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Posts Tagged ‘schweich’

We should now turn attention to the brothers of our great grandfather, Victor Kahn.

Victor’s father Lazarus (or Lazar) married his (Lazar’s) first cousin Jeanette Isaac Lazard and they had six children, all born in Luxembourg and apparently registered under the name of Cahen, the French variation of the name Kahn.

Raphael Louis Cahen was born in 1818 – he had a twin sister but she didn’t survive.
Salomon Cahen was born in 1822.
Joseph Cahen was born in 1824.
Victor Cahen (Kahn) was born in 1827.
Another sister born in 1829 was stillborn.

Our understanding is that Raphael Louis Cahen married Elisabeth Alexander in 1859 in Saarlouis. They had three surviving children, George (1861), Paul (1863) and Henriette (1864), all registered in the name of Cahen and born in Luxembourg. Elisabeth’s parents were Lazard Alexander and Fleurette Aron.

If any of these names chime with you, please email: contactus@kahngene.org.uk. We’d like to know what happened to Victor’s brothers.

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Eureka! That’s probably the wrong word to use, but we’ve done it! Thanks to Stefan Roos of Trier in Germany, we’ve achieved a major breakthrough in our researches. Victor’s missing siblings have been traced.

Now we know that Victor’s parents Lazarus and Jeanette had six children: Raphael Louis (1818) and his twin sister who was stillborn; Salomon (1822); Joseph (1824); Victor (1827) and another stillborn daughter (1829) - all born in Luxembourg. Perhaps these siblings were not discovered during our researches at the Grand Duchy’s National Archives because Lazarus was registered in Luxembourg as Cahen, the French spelling of Kahn. I can feel another visit to Luxembourg coming on.

As a result of the email from Stefan, we also know that Lazarus and his wife (Jeanette Isaac Lazard) were first cousins, Jeanette being the daughter of Lazarus’s mother’s brother. This was an unsuspected link.

Furthermore, we now know that Lazarus died in Luxembourg in 1873. Perhaps we missed the record of his death because it was recorded under the name of Cahen while we were concentrating on Kahns. In fact, Lazarus appears to have used both spellings of his name, as evinced in the on-line listings of recipients of St Helena medals, the Napoleonic (and hence French) campaign award for those fighting as part of the Grand Armee. (www.stehelene.org/php/accueil.php?page=4&lang=en).

And yet more information: Stefan introduced us to an entirely new family: that of Elisabeth Alexander. She married Ralph Louis Kahn (Victor’s brother) in 1859 in Saarlouis. They had three surviving children: George (1861), Paul (1863) and Henriette (1864), all registered under the name of Cahen and born in Luxembourg. Elisabeth’s father was Lazard Alexander and her mother was born Fleurette Aron.

Finally, here is that elusive Welschbillig connection: Lazarus’s brother Levy and sister Johanetta both settled there with their respective families. So our last year’s speculative trip to that pleasant part of rural Germany was relevant after all.

When time permits, we’ll add this new data to the biographies section. In the meantime, we are very grateful to Stefan for this invaluable information. Of course, the search continues and we’d be delighted to hear from any descendants of Victor’s brothers, no matter how distant.

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Mony a sair darg we twa hae wrought,

An wi’ the weary warl’ fought!

An mony an anxious day I thought

We would be beat!

Yet here to crazy age we’re brought,

Wi something yet.

(Robert Burns)

A day late maybe and not strictly relevant to the Kahn family, but I like this verse from Burns’ poem and in a small way it is appropriate. We haven’t been beaten and we’ve ended up the year ‘wi’ something yet,’ details of which have been reported in previous posts so do not bear being repeated here.

Annoyingly, Victor’s siblings are still hiding, but the more I think about the circumstances, the more I’m convinced he was not an only child. So what happened to his brothers and sisters? That’s the question to answer in 2012; that will be the focus of my genealogical year.

