Skip to comments.Senator Kerry´s ancestors in Austria and Chicago
Posted on 02/19/2004 11:39:49 AM PST by syriacus
From: "IHFF" Subject: [AUSTRIA-L] Senator Kerry´s ancestors in Austria Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2003 09:48:00 +0100
Senator John Kerry runs for President.
Im Jänner 2003 entschloß sich der Demokrat Senator John Kerry (http://kerry.senate.gov/ ), für das Amerikanische Präsidentenamt zu kandidieren.
Vom Boston Globe erhielt ich den Auftrag, die österreichischen Vorfahren von Senator Kerry zu erforschen. Ab dem 2.2.2003 wurden im Boston Globe laufend darüber berichtet (http://www.boston.com/globe/ ). Den kompletten Artikel finden Sie untenstehend.
Andere Tageszeitungen übernahmen diesen Artikel: zB der New Republic http://www.tnr.com/ampc-preview.mhtml?pid=206#top oder die Tschechische Pravo http://www.pravo.cz/
Ing. Felix Gundacker professional genealogist for Austria, Bohemia and Moravia [snipped personal info]
-------------------------- In January 2003 Senator John Kerry said, that he runs for President.
End of January 2003 I got the order from the Boston Globe to research parts of the ancestors of Senator John Kerry. Below you will find the complete article which was published on February 2nd, 2003.
Other Newspapers wrote also about this fantastic story:
for example the New Republic, or the Czech Pravo. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---- Hier eine kurze Zusammenfassung der Genealogie:
Fritz Kohn wurde am 10. Mai 1873 in Bennisch, heute Horni Benesov, in Österreichisch Schlesien als Sohn des Brauereipächters Benedikt Kohn und seiner Ehefrau Mathilde, geborener Frankel aus Oberglogau in Preußen geboren. Seine Geschwister waren Ida (geboren am 26.6.1869 in Bennisch) und Otto (geboren am 11.5.1876 in Bennisch). Benedikt verstarb in Bennisch noch vor der Geburt des Otto. Bald darauf übernahm der Bruder von Benedikt, Bernhard, die Bierbrauerei, und Mathilde zog mit ihren 3 Kindern (möglicherweise gab es noch einen weiteren Sohn Max, der ca. 1871 geboren wurde) nach Mödling, wo der Bruder von Mathilde, Alfred, eine Schuhfabrik eröffnete. Die Familie lebte vorerst in der Feldgasse 67, heute Friedrich-Schillerstraße.
Ida zog nach Köln und heiratete einen Geheimrath Auersbach. Ihre Tochter Elisabeth wurde Malerin in Paris, Edith Internistin und Malerin in NewYork. Ida verstarb 1942 in NewYork.
Die beiden Brüder Otto und Fritz konvertierten 1901, nachdem Ihnen 1897 (Otto) und 1901 (Fritz) die Namensänderung in Kerry bewilligt wurde.
Otto blieb in Wien und schlug eine Militärlaufbahn ein. Als Major war er in Isonzo maßgebend am Erfolg der Österreicher beteiligt. 1913 heiratete er Marie Striegl in Wien, zog dann allerdings für ein Jahr nach Czernowitz in die Bukowina, wo der erste Sohn zur Welt kam. Ende 1914 war er allerdings schon wieder in Wien. Drei weitere Kinder folgten.
Otto studierte Recht und Kunstgeschichte. Eine Legende erzählt, daß er Erzherzog Karl vor einem Schußattentat rettete; die Kugel blieb bis zu seinem Tod im Jahr 1933 in Wien in seiner Stirn.
Fritz verblieb in Mödling. Er besuchte dort das Gymnasium, das er 1891 mit Auszeichnung abschloß. Kurz darauf wird er schon als Prokurist der Alfred Fränklischen Schuhfabrik genannt (neben Franz Haager). Im Jahr 1900 heiratete er in Mödling Ida Löwe, die am 22. Februar 1877 als Tochter des Siegfried Löwe und der Josefa geb. Löw in Budapest geboren wurde. Am 26. Februar 1901 wurde der erste Sohn Erich in Mödling geboren. Kurz nach der Bewilligung der Namensänderung in Kerry wurden Fritz, Ida und Erich in Mödling am 9.10.1901 getauft.
