The Grünbaum Families

Grünbaum families were critical to the Jewish community of Themar from its beginnings in the early 1860s until the last days in September 1942.

The first family to arrive was headed by Noa & Minna (née Friedmann) Grünbaum; the second was headed by Loeser & Johanna (née Bergmann) Grünbaum. We are 99% confident that Noa (b. 1841) and Loeser (b. 1837) — both born in Walldorf in Sachsen-Meiningen — were either brothers or cousins but do not yet have the piece of evidence that confirms!

The Family of Noa H. Grünbaum
First, the family of Noa and Minna Grünbaum came south from Walldorf in the late 1860s or early 1870s — their son, Hugo, was born in Walldorf in 1868 and their daughter, Minna, was born in Themar in 1872. Their move was prompted by the legislation allowing Jews freedom of movement. Minna Grünbaum died shortly after her daughter’s birth, possibly as a result of childbirth complications. Noa remarried Josefine Sophie Schlesinger, b. 1849 in Walldorf, and they had three children, only one of whom, Karl, b. 1876, lived out of infancy. Noa Grünbaum died in 1901 and Josefine Sophie three years later.

In the mid-1890s, Minna Grünbaum married Samuel Rosenthal and moved to Apolda; here, she and Samuel formed a family of one daughter, Grete (b. 1898) and two sons, Norbert (b. 1901) and Max (b. 1910). Through the 1890s and first decade of the 1900s, Hugo and Karl Grünbaum continued to live in Themar with their families. In 1898, Hugo married Klara Schloss, b. 1898 in Würzburg. Their first child, Mira, was born in 1903 and the family lived in Bernhardtstraße, outside the city wall. In 1905, Hugo made a major business decision to take over the business of Grünbaum & Seckel at Bahnhofstraße 143, when Jacoby and Bertha Seckel (née Grünbaum) moved away from Themar.

Karl Grünbaum ran the business of his father, the N. H. Grünbaum Department Store in the Bahnhofstraße. In May 1904, he married Hulda Schlesinger of Wasungen, daughter of Abraham & Fannie Schlesinger (née Fuchs); their first child, a girl whom they called Irene, was born in late January 1911 but sadly died in early February 1911. Karl and Hulda Grünbaum left Themar in 1913 and moved to Erfurt where daughter Ilse (b. 1916) and son Kurt (b. 1921) were born.

By World War I, therefore, there was but one Grünbaum family in Themar, that of Hugo & Klara. They had three children — daughters Mira (b. 1903), Else (b. 1905) and son Hans (b. 1916). Mira married Arno Sommer (of the Gassenheimer family) from nearby Hildburghausen and moved to that city; Else married Arthur Neuhaus who moved from Werl to Themar and worked in the “Hugo Grünbaum” business with his father-in-law.

The Holocaust dealt cruelly with the children of Noa Grünbaum: all three of his children — Minna, Hugo, and Karl — were murdered. In total, twelve (12) members of the family were deported to the ghettos in Belzyce and Theresienstadt: Minna Rosenthal and her three children — Grete, Norbert, and Max — and one daughter-in-law, Ilse Rosenthal, née Benjamin, Maxs wife. ine; Hugo & Klara (née Schloss) Grünbaum, their daughter Else Neuhaus (née Grünbaum), son-in-law Artur Neuhaus and five-year old grand-daughter, Inge; and Karl & Hulda Grünbaum (née Schlesinger). Only Hulda Grünbaum survived.

Some of Noah’s grandchildren escaped. Two of Hugo and Klara Grünbaum’s children were the first to leave: Hans Grünbaum (b. 1916) went to Palestine in 1934. His older sister, Mira, and her husband Arno and their son, left Germany in 1936 for Italy where they survived the war; in May 1948, they left Italy for the United States. Karl and Hulda’s children also left after the Novemberpogrom of 1938, both going to England. Both were categorized as ‘enemy aliens’ once WWII broke out, but Ilse was allowed to remain working in London through the war; Kurt, however, was put into a different category of ‘enemy alien’ and was deported to Australia on the infamous Dunera. After the war, Ilse and Hulda joined Kurt, who changed his name to Ken Green, in Australia. Hulda died in 1963, Ilse in 1981, and Ken in 1983.

Grünbaum Family Tree -L. Green

Ancestor Tree of Lynda Green, daughter of Kurt Grünbaum Courtesy: L. Green

Until recently, little had been known about the Noah Grünbaum family. However, recent contact with the grandchildren of Karl and Hulda Grünbaum in Australia has brought us much welcome information. For example, Lynda Green, the eldest daughter of Ken Green, has a family tree (at the right/click to enlarge), which identifies her grandparents and great-grandparents. We therefore learned that the name of Karl Grünbaum’s mother was ‘Josephine’ and that Josefine was married to Noah [Grünbaum]. Until we had this piece of the puzzle, we had been unable to link Karl Grünbaum to either of the two Grünbaum families — Noah and Loeser — in Themar. The publication of Jutta Hoschek’s book, Ausgelöschtes Leben: Juden in Erfurt 1933 – 1945. Biographische Dokumentation, has made contributed new information about the time of Karl & Hulda Grünbaum in Erfurt.
Please see:
The Family of Noa H. Grünbaum 
The Family of Karl & Hulda (née Schlesinger)
The Family of Abraham & Fanni (née Fuchs) Schlesinger

The Family of Loeser & Joanna (née Bergmann) Grünbaum
The family of Loeser and Johanna (née Bergmann) Grünbaum also came from the Walldorf area, or at least their daughter, Berta, was born in Walldorf in 1867. We do not know of other children of Loeser and Johanna at this time. We know quite a bit about Bertha Grünbaum and her marriage to Jacoby Seckel in 1890.
Please see:
The Family of Loeser and Johanna (née Bergmann) Grünbaum
The Family of Jacoby & Bertha (née Grünbaum) Seckel

We would like to thank the families of Karl and Hulda Grünbaum, their children and grandchildren, who have shared their family archives with us.

 If you have any information or questions about the Grünbaum families of Themar, which you would like to share, please contact Sharon Meen
s.meen79@gmail.com or smeen@mail.ubc.ca.  We would be pleased to hear from you.