Saturday, December 24, 2016

The family hits Broadway and Hollywood!

It’s Christmas day. I don’t have to do anything special. The NZ television is about as LCD as it is possible to get. So I’m just sitting at my computer playing the game of ‘find the family’. I’m quite good at this particular game, having played it for so many years with other people’s families. And I’m quite persistent. So I come up with the occasional nugget.

Funnily enough, most of the interesting folk I have found dangling from the limbs of my tree have been what you might say were of John’s and my world – a musician, singer, museum curator, anthropologist – and, although I must admit to an incommensurate number of bankruptees among the Eltern, so far I’ve found nothing worse.

I was musing, before bed-rise, today on how widely my family has spread from its European roots in even the last century. Mostly, of course, the Jewish part. Josef Sessler, Julie Gánsl’s widowed brother-in-law fled to Brasil, followed by his daughter Nina and her husband, Hans Morsten. Nina's sister, Margarethe and her husband, Friedrich Morsten didn’t move quickly enough. They perished in Auschwitz. Another sister, Pauline Bress, seems to have suffered a similar fate. Son, Ignaz Johann Sessler, also chose Brazil as his home, and made himself a name and career as president of the Associacano Brasiliera de Tecnologia grafica.

Fritz Rosenbaum had departed for Australia, and my father, Fritz Ganzl, by then known as ‘Fred Gallas’, Julie’s only grandchild, had been several years Headmaster of Wellington Technical College, New Zealand … but surely some of the Flüchtlinge must have gone to the pale-greenish-backed paradise of America.

They did. Anna, the 75-year-old widow of Julius Rosenbaum, Julie’s brother, accompanied by her two daughters, the recently widowed Mizzi (b 10 January 1890 Vienna, d New York 1979, (pictured above) and Frieda (b 21 November 1892; d Florida 6 February 1978) with the last-named’s husband, Hans Lederer (b Pfaffensteffen 4 June 1892; d New York 16 July 1963), and their son and daughter made their escape in 1942. Hans listed himself on the ship-list as ‘theatrical impresario’. That’s all I needed. Actually, I think he may have been upgrading himself a touch. Theatrical agent, maybe? Like myself? Anyway, that’s what he worked at in America, with the Clifford Fischer office, the so-called ‘International Theatrical Corp’ and Lew and Leslie Grade. I’ll have to troll through Variety one day. The son of the family, Herbert Lederer (b Vienna June 9 1921; d West Hartford, Conn 18 July 2007) did altogether better. His Obituary from the University of Connecticut, where he was Professor Emeritus of German, says that he was 'internationally recognised in the field of German studies' and directed student theatre productions. He also wrote a number of books. So is he the Herbert Lederer who wrote about East German theatre and operetta? If so, I wonder what he would have thought, had he known that the (then) world guru of Operette was his umpteenth cousin!

But poor Julius’ family was not the only Rosenbalsamic twig to cross the Atlantic. Julie’s sister, Mathilde, had married a widower gentleman by name Leopold Handl and, before she died, aged 56, she had thrice added to his stock of children. The one who lasted was son Albert (b Vienna 24 May 1885; d Los Angeles 1966) who married a Frieda, fathered a Leo, and quit Europe with his family at an apposite time. In 1940, living in New York, Leo described himself as an ‘art salesman’.

But he didn’t stay that way. Leo became an American citizen as quickly as was allowed and decent, changed his name (all our family does, I’m the only one who has changed BACK) to Leo A Handel, and went in for, you guessed it, a career as a writer, a director, a producer in … Hollywood.

Well. The credits I have found for him on the IMDb (and strange errors have been known in THAT publication) are not hugely enthusiasmic. But I know nothing about films. His main claim to fame seems to be a rape/abortion/death thing called The Shame of Patty Smith. But it got better. A Book Academic Films for the Classroom tells us his Los Angeles-based Handel Film Corporation 'produced approximately 150 titles, primarily in the subject areas of history, science and art', that he was in US Military Intelligence during the war, and spent a decade as a backroom boy at MGM. So the 'shockers' were only a sideline.

Well, that’s Christmas day. If anyone with Broadway and Hollywood knowledge knows anything about Hans Lederer or Leo A Handel (b Vienna 7 March 1914; d Camarillo Ventura Cal 8 September 2007) it would be fun to hear!

