Google honors Holocaust hero who tried to save children from the Nazis

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Today’s Doodle celebrates the 105th birthday of German-Jewish educator and athlete Fredy Hirsch. Known for his charismatic spirit and commitment in supporting children, Hirsch helped save Jewish youth during World War II and enriched their lives with the arts. Alfred “Fredy” Hirsch was born on this day in 1916 in Aachen, Germany, where he started 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. In an effort to escape, Hirsch sought refuge in Czechoslovakia, until the Nazi regime invaded the country and deported him to the Terezin Ghetto and later Auschwitz in 1943. Against all odds, Hirsch continued teaching at Auschwitz and set up a children’s daycare. He 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 Hirsch taught credit him for sparking their creative pursuits, like Zuzana R?ži?ková who survived Auschwitz and later became one of the world’s greatest harpsichordists. On February 11, 2016, in commemoration of Hirsch’s 100th birthday, the high school he attended in Aachen renamed its gymnasium and cafeteria in his honor. Today, these buildings stand as testaments to his unbreakable spirit and carry forward his legacy of improving the lives of young people. Happy birthday, Fredy Hirsch. Here’s to an indomitable hero who reminds the world to push forth with courage and optimism, even during the most trying of times.

The Google symbol on its home page was stylized to honor Fredy Hirsch who was murdered in Auschwitz.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Google changed the logo on its home page Thursday to a Google Doodle honoring the memory of Holocaust victim Fredy Hirsch, who tried to save children and organized sports games for concentration camp inmates before being killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz.

The giant online search engine often changes the symbol at the top of its home page to what it calls Google Doodles, “the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.”

To honor Hirsch, an ardent athlete and fervent Zionist who had organized Maccabi sports games before and during the Holocaust, Google created a stylized caricature of Hirsch with links to articles about his life.

Hirsch was born in Germany in 1916 and had been involved in Zionist groups until Hitler passed the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, forcing him to flee to Czechoslovakia where he organized the 1937 Maccabi Games that were attended by 1,600 people.

Arrested by the Nazis in 1941 for being Jewish, Hirsch was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp where he became the deputy supervisor of children, He worked to make life better for the children imprisoned there by organizing education and sports programs and even organized a Maccabi Games in the camp in 1943.

Punished for trying to reach a group of segregated children at the camp, Hirsch was sent to Auschwitz where he was murdered in the gas chambers in 1944.

Several survivors of the camps credited Hirsch with inspiring them, including Zuzana Ruzicková who survived Auschwitz and later became one of the world’s greatest harpsichordists.

February 11, 2021 marks his 105th birthday and five years ago the city of his birth, Aachen, honored his memory with Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp calling Hirsch “one of the most important sons of the city, if not the best known”.

Fredy Hirsch

Fredy Hirsch and the memorial plaque outside his childhood home in Aachen, Germany. (Beit Terezin Archive, Wikimedia Commons)

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