Fredy Hirsch: Doodle on athlete popular for helping Jewish children at concentration camp

Devdiscourse News Desk | Berlin | Updated: 11-02-2021 11:23 IST | Created: 11-02-2021 11:12 IST
Fredy Hirsch: Doodle on athlete popular for helping Jewish children at concentration camp
Fredy Hirsch began his career as a teacher at several Jewish youth organizations and sports associations. Image Credit: Google doodle

Happy Birthday Fredy Hirsch!

Fredy Hirsch (aka Alfred Hirsch) receives honors from Google with an impressive doodle on his 105th birthday. He was a German-Jewish educator and athlete.

Fredy Hirsch was also a sports teacher and Zionist youth movement leader. He is remembered for helping thousands of Jewish children during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in Prague, Theresienstadt concentration camp, and Auschwitz. He was the deputy supervisor of children at Theresienstadt and the supervisor of the children's block at the Theresienstadt family camp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Alfred Hirsch (or Fredy Hirsch) was born on February 11, 1916. His father used to run a butcher shop. He died when Fredy Hirsch was just 10 years old. According to Fredy's niece, Raquel Masel, his brother, Paul Hirsch, was not close to their mother because of her bitterness. Their poor relationship encouraged Fredy Hirsch and Paul Hirsch to join youth organizations.

Fredy Hirsch began his career as a teacher at several Jewish youth organizations and sports associations. He was openly gay at a time when queer people were being prosecuted by the growing Nazi party. The Jewish community of Aachen was well-integrated; there was little antisemitism in Aachen before the Nazi Party came to power in 1933. He was already giving lectures at the age of 15.

Fredy Hirsch did everything in his power to give hope to the youth in his block—organizing concerts, encouraging children to paint scenes from fairy tales, and even salvaging tin cans to help children create sculptures. Many of the children that he taught credit him for sparking their creative pursuits, like Zuzana Růžičková who survived Auschwitz and later became one of the world's greatest harpsichordists.

Fredy Hirsch was one of the first Jews to be transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp on 4 December 1941, where he helped to construct the concentration camp. He later became the deputy to Egon Redlich, the leader of the Youth Services Department; Redlich personally disliked Hirsch, but respected his competence and leadership ability.

According to German historian Dirk Kämper, Fredy Hirsch wanted to confirm the rumors that Jews deported from Theresienstadt were murdered in gas chambers. In one occassion, he managed to jump over the wire fence separating the Białystok children from the rest of the Theresienstadt prisoners. He failed to escape. A Czech guard caught and arrested him. Peter Erben believes that he could have avoided punishment if he had been able to speak Czech. Instead, he was brought to the commandant's office and beaten. Under the charge of violation, he was deported to Auschwitz on September 8.

Hirsch died on March 8, 1944 at the age of just 28. When he got the confirmation that the Nazis were planning to murder all of these Jews despite Germans' possibility of losing the war, he reportedly committed suicide. A Jewish doctor told Vrba that he annihilated himself a barbiturate overdose. If he did commit suicide, it is unclear how he could have obtained a lethal dose without the cooperation of the doctors.

Also Read: Google dedicates doodle to Shadia, Egyptian actress, singer on her 90th birthday



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