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

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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

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

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