BLEICHROEDER , German banking family. samuel bleichroeder (1779–1855), German banker, the son of a sexton, opened in his native Berlin a money-changing and lottery store in 1803 which developed into the banking firm of S. Bleichroeder. In 1837 the Rothschild banking house of Frankfurt appointed him their representative in Berlin. The firm became a member of the Rothschild and the Preussen consortiums.
His son gerson von bleichroeder (1822–1893), was born in Berlin. He entered the firm at 17, and became its head upon his father's death. Under his direction the bank developed into one of the leading financial houses in Germany, mainly engaged in issuing, underwriting, and financing railroad loans. During the 1860s Bleichroeder became financial adviser and private banker to Bismarck who relied on his advice and assistance to overcome his difficulties with the Prussian parliament concerning the financial preparations for the 1866 war. Bleichroeder also advised Bismarck regarding the indemnities payable by France after the 1870–71 war. In 1872 Bleichroeder was raised to the nobility. During the Congress of Berlin (1878), he cooperated closely with Sir Moses Montefiore and Adolph Crémieux and successfully invoked Bismarck's assistance for the protection and emancipation of the Romanian Jews. But his close connections to Bismarck and Emperor Wilhelm I could not save him from becoming one of the main targets of antisemitic (and anticapitalist) agitation from the mid-1870s until his death; the government did not take any serious measures to oppose the assaults.
After Bleichroeder's death, his cousin, julius leopold schwabach (d. 1898) and then his son paul von schwabach (d. 1938) continued to run the firm as senior managing directors for Bleichroeder's three sons, hans, georg (d. 1902), and james (d. 1937), who all abandoned the Jewish faith. In 1931 the bank entered into a "community of interest" with the Jewish banking firm of Arnhold Brothers and in 1937 a successor firm was formed in New York under the name of Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, in anticipation of the "Aryanization" of the Berlin house, which took place in 1938. The New York house does not include any bearers of the Bleichroeder name.
D.S. Landes, in: ylbi, 5 (1960), 201–21. add. bibliography: F. Stern, Gold und Eisen (1978); O. Pflanze, Bismarck, 2 (1990), 70–85, 318–20; Reitmeyer, in: A. Gotzmann et al. (eds.), Juden, Buerger, Deutsche. (2001), 147–70.
[Joachim O. Ronall /
Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)]