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Hirsch Family Collection, Halberstadt

Identifier: AR 3064

Scope and Content Note

The Hirsch Family, Halberstadt Collection is composed of documents that relate to the Hirsch family in Halberstadt and the business they established there Aron Hirsch & Sohn. In this collection are both business and personal documents. Business papers include balance sheets, receipts, bills, contracts, correspondence, announcements, and certificates. Personal papers include correspondence, marriage contracts, newspaper clippings, a poem and a skit. In addition, the collection holds family trees and genealogical research and typescripts of articles, brief memoirs and excerpts from a published work about the family.

Series I contains an extensive amount of personal and business papers of various members of the Hirsch family. The first subseries consists of papers in chronological order, with documentation of daily work of the Aron Hirsch & Sohn business that covers more than a century. These documents provide a glimpse into the daily running of the company, with handwritten correspondence and receipts regarding the shipping of metals, contracts, and other routine business documents. The majority of papers in the first subseries relate to the older generations of the family. The second subseries, organized by topic, holds vital records of a later Aron Hirsch and his family members as well as a few papers of members of the Rau family who married into later generations of the family.

Research and articles on the Hirsch family and their business comprise the second series of the collection and serve to give the family papers of Series I their historical context. Series II holds a number of family trees that identify individuals whose papers are located in Series I, including one that notes those family members who resided in Halberstadt and had substantial control over the company. Two of the typescripts in this series as well as the extract from a published work provide details on the history of the firm, linked with the history of the family. A brief memoir by an employee of Benjamin Hirsch's provides a personal look into the offices of the company in Halberstadt.


  • 1765-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1810-1910


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German with a smaller amount of Hebrew, English and Judeo-German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Reserve" button.

Part of the collection is digitized. Follow the link(s) in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

In 1780 the Rabbi Naphtali Hirsch Gumprecht Göttingen moved to Halberstadt to attend the city's "Klaus" (an institution for Talmudic study). His eldest son was Aron Gumprecht Göttingen, born in Halberstadt in 1783. Following the Napoleonic edict that required Jews to select surnames in 1808, Aron chose the name "Hirsch."

In 1805 Aron Hirsch (1783-1842) founded a metal business, taking advantage of existing copper and silver mines in the nearby Harz mountains. Eventually, his son Joseph (1809-1871) and other relatives joined the new family business “Aron Hirsch & Sohn,” which expanded to trade in copper, tin, zinc, and lead, as well as in alloys and chemicals. By the mid-1800s Halberstadt had become a center of the metal trade in Europe. Throughout his life, Joseph Hirsch was not only active in the Jewish community of Halberstadt, but he also initiated charitable institutions city-wide. He befriended Halberstadt's well-known rabbi Benjamin Hirsch Auerbach, whose children, Julie and Selig married Joseph Hirsch’s children Benjamin and Rosa. In 1863, Joseph Hirsch's brother Gustav (1822-1898) extended the firm to include the brass works (Messingwerke) near Eberswald in Prussia, close to the Finow Canal.

Following Joseph Hirsch's death in 1871, his eldest son Benjamin took over the firm's leadership. Benjamin Hirsch (1840-1911) was instrumental in expanding the firm's international connections to London, New York and Australia, and he acquired the mines of Tetiutse near Vladivostock in Russia. As his father before him, Benjamin Hirsch was head of the Jewish community in Halberstadt, and he helped found the local B'nai B'rith Lodge and bestowed aid to many other Jewish philanthropies.

In 1906 the firm created the Hirsch, Kupfer und Messingwerke AG in Berlin, specializing in alloys from the brass and copper works near Eberswald and Ilsenburg. The metal trade continued under the name Aron Hirsch & Sohn, and was still administrated from the parent firm in Halberstadt. Following the death of Benjamin Hirsch in 1911, his nephew Aron (1858-1941; son of Benjamin's brother Siegmund, 1831-1877) took over the leadership of Hirsch, Kupfer und Messingwerke AG in Berlin, passing on the leadership to his own son, Siegmund after World War I. In 1938, following the liquidation of Hirsch, Kupfer und Messingwerke AG in 1932, Siegmund Hirsch went to Egypt, where he established the Egyptian Copper Works, which contributed to the development of the steel, copper and aluminum industries there. The final head of Aron Hirsch & Sohn in Halberstadt was Benjamin Hirsch's youngest son Emil (1870-1938). In 1938 Emil Hirsch went to Amsterdam, where he died.


0.75 Linear Feet


The Hirsch Family, Halberstadt Collection documents the lives of Hirsch family members in the city of Halberstadt and the business of Aron Hirsch & Sohn located there. Included in the collection are personal papers such as vital documents and correspondence, business records including balance sheets and account books, correspondence, certificates and official announcements. Other papers include family trees, genealogical notes, and articles and essays about the family and their business.

Other Finding Aid

There is a 12-page item-level inventory for the materials in Subseries 1 of Series I. There are item-level lists on catalog cards of most of the materials in Subseries 2 of Series I and for Series II.

Related Material

The LBI Archives include the memoir "Erinnerungen an Gustav Hirsch," by Esther Bondi née Hirsch about her father [ME 298b] and the Gustav Hirsch Collection [AR 2008]. In addition, two memoirs by Hermann Schwab describe the life of an employee of the Aron Hirsch & Sohn company: "Messingwerk bei Eberswalde. Wie ich es sah" [ME 838] and "My life 1879-1960" [ME 584].

The LBI Library includes the book Geschichte der juedischen Gemeinde Halberstadt, 1844 bis zu ihrem Ende [DS 135 G4 H285 A84]. The LBI Library also holds the related book Revolution in Messing, 1908-1928 by Siegmund Hirsch [CT 6478 H56 R4]. Also available at the LBI Library is the book by Siegmund Hirsch, Walzwerk am Nil, Frankfurt/Main, Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke, 1970, call number HD 9539 C6 H5.

Processing Information

The collection was re-processed in May 2012 in preparation for the EAD finding aid. The arrangement found in the existing item-level finding aid and catalog cards has been retained, with the chronologically-arranged contents of the former finding aid comprising Subseries 1 of Series I. The other items have kept the same order as found in the catalog cards and comprise the remainder of the collection, beginning with Subseries 2 of Series I.

Guide to the Papers of the Hirsch Family of Halberstadt 1765-1980 AR 3064
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from HirschFamily-Halberstadt.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 2013:: Added information to Related Material and Biographical Note.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States