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Ilse Stern

Ilse Stern

Female 1908 - 1985  (76 years)

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  • Name Ilse Stern 
    Born 21 Sep 1908  Zeerust, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Biography They spent their formative years in a place called Schweitzer Reinecke, in what was then the Eastern Transvaal province. Albert Stern, their father, was a farmer, who came from the Fulda area in Germany.

    The marriage didn't last too long, and Martha  returned with the girls to Germany where they spent the First World War years. Martha later married Victor Gudenberg. They  had a son, Ulrich, who died tragically, aged sixteen. He dived into a pool and hit his head on the floor. There has been some suggestion that, being half Jewish, harassment from the Nazis led him to inflict this on himself. Martha never got over their loss, and said that she only lived half a life after this incident.

    Albert Stern got custody of the three sisters and they returned to South Africa when the first war ended. He too remarried, and the three girls had a miserable childhood with a stepmother who showed no affection for them at all.


    She died a day before her 77th birthday. Her mother, Martha, a concert pianist, had been married in Gottingen. It was an arranged wedding, and then she and her new husband, Albert Stern, who was a farmer in the Western Transvaal, and a very uncouth man, left Germany and travelled to Jacobsdal, a rural area in South Africa. Three children were produced in quick succession, and Albert and Martha Stern then divorced.

    Martha returned to Germany, leaving the children with their father, Albert Stern. He later remarried Jenny Jordan, and then kicked the 3 girls out of the house. The girls were taken in by Dominee Theron, a Dutch Reformed Pastor in the town, and he took care of the three sisters until they finished their schooling.

    In 1929, Ilse received her B.A. from the University of the Witwatersrand. The following year she received her B.A.(Hons) and in 1933 her M.A. She was one of two
    women to be awarded their Masters degrees by the University that year, these being the first two Masters degrees awarded by that University to Women. The following year, 1934, she received her Teaching Diploma from the Johannesburg College of Education. She financed her education by teaching English and Afrikaans to the German emigrants who were pouring into South Africa at that time, and by teaching at the German School.

    Early in 1934 Ilse, Hildegard and Margot Stern were all living together in a modest furnished room in Hillbrow. Hildegard had just returned from Europe where she had had an eye operation. The girls owned a grammophone, and they used to entertain frequently by playing records, and throwing parties. Often on weekends, they would go camping at Rustenburg Kloof with groups of about 20 people, most of them German refugees.

    Ilse went to Scotland on exchange in 1938, but was forced to return to South Africa in September 1939 after the outbreak of the Second World War. On exiting the United Kingdom,Ilse was searched, and a photograph of the Firth of Forth bridge was found with her possessions. She was briefly detained before being taken by tugboat to her ship, the "City of Exeter", which had already departed. The "City of Exeter" formed part of a convoy which criss-crossed the Atlantic being chased by submarines, losing many ships in the process. They were present at the Battle of the River Plate and the sinking of the Graf Spee. On returning to Johannesburg, Use found that the Security Police had searched her premises, and finding many German books on her shelves, took her to be a potential spy. Her movements were monitored throughout the war.

    In 1945 she opened her own Nursery School and she ran a Nursery School until 1960. From 1961 to 1970 she taught languages (German and Afrikaans) to both school children and adults. From 1926 until her death in 1985 she resided in Johannesburg. Her last address was 2 Aintree Avenue, Savoy Estate. She died at age 76 of Malignant melanoma of the brain. She was cremated.  [1
    Hebrew Birth 25 Elu 5668 
    Hebrew Death 5 Tis 5746 
    Residence Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • 2 Aintree Avenue, Savoy Estate
    Died 20 Sep 1985  Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1207  Blank Family
    Last Modified 4 Apr 2011 

    Father Albert Stern,   b. 10 Oct 1876, Eschwege, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Dec 1953, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Mother Martha Eichenberg,   b. 6 Oct 1889, Goettingen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Nov 1988, Goettingen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 99 years) 
    Married 1907  Goettingen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced Abt 1914  South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F615  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Gunter Kann,   b. 1 Jun 1907, Erfurt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jun 1969, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years) 
    Married 10 Jun 1940  Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Vera Eleanor Kann,   b. 16 Dec 1941, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Oct 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years)
     2. Lawrence Ian Kann,   b. 15 Aug 1944, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jun 2004, Johannesburg, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 59 years)
    Family ID F617  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 21 Sep 1908 - Zeerust, South Africa Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 10 Jun 1940 - Johannesburg, South Africa Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Johannesburg, South Africa Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 20 Sep 1985 - Johannesburg, South Africa Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Ilse Stern Kann
    Ilse Stern Kann

  • Sources 
    1. [S207] E-mail message, from Stanley Fajans.


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