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Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Date Span:  1932-2010

Creator:  Benjamin Hirsch Family

Summary/Abstract:  Benjamin Hirsch is a Holocaust survivor and renowned architect. His papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, certificates, sketches, speeches, immigration documents, diplomas, and records from the various organizations he has been involved with.

Quantity/Physical Description: 8.8 linear feet

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 307, Benjamin Hirsch Family Papers, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Material:  Photographs removed to visual arts collection and oversized material removed to oversized collection.

Processed by:  Jeremy Katz (November, 2014)

Arrangement:  The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each file.

Biographical/Historical Note:  Benjamin Hirsch was born in September of 1932, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, just four months before Hitler came to power. He was the fifth of seven children of Dr. Hermann, a dentist, and Mathilda Auerbach Hirsch. He was still an infant when Hitler’s new anti-Jewish laws went into effect in April, 1933, and barely 3 years old when the Nuremberg Laws went into effect. He vividly remembers witnessing Kristallnacht in November 1938 and the attempted destruction and burning of the synagogue to which his family belonged. His father was arrested later that day and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Hi mother recognized the danger they were in and tried to find a way to send her five older children out of Germany until the threat passed. When she found out about a Kindertransport, a rescue mission for Jewish children between the ages of six and twelve that was scheduled to leave for Paris, she signed her children up. Ben’s sister Flo, who was thirteen, was allowed to go along so she could take care of the younger children like Ben.

When the five Hirsch children arrived in Paris, Ben was separated from his siblings. His brothers went to live with a great-aunt and his sisters were taken in by an uncle. Ben was supposed to have been cared for by another uncle but ended up being looked after by a neighbor of the uncle. During his stay with the Samuels family, Ben attended public school, learned to speak French and quickly forgot German.

When the German Army attached France, Ben was sent to Villa Helvetzia in Montmorency, a suburb of Paris where he lived in the first of three O’euvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) children’s homes. OSE was an organization that cared for Jewish children who were no longer under the care of their parents. His brothers and sisters were sent to other OSE homes. Just before the Germans reached Paris, the OSE homes in Montmorency were evacuated, and Ben was sent to Chateu de Masgelier in Creuse in the southern part of France not occupied by the Germans.

In May 1941, Ben was told to board a bus for the city of Marseilles where he was to be reunited with his brothers and join an escape convoy of 100 Jewish children sailing from Europe to America. In Marseilles, Ben developed stomach cramps from overindulging in the hot food lines. These cramps were misdiagnosed as appendicitis and kept Ben from joining his brothers on the convoy. He was sent instead to an OSE home outside of Vichy, Chateau de Morrell, where his sisters were living.

Three months later, word came that the first escape convoy had arrived safely in New York and that Ben and his sisters should go to Marseilles to join the next one. That voyage turned out to be the last one to sail to safety before the Nazis found out about the escape route and shut it down. The children arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, where they waited for the S.S. Mouzinho to return from its first voyage to America and complete preparations for the second rescue trip. The group of fifty-four orphaned Jewish children joined other passengers, mostly Jewish families also hoping to escape from Europe, for the voyage. Fourteen days later, on Labor Day, September 1, 1941, the ship arrived in New York Harbor. Ben and his two sisters were then sent to Atlanta, where his two brothers were already living, and placed in foster homes. Ben was just nine years old.

Ben graduated from Hoke Smith High School and, although he was the top candidate for a Navy scholarship to Georgia Tech, he was disqualified because he was not yet a U.S. citizen. He spent a year working and then entered Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture. After he had completed two years of the five-year program, Ben volunteered for the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. He had been too young for the Army during World War II, but he still wanted to serve the country that had taken him in and given him a new home.

While in service, Ben maneuvered his way back to Germany, hoping to find his younger siblings, whom he was convinced were still alive. In 1947, he was told that his father had been killed by the Nazis in November of 1942 and that his mother, brother and sister had been seen in the fall of 1943 entering the gas chamber in Auschwitz. Nevertheless, he could not accept that the Nazis would murder his baby brother, Werner, and his little sister, Roselene. Ben recounts the details of his experiences in his book, “Hearing a Different Drummer: A holocaust Survivor’s Search for Identity.”

Today, Ben freely shares his experiences and memories of the Holocaust. Although he has done extensive research on what happened to his family after he left home in 1938, he is still searching for answers and trying to fill in the many blank spaces in their story. In 1965, he designed the award-winning “Memorial to the Six Million at Greenwood Cemetery” in southwest Atlanta. He also designed “Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years, 1933-1945,” a permanent exhibition at the Breman Museum, where he is a frequent guest and speaker.

Scope and Content:  Researchers studying the Benjamin Hirsch Family Papers will gain insight into the Holocaust and Jewish life in the American south. The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each file.

