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
86 Libava 1882 9/11/1882 DATNOVSKI Khaya- Braina Abram RABINOVICH Gita Libava

(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?

Bern University

Bertha ("Braina") appears on the third row of the register of the University of Bern.

Braina Datnowsky - Bern

Register from the University of Bern.

Click to see the full-size image.

(from the University of Bern site.)

Register from University of Bern - 1903/1904
Name Date of Birth Faculty Heimat:
(Place of origin)
Zeugnisse:
Transcript (diploma/report card)
Remarks
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

Notes:

  • 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" is listed as Datnow, the town of origin of the Datnowsky family, although Bertha was born in Libau.
  • The "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 "participated" in the 1905 Russian Revolution, although it's not clear what her exact involvement was.

Marriage

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
zum geburtstag
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

(data from: The Riga Rabbinate Vital Records - Marriages in Libava/ Libau/ Liepaja in 1903, 1904, 1905.)

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.

Berlin ?

Bertha and Israel probably moved to Germany after their marriage as their daughter Lea was born in Berlin in 1906.

Constantinople

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.

Alex Mallat:

"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."

Israel with Bertha, Eva and Ronya in Constantinople - 1909

Bertha (2nd from left), with Ronya, Eva and Israel in Constantinople - 1909

Israel with Bertha, Eva and Ronya in Constantinople - 1910

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, Gisy, Elfriede, Uly, head nurse and Ronya. Thuringia, 1922.

X, Ascher Mallah, nurse, Gisy, Elfriede (?), Uly, head nurse, X, Ronya (sitting), Bertha. Thuringia, 1922.

Medi, Grischa Datnowsky, Tania (?), Ascher Mallah, Lea, Ronya, Bertha, Uly and Gisy. Thuringia, 1922.

Front row: Medi, Tania (?), Ascher Mallah, Bertha.
Back row: Grischa Datnowsky, Gisy, Uly, Lea, Ronya.
Thuringia, 1922.

Bertha

Bertha with Uriel Abraham, Berlin, 1928.

Bertha Auerbach (Datnowsky) - Oil painting

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

Bertha

Bertha

Bertha, Lisa Halle (?), Israel Auerbach.

Interviews:
Bitia Biesel
Michael Rosenberg
Sources:
"De l'Egée et de la Baltique à la Seine", by Alex Mallat (unpublished memoir)
Online Sources:
University of Bern register
Original link
The Riga Rabbinate Vital Records

This family history project started September 2009.
All photos and documents belong to the author and are © Daniel Abraham, except for maps and where indicated.
This is a work in progress. Please contact me if you have any more information to contribute.

Last Modified: Tuesday, August 15, 2017