Hugo Pollack was born in
Hamburg on 12 March 1868 and died in Rhodesia on 10 July 1919.
He made his way to
Mozambique and then to Rhodesia, we believe, in 1888.
We know for a fact that he arrived in Rhodesia prior to 1890 as
he participated in the Matabeleland rebellion for which he received a
medal from Queen Victoria with the inscription “Trooper H. Pollack”.
We believe he left Germany
due to the economic recession and possibly to avoid serving in the
Prussian army which was compulsory.
Heading for Mozambique he
moved onto Penalonga where he had a trading store and at the same time a
gold mine that was not greatly successful.
In 1900 Hugo Pollack was
naturalized British and thus added the second “L” to the Polack
Prior to the turn of the
century, he left for London where he met our grandmother Mary Ferns who
was born in Liverpool on 31 July 1870 and later died in Rhodesia on 16
January 1927 age 57.
They fell in love and he
brought her to Cape Town on 11 November 1904 where they got married and
then moved back to Rhodesia. They
had 3 children who were born in the UK.
He sent my grandmother to bear the children in the UK before she
returned to Rhodesia.
Samuel Hugo Pollack (my father)
was born first on the 3rd June 1906 in Stretham and later
died 8 July 1983 age 77 in Durban.
The second child was Stella
Pollack who was also born in the UK in 1908 and died 2 October 1918 in
Rhodesia from Peritonitis (burst appendix) being only 10 years old.
The last child, Bernard Pollack,
was born 1910 and died that same year due to falling out of the pram and
the nurse not telling anyone about it.
Hugo Pollack flourished as a
good businessman having a wholesale business in Mutare and also being a
merchant of stock in Beira. Photots
we have show him as a very well dressed dapper man.
He was well educated in Germany and also played the piano.
Other bits of family
history was that during the 1st World War citizens came to
arrest him for being of German origin.
His wife, although being born in the UK was of Irish origin, got
on top of the tine roof with a shot gun and advised them to leave or
else she would shoot them. They
left him alone after that.
Unfortunately in 1918 a
serious case of influenza spread throughout the world and on a journey
to Rusape to see an old friend from Austria, Ikie Cohen, he died on the
train and was buried in Harare at the age of 52.
Prior to his death he had
ordered machinery to set up the first biscuit factory, which then became
Wright’s Bakery. He had
collected a number of properties in Harare, Mutare, and Penalonga and of
course had been given a settlers farm by Queen Victoria called ‘Stella
Vale’ named after my father’s sister.
It is also interesting to note that my father was only 12 at the
time of his father’s death.
Hugo Pollack was one of the 22
founding members of the Harare Hebrew Congregation in 1895 each donating
a princely sum of 5 pounds 5 shillings.
As my grandmother lost both her
husband and daughter just 3 months apart she began to believe in the
fairies and went to live on the farm until she died in 1927.
Grandpa Sam was only 21 when he
had lost his whole family. He
was then taken under the wing of the Cohen family, my mother’s family.
Samuel Hugo Pollack married
Bella Cohen on 14 April 1929 at the Salisbury Synagogue.
They had two children Estelle Rosemary Pollack born on 12
February 1930 and Alvin Hugo Pollack born on 30 June 1936.
Estelle was schooled at the
Dominican Convent Salisbury and left having obtained a Cambridge School
Certificate. She worked for
Sir John Noble Kennedy in the governor’s office.
In 1950 she left and married Dr David Abraham Michelson and went
to live in Cape Town where he was a practising GP.
separate biography of Bella Pollack - click here