Tante Hennie, my maternal grandmother’s cousin, but how?

For obvious reasons it is extremely important to add sources to each record which you ´re adding to your family tree. But sometimes it could be nice to know how you found out about the source in the first instance. Often it comes with surprising stories which are not always added to the family tree. The family tree is mostly about facts with accompanying sources. Take the following example. I knew only about  ´Leon Weigert ´, who was married to my grandmother’s cousin,  ´Tante Hennie ´. I also had a photo of him standing next to my grandmother ´s father (i.e. my great-grandfather). But who was he really, where did he come from, and most importantly, how did I find out about them in the first place. Please read on:

In July 2014, I received a few photos by postal mail from Friedel Hoffmann-Gerstner, who’s father was my grandmother’s, Betty Gerstner (16 Apr 1914 in Nürnberg, Germany – 12 Mar 1990 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands), first cousin.

On one photo we see two men and a child:

Onbekend,Onbekend en Jossi Gerstner,datum onekend(April 1958)(via Friedel Hoffmann-Gerstner(per post jul14)(recto)

The only thing we

knew about the photo, is that the man standing on the right, was Josef Gerstner (29 Apr 1880 in Lisberg – 07 May 1958 in Israel). Josef was my grandmother’s father.

Here is the back of the photo:

Onbekend,Onbekend en Jossi Gerstner,datum onekend(April 1958)(via Friedel Hoffmann-Gerstner(per post jul14)(verso)

Further information which we have, is the date, April 1958, and the fact that the photo was developed and/or made by a photographer in Enschede (The Netherlands), which is where Josef Gerstner lived.

Josef was 78 years old in April 1958. The photo was created in the month before Josef, who was on a visit in Israel, passed away suddenly of a heart attack and was buried in the cemetery of Haifa, (one of the last photos in his life?).

I had the pleasure to visit Israel in July 2015 on the occasion of the annual conference which was organised by the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies), which took then place in Jerusalem. I stayed with my uncle Bam Packter. I showed him and my aunts the photo and they told me then that the man standing next to Josef Gerstner was Leon Weigert. Leon Weigert was married to my grandmother’s cousin, Tante Hennie. When I asked them how Tante Hennie was related to my grandmother Betty, they could not tell me. They told me that Leon and Hennie Weigert lived in Nice (France) and they visited the family in Enschede.

That was a totally new piece of information, I thought that I had already known everyone of that part of my maternal grandmother’s family.

I decided to start my research in order ot find out more about Weigert. A simple search on the Internet via Google did not gain and positive results. The name Weigert, is also the Dutch  third person singular form of the verb ‘weigeren’ (=to refuse) in the present tense. Google found out about soccerplayers refusing to some sporting news:

2015-07-16 12_23_54-weigert nice - Google Search

No, that could impossibly be about him, a man who already 1958 was in his 50’s. I then searched on the Internet for an online phonebook for any Weigert in Nice. I found www.118712.fr through which I got one positive result with information about a Mrs. Weigert (I have removed the sensitive information from the screenshot below):

2015-07-16 12_31_55-Yvonne Weigert NICE (06100), téléphone et adresse

Before I decided to contact her, I used FamilySearch to find out more about Leon Weigert.

I found one positive result from the collection ‘Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957‘ (see https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVPZ-D848).

Leon Weigert arrived with the S. S. Queen Elizabeth on a visit to New York on 8 January 1948, the ship had left Southampton in the UK on 3 January 1948:




Just the relevant line, enlarged for better reading:


According to this manifest, Leon was in 1948, 41 years old which means that he was born in about 1907 and that he was born in Nürnberg, which sounds plausible since my Grandmother’s family came from that area in Germany too. So it sounds logic that also her cousin Hennie, and Hennie’s husband came from that area. The same manifest mentions Nice as Leon’s permanent place of residence. Furthermore, the manifest mentions the closest ‘relative or closest friend in country whence alien came‘ as ‘Henriette Weigert’, from Nice. It would make sense that Henriette is Tante Hennie. Leon was 5 feet and 9 inches tall. The manifest also lists Leon’s father Arthur who lived in New York.

This all makes sense and I believe I have found out more about Leon Weigert. The most important piece of information I have now, is his age, born in about 1907, and also his place of birth, Nürnberg.

