including (amongst others) the Merzbacher , Selz and Aufhaeuser branches



(22 Aug 1873 Berlin – 4 Nov 1961 San Francisco)


plus additional remarks by his daughter Ruth Szkolny Ross


translated from German into English

by Rolf Hofmann and David Birnbaum



After receiving my degree as medical doctor on 26 Mar 1897 in Munich, I got my first practice as a physician in Oberdorf, a small village in Wuerttemberg near Bopfingen. I worked there as a substitute for the practitioner Dr Sally Baer who got married in Augsburg and then went on his honeymoon.


At the time I had no idea that my great-grandparents and those of my wife’s, Julie, nee Selz, had been born in Oberdorf - Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer, born on 9 Dec 1760 and  his wife Kele, nee Laemlein (or Landmann), born on 17 Nov 1762. I don't know what made them leave. Obviously they first moved to Lehrburg, where their eldest daughter Reinle was born in 1788. The next child, Samson, and the rest of their children were born in Ansbach.


Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer was permitted to settle in Ansbach under the official protection of the Markgraf (Count) of Ansbach-Bayreuth and he probably did business with the Court. He worked as a wholesaler and was also in the banking business. He dealt mainly with silver and other metals, watches, precious stones and pearls. He owned the spacious two-story house at Judengasse No. 20 in Ansbach, which he had bought for 8,200 Gulden. At the time Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer made his last will and testament in 1819, there was a mortgage of 2,500 Gulden on this house. (A copy of his last will is in our possession, as well as a photograph of the house). My grandmother Nanny, nee Merzbacher, who was born in this house, told me that the poet Count August von Platen-Hallermuende was also born there. I owe this photo of the house to Dr Felix Perutz, a grandson of Samson Oberndoerffer, who had a keen interest in his Jewish ancestors although he was baptized a Protestant and married an "Arian". He had gone to Oberdorf and Ansbach to gather as much genealogical information as possible.


Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer was a religious man. Besides non-Jewish books, he owned a Thora roll written on parchment and a 20-volume Talmud printed in Amsterdam. At the time that he made his last will, he lived in his house together with his four sons, his two daughters-in-law and his grandchildren. His wife Kele ran the household economically with the assistance of her daughters-in-law, and the whole family sat together at the same table for their daily meals. Housekeeping, as well as lodging and heating, was paid out of the business cashbox. This was regarded as economical and as a mode of behaviour conductive to sympathy and harmony. "My experience has convinced me that God's blessings only exist when hearts communicate undivided, and cordiality develops through close ties of social life" (Nathan A. Oberndoerffer)


This was to continue even after his death. In case of strife his widow would have the right to choose as many rooms as she needed, as well as pieces of furniture and other household goods. Every week she should receive a payment of 25 Gulden out of the business till. These guidelines were never put into practise, since Nathan's wife Kele passed away on 28 Sep 1827, while Nathan A. Oberndoerffer himself died on 1 Sep 1829.


Of course he had owned carriages and wine stored in barrels inside his house and elsewhere.


His daughters received a dowry of 5,000 Gulden each and goods worth 1,500 Gulden. The elder sons inherited the business, the two younger sons would get a settlement of 5,000 Gulden, possibly already before their marriage and even before they set up as businessmen. The daughters would get another 5,000 Gulden after the death of the parents. There were exact instructions as to what share each child was to receive.


He reminded them of the need to practice absolute justice towards both Jews and Christians. They should not be guided by greediness for money: "Act justly towards God and mankind so that your conscience will be clean, and henceforth you will live in comfort and prosperity with God's guidance."


He had a poor brother Haenle Abraham Oberndoerffer, who was Cantor (Hazzan) for the Jewish community in Cronheim and died there on 30 May 1830 leaving behind three daughters - Reinle, Schoenle and Esther - who would get at least 800 Gulden each at their marriage. Nathan A. Oberndoerffer or his sons would provide this money. Esther then married her cousin Meier Oberndoerffer, Abraham Nathan’s youngest son.


Joseph Baer Oberndoerffer, son of Simon Oberndoerffer (Nathan's deceased brother from Waldheim), would get 500 Gulden when he settled down, should he live an honest life. At the time Nathan Abraham's last will was written, Joseph Baer was a wandering saddler.


Below follow details on  Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer’s children:


The eldest daughter Reinle, born in 1788 in Lehrburg, married Samuel Loeb Kitzinger who was born in 1760 in Sichertshausen and had, from the beginning, worked diligently and efficiently in his father-in-laws business. Reinle died on 4 May 1810 in Ansbach after having given birth to a boy named Gabriel. Gabriel's grandson Samuel?[1] lived in Fuerth and married a nee Dinkelsbuehler (the Dinkelsbuehlers became enormously wealthy in South Africa and now live in London under the surname "Dinkels"). Reinle Oberndoerffer and her husband Samuel Loeb Kitzinger had one daughter and four sons. One granddaughter married "Kommerzienrat"[2] Albert Dann in Augsburg – the couple emigrated to Israel. Their daughter Dr Lotte Dann became a doctor, first in Turin (Italy) and later in Cambridge (England). There she married a certain Mr. Treves, whose father had been a representative for the social democratic party in Italy. Lotte and her husband later went to Paris and then finally returned to Italy. Two of her sisters worked in England as housemaids.


The Kitzinger’s grandson Berthold became rich through his Dinkels uncle. He stayed single and died quite young. He left his money to his brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces. On 22 Aug 1905 another grandson, the lawyer Dr Wilhelm Kitzinger, married my cousin Elisabeth Merzbacher. Their elder son Dr Richard Kitzinger first lived in Johannesburg and married there. Later, he emigrated to London with his wife Florence and his two children where they converted to Christianity. Margarete (Gretel), daughter of Wilhelm and Elisabeth, had studied political economy and worked several years as a social worker for the Jewish welfare organisation in Munich. Later, she became leader of the  "Youth Aliyah for Germany" in Berlin and immigrated to Israel. There she married Rabbi Dr Robert Geis. Very shortly after her marriage she had to undergo surgery, which turned out to be fatal. The younger son, Dr Ernst Kitzinger, works as art historian. He is manager of Dunbarton Oaks, the Harvard Art Collection in Washington DC and is married to a Quaker. They have three children, Anthony, Rachel and Adrien – all of whom are very charming. My cousin Elisabeth lives with them. Another brother, Dr Friedrich Kitzinger, was a professor of Criminal Law at Halle University until 1933. His marriage to his cousin Frieda Geiger produced one son who works as a newspaper reporter in Jerusalem. Wilhelm and Friedrich died in Israel. Dr Friedrich Kitzinger suffered from manic depression and was in a depressive phase when he was taken to Dachau Concentration Camp. On his very first day in this camp the depression disappeared. Dr Gabriel Kitzinger, another brother of Berthold, Wilhelm and Friedrich, who was once a banker in Fuerth got divorced from his Jewish wife and then married a Christian woman. He now lives near London and works as a photographer.


The eldest son of Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer, Samson (Schamsche), was born on 25 Aug 1791 in Ansbach and died on 1 May 1866 in Munich. He was senior partner of J.N. Oberndoerffer, the company founded in Munich in 1830 after the death of his father Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer. He was an intelligent, ingenious and fun loving man who enjoyed a great reputation in Munich. "Kommerzienrat" Heinrich Aufhaeuser, later founder of Aufhaeuser Bank, started his career as an apprentice at J.N. Oberndoerffer and had an inexhaustible repertory of Schamsche anecdotes. Some of them appeared later in Berlin and were attributed to Karl Fuerstenberg, owner of the "Berliner Handelsgesellschaft" (Berlin Trading Company). He was a religious man yet quite a sceptic too. He used to characterize his partner in later years - my grandfather Abraham Merzbacher - with the words: "With Merzbacher you can see that a man can be religious and honest at the same time."


