Hidden in Belgium

From emails by Edna Southard to Victoria Hess — Oct. 2010

My grandmother was Erna Pintus and my grandfather was Hugo Hirschland who died of his WW I war wounds. Left with three small children, she stayed in close touch with the Hirschland in-laws. She married Arnold Alexander who had a department store in Essen that was destroyed during Kristallnacht. They spent the war in hiding in Belgium, but Arnold was captured and died on the way to Auschwitz. My grandmother survived in hiding and came to the US in 1948.

Werner’s Ancestors
  • Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  • Markus Hirschland
  • Samuel Hirschland
  • Joseph Hirschland
  • Hugo Hirschland (died of WWI wounds)
  • Lotte Hirschland
  • Edna Southard

Gustav Hirschland was Hugo Hirschland’s brother. Gustav, his wife Alma, his sister Lina Hirschland, and Gustav and Alma’s three children escaped from Essen to Belgium. They spent the war in hiding in Brussels, as did my grandmother Erna.

My mother, Lotte Hirschland, was two years older than her brother Werner. She emigrated to Palestine (before it became Israel) through the Jewish Youth Aliyah (which was active in the 1930′s in) Germany. She studied Hebrew and learned about agriculture in preparation for her emigration at a school in Wolfratshausen. At the kibbutz in Palestine (later Israel) she met my father Paul Kantorovitz.

In the Hirschland family, only my mother Lotte and her brother Werner escaped to Palestine. It was not easy or common to get out that way: only 5,000 Jewish children got out of Germany to Palestine though the Zionist Youth Aliyah in time. My mother began her preparations at 16 and had just turned 18 when she left for Palestine. Her brother Werner left Germany after she did and came to the same kibbutz.

Lotte married my father, Paul Kantorovitz born in Danzig, in 1942 in Cairo, and he served in the British RAF as a lieutenant. Nearly all of his family was murdered. I was born in Cairo. We emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. We were sponsored by my mother’s aunt (Hertha Pintus Flegenheimer) and her husband, Eugen Flegenheimer. We came to NY and lived in Queens until we moved to NJ. My mother worked as a physical therapist in NJ the rest of her life; my father moved to Switzerland where he continued to practice law where he had received his law degree from Geneva.

Edna commented that she two Hirschland second cousins in the US, and the rest in Belgium and Brazil. Her first cousins are Werner’s children. I was delighted to let her know that she had many more US cousins than she thought (I am her fifth cousin). The Geni.com tree tells the story. Sarah had also expressed surprise that we were cousins.


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