GOLDSCHMIDT, JAKOB (1882–1955), banker, born in Eldagsen, Hanover. His parents Marcus and Lina Bachrach Goldschmidt could not afford to send him to university, and he became an apprentice at the Hanover banking house of H. Oppenheimer. Thanks to his exceptional talents, he was able to work his way up and make a fortune in the banking business. In 1910 he formed his own brokerage firm, Schwartz, Goldschmidt & Company, and became one of Germany's leading bankers. In 1918 he became managing director of the Nationalbank fuer Deutschland which later merged with the Deutsche Nationalbank and the Darmstaedter Bank to form the Darmstaedter und Nationalbank (Danatbank). Owing to his position at the bank, which played an important role as a financier of industry, he sat on the boards of a wide range of companies that included shipping, steel, power, mining, insurance, and aviation. Although regarded as an upstart and speculator by his more traditional banking colleagues, he nevertheless exercised great influence in Weimar economic affairs. He was also a major art collector, and also was devoted to Jewish causes, rescuing the Encyclopedia Judaica from financial collapse in 1926. In July 1931 the Danatbank fell prey to the fraudulent actions of the Lahusen brothers, who ran one of its main customers, the North German Wool Company. The Danat was forced to close its doors after the other great banks abandoned it, while the Reichsbank would not grant it support either. Having become a major target of Nazi attacks, Goldschmidt left Germany in 1933 and settled in the United States in 1936, where he had a successful if more modest career in business. He once again became an art collector, and supported many philanthropies and cultural institutions, including the New York Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
[Joachim O. Ronall /
Gerald Feldman (2nd ed.)]