Arm, Frederick (Fritz) & Gertrude

Arm, Frederick (Fritz): Born in Vienna, Austria                    April 14, 1914
Deceased in Madison, Wisconsin    February 27, 1989
Erna Benjamin nee Geppert: Born in Vienna, Austria                    August 18, 1920




   Children: Kitty, Rita Netti, Ronald Ernst,

   Grandchildren: Frederick, Matthew, Elizabeth Anne, Benjamin Connor

Family Story

Fritz was the seventh child of eight and the youngest son of Munisch and Netti Rippel Arm. His parents immigrated from Novaselitsia, Romania to Vienna, Austria just before he was born. They owned Arm’s Deli and resided in an apartment above. His father passed away prior to WWII and was a WWI veteran. Fritz and his brothers participated in the Jewish Soccer League, and the family was very close, helping their mother run the deli. Fritz and his brother Jehuda “Joschi” and Joschi’s wife Elsa and daughter Edith fled Austria. It took multiple attempts until they obtained fake visas and were able to leave. They separated on their way through Europe and he attempted to disembark in New York, but was rejected. Fritz followed his brother and family to Sosúa, where he met and married Gertrude Spitz “Trude.”

Gertrude Spitz was the daughter of Ernst and Franziska Anna Stolaczewicz Arm. Her father had passed away when she was 12, and she lived with her mother and older sister Herta. Trude’s father’s family was Jewish. Her mother was a Polish immigrant who converted to Judaism to marry Ernst. Trude was managing a warehouse and participating in a youth group which met regularly to discuss the political situation of that time. At 17, she decided to leave and ventured alone across Europe, residing in Switzerland for a year, before embarking from Spain to New York, where she was denied entry and sent to Sosúa. Trude rode on a ship from New York to Sosúa with Fritz’s brother and family and befriended 12-year-old Edith, who bragged about her handsome uncle Fritz who would be meeting them later.

It is unsure as to where Fritz and his brother and brother’s family separated, or if he knew they were in Sosúa already when he was denied entry in New York.

While in Switzerland, Trude befriended her family, who kept photos of her up in their home long after she had already departed. Shortly thereafter, Fritz ended up staying in the same home and inquired of the beautiful Trude. Remember, Trude ended up on a ship with her soon-to-be-niece Edith, who introduced her handsome uncle Fritz to Trude once he arrived in Sosúa.

Fritz was an avid soccer player in Vienna and continued to participate in soccer games in Sosúa, where he became known as “El Tanque.” Trude tells of a story where he was injured and had to be carried off the field where she nursed him back to health. Soon after they were married and lived up on the little hill with a beautiful view of the bay.

Fritz, Trude and their daughter Rita left Sosúa for New York in 1947 and eventually ended up in Madison, Wisconsin, where Fritz worked delivering milk for a short time. He worked hard and learned quickly, and soon after was hired by the University of Wisconsin to manage their chicken farm. Trude taught herself English while watching television shows and reading. In 1948 they had their son, Ronald, and moved to an apartment flat in what was called “The Bush” in Madison. In 1952 they purchased their first and only home, where they raised their children and where their son Ron in turn raised his daughter Lisa. The home is still owned by the family and holds many wonderful loving memories. Fritz eventually owned a business, Arm’s Apparel, and then later became the manager for the Three Sisters clothing store. Trude raised her children and eventually worked for Manchesters, a retail store in the mall. In 1972 Fritz and Trude moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where Fritz ran a Three Sisters store and Trude worked for a bank. In 1980 Fritz retired and they moved back to their family home in Madison. Fritz and Trude were well known and respected in the Jewish community of Madison. Fritz passed away in 1982 from Parkinson’s disease. Trude is still going strong at 92 years of age in 2012!


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