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This compilation traces the members of the Kohnstamm family from their ancestor Don Menachen ben Chajim Ha-Kohen (1650-1723) to the present day. It includes the list of names of some 3500 members and their spouses, together with their dates and places of birth, marriage and death, and a brief indication of occupation or profession.
Since a bare list of names and dates does not make for compelling, reading the list is followed by brief biographical notes. The intention has been to say a few words about peoples' education, career and special interests. Inevitably the quality of the information gathered for this purpose has varied considerably, and this accounts for the lack of uniformity in the presentation of individual cases. Moreover, it was found easier to obtain information about men than about women, especially unfortunate in cases where the woman is the member of the family and the man is the spouse who has married into it. In order to save space the text does not include many dates, for details of which reference should be made to the list of names.
The basis of this family history was a manuscript family tree provided by Karl Kohnstamm (KB.411.6). The tree, whose author is not known, does not include any documentary references. The conflicts presented by the uncorroborated vital dates of the ancestors do not appear to have been noticed by any family member who held copies. Fortunately we were able to rely on the records in the Bavarian state archives at Wiirzburg, and elsewhere for much of the data about the earlier generations of the family. For more recent events direct contact with family members, much correspondence and a great deal of telephoning contributed to the material herein.
Records of births, marriages and deaths in the Jewish population, known as Juden-Matrikel (Jews' registers), were introduced in Germany as part of the process of emancipation. Subject to local legislation, which varied in the numerous sovereign territories existing before the establishment of the German empire in 1871, they were generally kept by the local Catholic or Protestant priests and usually cover the period from about 1812 to 1875. This system was superseded by the introduction of general registration throughout the German empire on I January 1876.
It is not possible in a genealogical work of this kind to reach perfection. Some gaps are bound to remain unfilled, be it because of a lack of records for earlier years or the inability to find contacts able and willing to provide the required information. Much necessarily depended on records up to 200 years old, which are not always reliable or were incapable of verification, Family events have been recorded up to 31 December 2000. Subsequent births, marriages and deaths, which have been notified, are shown under the heading 'Twenty-first Century Additions' with space provided for readers themselves to add new information.
Despite efforts made when finalizing the work to verify the material obtained over many years, there may be instances where the information given may not be entirely up to date. Indeed, unless one or more members of the family maintain the contacts established in the preparation of this work and update them from time to time it will remain the historical record of the state of the family at the end of the twentieth century, rather than the story of a living, and vibrant family.
Future readers of these notes may feel that the references to the Holocaust are excessive. No excuse is made for this. This story very largely deals with family members' lives during the twentieth century. Not only was the Holocaust that century's most dreadful event, but also was aggravated by the fact that the murder of millions of people occurred as part of government policy and was carried out as a matter of bureaucratic routine. Moreover, a large proportion of the members of the family lived in Germany in the 1930s and in German occupied territories during World War 11, or, if living; outside, had been born. in Germany. Thus the Holocaust affected, directly or indirectly, virtually every one of its widespread branches. It is estimated that 270 members of the family lived in Germany during the 1930s and many were able to emigrate to other countries. Of those unable to do so in time 52, almost one in five, are recorded to have perished in concentration camps, and more were at one time or another arrested or held in camps. To honour their memory a list of their names follows this foreword. A number of family members, who had Christian spouses or were descended from mixed Jewish and Christian marriages, managed to survive the war in Germany or German occupied countries. Several of them suffered from persecution, some having had to go into hiding.