Guide to the Papers of Franz and Grete Hillinger

AR 25586

Processed by Dianne Ritchey

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2015 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey on May 21, 2015. Description is in English.
August 2015: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hillinger, Edith
Title: Franz and Grete Hillinger Collection
Dates:bulk 1950-1999
Abstract: The Franz and Grete Hillinger Collection holds the papers of Franz and Grete Hillinger and of other Hillinger family members. The collection focuses on former family property in Brieselang, Germany, with some information on the family history and specific family members' details. Documentation includes personal, legal, financial, and official correspondence, identification papers, curricula vitae, articles on family history, and wills.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German and English, with a small amount of Turkish.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet + 1 oversized folder.
Identification: AR 25586
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Franz Hillinger was born in 1895 as Ferenc (Feri) Hillinger in Grosswardein/Nagyvárad in Austria-Hungary (today Oradea, Romania), the son of Jewish parents. His parents were Miksa (Max) and Rosa (née Schwartz) Hillinger, owners of a hotel and restaurant, and he had a younger brother, Kalman. From 1915-1918 he served in the Austro-Hungarian army on the Italian front. While studying architecture in Budapest, unrest led to Jewish students being barred from studying, so in 1919 he went to Berlin to study architecture at the Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg, from which he graduated in 1922; while in Berlin he met Grete Grigoleit.

Grete was born on August 14, 1900 in Tilsit, East Prussia, the daughter of Martin and Bertha Auguste (née Süß) Grigoleit, who were Lutherans. After Martin's bicycle business failed, the couple had moved to Berlin, where he found a position at the electrical firm Siemens. They were able to buy land in Brieselang, outside of Berlin, where by 1925 they had a built a house with fruit trees and a large garden.

During the 1920s, Franz Hillinger held various positions as an architect, including the design of single-family homes and villas. From 1924-1934 he worked at GEHAG (Gemeinnützigen Heimstätten-, Spar- und Bau- Akteingesellschaft), where he designed and constructed housing projects with the well-known architects Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner. He also taught architecture at the Technische Hochschule Charlottenburg. In 1933 he lost his position at GEHAG due to being Jewish.

Franz and Grete Hillinger had two children: Claude (born Klaus) Hillinger and Edith Hillinger, both born in Berlin, in 1930 and 1933, respectively.

In 1937 the Hillingers went to Turkey, where Franz Hillinger worked for the Turkish Education Ministry. He designed secondary and trade schools for the agency in Ankara, Istanbul, and Trabzon, including the Chemical Institute of the University of Istanbul and the New Technical University in Ankara. From 1937-1940 he was a professor of architectural design at the State Academy for Fine Art (Güzel Satlar Akademisi) in Istanbul.

In 1948, Grete Hillinger and their children immigrated to the United States, but as a result of having been born in Romania, Franz Hillinger had a wait of years to immigrate due to quota restrictions. In 1950 he converted to Catholicism as part of an unsuccessful attempt to come to the United States via Brazil.

From 1951-1952 Franz Hillinger worked as an architect in Canada, and in 1953-1956 returned to work in Turkey, designing the reconstruction of the Turkish Parliament. In 1956 Franz Hillinger joined his family in New York, where he worked as an architect from 1956 until 1970. He died in New York in 1973. Grete Hillinger died in 1996.

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Scope and Content Note

The Franz and Grete Hillinger Collection holds the papers of Franz and Grete Hillinger and of other Hillinger family members. Focuses of the collection include the former property of Grete Hillinger in Brieselang, Germany and the history of the Hillinger and Grigoleit families, illustrated by biographical information on family members. Documentation includes personal, legal, financial, and official correspondence, identification papers, curricula vitae, a family history and an essay, and wills.

The first series centers on the family members. Some basic biographical information will be found for Franz, Grete, Claude, and Edith Hillinger in the form of curricula vitae or identification documents. More information on Franz and Grete Hillinger, their lives and the lives of their parents, will be found in a detailed family history. Some correspondence of this series also mentions family genealogy. Other information in this series pertains to family finances.

The collection's second series holds the plentiful documentation on the Brieselang property originally belonging to the Grigoleit family, including a house and associated land. Basic information on the property, such as its ownership and assessments of its value are present. A large amount of legal, official, and financial correspondence in this series pertains to an unsuccessful attempt to make a claim for the property via the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission in the 1970s-1980s. Other extensive correspondence relates to the sale of the property by Edith and Claude Hillinger in the 1990s.

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The collection is arranged in two series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Archives include a bound scrapbook of illustrations by the artist Edith Hillinger on her and her father's lives: The Lives of Two Artists in Exile (MS 1023).

