The Noa H. & (1) Minna and (2) Josefine [Sophie] GRÜNBAUM Family

The family of Noa H. and Minna Grünbaum was the first Grünbaum family to move south from Walldorf to Themar 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. Minna Grünbaum died nine days after her daughter’s birth, possibly/probably as a result of childbirth complications. Noah married Josefine Sophie Schlesinger of Walldorf. Josefine bore three children, Beanke in 1875, Karl in 1876, and Emil in 1878, but only Karl lived past infancy.

The Noah Grünbaum family lived in Themar for at least thirty years. The family textile and dry-goods business was initially located at Hintertorstraße 170 (Bahnhofstraße as it became known in the 1860s) but sometime in the later years of the 19th century, Noah moved further up the street towards the railway station to Bahnhofstraße 150 (in the image above). Noah died in 1901 and Josefine died two years later.

In the mid-1890s, Minna Grünbaum married Samuel Rosenthal, a cattle dealer in Apolda, and moved there; she and Samuel formed a family of one daughter, Grete (b. 1898), and two sons, Norbert (b. 1901) and Max (b. 1910). Hugo and Karl Grünbaum continued to live in Themar through the 1890s and 1900s. In 1898, Hugo  married Klara Schloss, b. 1898 in Schwanfeld, and in May 1904, Karl married Hulda Schlesinger, b. 1876 in Wasungen. Both couples started families: in 1903, Hugo and Klara’s first daughter, Mira, was born; their second daughter, Else, was born in 1905. In late January 1911, a girl was born to Karl and Hulda and they called her Irene, but sadly she died a few days later.

What exactly happened with the Warenhaus N. H. Grünbaum business around the turn of the 19th into the twentieth century still requires clarification. Normally, the eldest son, in this case Hugo, would be the one to carry on the family business. Instead, it seems that Hugo and Karl may have initially run the Warenhaus together after their father’s death. In 1905, however, when Jacoby Seckel and his wife, Berta — the daughter of Loeser Grünbaum — decided to move from Themar, Hugo took over the Grünbaum & Seckel business. On 1 May 1905 he announced the opening of the business in his name and its relocation from the Market Square to Bahnhofstraße 143 more or less right across the street from Warenhaus N. H. Grünbaum.

Twenty-nine year old Karl and his wife Hulda managed Warenhaus N. H. Grünbaum. The two brothers may have sold similar products but offered customers a wide choice. Their ads in the paper on 1 May 1905 shown at bottom of this page suggests a broad overlay of items that both shops might have had.

In 1912, Karl Grünbaum sold the business to Markus Rosenberg, and he and Hulda left Themar in April 1913 and moved to Erfurt. This meant that by 1914 there was but one Grünbaum family —  Hugo & Klara and two children — in Themar. Minna & Samuel Rosenthal and three children were in Apolda, and Karl and Hulda Grünbaum were in Erfurt.

Like many other German Jews, we believe that the Grünbaums strongly supported the German side in World War I: Karl Grünbaum became a soldier in 1916 and Hugo and Klara announced the birth of their son, Hans, on 12 February 1916 in very patriotic language.

After the war, Karl and Hulda established several businesses based in Erfurt, travelling into the surrounding countryside to sell to smaller markets. In 1916, a daughter Ilse was born and in 1921 a son, Kurt.

Hugo and Klara Schloss continued to manage the Hugo Grünbaum store in Themar and their daughters embarked on their own lives: Mira, the eldest daughter, married twice: the first marriage was in 1929 to a man named Hermann Goldschmidt from Fulda, but we know only his name, not when or why the marriage ended. Mira’s second marriage was to Arno Sommer (of the Gassenheimer family), b. 1896 in Hildburghausen. In 1935, Mira and Arno had a son, born in Hannover. Else married Arthur Neuhaus, b. 1901 in Werl, about 350 km northwest of Themar; Arthur, who moved from Werl to Themar, worked in the Hugo Grünbaum store with his father-in-law Hugo. Hans, the youngest child b. 1916, attended school in Themar.

