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Kronenberg

KRONENBERG

KRONENBERG , wealthy banking family of Jewish origin in Warsaw. The founder samuel leizer (d. 1825), who left Wyszograd for Warsaw when the latter was still under Prussian rule, was at first a successful money changer. In 1822 he founded a bank, managed by his widow after his death. While giving his son a traditional education, he also sent him to a Catholic school for his general education. His son leopold (Leibel, 1812–1878) was prominent in the assimilationist circle of the Warsaw community. An ambitious man, he sought power both in economic life and in politics. To this end, he first became connected with the Polish "Red" group which supported revolution to bring about the revival of Poland; later, with the intention of becoming reconciled with the Russian authorities, he turned to the moderate "White" group. Although he apostasized in 1846, he did not break off relations with Jewish society and continued to intercede on behalf of the Jews with the authorities, who regarded him as the perfect assimilationist. The scope of his manifold activities was extensive and he succeeded in gathering around him a wide circle of financiers, industrialists, merchants, scholars, and political and public figures, among whom Jews were prominent as his closest advisers. An astute merchant, he succeeded, by granting loans and developing the monopoly of the tobacco industry, in attracting the allegiance of both Jews and Poles, who considered his achievements as steps toward the independence of Poland. The Russian authorities also regarded him as one of their supporters, believing that his practical awareness would prevent him from becoming involved in revolution.

Kronenberg leased government factories and organized the distribution of their goods. He established sugar factories, and developed the glass industry, tube-rolling works, coal mines, and a shipping company. By means of a consortium of Jewish bankers and Polish aristocrats, in 1869 he defeated his rivals and won the concession to extend the existing railroad network between Warsaw and Vienna in the direction of Germany and of Russia. Chairman of the merchants' union and president of the stock exchange commission, in 1870 he participated in the founding of the Commercial Bank of Warsaw. In 1859 he played an active role in the Warsaw affair known as the "Jewish War," the expression of the struggle of antisemitic circles (through the channels of the newspaper Gazeta Warszawska) against the influence of assimilationist Jews on Polish culture and art. Kronenberg founded a rival newspaper, Gazeta Polska, and he invited the famous Polish author, Kraszewski, an antisemite, to become its editor. Although the new newspaper made no serious contribution to the improvement of the relations between Jews and Poles, it prejudiced the status of the rival antisemitic organ. As a result of his initiative and investments, the Higher School for Commerce was founded in Warsaw in 1875. According to his will, the institution was committed to admitting pupils without any distinction of religion. During his last years, Kronenberg was prominent as an exponent of positivism.

His eldest son stanislaw (1846–1894) enlisted in the French army during the Franco-Prussian War (1870). He became president of the Commercial Bank and secured the official establishment of the Scientific Fund, the first institution of its kind in Poland. For a while, he published the weekly Nowiny, which showed little sympathy toward the Jews. Leopold's second son, Baron julius (1849–1930), was a composer and a member of the Russian Senate, in which he represented the curia of Polish nobility. He liquidated his father's bank. A third son, wladyslaw (d. 1892), was an engineer and industrialist.

bibliography:

Leopold Kronenberg, monografia zbiorowa (1922); J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 3 vols. (1947–53), indexes; A. Levinson, Toledot Yehudei Varshah (1953), index; A. Haftke, in: eg, 1 (1953), 225–8; R. Mahler, Ha-Ḥasidut ve-ha-Haskalah (1961), 227–8, 252, 285; S. Lastik, Z dziejów oświecenia żydowskiego (1961), index.

[Moshe Landau]

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