Helmut Hirsch Collection

These are the personal papers of Helmut Hirsch, a German Jew — technically an American citizen — and member of the anti-Nazi organization the Black Front, which plotted to bomb the Nazi headquarters at Nürnberg.

black and white photo of helmut hirschHelmut Hirsch

Hirsch was to carry out the plot, which was intercepted by the Nazis; he was arrested, tried for treason in secret and executed by the Nazis in 1937 at the age of 21.

In the few months of his internment, Hirsch came to terms with his life, his decisions and his pending death. He left behind a rich collection of artistic and idealist materials: correspondence with his parents and sweetheart, diaries, notebooks, artwork, poetry, short stories and other writings, as well as photographic scrapbooks that enabled him to express his search for identity as a Jewish youth in Germany. Some materials have been translated from German to English by Hirsch’s sister, Catherine Sugarman, who donated the collection to Brandeis and was eager to see her brother’s legacy enlivened for posterity.

Interest in the Hirsch case has reemerged in recent years, and a documentary about him was shown on German television several years ago. Digital access to his papers would disseminate unique documentation of his life and work, and could support Brandeis curricula and research in ways never before possible.