Baerwald, Paul

views updated


BAERWALD, PAUL (1871–1961), banker and philanthropist. Baerwald, born in Frankfurt, was the scion of a family of German bankers. He began his career with a banking firm in Frankfurt. In 1896 he immigrated to the U.S. and in 1907 became a partner in Lazard Frères of New York City. In subsequent years Baerwald held directorships in a number of corporations. Baerwald's Jewish communal work began in 1917 when he was asked to become associate treasurer of the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) by his close friend, Felix M. *Warburg. He became treasurer (1920) and later chairman (1932). Baerwald's chairmanship of the jdc coincided with the Nazi period. During that time the jdc aided most of the European Jews who found haven in overseas countries. In 1938 Baerwald joined President Roosevelt's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees, which tried to find means to aid Nazi victims. He supervised the rescue work of the jdc during World War ii and, risking its credit, sent money to Europe which had to be borrowed from New York banks. A high percentage of the President's War Refugee Board funds (1944–45) came from the jdc under Baerwald's direction. This financial policy was carried on in the postwar years when the jdc aided more than 500,000 refugees to reach Israel. In 1957 the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the *Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Ministry of Social Welfare founded the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work at the Hebrew University.

[Yehuda Bauer]