The Family of Simon Strauss

Sofie and Simon Strauß, provided by James Strauss

Simon Strauß was born on June 11, 1868 in Damm (near Aschaffenburg) as the only son of the butcher David Strauß and his wife Esther. In 1895 the family moved to Gunzenhausen, because in January 1896 David Strauss registered a wine bar at Bahnhofstrasse 13. Later they also ran a butcher's shop and a kind of food stall there, meaning they sold ready-made meals to take away.

In 1905 they deregistered this business because their son Simon had a restaurant with butcher shop entered in the business registration register in the same year. He opened the only Jewish inn with a butcher's shop at Nürnberger Straße 4.
However, he only received citizenship on March 23, 1906 and just one month later he married Sofie Weil, born on April 27, 1878 in Oehringen (near Heilbronn). Her parents were the butcher Max Weil and Cili Buxbaum.

Nathan Weil, Sofie's brother, married Laura Blumenstein from Gunzenhausen a few years later. However, this couple does not live in Gunzenhausen, possibly in Oehringen.

Simon's parents David and Esther Strauss left Gunzenhausen in 1909 and moved to Konstanz.


Josef (Julius) and Else Strauß, provided by James Strauss

Sofie and Simon had two children :

Josef (Julius Josef as of 1934) born on 24.01.1907 in Gunzenhausen

Else, born on 26.01.1909 in Gunzenhausen

The family purchased the inn at Nürnberger Strasse 4 in 1910 for 30.000 RM.

Simon Strauss became the treasurer of the Gunzenhausen chess club, founded 15.03.1906. The Strauss' inn was chosen as the club's meeting place.

Quelle: Personendokumentation der jüdischen Einwohner von Gunzenhausen von Werner Mühlhäußer, Stadtarchivar in Gunzenhausen.


The Strauß Inn around 1910, provided by James Strauss

Unfortunately the family's history took a tragic turn through the pogrom of 25. March 1934, which started in this house. Pogrom vom 25. März 1934

In March 2014 we received this Mail from James Strauss

Julius and Irene Strauss with a friend, provided by James Strauss

My family and I are very grateful to be in touch with you and your students. Thank you for the opportunity to share our family story. Sadly, I never learned to speak German so I must write to you in English. I have gathered a few pictures that I will include in a separate email and am providing below a short history concerning my father Julius, who became an American citizen around 1940.
I was born in New York City in 1947 and my sister Carole was born in 1942. Since my father died in 1956 at age 49, I was not able to discuss any part of his former life in Germany with him or learn about the terrible events of 1934.
After the July, 1934 shooting my father recuperated in Germany and then Italy before emigrating to New York City where his father's brother had a a successful commercial decorating and exposition business. Although trained as a butcher in the family business in Gunzenhausen, he became a very successful businessman and civic leader in his adopted home. He met my mother, Irene Bachrach from Dieburg,

Germany, in the German-Jewish clubs then popular in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan (sometimes called 'Frankfurt on the Hudson'). Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained during the 1934 pogrom in Gunzenhausen affected his health and he was frequently hospitalized.

Although he was called to the American Army in WWII, after a short term of service he was found unfit because of his injuries.

In 1948, my family moved to a home in Forest Hills, NY, a close new suburb of NYC. We lived a very good, prosperous life in the 1950's. My father died in 1956 from the cancer that was a result of the the lead bullets he sustained in the 1934 shooting. Doctors were never able to remove the bullets from his body.

Ina and James Strauss

I married my wife, Ina, in 1973 and still live in Forest Hills. I am a attorney employed for most of my legal career by the New York City government specializing in contracts, labor and environmental law. Our three children are all married with one grandson, Teddy, and another expected this May.

My sister, Carole has one daughter and three grandchildren. She and her daughter's family all now live in Florida.
Until recent years, I only knew the outlines of the tragedy that occurred to the Strauss and other Jewish families in Gunzenhausen. Through the internet and projects like yours, we have been able to learn much more about my proud family history and continue  the search for links to my German heritage.

There is Steven Strauss, son of Elsie, in the yellow shirt and James sister, Carole, is seated behind him. The young people are Carole's daughter and her sons. Provided by Ina Strauss

In March 2015 James Strauss visited Gunzenhausen.

Others on the trip included Jim's wife, Ina as well as Jim Bauer and his wife Jill.  He is also German Jewish and did most of the research on the Strauss family. He wrote about that visit.

Our trip to Germany was primarily to visit the various villages from which the Strauss family came.  This included Dieburg, where Jim's mother lived, as well as Aschaffenburg, where the Strauss family lived prior to 1900, when they emigrated to Gunzenhausen. 

Our visit to Gunzenhausen was a life-altering experience for the Strauss family.  They did not know a great deal about their family--as most German Jews after the war didn't really discuss the Holocaust and life before the Holocaust.  Initially, we learned a lot from the website and other information accessible on line. Our visit to Gunzenhausen brought all of that information to life.  But, more than that, it showed us how the experiences of the Holocaust are being taught to young Germans and also a recognition on the part of the older generation of the importance of not forgetting.

We stayed overnight in the former Strauss inn, now owned by the Arnold family.  Josef Arnold, the current innkeeper, spent a great deal of time with us and was most hospitable and welcoming. The first morning, we visited the former Jewish cemetery with Emmi and Jochen Loos.  While Simon Strauss' tombstone was destroyed during the Nazi time, we figured out where it was and saw some fuzzy photos of what it looked like.

Jochen Loos, James Strauss and Jim Bauer searching Simon's grave
Students as guides to the city, provided by Jim Bauer

We also visited the city hall and the museum, which includes a poster about your family and various other articles as well as a model of the former synagogue. There we met Ingeborg Hermann und the webmaster of the Jewish homepage Horst Schäfer.

The absolute highlight of the trip was in the afternoon when the students in the class walked us around the village and we stopped at various houses of former Jewish residents.  The students, standing in front of each house and holding photos of the former residents, described their lives and what happened to them.  We were then at Emmi's house for coffee and interesting conversation.  We also visited the memorial to the Jews who died in the Holocaust as well as other sites including the former synagogue, school and other houses of Jewish residents.


The next morning, we spent about 2 hours at the school.  This session included Jim Strauss and I giving short presentations about our family histories and then questions and answers from the students.  We then had lunch with the mayor Karl-Heinz Fitz and Werner Mühlhäußer, the archivist.  A reporter from the local paper was there and she wrote an extensive article about our visit.

All in all, the visit was the highlight of our trip - and something that not only gave us more insight into the Strauss family history but also the history of Gunzenhausen, the other Jewish families that lived there and, if it is possible, the entire Nazi era.

Visit at Stephani-Schule

Today there are living in the USA three grandchildren from Simon Strauß, four great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren. So fortunately the family has outlived the nazis and their efforts and is still growing.

James and Ina Strauss with all their children and grandchildren, provided by Ina Strauss

Some more photos provided by James Strauss.

Sofie Strauß and her children with their partners