Collection Inventory

Box

File

Description

Date

 

1

1

Alien registration card

1945

 

2

Amcha: The Coalition for Jewish Concerns

1992

 

3

Anti-Defamation League – Hidden Child Annual Gathering

1991

 

4

Anti-Defamation League – The Hidden Child 24th International Gathering

1993

 

5

Affidavits

1941

 

6

Architecture firm – Benjamin Hirsch and Associates

1974-1975

 

7

Atlanta Bureau of Education

1965-1969

 

8

Atlanta Bureau of Education

1971-1973

 

 

 

 

2

1

Atlanta Jewish Community Center

1969

 

2

Atlanta Jewish Federation

1977, 1986-1987

 

3

Auerbach family

1962-1975

 

4

Auschwitz exhibit

1987-1988

 

5

Aleph Zadik Aleph D.S.I.

1948-1948-1950

 

6

Ben’s book, “Hearing a different Drummer”

2000-2001

 

7

Ben Hirsch biographies

Undated

 

 

 

 

3

1

Beth Jacob – Basketball

1975-2001

 

2

Beth Jacob – Building expansion

1973, 2000

 

3

Beth Jacob – Dedication

1962

 

4

Beth Jacob – Executive Director/President

1972

 

5

Beth Jacob – Expansion feasibility study

1971

 

6

Beth Jacob – Feldman library

1986

 

 

 

 

4

1

Beth Jacob – General

1963-1975

 

2

Beth Jacob – IFRAA Competition

1992

 

3

Beth Jacob – Patron’s wall (Jerusalem Stone)

1991-1992

 

4

Beth Jacob – Scholarship fund

1976

 

5

Birth certificate

1932, 1947

 

6

Biltmore Hotel – kosher kitchen

1970

 

7

Book signings

2000

 

8

Camp Barney Medintz

1975

 

9

Certificate

1950

 

10

Child Survivor Gathering

2000

 

11

Child survivor research

1992

 

 

 

 

5

1

Congress planning committee

1973

 

2

Correspondence – Army

1955-1965

 

3

Correspondence – book

2000

 

4

Correspondence – general

1958-1973

 

5

Correspondence – general

1969-1980

 

6

Correspondence – government officials

1970-1982

 

7

Correspondence – Thank you for speaking

1996-2007

 

 

 

 

6

1

Correspondence – Thank you for speaking

2004-2010

 

2

Correspondence – Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

1973-1985

 

3

Crestlawn Cemetery

1972-1973

 

4

Darfur rally (4th annual)

2008-2009

 

5

Essays – legacy

1993

 

6

Film festival talk

2002

 

7

Finding aid to Ben Hirsch Papers at Georgia Tech

2014

 

8

Formation of the local child survivors organization

2004

 

9

Frankfurt am-Main

1994-1997

 

 

 

 

7

1

Ft. Gordon Day of Remembrance

2002

 

2

Georgia Author of the Year award

2001

 

3

Georgia Commission on the Holocaust

1987-1996

 

4

Goethe Institute

1985-1986

 

5

Guest editorial, “Silent Screams Against a Consecrated Auschwitz”

1986

 

6

Hebrew Academy

1974-1982

 

7

Helmrich, Willie

1990-1992

 

8

Hemshech – bylaws

Undated

 

9

Hemshech – membership

1985-1991

 

10

Hemshech – Yizkor service

1993-1996

 

11

Hoke Smith High School

1946, 1979

 

 

 

 

8

1

Holocaust books & films

1972-1986

 

2

Holocaust committee

1976-1979

 

3

Holocaust committee

1984-1986

 

4

Holocaust education material

1986, 1989, Undated

 

5

Holocaust seminar for AJCC

1995

 

6

Holocaust survivor group in Nevada

1998

 

7

Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture

1977-1985

 

 

 

 

9

1

Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture

1983-1986

 

2

Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture

1988

 

3

International Conference of Child Survivors of the Holocaust

2003

 

4

International Conference of Child Survivors of the Holocaust

2004

 

5

International Conference of Child Survivors of the Holocaust

2007

 

 

 

 

10

1

Israel expo ‘85

1985

 

2

Jackson for President

1975-1976

 

3

Jackson State University

2010

 

4

Kindertransport Association

1998-2005

 

5

Kristallnacht

1994-1999

 

6

Lavista Road widening

1972

 

7

Letters to the editor

1990-2003

 

8

Manuscript of Ben’s book, “Home is where you find it”

Undated

 

9

Marta Committee

1991

 

 

 

 

11

1

Memorial to the Six Million – Awards

1965-2008

 

2

Memorial to the Six Million – Correspondence

1965-1969

 

3

Memorial to the Six Million – Diagrams

1965-1970

 

4

Memorial to the Six Million – Eternal life Hemshech

1965

 

