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

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

Kinder Transport — Margot & Karl’s Story

Last updated Oct. 20, 2010

Margo Hirschland Panofsky

Tree:   Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >>Levi Hirschland >>Joseph Hirschland >>Max Hirschland >>Margot Hirschland Panofsky

Margot Hirschland, and her brother, Karl (later taking the name Charles), fled Essen on the kindertransport in 1939. What follows is a detailed history Margot provided the Essen Old Synagoge in 1988 and 1992. Margo died in 2008. Her brother is still alive and the author of several books about his experiences.

The English translation is a combined effort of IGoogle’s translate page, my limited German and help with the idioms from my friend Patricia Linderman. I hope to be adding some comments from my correspondant about his step-grandmother’s experience. — Victoria Hess

Translated from the Archive of the Alte Synagoge, letter of Margot Hirschland Panofsky (1988)

Auf Deutsch

My father, MAX HIRSCHLAND, was a banker, and after the death of his brother, Louis H., sole owner of the bank company LEVI HIRSCHLAND. This bank, which was founded in 1840 by my great-grandfather, Levi H., was located, as well as the much larger bank, Simon Hirschland on Lindenallee. Continue Reading