Postscript:  I see now that another part of the family ended up in America as well. Rudolf Rosenbaum's daughter Gertrude (b Vienna 3 July 1913; d Vienna 8 September 1974) married Johannes Thedor Israel Schmutzer (b 17 June 1913; d Vienna 10 April 1958) and the two men headed the famous firm through the post-war years. Schmutzer was succeeded by his son, Michael who was at the helm when in 1981 Brüder Rosenbaum finally ceased, after more than a century. Michael must be my generation, I mused, and I looked. Hello cousin!

Michael is the President at Disti Kleen Inc which manufactures cleaning systems for the printing industry
and, oh my heavens, he's got branches of his own! 

And an artist ancestor -- Ferdinand Schmutzer -- who has been the subject of a biography. It's neverendless!!

And children ... the Rosenbaums march on into the 21st century!

The fourth founding father or, poor Adolph


Of my four founding families, I expected the genealogical researching of the Gánsl side to bring in the richest results, and the Rosenbaums to be impossible to sort out. Never have expectations: they are apt to be confounded. Great-grandmother, Julie Rosenbaum, has produced a vast mass of Rosenbaums, not only sideways, thanks to all her brothers and sisters, but even backwards. I little thought that I would end up with the great-grandfather of my great-grandmother. 

But I did. Julie’s father, Adam, was the son of Napthali Rosenbaum, son of Salomon Rosenbaum ... which takes us back into the Bohemian mists of the eighteenth century and the towns of Königsberg an der Eger (NOT the Königsberg now Kaliningrad, which is miles away) and Katzengrün -- now Kynsperk nad Ohri and Kacerov, Czechoslovakia, respectively -- where I am sure a forefather or two of ours lies in the old Jewish Cemetery which is currently under restoration (see:

 I’ll return to the Rosenbaums of antiquity in due course, but first I need to tidy up Great-Grandfather number 4. Adolf Gánsl, Julie’s husband. Well, I’ve got plenty of Gánsl photographs. Adolf, Julie, their three surviving sons. But whereas Julie has all sorts of back-family, for Adolf I can blankly find none. No father’s name. Nothing. Just the bald statement that he was born in Mór, Hungary, in 1844. It makes sense. There are records of a good handful or three of Gansls born and living in Mór at the right time. But no Adolf or Adolph. And not one real clue have I found as to his background and life before he turns up in Vienna in the 1870s. I suppose he could be a relation of the Herren S Gansl and M Gansl, merchants, from Hungary (seemingly Szerdahely) who turned up in the Vienna ‘Fremdenblatt’ frequently in the 1850s, there’s a Herr A Ganzl with them in 1853, but he’d only be nine. Ooh, in 1865 there’s a Herr H Gansl from Mór! And I Gansl from Mór! Staying at the Hotel Weisser Wolf in the Fleischmarkt. I Gánsl from Szerdahely … M Gánsl from Mór … F Gánsl actor! ... and then 1869 A Gánsl, merchant, staying at the Russischer Hof. And what’s this: an Hungarian Adolf A Gánsl setting up a ?Dampfmüble-Acten-Gesellschaft with all Hungarian directors, in that year. And, oh, yes, I was expecting him ‘Herr A Gansl, Leiter des Hauses Rothschild in Californien’. But he’s not an Adolf/ph.  In 1872, Herr H is still commercially travelling up from Mór. And then it is December 1873 and there, finally, is our Adolph, launching a ‘erste und grösster Leopoldstädter Bazaar’ in the fashionable Hotel Europa … I think this was just a temporary Festive thing, it only seems to have advertised briefly.

But Adolph has already entered the story, for up in the Bohemian Spa Town of Franzenbad on the 4 February of that year, Adolph had wed the eldest Miss Rosenbaum. So did he try to become a businessman before, or after, he got mixed up with the very businessmanly Rosenbaum family? He wasn’t, alas, very good at it.

1874 (15 February) sees the firm of Gansl and Rosenbaum (Heinrich, eldest brother) fancy-goods-merchants, starting up, in the wake of the Bazar, at the Europa. By 1877 they were announced as ‘Falliments’, alongside an unfortunate manufacturer of an early type of Esky. ‘Das Firma Gansl und Rosenbaum wurde über Gesellschaftaufgebund gelöscht’. Heinrich went on to join his brothers in their printing firm, Adolph doesn’t seem to have had any more such ventures with the family.

