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Gutmann, Wilhelm, Ritter von

GUTMANN, WILHELM, RITTER VON

GUTMANN, WILHELM, RITTER VON (1825–1895), Austrian industrialist and philanthropist. Born in Lipnik (Leipnik, Moravia) and a pupil of the yeshivah there, he began his career as a commission agent in the coal business. Subsequently, in partnership with his brother david (1834–1912), he founded the firm of Gebrueder Gutmann (1853) which eventually controlled the bulk of the Austro-Hungarian coal trade, at first selling imported coal and later acquiring and developing coal seams in the Ostrava basin and in Galicia, thereby improving considerably the monarchy's trade balance. The Witkowitz Steel Works, which they established, developed into one of the outstanding firms on the continent, numbering the Viennese *Rothschilds and members of the nobility among its partners; after 1918 it became a joint-stock company. Following the Munich agreement (1938), lengthy negotiations took place between the Nazis and the Gutmann and Rothschild families; a price of £10,000,000 was offered but the deal was never concluded. The company became part of the Hermann Goering concern without being owned by it. After World War ii, it became a Czechoslovakian state-owned enterprise.

Founder of the Oesterreichischer Industriellenklub and a member of the board of the Creditanstalt, Wilhelm was a member of the Lower Austrian Diet, where he supported German liberalism. Both brothers were knighted, Wilhelm in 1878 and David a year later. The Gutmanns were also active in Jewish affairs, Wilhelm as president of the Vienna Jewish community (1891–92) and David as head of the Israelitische Allianz in Vienna and the Baron de *Hirsch school fund for Galicia. They were cofounders of the *Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt. Both gave generous support to Jewish and non-Jewish philanthropic institutions: among the Jewish foundations they established and supported were an orphanage for girls at Doebling, a childrens' hospital in Vienna, an institution for the crippled at Krems, and an old-age home in Lipnik. They defrayed Joseph *Bloch's expenses in the Bloch- *Rohling trial. In 1891 Ritter published his autobiography, Ausmeinem Leben.

max gutmann (1857–1930), Wilhelm's son, studied mining engineering at Leoben Academy (Austria), gaining a worldwide reputation in the field and publishing several books on it. He was also an authority on labor relations and a pioneer in social insurance.

bibliography:

H. Gold, Geschichte der Juden in Maehren (1929), index; Neue deutsche Biographie, 7 (1966), 347–8; R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (19672), 66–72; K. Kratochvil, Banki (1962), index.

[Meir Lamed]

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