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]
Harry and Anna Braunhart Tulman
Actually this is a Letter TO Germany that was sent by the author Anna Braunhart Tulman, pictured on the left with her husband Harry. The letter was addressed to her brother Theodor, who was living in Berlin, Germany at the time - April 16, 1920. This is a handwritten copy by Anna of the actual letter that was sent to Theo.
Fortunately the money sent was prior to the onset of hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic. But the Mark was already in the process of devaluation. $60 in 1920 certainly was a considerable gift, and the cost of shipment of a parcel for $17 was quite expensive.
This letter continues to show the generosity of Anna and her sister Martha, as they attempted to do as much as they could to provide for their aging parents who were still living in Schubin.
Below is the original two page letter, interestingly written on an invoice from Anna and Harry's hardware store in Brooklyn. And it is written in German.
Below is the English translation, generously provided by Matthias Steinke:
Dear brother Theo,
Enclosed you will find a cheque for 2920 Mark - in total 60 Dollars, 25 Dollars from me and 25 Dollars from Martha for the beloved parents.
10 Dollars or 500 Marks are for you which I am sending it especially for you. So dear brother give the money to the parents by chance.
Unfortunately I can't find a safer way to send money because in Schubin they would steal the cheque and encash it at the bank. I also sent a box with things to you yesterday.
It will take about 3 months until you will get it. Martha and I compiled the things. The women-stuff is for the girls. Alone the sending costs 17 Dollars, so its not worth. The best is to send money, if it arrives.
How is it with your and the beloved Philipp's health and business?
Moritz Braunhart discusses his exploits in the German Army on this postcard to his parents in Schubin.
Although Moritz suffered from depression and ultimately committed suicide, he often displays a sense of humor in his writings and writes often to his parents and siblings, so he is a bit of enigma.
We do not have all of his letters and postcards translated as let - but we do know by the dates that he did serve in World War I, and thus we do not know the ultimate mental (and physical) damage that war did to him.
It is interesting though, that he served in Grimma as noted in this postcard, which is quite geographically close to Leipzig where he lived after the war, and it seems for many years of his life.
Below is the postcard as originally written, followed by the English translation:
With thanks to Matthias Steinke for his excellent translations from German to English, the following is that translation:
Sender: soldier M. Braunhart
2nd Replacement Battalion (of the) 106th Infantry Regiment
1st reservists depot
6th corporal community - Grimma
15 September, 1915
My very beloved!
Got your card. Took note of its content. Have already written to Julius but (he is)
still in Hohensalza.
Please tell me whether they took Karl and Philip.
Sooner or later, no one who is only a little useful will be spared from this wonderful sport.
I feel good in the military - Overleaf are the new members of my club.
Looks like a bootblack society. ...us all ....proud .....write back soon.
Julius Braunhart was the third son of Alexander and Helene Braunhart. Much has been written before regarding how he deserted his wife and two children; how they escaped to Shanghai, and ultimately that Julius was murdered by the Nazis in 1943 at Thereiesenstadt.
This is the first evidence that we have gathered that demonstrates that he was in the German Army. We know that brothers Karl, Moritz, and Theo were in the German military, and we also know that Julius' older brother Jakob was in the United Sates Army.
This postcard from Julius to his sister Anna in Brooklyn, New York does not say much, but it does tell us that he indeed was in the army, and that Anna was sending him money, like she did her other relatives who remained in Germany.
Below is the postcard that he sent to Anna, followed by the English translation.
With thanks to Matthias Steinke for providing this translation to English, below is that translation:
14 February 1915
Dear sister Anna!
Receive many thanks for the sent money. I am now at the Baltic-coast.
Otherwise, I am fairly fine. If I have more time, I will write more. Many greetings to all. Again many thanks.
Many greetings from your Julius
My address: Private Braunhart
1st Reserve Replacement Battalion (of the) Infantry - Regiment 9
3rd company Danzig-Heubude
Karl Braunhart in Center
Karl Braunhart was the 4th son of Alexander and Helene Braunhart. It appears from letters and photos that Karl was quite mechanically inclined and also was a merchant. He was the one who started his family business of bicycle shops in as early as 1913 and moved those shops from Schubin to Berlin and later to Brooklyn, New York after he immigrated. The shop still exists, as Carl Hart Bicycles - in Middle Island, New York.
He married his wife Hedwig in 1914 and their family of Heinz and Hanna was completed quickly, with the children's birth dates of 1915 and 1916 respectively.
In some of the family letters in the 1920's, they write of Karl having his bicycle shop destroyed, that he was a gambler and a bit of a rake. As he and his siblings attempted to move to Berlin in that time period along with many other Jews, there were significant financial issues as well as problems obtaining housing.
