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Georg Hirschland was a member of the banking family in Essen, and a collector and patron of the Museum Folkwang. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States with his family, but was not permitted by the Nazi government to bring his art collection with him. In 1939 the Museum Folkwang and the city of Essen raised the funds to purchase the collection to keep it together; the funds were paid to an estate administrator. The collection consisted of 27 paintings and drawings. The collection was evacuated toward the end of the war with other portions of the Folkwang collection, to various locations including a mine near Siegen, in what would become the American Zone of Occupied Germany, a convent in the French Zone, and a palace Hugenpost bei Kettwig, near Essen, in the British Zone.
Georg Hirschland died in New York in 1942. After the war his heirs, represented by a New York law firm, made claims for the collection. By 1951 it appears that all but one of the Hirschland objects had been released to the estate in the United States. The sole holdout was an El Greco for which there was difficulty in obtaining an export permit.