Wetzlar von Plankenstern

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WETZLAR VON PLANKENSTERN , aristocratic Austrian family. The first identifiable member of the family was amschel wetzlar of Frankfurt (d. 1605?); one of his descendants moved to Offenbach where abraham wetzlar (c. 1714–1799) was born. During the Seven Years' War (1756–63) Abraham became an army contractor for Austria and amassed a large fortune. In 1763 he received the title of court agent and six years later obtained permission (together with Isaac *Arnstein) to live among the Christians of Vienna (other distinguished Jews received this privilege only in 1782). On Feb. 17, 1776, he converted to Catholicism and adopted the name Karl from his godfather, Count Pálffy. Shortly thereafter he addressed an obsequious letter to the emperor, enumerating his services to the state, and requesting to be elevated to the nobility with the title of imperial counselor, the one sign of favor from which he had been excluded by his former religion. His request was granted by Joseph *ii who remarked: "Since part of his family is already baptized and the rest will soon follow, I agree to the requested ennoblement." During the next three years his ten children were all baptized and received the title von Plankenstern; only leonore (1732–1813), his wife, remained true to her religion, unsuccessfully opposing the apostasy of her family. Karl Abraham, determined to become the equal of his fellow noblemen, was accepted into the ranks of the aristocracy and was invested with the estates he had acquired in Lower Austria.

Karl Abraham's daughters married into respected aristocratic families, as did his four sons. The latter did not possess their father's business acumen and the family fortunes gradually declined. All his grandsons entered the army or navy. His son raymund (1752–1810) married Joanna Theresia von Picquigny (1749–1793), herself a daughter of a recently converted French army supplier. Raymund, a music lover, was Mozart's landlord, patron, and godfather to his eldest child. Other distinguished descendants were ignaz (1787–1841), who married into the Arnstein family and received Austria's highest military decoration in 1815; heinrich adolf (1813–60), who joined the Ottoman army and became a Muslim; gustav (1813–1881), who attained the rank of field marshal-lieutenant; and karl von bembrunn, who became an actor in 1810 after being captured by the French and forced to swear not to fight against them. He appeared on the stage under the pseudonym Carl Carl, much to the displeasure of his former comrades.


B. Wachstein, Archiv fuer juedische Familienforschung 1 (1913); 2 (1914).