Where was the money?

From my half-sister, Joan Meijer:

For some reason two separate Gonny and Paps stories have conjoined in my head in a way that always makes me laugh.

Grossvater, Isaac Hirschland

Grossvater, Issac Hirschland

Grossmutter, Henrietta Simon Hirschland

Grossmutter, Henrietta Hirschland

The first was a story Paps used to tell me about my great-grandmother Henrietta or Grossmutter. She came the Simon Bank banking family in Cologne. Grossvater (was it Isaac?) came from the Essen Bank, banking family. They had courted for a long time in letters, had met on a few occasions….when he proposed to her. She said yes and returned to Cologne where she learned that her father had offered Grossvater a sizable dowry – which he evidently had accepted. When she learned of the transaction she cancelled the wedding.

“If you don’t love me enough without the dowry then I will not marry you,” or something like that – she said.

He loved her enough, refused the dowry and they lived happily for many years.

Evidently Grossvater was proud of telling his children that if they weren’t wealthy enough it was all her fault.

Honeymoon Voyage

Franz & Gula Hirschland, Honeymoon Voyage

Second story. The time was later when gossamer dresses were the order of the day, all frilly and feminine. They were in Germany and Paps had met a peddler on the street who was peddling a new invention, the zipper.

Paps was very excited by the invention, bought one, and hurried home with it.

“Mammy,” he said. “Look what I have found.”

I think he told her that he intended to get the patent and return with it to America where he would make a fortune. Anyway it was a big, clunky commercial thing and Gonny took one look at it, thought of her filmy gowns, and said – “Never work.”

Now really if we aren’t hugely wealthy, I don’t think it had anything to do with Henrietta’s dowry and everything to do with Gon’s pronouncement of “Never work.”

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Hirschland Art

By Victoria Hess  — Posted Feb. 9, 2011

When I was a child, my mother used to take me regularly into New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was fascinated, when  as she pointed out to me as we walked up the grand staircase to the second floor painting galleries, that my grandparents’ names were carved into the walls of that staircase. I never learned what they gave to the museum to deserve such recognition, but it must have been big to be carved in stone: smaller gifts, I knew, such as one by our father, merited smaller recognition, like life-time memberships. A search of the MMA database shows 102 items under the name Hirschland. Continue Reading

Harrison: Tarantara

By Victoria Hess and Joan Meijer — Added January 10, 2011

For the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of  the Isaac Hirschland line, the house that Franz and Gula Hirschland built on Kenilworth Road in Harrison, NY, was the center of a universe. The 22-room mansion in this tony part of Westchester County had rolling green lawns, an apple orchard, a tennis court, a lily pond, and stately old-world charm. It was where our grandparents lived out their lives, and many family members who fled Germany came to start theirs again in the United States. The family stayed close, with many settling nearby, and even those who left returning to visit until both Gonnie and Papa were gone. Continue Reading

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

The Lusitania

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

In late April 1915 Franz Hirschland (Papa) was having lunch with a business associate. The paper was folded back either to an advertisement for the sailing of the Lusitania or an article warning that the Lusitania was carrying arms for the British war effort and therefore fair game for German U-Boats. Those warnings were appearing more and more often in the American press.

The two began to converse about the Lusitania and the yellow journalism surrounding the reporting on Germany in particular. During the conversation the associate said, “I have a friend who is shipping picric acid (an explosive somewhat like TNT) on the Lusitania.” Papa said that the conversation just glossed over the sentence.

Two weeks later, on May 7th, the Lusitania sank within sight of land off the shores of the Old Head of Kindsdale, Ireland, In 18 minutes 1,198 of the 1959 people aboard died.  America exploded with anger and headed for war (though it took them some time to get there). 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

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