His family life had seemingly gone sadly too. Julie gave birth to three daughters, Ida (4 June 1876), Gisela (26 July 1877) and Rosa (21 December): all three failed to survive. However, things looked up when their first son, Josef (‘Pepi’), was born (3 June 1881) at Buchfeldgasse 7, and two others followed … Max (30 December 1883) and Fritz (30 May 1886) after they moved to Währing’s Schulgasse 8.

Life as a ‘general merchant’ in Währing wasn’t, evidently, very productive. The latest shop-business was in Julie’s name, so she took the flak when things got tough … 

but then life struck again. Or, rather, death. Julie died, at the age of 45 (5 June 1888). Usually the Viennese papers got the city’s deaths from officialdom, and the cause of death (‘tuberculosis, heart-attack, lung complications’) was printed in the lists. Not so for Julie. I wonder why.

It was said, in my family, that Adolph died ‘of a broken heart’ within the year (8 April 1889). He was also in a total mess. His bankruptcy proceedings didn’t come up until after his death and they were, well, messy. And, again, the papers printed no cause of death.

So, the three little boys were orphaned. My father always said, the two little ones went into an orphanage, and the slightly older Pepi was brought up by one of the ‘Tante Rosenbaum’s. I’m not sure how to trace this … but I’ll try. Anyway, that’s the next chapter. Which starts with teenaged Pepi listed amongst the commercial clerks of Brüder Rosenbaum … and the three brothers getting ready to face the 20th century,

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Forest of Rosenbaums or, It's just the Jewish in me ...!


Most of us have ten fingers. Ten toes. Two ears. And four great-grandfathers.

Mine were urgrossvaters Stogetz, Baumgärtner, Gánsl and Rosenbaum. Central European borders have changed since they were born, so I think John and I are, currently, one quarter Hungarian, one quarter Czech, one quarter Austrian, one quarter German or Swiss, two quarters Jewish, two quarters katholisch.
I attacked the Stogetz and the Gánsl forefathers first, because my thoughtful Nana Rudi (née Stojetz, Fr Ganzl) had left me fine photographs of the two impressive German gentleman and their wives, and I felt I knew them a little. I did well with the Stogetz line, but the seemingly Hungarian Gánsls have been shyer. I’m one ur-ur-grossvater short on that line. The Baumgärtners produced a lovely surprise: to wit, our connection with the Hungarian Szikossy branch of the family, but the Rosenbaums? I was so put off by the name – too frequent – and the fact that urgrossmutter Julie was born in Königsberg an der Eder, somewhere in the Bohemian boondocks, I suspected, while her husband, Adolf, was from Hungary, and they were wed in the spa town of Franzenbad, that I didn’t even try to find her family till today. ‘How did the Eltern even meet’? I cried. The answer was there all the time: the whole lot came to Vienna, in the 1870s.

And now I’ve got Rosenbaums by the handful, the armsful, and if – like the Stogetz – they had some infant mortality, Mrs Katharina Rosenbaum (née Schwei[t]zer) must have been an annual breeder. I’ve found Julie at least twelve surviving brothers and sisters, born between 1849 and 1868. How did I manage that? Well, Julie’s parents names appeared in family documentation. Father was Adam Rosenbaum. So I rather hopelessly looked for Adam. There was one, in Kacerov in the ‘fifties, and one a ‘merchant’ in Eger, Hungary in 1863. There was one operating as a ‘Papierhändler’ at  the Vienna Opernring 21 in 1877, and one going messily bankrupt soon after. And, golly, one dying in the Josefstadt on 6 February 1884. And they are all our man. My great-great-grandfather. Oh dear, all my forebears seemed to go bankrupt.

My next clue came from grandfather’s 1881 birth certificate. The witnesses were Adolph and Ignáz Rosenbaum, Gumpendorferstrasse 6. Surely Onkels? I hurried to the Gumperdorferstrasse and what did I find? A veritable nest of Rosenbaums, most of them in the business of manufacturing paper-products. Julius, Ignáz, Heinrich. And tiens! Here, even, is a shortlived firm ‘(Adolf) Gansl and (Heinrich) Rosenbaum’ at 18 Praterstrasse … going bankrupt. But the bankruptcies were only a sideline. The Brüder Rosenbaum would found and run the outstanding paper products firm of the time and place and they became, from the 1890s, under the impetus of young brother Siegmund and later his son, Rudolf, a prolific and important publishing and printing establishment.

