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.
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
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