You wouldn't have called his opinions modern. His theory on women's education was that it was enough that they should know how to find shelter when it rained. He also referred to an anecdote about Bismarck who was not a friend of museums at all. Bismarck remarked that he had visited a museum only once in his life, when it was raining and he was looking for shelter. Here comes another anecdote: A certain gentleman used to do business with a company across the street, and then cross the road to J.N. Oberndoerffer, have a conversation with Schamsche and then ask for the restroom key. This happened for quite a while until Schamsche got annoyed and suggested: "In future, I'd like to ask you to do your business over here and to request the restroom key over there." The way he said that might have been even cruder. Schamsche's first marriage was to Kele, nee Wilmersdoerffer, born in 1786 in Bayreuth. After his engagement, he wrote to his family about his future mother-in-law: "She seems to be mean - you can see that even before she opens her mouth." Kele died on 2 Jan 1851. On 21 Nov 1852 he married Berta Hirschinger. This marriage produced two children - the very beautiful Caroline, born on 6 Sep 1853, and Paula, born on 4 Jul 1855. In his last will Samson appointed my grandfather Abraham Merzbacher as guardian for his daughters and disinherited  any daughter who married a non-Jew.


On 10 May 1874 Caroline married the chemist Otto Perutz who was born on 27 Jul 1877 in Teplitz and died on 18 Jan 1922 in Munich. All their children except Felix died of diphtheria at the same time. Felix became a doctor, specialized in stomach diseases and married a Protestant nurse who died a few years before him. He had three children: two daughters, Eva and Marianne, and one son. By 1938, he was left with no possibility of leaving Germany and he had lost his licence (in common with all Jewish doctors). He didn't want to give up his property, so he committed suicide in order to pass it on to his children. Samson's other daughter got engaged to an "Arian" lawyer Otto Joseph Forster, whom she married on 1 May 1877. This caused a real storm in the family. Of course her father's last will was not enforced and Paula got her 100,000 Gulden dowry. This marriage produced two daughters. One married a police officer Huxel (?), the other married Mr Hahn, president of the Senate in Nuremberg. I used to see Paula Forster quite often in her later years when Hitler ruled Germany. She died on 21 Aug 1937.


Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer’s second son was called Joseph. He was born on 25 July 1793 in Ansbach and died on 29 September 1866 in Vienna of hypertrophy of the prostate. On 25 June 1817 he married Lea (Luise) Manheimer (born on 17 September 1798 or 1800) - a member of a very old and respected family from Fuerth. He was partner in J.N. Oberndoerffer company and founded and managed the branch in Herrengasse, Vienna. He held the title of  "Fournisseur de la Cour de son Altesse le Prince de Metternich" (Provider of the Court of His Highness Prince Metternich), the all-powerful Chancellor of the Austrian State who held power until 1848. His daughter Nanny Merzbacher (my grandmother) often spoke of his relations with Metternich, Prince Montenuovo. (Note: The Montenuovo family are descendants of Napoleon's widow, Empress Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, from her second marriage to Count Neipperg. Thus, Neipperg = Neuberg = Montenuovo). The Montenuovos were Masters of Court and Masters of Ceremony at the Court of Emperor Franz Joseph.


My great-grandfather Joseph Oberndoerffer was an enthusiastic friend of theatre. He maintained a vivid correspondence with his daughter Nanny Merzbacher in Munich. I have seen his letters - he had beautiful handwriting and wrote in good style. He usually reported enthusiastically about performances at the "Wiener Hofburgtheater" (The Vienna Court Theatre), then Germany's top theatre stage. His son-in-law Abraham Merzbacher didn't like him much and neither did my aunt Friedericke Feust. She said that he didn't lead an honourable life. "Cherchez la femme !". Poor great-grandma! After his death my great-grandmother moved to her son-in-law Abraham Merzbacher’s house at 4 Maximilians Platz (the Dult Square) in Munich. This was situated just opposite Friedrich Flad’s colonial goods store and (later) the Wittelsbacher fountain. The Merzbacher grandparents lived on the second floor, Sara Lehmann nee Neustaetter (widow of Joel Oberndoerffer and mother of Karoline von Wilmersdoerffer) lived on the third floor and great-grandmother lived on fourth floor.


We arrived in Munich on 24 August 1880, shortly after Mr Lehmann died. Mrs Lehmann was supposed to leave the house as soon as possible, because grandfather needed the flat on second floor for us. Meanwhile we lived for  half a year with great-grandmother. Her six room flat was of course spacious enough for great-grandmother, but pretty tight for mother with her four children plus my sister Julia's nurse (called "Aujuste"). Great-grandmother was a good, lovable and cheerful woman and I still recall her bright laughter. Every morning after breakfast, between 9 and 10, grandmother used to come upstairs. Mother joined – and frequently, so did I. Great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and child, all together. In 1881 or 1882, the news arrived from Stuttgart, that a granddaughter of great-grandmother had given birth to triplets. Their mother was Anna Ruff, married to Dr Joseph Ruff, who later lived in Karlsbad (Bohemia). Anna Ruff was the daughter of Mrs Jeannette Ellinger nee Oberndoerffer and Dr Leopold Ellinger in Mergentheim, later Stuttgart. This event caused quite some excitement during the regular morning meeting. Great-grandmother kept on saying "hm, hm, hm" and clapping on her knees and went several times to her linen closet to find out if there were any items that might fit the three great-grandchildren. The three babies survived, but died a few years later of an infectious disease.


Later, mother told me that Dr Ruff (who was not present at the actual birth) was called out to see one of his patients after the birth of the second baby. When he came back, a baby was being bathed. He asked the midwife: "Why are you bathing the babies again?" When the midwife said: "This is the third one." he went into his wife's room, knelt down in front of her and said: "For heaven's sake, please stop it !"


In the evenings, great-grandmother used to go downstairs to the grandparents flat, and as she liked playing cards, they sometimes played "Haferltarok" with a kitty of 30 or 50 Pfennig. Eugen, the great-grandson, used to act as the "peewit"[3]. But around 9 o'clock grandfather always went to bed, as he used to go to the synagogue every morning at daybreak. The taroque game was not really exciting, and grandmother used to laugh heartily whenever she made mistakes. Great-grandmother died on 14 July 1882 at Villa Harslem in Bad Reichenhall, while we were staying in Bad Toelz.


Joseph and Luise (Lena) Oberndoerffer had seven children, all born in Ansbach (near Bayreuth):


  1. Nanny, born 20 Sep 1818, died 15 Jan 1896 in Munich
  2. Marianne, born 23 Aug 1820, died 24 Jan 1902 in Vienna
  3. Jeannette, born 26 Oct 1821, died 1871 in Stuttgart
  4. Adolf, born 24 Mar 1823, died 24 Jul 1894 in Hamburg
  5. Phillippine (Pina), born 4 May 1826, died 29 Nov 1903 Munich
  6. Nathan, born 14 Jul 1827, died 21 Dec 1827 in Ansbach
  7.  Caroline, born 1 Sep 1828, died 1 Jul 1835 in Munich


Grandmother Nanny, like her siblings, was well educated - I remember that both she and her two sisters could recite Schiller’s ballads by heart, without mistakes. Goethe was too "heathen" for them, and his love affairs didn't fit in with their bourgeois moral standards. On the other hand, they did admire Jean Paul (Richter), an important German author when they were young.


She was religious - a good Bavarian citizen who admired the Royal Wittelsbach family. She kept a diary like her sisters, as did my mother, later, and my aunt Friedericke Feust. She used to compose poetry about her life. Her poetry rhymed well and had good verse structure. After her death Dr Joseph Ruff edited these poems, and the family had them printed in honour of her memory. We grandchildren often bore the brunt of her criticism, and thus were  perpetuated in her poems.

