredible.
Sabine Herrmann (Beata’s sister) met us for dinner. I found Sabine on the internet and she referred me to Bruno Struit.  Sabine is the secretary of the Historial Association.                                                                                                                         
They presented me with a framed postcard of Hachenburg showing Max and Bertha’s “White” house (which is now painted yellow).   

Post card issued around 1910 Hotel/Weinberg House/Post Office & Mayor's Office

In the post card above, which is mine, you see Hotel Friedrich, then Max Weinberg’s house, the post office and next to that, the mayor’s office with the shield above the entrance with  the word Rathaus (City Hall) on the wall. If you follow the left line of trees, then you see an empty monument, where the statue of emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II has been removed. He lost World War I and therefore, the citizens removed the statue.
Oskar & Hugo Weinberg died in World War I. They were grandchildren of Abraham and Sara Weinberg.
Hugo Weinberg
Oskar Weinberg
After dinner we had beers outside of the hotel and listened to a music concert being performed in the Market Center.
It was a great ending to a wonderful day.

Beata, Sabine & Bruno

Bruno was upset that we wouldn't share our beer with him!

Bruno insisted we try their Hachenberger Beer. I do not drink beer, wine is my favored drink, but with Bruno’s persuasion for us to try the hometown beer we did. I was surprised how much I liked it! In Hachenburg past history, wine was produced, now beer is king.

Second day July 1, 2011

Bruno, Beata, Ken and I....
Dr. Stefan Grathoff
The day started off rainy and cool. We walked to the Vogtshof and met Dr. Stefan Grathoff, the head of Stadt Achiv Hachenburg.

He gave me the newest copy of record on the Weinberg family of Hachenburg. I told him I would verify it and notify him of differences or additions.
 Stefan can read old German as well as Bruno & Johannes Kempf (Author of Zachor of Hachenburg). He told us most of the records are kept in Koblenz. We bought books (Johanne's Zachor, and Bruno’s book about Hachenburg) and postcards to send to the grandchildren who were in camp for the summer.

After that we got in the car and headed to the Hachenburg Cemetery.
Ken Levine

Me (Andrea Levine)
Hachenburg Cemetery has a Memorial Stone as you walk in the entrance. For the memory of those Jews who died by the Nazi Regime.
Memorial Stone

Max Weinberg

Max Weinberg 1854-1923 son of Abraham
Abraham Weinberg 1808-1885

We knew Max, Samuel, and Julius son of Samuel, were buried there…but the surprise was finding Abraham Weinberg, their father right next to them. It was barely readable…but you can make out his name.

Henriette 1857-1924 & Ferdinand Weinberg 1858-1924 son of Abraham

Ferdinand Weinberg
Julius Weinberg 1889-1924 son of Samuel
Samuel Weinberg 1852-1926 son of Abraham

Samuel Weinberg

The information I have is that Samuel's wife Sabine was killed in a concentration camp, I have yet to confirm.

We next went to the Hachenburg Museum, where we met Dr. Manfrid Ehrenwerth, the director. At this time they had a special exhibit about Firemen. There were quite a lot of artifacts, one being a pumper that was built in 1828.

Dr. Manfrid Ehrenwerth/Museum Director

On to the Hachenburg Synagogue, which in now a store. There is quite a lot of information about the Synagogue. In 1890 they acquired a building site for it. Inauguration was in June 1897. The whole city participated in the celebrations. In 1938 Novemberpogrom the interior of the synagogue was destroyed. The ritual articles were seized by the police. The building was used at the Nazi air protection school. In the picture below you can still make out the flying eagle that represented the Nazi air school.

Under the window you can see the shadow of the Nazi flying eagle.

Hachenburg Synagogue today

Post card of Hachenburg Synagogue

On to the Kloster Marienstatt. It was still drizzing, but the  sun was trying to peek through. Just before the Abby there is an old medieval stone arch bridge restored in 1721. 

Old picture card of stone arch bridge at Cistercian monastery, Marienstatt

Bruno, Beata, and Ken on medieval arch stone bridge.

The Abby is situated in a hidden valley of the river Nister not far away from Hachenburg.
The Abbey was founded in the 12 century. The Cistercian monastery contains a basilica of early Gothic, a library, a brewhouse with restaurant, an art trade and bookshop, a guesthouse and a classical grammar school. The Abby was founded by monks of the former monastery Heisterbach, which is in ruin. The basilica, was built from about 1200 to 1425. The choir stall, were from 1290 which is the oldest still used in Germany. The whole basilica was renovated from 2001 to 2007. It is an impressive building for this rural region.

Abtei Marienstatt
Abby gardens

Old Post card

 Sabine joined us here for lunch at the restaurant. Our conversations, were on differences in our political systems and in other countries. Sabine told us that they were not taught anything about WWII in school. This seemed to bother her a great deal. It wasn’t until they went on to higher education (equivalent to College) that the subject was taught, and they had to make the initiative.
There we said our good-bys with a pledge to keep in touch.

