Brickwall Update - the Senft/Hillingers

I’ve managed to find out a few bits and pieces on the Hillinger side of my family since my first Brickwall post. I haven’t actually managed to find any more previous generations, but I have found a few more details about what I do have, thanks to my father and pieces written by both of my grandparents.

One thing I’ve learned is that my grandfather’s father’s name changed several times over the course of his life. I’m still not 100% sure of his birth name, but I’ve seen his first as Elias, Alec, and Alex. And his last name before 1919 was Seneft or Senft (not sure which spelling is correct, as I have seen both versions on documents), and after was Hillinger.

I have also learned a good deal more about his earlier life, though we are still not absolutely certain where he was born. It seems that his family moved from somewhere in Russia or the Prussian states when he was fairly young, possibly around the age of 7, and settled in London.

Another fascinating bit I learned was the names of three of four of his siblings (we’re not sure if there were more): Annie, Jennie and Jack. We also know there was another brother. The names all sound a bit Anglicized to me. I have a feeling that Elias is closer to his true name than Alex, and that the others are probably forms of more Yiddish or Biblical names, though I have no proof for certain. I have no ages for any of them aside from Elias, but I do have a bit more information on their spouses and children. Annie married a Moshe (?) Wolf, and lived and died in Tennessee after the First World War. She had no children that we are aware of. Jennie married a Moshe (?) Hirsch and lived in the states for many years, but moved back to England before she died. She also had no children we’re aware of. Jack lived in New York after the war, but never married or had any children we’re aware of. The final child did marry, and had at least five children: four sons, and a daughter named Kitty. She married and had at least two children, a son named Ivan, and a daughter.

And there was something else that I’d never heard of before. A place called Camp Douglas.

Obviously, as someone who is the descendant of German Jews, the thought of any detention camp is a bit sickening. And as someone who took a class on the Japanese internment camps here in the states, I know how bad these things can be even without purposefully setting out to kill the prisoners as was done in the Nazi camps. The fact that this family, my family, was sent to one while in England feels somehow that much more sickening.

For those who, like me, have not heard of Camp Douglas before, it was an internment camp set up during World War I for Prussian nationals and other enemy aliens to be sent to so as to keep them away from the rest of the nation. It was a campground on the Isle of Man, and was one of two camps set aside for prisoners during this time. Douglas handled the civilian population (ie, women and children and families) while the other handled POWs. Douglas was later re-opened for similar use during World War II. The thing that disgusted me most at learning of this place, though, was the fact that they felt that the Jewish population of the camp needed to be separated out from the rest—then sent many of them back off to the Prussian states after the War, where many were later killed by the Nazi purges.

My family was one of the lucky ones. My great-grandfather decided in 1933, after his business ventures failed, to move his family from Frankfurt to France, and from there to the US, so they were well out of range when the worst of the Nazi programs began in Europe. Still, it gives me pause just how close we came to not being here at all.

For more information on this side of my family, see these posts:
Brickwall Ancestors
The Life of Sam Hillinger as told by Maggie Hillinger
Surname Saturday: Hillinger


Post a Comment

About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.