My grandfather Abraham Merzbacher joined Joseph Oberndoerffer's household as Adolf’s tutor, while he was still in his student days. Grandmother Nanny fell in love with him, but so did her sister Jeannette! Grandfather, who was born on 10 Oct 1812 in Baiersdorf near Erlangen, first studied at the "Gymnasium" (college) in Erlangen and then at the old "Wilhelms-Gymnasium" in Munich, which was situated in the "Herzog-Max-Burg" in Wilhelmsbogen (like the new Ludwigs-Gymnasium). Grandfather studied Jewish theology at the Yeshiva (Talmudic college) in Fuerth, and there he received the title of "Morenu" (our teacher). This is roughly equivalent to a PhD. at university. He studied philosophy at the Munich University and got a diploma. But he never became a practising Rabbi. Rabbis didn’t earn much at that time, and Joseph Oberndoerffer didn't want to marry off his daughter to a Rabbi. But Samson Oberndoerffer, who appreciated his value, realized that they could gainfully employ him in the coin business because of his classic education. And thus Abraham Merzbacher changed his career plans, and was sent to Paris for a couple of years, where he got an education in numismatics at Rollie and worked for J.N. Oberndoerffer.


My uncle Eugen Merzbacher was born in 1845, my aunt Amalie on 6 Jan 1847 (she married Albert Honig in Fuerth - born 30 Apr 1834, died 18 Nov 1909), my mother Kathinka on 22 July 1850, my aunt Ida in 1852 (she married Hippolyte Dreyfuss in Basel), and my aunt Friederika in 1860 (she married Julius Feust, a lawyer in Munich). My mother was born at the family residence at Ludwig Strasse (later the site of a branch of the "Reichsbank"). The family later moved to Rindermarkt, near the hardware dealer, Kustermann, and in the sixties my grandfather acquired the house at Dultplatz number 4 (Dult Square), later named Maximiliansplatz and finally Lenbachplatz. This was to become my second home.


Just like my grandfather once acted as Adolf’s tutor (later to become his brother-in-law), he himself brought in a tutor called Eckel for his son Eugen, at the Rindermarkt home. In those days the family was afraid of infectious diseases at public schools, so they didn't send the children there. Eugen Merzbacher later studied in the higher classes at the Wilhelms-Gymnasium and then studied philosophy, history and archaeology at Berlin University. There, he got his PhD. - as far as I remember his thesis was about Jewish coins[4] (Shekel). He also had a private collection of such coins.


Grandfather Abraham Merzbacher retired from the business after 30 years and dedicated himself, full time, to the ideals of his youth. Thus, when he reached his 60th birthday he retired from J.N. Oberndoerffer, the company which he had jointly managed with Max von Wilmersdoerffer from Samson Oberndoerffer's death on. The stock of coins was shared between the partners. Max Wilmersdoerffer kept the Brandenburg coins as a private collection, and the company itself focused exclusively on the banking business from that point on. Grandfather kept up the coin trade until his son finished his tuition and took over the business. On 30 April 1878, Eugen Merzbacher married Rosa, daughter of the well respected wood merchant Schaje Jaffé in Posten. The Jaffés had 12 children. Rosa was an elder twin; Lina, the younger twin, later married a banker called Alexander in Hamburg.


Eugen and Rosa Merzbacher had the following children:


Leontine, born 1879, died young.


Elisabeth (Liese), born 13 April 1881, married Dr Wilhelm Kitzinger, a lawyer (later justice counsel), who was a descendant of Reinle Kitzinger nee Oberndoerffer. Their eldest son Richard (PhD.) emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he married. He now lives in England, has two children, and the family has converted to Christianity. Gretel (Margarete) studied political economy and worked for some years as social worker for the Jewish community in Munich. Later she became leader of the Youth Aliyah in Berlin and emigrated to Israel, where she married Rabbi Dr Robert Geis. Shortly after the marriage she had to undergo a surgery for a malignant tumour – this proved fatal. The youngest son, Dr Ernst Kitzinger studied art history, mainly under Pinter, and is now Director of the Harvard Collection at Dunbarton Oaks in Washington. He married an English Quaker and has three children, Anthony, Rachel and Adrien. Dr Wilhelm Kitzinger died in Israel, and Elisabeth lives with her son Ernst.


Dr Siegfried Merzbacher was born on 21 June 1883 and studied at the Wilhelms-Gymnasium. He then studied chemistry under Wilstaetter and got a job with the Auer Society near Berlin. He married Lilli, a granddaughter of Max von Wilmersdoerffer (daughter of Theodor Wilmersdoerffer). The couple emigrated to Turkey - he got a job there with the Turkish Gas Mask Company in Ankara. Eugen is a professor for physics at Duke University in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The daughter Dorothea is married to a teacher in England.


Luise, born 13 July 1884, married Willy Feistmann, a son of Joseph Feistmann and his wife (a nee Berlin). He later joined Luise's uncle Jaffé’s wood business in Berlin, but died of a heart attack at a relatively young age. The oldest son Rudy, published (as a writer) under the name "Fuerth". His last known address was in Mexico - in 1947 he is thought to have returned to Europe as a left wing political activist. (Ruth Ross: he later died in Eastern Germany).


Eugen (who changed his name to Lutterbeck – his first wife’s name) is a beautiful, tall, blue eyed guy, who once posed for the monument of a German warrior in Germany. He settled in Chicago as an X-ray specialist, where he lives with his 2nd wife, a Christian lawyer. They have a couple of children. Peter, his very good looking son from his first marriage, is studying medicine. The Feistmann daughters ran a very "modern" lifestyle - both are still alive - Leni Rainfrank and Bobbie Cartlidge (Mrs Derrick) in London. Bobbie has three children, Leni has none. Both are married to Christian partners.


My aunt Amalie was born on 6 January 1847. At age 18 she married the owner of J.B. Honig & Sons at Wein Strasse in Fuerth. Albert Honig was an impressive man, he had a wholesale  business in toys. The toy industry in Nuremburg-Fuerth was quite important and their products were sent to all over the world, especially to England. Business was good for many years, but my uncle was highly centralistic. Whenever one of his employees wrote a business letter to England to a business partner, he used to rewrite it in the evening and fill it with personal details on his wife and children. Aunt Amalie was a clever and energetic woman, very practical, but not skimpy.


Sophie (born on 10 April 1868), Amalie and Albert Honig’s oldest daughter, married a widower, the mirror glass manufacturer Leopold Heilbronn. He had a son Alfred from his first marriage, who lives in Istanbul where he works as professor of botany.


This marriage produced four children:


1. Philipp     born 5 or 15 Mar 1891

2. Fritz         born 9 Mar 1893

3. Dora                             born 3 Apr 1896

4. Anna        born 27 Oct 1900


Dora was a kindergarten teacher in Fuerth, but she died young. The sons live in Sweden, and probably Anna does too - or at least that's what I believe.


The second daughter Ida, born 27 July 1871 married Max Schloss, a shoe manufacturer in Vienna. He is no longer alive, she lives in England. Ida had two daughters, Else born 14 Feb 1896 and Fried (Fritzi) born 22 Jul 1898 - I don't know anything about them. (Ruth Ross: Their cousin Frank Marshall, who was close to Fritzi, said that he had supported Fritzi in Vienna. That was one year ago, just before he died in Los Angeles).


Eugen Honig was a handsome, kind person. He was born on 6 October 1872. He was a talented spendthrift and created more debts than his father could pay. So uncle Julius Feust bought him a ticket to Buenos Aires and took him personally to the boat. He had caught a bad case of syphilis in England, but seemed to have recovered well. He married a lady by the name of Ida Craemer in Buenos Aires and had one son. I think he died long ago.


