Lawyers w/o Courts

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Dr. Susanne Mauss, a German academic and researcher, who was writing a book and preparing an exhibition on the Jewish German lawyers in Nord-Rhein Westfalen who had been excluded from the legal profession by the Third Reich. She was seeking information and a photograph of Charlotte Grunebaum, later Hachenburg, changed to Hackett. I put Dr. Mauss in touch with Thomas Hackett, one of Charlotte’s sons. In his words:

"Lotte" Grunebaum

“Lotte” Grunebaum

(Dr. Mauss was looking for) a photograph of my mother, Charlotte (usually known to her family, her husband and friends as Lotte) from the 1930’s, namely the period after she’d been barred by the “Nuremberg laws” from continuing her career in the legal profession.

My mother, although she’d qualified as a lawyer and had already been accepted (and may’ve even begun) as a Referendar (legal intern), was unable to continue her legal career because of the blocking measures then introduced. I had a photo which I passed on and which is now reproduced in the book which is entitled “Nicht zugelassen” (Not Allowed), published recently. It’s available on

Thomas’s Ancestors
  1. Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  2. Simon Hirschland
  3. Isaac Hirschland
  4. Agathe Hirschland Grunebaum (and Ernst)
  5. Charlotte Grunebaum (Hachenburg changed to) Hackett
  6. Thomas Hackett

The book is a fascinating exploration of the lives of these professional men (apart from my mother and one other woman, Käthe Levy) and their families, their trials and tribulations, and in many cases their tragic fates. Some names from the deepest caverns of memory emerge – Susanne’s book refers to the friendship of (various Grunebaums) with Frank Opton (who apparently was linked romantically with my mother before my father came on the scene – news to me but I don’t think my mother was short of admirers and her relatively late marriage by the standards of the time was due more to her professional ambitions followed by the upheavals of the late 1930’s). … Also Hans Wetzler, whose son is a holistic doctor in London, apparently working a lot with the Haredi community.

The book consists of short (sometimes quite long in fact) histories of these men/families, what happened in the 1930s and after, supported by archival references and reproduced photos and documents.

In another email, Thomas noted that:

My aunt (by marriage) Gabriele (Gaby) Grünebaum (geb. Neumann) came from Cottbus to Munich University where she met my mother as they were both studying law there. My mother introduced Gaby to her brother Erich and the two married in October 1933 (almost 80 years to the day). I don’t think Gaby can be said to have been prevented from pursuing her legal career as their first child was born 14 months later (his parents took the post-March 1933 precaution of having the birth in London to give him a British passport – the British authorities were less hostile to immigrants in those days, possibly because they were rather fewer!) after which I think she applied herself more to domestic responsibilities. Gaby’s story can be found here.

Dr. Mauss commented that the book has created a landslide of information about Jewish lawyers who could not practice because of the prohibitions:

Today I got a phone call from a woman (daughter of a former attorney in Düsseldorf who was a colleague of Kurt Frank) who read the book and had further information for me. It is like a landslide. People read the book and remember things you can’t find in the archives. That is really important because in some years the “children” who still know the people on the pictures will disappear and nobody can ever tell their stories. This woman still got photos from her father with old friends from the years before 1933. I will meet her in November. This makes my work really satisfying when there are answers from total strangers.


German Youth, 1918-1945. Life Stories Highlighted

Karl and his mother Gertrude Hirschland, from

A recently posted project of life histories of German youth who grew up during National Socialism features the story of our cousin, Charles Hannam, nee Karl Hirschland. We previously told Charles’ story here and here.

The German Youth site is in German, but is roughly  translated by Google through using the Chrome browser.  Here is the full link to cut and paste into Chrome.

The Youth site itself is worth browsing for the heartrending stories of other young people in Germany from World War I through World War II.

Much thanks to Fabio for this link, whose contemporary photos of Essen are featured here.

Rotterdam Resistance

from Annemarie den Hartog,
Frits Hirschland’s cousin

My uncle Herbert Hirschland and his brother Rudy came to the Netherlands before the war started because of the rise of Adolf Hitler. Frits’ father, my Uncle Herbert, hide from the Germans in both my grandparents’ houses. He hid in The Hague (in a basement). My grandfather (Leen Boender, my father’s dad), was a member of the resistance in Rotterdam. He helped Jews with false passports and food stamps (ration coupons?). Uncle Herbert lived in their house in 1943/45, and before that he he lived in a chicken house.

Rotterdam after the 1940 Blitz. Photo from Wikipedia.

Continue Reading

A Hirschland Hallmark Moment

contributed by Michael & Danie Reisner

My grandmother’s (Elizabeth) father, Wilhelm Marx, owned a substantial printing concern in Munich. My grandfather Hans worked in that business.

In addition, Hans’ father-in-law, Solomon Archenhold, had owned a factory in Wetzlar/Ehringshausen, Germany, that manufactured meat grinding equipment for butchers. In the first world war, the factory was turned into a munitions factory. Continue Reading

World War II Marine

Compiled from notes by Judy Lanskey

Judy is a niece by marriage and was raised by Robert George Stagg, née Hans Georg Hirschland (1921-1970), a son of Dr. Fritz Hirschland. Judy has shared these recollections with us:

My uncle was in the Marines, I believe, until he was 29 and although I was quite young when he told us these stories, I know that he wanted to be a career soldier. Because he was German, the military sent him to Japan instead of Germany and he had his back broken there. He knew some of the guys that are in the statute of Iwo Jima. He was given a silver star and a purple heart and an honorable discharge. It was after his discharge that he attended NYU. (Note that Hans is the only Hirschland we found a record of who served in the US Military during WWII. Charles Hannam, née Karl Hirschland, served in the Britsh military, but was also kept out of the European theater.) Continue Reading

The Sinking of the ZamZam

by Victoria Hirschland Hess — comment added Feb. 6, 2012

The story of the Zamzam and how six-year-old Peter Levitt, his sister Wendy, and their mother Kathleen (nee Hirschland) survived its being shelled and captured by a German Raider in 1941 could be just another sad WWII story. Yet our cousins survived the sinking and the almost a year and a half of imprisonment afterwards, finally traveling from Liebenau, Germany, to Palestine, as part of a prisoner exchange, and eventually to a delayed reunion with their father and husband, Lionel Levitt, in South Africa. Continue Reading

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