5

Memorial to the Six Million – National Register of Historic Places application

2008

 

6

Memorial to the Six Million – Plagues

c. 1965

 

7

Memorial to the Six Million – Publicity

1965-1991

 

8

Memorial to the Six Million – Writing and speeches

Undated

 

9

Memoirs, “Good Training” (recounts experiences in the US Army)

1994-1997

 

10

Military records

1952, 1955

 

11

Missing identity – Michel (Mary Victoria) Helmer

2001

 

12

Montmorency

1976

 

13

Newsletter, “The Hidden Child”

1991-2001

 

 

 

 

12

1

Newspaper clippings – Blacks and anti-Semitism

 

 

2

Newspaper clippings – Buchanan, Pat

1992

 

3

Newspaper clippings – Demjanjuke Trial

1994

 

4

Newspaper clippings – Election

2004

 

5

Newspaper clippings – Holocaust

1983-1993

 

6

Newspaper clippings – Holocaust

1994

 

7

Newspaper clippings – Islam

1992-2006

 

 

 

 

13

1

Newspaper clippings – Israel

1998-2007

 

2

Newspaper clippings – Middle East

1990

 

3

Newspaper clippings – Reparations

1996-2000

 

4

Notebook – Army

c. 1955

 

5

Or’ Veshalom Congregation

1971-1974

 

6

O’euvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE)

1989

 

 

 

 

14

1

O’euvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE)

2000

 

2

One Thousand Children

1984-2003

 

3

One Thousand Children reunion

2002

 

4

Passenger arrival llist (Nea Hellas)

1940

 

5

Passport – Jacob Hirsch

1941

 

6

Perez, Simon – visit to Atlanta

1995

 

7

Petition for naturalization (copy)

1953

 

8

Pollard, Jonathan

1990-1993

 

9

Programs & Invitations

1957, Undated

 

 

 

 

15

1

Program on anti-Semitism

1994

 

2

Pro-Israel rally

2003

 

3

Promotional material (book)

1956-1980

 

4

Promotional material (book)

1968-1985

 

5

Promotional material (book)

1971-1978

 

6

Publications

1954, 1969, Undated

 

 

 

 

16

1

Publications (German)

1992, 1995

 

2

Receipts

1958, Undated

 

3

Reparations

1942-1963

 

4

Reparations

1964-1991

 

5

Rescuers & liberators

1991, 1993

 

6

Schinderl’s List (movie)

1994

 

7

Sketches

1949, Undated

 

 

 

 

17

1

Smokiovo Osobni Weissmandel DoKamenty

1938-1995

 

2

Soviet Jewry

1963-1972

 

3

Soviet Jewry

1972-1985

 

4

Speakers Committee – Yom Hashoah

2007-2009

 

5

Speeches

1988-2008, Undated

 

6

Speech – Bar Mitzvah

Undated

 

7

Speech – JELF Annual Meeting

1996

 

8

Speech – “Memory & Memories” at Chastain Park

1995

 

9

Speigel, Flora (Hirsch)

2003

 

 

 

 

18

1

Still Going Strong conference

2005

 

2

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

1981-1987

 

3

Temina High School – remarks proceeding play, “Gizela”

1998

 

4

Trip to Germany

1995

 

5

Van Pelt, Robert-Jan

1995

 

6

Video editing

1996

 

7

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregation of America

1972

 

 

 

 

19

1

William property zoning battle (Biltmore Civic Association)

2968

 

2

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – early correspondence

1987

 

3

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

4

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

5

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

6

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

 

 

 

20

1

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

2

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

3

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – Holocaust exhibit design

1996

 

4

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – presentation for award

1996-1997

 

5

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum – responses to opening

1996

 

6

Weiss, Ann

1995-2003

 

7

World Assembly to commemorate 40 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany and its satellites – a dedication

1946-1985

 

8

World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust

2006

 

 

 

 

21

1

World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors

1981

 

2

Writings

Undated

 

3

Yeshiva High School

1970-1974

 

4

Yeshiva High School

1979

 

5

Yeshiva High School

1979, 1981-1986

 

 

 

 

22

1

Yeshiva High School – merger with Hebrew Academy

1976-1979

 

2

Yeshiva High School – sale

1972

 

3

Yom Hashoah

1986-2006

 

4

Yom Hashoah – Programs

1965-2010

 

5

Yom Hashoah – Rally for Soviet Jewry and march to the Memorial for the Six Million

1990

 

6

Young Adult activities

1969

 

7

Zachor

1993-1994

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oversized material

 

 

 

Book poster

Undated

 

 

Certifcates

1986, 1992

 

 

Diplomas

1949, 1950

 

 

Hoke Smith High School “The Senator”

1948-1950

 

 

Maps

Undated

 

 

Sketches

Undated

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