Wertheim, Abraham Carel

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WERTHEIM, ABRAHAM CAREL (1832–1897), Dutch banker, philanthropist, and political leader. Trained in banking, he joined the bank of his uncle, Abraham Wertheim (1803–1889), who later became his father-in-law. The firm, Wertheim and Gompertz, developed into a leading banking institution, and Wertheim achieved recognition as a leader in his field. He played a prominent role in the establishment of many important commercial, industrial, and shipping enterprises. He also shared in promoting the development of the state railroads. In the 1870s he successfully introduced many large-scale United States loans on the Dutch market.

The name A.C. Wertheim is proverbial for his welfare work. Every morning before office hours he would receive the needy with their requests for financial support without making any distinction as to religion or social status. When in 1855 the Society for Public Welfare (Maatschappij tot Nut van 't Algemeen) first accepted Jews, Wertheim became a member and advanced to chairman of the national board. Under his direction a modern hospital in Amsterdam, a society for the blind, and an organization for the improvement of common housing were established.

Being particularly erudite Wertheim also participated in the cultural field. He was involved in the founding of the main national theater company (Het Nederlandsch Tooneel) and the Dutch Dramatic Arts Academy. When the Amsterdam Municipal Theater burned down in 1890 he made a generous contribution to start its immediate reconstruction. He was instrumental in the acquisition of valuable artifacts by museums.

For many years Wertheim served as a member and later as chairman of the board of the Amsterdam Ashkenazi Community. His formula for well-integrated Jewish life in the Netherlands was "to be a Jew in the synagogue and a burgher in the streets."

Politically he was the leader of the Amsterdam Liberals, whom he represented as a member of the North Holland Provincial Council and from 1886 to 1897 of the national Senate. A park in Amsterdam has been named after him.


A.S. Rijxman, A.C. Wertheim 18321897 (1961).

[Daniel M. Metz (2nd ed.)]