Minna, born on 10 Sep 1874,  married Jakob Bier (born 1856), “prokurist”[5] of the Franconian Shoe Manufacturing Company (Barnays Brothers), an upright and efficient man. Their son Justus ? is an art professor in Louisville, Kentucky. Their daughter Frida, born 23 May 1902, lives in England (she is schizophrenic). I don't know anything about the daughter Erna, born 5 Feb 1903 ?. My cousin Minna survived Concentration Camp and lives with her son (?).


Minna and Adele were taught to be good piano players.


Adele, born on 6 August 1876 was a very pretty girl. She married Carl Marschuetz (born on 1st Sep 1865) who had a big factory in Nuremburg. At first, he manufactured bicycles, later ambulances. Adele's elder sister Sophia died of intestinal cancer when she was about 50 years old, Adele died of breast cancer at about the same age. Carl Marschuetz is still alive, as far as I know, in California (Ruth Ross: Carl M. died in 1961). Adele and Carl Marschuetz had three sons:


Fritz (later Frank Marshall) was born 11 Feb 1901 (Ruth Ross: he died in Los Angeles at the end of 1962. His wife was Hilde nee Hecht. He was an engineer, his wife is a real estate agent. Their son Thomas (Tommy) is a very handsome looking, tall guy – he was about 18 years old in 1963. My husband Ralph and I were well received when we visited them in 1962. We also met Alfred's wife there, a nee Deutsch. Frank Marshall had become a Presbyterian. Frank told me that the grandchildren didn't like their grandmother Amalie Honig, as she was power-hungry. They also disliked their father, Carl M., who lived nearby (but not with them). When we met him, Frank had a detached retina in his left eye, and he had lost his eyesight on that side, but he was still working. He died of a heart attack. End of remark by Ruth Ross).


Alfred Marschuetz, now Marshall, lives in Los Angeles with his family, where he works as a tax adviser and is very busy (his wife impressed me as a fine and intelligent person).


Leo is an abstract art artist. As far as I know, he lives in Southern France.


I'll deal later with my dear mother Kathinka Merzbacher, born 22 July 1850, died 30 June 1921. (Ruth Ross: this apparently never happened).


My aunt Ida, born 5 June 1853 was a jolly, humorous and talkative girl. She married Hippolyte Dreyfus ( born 15 March 1844, died 20 June 1903) in Basel (Switzerland).The Dreyfus company was a well respected banking house in Basel. It was owned by Dreyfus, Hirsch and Dreyfus-Neumann. Both brothers had a large number of children. A son of Neumann married the daughter of "sugar king" Brotzki in Kiev. Hippolyte was the son of Hirsch (the oldest son). He was not in the company, which indicates that he wasn't regarded as very talented as far as the banking business was concerned. He was in partnership with Mr Burkhart, and their company went bankrupt in the seventies (of the 19th century). Hippolyte then set up a business in silk waste. The company had one employee, who earned 100 Swiss Francs a month – which was about equivalent to the net profit of this business. Apart from on these business issues, Hippolyte was not stupid. He spoke and read German, French and Italian. He was not really a businessman but he regarded himself as haunted by bad luck. He was a kind person, but hot-tempered and easily excited. In his will, grandfather Merzbacher made sure (with the help of his son-in-law Julius Feust), that Hippolyte wouldn't get his hands on his wife's money – only on the interest. Hippolyte was very angry about this. The couple had four children:


Clémence Dreyfus, born 16 Oct 1877, married Mr Wolf, born 1876 in Basel and died young. A daughter Margarethe Wolf, was born on 31 August 1908.


Edmund Dreyfus, born Oct 1876, went to England around the turn of the century. He was very talented and was sponsored by the Dreyfus company in Basel and Michel David in London (Michel David had married Johanna, daughter of Adolph Oberndoerffer in Hamburg. Johanna was a cousin of our mother). He, Edmund, married the very pretty, charming and clever Marguertie (Marguerite ?) Schloss of Paris - I got to know her in 1912 at the funeral of my aunt Ida Dreyfus in Basel. This marriage produced three children:


v     A daughter, who married Dr Neuburger - a very talented medical researcher in London. In January 1948 she gave birth to a son David Edmond

v     A son Charles who continued his father Edmond's brokerage business

v     A son John, who married a certain Miss Thurnauer of Paris on 19 June 1948.


My cousin Edmond died in 1947 prior to John’s wedding, and left considerable property.


Gustav Dreyfus was born on the 10th February 1880. He was a very handsome boy. In 1900 he suffered from gonorrhoea with gonorrhoea-related arthritis in Berlin and as a result, was left with a stiffened left knee and elbow. He worked at the Stock Exchange in Paris and died there of diabetes during World War I.


Sophie Dreyfus, born 6 May 1885, married Aron Baer, a leather dealer in Koeln. She is a nice, kind person - he did not make a particularly sympathetic impression on me. Now, she lives in South Africa. A daughter Line (?), married a certain Mr. Nagel, and lives near New York (Ruth Ross: as far as I know, Line's husband was severely wounded in his spinal cord during World War II and became paralysed. He is an especially kind person. Some years ago I read an article in the New York Times about Line's son Tommy, whom I had known as a baby. He’d won a fellowship to Oxford, married a New York woman who also studied in Oxford and had graduated with honours. It's a pity that we lost contact. Shortly after our immigration we both met in New York – we’d been invited to the same place - and we liked each other immediately. During our conversation Line told me that she had relatives in Munich with the surname "Szkolny". We found out that she had visited us when we were both young, but we didn't recognize us each other then, as adults. We became good friends, but then we moved away from New York and the correspondence dried up).


My aunt Friedericke Merzbacher was born on 17 April 1859. She was a slim, fragile-looking[6] girl. She had a very special and close love and admiration for her remarkable father. While her sisters Kathinka and Ida were educated at the Girls institute run by the Jewish Mrs Albertine Friedlein (who was a good French and English language teacher), Friedericke went to the most prestigious girls institute in Munich, which was managed by two Ascher sisters, who had been born Jewish but had converted to strict Catholicism. Their childhood friend was the lisping and extravagant Marie Gras, who later married Friericke's grand-cousin Ludwig Feistmann. Ludwig was very straightforward and natural. He was a great friend of nature and an enthusiastic Alpine climber.


Grandfather often had young religious Jewish men round at his house, as guests – they were mostly invited for lunch on Saturdays, like Rabbi Dr Ziemlich (later Nuremburg) and the physicist Dr Leo Graetz. The latter was the son of Prof. Dr. Graetz of Breslau, the Jewish historian and was an associate professor at the Munich University, mainly researching electricity. He was especially good at describing scientific issues in a clear and popular manner. Another visitor was the new-philologist Prof Dr Stiefel, who was very orthodox. He didn’t carry a handkerchief  around on Shabat – instead he used his handkerchief as a belt instead of  suspenders. Later, he was baptized, and he (and especially his formerly Jewish wife) played an important role in (mainly Catholic) welfare matters in Munich. Cantor Emanuel Kirschner of the big Organ Synagogue was also a frequent visitor of the Merzbacher household. He was a good teacher of religion and a respected singing teacher. Kirschner, who held the divine service at the consecration of the new synagogue at Herzog-Max-Strasse, was also destined to hold the last divine service fifty years later, just before the synagogue was demolished overnight on Hitler's order. The painter Ernst Berger of Wien, a handsome, blond young man visited the Merzbacher house when he was young. Later he organized the black-and-white exhibitions at the Glass Palace[7] and received the title of professor. In 1919 he tore off a communist poster, after Count Arco had assassinated the prime minister[8] and communist chaos prevailed. He was arrested and shot with others held as hostages at Luitpold Gymnasium, when the free corps entered Munich. The fact that he was Jewish was not published – it didn't fit in with the increasing anti-Semitic sentiment at that time.


