The Hirschland Bank’s Hobson’s Choice

Compiled by Victoria Hess from various sources. — updated Jan. 30, 2010

About 15 years ago, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Gaby Grunebaum, widow of Erich Grunebaum, one of the principles of the Simon Hirschland Bank. Erich had managed the Hamburg branch. Though Gaby was the wife of my first-cousin-once-removed, but she said to call her Aunt Gaby: everyone else did. Continue Reading

From Records to Revolution

by Victoria Hirschland Hess — Added March 6, 2011

Frits Hirschland, 1988, Bern

Frits Hirschland, 1988, Bern

In the last minutes of 1986, my boyfriend and I returned early from our New Years Eve outing and the phone was ringing. It was a Frits Hirschland, calling from Amsterdam. I have never heard from him or of him before, and in fact, had not at the time known that Hirschlands still lived in Europe, having survived the war there. I still believed the family myth that my grandfather, Franz, had saved the entire family, while those who told that story were really talking only of our branch of it.

Frits was obviously quite drunk, and surprised that he had found me home, since it wasn’t yet midnight in Washington. He said he had looked through phone books, found my name, knew we were related, and decided to call and wish me a Happy New Year. We went through the “are we related” dance, and he debunked the family myth. I had the impression that he had not yet slept that night, though it was almost 6 a.m. in Amsterdam. Continue Reading

Just An Old Fashioned Love Story

Contributed by Victoria Hess and Joan Meijer — Nov. 2, 2010

After Dr. Franz Herbert Hirschland received his engineering degree in 1902, it was time to see the world, and perhaps do a little business along the way. Franz, our grandfather, left Essen, Germany, for New York with a business proposition in hand: he was to determine the opportunities for Goldschmidt Chemical to build its first American factory. He got that job done, opening Goldschmidt Detinning, and soon becoming its president. But like many young men, he found certain distractions along the way, a principle one being a stunning young woman named Gula Vixie Anderson, our grandmother.

Courting.

Of course, I could end the story there, but there were a few events along the way that made this more than the usual courtship. They courted, fell in love, and wanted to marry, but the problem was that Franz needed to get his parent’s blessing because Gula would take him away from them, and also……. She was a goy. Nothing against goys, of course, but would you want your son to marry one? So Gula made a plan. Continue Reading

Reunion possiblities

Hirschland Family circa 1870. Isaac Hirschland highlighted? (Possibly Isaac's and Heniette's 50th Anniversary.)

Since I sent an email out to family yesterday about this new blog, I have received a number of emails about possible reunions. We do have a page with some small reunion photos, but most people are looking for something bigger.

Our cousin Richard Harvey writes:

“For some time I have been wondering if there is interest in a re-union of Hirschlands in Essen – it would take a year or so to plan. Is anyone interested, perhaps for 2014?” Continue Reading

A Close Pre-WWI Escape

Contributed by Joan Meijer, Granddaughter of Franz Hirschland, Oct. 15, 2010


In 1914 Franz (Papa) and Gula (Gonny) Hirschland took one-year-old Richard (Dick) to Essen to visit the family. With them were Susan Anderson (Omi) and Mary Sheridan (Nana to Richard and Herb). At the time Papa was President of the American branch of Goldschmidt Detinning – a recycling company that separated the tin out of tin cans so that it could be reused.

Franz’s Lineage
  1. Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  2. Simon Hirschland
  3. Isaac Hirschland
  4. Franz Hirschland

Franz (seated) and Friend in uniform.

War was in the air and the family and friends were urging Papa and Gonny to leave. Papa was conflicted. He was the highest ranking Jew in the German Army and he felt that he had a responsibility to honor his commission. One morning in September, Mr. Goldschmidt asked Papa to accompany him to the local constabulary. The head constable showed Papa a telegram from the Kaiser (Papa’s father had been decorated by the Kaiser by the way). The telegram said, “All German nationals who wish to leave the country should do so immediately. The bluffing is over.” If Papa stayed, he not only would have been trapped with his family, but he would have had to fight. Continue Reading

The Nathans

Posted Feb. 28, 2011

The tree: Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >> Moses Hirschland >>Johanna Hirschland Nathan >> Edgar Nathan >> John Nathan

This letter was contributed by John Nathan, who carries on his family’s textile business of 121 years.

You asked me about the Nathan Connection. The Nathans came from Emmerich, near the Dutch border. I went there four years ago and found an old man who had who had worked in one of the big engineering companies connected with the Krupp group. Although he was of Christian faith, he had produced a major record of the Jews  of Emmerich. Among them, I traced the Nathans back to 1816.

Isaak Nathan was a garment maker. He had four daughters and four sons. Two of the sons, Karl, born in 1846, and Sigismund, born in 1858, came to London in 1877. Karl changed his name to Carl, and in 1879 set up C. Nathan and Co. as textile agents at 65 Bread St. in London. This business lasted for 121 years, through four generations. It is in a different form today, though I am still engaged in it. Continue Reading

The Harveys

updated Feb. 27, 2011, with thanks to Peter Levitt, Richard’s cousin

The tree: Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >> Moses Hirschland >> Richard Hirschland >> Sydney Harvey (born Hirschland) >>Anthony Harvey >>Richard Harvey

I have found another renamed UK Hirschland family, the Harveys. The Harveys were actually known to several living Hirschland family members through their banking connections, though they were not listed on any of the family trees that I had in my possession. One evening while scrolling through many pages of Google search results for Hirschland, I found the following listing and opened the 50 page e-book that it referred to:

But I’m Jewish!
headmaster at his school told him, “Hirschland, in the future you will be known as Harvey.” The story goes that my grandfather recognised that a name like
jewsforjesus.org/resources/ebooks/archive/harvey/harvey.pdf Continue Reading

The Hannams

posted Dec. 9, 2010

The tree:  Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >> Levi Hirschland >> Joseph Hirschland >> Max Hirschland  >> Karl Hirschland (now Charles Hannam)

Charles Hannam was born Karl Hirschland in Essen in 1925. He lived there until he left in May, 1939. He was the son of Max Hirschland, owner of the Levi Hirschland Bank, and had an older (by five-years) sister named Margot.

Charles’ First Book

Karl grew up in a privileged life, though not as much as the children of the Simon Hirschland Bank owners. The Levi Hirschland Bank had fallen on hard times during the economic crisis following WWI, so much so that at least one historian has said that it went under. But family historians, as well as Charles in his book on his early life, A Boy in that Situation, differ. The bank still operated well into the 1930s, and Karl was being groomed to be a banker.

Karl grew up going to Services at what is now called the Alte Synagogue (built with funding from Simon Hirschland and others), but was not terribly observant at home. Ham and other sausages were a regular part of his diet. Continue Reading