Some gave up their country, their families, and their homes. One gave her life. And all have been courageous, fascinating, and deserving of our memory and our tribute.
Heinz Braunhart was the only son of Carl Braunhart and Hedwig Bukofzer Braunhart. I am not the best person to relate his biography as his living son is obviously better suited for that honor.
However, as I have just researched and discovered his naturalization papers, what struck me as odd was his journey from his birth in the small town of Schubin in eastern Germany (and now known as Szubin in Poland).
This journey took him and his parents and younger sister Hanna to Berlin as refugees in the early 1920s. It is likely that Heinz worked in his father's bicycle shop while in Berlin.
But as the Nazis took control in the 1930s - it was Heinz who was the first of his family to escape. He left Germany for Palestine in March, 1935.
As is evidenced by his naturalization application shown below, he traveled from Haifa to New York City in 1937. And changed his name to Henry Heinz Hart.
He joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and was stationed in Mississippi. It was there that he applied for American citizenship.
I would venture a guess that he was the only person who ever lived who resided in Schubin, Berlin, Brooklyn, and Mississippi.
Today is a banner day! While searching through a new database for Surrendered Aliens who migrated from Hawaii to San Francisco (I had 3 possible ancestors who may have passed through Hawaii from the Shanghai Ghetto), I discovered three new Braunhart gravestones.
They are for Sara Braunhart and her husband Aaron Bernstein, who were my great great grandparents. They are buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma, California. Aaron died in 1898 in Germany, and wife Sara brought his ashes to America when she immigrated with her daughter Hattie later in 1898. Sara died in 1930 in Oakland.
Sara and Aaron's bachelor son Max Bernstein is also buried at the same cemetery, two plots away. He died in 1932.
And between Sara, Aaron and Max is Sara's younger brother Samuel Braunhart - the San Francisco Supervisor, State Assemblyman, and State Senator. He died a month after the Great Earthquake and Fire in 1906.
Below are photos of their gravestones. And thank you to the volunteers at Find-a-Grave (dot) com!
This letter was written by Alexander Braunhart, now in Hohenschoenhausen, Berlin - to his daughter Anna in Brooklyn. In this letter, Alexander discusses his frustration with Germany's hyperinflation - which is raging. He also indicates his frustration with sons Theo and Philipp.
He is anxious to send the letter "today" rather than tomorrow because he fears that the cost of postage will increase another 40 Marks "tomorrow."
Most of the letter he writes about his distaste for the lives of Theo and Philipp and reports on almost all of his children.
He also discusses the state of hyperinflation and how, as refugees life is extremely difficult.
It is apparent that Theo has severe issues. In most of the letters reviewed so far, it appears that he was tragically affected by his time in the Army in World War I. But more on Theo in another post.
Below are the four original pages of Alexander's letter, followed by the English translation.
Again - thanks to our expert translator - Matthias Steinke, for deciphering Alexander's difficult handwriting and translating to English below:
Berlin Hohenschoenhausen 13th January 1922
Dear children and grandchildren!
As from tomorrow the postage will raise double (80 Mark) I will use the "cheap" time to write to you. Please forward the enclosures.
As already told, we got the entire 25 Dollar. We sold the Dollar for 8.000 Marks and achieved 200.000 Marks.
In peace times one could buy a manor for it, but now not a respectable apartment.
Philipp and Theo, whose ways of life we don't like (said among us dear Anna, and don't mention it in your letters) have bought a small apartment containing a small shop in which Philipp with a partner intends to run a tailoring; the shop is connected with a room, a living room, kitchen and cellar in the Holzmarktstreet for 250.000 Mark.
I have paid 100.000 Mark with heavy heart and the rest is to be paid with the move. With the costs for the move it will in total cost 300.000 Mark. The contract is void, if the housing authorities don't give their permission, because as refugees we get an apartment assigned. We are registered as urgent.
Selma isn't content with her apartment; but one has to do a lot to come out of the "hole". If we are there then, it will become ok.
The boys "stormed" so to me, that I became confused and yielded them the money.
Moritz told us during his last stay here, that he wanted to pay the removal expenses. Without our knowledge, wrote Philipp and Theo to Moritz and he sent for us to Theo immediately 50.000 Mark. I didn't see this money and they told me, that they used it for the apartment.
I assume, it isn't left anything because they don't love work, but live a good day.
I don't let Mum know my frustration and the girls are working diligent and love their brothers.
Philipp wants now to start work and Theo does nothing since weeks. They will still come to reason.
But again dear Anna don't mention´it in your letters. Also don't mention anything because Mum would become upset.
Mum is thank God healthy and does the household.
Selma drives 4 times daily to the shop and Frieda has here a fine job at Christians. She earns not much, but has easy work. She got now at Christmas 10.000 Mark. You see, how worthless the German money here is.
The inflation is horrendous. For thousand Mark daily one can`t eat full. And where is (the money) for heating and light.
As I already often mentioned, with the help of Jacob we are doing reasonable well.
From Martha, who and her husband and children we write, nothing heard.
Greet also Jakob, Ilse and child.
Give Martha and Jakob the letter to read.
The writing is hard for me and Mum and the girls are too stressed to write only one coherent sentence.
For the Dollar which Frieda got, she bought shoes. If we move from here I will report the new address immediately. And at the post office I will make an application, that they redirect the mail to us.
Hopefully you and the ours are all right.
From Julius no message for a long time and also not from Cilly. Aunt Sara [Alexander's sister] is very angry about her. Why does she write such stupid letters to an 80 years old woman?
The aunt Molly is a real odious person. Visits us daily and whines about the inflation. That she lives for free and many, many million Marks owns, that will she not see.
Recently we need for the buy of the apartment some thousand Marks because I hadn't the 25 Dollar got yet. She denied the pleas of Mum (only for some hours).
Greetings to Mrs. Brock [Alexander's niece Amalie in New York City]
If you think you might be related, even remotely - email Kenneth R Marks email@example.com.
Don't be shy!!!
Check out the entire
Letters from Germany Series
The Ancestor Hunt
My family history research info site