Thanks to all those who have helped us during 2011 and we wish you a very contented, healthy and prosperous 2012. (AK).

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For many years I’ve wandered through far-flung cemeteries looking for the name Kahn on gravestones. The Kahn name never appeared, partly because I was usually in Christian cemeteries and we have an undeniably Jewish name. That’s not to say all Kahns are Jewish; these days many are not, but in the 18th and 19th century, most Kahns would have been of the Jewish race and the Jewish religion. Hence, the majority of our forebears will be found only in Jewish cemeteries.

Freudenburg and Schweich Jewish cemeteries were enlightening. There our name is abundant in death. These little green plots on river valley hillsides are crammed full of Kahns, most of them distantly related to the founders of this blog.

At Schweich, the cemetery has survived since 1850 in a small tree-fringed hollow in gently sloping grassy banks at the end of a tiny and modern residential cul-de-sac: Im Gartenfeld. Almost entirely surrounded by well-groomed gardens, this small Jewish enclave is in the midst of Germanic horticulture.  Cherry trees, no doubt escapers from adjacent gardens, drop fruit on old graves and young silver birches lean in as if to observe in respect and quietude.

The cemetery is obviously tended. Graves have been repaired where possible; grass is mown short and somebody (probably a member of the local synagogue) keeps paths free of weeds. Browsing along the ranks of headstones is easy once through the gate (or over in my case because the entrance was locked). Kahn; Kahn; another Kahn; more Kahns. Some of the headstones are missing; many have been rendered indecipherable by weather and time. Here are three terraces of distant branch-line ancestors represented by the art of the stonemason.

Freudenburg Jewish cemetery is up a steep little slope on the outskirts of a picturesque and tranquil village. The gates were already swung open into a tapering sward of green meadow to reveal long lines of gravestones on the brow of a gentle hill. This is a more natural, maybe wilder, cemetery, but certainly not neglected. The headstones are perhaps in generally better condition than at Schweich. I walked along the ranks, taking photographs of silent Kahns. We’re related to a lot of them. I have a suspicion that our line actually started in Freudenburg and then moved to Schweich, but I have no proof. Something tells me we’ll never know.

Only distant relatives are here in Schweich and Freudenburg. Graves of the grandfathers of our grandfathers are missing. They’d died or moved on before these cemeteries were opened, but most of these Kahns I found are related to us in one way or another and feature in our continually expanding family tree.

Photographs of some of the graves will appear on www.cemeteryscribes.co.uk, a website recording residents of Jewish cemeteries in the UK and abroad.

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In the 1990s, a German sculptor had an idea to commemorate victims of Nazi persecution. Gunter Demnig, born in 1947, embarked on an ambitious project to install a memorial to each murdered individual outside his or her last known permanent residence.

A brass plaque is mounted on a simple stone block which is then set into the pavement in front of the victim’s house. Inscription details typically comprise the name of the victim, dates of birth and deportation – and location (usually a death camp) and approximate date of death.

The blocks are called ‘stolpersteine’ (literally stumbling blocks) and so far many thousands have been installed in over 30 German cities and in 10 countries. They commemorate Jews, gypsies and others murdered by the regime during the holocaust.

In April this year (2011) Gunter installed 24 stolpersteine in Freudenburg, many of them bearing the name Kahn, probably distant relatives of our branch of the family. I believe Schweich also has a number of such memorials.

Perhaps you already know about this mammoth undertaking. I’ve only recently heard of it courtesy of MD in Amsterdam (to whom I say thank you) although I understand a British school undertook an academic project on the subject a few years ago.

My aim is to find out more. If you have anything to add, please do leave a comment. In the meantime, take a look at www.stolpersteine.com for further information. (AGK)

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We now have a new contact in Amsterdam, a distant relation of ours through the Freudenburg and Schweich branch lines. She is an enthusiastic genealogist and communications have proven to be immensely useful in filling in a few of the gaps in our tree. I hope what we’ve been able to provide in exchange has been equally useful. Thanks to MD of Amsterdam for making contact.

