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Bella Hirsch (née Mendel) * 1896
Grindelallee 134 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Leopold Hirsch, born in Samter on 5 May 1896, deported to Minsk on 18 Nov. 1941
Bella Hirsch, née Mendel, born in Hamburg on 27 Feb. 1896, deported to Minsk on 18 Nov. 1941
Julie (Julchen) Hirsch, born in Hamburg on 17 Feb. 1926, deported to Minsk on 18 Nov. 1941
Leopold Hirsch was born in the East Prussian town of Samter, now the Polish town of Szamotuly. He was the son of Hermann Louis and Regina Hirsch, née Dobrin. In his native town he attended the Jewish elementary school and then went to Hanover, where he enrolled in the academy for Jewish teachers. There, in Mar. 1916, he passed the examination qualifying him as a teacher. That same month he joined the army and saw combat in the First World War. After leaving the army, he began teaching at the Talmud Torah School in Hamburg in Oct. 1918. This school had been recognized since 1869 as a secondary modern school. During his first years as a teacher, Leopold Hirsch experienced the replacement of the school’s principal, Dr. Joseph Goldschmidt (1889–1921), by Dr. Joseph Carlebach (1921–1925), who later was the Chief Rabbi of Hamburg-Altona.
Leopold probably met Bella Mendel, a native of Hamburg, during this time. The two married, and their daughter Julie was born on 17 Feb. 1926. At first the family lived at Rappstraße 15 in the Mendel home, where Bella’s parents had lived until their death. Next, they moved into an apartment at Liliencronstraße 8 (now Heymannstraße), and then lived as subtenants at Grindelallee134.
During his time as a teacher, Leopold Hirsch taught reading, arithmetic, and Hebrew, primarily to pupils in the primary grades. Gert Koppel, a former pupil, said later: "I was in the so-called ‘baby class,’ 1a. They had Classes 1a und 1b. In charge of Class 1a was the teacher Leopold Hirsch, whose nickname was ‘Poldi.’” At the beginning of the 1930s, the Talmud Torah School, headed by Dr. Arthur Spier, had reached a peak in its development and enjoyed an excellent reputation. After the National Socialists came to power, the situation of the school changed for the worse and continued to deteriorate.
In 1939 the school had almost no financial resources left. In 1940 the tenure of Leopold Hirsch’s last supervisor began: Dr. Alberto Jonas, the former principal of the girls’ school, was made head of the school. Despite the depressing daily routine, Leopold Hirsch provided one pupil or another with moments of merriment. The pupil Georg wrote in Feb. 1940: "We also have a new [...] singing teacher, his name is: Mr. Hirsch. He always sings: four, one, two, three, [...], then we always have to laugh a lot.” One year later, in the spring of 1941, the school inspector of the Reich Association of German Jews reported on the excellent instruction provided by Leopold Hirsch: "The children are spirited, lively, fully involved as participants.”
On 3 Nov. 1941, Leopold picked up his last wages of 120 Reichsmarks from the school secretary at the Talmud Torah School. Not long thereafter, on 18 Nov., the Hirsches and their 15-year-old daughter, Julie, were deported to Minsk, where they perished.
Translator: Kathleen Luft
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Eva Decker
Quellen: StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburgs; Ursula Randt: Die Talmud Tora Schule in Hamburg 1805–1942, München-Hamburg 2005; StaHH, 362- 6/10, Talmud Tora Schule; Beate Meyer (Hrsg.): Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945. Geschichte, Zeugnis, Erinnerung. 2. Aufl. Hamburg, 200, S. 33; Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Gedenkbuch, Hamburg 1995.