My next step was to contact the State Archives in Nürnberg. I have sent them the following email:

From: Gershon S. Lehrer
To: Staatsarchiv Nürnberg 
Date: 16 juli 2015 00:25
Subject: Leon Weigert & Hennie/Henriette Weigert


I have been in contact with you in the past for requests I had for the Staatsarchiv of Nürnberg.

I have now a new request, I hope the Staatsarchiv will be able to assist.

I have come across names of a couple. The husband is Leon Weigert and the wife is Hennie/Henriette.
They lived in 1948 in Nice, but Leon Weigert was born in about 1907 in Nürnberg.

Is it possible to find out more about:
Leon Weigert
Hennie/Henriette? It could be that her name was Gerstner or Strauss. Would you be able to find out whether they were married in Nürnberg?

Thank you in advance for your kind help and assistance,
Gershon S. Lehrer

I received a reply from them in a PDF which was attached to an email in which they stated that they did not have relevant information. They advised that the best source would be the parish registers in the respective parishes or the the relevant civil registries. I was advised to start my research with the City Archives in Nuremberg:
2015-07-22 12_52_53-StANu-Brief_20.07.2015_09_47_Lehrer_Gershon

I have following that, sent an email to the Stadtarchiv of Fürth and Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, I have also sent the same message via the online form of the Stadtarchiv Nürnberg (www.nuernberg.de/internet/stadtarchiv/kontakt.html) since they do not have a published email-address on their website. I hope that my German is good enough to understand:

From: Gershon S. Lehrer 
bcc: …@fuerth.de, …@bayhsta.bayern.de
Date: 22 juli 2015 14:08
Subject: Leon Weigert & Hennie/Henriette Weigert

Sehr geehrte Frau, Herr,

Ich mache Ahnenforschung und frage mich, ob Sie mir helfen könnten, um Datensätze über meine Familie zu finden.

Leon Weigert wurde ungefähr 1907 in Nürnberg geboren, seine Frau war Hennie / Henriette.
Ich weiß auch, dass sie im Jahr 1948 in Nice (Frankreich) residierten.

Gibt es eine Möglichkeit, dass sowohl Leon Weigert und / oder Hennie einige Zeit in Fürth lebten, welche in der Nähe von Nürnberg ist?

Möchten Sie in der Lage sein, Datensätze von jedem der genannten Personen in Ihrem Archiv zu finden?

Mit freundlichen Grüßen und vielen Dank im Voraus,

Gershon Lehrer

On 27 July 2015 I received an email from the Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv with a letter in the attached PDF file:

2015-07-27 16_30_00-BayHStA-Brief_24.07.2015_13_46_Lehrer_Gerson

Leon Weigert und Hennie/Henriette Weigert
Sehr geehrter Herr Lehrer,

in unseren Beständen konnten wir leider keine Unterlagen zu Leon und Henriette Weigert finden.

Bitte wenden Sie sich mit Ihrer Anfrage an das Stadtarchiv Nürnberg (stadtarchiv@stadt.nuernberg.de), an das Stadtarchiv Fürth (arch@fuerth.de), an das Staatsarchiv Nürnberg (poststelle@stanu.bayern.de) und an das Stadtarchiv in Nizza (=Archives municipales Nice, E-Mail-Adresse: archives@ville-nice.fr). Geben Sie in Ihren Anfragen – wenn möglich – auch weitere Ihnen bekannte Informationen zu dem Ehepaar an (z.B. Beruf, Konfession). Damit erweitern Sie die Suchoptionen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Maria Stehr M.A.
[…]So they advised me to contact the following instances:

  • Stadtarchiv Nürnberg (stadtarchiv@stadt.nuernberg.de)
  • Stadtarchiv Fürth (arch@fuerth.de)
  • Staatsarchiv Nürnberg (poststelle@stanu.bayern.de)
  • Stadtarchiv in Nizza (=Archives municipales Nice, E-Mail-Adresse: archives@ville-nice.fr)

Except for the city archives of Nice, I have written to all other archives they have advised me to contact. I still hoped that I’d get some information from one of the other archives I have contacted in Germany about the time of the Weigert couple before they moved to France. But in the meantime my next step was to write the municipal archives of Nice, which I did (Vincent Vagman, owner of http://zakhor-belgium.com, kindly assisted me with the translation of my email into French):

van: Gershon S. Lehrer
aan: archives
datum: 27 juli 2015 16:26
onderwerp: recherches généalogiques: Leon Weigert und Hennie/Henriette Weigert
verzonden door: gmail.com

Madame, Monsieur,

Je souhaiterais faire appel à vos services dans le cadre de mes recherches généalogiques pour trouver des dossiers relatifs à la cousine de ma grand-mère.

