A Nuremberger among Nurembergers

Hans Hopf, a Jewish Businessman

By The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Nürnberg

Hans Hopf at a gentlemen's party (1906) by Atelier Mathes & SchönauThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Nuremberg businessman Hans Hopf (1854-1918) spent much love, effort and money collecting "Norica" – graphics relating to the topography and history of Nuremberg.

After his death, a significant portion of his collection was acquired by the city, and today forms part of the City of Nuremberg's Art Collections. Just recently, a package of what are known as "occasional" graphics was rediscovered among the Hopf legacy, comprising such materials as invitations, dance cards and menus, as well as membership cards for a considerable number of clubs and associations. All in all they offer an intriguing glimpse into Hans Hopf's social life and that of his family – people who "enjoyed people," took an active part in organizations and championed public causes, and also enjoyed parties and cultural events.

Admission ticket for events held by the Merkur Club (1899/1900)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

These cards, often prettily designed, become especially poignant when we remember that the Hopfs were Jewish, and after 1933 were abruptly shut out from clubs and other social life for that very reason.

Hans Hopf himself did not live to see this darkest moment in German history – although family members did come to experience the repression under the National Socialist regime. He died of heart disease in 1918.

Dance card for the Reserve and Army Officers' Ball (1876) by A. Mollier (C. Weiersmüller)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Ladies arriving at an official dance were presented with "dance cards." The dances on the program were listed in order, and the ladies could note down the partners they had arranged to dance with for each number.

Since these cards were reserved for ladies alone, obviously not all the items in the package came from Hans Hopf himself. But at least we find the collector's name noted down on some of the dance cards.

There are numerous examples of invitations and dance cards for festive events held by the military, as well as "bathing tickets" for the "Royal Military Swimming School." But it is not clear from these whether Hopf himself held a military commission.

Permanent Honorary Admission Card to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum for wholesaler Stephan Hopf (1882)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

This card is made out to Stephan Hopf, Hans's father. Jewish families had been expelled from Nuremberg long ago, in 1499; once the city was reopened to Jewish residents, the Hopfs were among the first families to arrive, in the mid-19th century.

Löb Hopf (1794-1868) and his wife Caroline Tuchmann (1803-1880) settled in town with their sons Seligmann (1827-1893) – Hans's father, who did not change his name to Stephan until 1860 – and Stephan's brother Joseph (1829–1907).

In 1894 Joseph's son, Emil Hopf (1860-1920), built his house at Blumenstrasse 17. Today it is the Kunstvilla.

Dance card for the Ball of the Nuremberg Chapter of the German & Austrian Alpine Club (about 1880/90) by A. Mollier (C. Weiersmüller)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

As some of his membership cards show, Hans Hopf himself was a member of the Alpine Club. The Nuremberg chapter had been founded back in 1869.

Receipt for annual dues of the Foundation to Preserve Nuremberg Works of Art (1893)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Like his father before him, Hans Hopf was among the patrons of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. We find annual receipts for dues. He was also involved in the "Foundation to Preserve Nuremberg Works of Art."

This foundation, almost forgotten today, was established in 1882 after a significant Nuremberg work of art, the "Merkel Centerpiece" by Nuremberg goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer (1507-1585), was sold to a foreign buyer by its private owner.

The foundation's goal was to prevent significant Nuremberg cultural treasures from being sold away from the town. Its funds were used to finance purchases of appropriate objects to be preserved for the city as municipal property.

Dance card from a Museum Society dance party (about 1890)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The large number of dance cards from the Museum Society suggests that Hans Hopf was a member. This very popular social and reading club, formed in 1810, drew its membership primarily from the property-owning and intellectual bourgeoisie.
Today's Museumsbrücke is named for the former clubhouse on Königsstrasse.

Ticket to the Eighth German Brewers' Convention (1896)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

"Nomen est Omen" – "the name speaks for itself": Like many other Jewish families, the Hopfs were traditionally engaged in the hops trade. Hans's grandfather Löb Hopf was already a hops dealer when he settled in Nuremberg – at the time, the world trading center for hops. Hops made the family prosperous, and in keeping with Judaism's ethical obligation of charity, the family also wanted their fellow citizens to benefit from their good fortune.

Certainly as a hops wholesaler, Hans Hopf would not have missed the Eighth German Brewers' Convention, held in Nuremberg from June 9 to 13, 1896.

As he so often did, the collector kept the badge from the event together with his ticket. Here the badge is designed as a medallion, with a large coat of arms of the City of Nuremberg in the center, surrounded by a ribbon rosette in the colors of the German Empire.

