Stephen or Schebsel Kossman

Male 1877 - 1931  (53 years)

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  • Name Stephen or Schebsel Kossman 
    Born 7 Jun 1877  Berdichev or Chudnov, Volin, Ukraine Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 4 Jan 1931  Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I3157  Petersen-de Lanskoy
    Last Modified 30 Jan 2014 

    Family Ruth Paulina Brenson,   b. 28 Mar 1885, Jelgava (Mitau), Courland, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1941, Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 55 years) 
    Married 1909  Rīga, Rīga, Latvia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. Elenora (Nora) Kossman,   b. 15 Apr 1911, Moscow, Moskva, Russian Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Mar 1983, London, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years)
    Last Modified 22 Oct 2015 
    Family ID F47  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
      1. Per email of 17 Jul 2007 from Nina Kossman . Nina is a descendant of Klara/Robert/Joseph/Lemchen/Joseph Herzenberg. Note that Mitau, Courland was part of the tsarist empire, but later it became known as Jelgava, Latvia.
      A. "A photograph of Klara Herzenberg (daughter of Robert Herzenberg) can be seen at <> [underscore between brenson and herzenberg]. It should also be noted that in Piltene, where our 18th century Herzenbergs lived, there is an old Jewish cemetery in which almost all are Herzenbergs." Nina is coordinating an effort to restore the Piltene cemetery and please contact her if you are able to assist financially.
      B. Children of Robert Herzenberg and Emilie Kahn:
      a. Daughter Rosete (Rosa), b. 14 Apr 1854 in Mitau, d. 2 Nov, 1862 in Mitau.
      b. Daughter Seba, b. abt. 1856, d. 1859 in Mitau.
      c. Daughter Feige/Fanny, b. 26 Jul 1857 in Mitau, d. 31 Oct 1862 in Mitau.
      d. Daughter Klara, b. 4 Dec 1859 in Mitau, m. 12 May 1883 in Mitau, d. 17 Jun 1939 in Riga. Husband Isidor (Isac-Aisak, Itzig), son of Isak-Aisik (Itzig, Isidor) Brensohn, b. 27 Sep 1854 in Mitau, d. 31 Dec. 1928 in Riga. (Photo of Isidor and Clara on file with me.) Of Isidor's and Clara's four children - Ruth, Ellen, Theo, and Robby, only one - Theo - survived the war as he was not living in Latvia at the time (photo of the four children on file with me).
      i. Ruth Brenson (1889-1941) was born in Yelgava, Latvia. While temporarily staying in Moscow she met Stephan Kossman, whom she married around 1910. She had two children: Nora (b. 1911) and Leonid (b. 1915). Ruth was killed by the Nazis in Riga, Latvia. (Photo of Ruth on file with me.) The family lived in Moscow, at Chistye Prudy 11, in a ten-room apartment in a five-story building; later they moved to an apartment on First Meschanskaya. Since Stephan Kossman was a merchant of the Frist Guild, it was no longer safe for his family to live in the city after the Bolshevik takeover. The Brenson-Kossman family left Moscow for Riga - where Ruth's father lived - in the beginning of 1918. Stephan Kossman was born in 1877. When he was about seven years old his father, Leontii Kossman, took him to live in London where Leonitii had started a fur business. After Leontii's death, Stephan took over the business. His job took him all over Europe and in the very beginning of the 20th century he lived in Leipzig for several years, in Berlin, in London, etc. He married Ruth Brenson in 1909 and came back to Moscow to live. Eight years later, following the October Revolution, the family left Russia. He died in Riga, Latvia, in 1928. This couple had two children: Leonid and Nora.
      1. Leonid Kossman is a philologist, writer, and teacher whose language textbooks have helped millions of people. Born in Moscow in 1915, as a child in Riga, Latvia, he spoke German and Russian at home and Latvian in the neighborhood. After graduating from a German high school he studied law at the University of Latvia and worked as a drama critic for a Latvian Newspaper, Tsinia. When the Nazis occupied Riga he escaped into Russia, soon joined the Soviet army, and was severely wounded. He spent the rest of the war in Kazakhstan where he slowly regained sight and movement. After the war he studied English and western literature at Moscow State University, graduated, and taught English and German at the Maurice Thorez Linguistics Institute (which later became the Moscow State Linguistics University, or MGLU). During this period his two textbooks for Russians learning German were published. With his wife and two children he emigrated to the US via Israel in 1972, and worked here as a college languages teacher and as a writer for the German-American Daily Staatszeitung and for the German-Jewish American weekly, Aufbau. In the late 1970s he started writing books to help other Russians in learning English. In authorized, and pirated, editions of these books have circulated very widely, and have even been adopted by American university Russian courses. Most recently he has been writing short stories and he published a historical novel "Above Water" in 2003 (the book deals with the effects of Nazism on the life of a Harry Rosen, a Latvian Jew).
      2. Nora.
      ii. Ellen was born 188? and died 1941; she was an orthopedic phsysician and her husband, Yakov Meltzer, was a pianist; they had a son Anatol and all three were killed by Germans in Nazi-occupied Latvia (photo of the three with son at age 6 on file.)
      e. Son David, b. 17 Jul 1864 in Mitau, m. 7 Jan 1890 in Mitau, d. bef 1935. Wife Sophia, dau. of Abram Herzenberg, b. 20 Aug 1869 in Mitau, d. 1941 in the "ghetto."
      f. Son Alexander, b. 16 Apr 1866 in Mitau.
      g. Son Leonhard, b. 24 Jul 1868 in Mitau.