Cette cousine est prénommée Hennie/Henriette et serait née en Allemagne. J’ignore précisément son nom de jeune-fille mais il n’est pas impossible que ce soit Gerstner ou Strauss.

Par contre, je sais que cette prénommée Hennie/Henriette est l’épouse de Léon Weigert (né vers 1907 à Nuremberg). Le couple résidait à Nice (France) en 1948 au 44 Boulevard Gambetta.

D’avance, je vous remercie pour les renseignements que vous pourriez me communiquer.

Bien à vous,

Gershon Lehrer
Belgiëlei 158/14
B-2018 Anvers

The next day I received the following email from the archives in Nice:

van: Archives
aan: “Gershon S. Lehrer”
cc: …
datum: 28 juli 2015 10:59
onderwerp: RE: recherches généalogiques: Leon Weigert und Hennie/Henriette Weigert


Suite à votre demande des recherches ont été entreprises, notamment dans les annuaires et indicateurs.
Aucune mention du couple Weigert dans ces documents.


Nadine BOVIS
Responsable du Service des Archives Anciennes
Service des Archives Anciennes
METROPOLE NICE COTE D’AZUR – 7-9, Avenue de Fabron – 06200 NICE cedex 4
Tél : 04 93 86 77 44

I thanked them:

van: Gershon S. Lehrer
aan: Archives
cc: …
datum: 29 juli 2015 00:17
onderwerp: Re: recherches généalogiques: Leon Weigert und Hennie/Henriette Weigert

Chère Madame Novis,

Merci beaucoup pour votre aide genreuse.

Avec les toutes meilleures salutations

Bien à vous,

Gershon Lehrer
Belgiëlei 158/14
B-2018 Anvers

So, unfortunately, that path did not advance my quest. And I did not tend to give up yet. Let’s read on.

Mr. Vincent Vagman, who assisted me to translate the email to the municipal archives of Nice, also advised me to contact his acquaintance who lived, apart from Charleroi, also in Nice:

van: Gershon S. Lehrer
aan: Joseph Sungolowsky
datum: 27 juli 2015 16:52
onderwerp: Leon Weigert and Hennie/Henriette Weigert

Dear Mr. Joseph Sungolowsky,

Mr. Vincent Vagman has given me your e-mail address.

The reason I am contacting you, is that I am, as part of my family-tree related researches, looking for someone who I know was married to my grandmother’s cousin. His name was Leon Weigert. I know that he lived, together with his wife Henriette, in 1948 on the 44 Boulevard Gambetta in Nice. He was born in about 1907 (in Nuremberg). I wonder whether you do recognize the name?

Mr. Vagman also told me that you are originally from Charleroi, my grandmother, Dora Grunes, is also from Grunes. She lived there since he childhood years. She was born in Poland and arrived in Belgium when she was about 5 years old.

I hope that you are able to help me,

Thank you veyr much and best regards,

Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium

A few hours later I received the following, quite surprising, email from Mr. Sungolowsky:

van: Joseph Sungolowsky
aan: Gershon S. Lehrer
datum: 28 juli 2015 00:06
onderwerp: Re: Leon Weigert and Hennie/Henriette Weigert
verzonden door: aol.com

Ayant habité à Nice jusqu’en 1952, je me souviens bien de M & Mme Weigert et de leur fille qui fréquentaient la synagogue Achkénaze située à l’époque au Boulevard Dubouchage dont père était le rabbin.

Nous avons quitté Charleroi dont mon père le rabbin lors du début de la guerre en 1940. Mais mes parents ont souvent mentionné la famille Grunes également proche de la communauté.

Mais ces souvenirs sont lointains.

Bien à vous,

Joseph Sungolowsky

To which I replied:

van: Gershon S. Lehrer
aan: Joseph Sungolowsky
datum: 28 juli 2015 00:28
onderwerp: Re: Leon Weigert and Hennie/Henriette Weigert

Dear Mr. Sungolowsky,

Thank you very very much for your very interesting email.
I am sorry, but my French is not very good, it is rather weak.

I understand that you know Mr. and Mrs. Weigert? Do you know whether they are still alive, or were they are now?
Do you know what the name is of their daughter? Do you know which age she would have now?

