The Family of Benno Landau

Translation by Lesley Loy

Benno (Simcha Bunim Meir) Landau, a trader, was born on 13.07.1868 in Lodz, at that time part of the Russian empire.  He was the son of the merchant Rafael Landau and his wife Debora, née Weinstock.

                  Benno and Iska Landau      © Julian Landau

On 06.01.1888 he married Iska (Yiska) Zander, born on 17.08.1868 in Zychlin/Russia.  She was the daughter of Gaskel Zander and Perla Sbeschenscher.

The couple had six children, the first two were born in Russia and the following four in Gunzenhausen. The last two children were twins, born one day after the other.

Max Landau's son, Julian Landau from Israel, kindly sent us further information about the fate of the six Landau children in 2023.

The children of the Landau family

Ester Landau *23.01.1895 in Zychlin; she married Menashe Prince from Krumbach in 1923. The Prince family owned a farm which produced the only kosher cheese in the area. Apparently Max was one of their salesmen and thus met his wife Miriam in Munich. Max managed to bring the family to the United States just before the war broke out. They had two children, Gitta and Walter. Esther died in New York on May 28, 1962.
Rachel Landau *14.04.1904 in Zychlin. Her nephew Julian Landau wrote us, that she'd married Shmuel Nosson Groskopf. She and her husband were living in Lodz in 1934. Rachel had returned to her father's homeland with her husband. Their mother Iska also moved there with them. She died in Lodz in 1936 and is buried there.
However, the Jewish ghetto there existed since 1939 and served, among other things, as an intermediate station before deportation to an extermination camp. Rachel did not survive the Third Reich, she became a victim of the Shoah. It is not clear whether she was killed in the Ghetto or in a concentration camp. Her Hebrew name was Alte Rachel.
Max (Mordechai) Landau *06.03.1906 in Gunzenhausen + 09.05.1993 in the USA. On 19.08.1930 Max married Mirjam Kraus +15.01.1972
Wolf Landau *11.04.1908 in Gunzenhausen
It is unknown when Zeev (Wolf) Landau left Germany. He immigrated to Israel, following his brother Emil’s murder, after wandering through Europe for a long time. He married Yolanda in 1960 and they had a daughter called Yisca. Yolanda had a daughter and a son, Yehudit and Sholomo, from a previous marriage to Meir Katz who died in 1958.
Emil Landau *23.10.1909 in Gunzenhausen
Emil (Yechezkel) Landau left Germany in 1934. He worked in the cheese industry before immigrating to Israel where he worked as a delivery man for Berman Bakery. On Thurs, Jan 26, 1939 he was shot by an Arab while making his rounds. He died of his wounds in the hospital on Sat, Jan. 28, 1939. He was married and had two children, Ben-Zion and Adina.
Jakob Landau *24.10.1909 in Gunzenhausen, Emil and Jakob were twins.
Jacob Landau left Germany to study in a Yeshiva in Hungary.
He buried his mother in Poland, when she died on June 16, 1936 because she did not want to be buried in Germany.
Then, with the help of his brother Max, he immigrated to the United States where, for many years, he was administrator of the “Bais Yaakov” religious school for girls. He married Margret and had two girls, Esther and Devorah. In New York he died on August 22, 1985.
House Sonnenstraße 7 today

The family took up residence in Gunzenhausen in February 1905 and lived at Sonnenstrasse 17. This house was owned by the master carpenter Friedrich Krauss and after his death in 1906 it went to his daughter Anna and her husband, the sculptor and stonemason Heinrich Fuchs. In his workshop he made many tombstones for the Jewish cemetery because he knew the Hebrew script and could carve it in stone.

Schillerstraße 7 today




They later lived at Schillerstrasse 7 .




Ansbacher Straße 2 today

Since October 1909 they lived at Ansbacher Strasse 2. 

The Landau family had registered several businesses. The archive lists:

1905 Registration of trading in soap and soap powder

1906 Registration of trading in artificial mineral and soda water - deregistered again in 1907.

1910 Registration of small-scale trading in table mustard and Russian tea

1911 Registration of trade in candles on a small scale

After that there was obviously no further registration. Benno Landau fell ill and spent many years in a sanatorium in Cologne, where he died on November 7th, 1938. He is buried there. His wife Iska had died before him on June 16, 1936 in Lodz and was buried there.

To this day we do not know exactly how long the Landau family lived in Gunzenhausen. They were still here in 1923, because that was the year their son Max graduated from secondary school in Gunzenhausen.
At that time, it led from the fifth to the tenth grade and finished with the middle school certificate. He has evidently been a very good student, as evidenced by the testimonials we have received from his son, Julian Landau.

