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Erna B. and Fred G. Katz Collection

Identifier: AR 25818

Scope and Contents

This collection presents personal and official documents, biographical writings, genealogical information, photographs and correspondence pertaining to the Katz, Lyon and Feith families. In the focus of the collection are the lives of Fred G. and Erna B. Katz and their son Henry A. Katz. Documents from Germany, their emigration and their later lives in the United States are included. Their engagement with organizations such as B’nai B’rith and the Great Neck Synagogue is documented.

The collection also includes items that pertain to members of their immediate and extended families and ancestors in Germany. The military service of several family members in the first World War is documented. Also included are documents pertaining to members of the Katz family who perished in the Shoah. The collection furthermore includes information about the discovery of a Mikveh from the 15th century in Siegburg, Germany and information about the Jewish community in the village.


  • Creation: 1877-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1914-2013


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and some Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Visit the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email:

Biographical Notes

Erna B. Katz (née Lyon)

Erna Bonette Lyon was born on January 27, 1903. Her parents were Gustav Lyon and Franziska (Fanny) Lyon (née Feith). Gustav Lyon was born in 1850 and died in 1934. Franziska Lyon (née Feith) was born in 1865. She was the daughter of Abraham Feith (1826-1910) and Sibilla Levison (1829-1876). The Feith family lived in Holzgasse 27 in Siegburg. In 1993 a Mikveh from the 15th century was discovered under their former house. Franziska Lyon emigrated to New York in 1938. She died on January 12, 1943.

Erna was the youngest of four siblings. Her brother Ernst Lyon, born in 1890, emigrated to Palestine with his wife Hilde and his two sons in 1935. He lived in Jerusalem until his death in 1969. Her younger brother Richard, born in 1894, died in 1918 during the first World War in France. Erna had one sister, Sibylla, born in 1892, who was married to Jakob Katz. On July 22, 1929 Erna married Jakob Katz’s brother Fred Gustav Katz in Cologne-Lindenthal.

After their immigration to the United States, Erna B. Katz and her family first lived in Manhattan and then in Great Neck, NY. In the 1960s Erna B. and Fred G. Katz moved to Florida. After her husband’s death in 1975, Erna B. Katz moved back to Great Neck. She died in 1997.

Fred G. Katz

Fred Gustav Katz was born on November 10, 1896 in Erdmannrode (today Schenklengsfeld) in Hessen, Germany. His parents were Liebmann Katz from Erdmannrode and Helena Katz (née Katz, unrelated to her husband’s family), whose family came from the village Jesberg in Hessen. Liebmann Katz was born on December 22, 1851 and died on March 21, 1938. His parents were Abraham Katz (1800-1885) and Mathilde Katz (née Braunschweiger). Helena Katz was born on March 6, 1859 and died on December 11, 1931. After the death of his wife, Liebmann Katz moved from Erdmannrode to Cologne. Liebmann and Helena Katz had further children, among them Bertha, Jakob and Max.

Bertha Katz was married to Josef Hahn. They had two children, Lucy and Alfred. Bertha and Josef perished in the Shoah.

Max Katz was married to Selma (née Kaufmann, born in 1889). They had one son, Karl (born in 1925) and lived in the village Bebra close to Schenklengsfeld. Around November 8, 1938 they moved to Cologne after their house had been destroyed by Nazis. Karl had his Bar Mitzvah in the burnt-out Synagogue in Roonstraße in Cologne in November 1938. Max, Selma and Karl Katz were deported to Minsk and perished in the Shoah.

Jakob Katz immigrated to the United States in 1936 with his wife Sibylla and their son Gerd (Jerry).

Until 1916, Fred Katz worked as a stockman and salesperson for the company Blumenthal, Herz Co after he had completed a commercial education. From 1916 to 1918 he served in the German army during the first World War. In 1935 he was awarded the Honor Cross of the World War (“Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer”) for his military service. After the war he worked as a traveling salesman for different companies until he was dismissed in 1938. Fred G. and Erna B. Katz had two children, Henry Arthur (then Heinz Arthur), born on October 30, 1930 and Eve Helen (then Eva Helena), born on March 18, 1936. The family lived in Cologne-Braunsfeld on Melatengürtel.

On November 10, 1938 Fred G. Katz was arrested and interned in Dachau. He was released several weeks later upon the condition that he would leave Germany. Fred G. Katz immigrated to the United States in 1939.

In the United States Fred G. Katz first started the Herald Brush Company and then worked as a Fuller Brush Salesman in Harlem. He later worked for Bryn Mawr-Blouses and founded the company Mode Sportswear in 1945.

