20 November 2020
20 November 2020
Exhibition plaque from the „Real and imaginary...” series


enterpreneur ∙ politician ∙ social activist ∙ philanthropist

One of the greatest and sharpest businessmen of his time, alongside Jan Gotlib Bloch. Luck was very much on his side, but he also knew how to give fate a helping hand like few others – both these factors formed the basis of his success. In 1829-1832 he studied in Germany; his absence from Poland during the November Uprising helped him forge contacts with the authorities and join a company leasing the tobacco monopoly. In order to take over entirely, he converted to Reformed Evangelism. He made shrewd investments in farming, industry (sugar refineries), trade, banking (a Trade Bank with a branch in St. Petersburg); he was involved in building the railway (the Warsaw-Vienna Railway Society); he appropriated it by nimbly taking advantage of Poles’ disinclination toward German capital. He participated in Polish political life with less success, but with no less enthusiasm and sensibility. Initially – before the January Uprising – he supported the conciliatory politics of Aleksander Wielopolski; independence slogans were in the air when he joined the Whites’ camp. In 1863 he was forced to leave the country; in order to return he had to pay for his patriotic past with bribes. After his return, he took no further part in politics. In 1868 he inherited a (Russian) noble title of the Kingdom of Poland, along with the third-degree Order of St. Włodzimierz (he took the Strugi Crest). In 1875 he founded the School of Economics which later adopted his name (today it is the SGH). He was actively interested in Jewish affairs, supported assimilation, and financed the Jutrzenka weekly, published by Daniel Neufeld. He more readily gave to social causes, however. He is buried at the Reformed Evangelical cemetery in Warsaw.