Julius Feust of Fuerth was born on 28 April 1853. He was the son of the Dr Karl Feust, a well-respected lawyer in Fuerth, who had been awarded the Bavarian Michael Medal and who had (impression taken from a photo) a "good head" (meaning that he obviously was an intelligent person). Julius was a good lawyer, but he was disliked by his colleagues, because of his bad manners and because "muses didn't stand near his cradle". His interest in literature was restricted to Kortum's "Jobsiade", perhaps Hebel's "Schatzkaestlein" (little treasure box). His hobby was Gabelsberger shorthand - he organized classes in stenography at the Merzbacher’s. His most enthusiastic student was my aunt Friedricke. They got married on 28 April 1881.


Karl Feust was born on 1 May 1887. He was a frail boy, got his Law Doctorate and became a lawyer. He was manic-depressive, and very religious. He married Fanny Sulzbacher from Duesseldorf. This marriage produced three children: Hanna born 6 Jan 1930, Julius born 1 Mar 1931 and Erich 10 Jan 1933. Karl died on 25 November 1938 in Dachau. The background to this is as follows:


After a mad Jew called Grienspan assassinated the German ambassador von Rath, Hitler used the opportunity to arrest many German Jews and put them in concentration camps to “educate” them. This was in November 1938. Among them were Wilhelm and Friedrich Kitzinger – both were sent to Dachau. Friedrich was manic-depressive and had been suffering for months from a depression. By the end of the first morning in Dachau the depression had disappeared. The Dachau camp was overcrowded. The prisoners were exposed to the cruel weather for hours, when they had to stand in line for inspection in their night gowns (remark of Ruth Ross: these were uniforms, which had been prepared long beforehand and consisted of thin pants and jackets). Many were physically maltreated - I was able to convince myself of this later.


My frail cousin, Dr Karl Feust, suffered a nervous breakdown, which was treated by taking him outside again and again and pouring buckets of cold water over him, then returning him in his wet clothes to the hall, where he was left near the open window. Karl died on 25 November 1938 of pneumonia. The guards were prisoners too - so called communists, who treated the others badly in the hope that they might soon be released, as a reward. The  SS staff and doctor (" Herr Obersturmbannfuehrer") also treated the prisoners brutally - in the Nazi slang this was called "hardship". Before my emigration, I counted 100 graves of people killed in Dachau at the Jewish cemetery in Ungerer Strasse in Munich. My old aunt Friedricke and Fanny Feust (together with her children) moved to London in 1939. Fanny's parents and her two brothers were already there. During the "Blitz" (mass bombing of London) the children were evacuated. Fanny was killed by a bomb, together with her parents, her brother and his wife. The other brother was very religious, had a Hebrew bookstore in London  and already was a father of five children. He said: "Where five children live, there is room enough for eight children" and so he took in the three Feust children. I saw Hanna in London - she has become a tall, pretty and clever girl. I haven't seen the boys since 1938.


Amalie Feust married Meier Bodenheimer - an impressive and handsome lawyer, who was killed in 1915 near Lublin , during World War I. One daughter, Julia Bodenheimer  was born in 1913 and died in 1934 (suicide ?). The other daughter, Dr Karolina Rosenthal (her husband was called Erich) was born in 1911.


Luise Feust was born in Munich on 30 Jan 1891 and graduated from the "Gymnasium" (college) in Munich. She later married Max Bodenheimer (a brother of Meier), a merchant in Darmstadt. She and her children and grandchildren live in Israel. The daughter Eva is married to Guenther Zuns and has 3 children. The son Julius Bodenheimer is also married and has 2 children.


Pauline, the prettiest of the Feust children, married Dr Emil Silbermann, a lawyer, who worked in his father-in-law’s office. He took the office over after "Justizrat" (~ Justice Counsel) Feust's death. The marriage was childless. They led a happy and carefree life and travelled around a lot. When she was young, Pauline was taught arts and crafts. Later on, she had the sense to get training from an excellent dress maker, who had previously made her dresses. The Silbermanns went to London in 1939, at the same time as Pauline's mother Friedericke. Emil Silbermann died of intestinal cancer. The kind, efficient and talented Pauline gets along quite well as a dress maker. During the "Blitz" (mass bombing of London by the Nazis) she lived in our house at Cambridge, England. She made good money, and we enjoyed her company.


My cousin Therese, a soft, small, slim girl, fell in love with Dr Hermann Salomon, who had studied in Munich. He seems to be a talented but unstable person. He frequently "fooled around". He seemed to have played some role in the Social Democratic Party, since he became Mayor of Luckenwalde, a village near Berlin. Three children were born of this marriage: Helene (married to Walter Schenk), Walter Ernst Salomon and Johanna (born 1925). Therese's marriage ended in a divorce. She is a clever and likable woman, but unfortunately has bad hearing. Dr Hermann Salomon worked as a medical doctor in the French colonies in Africa. (As far as I, Ruth Ross, know, Resel died in London at her sister Pauline's home, after having had a stroke which kept her bed-ridden for years and completely disabled her. Pauline took care of her in a touching and self-sacrificing way. What an unhappy life for the poor woman).


My aunt Friedricka Feust was a very religious woman. She performed her religious duties in just the same way as she had seen in the home of  her loved and admired father. The marriage was a happy one and odd Julius Feust couldn't have found a better wife. They first lived at Pranner Strasse in the Einhorn House, whose façade had been decorated with a classic frieze by Schwanthaler`s father. Feust later bought a corner building at Karlsplatz-Rondell. He never intended to sell it again. But when the owner of the neighbouring "Roter Hahn Inn" offered him nearly one million Marks for the place, he reckoned he couldn't reject the offer, out of a feeling of responsibility towards his children. With the money from this deal, he bought the building at the corner of Sonnen Strasse and Schwanthaler Strasse. Feust had acquired impressive wealth. My aunt Feust was very charitable. She didn't like me very much. She kept me as far away from her children as possible, because she was afraid that I might have a negative religious influence on them. I was only invited once - for Karl Feust's Barmizvah. I gave a short speech about Rome, Athens and Jerusalem as cultural centres and pointed out that Rome and Jerusalem were the predominant influences here in this family, but that Athens came off badly. Rabbi Dr Werner Cossmann, who was just drinking from his glass of wine, burst out laughing, spit the wine back into the glass and later criticized me in his own speech.


Julius Feust died on 17 July 1906, a few months after he had suffered a stroke.


He was known to be totally tone deaf. But he tried to learn to blow the "Schofar", the only religious musical instrument allowed in orthodox Jewish religious services after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E.. It is traditionally blown on the  Jewish New Year and on the Day of Atonement (the strictest and most serious holiday) and it produces sounds that really can cause fear and panic. One of the greatest social events which Judaism has given to the world is Shabat, the seventh day, when religious Jews cease all work. This day is dedicated to tranquillity, togetherness and spirituality. Although a Jew may toil and sweat the whole week long and wander around from place to place with his bag on his back, on Friday evening he makes sure to come back home to his family, dressed in their festive best. The house is lit up with festive lighting, the table has a white cloth and candlesticks on it, a shabat lamp hangs from the ceiling, business doesn't bother anyone and the meal is just like a holiday meal. It's a cheerful but quiet family celebration. Read the poem "Princess Sabbat" in Heine's "Hebraeische Melodien" (Hebrew melodies)! On Pessach, the Jewish Easter (which is celebrated in memory of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt) the head of the family reads from the Haggada book (parts of which seem odd[9]) which he uses to teach his children the meaning of the festival. Old Jewish poems and psalms are recited using old melodies, and the hope is expressed  that God send the Messiah this year and lead His people back to the Holy Land, where once again they will serve as a priestly people in the newly erected temple. Read Heine's fragment "The Rabbi of Bacharach"!


After his father's death, my cousin Karl Feust held the two Seder evenings. I was never invited.


