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I haven't had much time to blog for the last few months, and the next few months will also probably be spotty.

You may recall that my last several posts were about my maternal grandmother's family. I wrote about her father, Hermann Friedmann: From research that others have done, I know that his parents were Jonas Friedmann and Babette Ermanreuther, but I do not know anything beyond that about his family.

(I'm now kicking myself, because I no longer remember what my source was for that, and I apparently didn't write it down.)

But I wasn't getting anywhere with it, until I realized that Ermanreuther was almost certainly a transcription error. There's a nearby town called Ermreuth, and so I tried changing her name to Ermreuther to see if anything turned up... and BINGO!

I found the family tree compiled by Peter Friedmann (no relation), who is on the board of The Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Ermreuth. He had my great-great-grandmother, Babette Ermreuther, and things seemed to line up between our trees.

Much of his data was from the book, Der j├╝dische Friedhof Ermreuth ("The Jewish Cemetery of Ermreuth"), compiled by Dr. Raaja Nadler (of the same organization). I was able to obtain a copy through the Newton Library, via inter-library loan from Yeshiva University. The book consists of about twenty pages of front matter, then 250 pages of photographs of every gravestone in the cemetery, with transcriptions, translations into German, and footnotes explaining how each person is related to the others in the book. The back contains indexes by name and by date as well as extensive family trees.

So now I have two more generations going back, along with some amazing additional information. Grave 63, my great-great-great-grandfather: "The just and upright man, a master of Torah and good deeds, Rabbi Jonah Tzvi son of Benjamin, who died on the holy Sabbath, 5th Sivan, and was buried on the first day of Shavuot, 633 in the truncated year" [i.e., 31 May 1873]

Not only that, but it means that I have another town to add to my areas of interest: Ermreuth, which is just north of Nurenberg. (Nurenberg is where my grandmother was born and raised, so this all makes sense.)

So I went to JewishGen to see who else is interested in Ermreuth. There was one person listed, so I contacted him. I explained my connection through Babette, and signed "Andrew Greene, Newton MA."

The reply that I got was amazing. First of all, this individual (C.A.) told me that we are half-third-cousins-once-removed. (Babette's mother Frederika died in childbirth of her second child, and Jonas -- whose gravestone I cited above -- remarried and their eldest child was C.A.'s great-grandmother.) Not only that, he also lives in Newton, about half a mile from my house.

And to top it all off, he told me that a second cousin of his (M.K.), also a half-third-cousin-once-removed of mine, lives halfway between our two houses.

All this on a line that was the shortest of all the lines in my tree until a few weeks ago, in a family that we had given up as lost. (We have a few relatives on my maternal grandfather's line, and a large family on my maternal grandmother's mother's side, but my Oma's father's side was, as you may recall from last time, gone: her only brother was killed by the Nazis and had no children; her father was, to our knowlege, an only child, and his parents unknown to us.)

So today C.A. and M.K. walked over to my house and we had a family reunion. We shared information and stories.

M.K. told me about his father, who was arrested after "Kristallnacht" and sent to Dachau, much like my great-uncle Leo. (I posted about Leo last November.) M.K.'s father, however, had good handwriting, and so was given slightly better living conditions and a job: writing out death certificates and other paperwork. This morning, we looked at Leo's death certificate, and while M.K. couldn't be sure, he thinks it is quite similar to his father's handwriting.

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Andrew M. Greene

January 2013

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