In the 1940s, Fred G. Katz became an active member of B’nai B’rith. He was involved in a campaign during which clothes were sent to Jewish refugees in Europe in 1945/46. Fred G. and Erna B. Katz lived in Great Neck, New York and moved to Florida in the 1960s. Fred G. Katz died on June 11th, 1975 in Manhasset, New York.

Katz Family: Emigration to the United States

On January 13, 1939 Erna, Fred, Henry and Eve Katz left Cologne for Luxembourg. Fred G. Katz had been visiting the United States in the summer of 1938 and his visa was still valid until early 1939. Therefore, the family decided that Fred would leave for the United States alone before his visa expired while Erna and the children would apply for United States visas in Luxembourg and wait there until they could join him. Fred left Europe from Le Havre on the S.S. Manhattan on January 18, 1939 and arrived in New York on January 26. Erna, Henry and Eve had tickets to the United States too but could not use them as their visas did not arrive in time. In February 1940, they went to Antwerp to appear personally at the American Consulate regarding their visas. A few months later the visas arrived, and they got tickets for the S.S. Champlain to leave from Cherbourg, France to the United States on May 13, 1940. However, on May 10, 1940 the German army invaded Luxembourg and it became impossible for the family to reach Cherbourg in time. After months of living in occupied Luxembourg, Erna B. Katz managed to buy Portuguese transit visas and left Luxemburg with the children in August 1940. They arrived in Portugal via France and Spain. Once in Portugal, over the course of nine months, they had to renew their temporary residence permit every two weeks. In the spring of 1941, Fred G. Katz went to Cuba in order to re-immigrate to the United States which was necessary for visa purposes. On June 3, 1941, Erna, Henry and Eve left Lisbon on the S.S. Nyassa and arrived in New York on June 14, 1941.

Henry A. Katz

Henry was born on October 30, 1930. He went to a municipal Jewish elementary school on Lützowstraße in Cologne until the school was closed in 1938. He then transferred to Moriah, a Jewish school connected to Jawne, the first and only Jewish high school in the Rhineland region.

After the emigration of his family to the United States, Henry A. Katz graduated from George Washington High School in 1949 and from New York University School of Commerce in 1953. From 1955 to 1956 he served in the United States Army in Germany for two years before starting an association with Philip Brothers where he worked for almost 30 years. Henry A. Katz’s first wife was Raymonde Katz (née Fischer). She was born on January 22, 1940 in Belgium. Henry and Raymonde have four children. Raymonde Katz passed away in 1979.

Henry A. Katz then married Joan Rezak Sadinoff, who brought three sons - Jonathan Allan; Kenneth Isack; and Daniel Joel – into the marriage. Henry and Joan were active members of the communities of the Great Neck Synagogue and the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Joan was the President of the PTA of the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Henry served as the President of the Great Neck Synagogue from 1990 to 1992. He also was the Chairman of the board of Trustees of the North Shore Hebrew Academy.


1 Linear Feet


This collection holds personal and official documents, correspondence, genealogical information, biographical manuscripts and photographs related to the Feith, Lyon and Katz families. Most of the documents pertain to Erna Bonette, Fred Gustav and their son Henry Arthur Katz. The collection focuses on their lives in Germany and the United States as well as their emigration via Luxemburg and Portugal. It also holds materials pertaining to members of the extended Katz and Lyon families and their ancestors, including the Feith family. Also included is material about a Mikveh from the 15th century in Siegburg, Germany.


The collection consists of three series:

  1. Erna B. and Fred G. Katz Family, 1896-2013
  2. Katz and Lyon Families: Individuals, 1877-2004
  3. Family Research about the Katz, Lyon and Feith Families, 1987-2003

Related Materials

The book Die Siegburger Familie Levison und verwandte Familien by Wilhelm Levison includes a chapter about the Feith family that explains the genealogical connections between the Levison, Feith, Lyon and Katz families. The book is available through the Leo Baeck Institute Library, call number q CS 629 L48 L4.

Further information about the Levison Family can be found in the Papers of William and Charlotte Engel Levison in the Leo Baeck Institute archives, AR 25001.

Separated Materials

A copy of the May 15, 1948 issue of the newspaper Aufbau has been removed from the collection. A copy of the title page was retained in the collection. The Library of the Leo Baeck Institute New York has digitized all issues of Aufbau published from inception of the newspaper in 1934 through 2004 via Internet Archives:

Processing Information

The materials were donated in four binders labelled with the names of most individuals and loose documents in multiple folders. The original organization was kept, however, some of the documents were rearranged and new folder titles were created in order to mention all individuals and subjects included in the collection. Some of the documents were in fragmentary condition. These materials were photocopied. The photocopies were placed next to the originals.

Guide to the Papers of the Erna B. and Fred G. Katz Family
Processed by Katharina Menschick
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States