Ende 1904 wanderten Fritz, Ida und Erich über Triest in die USA aus. 1909 wurde eine Tochter Miltred geboren, Richard, der Vater von Senator John Kerry, wurde 1915 geboren.
Fritz verstarb am 23.2.1921 in den USA durch Selbstmord, seine Frau Ida am 20.1.1960.
Mathilde Kohn zog nach der Emigration des Fritz nach Wien, wo sie verarmt am 24.5.1935 verstarb. Mathilde konvertierte nicht.
(C) copyright by IHFF 2002, Ing. Felix Gundacker
It's especially sad if it's true that she was impoverished at the same time she had rich relations in the US.
It's interesting that Kerry's immigrant grandfather (Fritz Kohn/Frederick Kerry) was in Chicago for some years after he came to America. He came to the US in 1905, and naturalization records in Cook County, Illinois in 1907 and 1911. He is last listed in Chicago in 1915. He died in Boston in 1921. (Kerry's father, Richard, was born in Brookline in 1915)
The Rolling Stone bio posted at Kerry's campaign web site stresses that Kerry's "father, Richard, came from a well-off Boston family." No mention of the "old country" or Chicago.
An article of Kerry's grandfather in Chicago can be found at Kerry's Jewish grandfather found success here
ERROR in what I typed above.
Kerry's Grandfather is last listed in Chicago in 1912
Lytton lived on Prairie Avenue, then the home of the city's elites. Records show that Case worked at Sears and was socially prominent. ...The senator knew that his granfather had some connection with Sears, Wade said.
Maybe Kerry's father was named "Richard" after Richard Sears.
I wondered why Kerry's father was called Richard when there was already an older brother named Erich.
Who gets the nickname "Ricky?"
FALL 2003 Vol. 32, No. 1[Jennifer Anne Perez, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, is now an international freelance journalist based in Prague.]
A JEWISH CZECH IN JOHN KERRY'S COURT, by Jennifer Anne Perez
The saga of a U.S. senator and presidential contender in search of his roots--and his reaction to the "revelation." [snip]
The story begins in the hamlet of Horni Benesov on the tenth of May 1873--the day Benedikt and Mathilde Kohn had a son they named Fritz.
Like his father, Fritz became a simple brewer. Yet it was difficult for him to succeed in an area dominated by German-speaking Catholics. Many Jews hid their religious identity, posing as Gentiles. "It was easier to do business as a Christian," says Prague-based genealogist Julius Miller, who specializes in tracing Jewish lineage. "Many Jews just stopped practicing Judaism during this period and had no belief at all."
On March 17, 1902, shortly before his 30th birthday, Fritz took his wife Ida and infant son Erich to a government office in Vienna and changed their family name. Fritz Kohn would henceforth be known as Frederick Kerry.
The Kerry family settled for three years in Austria before embarking on the steamship Konigen Luise in Genoa, Italy on May 4, 1905, bound for America.[snip]
The Kerrys settled in Chicago, where Frederick quickly set out to stake his claim in the American dream. On June 21, 1907, he filed his initial citizenship papers with Illinois' Cook County Circuit Court. By 1908, he was listed in a business directory with an office on Dearborn Street in Chicago's famous Loop. In 1910, the year his daughter Mildred was born, he had made it into the Chicago Blue Book, a catalogue of notable city residents. By February 6, 1911, he had filed his naturalization petition, which was witnessed by the highly respected State Street merchant Henry Lytton and by Frank Case, a business manager at Sears Roebuck. Kerry had assisted in the reorganization of Sears, and by the following year he was promoting himself as a "business counselor" under the title "Frederick A. Kerry & Staff."
But for reasons that remain unclear, Kerry soon left Chicago and settled in Brookline, Massachusetts. There, in 1915, Ida gave birth to their third child, Richard, the future father of Senator John Kerry. Frederick would continue the merchant life, now working in the shoe business and achieving enough success to hire a live-in German domestic worker, who appears on the 1920 census records of the Kerry household.
