Wassermann, Oscar

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Wassermann, Oscar (1869–1934), German banker active in Jewish organizations. The scion of an old established family of Jewish merchants in Bavaria, which in 1880 founded the bank A.E. Wasserman in Bamberg, he opened its Berlin branch in 1900 and served as its director, together with his cousin Max, until 1912, when he became a member of the board of directors of the Deutsche Bank. Chosen in 1923 to stand at the head of the board as its "speaker," a post he held until his dismissal in 1933, Wassermann became one of the central German bankers, serving on many governmental and official committees, such as the Council of the Reichsbank. Unlike most descendants of the *Court Jews who severed their ties with the Jewish community, Wassermann was a learned and conscious Jew, albeit not orthodoxly observant, who knew Hebrew and the Bible and was a patron of many Jewish institutions of learning and philanthropy. Although an alleged "non-Zionist," Wassermann was among the founders (1922) of the German *Keren Hayesod and served as its president and a member of its world board of directors. In 1927/28 he took part, together with Lord *Melchett, Felix *Warburg, and Lee *Frankel, in the Joint Palestine Survey Commission, that prepared the ground for enlarging the *Jewish Agency in 1929 by adding non-Zionist representatives. As one of the signatories of the new Agency's charter, Wassermann occupied leading positions in its administrative and financial committees.


D.E. Fitz, Vom Salzfaktor zum Bankier (1992); A. Barkai, Oscar Wassermann und die Deutsche Bank (2005)

[Avraham Barkai (2nd ed.)]