In 1939, some months after Karl's death, my aunt invited me to hold Seder at her home. I had a childhood memory of how my grandfather ran the Seder – the last time I heard it from him was in 1885. My aunt was grateful for that. Since that time in 1885, she had never heard Seder her father’s way again. So she was so absorbed in devotion and old memories that for a while, she forgot all the bitter experiences of the previous few months. I then promised her to give the next Seder not in Jerusalem, but in London (to where she moved, thanks to her nephew Edmond Dreyfus). I would indeed have come through, but she died before then, age 80, on 12 October 1939 in London.


There used to be an old Justizrat (Justice Counsel) called Marx living in Munich. He was a bachelor and lived with his mother, who (as far as I know) lived to be 99. His father was a Major in the Bavarian King’s army - his brother had retired as a Captain and had reached the rank of Major during World War I. They belonged to one of the oldest Jewish families in Munich. The old justice counsel, who survived his mother by only a few years, led a bohemian life-style. He used to come back home early in the morning - only after the last inn or tea room had closed. He neglected himself a lot and was known as dirty. He didn’t have much work as a lawyer, but he was ingenious, witty, quick at repartee and very musical - an especially good piano player. He frequently went to the Palace of Justice, where he met his colleagues in the corridor. Feust once said: "What's the difference between Bathseba and Marx?" He added: "Bathseba was seen bathing once in her life-time”. Marx then asked: "What's the difference between Faust and Feust?" Answer: "At least you can expect a decent performance of Faust."


Justizrat (Justice Counsel) Albert Gaenssler, a son-in-law of the great public health specialist Max von Pettenkofer, once was said to have asked Marx “who actually wears your clean shirts?” and a lady who saw and heard him playing the piano said: "I never would have thought that a man with such dirty fingers could play piano so well." Moessmer, a lawyer, was highly respected by the lesser educated classes of Munich society. He was a clever speaker, and his spontaneous jokes where frequently bandied around by lawyers. He once had defended a weak-minded young man, who was accused of arson, before the Court of Assizes[10]. Although it was obvious that the defendant was not responsible for his actions and couldn't be punished, Moessmer insisted on a long speech. The jury went out, returned after a few minutes and announced his acquittal. Moessmer then went out into the hall, turned proudly to a group of colleagues and said: "What do you think about how I managed to get this defendant off free?" Marx replied: "My dear colleague, this accused was freed by his own stupidity".


Justice Counsel Albert Gaenssler, who was said to have a tendency to exaggerate, once asked Marx: "How much do you think I earned today”? Marx replied: " Half!"


Lawyers usually got the title "Justizrat" after 24 years of work. Marx felt that he had been ignored a couple of times. The next day he appeared in the court hall and seemed to be in a bad mood. A colleague asked him what was wrong. He said: "I had a terrible dream. I met Justice Minister Baron Leonhard in the street. I cried. He asked me what was wrong. I said: Your Excellency, I was passed over when  titles were awarded. The Minister answered: Marx, if I had known that you were so stupid, I would had made you a Justice Counsel long ago."


Nathan Abraham Oberndoerffer’s fourth child was Gittel, born on 20 August 1796 in Ansbach. On 29 March 1819 she married Marx Berliner (born 14 January 1780 in Ansbach) - he died in Ansbach on 13 January 1824.  On 7 March 1827 she married Philipp Maier, who died there on 27 October 1855. Aunt Gittel died in Ansbach on 3 September 1872.


Her marriage to Marx Berliner produced two sons: Anton and Henoch (Heinrich).


Anton Berliner was born 20 June 1821 in Ansbach and died in Munich on 20 September 1892. He married his cousin Caroline, the oldest daughter of Maier Oberndoerffer, who was born in Ansbach on 4 January 1829 and died in Munich on 29 October 1902. He had a son, whom I knew, and who died young of tuberculosis. A daughter[11] married Morgenroth, who was a merchant and Town Counsellor in Bamberg. They had two sons. One son Max (?) was hard of hearing, less talented and was trained as a gardener. The other, Julius, was a few years older than me - he studied medicine. He worked at the Policlinic in Munich with Professor Moritz for a while and then joined Ehrlich in Frankfurt. He investigated blood diseases, developed Optocain (a medicine used to fight pneumococci diseases) and he died as a “Geheimer Medizinalrat”[12] (Medical Counsellor) and Professor in Berlin. His widow married Professor Ulrich Friedemann, a son of Justice Counsellor Friedemann and his wife Auguste nee Szkolny. The daughter Rosa married Heinrich Aufhaeuser, the banker. She was a lovely woman. Heinrich Aufhaeuser got his training at J.N. Oberndoerffer and had founded a banking house together with the banker Scharlach. After Scharlach retired, Heinrich Aufhaeuser ran a banking business under his own name at Loewengrube in Munich. The daughter Bertha was a pretty girl, blue eyed, gifted, enthusiastic and a talented idealist. She married Mr. Heilbronner, a banker and they had one son, who became a doctor in Munich. The marriage ended in a divorce. Heilbronner then married a cousin of Bertha’s called Clara. Bertha married Dr Mieczyslaw Epstein, whom I got to know in Berlin in 1888, where he studied medicine. He was born in Poland and raised at Rabbi Cossmann Werner's home in Danzig. He joined the social democratic movement and settled in Munich around 1890-1900. He was an ugly, but clever and very likable individual. He soon managed to establish a flourishing practice in Munich for those insured under the public health insurance system. He was an especially conscientious health insurance doctor and therefore very popular with his patients. He was a reasonable, moderate man, a clever speaker, and for some time he was also a Deputy of the Munich Community and an active member of the Medical Society. His first marriage had been to a Russian lady, who went with their son to Switzerland during World War I and never came back. This marriage ended in a divorce. The son studied medicine and became a capable scientist in Geneva. The marriage with Bertha Aufhaeuser was a very happy one. She helped her husband in every way and kept herself busy as a pacifist in the movement for the abolition of the death penalty. A few months after her husbands death she killed herself with barbituric acid.


Heinrich Aufhaeuser's eldest son, Martin Aufhaeuser, was a clever man and expanded his father's banking business significantly. He married Gusti Ortlieb, the daughter of a wood merchant who owned rich forests in Bukowina (together with a partner in Vienna). His son, Richard Ortlieb, later joined the ranks of Bavarian nobility with a hereditary title. (I assume this was Austrian nobility, RR). The family owned a beautiful piece of property at Lake Wolfgang at "Salzkammergut" near the "Weisses Rössl".


The second son, Siegfried Aufhaeuser, worked for many years in a London Banking House and became a British citizen. During WW I he lived in Stockholm. He was friendly with my brother-in-law Ernst Wilmers and my sister Julia and joined the couple quite often at Leksand in Dalarna. He was a handsome, smart and kind man and had friends everywhere. After WW I he returned to Munich and joined his brother Martin's banking business. He became the Swedish Consul General in Munich - Martin was the soul of the business. (After WW II he married a Miss Fuchs, he died in New York, as far as I know, and he was financially in a bad state, Ruth Ross).


Heinrich Aufhaeuser's younger daughter was his special darling. When I once met Heinrich Aufhaeuser with his daughter Emma at the "Hofgarten", he took me aside and asked me: "Ain't my Emmerl sweet?" I couldn't but confirm this. She was a beautiful, kind and charming girl. As a student in the "girls college"[13] at Brienner Strasse she often met Moritz Schlesinger, the lawyer, in the Park at  Maximiliansplatz, and he accompanied her to her school. Later they got married. The daughter Thea, who studied music history, first married Dr Fritz Dispeker, a lawyer in Munich, for a short time. She was left with a "pereneus-parese" from polio. Later she married a former clerk of Aufhaeuser, her uncle, Lorenz "Lolo" Gruenzweig. They live in the USA. She is quite prominent in the music business - she arranges concerts for Pablo Casals.