Participant's ticket for the Convention of the German-Austrian-Hungarian Association for Inland Navigation (1898)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Hans Hopf was also a member of the German Navy League, and was probably pursuing interests relating primarily to shipping goods when he attended the Convention of the German-Austrian-Hungarian Association for Inland Navigation. The association's objective was to join the Main-Danube Canal to two further projected canal corridors, the Elbe-Moldau-Danube system and the Oder-Danube system.

Admission ticket to the subscription concerts at the Stadtpark-Restaurant (1900) by Druckerei Fr. MonningerThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

There are numerous examples of admission tickets for events at the Stadtpark-Restaurant, where Hans Hopf and his family were presumably frequent, appreciative patrons.

The ticket was produced by the print shop of Friedrich Monninger, whose grandson, Willy Liebel, carved out a career for himself as a National Socialist and presided as mayor of Nuremberg from 1933 to 1945.

Four coupons for the admission ticket to the subscription concerts at the Stadtpark-Restaurant (1900) by Druckerei Fr. MonningerThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The four coupons for his wife and children made Hans Hopf's admission ticket a "family ticket." They could all be kept together and presented in a special cover with a viewing window.

In 1883, Hans Hopf married Elise Josephthal (1865-1936). They had three children: Ludwig (1884-1939), Ernst (1885-1935) and Betty (1887-1967).

Ludwig Hopf later earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering and physics, and was an assistant to Albert Einstein. After being forced to resign his professorship at Aachen Technical University in 1934, he emigrated in 1938 and died in exile in Dublin in 1939.

Ernst Hopf, who joined the family firm in 1919, had already died in 1935. Only daughter Betty, later Betty Hesselberger by marriage, enjoyed a longer life. After emigrating to the United States and later living in Switzerland, she died in Lugano in 1967.

Admission ticket for Elise Hopf to a charitable event at the "Herkules-Saalbau" (1900)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Elise Hopf, née Josephthal (1865-1936), grew up in a well-to-do home in Nuremberg amid National Liberal political sympathies. Her father, Gustav (1831-1914), was a highly regarded jurist and president of the Jewish Religious Community. Both he and her mother, Jeanette (1842-1909), were deeply involved in charitable activities, partly in keeping with Judaism's ethical commitment to philanthropy.

In 1893 – ten years after marrying Hans Hopf – Elise helped found the Nuremberg Association for Women's Welfare, where she served as a member of the board and also supported interregional initiatives in the women's movement. She was no less involved in numerous volunteer charitable associations. After the National Socialists seized power, Elise Hopf resigned from many of her volunteer offices. She died in 1936, deeply upset at the new authorities' disrespect and persecution of Jewish citizens.

Card announcing Carl Giessing as the new owner of the Rathauskeller (1901)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

On this card, wine wholesaler Carl Giessing announced himself as the future owner of the Rathauskeller restaurant. Hans Hopf was elected to the City Council eight years later in 1909, and by that time at the latest would surely have been an occasional guest at this establishment.

Menu card for the belated celebration of Hans Hopf's 50th birthday (1905)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

On the back of this menu card, with its neoclassical design showing Hans Hopf surrounded with a laurel wreath, he noted by hand: "From the late celebration of my 50th birthday that I gave for the Bowling Society.".

Eight weeks after the actual date of his 50th birthday, on November 28, the honoree invited his bowling "brothers" to a belated party at Nuremberg's Grand Hotel to celebrate.

Since the card is adorned with the handwritten notation "Br. Hans Hopf," it probably also served as a place card at the dinner table.

The lodge-like context can be deduced from the abbreviation "Br." for "Bruder" ("brother").

Menu for the dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Monday Bowling Club at the Logenhaus (1905)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The design of the menu for the dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Monday Bowling Club is especially elaborate. The folding card is not just printed with a bowling pin, but actually cut out in that shape. And the dishes are not just listed, but introduced with jocular rhymes: "Hooray for all! Good luck to the group – Bowling boys, enjoy your oxtail soup!"

The design of the menu card itself implies that the club may have been a rather boisterous crowd.

Menu and music program for the dinner celebrating the opening of the new Municipal Theater (1905) by Bieling-Dietz Court Printing OfficeThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Between 1898 and 1905 the new Municipal Theater, today the Opera House, was built on the site of the old City Hospital on the Frauentorgraben, which was replaced in 1897 by the newly completed clinic building in St. Johannis – now the Nordklinkum.

The theater's completion had originally been scheduled for 1902, but was delayed by various factors, including controversies about the architectural style. Not until 1900 were those in charge able to settle on a modified design by Berlin architect Heinrich Seeling (1852-1932).

With its continuous-seating balconies (no traditional boxes) and ultramodern stage and lighting equipment, at the time of its completion in 1905 the theater was reputed to be the most expensive new theater building in Europe.