The Nazi takeover of power in January 1933 probably prompted the same response from the Grünbaum families as it did from most, if not all, German Jewish families: first, families focussed on securing the future of their children, and then they attended to their own futures. Securing the future meant leaving Germany, either for another country in Europe or outside of Europe altogether. Hans Grünbaum was the first to leave, departing Themar for Palestine on 14 November 1934, age 18. It appears that Mira and Arno Sommer, and their son, went with Arno’s mother, Hedwig (who was divorced), to Venice on 2 August 1936. It is possible, and indeed probable, that the Rosenthals in Apolda and the Grünbaums in Erfurt also started to explore opportunities for emigration in the early to mid-1930s.

The 1938 Novemberpogrom removed any hope that life might return to its pre-1933 pattern. Most of the Grünbaum men over 18 years of age were taken into so-called ‘protective custody’ and taken to Buchenwald: In Themar, Hugo Grünbaum was arrested with 17 other Themar men; he was released by the first of December 1938. In Erfurt, both Karl Grünbaum and his son, Kurt, were arrested; Karl was released on 8 December 1938. In Apolda, Minna and Samuel Rosenthal’s sons, Max and Norbert, were arrested; however, while Norbert was released in December 1938, Max was kept in Buchenwald until 12 April 1939. It appears that neither Arthur Neuhaus in Themar nor Samuel Rosenthal in Apolda were arrested.

The Nazis ‘allowed’ German Jews to emigrate until October 1941, and the children of Karl and Hulda were able to escape before the trap snapped shut. Ilse and Kurt both went to England where Ilse, although deemed an ‘enemy alien,’ was allowed to remain in London and work as a domestic throughout the war. Kurt, however, was considered a more dangerous enemy alien and was therefore deported to Australia on 6 September 1940 on the infamous ship, HMS Dunera. The others — Grete, Max, and Norbert for example — may well have had all their papers in place but simply never reached the top of the quota lists to be permitted into another country.

The Holocaust dealt cruelly with the Grünbaums trapped in Germany after September 1941: all three of Noah’s children — Minna, Hugo, and Karl — were murdered, as were five grandchildren with two spouses, and one great grandchild, Inge Neuhaus, age 5. In total, twelve (12) members of the family were deported: the grandchildren and great grand children went first in May 1942 to the ghetto in Belzyce. Five months later, Hugo & Klara, Minna, and Karl and Hulda were all deported to the ‘old-people’s ghetto,’ Theresienstadt, on the same transport of 19 September 1942. Hugo and Klara were among the last Jews of Themar to be deported.

Hulda Grünbaum survived. In February 1945, she was freed as part of a 1200-prisoner-exchange for money from Jewish organizations to Nazi leaders. She established contact as quickly as possible with her daughter, Ilse; a year later, Hulda joined her daughter in England and then in 1948, the two set out for Australia to join Kurt.

After WWII, the surviving members of the Grünbaum family were on three continents: Hulda Grünbaum and her two children settled in the Melbourne area of Australia. Kurt changed his name to “Ken Green.” Ilse remained Ilse but married and the ‘Grünbaum’ became ‘Meller’. Mira Sommer, Hugo and Klara Grünbaum’s eldest daughter, had survived the war in Italy with her husband and son. (Arno’s mother, Hedwig Sommer, née Gassenheimer, had been deported from Italy in 1943 to Auschwitz). In May 1948, the Sommers sailed from Italy to the United States where Mira and Arno lived in Massachussets for the rest of their lives. Hans Grünbaum remained in Israel where he died in 1980.

Until recently, little was known about the Noah Grünbaum family. Then contact with the grandchildren of Karl and Hulda Grünbaum in Australia brought us welcome information that fills in many of the gaps in the story of this family. 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’ [family spelling] and that Josefine [spelling in Hoschek, Ausgelöschtes Leben: Juden in Erfurt 1933 – 1945. Biographische Dokumentation, 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.

We also learned the names of Hulda’s parents — Abraham and Fanni Schlesinger — from this family tree and other records in the families’ archives and that has allowed us to find out more about another set of the grandparents of the Jewish families of Themar.

