Julius „Juller“ Hirsch

Football Player

born April 7, 1892 in Achern – declared dead May 8, 1945

  • Seven appearances with national team 1911–1913
  • Two-time German National Champion 1910 and 1914

On April 10, 1933, Julius Hirsch read the newspaper and found that his club, Karlsruher FV, consented to the decision of the other 14 renowned south/southwest German clubs on April 9, 1933. The KFV followed suit and declared itself “joyful and resolute (…) [to join] the national government” – “especially when considering the removal of Jews from sport clubs.” On the same day, Hirsch wrote the club to declare his resignation: “I read today in the Stuttgart Sports Report, that the biggest clubs, including the KFV, made the decision to remove Jews from their organizations. I have been a member of the KFV since 1902, and at that time I loyally and honestly dedicated my weak abilities to the club. Unfortunately, it is with a heavy heart that I must now declare my resignation. I do not want to depart without mentioning, that among the currently hated scapegoats of the German nation there are also German Jews, who are decent people and maybe even more patriotic in body and soul.” By taking it upon himself to resign, Julius Hirsch spared himself the humiliation of being banned from his club.

Since the age of six, Julius Hirsch was an enthusiastic football player - at the time, football was derided in Germany as “clodhopping” and “English tail games”. At the age of ten, he joined the KFV. He developed quickly into a full-blooded striker, and at the age of 16 he played for the first men’s team. Julius Hirsch, known by his buddies as “Juller”, is known for his stooped running posture, and feared for his ability to effectively kick the ball with both feet. Julius Hirsch, together with Gottfried Fuchs and Fritz Förderer, comprised the famous offensive trio. In the year 1910, him and his team captured the German championship. One year later, on December 17, 1911, he debuted on the German national team in a match against Hungary. Following Gottfried Fuchs, he is the second German Jewish national football player. Between 1911 and 1913, he wore the national team jersey a total of seven times. For job-related reasons, he moved to Fürth in 1913 and on May 31, 1914 - together with the Spielvereinigung Fürth – he won his second German championship 3:2 against VfB Leipzig, following a total of four overtimes. He was the first football player to accomplish such a feat. Julius Hirsch was at the top of his football career when World War I broke out.

For him and his brothers, it was understood that they would enter the war to fight for the Fatherland. Julius was awarded numerous times for his courage. His brother Leopold died during the Battle of Kemmel Ridge in 1918. In the same year, Julius returned to his football career with SpVgg Fürth, and then returned to his hometown Karlsruhe to play for KFV until 1923. Following his retirement from competition, he remained loyal to KFV working as a youth coach and as a member of the playing committee. Thus, making his imminant elimination from the club on April 10, 1933, even more painful.

Given the circumstances, he was confronted with two options: either he bid the beloved sport of football farewell forever, or he joins one of the many, newly founded Jewish clubs. Thus, Julius Hirsch, at the age of 42, tied on his football cleats once again for the Turnclub 03 Karlsruhe. In 1935, he won the Baden football championship with his Schild Reich Federation for Jewish Front Soldiers club. He remained in contact with his former club, even though he was not allowed to enter the stadium during home games. One of the only people that offered help was the former KFV national football player and businessman Lorenz “Lora” Huber. He not only managed to sneak Julius into the stadium, but he also supplied the Hirsch family with goods from the local store.

After the family textile business suffered bankruptcy, Julius Hirsch is hardly able to provide for his family by performing unskilled labor. In 1939, he was sent into forced labor by the municipal works service to work on a dump at the city limits. His situation was desperate. Whilst returning from Paris, where he visited his sister Rosa and in an attempt to find work, he was so mentally distraught that he attempted suicide. He survived, but was required to undergo psychiatric therapy. He was sparred from deportation on account of his so-called interreligious marriage. In order to protect his family, and especially his two children Heinold and Esther, he decided to divorce his non-Jewish wife Ella on December 2, 1942. Despite the separation and divorce, he remained in contact with his family visiting them daily.

In 1943, he received official orders to register for the “Employment of Labor in the East”. On March 1, 1943, Julius Hirsch was deported along with eleven other Baden Jews. It was the last deportation from Karlsruhe to Auschwitz. On March 3, 1943, for his daughter Esther’s 16th birthday, he sent a card from Dortmund – one of the stops en route to Auschwitz: “My dearest! I arrived safely, and everything is well! I am headed to Upper Silesia, which is still in Germany. Heartfelt greetings and kisses, your Juller!” It is the last anyone heard from him. In 1950, the district court declared May 8, 1945 as the day of his death.

The name Julius Hirsch was extinguished from collective football memory in Germany: in 1939 the popular Kicker magazine published collector’s notebooks of all the national players, but both Julius Hirsch and Gottfried Fuchs were absent. The famous football player did not enter public memory again until the 1990s. In 1998, the sports hall at Ludwig-Marum-Secondary School in Pfinztal-Berghausen was named in his memory. Every year, beginning in 1995, the German Football Association awards the Julius Hirsch Prize against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination. In 2014, the Karlsruhe city council ruled, that the street on which the Karlsruhe home stadium used to be located – where Hirsch shot numerous goals – would be renamed and dedicated Julius-Hirsch-Street and Gottfried-Fuchs-Square.

Lorenz Peiffer

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Video Gottfried Fuchs / Julius Hirsch, 3:18 min (© BFI National Archive)

References