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LOEWE, LUDWIG:

German manufacturer, philanthropist, and member of the Reichstag; born at Heiligenstadt Nov. 27, 1837; died at Berlin Sept. 11, 1886. The son of a poor teacher, he attended the gymnasium in his native city, and then went to Berlin. While still a young man he accidentally made the acquaintance of Ferdinand Lassalle before the period of the latter's socialistic agitation, and was admitted to his brilliant social circle.

Loewe first entered upon a mercantile career as a dealer in woolens, then became a machinist, and in 1864 established a manufactory of sewing-machines in Berlin. In 1870 he visited the United States to study the construction of machinery, and on his return to Germany founded a factory for the production of tool-machinery in accordance with American methods, utilizing American machinery that had never before been introduced into Germany. He brought the manufacture to such a pitch of perfection that the Prussian War Department arranged with him for the establishment of a factory for the production of weapons. Under a guaranty from the government, Loewe established a remarkable plant to supply not only weapons for the army, but also machinery for expositions.

From 1864 until his death Loewe was a member of the Berlin Municipal Council, and was particularly influential in developing the school system. He was elected a member of the Prussian Abgeordnetenhaus in 1876, and two years later a member of the Reichstag; here he identified himself at first with the "Fortschrittspartei," being a devoted follower of Johann Jacoby, and afterward with the progressive party ("Deutsch-Freisinnige"). Subsequently his contracts with the government in connection with the furnishing of small arms were the subject of calumnious animadversions by the anti-Semite Hermann Ahlwardt. Loewe having died, his brother Isidor, then at the head of the firm, insisted upon a complete investigation, which resulted in the demonstration of the utter baselessness of the charges made by the anti-Semitic leader. These charges were nothing less than that the Loewes were members of an international Jewish conspiracy to secure control of the entire world; that the greatest obstacle to gratifying this ambition being the obstinacy of the Germans, the surest means of breaking that obstinacy was by the defeat of the Germans in war; that this could be most effectually secured by arming the German soldiers with defective weapons; and that to this end the Loewes had, by fraud and bribery, foisted upon the German military authorities nearly half a million guns that would explode in battle, maiming and disabling those who carried them and frightening their comrades, thus causing stampedes and routs.

Loewe was for some time president of the Jewish congregation in Berlin.

Bibliography:
  • Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1886, pp. 614-615, 632-638;
  • Ahlwardt, New Enthüllungen: Judenflinten, Dresden, 1892;
  • Judenflinten, part ii., ib. 1892.
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