Contributed by Victoria Hirschland Hess — January 2, 2011
When Marcus Hirschland, who was the owner of one of the most popular Department Stores in nearby Mannheim, built himself and his family a vacation home near Schriesheim, Germany, in 1903, who would have known that it would be in the news more than 100 years later. But when M. Hirschland found mention of the Hirschland Villa, he forwarded it to me for follow up. Original Article in translation.
Frau Kuntermann, the author of the original article wrote me that:
“The Hirschland Villa (or for some people the “Freyhof”) is one of the most beautiful buildings in Schriesheim. It is built on a hill above a road to another small town. Everybody who drives that road knows the house, and some people may have asked themselves what the history of that house might be. Some weeks ago I got the chance to find out more about it. From the owners I received the information that it was built by a Jewish businessman more than 100 years ago. That was very interesting for me because I wrote a series for the newspaper about the former homes of Jewish inhabitants of Schriesheim.”
The title of the articles was The Owners Couldn’t be More Different. The article described both the beauty of the recently restored house, owned by Markus and family until 1925, and that is was acquired by “compulsory sale” in 1933 by Dr. Heinrich von Faulhaber, a dentist who was a dedicated supporter of the NSDAP (the Nazi Party). The article describes how he chiseled in the stone walls of the house evidence of his ownership:
“The fact that he was as well some kind of mayor of the city of Ilvesheim he had chiseled into stone. Another inscription had later vanished. It said that the house was bought in ‘the year of the national socialist uprising.’ Maybe Faulhaber removed it the moment the US Army came near Schriesheim. The house became a command post of the Army. Afterwards, Faulhaber committed suicide. His family lived in the house until 1963.”
Although Frau Kuntermann’s article was not correct in all family details, it was based on the information that she had available from the current owners, and restorers, of the house. Before restoration, the house was run as a boarding house, and it “was in such a miserable condition that the rain poured through the leaky roof,” according to the article. We have put Alice Moore in touch with Frau Kuntermann, Alice says that Frau Kuntermann has expressed interest in gathering further history about the house and its family.
Though the story of the house is fascinating, even more special is that this story has helped welcome into our family some more lost family members.
Alice’s & Laura’s Lineage
|Thanks and recognition to Manuel Hirschland, who brought this to our attention, to Stephanie Kuntermann of the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung of Heidelberg Germany, who published a story on this house in November 2010, to Alice Moore and Laura Roe, who scanned family photos of the house and filled in some details, and as always to Daniel Kester, who coordinated a lot of the communication on this one.|
Daniel Kester found Laura and Alice through Facebook, much to everyone’s surprise, and Alice helped fill in some holes in the Hirschland family tree. (If you check Daniel’s Hirschland family tree you can find them.) Markus’s and Marie’s children included a doctor (Johanna), an opera singer (Gertrude), and engineer (Kurt, later Curt), and Waltraude, who married into one of the founding families of Munich. Two other children died young. Alice and Laura are descended from Waltraude. At this point, Alice and her progeny are the only known living descendents of Marcus Hirschland.
When I first wrote Alice, and introduced myself as a cousin, she was thrilled, because both her parents were only children. I assured Alice that now that we had found her, she had hundreds of cousins. Alice and her children live in North Carolina.
Alice Moore wrote me shortly after this post was first put up to tell me of the American occupation of the Hirschland Villa during WWII:
“My grandmother told me that when the Americans occupied her home they slashed paintings and smashed all of the Ming vases. Everything in the home was damaged except for a very small and beautiful porcelain Madonna that my mother received on her first communion.
“My grandmother kept watch on her home, until one day it appeared vacated. She unlocked the door, knowing that she could be arrested, but was undeterred. Inside she discovered all of the damage, except for the Madonna which on her desk. She slipped it into her raincoat pocket and left.
“I have it now- carefully kept in a vitrine inherited from my grandfather.”