Google Doodle ran a special feature on Thursday honoring Alfred “Fredy” Hirsch, a teacher and Zionist youth movement leader, in Nazi-occupied Europe, who saved the lives of many Jewish children and provided many others with a glimmer of hope and dignity in the hardest circumstances the world had ever known.
Hirsch was the deputy supervisor of children at Theresienstadt concentration camp and the supervisor of the children's block at the Theresienstadt family camp at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, where Jewish inmates from Theresienstadt were kept, and where he granted small but critical and often live-saving privileges to the youngest prisoners of the camp.
Hirsch did everything in his power to give hope to the youth in his block, by organizing concerts, encouraging children to paint scenes from fairy tales, and even salvaging tin cans to help children create sculptures.
He somehow convinced the SS to allow the barrack to be dedicated to children during the daytime, thereby creating the only educational oasis of its kind in Auschwitz.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.
He 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.Hirsch died on March 8, 1944 in Auschwitz, under unclear circumstances.
Today would have marked his 105th Birthday.
Before World War II, Hirsch worked as an educator for various Jewish youth organizations and Jewish sport associations such as the German Jewish scout association, Maccabi and Maccabi Hatza’ir.