Off to Neuwied:

Count Frederick of Wied founded the town in 1653 on the right bank of the river Rhine at the confluence with the small river, Wied. Neuwied claims a social climate of tolerance and freedom. Many different faiths settled in the young town, among them Mennonites and Moravians. Neuwied’s surrounding districts and villages are for the most part much older than the town centre. As of June 2005 there were officially 66,455 people living in Neuwied. Interesting info: Neuwied is the native town of paternal ancestors of John D. Rockefeller, traced to the 16th century and possible French Huguenot refugees. His father's line emigrated to the North American colonies, arriving in New York in 1710, the year of a massive immigration of nearly 2800 Palatine Germans, whose transportation of refugees from London was paid by Queen Anne's  government of England. Neuwied was also the birth town of William of Wied, who briefly held the title of King of Albania in 1914.


We drove to Neuwied to meet with Rolf Wuest at his home.  He is a member of the German Israel circle of friends a Neuweid organization. He was a teacher of English and German. He spent time in England and would have stayed there but he met his future wife just before he left. He has been to Israel and I believe he lived there for a short time and was "moved". He became involved with relations between Jews and German people. Rolf then drove us to the center of Neuwied and pointed out the plaques on the streets where there had been a Jewish home.
These Jews were taken from their homes and sent to concentration camps. Stolpersteine is the organization making the plaques.

Stolperteine Project
The artist Gunter Demnig reminds of the victims of the NS time, by letting Gedenktafeln in from brass before its last self-chosen residence in the Trottoir. In the meantime STOLPERSTEINE lie in over 500 places of Germany and in several countries of Europe. “Humans are only forgotten if its name is forgotten, says” to Gunter Demnig. With the stones before the houses the memory of humans becomes alive, who lived once here. On the stones stands written: HERE LIVED… A stone. A name. Humans. For 95 euros everyone can take over a sponsorship for the production and transfer of a STOLPERSTEINS. (Taken from it's online site)

Alfred Weinberg son of Samuel & Sabine. He was sent to a concentration camp.

The above notice says:
(This notice is in the Zachor book)

November 18, 1938
District to the Lord in Westerburg.

Referring to today's telephone conversation with Mr. Young. I share below the following personal details with the arrest in Hachenburg three Jews.

  1. Weinberg, Alfred was born April 3, 1888 in Hachenburg, skins dealer, married a German citizen residing in Hachenburg, arrested on Nov. 21. 1939,  itself
  2. Sahn, Sally, was born on Oct. 8, 1881 staying the Benbaden, servant, single, German citizen, in Old City, arrested on Nov. 11, 1938, last no solid job.
  3. Rosenthal, Siegfried, born on March 8, 1918 in Bonn, locksmiths, single, a German citizen residing in Steinebach, arrested on  Nov. 11, 1938, without a solid job.

Geisel Family Home 1900

As we were walking around the town, Wolf stopped at a corner of a street. He told us the large building with a lower store front was built by the Geisel Family. It was in perfect condition! Built in 1900, the same year the Weinberg Family built their house in Hachenburg.

We then went to the Neuwied Cemetery.
Rolf Wuest

The history of the cemetery  
The Jewish municipality Neuwied maintained at the latest since that 17. Century (1629?) a cemetery in the today's newagain local part Niederbieber. It was used also by the Jewish municipalities in the further environment than funeral place. The oldest gravestone which can be dated surely is from 1706. The cemetery was occupied to 1942. The cemetery surface covers 111.94 (or 110,37) acre. One cemetery-resounds was present since 1908. It was heavily damaged in the Pogromnacht 1938; the ruin was broken off 1947. The 1913 developed design left Peter Kesselheim from painter master (source) comes. The cemetery area is administered today by the Jewish cultural municipality Koblenz. In the more recent time the area was eingefriedet by a sturdy iron fence. An orientation board is attached at the main entrance. The gate is open on the day for each visitor - the entrance is at the Kurt Schumacher road. Since February 1985 the cemetery stands under monument protection. He was restored in the 1980-he 1980 on operation of the GermanIsraeli circle of friends in Neuwied. With the cemetery Niederbieber concerns it one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Rhineland-Palatinate. 661 gravestones for the 770 deceased are received. On 294 graves no gravestone is more present. (Information from the internet)

Neuwied Cemetery

Many of the graves of family members are no longer there. The graves disintegrated or destroyed. I found Samuel  Geisel 1887, but the lettering was worn away.  I did find Johannette Weinberg (not sure if I have the correct Johannette) and Fritz Geisel.

Samuel Geisel 1816-1877

Samuel Geisel Stone
We went back to Rolf house where we had tea and coffee with his wife and shared information. Rolf had Josef Geisel’s prepared lecture, on the Jewish synagogue, written in 1928. He was kind enough to make a copy for us.  

