Guenzburg Family

(19–20th century)
   Russian bankers and philanthropists. For three generations, the Guenzburg family were the leaders of the St Petersburg Jewish community, the unofficial intermediaries between Russian Jewry and the czarist authorities, and generous philanthropists. From the 1850s they maintained a domicile in Paris as well.
   The family fortune was started in the early part of the 19 century with liquor concessions and army contracting, and expanded by the Guenzburg bank founded in St Petersburg in 1859. It made lucrative investments in railway construction and gold mining. The hereditary title of baron was bestowed in 1871 by the Archduke of Hesse-Darmstadt, whose interests they represented in Russia.
   The founder of the house, Baron Joseph Yozel (1812–68) used his influence to relax the restrictions on Jewish residence outside the Pale of Settlement, helped to found the Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia (1863), and provided funds for Jewish agriculture and higher education. His second son, Baron Horace (Naphtali Herz) (1833–1909), was a partner in the family bank, a state councillor, and consul-general for Hesse-Darmstadt. He was a noted patron of the arts, science, literature and music. During the period of reaction from 1880 onwards, he made efforts to modify the harsh 1882. May Laws, and to rally the Russian Jewish community to withstand the pogroms. Baron David (1857–1910), son of Horace, devoted himself to Judaic and oriental scholarship, and sponsored a number of academic bodies and periodicals. In 1908 he established a Jewish Academy in St Petersburg, and attracted leading scholars to give lectures at it. His niece married Sir Isaiah BERLIN of Oxford.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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