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Atlanta, Georgia
December 11, 1995
32 pages
Hirsch Ben OHC.jpg

Benjamin Hirsch was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 1932. He was the fifth of seven children with three sisters and three brothers (Flora, Asher, Jack, Sarah, Roselene and Werner). His father was Hermann, who was a dentist, and his mother was Mathilda Auerbach. Ben was six years old when he witnessed the burning and looting of the Friedberger Anlage synagogue during Kristallnacht. Before the pogrom Ben’s father had been resistant to the idea of leaving Germany, but after he was arrested and sent to Buchenwald he changed his mind. While he was in Buchenwald, Mathilda took matters into her own hands. She arranged for the five oldest children (of which Ben was the youngest of the five) to be placed on a Kindertransport that was taking Jewish children out of Germany to safety in France. The transports were part of a program organized by the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) whose mission was to get German Jewish children out of Germany to France and place them in what was hoped would be temporary homes. Werner and Roselene were too young to go. The three older children (Flora, Sarah and Asher) understood the gravity of the situation and were very sad about the prospect but Ben and his slightly older brother, Jack, thought it was just an exciting trip. The children arrived in Paris, France in December 1938. The five children were placed in separate places. Ben ended up staying with the Samuels family, his sisters went to live with an uncle and the other two boys to an Orthodox boarding school. Ben stayed with the kindly Samuels for only a short time because when the war broke out in 1939 the OSE children were shifted to institutions outside of Paris to remove them from the threat of what seemed like the imminent arrival of the Germans. Ben was shifted through various children’s’ homes—Villa Helvetia, Château de Masgelier, Château des Morrelles and others—for the next several years. Finally, after the Germans grip on France grew tighter and more deadly for Jews the children were moved out of the country altogether. Ben and his four siblings were smuggled out of France to Lisbon, Portugal (in two separate transports). From Lisbon, the children sailed on the SS Mousinho, a Portuguese ocean liner, for the United States. They arrived in the United States on Labor Day, September 2, 1941. Asher was already settled in Georgia where they had a relative, Rabbi Selig Auerbach. Rabbi Auerbach could not accept the five children due to his financial situation so they were placed in the care of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home in Atlanta, Georgia. The children were all separately placed in local Jewish foster homes. Ben lived with several Jewish families until his majority. Ben served in the United States armed forces after World War II, became an architect in Atlanta, married Jacquie and had four children. Ben is the designer of the Holocaust Gallery at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum as well as the memorial to the six million dead in the Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta. Ben’s parents and younger brother and sister perished in the Holocaust. Hermann died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in November 1942 and his mother and two siblings were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau sometime in the fall of 1943.

OHC-Benjamin Hirsch

OHC-Benjamin Hirsch, 1932-2018

2 Related Media Items

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Hirsch Ben OHC.jpg
Hirsch Ben OHC.jpg
Ben Hirsch for Oral History.jpg

42 Related Subjects

Hirsch, Benjamin, 1932-2018

Frankfurt am Main (Germany)


Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfant - France (OSE)

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Rescue

Jewish refugee children

Hirsch, Mathilde Auerbach, 1904-1943

Hirsch, Hermann, 1900-1942

Hirsch, Werner, 1936-1943

Hirsch, Roselene, 1938-1943

Hirsch, A. Asher (Anselm Asher), 1927-2007

Hirsch, Jack, 1931-2003

Shartar, Sara Hirsch, 1929-1990

Kristallnacht, 1938


Buchenwald (Concentration Camps: Germany)
World War, 1939-1945; Concentration Camps: Germany

Concentration Camps: Germany
World War, 1939-1945

World War, 1939-1945


Villa Helvetia - Montmorency, France

Chateau de Masgelier (Creuse, France)

Air raids, German

Marseille (France)

Madrid, Spain


Chateau des Morrelles (Brout-Vernet, France)

Lisbon, Portugal


SS Mousinho (ship)
Ship; Ocean Liners


Emigration and Immigration

United States

Auerbach, Selig S., 1906-1997

Rome (Ga.)


Hebrew Orphans' Home (Atlanta, Ga.)


Foster Home Care

Hirsch, Jacqueline Robkin, 1937-

Spiegel, Flora Hirsch, 1925-1992

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