The Grunes family lived, according to what I found in the archives, on the Rue de Bruxelles 331 in Lodelinsart.

Thank you so much for your email and getting back to me,

Best Regards,

Gershon Lehrer

There seems to be a WikiPedia page about Rav Sungolowsky. Acording to that page, Rav Sungolowsky, who was married to Esther Berger, had three children: one girl Fina, and two sons, Joseph and Léon.

In 1929, at the age of 28, he became the Rav of Charleroi, Belgium, and the chaplain in the prison of Charleroi. He lives in Charleroi until 1940.

With the invasion of Belgium in 1940, he moved, after a brief stay in Vichy, with his family to Nice. He held religious functions in the Ashkenazi Synagogue Ezras Achim located at that time at 24 Boulevard Dubouchage in Nice. This Synagogue still exists, but at another address: 1, rue Blacas.

After the Liberation, he became the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community. His eldest son, Joseph Sungolowsky celebrated in December 1944 his Bar Mitzvah, the first since the end of the war.

In 1952 he moved with his family to the United States.
From 1954 to 1975 he was the rabbi of the community Ahavas Achim in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He died in 1975 and was buried in Baron Hirsch Cemetery in Staten Island, New York.
(Based on: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Gerson_Sungolowsky, retrieved on 28 July 2015)

Mr. Joseph Sungolowsky replied:

van: Joseph Sungolowsky
aan: Gershon S. Lehrer
datum: 28 juli 2015 01:38
onderwerp: Re: Leon Weigert and Hennie/Henriette Weigert
verzonden door: aol.com

Sorry. I thought that living in Antwerp, you were French speakiing. As I wrote to you, I remember those names very well. The Weigerts were still in Nice when we moved to the US 1952. The Grunesses were very good friends of my parents in Charleroi which we left at the outbreak of WW II in 1940.
These are far-away remembrances namely some 70 years ago.


And my reply and appreciation back

van: Gershon S. Lehrer
aan: Joseph Sungolowsky
datum: 28 juli 2015 01:40
onderwerp: Re: Leon Weigert and Hennie/Henriette Weigert
verzonden door: gmail.com


Thank you very much for sharing this with me.
This is extremely interesting for me.

Best Regards,


On 3 august 2015, the Stadtarchiv of Fürth replied that they did not find anything in their archives which could advance my research:

van: Stadt Fürth Archiv <archiv@fuerth.de>
aan: “Gershon S. Lehrer”
datum: 3 augustus 2015 10:37
onderwerp: AW: Leon Weigert & Hennie/Henriette Weigert

Sehr geehrter Herr Lehrer,

wir können die von Ihnen gesuchten Personen in unseren Unterlagen leider nicht nachweisen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Gert-Ronald Langer

Stadt Fürth
Stadtarchiv und Museen
Schlosshof 12
90768 Fürth
Tel: 0911/97534515
Fax: 0911/97534511
e-mail: …
Internet: www.stadtarchiv-fuerth.de

On 30 July 2015, I received an email from the Stadtarchiv in Nürnberg with a letter in the attached PDF file. In the letter, they state that I need to pay a fee for the research, which amounts to €25 per hour. In my case, they believe it will take 3 hours (€75). I will have to consider doing this.

The attached PDF:
2015-08-06 23_50_09-Av Briefbogen CD grau_27.07.2015_Lehrer Gershon.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
The transcription of the main text in the letter:

Sehr geehrter Herr Lehrer,

eine familiengeschichtliche Anfrage im Stadtarchiv Nürnberg ist, wie
bereits mehrmals mitgeteilt, gemäß  §2 StadtarchivGebS vom 27.06.2013
gebührenpflichtig. Die Gebühren belaufen sich auf 25,00 EUR pro
angefangene Halbstunde Rechercheaufwand, unabhängig vom
Rechercheergebnis. Vermutlich würde sich die Anfrage auf ca. 75,00 EUR
Bitte teilen Sie uns mit, ob Sie bereit sind die anfallenden Gebühren zu
übernehmen, damit wir Ihnen eine Vorausrechnung zusenden können.
Erst nachdem das Geld bei uns eingegangen ist, erhalten Sie die

Das Stadtarchiv Nürnberg ist für Unterlagen der Stadt Nürnberg
zuständig. Wenn Sie Unterlagen aus Fürth benötigen, wenden Sie sich
bitte an das Stadtarchiv Fürth.

gez. Kambach

(Unterschrift liegt elektronisch vor.)

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