Memories of Berta Henle
In the 1960s Berta Henle out of Göppingen wrote a text with the title: “Jews I knew who used to live in Göppingen.” Ms. Henle’s small effort distinguishes her from many of her contemporaries. She arranged her text according to addresses and so we come across Wühle Street, about which she remembered: “Barn across from Gösele was the cattle barn of the cattle dealer Hirsch (house was in Wühle Street too). His son and daughter were picked up and taken to a concentration camp. The old man cried hard, it was terrible for him. If they picked him up too, I do not know.”
For a long time it was unclear whether details Mrs. Henle remembered would correspond with the reported data. Unfortunately, Ms. Henle was essentially right. The historical reality was even crueller, because also other family members and Max Hirsch himself were murdered by the Nazis.
Max married into the traditional ancient part of Göppingen
Max Hirsch was born as Michael Hirsch in Haigerloch on August 30, 1859 as the seventh of nine children. Three of those had immigrated to America, three died in childhood. Michael and his sister Helene moved to Göppingen. He probably changed his first name at the time of this move. In any case, in 1885 “Max” Hirsch married the 22-year-old Ida Bauland. In the middle of the 19th century, Ida’s father Mayer Bauland bought the house at Spital Street 17 which was built after the city-wide fire. (“Wühle Street” was mentioned above, but the street`s name changed between Spital and Wühle Street). It’s clear that the son-in-law Max was welcomed into the family, because he was allowed to continue the cattle trade, which his aged father-in-law had run. He had worked in this business for 40 years. After retiring Max became an active board member of the Israeli Charity Organization in Göppingen. Even before he was already active as second cantor in the synagogue of Göppingen.
The “Israelitische Wochenblatt”, No. 1 / 2, 1929, cherished Max on his 70th birthday as follows: “On the 30th of August Max Hirsch celebrated his 70th birthday in perfect health. It was an occasion with lots of pleasure for the whole community. Max Hirsch is one of those who always support the community when there is a need. For many years he was the second cantor at Jom Kippur and always ready to help out with pleasure. After celebrating Sabbath in the synagogue the members of the Israelite congregation moved to the home of the jubilee to congratulate him and his family on a special way (…) May the jubilee enjoy many good years to come!”
During their 45-year marriage Ida and Max had nine children of which only two would still be alive in 1945. Two sons died during infancy, their son Milton died in World War I fighting for Germany (the sons Hermann and Karl took part in fighting as well, but survived); son Julius died already at the age of 26. The family endured the ‘normal’ amount of suffering for those times. There are photos on which the everyday-life as well as the days of celebration is documented. Max Hirsch, widow since 1934, is seen together with his children, his son-in-law and his grandchildren.
A certain depiction of the Hirsch family’s lifestyle is given in the list of their household goods which was drawn up in connection with the compensation process. Besides “wonderful crystal bowls and platters” or a “bedroom set made of polished cherry wood” there was also “1 large bookshelf containing: the works of Schiller, Goethe, various authors, Heine, Uhland and certainly more than 100 other good books as well as so and so many volumes of Meyers Conversational Encyclopaedia.”
You could wish Max all the best after all the sorrow he had endured. But 1929 the Nazis came to power and Max was Jewish…
Hermann Mendle, Son in law from Max Hirsch
Boycott and KZ – Imprisonment of Max' Sons Karl and Hermann
The daughter of Max, Julie Hanauer, wrote 1966 to Georg Weber about the beginning of the NS-crimes: “On the first of April 1933 there were kept watch in front of the store of my brother Karl Hirsch in Spitalstraße 17 in Göppingen. This alone was a bad beginning for business dealings.” Mrs. Hanauer meant the SA guards with their weapons. On this day they besieged the Jewish shops and restrained the customers from doing their shoppings. She went on: “I was already here (USA - kmr) when the synagogue was burnt down. I was being told that bullets were shooted right through the windows into our flat. Both my brothers and my husband were transported to Dachau. Thank God they came back. My older brother (Hermann - kmr) was beaten there and soon after he died of a stroke at the age of 53. My younger brother (Karl –kmr) suffered so much, especially because he had to leave behind our old father that he began to have serious heart trouble.” Karl and Hermann Hirsch were two of the 27 men out of Göppingen who were deported to KZ Dachau (Concentration Camp) two days after the Pogrom Night. Karl was kept there until the 20th December 1938, Hermann until the 12th of December 1938.
The cause of Herrmann's death recorded on the death certificate “stroke”. This doesn’t allow any direct conclusions to be drawn. The Stumbling Stone Initiative agrees with Hermann Hirsch’s sister and regards him as a victim of the NS regime in regard to the torturing going on in the KZ. Hermann Hirsch remained single, had no children and was a self-employed merchant. He died on 22th of July 1939 in the age of 53, leaving no heirs.
The Fate of the Daughters Julie, Elsa and Paula
When Hermann died, his sister Julie Hanauer was already living in New York. She had fled there alone in September 1937 “because National Socialism sickened me”, as she wrote later. She was able to act as a guarantor for her brother Karl and made it possible for him to flee to the US in 1941 and so saved his life – grieving his father's death. A school photo from the finishing school for girl’s shows that it was important to Ida and Max Hirsch that their twin daughters receive a good education. Both of the girls learned a vocation and also worked in their respective fields: Julie as a secretary at the paper factory Fleischer in Eislingen mostly between the years 1916 – 1937 and Elsa as a clerk at the company Gutmann in Göppingen since 1914. However, Elsa lost her job in 1939 because she was Jewish. Elsa is the daughter in Göppingen who, as Mrs. Henle wrote, “was picked up and taken to a concentration camp.” She was part of the group from Göppingen that was imprisoned on 28th of November 1941 and deported on 1st of December from Stuttgart to Riga, into the camp Jungfernhof, where there were inhumane conditions. Almost everyone from this group were murdered, most were shot end of March 1942 in the forest of Bikernieki. Only Richard Fleischer survived.
