Simon, James

views updated


SIMON, JAMES (1851–1932), German commercial magnate and philanthropist. After completing high school Simon joined his family's flourishing textile firm, Gebrueder Simon, which under his management became one of the largest firms in the world – boasting 40 to 50 million marks profits annually before World War i. Simon became an art collector and patron on a large scale, his largest donation being one of 350 items of Renaissance and Gothic art to the Neues Deutsches Museum in 1920. Ironically, his firm was at the same time in serious economic difficulties caused by the postwar crisis. These difficulties, compounded by his business integrity in a time of economic inflation, eventually caused the decline and bankruptcy (1931) of his firm. With his friend Paul *Nathan, Simon helped found the *Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (1901), whose chairman he remained until his death. He helped to finance many of its activities, in particular by a 100,000 mark donation for the Haifa *Technion and support of vocational and manual training programs for East European Jews. Another of his achievements was helping to found the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft, which established the reputation of German Orientalists and archaeologists. Simon personally largely financed the excavations of Jericho and Tell el-Amarna.


E. Feder, in: ylbi, 10 (1965), 3–23; U. Steinmann, ibid., 13 (1968), 277–82.

[Reuven Michael]