He also gifted me a book that has all of the graves in Neuwied Cemetery. Rolf and his wife were very generous with their time. Ken and I were very grateful for the help he gave us. We would never have been able to locate the Geisel home or the cemetery, if not for his help.

Neuwied Synagogue

Off to Koblenz..  We only stayed one day at the Crown Hotel.  We went to a very nice hotel in Koblenz and used that as a home base.  The hotel looked over the water. We were  surprised how cool it was,  mid to low 70’s and cloudy.

Fuahrhaus am Stausee Hotel in Koblenz
Day 3  July 2, 2011
It was a very cloudy morning. We headed to the town of Hartenfel. Many of my ancestors lived here, unfortunately we did not get in contact with anyone, so we did not find the cemetery or family homes. Next time we go back we’ll have to search for them.  Our daughter and grandchildren expressed interest in visiting the area where their ancestors lived. 

                We passed cows and sheep in the beautiful rolling hills and fields.  We strolled around the town and walked to the top of the hill to the remains of the Hartenfels castle.

Hartenfels Castle

Hartenfels Castle was first mentioned in old writings in 1249. The community is known for its castle ruins, of whose former shape only a few walls and one tower now remain. It was built in the 13th century to keep watch over the nearby trade road leading from Frankfurt to Cologne. In dialectal speech, the ruins bear the name Schmanddippe. In 1999, the community celebrated 750 years of existence.
St. Antonius Hartenfels
Then we headed back to Hachenburg to meet with Johannes Kempf who co-authored Zachor of Hachenburg, with Werner A. Güth and Abraham Frank. He spent years working on this project and updated the book in 2002.  When he heard we were in Hachenburg, he wanted to meet with us. While we were waiting for Johannes we ran into Beata Weiler (pronounced Bay ah Tah) who was meeting up with family before she headed back home.  She had never met Johannes so she was eager to meet him. We all went to have tea at Cafi Kleine where we exchanged information and pictures. He gave us pictures that were in his Zachor Book, which had many of my relatives in it.  
Johannes Kempf and Andrea Levine

As we walked around Hachenburg, Johannes pointed out Eugene Weinberg’s rented home and showed us the precession of the opening of the Jewish synagogue. The picture is in his Zachor Book, and he gave me a copy of it. We then walked to Ferdinand Weinberg’s home, which later became Otto Weinberg’s home, Ferdinand’s son.   
Ferdinand Weinberg's Home
Then became his son's, Otto

            We talked about how Max Weinberg was a cattle dealer and Bertha took care of the store and cigar shop, as seen in the picture with the advertisement for cigars on the house. They lived comfortably in Hachenburg.
            I asked Johannes how he became involved with Jewish history in he’s small town. (He now lives is a near by town) A history teacher inspired him as well as events in his life, which led him to become involved. His profession is a Judge for the family court.

In the afternoon, Ken and I headed to Selters, looking for the Hard Rock Jewish cemetery. It took several hours, passing chickens, goats, and horses. We tried to speak to people on the street to find the cemetery. They knew where it was, but because no one spoke English, there was a lot of pointing and waving. After several tries and a pit stop for lunch…we searched again. We found it by getting out of the car and walking through the woods.
Selters Cemetery
 The post on the gate says:

They stand in a place of peace and reflection. In this cemetery were in 5630 about the time of his 5798 Jewish era (1870 to 1938 Christian calendar) Seltzer the Jewish faith laid to rest. The cemetery will perhaps appear unkempt, but according to Jewish tradition should be left to the graves or grave without elaborate floral decorations. Please respect the customs and traditions of these people and leave this place as you found it.
the Mayor (google translation)

            We found Siegmund Weinberg (Oct. 30,1871-Nov 27, 1935 and Louis Weinberg (Jan 7, 1847-June 14, 1927)
Siegmund Weinberg 1871-1935
Son of Samuel and Esther , married to Regina Levy
Louis is the son of Jacob & Bella Weinberg.
Louis was married to Sabine Meyer.

Our trip was very successful. We were very fortunate that we were able to contact people who were very involved in our family and Jewish history. They were remorseful about what happened to the German Jews and want them to be remembered, not forgotten. They showed distain for people who are prejudiced against the Jewish people. When I tell people here at home that we went to Germany to find our ancestors, many asked how could you go there? They could never go to Germany. Ken and I went, not thinking that there would be an issue. We know there still is prejudice against our people, but we have to put ourselves out there and say, hey we’re here, we’re are not going to disappear! We must always remind them of their past atrocities and inhumanity. If just a few have a conscience and pass it along to the next generation, that can only be good – not only for us, but for humanity.

If you have any questions about our family (Weinberg, Geisel, Loeb, Hochheiser) don’t hesitate to ask. If you have any stories or anecdote you’d like to share, we'd love to hear them.