The son of Moritz and Emma Schlesinger is a law professor in New York or Pennsylvania. He was especially talented and idealistic, having given up a much more remunerative business in favour of teaching.


Martin Aufhaeuser died in New York of sclerosis of the heart. His daughter Dora married a lawyer called Dr Engel, in Berlin, and lives with him in London. His son Walter married Marianne Hirschland, a doctor, from a family, who owned a banking business in Essen. The younger son Robert lives in Los Angeles. He suffers from bad health and is poor. Gusty Aufhaeuser nee Ortlieb died there.


Another daughter of Anton Berliner married a merchant called Heilbronner. Both of Anton's daughters, Thesi and Klara, were plain like their mother. Thesi stayed single and soon became nearly blind; Klara married Mr. Heilbronner, her cousin’s husband, after their divorce.


The youngest daughter (I don't know her name, she was called "Wucki") married a Mr Neustaetter. The son that came out of this marriage became an engineer and married Mrs Dr Jackoby.


Henoch Berliner was a humpback. His wife had once served as a cook for Anton Berliner. In those days the daughters of poor Jewish families went to work as cooks for the well-to-do Jewish families. He had 3 sons and 2 daughters. One son, a lawyer called Dr Max Berliner, married a Miss Carl. Two of the sons later acquired the business of Magistrate Louis Reichenberger at Theatiner Strasse. Hermine Berliner married a merchant by the name of Ferdinand Hirschberg, Charlotte married Max Hirschberg and had a well known ready-made clothes shop at Theatiner Strasse in Munich. A son of Ferdinand Hirschberg was a well known Munich lawyer; he was left wing.


Of all the descendants of Gittel Oberndoerfer's marriage with Philipp Maier I only knew one lady, who was married to a banker and "Kommerzienrat" in Ansbach. He later lived as a man of private means in Munich and was vain and ambitious. They had one son.


Joel Nathan Oberndoerffer was born in Ansbach on 21 April 1799 and died in Munich on 26 November 1843. On 26 November 1829 he married Sara Neustaetter. In 1829 he founded the J.N. Oberndoerffer company in Munich, taking in his brothers Samson and Josef as partners. He died young. (According to the notations in Friedericka Feust's diary he must have been a hot-tempered, rough man with little self-control – a source of much discontent between the siblings). He left behind a daughter Karoline, who married her cousin Max (later "von") Wilmersdoerffer, a son of Jele W. nee Oberndoerffer. Sara nee Neustaetter, who was born on 6 August 1807 in Munich, married again after her husband's death – to Mr Lehmann. He died in 1880. She died on 4 September 1882 in Starnberg.


Max and Karoline von Wilmersdoerffer had two children. The daughter Ida married David Selz, a "Prokurist" of the Hirsch Bank who was also a brother of my father-in-law Adolf Selz.


The Hirsch Bank later developed into the "Bayerische Vereinsbank" with David Selz as one of the top managers. Later he became member of the board and was granted the title of "Kommerzienrat”.


Karoline von Wilmersdoerffer was a sophisticated and distinguished woman. Her daughter Ida Selz was not pretty. She had inherited the hook nose from her parents, which she, in turn, transmitted to her descendants like the aristocratic Habsburg family passed down their lips. She was good-natured, but not intelligent and she took a vivid interest all kinds of trivia. She would start reading a newspaper from the advertisements. She always knew when a canary bird had flown away. When a fire alarm sounded she used to ask the telephone operator about the fire. She once did that late in the evening. At 2 pm the telephone office called her back and told her the fire had been put out. David Selz was an elegant man and behaved like a gentleman to the outside world. However he was rude to his wife. Women had a magnetic attraction on him. He died around age 70 of a chronic coronary condition. The money Ida Selz inherited from her husband was later lost during the inflation.


David and Ida had three children: Rudolph, Alfred and Elsa. Elsa was not pretty, but she had a big dowry. She married a lawyer David Mosbacher, who was not rich but was very musical and well read. The couple had two sons. The older one, Ernst, was a promising student, became a lawyer and an opera singer, but later became unreliable[14] and wasted his time. The younger son Fritz, an excellent swimmer, was a talented young psychiatrist, but died young of an infectious disease in Hamburg. Elsa died relatively young of a brain haemorrhage. Her marriage improved when they became friendly with the Hungarian Jewess Gisela Fischer, who was an opera star at Gaertner Theatre. Mosbacher died of heart disease in the early thirties in a Jewish old people's home. He was destitute and very lonely.


Here I (Ruth Ross) want to add what I have to say about the sons, as Eugen doesn't mention them further in his memoirs. Alfred, who was ugly and had inherited the extremely high interest in women (which he gave in turn to his son Kurt), first married Olga Kraemer, daughter of the non Jewish "Hofrat"[15] Kraemer. Kurt, who was born in 1909, became a friend of my brother Julius and had a bad influence on him, as he was a real good-for-nothing. Till today I still resent the way he lead my brother into doing things that today seem to us harmless, but then resulted in a heavy beating. For example, once they went to the movies instead of to a lecture at the Geographical Society, where they had been sent. Kurt managed to leave the cinema around the time when the lecture was supposed to be over, while naïve Otto watched the movie until the end. When our parents became worried and called Alfred Selz, Kurt gave everything away and Otto was beaten when he came home. This caused me a fit of hysterics, which soon brought the punishment to an end. Alfred divorced Olga Kraemer, a very beautiful woman, who later became a singer.


When Olga still lived with "Fredi", she once threw a children's party at Easter, where Alfred dressed up as a brown rabbit. Otto and I were white rabbits, Otto with light blue ears and I with rose red ears. Later, Alfred married Alice Herz, the daughter of Mr. Herz, a jeweller from  Wiesbaden, whose sister Emmie was married to Otto Merzbacher, a cousin of my father Eugen Szkolny. Alice was a very beautiful woman, substantially younger than Alfred. Fredi was a top manager of the Deutsche Bank or Vereinsbank in Munich. Today he would be described as a compulsive-obsessive character. In every free minute (like at 5 am in the morning) he used to check all the drawers in the house to check that everything was in order. The household was managed perfectly by Alice and her three servants. In the evening he used to turn off his bed-side light with a piece of silk, so as not to dirty his hands. When he went on vacation he had to take with him his own bed and mattress. He made sure that my father (who was his doctor) wore his doctor's coat  when attending him. And after my father sat down on a chair, the seat was sterilized with alcohol. In 1938 Fredi was taken to the Dachau concentration camp, where, as expected, his neurotic behaviour immediately disappeared. He adapted fantastically to the environment and never complained. He later emigrated to England, became a cutter in a skirt factory and adapted himself to an incredible extent to the new circumstances. The outside pressure made his neurotic symptoms unnecessary. His wife Alice stayed behind in Germany, where she was cared for by Alfred's first wife Olga, who tried to hide her in her country house at Kochel. Both were later killed by the Nazis. Both daughters Martha and Bobby emigrated. Martha married a certain Mr. Dachs in New York and visited us once in Boston; Bobbie lives in Southern Rhodesia - I don't know her actual surname. Kurt was married to Gabriele Boettinghaus, heir of I.G. Farben, an especially clever and artistically talented woman, whom he forced to support him. She disliked this pretty soon. He is said to be up to his fourth marriage, living happily in Italy, where my cousin Dr Peter Selz visited him some time ago.


Rudy Selz was a mediocre man, who was never particularly successful. He lived in England for many years, and was married to a woman named Hanna, who had been lame for years until she was cured by her masseur. Rudy returned to Munich where he married a widow called Betty Weinmann, one of my mother’s best friends. He had an affair with a Christian during the Third Reich but he was not arrested, as he was a British citizen. Instead, he was deported to England, where Betty took care of him when he fell ill and died there. Betty Selz lives in Jerusalem with two daughters and still looks great at over 80 years old. I met her in Munich in 1961.


