Tracking Mary Stern’s Family

By Samantha West

The purpose of this annotation is to find out more about Mary Stern’s side of the family.  Specifically, I investigated the locations of Max and Sara Spira’s families before and during the war. We know that Mary’s father, Max Spira, had one sister, Erna.[1]  I was unable to find entries for her on Yad Vashem but I believe that she is referenced in Sara’s letters to Mary on July 2nd and 9th, 1941.[2]  Max and Erna’s mother, Rose, came to live with Erna in Frankfurt sometime before the war.[3] Although we are unsure of what happened to Erna, we know she was deported to Poland (“Brezsko Jadowniki No. 702”) in 1941. [4] 

Previously confirmed members of Sara Spira’s family are her mother and father, Marie and Abraham, and siblings Rhocelle, Minnie, Leo, and Rifka.[5] Abraham and Marie’s family home was located in Gorlice before the war.[6] According to an entry by Henry Gniwosch (who I would later find out is Minnie’s son and made several entries on his family) on Yad Vashem, Rhocelle, or Rosa Loeffelstiel (nee Gold) was born in 1885 in Gorlice. Rhocelle married Elazar Lazar and they lived in Leipzig before the war.[7]  Rhocelle was deported to Baligrod during the war before being moved to Auschwitz. We know from a telegram dated November 4, 1938 that Sara visited or stayed with Rosa and Lazar in Baligrod at some point.[8] This confirms that the Lazar references in the telegram is Sara’s brother in law.

Henry Gniwosch’s parents were Simon and Minnie (nee Gold) Ginwosch who lived in Leipzig before the war. The Yad Vashem entry for Minnie confirms that she was born in Gorlice to Abraham and Mirium (or Marie), making her Sara’s sister.[9] The birthdates that Henry gives for his parents on Yad Vashem conflict with the birthdate we have for Sara so I believe the correct birthdates are given to us by the “Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933-1945” entries (Minnie b. 1883[10] and Simon b. 1881[11]).  Minnie and Simon had two children, Henry, and his sister Mary Feiga Mansbach (nee Gniwosch) who I discovered on My Heritage.[12] Minnie and Simon lived in Leipzig before the war, but were deported to Krakow during the war before being transferred to Auschwitz. Presumably, we know that Minnie and Simon’s children immigrated out of Gorlice as referenced by Lazar’s postcard.[13] I know that Henry lived in London based on his Yad Vashem entries[14] and that Mary died in 1995.[15] Additionally, Mary and her husband Aron HaLevi Mansbach had two sons Jacob Yehuda (Jack) ben Aharon HaLevi Mansbush and Manfred (Fred) Meir ben Aharon HaLevi.[16]  We know this through Jacob’s account on Geni.[17] 

Henry also made an entry for his aunt Rifka.  Rifka, or Regina, Schwarzbard (nee Gold) was born in 1898 in Gorlice.  She was married to Abraham and together they had one son, Hermann, born in 1924 in Leipzig. According to Yad Vashem, Rifka, Abraham and Herman lived in Leipzig before the war, and were deported to Warsaw Ghetto on October 28th, 1938. According to Yad Vashem we know Rifka was murdered in Warsaw in 1941.[18]

Interestingly enough, in all of Henry’s entries on Yad Vashem, as well as the family tree entered on My Heritage, there was no mention or recognition of Leo so I was not able to find out anything about his whereabouts.  However, I was able to find a possible lead on Sara Spira’s death.  We currently know Sara’s whereabouts during the war from the addresses on her post cards, but according to her page in theMy Heritage database, she may have been murdered in Auschwitz circa 1943,[19] similarly to Minnie, Simon, and Rhocelle. However, I cannot guarantee the credibility of My Heritage so this is simply a hypothesis.


[1] Stern, Sandy. Family Story by Sandy (age 13). 1960. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. 2.

[2] “2-7-41.” Sara Spira to Georg and Mary Stern. July 2, 1941. Poland, Gorlice. “9-7-41”. Sara Spira to George and Mary Stern. July 9, 1941. Poland, Gorlice.

[3] Stern, Sandy. Family Story by Sandy (age 13). 1960. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. 2.

[4] “2-7-41.” Sara Spira to Georg and Mary Stern. July 2, 1941. Poland, Gorlice.

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

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gniwosch, Henry. “Rosa Loeffelstiel.” The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Web. March 18, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en. “Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage.” / Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage. Accessed March 18, 2016. https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-40000/geni-world-family-tree?itemId=189393373.

[8] Loeffelstiel, Lazar. “Western Union Telegram Received in New York from Baligrod.” Digital image. Web. April 22, 2016.

[9] Gniwosch, Henry. “Minna Gniwosch.” The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Web. March 18, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en.

[10] “Minna Gniwosch.” The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Web. March 18, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en.

[11] “Simon Gniwosch.” The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Web. March 18, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en.

[12] “Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage.” Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage. Web. March 18, 2016. https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-40000/geni-world-family-tree?itemId=76965217.

Mary Feiga Mansbach.

[13] “18-6-41.” Lazar Loeffelstiel to Georg and Mary Stern. June 18, 1941. Poland, Baligrod.

[14] Henry’s address in 1979:  224 Rowley Gardens Woodberry Grove, London N.4.

[15] Ibid.

[16]  “Mary Feiga Mansbach.” Geni_family_tree. Web. April 22, 2016. https://www.geni.com/people/Mary-Mansbach/6000000008332799394.

[17] “MansbachJacob Yehuda (Jack) Ben Aharon HaLevi Mansbach.” Genealogy. Web. April 22, 2016. https://www.geni.com/people/Jacob-Yehuda-Jack-ben-Aharon-HaLevi-Mansbach/6000000008332293147.

[18] Gniwosch, Henry. “Regina Schwarzbard.” The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names. Web. March 18, 2016. http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en.

[19] “Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage.” Geni World Family Tree – MyHeritage. Web. March 18, 2016. https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-40000/geni-world-family-tree?itemId=189392047.

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