Monday, April 23, 2012

More About Heinz

Here's a bit of what I was able to learn about Heinz so far ...

Heinz Wertheim was born in Bremke, Germany, on June 26th 1921. He was a shoemaker and married Ruth Zeilnziger. They were deported together to the transit camp, Westerbork, near Assen, in the Netherlands.

Heinz and Ruth had a baby, Paul Freidrich, who was born in Westerbork on May 6, 1943. The postcard is dated May 5th, but was postmarked on May 8th. I imagine it likely that the money he was sending the thank you note for was sent to Heinz to help with the baby.

Baby Paul died six weeks later, on Heinz' 22nd birthday.

Paul Friedrich Wertheim died on 26 June 1943 in Westerbork transit camp and he was cremated on 28 June 1943. The urn with his ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetry in Diemen on field U, row 10, grave nr. 6.

Register van joden die in het kamp Westerbork zijn gecremeerd, 1943-1944; archief van de gemeente Westerbork, opgenomen in het archief van de gemeente Midden-Drenthe te Beilen, inv. n 3789

The Community Joods Monument site also has two photos of Heinz.

This is what he looked like ...

Nationaal Archief, Rijksvreemdelingendienst, inv. nr. 891

Heinz Wertheim
Copyright: Yad Vashem, Jeruzalem 

From Westerbork, Heinz and Ruth were sent together to Auschwitz in 1943. Heinz went on to Monowitz, a subcamp of Auschwitz which provided slave labor to the IG Farben company.

Heinz died at Monowitz, December 3, 1943.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Update on Heinz and Ruth

I was able to contact the family of a woman who I though may have been the wife of Heinz Wertheim.

Despite the extremely unusual last/maiden name (I could find only one Ruth Wertheim in the US), and that the two women have similar birth dates, are from Germany, went through Westerbork, and survived the Holocaust, they are not the same people.

One of my next options is to contact Yad Vashem. I'm pretty sure the right way to look is to Israel, which is where the records say Ruth emigrated in the late 1940s.

As well, the family of the other woman is also being very helpful (after all, they share a somewhat unique last name with Heinz's wife). I'll be talking with them further and may find out more. It's actually been quite a powerful experience to be able to hear some of this other family's experience. Theirs is also a story of magnificent loss, survival, and triumph.

I just wanted to give an update. Things are rarely as simple or cut and dried as we would like, and certainly to locate someone 65 years later may not be easy. I will continue to look for Ruth and/or any of her relatives or descendants, or any relatives of Heinz.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Name on the Postcard was Heinz

And the story continues ... 

I emailed back and forth with a very helpful researcher from Westerbork, who couldn't find any record of a Henry Wertheim ... so I sent a copy of the postcard, and it turns out that the first name on the card is actually Heinz.

They were able to tell me that Heinz Wertheim was a shoemaker apprentice who was born on June 26th, 1921 in Bremke, Germany. He married a Dutch girl named, Ruth Sara*, and they lived in the Netherlands and were sent together to Westerbork. They were so young. He would have been 22 and and she just 21.

In Westerbork, on May 6, 1943, they had a baby and named him Paul Freidrich.

The baby died six weeks later.

I just noticed that the postcard was written on May 5th 1943, the day before the baby was born, and postmarked May 8th, two days after. Perhaps they got money from someone outside Westerbork because they were expecting a baby (the postcard said, "Many thanks for the money you sent.") ... and I imagine Heinz wrote the card on the 5th, then was busy with the new baby and didn't get a chance to mail the card until the 8th.

Shortly after the baby died, on September 14, 1943, Heinz and Ruth were sent together to Auschwitz.

Heinz died at Monowitz, which was a labor camp at Auschwitz, on December 12, 1944, after surviving there for more than a year. He was 23. His wife, Ruth, survived Auschwitz and was sent to Ravensbruck and then Malchow, a subcamp of Ravensbruck. She survived the death marches from Ravensbruck before being liberated in Neustadt.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Postcard from Henry

*This is a story that started, for me, several years ago when I bought this postcard. I'd like to share how it's unfolded up to today ... This is how it begins.

"I have a suitcase full of these cards," the dealer said.

I bought it from an antiques dealer. It was a barely faded postcard, addressed from a man named Henry to Herbert Hirsh. 

It had been sent on May 8, 1943 from Westerbork, a transit camp for Jews and others during World War II. Anne Frank and her family went through Westerbork on their way to Auschwitz. 

All told, 107,000 people left Westerbork on trains destined for Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibór, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt

5,200 of them survived.

“Many thanks for the money you sent.” ~ Henry Werth

I’ve contacted Westerbork for information on Henry, to see what happened to him … and, perhaps, discover who he was.