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Arnstein

ARNSTEIN

ARNSTEIN (Arnsteiner ), family of court purveyors and financiers in Vienna in the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. The firm owned by the Arnsteins held a high place among the Viennese business houses until overtaken by that of Solomon *Rothschild in the 1820s. It cooperated with the *Fould brothers in France until its breakdown in 1859 and was liquidated in 1873. The Arnsteins became connected by marriage with other leading Jewish families, such as the *Itzig, *Mendelssohn, and *Pereira families. They achieved notable successes in Viennese society and in contemporary intellectual and cultural circles. The second generation tended to assimilate, several embracing Catholicism.

(1) ISAAC AARON (c. 1682–1744), founder of the family firm and fortune, arrived in Vienna in 1705 from Arnstein near Wuerzburg. Starting in the service of Samson *Wertheimer, he successfully negotiated a number of important financial transactions, including the redemption from pawn of the Spanish crown jewels. He later worked in partnership with Samson and Wolf *Wertheimer as well as independently on a large scale, becoming purveyor to the court and military establishment of Emperor Charles vi. He used his financial influence to avert the expulsion of Jews from Vienna in 1736.

(2) ADAM ISAAC (in Jewish sources: Asher Anshel; 1721–1785), son of Isaac Aaron, married Sibylle (Bella), a daughter of Bendit Gomperz-Nymwegen. Adam Isaac became head of the Arnstein firm. As purveyor to the consort of Empress Maria Theresa, from 1762 he was freed from some humiliating restrictions to which the Jews in Austria were then subjected, being exempted from wearing the yellow *badge

and permitted to wear a sword. He obtained more privileges in 1768 after threatening to leave Vienna for the Netherlands, but undertook not to ask for tax relief. Active in matters affecting the Vienna community, in 1744–45 he helped secure diplomatic intervention to prevent the expulsion of the Jews from Prague; he secured Austrian intercession with the government of Saxony and the Hamburg senate concerning Jewish rights. His favorite son, joseph michael von arnstein (d. 1811), became a Catholic in 1778, and married, for a second time, into the aristocracy. Joseph was ennobled in 1783, and had considerable social and business success. He was disowned in his father's will for having abandoned Judaism; Adam Isaac, however, had been made to pay him a compensatory sum at baptism.

(3) NATHAN ADAM (1748–1838), son of Adam Isaac, made large-scale loans to the government under *Joseph ii. He and his brother-in-law and partner, Bernhard *Eskeles, expanded their business activities during the Napoleonic Wars. They financed inter alia the Tyrolese peasant revolt against the French and Bavarians, and a peak in the Alps was named "Arnstein-Spitze." Although little interested in Judaism, he subscribed to Moses *Mendelssohn's Bible translation and introduced Naphtali Hirz *Wessely to the Trieste community. During the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), he and other Jewish notables signed a petition to the emperor requesting civil rights for Austrian Jews. Historians differ as to the extent of his activities at the Congress on behalf of the Jews. His daughter henrietta (Judith; 1780–1859) married Heinrich Pereira (1774–1835), reputedly a relative of Diego *d'Aguilar. They had their children baptized, and later followed suit themselves.

(4) FANNY (Franziska, Voegelchen; 1757–1818), daughter of Daniel *Itzig of Berlin, married Nathan Adam (see above) in 1776. At her famed salon, Fanny's artistic and cultural interests, together with her feminine charm, combined to attract many of the leading personalities of the day. Among them were the *Varnhagens and the *Schlegels, Mme. de Stael, and the Austrian writer Franz Grillparzer as well as the aristocracy, including Emperor Joseph ii. Her sister Rebecca Ephraim, celebrated for her wit, and her niece Marianne Saaling (Salomon), famous for her beauty, enhanced her salon. A count of Lichtenstein was killed in a duel for Fanny's sake. She was a co-founder of the Music Society of Austria and for some time Mozart was on her payroll. Her social influence was greatest during the Congress of Vienna, and "the congress danced" mainly in her ballrooms. Most of the chief delegates, including Metternich, Hardenberg, and Talleyrand, attended her glittering receptions, which became a center of political intrigue. Fanny adopted the way of life, not to say libertine habits, of contemporary non-Jewish society. She had the first Christmas tree known in Vienna. However, she retained sentiments of loyalty to Judaism and felt it a duty to help needy Jews, principles which she tried to instill in her Catholic daughter in her wills of 1793 and 1806. Fanny died a Jewess, her final testament endowing equally the Jewish hospital and a home for aged Catholic priests. She was buried in Waehring cemetery and was eulogized by N.H. *Homberg; her husband gave an ark curtain to the synagogue in her memory.

(5) BENEDICT DAVID (1765–1841), dramatist and banker; grandson of Adam Isaac (2). His first publication, in dramatic form, Eynige Juedische Familienscene bey Erblickung des Patents ueber die Freyheiten, welche die Juden in den Kayserlichen Staaten erhalten haben, von einem juedischen Juengling (1782), describes the joy felt by Jewish families at the granting of Joseph ii's *Toleranzpatent. It was the first German work by a Jew published in Hapsburg territory. His later dramas were not concerned with Jewish themes, and he subsequently occupied himself in banking.

bibliography:

N.M. Gelber, Aktenstuecke zur Judenfrage am Wiener Kongress 1814–15 (1920), 10; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der Preussische Staat, 3 (1955), 245–6; 4 (1963), 328–30; 5 (1965), 232–6, 269; H. Spiel, Fanny von Arnstein… (1962), includes bibliography; idem, in: Jews in Austria, ed. by J. Fraenkel (1967), 97–110; Grunwald, in: ylbi, 12 (1967), 170, 206. add. bibliography: Burkhardt, in: Ries and Battenberg (ed.), Hofjuden – Oekonomie und Interkulturalitaet (2002), 71–86.

[Meir Lamed]

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