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Laemel (Laemmel), Simon von


LAEMEL (Laemmel ), SIMON VON (1766–1845), Austrian manufacturer, merchant, and functionary. In 1787 Von Laemel founded a wholesale firm in Prague and devoted himself to the wool industry, improving flocks and methods of wool processing. He later moved to Vienna where he was granted the right of residence. His real importance, however, dates from the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, when he and other traders secured part of the Danube merchant fleet by buying it back from the French, from whom they also purchased captured Austrian army food stores (1801) and artillery equipment. He loaned the government his entire fortune in 1809 in order to bring about the withdrawal of Napoleon's troops from Vienna. In 1809 he also volunteered for service with the militia. In spite of this, when he petitioned in 1811 for the right to purchase a house in Vienna, Francis i rejected his plea; in the same year, after long deliberations by the authorities, he was ennobled. In 1813 he became a commissioner to the army.

Von Laemel upheld Jewish tradition, supported scholars, and was active on behalf of Bohemian and Viennese Jewry as a shtadlan, mainly using his connections with the emperor's brother, the archbishop of Olomouc (Olmuetz), and Prince Anthony of Saxony. At the time of the Congress of *Vienna (1815) he signed with Nathan von *Arnstein, Lazar *Auspitz, Bernhard von *Eskeles, and Leopold von *Herz a petition requesting emancipation. In 1817 he secured the reduction of the Bohemian Jewish tax. He also helped arrange the abrogation of the body tax (Leibzoll) in Saxony. In 1842, in cooperation with the Vienna rabbi Lazar *Horowitz, he initiated action for the suspension of the *oathmore judaico. In 1812 in Carlsbad Von Laemel made the acquaintance of Goethe, who was later his guest on several occasions.

Von Laemel's son leopold (1790–1867) was one of the most important financiers of the Hapsburg monarchy. He resided in Prague where he headed the savings bank from 1825, was on the board of the Elbe-Elbeschiffahrtsgesellschaft (navigation society) and, with Moritz *Koenigswarter, was among the founders of the Bohemian Western railway (Boehmische Westbahn). He granted the government a loan of 20,000,000 florins in 1831. He was knighted in 1856. Among the founders of the Vienna Creditanstalt, he was also active in Bohemian political life. As member of the Diet he supported the German liberals. In 1848 he was a member of the national committee and was on its delegation when the city surrendered after Windisch-Graetz's siege. Active in Jewish affairs, he was on the board of the society which had leased the Jewish tax, and was among the initiators of the Verein fuer geregelten Gottesdienst (Association for Orderly Divine Services). He was also among the founders of the *Teplice-Sanov (Teplitz) Jewish hospice. In 1832 he helped organize relief work during the cholera epidemic. He also corresponded with Goethe. His daughters were married to non-Jews and were baptized.

In 1856 Von Laemel's daughter elisa herz sent the Viennese poet Ludwig August *Frankl to Jerusalem to found the Laemel School in memory of her father. She was an active philanthropist, establishing among others a foundation for students from her father's native Toužkov (Tuschkau, western Bohemia).


N.M. Gelber, Aktenstuecke zur Judenfrage am Wiener Kongress (1920), 4–20; S. Baron, Die Judenfrage auf dem Wiener Kongress (1920), 138–44, 176–7; A.F. Pribram, Urkunden und Akten zur Geschichte der Juden in Wien, 2 (1918), index; F. Roubik, in: jggjČ, 9 (1938), 421; H. Spiel, Fanny von Arnstein (1962), index; S. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 332; 5 (1965), 271–4; C. Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon, 8 (1862), 405–6, s.v.Herz, Elisa; 13 (1865), 475–9; M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), index; H. Teweles, Goethe und die Juden (1925), 89–92; J. Urzidil, Goethe in Boehmen (1962), index; R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, Die neuere Geschichte der Juden in Boehmen (1969), index; K. Kratochvil, Bankéřī (1962), index; I. Press, Elleh Toledot Beit-ha-Sefer le-ha-Aẓil le-Veit Laemmel bi-Yrushalayim (1936). add. bibliography: Oesterreichisches Biographisches Lexikon, vol. 4 (2003), 401.

[Meir Lamed]

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