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Lämmel Family

Bankers and industrialists in Bohemia. Simon von Lämmel (1766–1845) was a financier and supplier of the Austrian army. His son Leopold (1790–1867) continued Lämmel’s financial activities and helped to organize a credit institution. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Lämmel (also Lämel) family played a significant role in developing industries in the Czech lands.

Simon von Lämmel was born in the Bohemian town of Tuschkau (Touškov). During the Napoleonic wars, he was a key supplier for the Austrian army, providing it with salt, tobacco, and military equipment. He and Veit Ehrenstamm enjoyed a nearly complete monopoly in the provision of uniforms. At the same time, Lämmel was active in banking, and soon gained the confidence of the imperial court, first and foremost for having established “patriotic” funds and making donations directly to the crown. He was awarded a sort of “personal emancipation” and in 1821 was ennobled. An observant Jew, he served as a shtadlan (intercessor) on behalf of Viennese and Bohemian Jews, particularly during the Congress of Vienna and thereafter.

Simon von Lämmel’s son, Leopold, advanced the family’s banking business even further, and was regarded as a leading figure in the upper circles of the Prague bourgeoisie. He was one of the most important suppliers of credit to the Habsburg dynasty as well as to the Bohemian nobility. Of particular importance was his involvement (with Anselm Solomon Rothschild) in 1855 in establishing the country’s largest credit institution for the advancement of commerce and small industry, k. k. privilegierten Österreichischen Credit-Anstalt für Handel und Gewerbe (Imperial Austrian Privileged Credit Institution for Commerce and Industry).

Because of their impressive accomplishments in the field of business, both Lämmels were highly influential within the Jewish community of Prague, and both served as permanent members of the community council. Moreover, they did not hesitate to take advantage of their status and prestige to defend the rights of Jews. During the period of neoabsolutism after 1848, when the Habsburg authorities once again imposed restrictions on Jews’ rights to acquire landed property (1853), Leopold von Lämmel was among those who submitted a petition to the government in 1859 asking for that restriction to be lifted.

Suggested Reading

William O. McCagg, A History of Habsburg Jews, 1670–1918 (Bloomington, Ind., 1989); Gustav Otruba, “Der Anteil der Juden am Wirtschaftsleben der böhmischen Länder seit dem Beginn der Industrialisierung,” in Die Juden in den böhmischen Ländern, ed. Ferdinand Seibt, pp. 209–268 (Munich, 1983); Christoph Stölzl, “Zur geschichte der böhmischen Juden in der Epoche des modernen Nationalismus,” Bohemia 14 (1973): 179–221, 15 (1974): 129–157.



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann