Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831 – 1896)
Baron Maurice de Hirsch, or Baron Hirsch, was a German-Jewish
businessman, philanthropist and the founder of the “Jewish Colonization
Association.” He was born to a wealthy family of bankers and was himself a
distinguished banker in Brussels. Baron Hirsch took part in funding a railway
connecting between Europe and the Middle East and contributed significant sums
to the “Alliance Israelite Universelle,” which used his finances to establish
its educational facilities.
Following the riots in Russia during the 1880’s, Baron Hirsch offered
his assistance to the Russian Government in establishing educational facilities
for the Jewish community. His offer was declined and Baron Hirsch began
promoting Jewish agricultural settlements worldwide; among them were
settlements for Jewish refugees from the Russian Empire in Brazil and
Argentina. He referred to Zionism as a far-fetched fantasy, but he did believe
in the return of the Jewish people to agricultural work.
Baron Hirsch wed Clara and had a son (who passed away at age 31) and a
daughter (who died in infancy). His wife continued to support his work after
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