The Nachkommenliste/Descendants List below identifies the members of the Noah H. Grünbaum family born in Germany before 1945. Please note that we have used the spelling either found in the extant records (e.g., Josefine) or determined in consultation with the family (e.g., Noah).
See also The Family of Karl and Hulda (née Schlesinger) Grünbaum 

If you have any information or questions about the Noah Grünbaum family  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.

  • Noah H GRÜNBAUM, b. 07 April 1841 Walldorf, d. 29 Jan 1901 Themar
  • ∞ (1) Minna FRIEDMANN, b. 28 Feb 1844, d. 08 Mar 1872 Themar
  •      1. Hugo GRÜNBAUM, b. 05 Dec 1868 Walldorf, murdered 24 Oct 1942 Theresienstadt
  •      ∞ Klara SCHLOSS, b. 30 May 1873 Schwanfeld, murdered 25 Nov 1942 Theresienstadt
  •            2. daughter, b. 1901 Themar
  •            2. Mira GRÜNBAUM, b. 17 Mar 1903 Themar, d. 04 Aug 2000 USA
  •            ∞ (1) Hermann GOLDSCHMIDT, b. Fulda
  •            ∞ (2) Arno SOMMER, b. 30 Oct 1896 Hildburghausen, d. 19 Feb 1991 USA.
  •                3. SOMMER, b. 1935 Hannover
  •           2. Else GRÜNBAUM, b. 17 Jul 1905 Themar, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •           ∞ Arthur NEUHAUS, b. 17 Aug 1901 Werl, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •                3. Ingeborg NEUHAUS, b. 01 April 1937 Meiningen/Themar, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •           2. Hans GRÜNBAUM, b. 12 Feb 1916, d. 1980 Israel
  •      1. Minna GRÜNBAUM, b. 28 Feb 1872 Themar, murdered 01 Jun 1943 Theresienstadt
  •      ∞ Samuel ROSENTHAL, b. 21 Jan 1871 Hochheim, d. 04 Dec 1940 Apolda
  •           2. Grete ROSENTHAL, b. 02 Sep 1898 Apolda, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •           2. Norbert ROSENTHAL, b. 09 Oct 1901 Apolda, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •           2. Max ROSENTHAL, b. 28 Sep 1910 Apolda, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  •           ∞ Ilse BENJAMIN, b. 25 Jul 1913 Uelzen, married 08 Aug 1941, murdered 1942 Belzyce
  • ∞ (2) Josefine [Sophie] SCHLESINGER, b. 9 May 1849 Walldorf, d. 25 Nov 1903 Themar
  •      1. Beanka GRÜNBAUM, b. 26 Jul 1875 Themar, d. 20 Feb 1876 Themar
  •      1. Karl GRÜNBAUM, b. 13 Sep 1876 Themar, murdered 29 Mar 1943 Theresienstadt
  •      ∞ Hulda SCHLESINGER, b. 23 Oct 1876 Wasungen, deported Theresienstadt, d. 26 Jul 1963 Australia
  •           2. Irene GRÜNBAUM, b. 31 Jan 1911 Themar, 04 Feb 1911 Themar
  •           2. Ilse GRÜNBAUM, b. 29 Feb 1916 Erfurt, d. 15 Jan 1981 Australia
  •           2. Kurt GRÜNBAUM (later Ken Green), b. 03 Feb. 1921 Erfurt, d. 21 Jul 1983 Australia
  •      1. Emil GRÜNBAUM, b. 15 Jul 1878 Themar, d. 10 Sep 1878 Themar

Sources: 
Grünbaum/Meller & Green Collections
Themar City Archives
German National Archives, Memorial Book
Jutta Hoschek, Ausgelöschtes Leben. Juden in Erfurt 1933 – 1945. Biographische Dokumentation. Erfurt: Verlag Vopelius; Auflage: 1. Aufl. (9. November 2013)
S. Wolf, Juden in Thüringen: Biographischen Daten 1933-1945.