More than 50 members of family reunite after being separated by Shoah
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More than 50 members of family reunite after being separated by Shoah

Members and descendants of the Isenberg and Goldstein families come together after relatives were split by the Holocaust

Members and descendants of the Isenberg and Goldstein families
Members and descendants of the Isenberg and Goldstein families

More than 50 members of an extended Jewish family parted by the Holocaust have reunited from around the world, including the UK, US, Chile, France and Holland.

Members and descendants of the Isenberg and Goldstein families share a great-great-grandmother, Dorette Isenberg, who was born in 1831.

After work on the family tree by Ann Antrich, a former chair of North West Surrey Synagogue, seven of the nine branches of the family were represented at a reunion last week.

Dorette’s daughter Rosa married Hermann Goldstein, then Rosa and Hermann’s son Arno and his cousin Ernst Isenberg married sisters Johanna (known as Hanni) and Margarete Wolff.

“We’re doubly linked,” said Natasha Kleeman, one of the younger family members who attended the 52-person event last week.

The family lived in eastern Germany, in towns such as Dransfeld, Gottingen and Eisleben. Arno and Johanna lived in Schneidemulh, which is now Pila in Poland, and had three children – Hans, and twins Anita and Ilse.

“They were successful and reasonably well-off, loyal both to Judaism and Germany, and several fought in the First World War,” said Kleeman.

Photo of the family taken on Dorette’s 90th birthday in 1921

“They were hard hit from the moment the Nazis came to power, losing homes and businesses and, in many cases, their freedom or even their lives. We have identified 21 victims of the Holocaust, but there may be more.”

Tragically Arno died during surgery aged 40, leaving Johanna a young widow with young children. A relative who promised to look after her finances “lost” her money and she had to move in below her parents’ apartment.

Yet things were getting worse. In Scheidemuhl, a particularly Nazi town, Anita remembers seeing people shot in the street for not giving the Hitler salute. Hans himself has badly beaten by the Hitler Youth.

In 1937, Johanna came to London with Carl Haas from the Goldstein family to plead with the committee helping children from Germany to take her son.

Later that year, with the help of a friend who worked at the Polish consulate, she posed as a sewing-machine saleswoman, and smuggled Hans out from Germany, through Poland and to England.

While Johanna was away, the Gestapo came to the apartment, and terrorised the twins and the maid Mimmi who, despite Nazi regulations, had refused to leave the family.  On her return, Johanna was arrested and accused of being a spy.  By some miracle, she was released.

Johanna went to Berlin, worked for a living, and put the girls in a Jewish orphanage where they received schooling. She took her parents to a Jewish old-age home, totally unaware that she was consigning them to their fate.

In 1938, Johanna brought the twins to England.  Their last heart-rending memory was seeing their beloved grandparents waving from the window.

Kleeman added: “Like many Jews living in the UK, I come from a family dispersed across the globe as a result of the Holocaust.”

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