Editor’s Note: On July 18, 1998, my Grandmother, Bertha Boschwitz
Leubsdorf, passed away at her home in New York City. This document is dedicated to
her memory and that of my Grandfather, Karl Leubsdorf, who passed away in 1977.
Please understand that any typographical errors are mine and mine alone, and that I
have posted this first draft with the expectation that further enhancements and
corrections will be made in the near future. I have tried to remain faithful to the
document I received, based mostly on a family history prepared in the 1920s but also on
reminiscences of my grandparents. Minor editorial notes and queries are indicated with the
The Leubsdorf family was named after the village of Leubsdorf, located on the right
bank of the Rhine between Linz and Honningen and opposite Sinzig. It is located in the
midst of vineyards along a meandering brook and is separated from the Rhine today by the
tracks of the railroad. It belonged at one time to the city of Linz — located slightly
lower along the Rhine — and since the middle of the 13th century belonged to the
territory of the archbishops of Cologne. It is known for its well-kept, artistic timbered
It is not known when the forefathers of the Leubsdorf family came to the town. A
tombstone indicates a certain Nathan Leib who died October 18, 1744 as being, possibly,
the grandfather of Nathan Behr who is the first forefather for whom documentation existed.
Nathan Behr was a merchant in Leubsdorf, and he as well as his wife, Gudula Hermann are
known only because they were mentioned in the death certificates of both of their sons —
in 1813 and in 1848 — as well as in the marriage papers of the younger son in 1815. At
that time both parents were already dead.
Their older son, Beer Nathan, was born in Leubsdorf on or about 1764 and was also a
merchant. He was unmarried and died on the 15th of April 1813 in Oberdollendorf, at the
home of his younger brother, of tuberculosis.
The younger brother, who in 1846 added the name of his native village to his name, Isaac Nathan was born in Leubsdorf in 1766 as his death
certificate clearly indicates. In his marriage certificate of 1815 the town of
Oberdollendorf is mistakenly indicated as the town of his birth. The village of
Oberdollendorf, as well as its sister village Niederdollendorf, located near Godesberg is
one of the most appealing sections of the Rhineland and is well known to tourists of the
Isaac Nathan was also a merchant in Leubsdorf and during the first two Napoleonic Wars
against France served as supplier of the army of the royal Salzburg ducal contingents,
thus laying the basis for his wealth. In 1801 the peace of Luneville marked the end of
these wars, and also the end of this lucrative business for him. A citation written in
Salzburg in 1801 states that the owner of this citation — Isaac Nathan — from 1795 until
May 1801 supplied royal Salzburg contingents with many different supplies and services
against proper payment — as agreed by contract — and that he acted at all times
ethically correct and honestly, so that one would have been happy to keep him in the
employ of the Salzburg court, if the peace had not put an end to this business." (See
notes by Karl Leubsdorf)
The following year — 1802 — Isaac Nathan married a girl from Dollendorf and probably
moved there. This can be deduced from the Marriage contract, written in Hebrew and in
Hebrew letters, (property of Bertha Leubsdorf? or Leo Baeck Institute?) which indicated
September 1, 1802 as the Wedding day. The name of the bride is given here as Chaike,
daughter of Naphtali (Hirsch, Hirtz, or Herz?). The father-in-law was the stepfather
Leser, son of Moses from Dollendorf, and the mother’s name was Zipre. (Zippora, Sephora)
The presents of the bridegroom to the bride are listed, especially those of jewelry. On
the other hand the young husband received, as dowry, 840 Thalers in cash and half the
house of the parents-in-law together with stables and a separate apartment which could be
rented, as well as free meals and board for two years. As long as they shared the house,
the income was to be divided equally among the two couples. More about the bride and her
parents can be learned from the marriage registry of Oberkassel on the Rhine which had the
registry for Dollendorf. There her name is given as Heygen Hirtz (1814-1848) or Herz
(1842) and once (1812) as Heygen Isaac, either based on the name of her husband, or on the
unknown second name of her father (in other words, the first name of her grandfather. Only
in the death certificate of her 2nd son (1854) — many years after her own death — she is
called Johanna Lazarus, probably after her stepfather. The papers indicate that she came
from (Ober or Nieder) Breysig on the left bank of the Rhine between Sinzig and Audernach,
in fact opposite to Leubsdorf on the other side of the Rhine.
