Stern(reich) Family Geographic Locations in 1941

By Samantha West

We learned from 13 year old Sandy Stern’s journal that her father’s family was quite expansive.  Sandy’s father, George or Georg Stern, came from a large family; however Julius’s eight siblings are still unknown to us.  The purpose of this annotation is to investigate and attempt to fill in the Sternreich family tree, as well as determine the geographical locations of members of the Sternreich family in 1941, in reference with Sara Spira’s 2-7-41 post card.[1] 

Previously confirmed members of the Sternreich family include Georg’s parents, Julius and Frieda Sternreich, Georg’s grandparents, Gimbell and Helen Sternreich, and Georg’s sister Elsa Broder Sternreich, her husband Leon Broder and their son Manfred Broder.[2]  Additionally, we believe that Georg and Elsa had three siblings, William, Martha, and Olga, from Julius’s first marriage. In 1941, Georg and Mary Stern had already moved to Racine, WI in 1938 while Julius and Frieda remained in New York,[3] where they had moved to by October 4th, 1941.[4]  Elsa and her family were located at the Westerbork Camp in the Netherlands as Jewish deportees, presumably swept up in the May 10th, 1940 Nazi invasion.[5] Elsa, Leon and Manfred were at Westerbork during 1941 and stayed there until deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in 1944.[6][7]

Julius’s eight siblings’ names are still unknown, however, after doing some research on Yad Vashem, one can make an educated guess as to whom some of Julius’s siblings may have been.  After searching for the last name “sternreich” and looking at birthplaces/birth years around Brzesko, Borzecin, or Krakau, it is possible that I may have discovered five people who I would assume to be Julius’s brothers. Markus, Jakub, David, Avigador and Wilhelm were all born in and around Krakau and according to Yad Vashem, they and their families remained there during the war in 1941. I believe these may be Julius’s brothers because there were not only born around the same area, but also around the same time (Markus b. N/A, Jakub b. 1887, David b. 1891, Avigador b. 1892, Wilhelm b. 1983)[8]. Unfortunately, none of the documents give the name of any of these men’s parents. Markus does not have an entry on Yad Vashem but his wife Berta nee Feld and daughter Chaja do, stating that they were in Krakau at the beginning of the war. It appears that Jakub and his wife Helena had three children, Regina, Irma, and Moses and they too lived in Krakau in the beginning of the war.  It is confirmed on Yad Vashem that Avigador and his wife Zelma Sterenreich had two children, Georg and Lion, and were located in Krakau in 1941.[9] What appears to be the youngest brother, Wilhelm is also assumed to be back in Krakau after his previous location, Bentschen Camp in Poland, was closed down in 1939.[10] Yosef Sternreich made entries for his father David, mother Sofia, and sister Berta and I believe them to be part of the Sternreich family since David was born in Borzecin. Borzecin was also the location of Gimbell and Hellen Sternreich’s family home. [11] So it is viable that the possible siblings of Julius would have been born in either Krakau or Borzecin. Yosef’s location during the war and how he survived the Holocaust is unknown. Krakau, capital of General Gouvernment, and was officially declared a ghetto on March 3rd, 1941.

[1] “2-7-41.” Sara Spira to Georg and Mary Stern. July 2, 1941. Poland, Gorlice.

Translated by Rebekka Grossmann. Some of the relatives may be referenced. Bethel = Bertha. Erna= Irma.

[2] Grossmann, Rebekka, and Amos Bitzan, comps. Stern Family Tree. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison. 

[3] Stern, Sandy. Family Story by Sandy (age 13). 1960. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI: George and Mary’s address was specifically 2811 North Main Street.  Julius and Frieda stayed in New York having established an Army Surplus Store.

[4] “11-7-41.” Sara Spira to Georg and Mar Stern.  November 7, 1941. Poland, Gorlice.

[5] Colijn, G. Jan., and Marcia Sachs. Littell. The Netherlands and Nazi Genocide: Papers of the 21st Annual Scholars’ Conference. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 1992.

[6] “Westerbork.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2016. Accessed February 19, 2016.  

[7] Yad Vashem: The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Accessed February 19, 2016. Yad Vashem states the Broder family was not transferred from Westerbork until 1944.

[8] Sternreich”, Yad Vashem: The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Accessed February 19, 2016.

[9] Ibid. Note: Alternative spellings of Sternreich include Sterenreich, Shternreikh.

[10] “Zbaszyn.” Yad Vashem. Accessed February 19, 2016.  Bentschen Camp, Located in modern Zbaszyn, Poland, closed down in 1939 after which deportees were allowed to return their homes/ghettos.

[11] Stern, Sandy. Family Story by Sandy (age 13). 1960. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.


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