1923 graduation class of the secondary school. Max Landau is the sixth from left © Julian Landau


According to his son Ronald, Max Landau emigrated to the USA in 1929 to earn money for his marriage.

On August 19, 1930 he returned to Germany and married Mirjam Kraus in a Munich synagogue.


          Mirjam and Max Landau’s wedding invitation © Julian Landau

After their wedding the couple emigrated to the United States.  They had four children :

Ronald Wolf *26.08.1932
Julian Jacob *04.05.1935
Sidney Nethanel *21.06.1939
Irene Sandra *30.04.1944

The sons Ronald and Julian were kind enough to send us information and photos of the family of Max and Mirjam Landau in March 2004.  Ronald now lives in the USA, Julian in Israel.

Altmühlstadt is still worth a visit

In 1985, Max Landau visited Gunzenhausen with his second wife. The newspaper reported about it. This article from the 'Altmühl-Bote' was emailed to us by Julian Landau from Israel.

Max Landau from New York visited his birthplace –

Exchanged memories with school friend

Max Landau from New York paid a visit to his native town of Gunzenhausen. Max Landau from New York paid a visit to his native town of Gunzenhausen. On the return journey from vacation in Israel, where he had visited his brother, the 79-year-old American by choice made a short stopover in Altmühlstadt with his wife Martha. Of course, the sprightly pensioner also visited his schoolmate Hermann Geißelmeier. Based on some photos from earlier days, both looked back on their childhood and youth together.

But Max Landau can't remember too much. Most of what he remembers from his childhood comes from stories told by his deceased parents. He was born near the ‘Blasturm’, but today he can't remember exactly where. Only that his parents Benno and Iska Landau had a small grocery store here.

When he was four years old, the family of eight moved into the former railway restaurant on what is now Ansbacher Straße 2. When he paid a visit to his former residence, Max Landau couldn't believe that his parents and five siblings could live in such cramped and small rooms. In general, Max Landau said, he could no longer live in Gunzenhausen today anyway. He finds the city, which is three times as big today as it was back then, much too small and too provincial.

In his childhood, however, Gunzenhausen was a big city for him. In any case in relation to the small villages that he visited together with his father. After all, the family could not make a living from selling groceries in the city alone. He attended the Jewish elementary school next to the synagogue. He was horrified to find that both buildings had disappeared from today's Citys Cape. on their place is now the new underground car park - "a successful building".

After secondary school, the now 79-year-old began an apprenticeship in a scrap processing plant in Nuremberg. When this job no longer satisfied him, he went into the wine trade. His success was so great that he got a permanent job in Munich. In 1930 he married his first wife, Miriam, who has since died.

When the Nazis came to power, Max Landau emigrated to the United States via France. "I knew what was in store for the Jews."

On the east coast, he initially struggled through life more badly than well. First he sold cheese from Emmental, later butter from Latvia.

In the latter he was able to show great success, so that he was hired as a general representative of the Latvian government.

It then took several years before the butter mountain had melted and Max Landau was looking for a new field of activity.

In the 1950s and 1960s he traded in watches, but now he imports gold chains. His house with 14 rooms and two verandas in the heart of New York shows that this business, which he has been running for years, is worthwhile: it is in Brooklyn!

The talkative German-American kept coming up with new stories while he was describing his life. He still remembers today that when he was eight or nine he solved the riddle in the Altmühl Messenger every week. "If you don't believe it, look it up in the archive. My name was in the newspaper almost every week.

He also feels a close connection to his friend Hermann Geißelmeier. Even if their stories differ slightly. Both, however, unanimously related how they were allowed to shoot leaflets with a cannon during World War I. Because those who did well in school were rewarded. He was allowed to "blow up" current leaflets with the latest news from the front with a cannon in a meadow: "Great fun."

The father of four children also visited the town hall in the Altmühlstadt with his wife. Along the way he tried to get an idea of ​​where and what had been there before. He didn't succeed because a lot has changed in Gunzenhausen in the last fifty years.

Fortunately, descendants of Max Landau have now visited us. In 2021 his great-grandson Max Roberts came from New York.
He is in training to become a rabbi and spends a year in Munich
so that his German wife Hannah can complete her medical studies here.







In 2022 Max Landau's son, Dr. Ronald Landau, came to Gunzenhausen together with his daughter Dr. Jaclyn Roberts and grandson Hillel. They visited places in the city that had been important to their ancestors.