Heygen Hirtz bore her husband in Oberdollendorf two sons, Nathan Isaac and Herz Isaac
and died — barely 30 years old — on December 15, 1814. Her husband appears at this time
listed as "licensed Cattle merchant" (1812) and as dealer in fruits (1815) and
later on as general merchant. (Handlesmann)
On August 22, 1815, he married a second time, in Oberkassel, Lucia Hittel Abraham, born
in Siegburg on September 7th 1795 and died in retirement in Oberdollendorf on June 4th,
1866; she was buried in Siegburg. She outlived her husband — who was 30 years older than
she and who died May 22, 1848, also in Oberdollendorf — by 18 years.
On the 13th of January 1865 she wrote her last will and testament at the office of the
notary W. M. Klein in Oberkassel. After her death in 1866 this will was opened at the
Court in Bonn (original either with BBL or Leo Baeck Institute). According to this will,
the testator was a well-to-do woman who maintained excellent relations with her stepsons
and step-grandsons, as sizeable bequests indicate. After deducting special bequests, and
the costs of executors etc., she named as beneficiaries of all remaining possessions the
sons of her sister Wilhelmine Sprinz — the Banker Samuel Hoffmann in Koln, and the
retired Abraham Hoffmann in Siegburg — as well as her step-grandson Bernard Leubsdorf. In
addition she specified the following bequests:
- 3000 Thaler for the construction of a new synagogue in Oberdollendorf wit the proviso
that each year, and the evening before, and on the day of her death a "solemn
service" of Memorial take place. This synagogue was constructed and a memorial tablet
reminded the congregants of the donor. In 1838 conditions in Germany forced the
congregation to sell this building.
- 100 Thalers for a "club for the training of Jewish apprentices and teachers for the
Rhineland and Westphalia in Munster."
- 200 Thalers for the Jewish poor in Siegburg who wished to be buried near the graves of
their parents. The interests from this fund were to be used to supply the poor in Siegburg
with "Matzoh and flour."
- The income from 2000 Thalers was to be distributed on the day of her death to the Jewish
poor in Ober and Nieder Dollendorf, Konigswinter, Oberpleis, Honnef, Benel, Godesberg, and
Mehlem — all in the immediate neighborhood of Oberdollendorf, on both sides of the Rhine.
- The income from 3000 Thalers was to be used to provide the trousseau for a needy Jewish
bride born in the neighborhood in of or in Siegburg; needy girls of the immediate family
were to be preferred over strangers.
The older son from the first marriage of her husband with Hezgen Hirtz was Nathan Isaac
who, like his father added the name of Leubsdorf as family name to his given name in 1846.
Hw was born May 8th, 1812 in Oberdollendorf, was a merchant by profession, died there July
23, 1867 and was buried in Konigswinter. On May 17, 1841 he married, in Julich, Jetta
Mayer, who was born in Julich February 8, 1815. Her death is recorded neither in Julich
nor in Dollendorf; probably she either either emigrated with her oldest son to America, or
followed her daughter there. In Oberdollendorf she had three children:
- Bernhard Isaac, since 1846 Leubsdorf, born April 18, 1842. He established a machine
factory in Oberdollendorf but after being in operation a short time, this factory became a
victim of the "Grunderperiode" in the seventies. (The period of the founders),
as described by the historian of this region — Ferdinand Schmitz in his book called
"the Mark Dollendorf", published 1925 in Bergisch Gladbach. However, in the
records of the Synagogue in Siegburg a certain "Falliment Bernhard Leubsdorf"
who emigrated to America was mentioned in 1868.
