The Hans Hirschberg Collection
The collection of the late organist and scholar Hans Hirschberg (1922-2003) was generously donated to Beit Hatfutsot by his sister Mrs. Lilli Fliess, in his memory.
The collection includes:
- A collection of books on the history, architecture, art and music of synagogues in Germany. Among them, the two-volume book Synagogen in Berlin (1983) by Hans Hirschberg.
- Miscellaneous booklets and publications.
- Five books of musical scores for religious services (mainly by Levandowsky)
- Clippings of newspaper articles and reviews.
- Letters, certificates and various other documents (includinding amongst others the technical specifications of every synagogue organ in Berlin).
- Audio and video cassettes (music, interviews and radio and television programs).
- The burnt remains of a prayer book (siddur) for a chazan, which was found in the ruuins of the Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin in 1950.
- Remains of organ pipes of the Oranienburgerstrasse Synagogue in Berlin found in 1950.
The Hirschberg Collection is now available to the public at the Feher Music Center and the Bernard H. and Miriam Oster, Visual Documentation Center at Beit Hatfutsot.
Hans Hirschberg, son of Sigmund Samuel and Gertrude Alper, was born in Berlin on August 8, 1922, and grew up in Storkow, a small town nearby where his parents owned a store selling men’s clothing. With the rise of the Nazis to power and the subsequent boycott of Jewish owned businesses, the family returned to Berlin. Hirschberg attended the Jewish Community School, which was a sanctuary from anti-Semitism and Nazi humiliation. In 1938, Hirschberg spent a short period at a Zionist Youth farm (hachshara) in preparation for emigration to Palestine. After the Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored pogrom of November 9th, 1938, he emigrated to Palestine within the framework of Youth Aliyah (aliyat ha’noar) and settled in Kibbutz Ein Harod.
During most of his years in Palestine he lived and worked in a number of kibbutzim including Beit Ha’Arava, Givaat Ha’Shlosha and Mesilot. For a while he took leave from the the kibbutzim and worked as a manual laborer at the Dead Sea Works. He hoped to use the money from his salary to obtain an immigration certificate from the British Mandatory authorities for his family, which had fled to Shanghai, China, four months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Hirschberg fought in Israel’s War of Independence, and in 1949 returned to Berlin, where he joined his father (his mother died in Shanghai). He was a student at the National Academy of Music in Berlin from 1950 to 1955, studying to be an organist and choirmaster. At that time he also acted as the deputy chief organist at the Liberal Synagogue on Pestalozzi Street in Berlin. With the completion of his studies, he took up the post of organist at the West London Synagogue, where he remained for a year. From 1956 to1961, he studied at the Leo Baeck College in London, qualifying as a teacher of Jewish Studies. Hirschberg married Edith Lindemeyer in 1961, and they went to Berlin for one year. They settled in London in 1962, where Hirschberg became the Musical Director of the South West Essex Synagogue. From 1964 to 1985, he was a lecturer of German language at the Goethe Institute in London.
From the early 1980’s Hirschberg devoted himself to the research of the history and architecture of major synagogues in Berlin during the interwar period. The fruit of this research was published in the two volumes Synagogues in Berlin by the Jewish Museum in Berlin in 1983.
Edith Hirschberg died in London in 1996. In 2000, Hans Hirschberg came to join his family in Israel residing in a senior citizen residence in Kfar Sava. After his death on December 5, 2003 and according to his wishes, Hirschberg was buried in London next to his beloved wife.