      2. By letter 4 Mar 2009 from Irene Slatter, I received the following photocopy of a letter from the Latvian Archives (Latvijas Valsts Vestures Arhivs) in Riga addressed 01.2007 to Nina Kossman (see above note for Nina's email address). The letter has a serial number 3-K-172. It states:
      "Archival Reference about Stephan Kossman.
      The records of the archives fond "Latvian Ministry of Home Affairs" - i.e. the file of naturalisation of Stepan (Stephan) Kosman (other spelling - Kossman), set up in 1921 as well as the records of the archival fonds "RIga City House Registers" and "Collection of passports of Riga Prefecture" contain the following information:
      Shapsel (Stepan, Stephan), son of Vitebsk top guild merchant Leib-Yuda (Leon, Leonty) Kosman (Kossman) was born on June 7 of 1877 in Bredichev (Zhitomir district, Volin province, now Ukraine) (this place of birth was stated in the file of naturalisation, however, according to his Latvian passports he was born in Chudnov (Zhitomir Distrci, Volin province).
      His father Leib (Leon, Yuda-Leib), son of Samuel Kosman was born on October 5 of 1843 in Chudnov, Volin province. Occupation - a trader.
      His mother Rebecka Kosman, daughter of Feodor, née Bokser, was born on May 28 of 1852 in Volin province.
      Stephan Kosman lived in Riga since 1907. On March 15 of 1909 in Riga he married to Ruth - Paulina, daughter of the Heriditary Honourable Citizen, collegiate assessor, doctor of Medicine Isidor Brensohn (see their marriage certificate). During the First World War the family moved to Moscow, they returned to Riga in 1918. They had two children:
      - daughter Eleonora (see her birth certificate).
      - son Leonid.
      Since 1920 the family of Stephan Kosman lived in Riga at Kr. Valdemara Street 39, apt. 5.
      Leon Kosman and his wife Rebecka lived in Riga since 1921 (previous address - Moscow). They were Russian Citizens. They lived at Lacplesa Street 53, apr. 25. Viestura darza Street 4, apt. 2, Kr. Valdemara Street 39, apt 5."