Now back to my father's memoirs:


Joseph Oberndoerffer's second daughter Marianne was born on 23 August 1830 in Ansbach, and married Adolf Manheimer, a brother of her mother, who was born on the 22 September 1819 in Fuerth. He was, as far as I know, a jeweller in Vienna. They had a daughter Fanni, who was not a beauty, but she was "horny", as "Hofrat" Dr Gossmann in Munich used to say. She married a handsome man, Arnold Grünberg, who died young. This marriage produced two daughters and one son. The son Victor was baptized and married an "Arian". He was a college professor somewhere in Austria. Fanni married Mr. Tafler, her children’s tutor, who had neither money nor a job and was much younger than her. (Nanny Merzbacher's diaries point out that Fanni didn't feel understood by her parents. Though she didn't like Tafler at first, he supported her when her husband was ill. He was eleven years younger and had returned to Hungary, where he was supposed to look for a job and where he lived with his parents. Fanni declared that she would like to leave her children and live with him, as he was the only person who really cared about her. The diary of 1880-1883 again and again describes scenes between Marianne and her daughter Fanni. These stressed great-grandmother Nanny very much.) Nanny Merzbacher talked to the top manager of the Wiener Bankverein in Vienna, who gave Tafler a job in his bank. Tafler stayed there for the rest of his life and in the course of thirty years reached a satisfactory position.


The couple had two children. One son, Dr Joseph Tafler (Josi) was a sought after lawyer in Vienna. The daughters from Fanni's first marriage were called Bella and Sarolta. Bella was a beautiful girl, brunette, with blue eyes, delicate nose and a small mouth. She was also intelligent. Her grandparents had moved from Vienna to Meiningen, as they didn't have enough money both to live in Vienna and to support their daughter Fanny. Adolf Manheimer is said to have been a man with artistic interests, mainly musical. The grandparents took Bella in. But life with her old grandparents must have been pretty joyless. They were afraid of open windows, mainly of drafts and grandmother Marianne was a passionate smoker. Bella later became a tutor for the Strauss family in Bamberg (Merzbacher descendants), then secretary at a bank in Mannheim. At the age of 60 she was still beautiful - later she returned to Vienna. She visited us frequently on her trip from Mannheim to Vienna in the Summer. She was slightly melancholic and felt frustrated. We liked her. Sarolta was not beautiful. She married a doctor in Hungary. Since Hitler seized power we haven't heard from this branch of the family.


Jeannette Oberndoerffer, was born on 16 Oktober 1821 in Ansbach, and married Dr Leopold Ellinger, who was born on 5 March 1823 in Pflaumloch. He was a good doctor - worked for many years in Mergentheim, where his practice attracted patients from the whole surrounding area. Later he moved to Stuttgart. Jeannette died there on 18 October 1871. They had a daughter Anna, who married a Dr Ruff from Hungary. Ruff was assistant physician to his father-in-law in Stuttgart. As he didn't have a German license, he later settled in Karlsbad as a spa physician. Besides the triplets, who died very young, the Ruffs had three more children. The older son Erwin became a doctor in Vienna and married a pretty Viennese girl - no children. The younger son Arthur became a spa physician at Karlsbad. A son Guenther Ruff is studying now in the USA. He had another son, Dr Arthur Ruff, who works in a psychiatric clinic in England. He couldn't return to Czechoslovakia while Hitler ruled Germany, because he was Jewish. And after the war he couldn't return, because he was regarded as German and the regime was anti German - also because it's not very attractive to go east, behind the "iron curtain".


Dr Ellinger married a second time, to his lecturer[16]. They had one son, who became a high ranking judge in Stuttgart. His relationship with the Merzbacher family disintegrated, since, in this second marriage, he married out. Ellinger died on 20 May 1889 in Mergentheim.


Joseph Oberndoerffer's only son Adolph was born on 24 March 1823 in Ansbach. He was employed in his father's business in Vienna. He married a rich girl Jenny Duz (?) from Hamburg. I got to know her in the early eighties at Reichenhall. We lived at Villa Gruttenstein then, just below the old castle ruins on the old road which leads from the Saline and the oldest part of Reichenhall up the hill towards Bayrisch Gmain and Austrian Gmain (Grossgmain). With his white bush of hair he looked like a poodle. We children liked him, because he was funny and always had tricks on his mind and could tell strange stories, especially about his unmarried sister-in-law, Therese Duz, who lived in Hamburg in his house. When he was a young boy in Munich, he once felt a desire to eat forbidden fruits - the warm pork sausages in Siebert the butcher's shop smiled at him temptingly. He looked around carefully, and since he saw nobody whom he knew, he went into the shop and bought a pair of pork sausages, which he ate up at once with great pleasure. At this exact moment someone touched his shoulder from behind. He had a bad conscience, so he turned around scared , and looked into the face of a policeman. He thought that he was going to arrest him because he ate pork sausages. But the guardian of the law asked him friendlily: "Do you like them, little boy?"


I suppose he moved to Hamburg after his father's death and worked their as a numismatist. He had a daughter Johanna, who was born on 30 April 1860 in Vienna. She was tall and sparse, red haired and had freckles, but she was kind. She married a Mr Michel David, who was born in Hamburg on 25 September 1855, worked in Paris and London as a confidential clerk for important banking houses. He died on 19 November 1908. They had two daughters, Luise, married Mr. Meyer, who died in London in 1947, and Adrienne who is still alive.


Adolph Oberndoerffer died on 24 June 1894 in Hamburg. His widow, the mentally active and kind aunt Jenny, who loved talking, moved in with her daughter, where she died on 15 November 1925 at age 91.


Thus my father's memoirs come to an end. It's a pity that he has left nothing about family members of his own generation, nothing about his own life or about his siblings or about the relatives of his wife or his children. I have a mind to do this myself sometime later.



Ruth Szkolny Ross



[1] David Birnbaum: The question mark is by Eugen Szkolny, who was clearly not sure of the details. In fact he indeed was mistaken. Samuel Kitzinger was son, not grandson of Gabriel Kitzinger, and married Ida Dinkelsbuehler on 11th April 1869. Samuel was born as Samuel Loew on 31st July 1842 in Ansbach – see Ansbach Matrikel, as well as two Kitzinger family trees I have in my posession.

[2] Kommerzienrat was a title of honour that was granted to high ranking representatives of the German economy until 1919.

[3] a bird which is regarded as being curious and checks what the neighbour has

[4] David Birnbaum:  Indeed this was the case. See : Eugen Merzbacher, DE SICLIS NVMMIS ANTIQVISSIMIS IVDAEORVM, Dissertatio inauguralis, Berolini MDCCCLXXIII: Exemplar in der Bibliothek der Staatlichen Muenzsammlung Muenchen sig. 595 ac

[5] A "prokurist" is a clerk who is fully trusted by the owners of the business and who signs in their name

[6] in German „zarter Knochenbau”

[7] The Glass Palace was a very famous exhibition hall in Munich near the "Stachus" = "Karlsplatz" and main station, constructed along the lines of Crystal Palace in London – it burned down in 1931.

[8] His name was Kurt Eisner 1867-1919, a journalist and social democrat, who switched to the independent social democrats in 1914 because they opposed the War as he did. In 1919, Eisner proclaimed the Free state of Bavaria, became prime minister and shortly after was murdered by Count Arco of Valley

[9]teilweise verwunderlich"

[10] "Schwurgericht"

[11] one would assume of Anton’s

[12] a title of high honour at the time

[13] in the original German, „Toechterschule", meaning “daughter’s school”

[14] "unzuverlaessig" in German

[15] a title of honour granted to people of some importance connected to the royal court

[16] in German, "Vorleserin"