Thanks also to JM of Florida, USA. We found a link to him through Ancestry.co.uk. Included in his family tree was a reference to Moses Marks Samuels who married our Emily and is the starting point for a whole new branch line.

And I mustn’t forget RS in Paris. Thanks for the superb family tree schematic and batch of information which I hope I’ve now correctly incorporated into our mob’s tree.

That’s enough eulogies for now. I’m beginning to sound as tedious as an Oscar winner. (AGK)

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Owing to other commitments (such as trying to overcome winter sadness and ennui), research on the family tree has been a little in abeyance lately. However, thanks to contacts in the UK, Germany, France, USA and (now) Holland, we are slowly expanding our store of knowledge about this wide-spread family of ours.

In common with all amateur genealogists, we face obstinate hurdles. Contradictions and inconsistencies increase with every piece of information. Forenames change; surnames are misspelt or misrepresented in some way. Dates are vague and sometimes surmised. Locations shift awkwardly. Children are omitted or wrongly ascribed to parentage.

Perhaps not unusually, we have several specific difficulties. The French Revolution altered dates and spellings of surnames. Kahn, for example, is spelt Cahn by French registering authorities. Then we have Kahen, Kaan and the infamous Kahnn. Nausen becomes Nathan. Some family members eschew their given names; Alexander Gaston has always been Gaston Victor to us – until recently. And some of our forebears have so many forenames we have no idea whether they’re diminutives, nick-names or good old-fashioned cock-ups.

Entire territories change hands. One minute Luxembourg is Prussian; the next it’s French. Schweich in Germany became French for a while. And we know what happened to European records and archives in modern history, from the middle 1930s to the end of the 40s. Did the politicians and generals of the day have no concept of the problems they’d cause future genealogists?

Despite confusions, we’ve made progress this year. Four paces forwards, two back, means we end the year in credit. In fact, that understates the case. 2010 has been a bumper year for the Moselle River crop of Kahns.

But we still haven’t traced Victor’s siblings. Each piece of evidence so far points to him being an only child, almost the sole incidence of such in the entire Kahn tree. And yet, intuition suggests otherwise.

Perhaps the New Year will bring the breakthrough we seek. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has kept our hunger assuaged with morsels, multiple-pages, articles and entire books of information. We do appreciate your help. May you all prosper in wealth, health and harmony throughout 2011and beyond.

AGK

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Hans-Peter Bungert’s book mentioned in my previous post is proving invaluable. Slowly (very slowly) the information is being extracted and positions on the family tree being defined.

 Because the task is so complex (and my brain so feeble) I’ve set up in Ancestry.com a family tree referring specifically and solely to our newly discovered Schweich/Luxembourg ancestors. So far details are scant but periodically new names and dates are added. If anyone would like to access our on-line tree, please leave a comment or email to: contactus@kahngene.org.uk.

 In the meantime, a fresh contact has been forged in the Trier area and I’m hopeful that soon we’ll have brand new information about Victor’s siblings. That will be the breakthrough we seek in the current phase of our researches. Many questions remain unanswered, but this expanding amorphous jigsaw is slowly taking shape.

 And we have new areas of research. Cryptic clues suggest that we can celebrate having potential relations in the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Israel. Yet other hints bear more sobering overtones, with names bearing annotations such as Riga, Auschwitz, Theresienstadt and Lodz.

 We will keep posting. If you can help, or would like more information, please email.

 AGK

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Marx

From the beginning it seemed that Marx was going to lead a life punctuated by conflict. He was born of Jewish parents in 1818 in the city of Trier, then a part of Prussia. His mother was Dutch and his father Prussian, both from a long line of rabbis. Just before Karl’s birth, however, his father, Heinrich, converted to Christianity and became a baptized member of the Evangelical Established Church. It is thought that this was an attempt to help his professional life as a lawyer at a time when anti-Semitism was on the rise, with the Prussian government banning Jews from high positions in law and medicine.