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Separated Material

2 linear feet of boxes of slides have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection. The slides were taken by Franz Hillinger during his travels in Europe and in the Near East from 1930 until his death in 1973.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Franz and Grete Hillinger Collection; AR 25586; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

As there was little original order observed prior to processing, the collection was arranged by topic during processing. Documents of specific family members were placed together in folders. Documentation on property of California, originally placed in the second half of the folder on documentation of the foreign claim settlement, was separated and placed in the first series.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Hillinger Family, 1915, 1948-2014

This series is in German and English, with a small amount of Turkish.
0.25 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

This series holds papers of members of the Hillinger family, including Franz, Grete, Claude, and Edith. It also includes material on the Hillinger and Grigoleit families.

Only a small amount of papers are present for Franz and Claude Hillinger. Curricula vitae for both of them are present, and in the folder of Franz Hillinger are also a printout of an online biography and a photocopy of his German citizenship (Einbürgerung) certificate. Among the papers in the folder of Claude Hillinger's papers are a few letters, including one from his mother shortly after his return to Germany, a letter from a former friend from Ankara, and one regarding research on his father.

Information on the family in general, including the ancestors of the Hillingers and the Grigoleits, will be found in the folder "Family History, Essay, and Notes." Included is an 11-page manuscript by Grete Hillinger on the histories of both sides of the family, with descriptions of the lives of both her and Franz's parents along with details of the families' circumstances, including the role of Judaism in the Hillinger family and the conversion of Franz Hillinger to Catholicism. In addition, this folder holds a brief essay by Claude Hillinger on his father's conversion from Judaism, speculating on the reasons he choose to do so.

Much of this series consists of the papers of Grete Hillinger and her daughter Edith. Grete Hillinger's papers include documentation relating to her German pension, several versions of her will, and a few identification papers such as a passport, identification card, and copy of her baptismal certificate. Edith Hillinger's documentation focuses on her financial situation, including the purchase of property, but also includes personal papers and correspondence. Her papers consist of official documents such as her passport and a copy of a marriage certificate, among other items. Her correspondence includes e-mails with the Berlin mayor's office regarding her possible attendance at events for former residents; these letters include a few biographical details about her family. Further information on the family will be found in the letters of Alex Kalman and George Hillinger, who were interested in the Hillinger genealogy; included with Alex Kalman's e-mails is a photograph of himself with others.

11Claude Hillinger1972-1977, 1990s
12Edith Hillinger – Berkeley, California Property1977-1989
13Edith Hillinger – Correspondence1970s, 2007-2008
14Edith Hillinger – Finances [not digitized]1998-1999
15Edith Hillinger – Papers1974-1978
OS 169Edith Hillinger – Papers – High School Leaving Certificate (Turkish)1948
16Family History, Essay, and Notesundated, 1979, after 1981
17Franz Hillinger1970, 2014
18Grete Hillinger – German Pension [not digitized]1988-1998
19Grete Hillinger – Papers1915-1996
110Grete Hillinger – Wills and Funeral Arrangements1974-1996
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Series II: Brieselang Property, 1922-1990

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series II contains documents related to the Brieselang property that originally belonged to the Grigoleit family before it was inherited by Martin Grigoleit's daughter, Grete Hillinger. It includes basic information on the property as well as information on a claim filed by Grete Hillinger for it in the 1970s and on its sale in the 1990s.

Basic information on the property includes an oversized drawing that depicts the front and back of the house as well as the layout of its interior rooms. In addition, the folder "Property Title, Mortgage, and Assessment" contains extracts from the 1937 Land Register (Grundbuch) for the property, as well as certificates and official correspondence regarding the mortgage, and a 1935 assessment of the property's value. Another folder relates to the inheritance of the property. This includes letters and testaments from family members denoting the next inheritor of the property, showing the transfer of the property from Martin Grigoleit to his son Hans, who transferred it to his sister Grete, who passed it to her daughter Edith.

One large folder relates to Grete Hillinger's attempt to receive a settlement for the property in the 1970s and 1980s. A note by Grete Hillinger at the front of the folder explains that the claim was denied because she was still the proprietor of the property. The final folder of the series pertains to the sale by Edith and Claude Hillinger of the property in the 1990s, including much correspondence about delays in payment of the sale, certified translations of the sale contract and other papers, and a 1978 statement as to the value of the property.

OS 169Drawing and Layout of House1934
111Foreign Claims Settlement1978-1988
112Inheritance of Brieselang Property1935-1943, 1957-1974
113Other Financial Papers1930, 1948-1953
114Property Title, Mortgage, and Assessment1922, 1935-1942
115Sale of Property1978, 1992-1999
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