- Salomon Isaac, since 184 Leubsdorf, born June 4th, 1843.
- Johanna Isaac, since 1846 Leubsdorf, born January 24, 1845 married Benoit Josue, a
relative of the Burger Family, born in Siegburg on Jun 28, 1827, and died in Paris in
The younger son of Isaac Nathan Leubsdorf was Herz Isaac
who, in 1846, added the name of Leubsdor fas a family name to the previously used first
names, just like his father and his brother. He was born November 6, 1813 in
Oberdollendorf as a son of Heygen Hirtz. His birth is not registered in the official
records in Oberkassel; but this omission is explained in his marriage license in 1842 as
due to the uncertain conditions because of the wars of Liberation at that time. This
license indicated the fall of 1813 as his birthdate and the mayor determined the exact day
of his birth from the lists of inhabitants. In those days many Russians as well as
Cossacks appeared behind the fleeing French soldiers in the region of the "Sieben
gebirge" (Seven Crest Mountains) and consequently the trip from Oberdollendorf to
Oberkassel to register a newborn child might well have been considered too unsafe and was
therefore omitted. Herz Isaac too remained as trader or merchant in his native land and at
the end lived there in retirement. He survived his father by only a few years and died
November 23, 1854 in Oberdollendorf. His tombstone can be found in the Jewish cemetary in
Konigswinter. (provided this cemetary survived the destruction of the Nazi Era).
On December 15, 1942 (must be 1842[CPLJr]) he married in Oberkassel:
Regina Burger — born July 17, 1822 in Siegburg. Widowed at an early age (1854), she
first stayed with her children in Oberdollendorf. Two decades lagert (1875) she moved back
to Siegburg where her only brother, Samuel Burger lived. There she provided the center of
a large circle of her family and was considered the Matriarch of her tribe. After being
widowed for 50 years, she died on December 4, 1904 in Siegburg. During her short marriage
she presented her husband with six children — one son and five daughters, as well as one
daughter who was born dead several months after her husband’s death.
Nathan Isaac who also added the surname Leubsdorf to his 2 names in 1846 was born
February 26, 1846. In order to become a Kaufmann (Business man) he was apprenticed for
three years to the produce firm of Meyer Cohen in Mulheim on the Rhine. After that he
spent 2 1/2 years there as clerk (report with BBL or Leo Baeck Institute). In 1863 he
joined the banking firm of A. Leby in Cologne which had been founded in 1858. On the first
of July 1873 he was made Prokurist (he had signature for the firm) and on January 1, 1878
he and Louis Levey (who later changed his name to Louis Hagen and achieved a very high
position in banking) became joint partners. Unable to agree with Louis Levy about the
methods of conducting their business, he gave up his joint partnership in 1885, but
continued as Prokurist (Signatary) until his death on December 16, 1894 in Cologne. Only
50 years old at his death he had been in ill health for a long time. He is buried in the
Jewish Cemetery in Cologne-Deutz opp. Cologne. (This was your father’s grandfather).
In a eulogy which appeared in the "Jewish Community Paper" the point was made
that Nathan Leubsdorf belonged to those "men who remained true to themselves in all
vicissitudes of life and who carried the name JEW with pride." A truly deeply
committed religious man he showed a deep interest for everything Jewish and always tried
to help and better conditions whenever possible. As a member of the board of trustees of
the Jewish Community Congregation as well as other corporations he achieved a most
valuable position and helped in removing problems and in elevating the religious status of
the Congregation. The history of the religious school of Cologne, as well as of the new
synagogue in whose development he was very active is closely connected with his name. (The
synagogue was built after his death in 1896-1899.) Without bragging and without making
himself conspicuous he was extremely charitable and always ready to help with advice and
support. In this respect he was the true son-in-law of his father-in-law — Mr. Samuel
Burger in Siegburg — who was equally educated, charitable and highly esteemed in
Siegburg. Simple and without showing off as was his life, was also his funeral; he had
asked that there be no eulogies nor outward show of pomp as he did not want to appear
showy after his death; his ambition in life had been to find his greatest satisfaction in
the harmonious lif with his devoted wife and his family. After the death of Samuel Burger
his home in the Streitzeuggasse became the center for most of the family. Through his
professional expertise and his solid business methods he had achieved a position of high
regard in banking circles.