The census information also offers a glimpse into the lengths to which Frederick Kerry had gone to obscure his Jewish lineage. Both he and his wife listed their native tongues as German--although the first language of Czech Jews of that era who were born near the Polish border would almost certainly have been Yiddish. By this point, however, both Frederick and Ida had been practicing Catholics for nearly twenty years, and by all accounts were regarded as devout in their faith. [snip]
In the late 1980s Kerry learned from a relative that his grandmother Ida had been born Jewish--a surprising revelation, as he had remembered her as a zealous Catholic. But he knew virtually nothing about his paternal grandfather, Frederick.
It was not until the late 1990s, when John's father Richard was suffering from cancer, that he finally disclosed to John that his grandfather had shot himself to death. "[That] turned on a light bulb for John Kerry on why his father was so understandably reticent to talk about it," Kerry spokesman David Wade told the Boston Globe. "[It] help[ed] him understand his father much more and what his father went through."
Richard Kerry died in 2000. He never revealed that his father had been a Jew. Born in the United States and only 5 years old when Frederick died, it is likely that Richard did not know of his grandfather's hidden past.
The Mystery Revealed
In late 2002, as rumors began to circulate that Kerry would seek the Democratic nomination for president, editors at the Boston Globe began soliciting reporters for in-depth articles on Kerry's life. Journalist Michael Kranish, a veteran Washington correspondent who had spent four years piecing together his own Jewish family history, volunteered for the assignment.
Knowing that Jews had sometimes altered their names and identities--his own family's name had been changed at Ellis Island--and that unless he hired an overseas collaborator to check European records, it would be months before he'd be able to complete an accurate search, Kranish turned to prominent genealogist Felix Gundacker of the Institute for Historical Family Research in Vienna. Gundacker had developed a specialty in tracing the genealogies of Jews in Austria and in parts of what is now the Czech Republic. Within two weeks, Gundacker discovered the original document in Vienna that recorded Fritz Kohn's name change to Frederick Kerry. Ironically, had Kohn's name been changed at Ellis Island, it might have been impossible to uncover the original name. But because Kohn made the change while still in Austria, probably to conceal his background before coming to America, his origins could now be traced.
Gundacker's next step was to find Kohn's birth records. That search took him to the state archives in the Czech city of Opava, halfway between Krakow, Poland and Prague. There he met archivist Jiri Stibor, a traditionalist who refused to use a computer, preferring to search by hand through the millions of musty files collected in the cavernous rooms of a former palace.
Stibor told Gundacker that on June 20, 2002 he had received an unusual inquiry--a letter in English from a certain "Samuel C" which carried the seal of a high-ranking Washington, D.C. official. The mysterious letter noted that John Kerry was a candidate for president (though the senator had yet to publicly announce his intention to run) and inquired about a man named "Fritz Cohn." Stibor knew he couldn't be of assistance; the archives had stopped processing foreign requests several years earlier. In any case, the war and local antisemitism had left little evidence of a former Jewish presence in the region. "The Germans didn't want any trace of the Jews left," Stibor says, "even after so many of them were taken away. So many of the records were simply destroyed."
Keeping in mind the earlier request, and now proceeding on the assumption that Frederick Kerry had been born Jewish, Gundacker and Stibor began scouring the archives. "The Catholics of the time weren't interested in keeping good records [of the Jews]," Stibor says. "If there were Jews in the town, they would be the last entries, at the end of the book." Adds Gundacker: "If there was no [official] Jewish community, parish priests and other Catholics had to add birth records to the central record books. They mostly added those records to the end of the books, not as part of the regular records." Finally, after hours of pulling volume after volume off the archive shelves, they came upon a handwritten entry in the last pages of a yellowed book. "In the year 1873, on May 10th, was born Fritz Kohn, a legal son of Benedikt Kohn, master brewer in Bennisch (the old German name for Horni Benesov), House 224, and his wife, Mathilde, daughter of Jakob Frankel, royal dealer in Oberlogau in Prussia."
This one sentence had put the last piece of the puzzle into place, solving an 80-year-old mystery. Gundacker phoned Globe reporter Kranish and told him he was "1,000 percent sure" that Senator John Kerry's grandfather had been born a Jew.
A short time later, Kranish personally presented the evidence to Kerry in the senator's Washington office. He let Kerry review the documents: ship manifests, Ellis Island records, newspaper clippings, and additional materials obtained through genealogists, Kranish himself, and the Globe's library staff. [excerpt]