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GUTMANN, WILHELM, RITTER VON:

Austrian merchant; philanthropist; born at Leipnik, Moravia, Aug. 18, 1825; died at Vienna May 17, 1895. Destined for a teacher, the unlooked-for death of his father made it necessary for him to enter into commerce to support his mother and twoyounger children. Utter failure was the result of his first venture, and the savings of his parents were entirely lost. As manager of a lime-works his attention was directed to the coal-deposits of Silesia, and he planned for their development. In 1853 he and his brother David established the firm which, during the war of 1859-60, despite the difficulties then surrounding business ventures, supplied coal for all the railroads, for all the great factories throughout the empire, and for the cities of Vienna, Budapest, and Brünn. Gutmann Bros. leased some coal-mines from the Rothschilds in 1865, and purchased outright other valuable carboniferous properties in Silesia, Galicia, and Hungary. The close connection between coal and the production of iron easily led the Gutmanns to combine their interests with the Witkowitz iron-works, which they afterward owned conjointly with the Rothschilds and the counts Larisch and Andrassy. With Kuffner they built (1871) the first sugar-factory in Austria.

In philanthropy Gutmann displayed no less enthusiasm and activity than in business. Numerous institutions for the care of the poor and the sick either owe their foundation solely to him or are under obligation to his generous beneficence for assistance. Of such may be mentioned: girls' orphanage at Döbling, founded by the brothers Wilhelm and David, and endowed with 300,000 fl. ($120,000); a hospital for children, with fifty beds, at the Polyklinik in Vienna, to which organization they also gave 60,000 fl. ($24,000) for the erection of the premises. They founded also a hospital at Krems, which accommodates 60 cripples.

Wilhelm von Gutmann was elected to the Lower Austrian Diet, where he gave impetus to the reform of the poor-laws. The community conferred upon him its highest honors. He held the offices of president of the community (1890-92) and of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Through a daughter by a second marriage he became father-in-law to Sir Francis Montefiore. By will he left 200,000 fl. ($80,000), the interest of which was to be divided equally among the indigent Jews and Christians of Vienna. Gutmann was delegate of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in the Diet of Lower Austria, and honorary citizen of Liepnik and Mährisch-Ostrau.

Bibliography:
  • Jewish Chronicle, May 24, 1895;
  • Wiedmann, Festschrift Anlässlich des Vierzigjährigen Geschäftsjubiläums des Hauses Gutmann.
S. F. S. W.
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