Honorary card for the meeting of the Federation of Animal Protection Associations of the German Empire (1906) by Druckerei Fr. MonningerThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Sometime in the first half of the 19th century, urban populations in particular began viewing nature in a new way, with a concomitant desire to respect and protect animals. As part of the boom in new clubs that especially emerged in Germany during the 19th century, associations to protect animals were soon founded as well. In 1839, two years after the first such organization formed in Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Dresden established animal protection societies of their own.

As early as the start of the 20th century, antisemitic groups increasingly began to condemn kosher slaughtering methods as animal abuse. Opinion within the animal protection movement itself was not unanimous. Both sides cited humanitarian arguments. Advocates of kosher practices refused to compromise freedom of religion and conscience; their opponents portrayed the practice as an intolerable violation of animal welfare. Little by little, the opponents gradually won out.

Menu and music program for the celebration of Kaiser Wilhelm II's birthday at the Stadtpark Restaurant (1909)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

"The Kaiser's a handsome man, reigns in Berlin, hooray – if he didn't live such a long way off, I'd go visit him today." The Kaiser's birthday had been celebrated as a national holiday since the Empire's founding in 1871. It was observed in the schools as well, where the children had to perform poems and songs celebrating the monarch, like the one just quoted. Cities were often decked out festively with flags, and there were military parades.

The Kaiser's 50th birthday saw a particularly festive celebration at the Stadtparksaal in Nuremberg on January 27, 1909. Dinner was served to the accompaniment of music from an orchestra.

A landmark event struck just a few days later, on February 5. Nuremberg suffered a devastating flood, which filtered into the graphics collection that had been gathered with such love and dedication, ruining a large part of it. Hans Hopf was deeply frustrated by the disaster, which took all the joy out of his former passion for collecting. He would not resume.

Membership card for the state National Liberal Party in Bavaria (1902)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Hans Hopf had become a member of the National Liberal Party before the turn of the century. He was elected from that party to the City of Nuremberg's government in 1909. As a City Councilor, he particularly attended to maintaining the gas and electricity works. During World War I, he organized soup kitchens, which the government appointed his wife Elise to manage in 1914. He earned special praise for supplying potatoes to the city.

His dedication to public welfare was recognized in 1917 with the title of Royal Bavarian Councilor of Commerce. Just a year later, on January 1, 1918, Hans Hopf died of a heart condition in his home town of Nuremberg.

Credits: Story

This exhibition is a contribution commemorating "1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany"
2021jlid.de


Design and texts: Ludwig Sichelstiel
Implementation: Brigitte List


Consulted literature
Diefenbacher, Michael/Rudolf Endres (Hrsg.): Stadtlexikon Nürnberg, Nürnberg 1999.
Dippel, Andrea /Strobel, Matthias (Hrsg): Kunst/Villa. Kunst in Nürnberg von 1900 bis heute (Schriftenreihe der Kunstvilla im KunstKulturQuartier, Bd. 4), Nürnberg 2014.
Fischer, Karl: Die Sammlung Hopf. In: Mitteilungen aus der Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg 3 (1954) Heft 1, S. 1–7.
Gulden, Sebastian: Die Kunstvilla – Zur Geschichte eines Nürnberger Baudenkmals, Nürnberg 2015.
Schmidt, Alexander: Gertrud wächst ins Dritte Reich. Der Reichsparteitag als Zukunftsversprechen und rührselige Erinnerung.
Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände
Stadtarchiv Nürnberg (Hrsg.): Elise Hopf (1865–1936) und die bürgerliche Frauenbewegung. Faltblatt (Nr. 70), Nürnberg 2016.
PDF-Datei des Stadtarchivs Nürnberg
Zerbel, Miriam: Tierschutzbewegung, in: Handbuch zur "Völkischen Bewegung" 1871–1918, hrsg. von Uwe Puschner, Walter Schmitz, Justus H. Ulbricht, München 1996, S. 546–557.


Verwendete Literatur:
Diefenbacher, Michael/Rudolf Endres (Hrsg.): Stadtlexikon Nürnberg, Nürnberg 1999.

Dippel, Andrea /Strobel, Matthias (Hrsg): Kunst/Villa. Kunst in Nürnberg von 1900 bis heute (Schriftenreihe der Kunstvilla im KunstKulturQuartier, Bd. 4), Nürnberg 2014.

Fischer, Karl: Die Sammlung Hopf. In: Mitteilungen aus der Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg 3 (1954) Heft 1, S. 1–7.

Gulden, Sebastian: Die Kunstvilla – Zur Geschichte eines Nürnberger Baudenkmals, Nürnberg 2015.

Credits: All media
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