Lehmann, Behrend

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LEHMANN, BEHREND (1661–1730), *Court Jew of Saxony. Born in Essen, Issachar Bermann, as he was known to his coreligionists, caught the eye of the ambitious and flamboyant elector of Saxony Augustus ii, the Strong (1670–1733), who had designs on the elective crown of Poland. Lehmann was entrusted with the financial aspect of the undertaking; in this capacity he sold off various Saxon holdings to gather the immense sums needed, estimated at between two and five million gulden; these were expended, at his discretion, to bribe the vacillating Polish electors and ensure Augustus' election. His partner and relative, Leffmann *Behrends, helped him with the financial side of the mission. Lehmann earned the king's eternal confidence and in 1697 was nominated Polish resident in Brandenburg with his seat in *Halberstadt, where he chose to reside as Prussian *Schutzjude. In addition to being diplomatic agent, Lehmann was a large-scale purveyor of jewels to the king, his mistresses, and many of his retinue, as well as a purveyor of precious metals to the mint (see *mint masters) and the military *contractor. He also loaned money to the rulers of Hanover and Brunswick; all his transactions were in five- and six-figure sums, which was very high for his day.

He maintained a retinue of 30 persons, including rabbi and shoḥet, in his house in Halberstadt. In 1696 he obtained the permission of the king to have the Talmud printed in Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, entirely at his expense. The cities of *Halle and *Magdeburg were opened to Jews due to his intercession with the king of Prussia, with whom he maintained diplomatic and financial connections; the synagogues of Berlin and Halberstadt were built with the aid of his loans. In 1715 the city and villages of Lissa (*Leszno), Poland, which had belonged to Stanislav Leszczyński, who had temporarily replaced Augustus ii on the Polish throne (1704–09), came into his possession for ten years, during which time the Jewish community enjoyed his benevolence. Lehmann also owned estates in Blankenburg and elsewhere. His relatives and agents were to be found in Hanover, Vienna, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Dresden, which was, indeed, opened to Jews in 1708 in order to receive him. His successors did not inherit Leh mann's business acumen and only conducted small-scale business activities.


E. Lehmann, Der polnische Resident Berend Lehmann (1885); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 2 (1954), 169–222; S. Stern, The Court Jew (1950), index; M. Leh mann, The Royal Resident (1964). add. bibliography: P. Saville, Le juif de cour. Histoire du résident royal Berend Lehman (1970); M. Schmidt, in: Wegweiser durch das juedische Sachsen-Anhalt (1998), 198–211; L. Raspe, in: Hofjuden (2002), 191–208; R. Ries and F. Battenberg, Hofjuden (2002), index.