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

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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

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

A Close Pre-WWI Escape

Contributed by Joan Meijer, Granddaughter of Franz Hirschland, Oct. 15, 2010


In 1914 Franz (Papa) and Gula (Gonny) Hirschland took one-year-old Richard (Dick) to Essen to visit the family. With them were Susan Anderson (Omi) and Mary Sheridan (Nana to Richard and Herb). At the time Papa was President of the American branch of Goldschmidt Detinning – a recycling company that separated the tin out of tin cans so that it could be reused.

Franz’s Lineage
  1. Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers)
  2. Simon Hirschland
  3. Isaac Hirschland
  4. Franz Hirschland

Franz (seated) and Friend in uniform.

War was in the air and the family and friends were urging Papa and Gonny to leave. Papa was conflicted. He was the highest ranking Jew in the German Army and he felt that he had a responsibility to honor his commission. One morning in September, Mr. Goldschmidt asked Papa to accompany him to the local constabulary. The head constable showed Papa a telegram from the Kaiser (Papa’s father had been decorated by the Kaiser by the way). The telegram said, “All German nationals who wish to leave the country should do so immediately. The bluffing is over.” If Papa stayed, he not only would have been trapped with his family, but he would have had to fight. Continue Reading

The Harveys

updated Feb. 27, 2011, with thanks to Peter Levitt, Richard’s cousin

The tree: Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >> Moses Hirschland >> Richard Hirschland >> Sydney Harvey (born Hirschland) >>Anthony Harvey >>Richard Harvey

I have found another renamed UK Hirschland family, the Harveys. The Harveys were actually known to several living Hirschland family members through their banking connections, though they were not listed on any of the family trees that I had in my possession. One evening while scrolling through many pages of Google search results for Hirschland, I found the following listing and opened the 50 page e-book that it referred to:

But I’m Jewish!
headmaster at his school told him, “Hirschland, in the future you will be known as Harvey.” The story goes that my grandfather recognised that a name like
jewsforjesus.org/resources/ebooks/archive/harvey/harvey.pdf Continue Reading

Walter & Ruth’s Escape

Contributed by Dan Olson … October 9, 2010

Tree:   Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >>Salomon Hirschland >>Levi Hirschland >>Otto Hirschland >>Walter Leo Hirschland (and Ruth).. >>Sandra Lee Hirschland Olson >>Daniel Olson

Otto’s son, Walter Hirschland (my grandfather, Opa). He left Germany in the late 1930’s with his girlfriend … (my grandmother, Oma, Ruth Kapizky). They went to England, where she had family (an uncle?) who ran a chemistry lab. They gave Walter a job as a janitor in the lab while he awaited the paperwork for his application to go to America. By mistake, he disposed of some chemicals in the incinerator, and they exploded. As a result, he spent a bit of time in the hospital.

Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. wikipedia

At one point during the war, England decided to kick out all the Germans who were temporarily residing there. While Walter was in the hospital, he received both the notice to leave England and the paperwork to go to America. He and Ruth went to the American Embassy to get everything in order. Walter’s hope was to go to America alone, then, once he had established himself, bring Ruth over to marry. He was informed the only way she would ever be allowed to America was if they were married in England, and if they went over together. Walter asked where the closest place was they could marry, and the ambassador volunteered to perform the ceremony. That was Joseph Kennedy. Continue Reading