On June 21, 1876, he married his cousin Billa Burger in Siegburg. Billa Burger was born
in Siegburg on October 9, 1853. After her husband’s death in 1894 she lived her last years
a the home of her daughter Fanny Levison (who had been widowed at an early age) when she
died after a long illness on December 6, 1924. On her tomb in Koln Deutz (Jewish Cemetery)
the following words — which were particularly suitable for her — were engraved:
"Her ways were ways of pleasantness and all her paths were peace."
Nathan Leubsdorf and Billa Burger left one son and two daughters: Herman Leubsdorf,
Fanny Leubsdorf, and Ella Leubsdorf.
Herman Leubsdorf, born July 8, 1877 in Siegburg and educated in Cologne followed the
profession of his father. Having received part of his training first in Belgium and then
in London he joined the Bank of A. Levy in Cologne. On July 1st 1900 he received the
permission for joint signature, and in 1920 for single signature. On May 1, 1922, when A.
Levy joined another well established Cologne firm — Solomon Oppenheim Jr. — in a
partnership, Herman Leubsdorf became a partner of the joint establishment. Under the
energetic, although sometimes questionable direction of Louis Hagen (formerly Louis Levy)
the firm prospered for many years especially after the first World War and during the
inflation when means of reconstruction and rehabilitation were supplied from abroad
through the connections established by Louis Hagen and the partners, who also maintained
close connections with the industrial converns of the Rhineland and Westphalia. Political
changes which followed shortly after the death o fLouis Hagen in 1932 forced Herman
Leubsdorf’s dismissal from the firm when the so-called "Gleichschaltung" forced
A. Levy to close its doors in 1935 at which time it was taken over and merged into S.
Oppenheim & Co.
Herman Leubsdorf remained in Cologne and together with his wife continued to live
simply but greatly interested in all cultural affairs especially music. As it became more
and more difficult for Jews to practice their professions he was instrumental in
supporting the Jewish Cultural Organizations which tried to provide means of support for
those artists where no longer able to function in German concerts, theatres, operas, etc.
As was his father, Herman Leubsdorf was an extermely charitable man who helped many people
including students in Bonn, and many civic organizations, generally under the condition
that the recipient not be told the name of the donor.
In November 1938, through the treachery of his chauffeur whom he had supported long
after he needed him he was interned in the concentration camp at Dachau. Through good
friends in high places he was liberated from Dachau with the understanding that he would
leave Germany as fast as possible. After payment of so-called "taxes due to the
government," he hand his wife emigrated to England where they lived first in
Bournemonth, then in London and finally in Oxford while awaiting visas for the United
States. In the summer of 1940, during the so-called "phony war" and after the
British defeat at Dunkirk, he — like many enemy aliens — was interned on the Isle of
Man. In the Fall of 1940 they followed their children to New York, where they lived for
the rest of their lives. For many years after settling in New York he served as volunteer
of the self help of Emigrees from Central Europe. He died in New York in 1954 after having
celebrated his 50th anniversary with his children and grandchildren.
In 1904 — October 5th — he married Hedwig Reifenberg — born February 8, 1881 in
Cologne. The Reifenberg family came from Westphalia; Hedwig Reifenberg had two sisters —
Hermine and Anne. The marriage of Hermann (Here with 2 Ns?[CPLJr]) Leubsdorf and Hedwig
Reifenberg produced 2 children — a son Karl and a daughter Klare.
