Kornfeld, Zsigmond

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KORNFELD, ZSIGMOND (1852–1909), banker and politician; born in Golcuv Jenikov, Bohemia. He joined the Hungarian General Credit Bank in Budapest, becoming its general director in 1900. As such, he had a considerable influence on Hungarian financial policy and the encouragement of private enterprises. He successfully effected the conversion of shares for the strengthening of state credit, and promoted the 1894 currency reform. In 1902 Kornfeld was decorated by the king, and became a member of the Chamber of Magnates of the Hungarian Parliament. His activities included the founding of the Hungarian River and Maritime Navigation Company, and presidency of the Budapest Stock Exchange (from 1899). He was created a baron in 1909.

When, on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War he represented the Austro-Hungarian government in negotiating an extensive loan for the czarist empire, he refused the decoration offered him by the Russians. He told the czar's ambassador that in his capacity as a banker he had conducted the negotiations at the request of his government, but being a Jew, he could not accept favors from a country where Jews were persecuted and even massacred. He refused to accept remuneration for his part in the transaction. He took part in Jewish community life, and in 1893 became deputy president of the kehillah of Budapest.


J. Radnóti, Kornfeld Zsigmond (1931); N. Katzburg, Antishemiyyut be-Hungaryah 18671914 (1969), 45–46.

[Jeno Zsoldos]