Kimberley, South Africa


Goldberg, Bernard, Mrs & Family

Bernard Goldberg family

Diamond digger, dealer and explorer

Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach MBE, London March 2020

From information and photos supplied by his granddaughters Lynne Gordon (née Goldberg - daughter of youngest son, Dudley) who lives in Cape Town, Lorna Agras (née Goldberg – daughter of eldest son Alf) who lives in Shenley North London, Sheryl Biesman, a cousin of Lynne's in America - her great-grandfather was Monas Goldberg (one Bernard Goldberg's older brothers). Daphne Gillis (née Toube – a friend from Cape Town) Gail Bernard née Levinsohn a grand-niece who now lives in South London (daughter of Bernard’s younger brother Julius who worked with Bernard in Kimberley and Paul Cheifitz historical researcher

Mr and Mrs B Goldberg (Bernard and Sarah) were amongst the most prominent and prosperous families in Kimberley. Known as ‘Mr B’ and the ‘Diamond Breakwater King’ Bernard Goldberg built impressive breakwaters on the Vaal River alluvial diamond fields for over 50 years. Lawrence G Green, the South African chronicler, writes in his book ‘There’s a Secret Hid Away’ of a trip to see the latest Breakwater with Mr B in 1936. He said ’The pool called Webster’s Pool is a deep hole in the river-bed, a treasure chest guarded by water. When we arrived there, the pool was almost dry. Goldberg has spent £25 thousand pounds, diverting the course of the river and draining the fabulous pool. You can read this chapter on page 107 here:

Granddaughter Lynne Gordon, remembers being taken to the breakwater as a child at the age of 5 whilst in Kimberley for Bernard and Sarah’s golden wedding anniversary in 1960 and wonders if other family members remember it too?

Bernard Goldberg was born in 1879 in Windau (now Ventspils) Latvia. He had four brothers and two sisters. His eldest sibling was 13 years older and his youngest was 11 years younger than he was! He died in Kimberley on 2 June 1963.

Bernard married Sarah Zitron (also spelled Citron). (pictured left) She was born in Klykolai, Lithuania in 1885. As her wedding to Bernard took place in Riga, Latvia in July 1910, the family believe she lived there before coming to Kimberley when she was 25 as a married young lady. It may also be worth mentioning that her mother was a Goldberg, so she and Bernard were actually first cousins. Sarah died in Kimberley on 7 September 1966.

Picture left: Sarah Citron in about 1905

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In the first decade of the 1900s two of the brother's (and many cousins) left Riga for America and Bernard and his brothers Julius and Morris went to South Africa. They all started off in Kimberley in 1905. Bernard and Julius stayed and worked together in their diamond business, but Morris moved elsewhere.

By 1910, Bernard had obviously already made a great success of his business as he travelled to the USA to visit his brothers and then on to Riga to marry Sarah.

In this picture above of Bernard and Sarah’s wedding in Riga in 1910, the family has identified the people in the picture as immediate relatives of the bride and groom (siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, parents, grandparents, etc). Sadly, this was taken in Latvia and most of these family members stayed there and were wiped out during World War II.

Bernard and Sarah had five children, but just three sons survived to adulthood:

Alfred b 1911, Sam b.1913 (then a sister and brother Norman who both died in infancy) and lastly Dudley, born in 1929

They lived at no 4 MacInnes Street Kimberley and also had a house in Alexander Road Muizenberg, as did lots of other families. They would move there for about three months in the summer. Their cook and other staff were sent on ahead to open-up and clean the house. Then a few days later the family would arrive.

Daphne Gillis (née Toube) remembers: “Sarah Goldberg played cards with my parents. She was the first person I had ever met who had a white lady companion. She sat in the middle of the front row in the Shul, right above the bimah and facing the Ark. When she stood up during the service, she would place her hands on the railing around the upstairs seats. We always said it was to show off the wonderful diamond rings her husband gave her”. (ed: Actually, everyone put their hands on that rail.)

Julius was three years younger than Bernard> Born in 1882, he was married in Johannesburg in April 1920,to Annie Leah Taylor of Whitechapel, London. They had four daughters, all born in Kimberley, Stella 1921, Ruth 1923, Irene 1926 and Doris 1928.

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Stella remained in Kimberley for most of her life. She married Beaconsfield pharmacist, Harold Levinsohn (after a short marriage to a Mr Orkin).

Here is a picture of Bernard and Sarah in 1960, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Kimberley with sons left Dudley and middle Alf and right Sam.

The first-born son, Alfred Goldberg 1911 - 1975 married Gertie Sacks. They lived in Kimberley until 1948, when they moved to Muizenberg. They had two daughters in Kimberley, Lorna born 1943 and Carol born 1948. Alf owned a garage near the overhead bridge entrance to Muizenberg. They would visit Kimberley every year to see their parents/grandparents and were well-known to people in Kimberley. Lorna now lives in Shenley, North London and has made contact with Geraldine in Harrow! Carol lives in Atlanta, USA.