Max Hirsch, whose wife Ida had died in 1930, lost yet another child to the violence of the NS regime: his oldest daughter Paula. She was first married to Moritz Fuchs from Buttenwiesen who died as a soldier in World War I. Their daughter was Karolina. Paula’s second marriage was to merchandise Hermann Mendle from Augsburg, their daughter was Irene. The family settled in Stuttgart. Initially the parents were well-to-do and made sure that their daughters were brought to safety – Irene to England and Karolina to the US. Paula and Hermann Mendle were deported from Stuttgart to Riga, where Paula was shot, as well as her sister Elsa, in March 1942. Her husband died of typhus in the camp. Did the elderly Max Hirsch know that a third one of his children had been murdered?
Elise Bensinger, a 62-year old niece of the late wife of Max Hirsch, moved in with him on September 1941 at his home in the Spitalstraße 17. Around the same time, members of family Katz out of Rodalben / Palatine moved in with him as well.
Max Hirsch, Pauline Mendle, Hermann Mendle
Homeless and in Despair
On December 1, 1941 Mr. Hirsch sold his house to Frida and Matthäus Feuerbacher. The deed of sale shows that the ‘Aryan’ buyers paid a relatively fair price to Mr. Hirsch. One must keep in mind that at this time a Jewish business partner was always under pressure. Until Mr. Hirsch could move out of the house, he was allowed to live there for rent, which also included the Katz family as lodgers. The proceeds of the sale of course did not go to the Jewish seller. The German government secured (stole) the money onto a frozen account. Max Hirsch couldn’t make much use of his right to stay in the house, because already on March 4, 1942 he was forced to move to the Jewish old-age home Eschenau near Heilbronn, where his sister Helene Simon was brought too (see Stolperstein biographies of Helene and Sofie Simon). Max and his sister Helene was deported on the 22nd of August 1942 intermediated at Killesberg / Stuttgart to KZ Theresienstadt. With the same transport Inge Auerbacher, her parents and other Jews out of Göppingen came to Theresienstadt. She writes in her book 'I Am a Star': “A couple of days after we arrived in Theresienstadt my father saw a man wanting to commit suicide by jumping out of a roof hatch of the Dresdner barrack. Father got him at his legs and could pull him back into the barrack. To his surprise he recognized him being an old man out of our transport. Father tried to encourage him and let him promise not to try it ever again. Next morning a body have had smashed on the floor of the courtyard – it was the old man.”
Max Hirsch’s “eulogy” was held by the local tax office in Heilbronn: “April 22, 1943. The Jew Max Israel Hirsch, formerly Eschenau Street 23/451, was expatriated in the year 1942 and deported from the Reich. His assets were confiscated. The Reich has become to be the legal successor. The balance due to income taxes for 1942 was set at 166 Reich marks.”
The only one could share memories in 2011 about Max Hirsch was late Mrs. Adomeit, who had run a bakery in the neighbourhood. She remembered that he bought his rolls every morning. She even witnessed Mr. Hirsch being “taken away” from his house.
Max Hirsch’s only surviving son Karl, died at the age of 65 years old unmarried in New York in 1959, where he managed to get by as an elevator operator. Before fleeing Karl was a distributor for animal feed and ran the business from his parents’ house.
Max Hirsch´s daughter Julie Hanauer visited her hometown in the 1970´s. She had a good relationship with the Eisele / Neher family from next door. Quite elderly and without any children, she died in New York in 1990.
Max Hirsch’s granddaughters / Pauline Mendle´s daughters, Karolina Fuchs and Irene Mendle both had children, so that today there are two great-grandchildren in England and two in the US. We have contact with Mrs. Elaine Israel and Mrs. Judith Ward who on their visit to Göppingen brought along many photographs for which the Stumbling Stones Initiative is very grateful. We are grateful to Mr. Roland Eisele too for sharing the memories he had of his family and a photo of his family together with the neighbours.
Besides of his own children the following members of Max Hirsch`s family had been murdered too:
His sister Helene Simon with her daughter Sofie Simon (see Stolperstein biographies) and the niece of his wife Elise Bensinger (see Stolperstein biography).
On September 19, 2012 Gunter Demnig placed Stumbling Stones in front of the house at Spitalstraße 17 for Max, Elsa and Hermann Hirsch. Elaine Israel, Judith Ward and her daughter Hannah Lovell came to share the ceremony.
Unfortunately, the house at Spital Street 17, which belongs to the city-owned Wohnbau-GmbH, is supposed to be demolished in nearer future.
(15th Jan 2017 kmr)
The photo was taken in front of the opposite neighbourhouse Spitalstr. 14 in about 1930. It shows (from left to right): Karl Hirsch and the neighbours Gerhard Epplen (sitting), Katharina Neher, Max Dannenmann, Hedwig Neher und Luise Neher. Right in front: Max Hirsch.
from left to right:in front: Else Hirsch, Max Hirsch, Hermann Hirsch; at the back: Pauline Mendle (née Hirsch), Karl Hirsch and Julie Hirsch (August 1937)
Irene and Karolina, the grandchildren of Max Hirsch, who could escape from Germany