KOENIGSWARTER

KOENIGSWARTER, family of European bankers and philanthropists. The founder of the family, JONAS HIRSCH KOENIGSWARTER (d. 1805), was born in Kynzvart (Koenigswart), Bohemia, and moved to the German city of Fuerth, where he opened a successful banking house. His eldest son, SIMON KOENIGSWARTER (d. 1854), carried on his father's business. Simon was succeeded by his son, KARL WILHELM KOENIGSWARTER (1809–1887), who became an honorary freeman of Fuerth. He distinguished himself by his philanthropies for charitable institutions in Fuerth and in Merano, Italy, where he spent the latter part of his life. Jonas Hirsch's son MARCUS KOENIGSWARTER (1770–1854) settled in Frankfurt and established a bank there. A third son, MORITZ KOENIGSWARTER (1780–1829), opened a bank in Vienna. He received legal privileges from the government, and played an important role in Viennese Jewish communal life. Marcus' son JONAS FREIHERR VON KOENIGSWARTER (1807–1871) went to Vienna, where he married his uncle Moritz's daughter Josephine, and eventually succeeded him as head of the bank. He formed the Vienna banking firm of Koenigswarter and Todasco, and in 1850 became a director of the Austrian National Bank. He was associated with the rothschilds in establishing Austria's largest bank, the Creditanstalt, in 1855. He helped to develop the Austrian railroads, was active in the affairs of the Jewish community and was its president from 1868 to 1871. He was ennobled by Franz Joseph I and appointed to the Upper House (1870). Jonas Freiherr von Koenigswarter's son MORITZ BARON VON KOENIGSWARTER (1837–1893) was one of the most important banking and financial figures in Vienna, and continued his father's expansion of the Austrian railroad system. In 1879 he was appointed to Austria's upper legislative house as a Liberal, and there in 1890 represented the united Jewish community in negotiations to secure a law regulating the community's external relations. He founded Vienna's Institute for the Jewish Blind and was a co-founder and director of the Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt. Jonas' son HERMANN FREIHERR VON KOENIGSWARTER (d. 1915) converted to Christianity and gave to charity the million gulder specified in his father's will as a penalty for any male descendant leaving the Jewish faith. He maintained racing stables but died destitute. A fourth son of the original Jonas Hirsch Koenigswater went to Holland and founded a bank in Amsterdam. His sons settled in Paris. The elder, LOUIS JEAN KOENIGSWARTER (1814–1878), became a legal historian. In 1851 he was named a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. He was the author of several books on French legal history and established the Koenigswarter prize for the best work in this field. He was also active in Jewish affairs and was president of the council of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (1860–63). His brother, MAXIMILIAN KOENIGSWARTER (1817–1878), became a banker in Paris. In 1851 he was elected to the French parliament and supported Napoleon III, but their warm relations cooled when in 1859 Koenigswarter opposed the war against Austria. The two were reconciled in 1861, but Koenigswarter   lost his deputy's seat in 1863 to a republican candidate. In that year Napoleon made him a baron. Other distinguished members of the Koenigswarter family, both grandsons of Jonas Hirsch, were LEOPOLD KOENIGSWARTER, another Paris banker, who played an important part in the construction of railroads in Holland and Belgium; and HEINRICH KOENIGSWARTER, who was the resident minister of Coburg-Gotha in Paris, and was created a baron in 1870. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Tietze, Die Juden Wiens (1933), index; A. Taenzer, Geschichte der Koenigswarter Stiftung in Meran (1907); L. Bamberger, Erinnerungen (1899); K. Grunwald, in: YLBI, 12 (1967), 198–200. (Joachim O. Ronall)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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