Daphne Gillis, née Toube reports (2018) that Alf Goldberg almost stopped her marriage. She says ‘Alf was an avid radio ham, and this caused a great deal of tension in his marriage. When Harry told my mother that he was a radio ham, she said that we could not get married because he wouldn’t have time to be a proper husband!!!! 63 years later we are still married.’

The second son Seymour (Sam) Goldberg 1913 - 1979 married Edith Salis. Sam became a doctor. He lived in Muizenberg. His main consulting rooms were in Retreat, but he had a consulting room in Muizenberg where he treated anyone stung by jellyfish and bluebottles. They had three daughters Yvonne - 1946-2015, Patricia (Pete) - b. 1951 and Doreen (Dinky) - b. 1954

The third son was Dudley Albert Goldberg, 1929 – 1984. Dudley married Nanette Claire Sagar born in Kimberley in 1931). Dudley and Nan had three children: one daughter Lynne b. 1955 and two sons, Howard b. 1957 and Alan 1960 – 2019

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Here is a picture of Dudley at about 10 outside the iconic Muizenberg pavilion – advertising the famous Vic Davis Variety Show.

Daughter Lynne remembers Dudley had a Scottish governess called Mary Cadenhead who she thinks was also the housekeeper.

In 1953 Dudley married, Nanette Sagar in East London where her parents, another illustrious Kimberley family, Harold and Julie Sagar had recently retired. (See separate family entry for the Sagars)

Nan Sagar had an older sister Thelma Sagar who married Basil Hochschild).

Dudley and Nan’s Daughter Lynne sent the picture above of their wedding and below of her father and mother, on honeymoon in 1953 in a place called Katberg, in the Drakensberg.

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Also, she sent this picture (left) of herself with her mother Nan – one of those memorable shots taken by a street photographer in Adderley Street, Cape Town.

And above is a picture of sisters Thelma (left) and Nan at Nan’s 70th birthday in 2001.

Nan Goldberg (née Sagar) ended up at Highlands House, the wonderful Cape Town Jewish old aged home.

When her son Alan Goldberg passed away suddenly in a diving incident in Mauritius in September 2019, a memorial service was held for him at Highlands House, based on the family’s longstanding relationship with Highlands House.

Here left is a picture of Lynne and her late brother Alan with his dog, Max, in 2015

Sheryl Biesman in America, has been in touch. Her great-grandfather was Monas Goldberg (one Bernard Goldberg's older brothers who left Riga in the early 1900's for America when the three younger brothers, as we have seen, went to South Africa.)

Sheryl writes: “we've discovered travel records to indicate Bernard and Sarah did a fair amount of worldwide travel over many decades. I found pictures of the two of them with my grandparents from the 1940's, indicating that even after both his older brothers had died, Bernard stayed in touch with their families. However, after he passed away, the American and South African branches of the Goldberg family lost touch for over five decades. Miraculously, through our drive, desire and curiosity to know where we came from, along with the help of a very talented genealogist, Paul Chiefitz, we've reconnected. We now have an extensive Goldberg family tree and a Facebook group and we continue to search for pictures

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and stories about our family over these past 100+ years. If anyone in your Kimberley group has more stories or photos to share about Bernard and Sarah and perhaps his brothers Julius (and Morris Goldberg who did not spend as much time in Kimberley before moving elsewhere) we would certainly love to hear more - and it would mean the world to us.”

(Please also see the lively story by Gail Bernard (daughter of Stella and granddaughter of Julius Goldberg) about having being laid up in bed with Perthes condition and her great aunt Sarah Goldberg’s part in it here: )

And as a postscript:

Daphne Gillis née Toube says: In one of the pictures Lynne sent you, she mentions Fike Friedberg (see picture right from about 1948). He was the son of Anne Friedberg, my father Abe Toube’s only sister. His name was Philip and he lived in Kimberley for a while and went to KHS. He was a few years older than me. He died in 1976. He is the boy in the picture the Lynne says was covered with lipstick from kisses from her mother Nan as a teenager! Daphne says, ask my brother Trevor to tell you about him.

Trevor says that our cousin Philip Friedberg, the heart throb seen here sadly died very young of a heart attack. Philip's daughter, Diane Fine, has prepared a booklet of the Toube family history. It is my main source for the Toube story. Toube, Trevor Philip. She is the one who went to Kimberley with a photographer Jono David who took pictures of the synagogue and of most of the graves in the two cemeteries, which you can see on the website here Her sister, Judy Friedberg, lives in London. She is the universities editor for The Guardian.