Karl Leubsdorf — born December 17, 1908 in Cologne went to the gymnasium there, and
attended two years at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. Although he first wanted to
become an engineer, he switched into Business and Banking later on. After two years at
Cambridge he spent some time in New York and London to further learn the banking business,
and joined the firm of A. Levy as a successor to his grandfather and father. In 1933 he
obtained the power of signature. In 1934 (May 10th) he married Bertha Boschwitz, born
September 16, 1907 in Berlin, in New York. The young couple returned to Cologne — in
spite of the presence of Hitler and his Cohorts — to be able to assist his father during
these difficult years. In 1935 the firm was taken over by its Aryan members, and Herman
Leubsdorf retired. Karl Leubsdorf went to New York, and started to work for the firm of
his father-in-law — Carl Boschwitz — viz, the New York and Hanseatic Corporation. At the
untimely death of Carl Boschwitz — July 12, 1937 — Karl took over a large part of the
business of the firm. In 1942, there was considerable disunity in the firm, as one of the
directors wished to take over the business for his newly immigrated brother and nephews.
At this time all the members of the Boschwitz family sold their stock and left the firm.
Karl received a very favorable offer from the firm of Carl H. Pforzheimer & Co. and
joined them. He stayed with this firm until his death on December 30, 1977.
This marriage produced 2 sons, Carl Philipp Leubsdorf — born March 17, 1938 and John
David Leubsdorf — born February 11, 1924.
At the beginning of the second World War Karl was able to bring his parents to the
United States from England — in order to avoid being drafted he went to work for a radio
factory as a troubleshooter ans was frozen in his job — pay 62¢ an hour — until the end
of the war. He was probably one of the few Union members who earned 62¢ an hour and
called his broker at lunch every day.
Klare was born in Cologne November 1, 1911, and after finishing the gymnasium studied
to be an X-ray technician. On March 26, 1936 she married Richard Selo with whom she came
to the United States in 1938. Through some clever management Klare’s brother Karl managed
to transfer a fair amount of money from Germany which enabled the young couple so [sic
CPLJr] to live that Richard could again study law in New York (he had been a lawyer and a
judge in Germany) where he passed the Bar Exam in 1944 and joined a prestigious law firm
— until his death in 1947. In 1943 — August 23 — Klare and Richard had a daughter —
Margaret Ann — who is married to Frank Church — a cellist — they have two children —
Karen and Danny and live in New London, Conn. where Frank teaches Music and the cello at
the Connecticut College and Margaret teaches Early Childhood Education.
Nathan Leubsdorf and Billa Burger (parents of Herman Leubsdorf) also had two daughters
— sisters of Hermann Leubsdorf:
- Fanny Levison, born December 15, 1878 in Cologne, who married her cousin Dr. Carl
Levison, born October 4, 1875 in Dusseldorf, in 1904 where here husband died in 1907,
leaving her with three sons:
- Paul — born 1902 who emigrated to La Paz in 1939 and taught Music until his death in
- Robert — born in 1903 an engineer who married in 1937 emigrated to New York via London
and died 1951 having lived first in New York then in Philadelphia.
- Reinhold — born in 1906, who married in Dusseldorf in 1940.
At the advent of the Nazis in 1938 all three sons were interned in Dachau, and were
freed after Robert who had a good position guaranteed their emigration. The mother —
Fanny Levison was deported to Poland in 1941.
- Ella Levison, born in Cologne June 28, 1882 married her cousin, Dr. Alfred Levison in
1904. Dr Levison, born in 1872 in Siegburg moved to Cologne where he died on December 21,
1936. They had two children:
- Aenne — born in Cologne in 1905, emigrated with her mother in 1939 to England and in
1940 to New York. She worked in Newark, N.J. until her untimely death in 1958.
- Willy — born in 1908 in Cologne, studied medicine, graduated in 1932, and in 1934
settled in Newark, N.J., where he had a large family practice. In 1941 he married
Charlotte Engel and they had one daughter — Judy born January 30, 1950 who is also a
doctor, married to a doctor — Simon Whitney — and lives in Washington. Willy died in
1961 and his mother Ella in Newark in 1945.