      1. Mentioned in detail in biography provided by Irene Gottlieb. See her notes for full biography.

      2. Provided 8 May 2012 by Nina Kossman from writings of her father Leonid Kossman concerning his recollections of his parents:
      My Parents
      I remember my father before 1924 when he became blind. He was a slender elegant man. He spoke fluently three languages - Russian, German, and English.
      In his youth he spent many years in London. It was my paternal grandfather who had left Russia with his big family for England. Father attended school in London. As a young man, father went to Leipzig which was a center of fur business. There he got experience in it. Finally he settled in Moscow. He had customers in London who ordered Russian furs. My father bought them wholesale from the Tartars and exported them to England. He was a "merchant of the first guild" and was therefore permitted to reside in Moscow though being Jewish.
      In prerevolutionary Moscow, my family led a sumptuous life. My mother had three servants - a cook, a housemaid, and a governess. The family had a big apartment. My maternal uncle Theo lived in our apartment for a long time while he studied architecture in Moscow. My father had several brothers and sisters whom he assisted financially.
      In 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution, father and his family left Russia for Latvia, my mother's native country. My parents rented a five-room apartment in the center of Riga. Father tried to go on with his fur business. He used to do business by meeting his trade partners in a coffee house. In Riga he also succeeded in earning rather good money.
      I was happy when my father took me, a boy of seven years, to the old town of Riga where we went to a stamp store. He bought an album and numerous stamps for me.
      In 1924 our family went to the cinema. I was sitting beside my father. When the lights went on again, he said to me, "I can't see anything." That was the beginning of my father's blindness. My parents went to Berlin and Moscow for consultations with famous eye specialists. The German doctor concluded that the reason for my father's blindness was his smoking habit - he used to smoke about 50 cigarettes per day. According to the Moscow specialist, the reason for the blindness was a brain tumor (at that time there was no way to discover a tumor.)
      My mother accompanied father on his trip to Germany and went with him to the Latvian border station near Russia. Father's brother Vladimir expected him on the Russian side and went with him to Moscow.
      My father used to do business with other traders at Reiner, a coffee house in the old part of Riga. But now he was rejected by his colleagues. "Go to your doctor. We don't need you here." That was too much for my father's self esteem. He couldn't overcome this blow. Before his blindness, he was very vivacious and active. But after his colleagues stopped accepting him, he became taciturn and was very sad.
      My mother was brave after this calamity had occurred. Now she had to earn money to support the family. She went to Paris to attend a beautician's school. After receiving a French diploma, she opened a beautician's salon in Riga. She had also learned how to prepare various skin creams which she sold to her customers. For our family, hard times had begun.
      My sister Nora was invited by our paternal grandfather to live with him and grandmother. Because of a fever, there was a suspicion of TB. Since grandfather was a doctor, it made sense for Nora to live in his house. She moved to our grandparents' and stayed there for several years. Grandfather paid for all private tutors Nora needed for graduating from high school. Luckily the suspicion of TB was unfounded.
      When mother needed money for the trip to Paris, she asked her father for it, but his condition for lending it was her diamond ring as deposit.
      I used to read to my father the German daily "Rigasche Rundshau." I spent a lot of time with my father. Once I witnessed a tragic scene when my father's old friend Krupnikov visited him. When Krupnikov touched in his conversation on father's blindness, he started laughing while father was crying. Krupnikov couldn't stop his nervous fit.
      In January 1930 father passed away. He was buried according to the Jewish tradition. After his death, I went to a shul to say kaddish for him. For a month I went there daily. Between the prayers, people discussed their business. Praying was a sheer formality. I told my mother about it and stopped going to shul." [KP note: death date is in error and was probably just an inaccurate memory considering Leonid wrote his recollections late in life.]
      The writings at this point become about Leonid himself and Nina Kossman should be contacted in case more information is desired.

      1. Per correspondence from daughter in London dated 4 Mar 2009. Irene notes there is a dispute as to where he was born.

      1.'s "Latvia, Riga, Jewish Marriages, 1854-1921" in association with JewishGen: Schebsel Kosmann and Ruth Paulina Brenson, 1909."

      1. Per correspondence from daughter in London dated 4 Mar 2009.