Family HERZ TOBIAS, Oberdreis

german version

Herz Tobias was born in Oberdreis about 1798, probably as the first son of Tobias Herz and Täubchen Samuel. His mother was 24 years old at the time of his birth, his father was 40 years old. Following the Jewish tradition, his second name was Tobias, after his father’s first name. The first name of the first son was usually taken from the last deceased male ancestor of his paternal side. So we can assume that the father of Tobias Herz also had the first name of Herz and that he had died before his grandson Herz Tobias was born.

Herz Tobias married Olisa Herz. Since her second name was also Herz, it is possible that they were related. She must have been a great granddaughter of someone named Herz. We don’t know much about the both of them, not even if Olisa’s name is spelled correctly, because it sounds very unusual. One of her granddaughters was named Alice, so it could have very well been Elisa.

Herz and his wife settled in Oberdreis and the first birth record we found of their family is about a girl named Vogel (which means bird) on August 31, 1828. She was called Fanny. In this birth record her father Herz Tobias was said to be a butcher by profession. Fanny married very late in life, at the age of 41. She married the childless widower, Gumbert Herz Leser of Hamm on Sieg. They neither had children, but they raised her nephew Hermann, who’s mother had died when he was nine months old. Fanny’s date of death is strangely not recorded in the Hamm registries.

Herz’s son Jacob was born about 1833 and since his brother Jacob Tobias was numbered I. in the civil registers his son was numbered II. Jacob II. married his cousin Knendel “Hannchen” Tobias, daughter of uncle Jacob I. They had twin girls, Amalie and Helene, who died right after birth in 1864. One year later in June 1865, son Hermann was born, but poor Hannchen died soon after from tuberculosis and father Jacob gave the baby boy to his sister Fanny. He married again in 1869 in Dierdorf but we don’t know anything about his further fate.

The second son of Herz Tobias was named Tobias Tobias, who came into the world on November 5, 1837. His grandfather Tobias Herz had died about 1833 and so he was given his first name. Later when he emigrated to the United States he changed it to Theodore.

The third son was called Isaak. He was born on October 29, 1842. Isaak married Sara “Lisette” Löwenberg of Schupbach in September 1869. Lisette was the youngest daughter of the watchmaker Gumbrich Löwenberg. A niece and a grand-niece of Lisette later married into the Tobias family as well.

Isaak Tobias in der Neuwieder Zeitung, Quelle: Lothar Zimmermann, Rodenbach
Isaak Tobias in the Neuwied newspaper on his 90th birthday, Source: Lothar Zimmermann, Rodenbach

Isaak’s family was known as “the Eisiks.” He worked as a cattle dealer and ran a small farm. Heimann, the first son of Isaak and Lisette, was mentally retarded. He was born on July 17, 1870. The second son Gustav was born on May 20, 1873, and their daughter Ottilie “Tilli” was born on May 4, 1877. When Gustav married Selma Levy in 1906 and settled nearby in Rodenbach, Isaak, Lisette and Heimann moved from Oberdreis to live with them. Gustav took over his father’s trading business and Isaak still farmed some potatoes in his old age. The family was well known for its readiness to help. Every Saturday when they made soup, they sent the children to bring a portion to the sick and needy people. Lisette died on February 5, 1914. Heimann died in 1922 at the age of 51. His gravestone is still standing at the Jewish cemetery of Puderbach.

When Isaak celebrated his 90th birthday in 1932 the village teacher Arthur Schöneberg wrote an article about him for the local newspaper. Isaak was the eldest citizen of Rodenbach at the time and Schöneberg probably was a close friend, who admired his good memory of the village history. The newspaper even ran a photo the teacher took of the 90-year old while he was digging potatoes. On May 28, 1933, Isaak died in Rodenbach.

Ottilie, called “Tilli,” married Julius Levy of Bergheim. They lived in Graurheindorf, north of Bonn, where Julius ran a butcher shop. Tilli and Julius had two daughters, Lina and Frieda. Lina was born on May 1, 1904, and married Karl Wolff of Löhndorf, Sinzig. Their son Arno was born on March 8, 1928. Karl ran a drapery shop in Bonn. Frieda was born on May 20, 1910, and married Benjamin de Levie of Oude Pekela, Groningen in 1935. They lived in Amsterdam. Benjamin was killed at Auschwitz on August 17, 1942, and Frieda died on September 30, 1942.

Tilli and Julius were deported to Theresienstadt on July 27, 1942, together with their daughter Lina and her family. Julius died in Theresienstadt on November 23, 1942. Arno Wolff was sent to Auschwitz on September 28, 1944, and then to the labor camp Kaufering near Dachau on October 10, 1944, where he died after the liberation of the camp. Lina and Karl Wolff were sent to Auschwitz on October 6, 1944, and probably killed upon arrival.

Tilli was selected for a transport to Switzerland on March 28, 1945. The Jewish family Sternbuch of St. Gallen had sent the swiss politician Jean-Marie Musy to negotiate with Heinrich Himmler and he accepted to release 1,200 Theresienstadt inmates upon payment of $1 million. At the time Theresienstadt was already in disarray. Still the selected persons were afraid of being sent to another death camp. When they arrived in St. Gallen, the mostly elder people could hardly walk anymore. They had to be nursed back to health carefully. However their odyssey wasn’t over yet, because the United States didn’t accept to take them in immediately. Tilli’s emigration finally was made possible by Dr. Michaelis, of the Jewish Congress in Stockholm. She embarked at Gothenburg, Sweden on April 8, 1946 and went to her niece Lucie Gottschalk in New York. We don’t know when she died.

There may have been additional children of Herz and Olisa who had died in infancy, but were not recorded. Herz Tobias died in 1860 at the age of 62. His wife Olisa died in 1864 at the age of 63. Unfortunately there are no preserved gravestones at the new Jewish cemetery of Dierdorf, where they usually should have been buried.

New Jewish cemetery of Dierdorf
The new Jewish cemetery of Dierdorf