Adam has made his way into the history books as the firm’s founder, in its original form, and his sons (and grandsons) into various Who’s Whos and into all histories of printing in Vienna (500 Jahre Druck in Österreich). Youngest brother, Siegmund Rosenbaum (‘Majestät haben dem Verwaltungsrate und Direktor der Gesellschaftfür graphische Industrie Siegmund Rosenbaum in Wien den Titel eines kaiserlichen Rates’) is the hero of the story of the blossoming of Brüder Rosenbaum, which has been told in various books (Der Rikola-Konzern) and encyclopaedias, but brother number four, Dr Adolf Rosenbaum (k k Polizeidirections-Concipisten. K und k Regierungsrat) and number two Ignáz (k und k Regierungsrat), also got among the ‘titled’ worthies of Vienna. Julius was less lucky. He, having left the business in 1892, was killed in a train crash near Paris in 1904.

Siegmund got himself sketched, in 1910, by Egon Schiele. And painted in oils by Max Oppenheimer. So we know what he looked like ..

Anyway, here is my great-grandmother’s family, as far as I have wheedled it out of the ancient papers and from the Prague archives (via Siegfried Träger) …

Adam Rosenbaum b Katzengrün 2 February 1818; d Vienna 6 February 1884, son of Naphtali Rosenbaum (yayyy! a record! great-great-great-grandfather!) who died in Katzengrün at the age of 96, 19 December 1866, and his wife Sara née Heller 'from Lichtenstadt'
Katharina née Schweitzer (Schweizer, Schweiger) b Neu Zedlisch 8 February 1827; d Vienna 21 October 1918, daughter of Moises Schweizer from Alt Zedlisch bei Tachau and his wife Julie (ahha!) née Löwy 
who were wed 12 October 1847, and their children
Julie b Königsberg 1849; d Währing, Vienna 5 June 1888 m Adolf Gánsl
Heinrich b Katzengrün 9 January 1851; d Vienna 29 April m Bertha Löwy
Sophie b Katzengrün 11 June 1852; d Königsberg 12 November 1856
Ignáz b Katzengrün 12 March 1854; d Vienna 21 June 1913 m Hermine Zuckerbacker
Julius b Katzengrün 3 October 1855; d near Paris December 1904 m Anna Stern
Adolph b Königsberg 18 August 1857; d Vienna 29 May 1918 m Charlotte Weisz
Mat[h]ilde b Königsberg 13 April 1860; d Vienna 14 February 1916 m Leopold Handl
Amalie b Eger 24 August 1861; d Vienna 11 January 1941 m Ignáz Czuczka
Anna b Eger 20 June 1863 d Vienna 13 December 1903 m Salomon Kann
Rosa b Eger 14 March 1865; d Theresienstadt 16 October 1942 m Hugo Nathan Weisz
Si[e]gmund b Eger 21 May 1867; d Cairo 16 June 1945 m Marianne Heller
Emilie b Eger 23 August 1868; d Vienna 29 May 1931 m Josef Sessler
Leopold b ? alive 1891 or non-existent

Why were we never told about our Rosenbaum connection? Just that grandfather was brought up by ‘Tante Rosenbaum’ (which one, for heaven’s sake!). I suspect the answer lies in one word. Theresienstadt. Seventy-seven year old Rosa Weisz was murdered in Hitler’s death camp.

Most of Julie’s brothers and sisters were dead before the coming of Nazism, but Siegmund (his firm ‘Aryanised’ by a ‘sale’ to a non-Jewish partner) fled to Greece and finally to Cairo where he died shortly before the end of the war.

It seems that all the brothers and sisters wed and bred, and I may get round to investigating them (and the ones whom I’ve missed in this swift survey) and their offspring eventually, but there are a few that leap out without even a search. Ignaz’s two sons, Ernst (b 6 November 1888) and Robert went into the firm, with an Alfred, who may have been Heinrich’s son of that name, as did one of Siegmund’s sons, Rudolph (b Vienna 27 August 1894; d Baden bei Wien 2 October 1965). Another son, Friedrich (‘Fritz’) (b Vienna 1 March 1898; d Queensland, Australia 28 June 1958) became a respected architect. I see Alfred going bust in partnership with Mathilde’s son, Karl Handl, in 1923.

But Julie’s son, Pepi, did the best. He grandfathered John and I.