Young Karl was baptized at the age of six and defended his Christian faith in his early years. But the family’s experience with discrimination was never far from the surface. Combined with Heinrich Marx’s interest in Enlightenment social thinkers such as Voltaire and Kant, this may have led the young Marx to an interest in radical social ideas and his later questioning of religion’s role in human existence.

Trier

 The town of Trier on the Moselle held one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany. In fact, the area between Trier and Colonia Aggripina, as the Romans called Cologne, was settled by Jews in the fourth century, nearly six hundred years before the vast majority of Germans came into northern Europe from Siberia around 1000 C.E.   Jews and some Romans were the first Germans.

Trier is known in French as Treves; both the French and the German name come from the Latin Augusta Treverorum (City of Augustus among the Treveri). It was a Celtic tribal name of uncertain etymology. 

The Jewish surname Trier has many spellings including DREIFUS, DREIFUSS, TREFUS, TREVES.

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Schweich is a small German town on the meandering River Moselle, about 6 miles from Trier. A few weeks ago, I visited and spent a couple of sunny days motor homing in the shadow of lush terraces of grape vines growing on the sides of the steep river valley.

My aim was to visit our homeland and, perhaps, find out more about family origins. The first I achieved easily – the motorway from Luxembourg flies (almost literally) past the door. I failed dismally in the second objective.

On Saturday, the town prepared for an al fresco party; Schweich Week was drawing to a close. Amid the haste and the bustle, I ambled into the synagogue. By pure serendipity, I collided with a local elder. He showed me around and listened to my story. He had patient English, far superior to my wavering German. Then he promised to carry out some private research into the Kahn family tree – and directed me towards the cemetery.

Unfortunately for my researches, I found only the Christian cemetery. Later I drank beer outside a bar at a fork in the road which was, unbeknown to me, no more than a few hundred metres from the entrance to the Jewish burial ground. Believe it or not, I had researched Schweich before I left for Luxembourg, yet somehow I hadn’t discovered the existence of the Jewish cemetery. My own pathetic searches are to blame.

Only after I returned home did I discover that the cemetery not only existed, but was catalogued by one Hans-Peter Bungert. Over ten years ago, he produced a booklet with the explicit title: “Die judische Bevolkerung im Einwohnerbuch Schweich 1669 bis 1880 (bzw 1938) mit Issel (ab 1803) & Haardthof.” I sent for a copy.

Herr Bungert painstakingly researched all officially recorded Jewish deaths in Schweich from 1851 to 1937, producing a chronological list. He then cross-referenced the records against existing gravestones and burial plots in the actual cemetery, where interments were made in strict date order. Thus, he achieved a record of all 88 burial plots.

The names are familiar. Kahn seems to be the most frequent. No fewer than 45 interments have a direct or marital relationship with a Kahn. Isay is another prominent name, as is Israel – both featuring in our family tree in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We have yet to trace the connection between our Raphael (born about 1725) and other Kahns in Schweich. In Herr Bungert’s listings appear another Raphael (born 1727 Freudenburg); Abraham (married Rachel in 1760); Joseph (born 1747 Freudenburg) and various other Kahns possibly part of the family, in addition to those we know already. So the tree can probably be expanded – if only we find the missing link.

With a fair northerly wind, I’ll make another visit to Schweich next year and this time go armed with better advance research and clues as to where to look for answers. And I’m now a card-bearing researcher at the Luxembourg archives – I think. I can’t be sure because my translations leave a lot to be desired. I suspect more answers to the questions about Victor’s immediate kinfolk are hidden within the Duchy’s national archives.

The quest continues. In the meantime, I’ve posted a few images of Schweich – follow the link to norfolkkahns’ Flickr page.

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