Hidden in Belgium

From emails by Edna Southard to Victoria Hess — Oct. 2010

My grandmother was Erna Pintus and my grandfather was Hugo Hirschland who died of his WW I war wounds. Left with three small children, she stayed in close touch with the Hirschland in-laws. She married Arnold Alexander who had a department store in Essen that was destroyed during Kristallnacht. They spent the war in hiding in Belgium, but Arnold was captured and died on the way to Auschwitz. My grandmother survived in hiding and came to the US in 1948. Continue Reading

Escape to Palestine

Contributed by Victoria Hess,
compiled from emails by Sarah Hirschland — October  2010

Sarah Hirschland’s first letter to me said “congratulations, you have found the only Hirschlands in Israel.” Through Facebook, I connected with Sarah and a couple of her daughters, and was thrilled to find that some of our family had made it to Israel, though at the time it was still Palestine.

Sarah noted that she was only a Hirschland by marriage, but she and Werner (Zeev) Hirschland had several children together, and her husband had several from his first marriage. To see the family tree, go to Geni.com and search for Sarah. Continue Reading

Düsseldorf Park

by M. Hirschland (edited by Victoria Hess) 2010

Note: M. and his family are the only Hirschlands Victoria has found thus far who remained in and are still living in Germany. M. passes on this brief bit of information about our family.

I can tell you a short interesting story about Henriette Hirschland. At the beginning of the 20th century, there has been a big park in Düsseldorf, called “Simon Hirschland Park”. It was owned by the Hirschland Family from Essen. At that time it was common for wealthy traders to spend a portion of their wealth for the public good.

Click to view larger map — Henriettenstraße

Continue Reading

Sending Babies to Switzerland

Contributed by Victoria Hess — Nov. 2010

Gaby and Erich Grunebaum, circa 1985, walking in Dobbs Ferry, NY

Oy vey! It can be very difficult to transcribe family lore when there are so many people who know about it, and they don’t always agree! In this case, I spoke 15 years ago with Gaby Grunebaum about her experience with her children in Nazi Germany. This is her story.

But that discussion was very brief, so last week, I was directed to her grandchild, Vicki Koppel, who was very close to Gaby. After making adjustments to my early draft, Vicki directed me to her Uncle Michael (my second cousin), one of the principles in this story, who modified it further. Some of this mess is untangled, but some of it isn’t. Enjoy! Continue Reading

Scandal: Dr. Hirschland

by Victoria Hess — Dec. 2010

Fritz H. Hirschland, found on Ancestry.com


Dr. Fritz Hirschland (born 1880) received his medical degree in Germany and moved to the US around 1913. (An Ellis Island document suggests it might have been the year before.) Of course, he took up his vocation in Flushings after he got settled. The authorities did not like that very much.

In March 2011, one of Fritz’s grandsons, Alex Ivsky, got in touch with us, having found our family tree on-line. He was surprised to have found us, since, as he said of his grandfather, “Fritz really never talked about his family.  How they came to live in Flushing?  I don’t know.  Did they know your grandparents??? (who lived on the upper west side at the time)  Unknown.”

Alex added that this news article makes sense in the context of little family history he knows, since it explains why “my grandmother took her three children BACK to Germany for a year in 1922.  Both my mother and her sister talked about that trip although, they never said why (they might not have known?)  My maternal grandmother (Lehnert) was one of eight so, there are plenty of relatives on that side, as well.”

Alex added that the only other Hirschland he had known was “was an actor who lived in Kontanz (Constance on the Lake of Constance) and who was on summer vacation while I lived there during the summer of 1978  (so I never met him).”

What Alex found even more amazing was that he lived only blocks from Roger Hirschland in Washington DC, who I first found when I lived across the street from him in Washington. Roger (my second cousin) had been the first Hirschland outside of my immediate family that I met as a adult, and it appears it will be the same for Alex (our fifth cousin)!

Scandals: Albert Hirschland

by Daniel Kester– last updated Dec 2010

Der Sturmer

Albert’s Ancestors
  1. Jonas Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  2. Salomon Hirschland
  3. Moses Hirschland
  4. Albert Hirschland

The Nazis had a thing about Jewish men having sex with “Aryan” women.  So in 1935 when Albert Hirschland, the principal of a business college in Magdeburg, was accused of having sex with underage non-Jewish students, the Nazis had a field day.

(Albert was the son of Moses, son of Salomon, son of Jonas, one of the three original Hirschland brothers.)

Hirschland was arrested and put on trial for “race defilement”, and details were published and broadcast throughout Germany. The Hirschland trial was one of the Nazi’s biggest propaganda efforts up to that time, and they used it to try and demonstrate the perverted nature of the Jews.

Accusations were made of Hirschland seducing hundreds of innocent girls, and of mass orgies in a friend’s apartment. The virulently anti-Semitic paper, “Der Sturmer” put out a special 16-page issue about, “Albert Hirschland, the Race-defiler from Magdeburg.”  Two million copies of the special issue were distributed. The media campaign in Magdeburg and nationally “reached a frenzy of demonization and hatred”. (Note that there were times in the American South that black men were summarily lynched for having relations with white women. No trial required.)

Hirschland was convicted of five counts of illicit sexual acts and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 10 years of “preventive detention”. The anti-Jewish hysteria that the Nazis whipped up helped set the stage for the Nuremburg laws introduced later that year, which stripped the Jews of many of their rights and made marriage as well as sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews illegal. After the trial, Albert Hirschland was sent to prison. In 1943 we was sent on to Auschwitz where he was murdered.

Julius Streicher, publisher of “Der Sturmer”, was tried at the Nuremburg trials and found guilty of crimes against humanity for his “incitement to murder and extermination”. He was executed in 1946.

(Source: Michael Abrahams-Sproud, Life under Siege: The Jews of Magdeburg under Nazi Rule) — Parenthetical material are notes from Victoria Hess

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