Actual name: Chaja Braina
Known as Bertha, a couple of recent (March 2012) internet searches have revealed that Bertha's name was actually Chaja Braina.
Bertha was the eldest child of Abraham and Bassja* Datnoswky. She was born in November of 1882 in Libau.
* Newly discovered birth certificate records Bertha's mother as "Gita"; it isn't clear if this was her mother's second name (Bassja Gita Rabinowitz) or if her mother was NOT Bassja, but another person altogether. Although nothing up until now had indicated that Abraham Datnowsky had been married twice, this would explain the significant gap between Bertha's birth and the birth of next sibling Ronya nine years later.
|The Riga Rabbinate Vital Records - Libau, 1882|
|Record Nº Female||Place||Year reg||Date of birth||Surname||Given name||Father's given name||Mother's surname||Mother's given name||Father's place of registration|
(data from: The Riga Rabbinate Vital Records)
Note: Dates are from the Julian calendar. Add 12 days to find the date on the Gregorian calendar(Western calendar). So the actual birthdate would be November 21, 1882.
Note that the mother's name appears as Gita Rabinowitch - and not as Bassja Rabinowitch. Does this indicate that Bassja's name was Gita Bassja? Or were these two different wives?
Bertha ("Braina") appears on the third row of the register of the University of Bern.
Register from the University of Bern.
Click to see the full-size image.
(Retrieved from the University of Bern site.)
|Register from University of Bern - 1903/1904|
|Name||Date of Birth||Faculty||Heimat:
(Place of origin)
Transcript (diploma/report card)
|Braina (Chaja) Datnowsky (*)||born 9 Nov 1882||Philosophy (Medicine) (**)||Datnow (***)||Libau (probably name of high school diploma + location)||Disenrolled(?) ("struck through") in August 1906 due to par. 7 of Disc. Regulation (****)|
- * The name "Chaja" is crossed out - maybe indicating that Bertha originally registered under her birth name, then decided to only go by her second name.
- ** It appears as though Bertha originally enrolled in the faculty of Medicine, then switched to Philosophy.
- *** "Heimat" (homeland) is listed as Datnow, the town of origin of the Datnowsky family, although Bertha was born in Libau.
- **** The "disenrolled / struck through" mention might have to do with the 1905 Russian revolution, or with Bertha getting married and dropping out.
Family lore has it that Bertha took part in the 1905 Russian Revolution, although it's not clear to me what her exact involvement was.
Bertha married Israel Auerbach, a Berlin educator and active Zionist in December 1905.
I used to think that Bertha and Israel had met in Berlin, as Auerbach was originally from Berlin and I remembered hearing that Bertha used to live in Berlin. However I have no details on Bertha's sojourns in Germany, and there may be a confusion with her later stay there (starting during WW1).
It's possible that they actually met in Swirzerland, as there is some correspondance from Auerbach to Bertha's younger sister Bertha dating from June 1904:
To Ronja Datnowsky, Windau, Russland, from Baden Argovie, in Switzerland
"Although you don't know me, I take the liberty to send you my regards. Thus, I hope to meet the dear brother and sisters of my friend Bertha. Best regards to your parents".
Later, in May 1905, Israel Auerbach gave a leather-bound notebook to Ronya for her birthday. He was then in Bern, as the following dedication indicates:
Seiner liebchen Ronya
von Israel Auerbach
auf der Reise nach Palastina, Bern, 8 Mai 1905
To dear Ronya
on your birthday
from Israel Auerbach
on his trip to Palestine, Bern, May 8 1905
|The Riga Rabbinate Vital Records - Libau, 1891|
|Record Nº||Year reg||Dateof marriage||Place||Surname of the Groom||Given name of the Groom||Age of the Groom||Father of the Groom||Surname of the Bride||Given name of the Bride||Age of the Bride||Father of the Bride||Rabbi or Officiant||Witnesses||Dowry||Place of origin of the groom||Place of origin of the bride|
|44||1905||11/12/1905||Libava||AUERBAKH||Isidore||27||Borukh-Mendel||DATNOVSKI||Braina||23||Abram||The Rabbi of Grobina KH. M. GRIN||Abram RABINOVICH, M. SHNITKE||not stated||Pruskor Prussia||Libava|
Note: All the dates are from the Julian calendar. Add 13 days to find the date on the Gregorian calendar(Western calendar) - so the marriage occured on December 24, 1905.
Bertha and Israel probably moved to Germany after their marriage as their daughter Lea was born in Berlin in 1906.
Bertha and her family moved to Constantinople in 1908, following her husband Israel's assignment as local representative of the Hilfsverein in Constantinople.
In 1909, Bertha's mother Bassja died and she got her younger siblings to come stay with her in Constantinople.
"There, Bertha invited her younger sisters Ronja and Eva (Liska) with the goal of marrying them to prominent ("de tres bon niveau") Sepharad Jews, together with Eva's twin Israel. It is thus that Ronja was introduced to the Bulgarian businessman Moritz Abraham, and Eva to Ascher Mallah, prior to 1913."
Bertha (2nd from left), with Ronya, Eva and Israel in Constantinople - 1909
Bertha, with Ronya, Eva and Israel in Constantinople - 1910
Berlin, Sevres, Jerusalem.
In 1914, Bertha and Lea went to Germany on vacation. The war then broke out. Because the conflict, it became impossible to travel and Israel and Bertha were separated for the entire duration of the war.
After the end of the war, Israel was finally able to leave Constantinople and travelled back to Berlin, where he was finally reunited with his family.
X, Ascher Mallah, nurse, Gisy, Elfriede (?), Uly, head nurse, X, Ronya (sitting), Bertha. Thuringia, 1922.
Front row: Medi, Tania (?), Ascher Mallah, Bertha.
Back row: Grischa Datnowsky, Gisy, Uly, Lea, Ronya.
Bertha with Uriel Abraham, Berlin, 1928.
Bertha Datnowskly / Auerbach - Oil painting, Berlin.
The family resided in Berlin until 1932, then lived in Sevres on the outskirts of Paris. After a short stay in Sevres, Bertha, Israel and Lea moved to Jerusalem.
Bertha, Lisa Halle (?), Israel Auerbach.
- Bitia Biesel
- Michael Rosenberg
- "De l'Egée et de la Baltique à la Seine", by Alex Mallat (unpublished memoir)