When Karl came to America in 1939, he changed his name immediately to Carl Hart. His wife immigrated a few months later in 1940, and as we have written before, his daughter Hanna did not join them. Son Heinz escaped to Palestine in 1935. As a result of Hanna not joining her parents, she was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1943.
This postcard does not reveal too much about Karl, nevertheless is presented here as a matter of family history - however it does confirm for the first time that he did indeed serve in the German military.
Below is the postcard, followed by the English translation.
And with thanks to our master translator, Matthias Steinke, below is the English translation.
[From] army mail
Private Airman Braunhart
Rea 2 ... 117 Corp.
Doeberitz – Berlin
Schubin in Posen
Doeberitz the 24th. November 1917
My dear Hedwig,
Today, I got the to me sent parcel. Many thanks therefore. It all arrived in good shape.
Watches are hard to get and very expensive. Ordinary silver watches cost is purchase 30-35 Mark. Nickel watches
are also very expensive. I will write to Phillip, maybe he can obtain something. I cant manage it because after the A... the stores have already closed.
Have you received my letter, beloved dear?
Carry out the things soon. Theo has surely brought a few things. I dont drive to Berlin this Saturday. I am a little bit ill. A small cold. The case about my apartment is still pending. I am happy that you and the children are well.
I also miss nothing, only the borrowing is based on mutuality.
Be all best greeted and kissed by your Karl
The photo is from Schneidemuehl.
Will you find me, yet?
text on Photo:
mechanische Werkstatt (mechanic workshop)
FEA 2 (Flugzeugersatzabteilung 2 = Airplane Replacement Departement 2)
Moritz Braunhart as it turns out is the enigma of the Braunhart family. We know the least about him of all the children of Alexander and Helene Braunhart. He is likely the oldest child, but possibly the second oldest, as we do not know his exact birth date and location of his birth.
From recently translated letters, it appears that his wife's name is Clara and possibly that is her in the photo with him. But that is only a guess.
We also know from family stories that he suffered from depression and committed suicide; yet again we do not have documented proof.
He did serve in the German Army in World War I, and as this letter states, he was a patient in a sanatorium in Leipzig for several months.
As usual with Moritz, his life story is incomplete, and contains more questions than answers. For we do not know why he was a patient there.
Below is a postcard from Moritz to his sister Martha in Brooklyn, written in 1921. Both front and back are shown. The front appears to be a group photo that contains associates of some kind. And below the postcard is the English translation.
With much gratitude for our translator Matthias Steinke for his outstanding ability to be able to transcribe and translate what often are less than optimal handwriting specimens. Below is the English translation:
(sender): M. Braunhart, Leipzig, Roßstr. 12 I (at the moment: Bad Reiboldsgruen - in the Vogtland-area)
20 May 1921
If I am not wrong, I already wrote to you a longer time ago, that's only by the way.
Please receive with this card to your next birthday my heartiest and honest returns. May God, that you and your family are always be well and I hope, that you all are healthy.
Me, myself is it also going pretty well.
I am since 3 months in a sanatorium for a cure and I will stay here for another month. I recovered very well during this time.
From home I hear only good news. Only in Poland it looks bad.
To Anna and family many greetings. Farewell for today, many ....(greetings) to you, your husband, children
from your .....
(X means my humble self)
This postcard from Trieste from Theo Braunhart to his sister Anna in Brooklyn is celebratory for his next day escape from Germany via Trieste, Italy to Shanghai. He leaves behind his wife Lucie, who as a Christian is safe from the Nazis.
There is much more to relate regarding Theo, but that will be written in future articles.
There is one line that is remarkable in its simplicity of warning. Because we know what happened to Theo's niece (and Karl's daughter) Hanna at Auschwitz just a couple of years later - it is quite disturbing. This postcard was written in April, 1940. Karl had escaped to America in January, 1939, and his wife Hedwig in February, 1940. Hanna stayed behind for some unknown reason.
Theo warns Anna to inform Karl that Hanna needs help. We do know that Karl wired money to Hanna in 1941 (by virtue of the Jewish Transmigration Records). That is all we know of Hanna's situation. Tragically, we know the later outcome of her staying in Germany.
But this writing is primarily about Theo's liberation and his appreciation to sister Anna for her help. It is simply written, but powerful in its meaning.
Below is the postcard, followed later by the English translation.
With thanks to Matthias Steinke, below is the English translation:
Trieste, the 10th April 1940
Dear Anna and all beloved,
So, tomorrow I am going on the ship.
Its not to describe, how I feel in freedom. One has to get used to it.
I will write more details from the ship.
So far, I thank you that you helped me.
Karl shall get something for Hanna, it's urgent.
In the meantime many hearty greetings to you all,
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