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Chorin, Ferenc

Name of both a father and son who were Hungarian politicians and industrialists. Ferenc Chorin Sr. (1842–1925) was a leader in the mining industry; his son Ferenc Chorin Jr. (1879–1964) was a lawyer and industrial leader. Both served in the Hungarian parliament.

Ferenc Chorin Sr. was the grandson of Rabbi Aharon Chorin of Arad (1766–1844), a pioneer of religious reform; Ferenc’s father, Károly Zakariás Chorin (1801–1868), was a physician. Ferenc studied law in Budapest and abroad. He began his career as a lawyer, edited a political daily paper, and in 1867 was one of the first Jews to be elected to parliament. After converting to Christianity, he became a life member of the Upper House in 1903.

Chorin was already a renowned politician when he was appointed to the board of directors of the Salgótarján Coal Mine Company in 1881. Within 10 years, he was the firm’s president, and he developed it into Hungary’s most important mining conglomerate. In 1902, he founded the National Association of Hungarian Industrialists and was elected its president, holding this position until his death. Following the antisemitic White Terror period of 1919, Chorin managed to achieve a modus vivendi with Regent Miklós Horthy and Prime Minister István Bethlen that restored for the largely Jewish upper middle class a sense of security, creating appropriate conditions for the expansion of Hungary’s economy in the interwar period.

Ferenc Chorin Jr. received his law degree in 1901 at Budapest University. After running unsuccessfully for parliamentary office in 1903, three years later he too became a board member of the Salgótarján Coal Mine Company and as of 1919 was its chief executive officer. After the death of his father, he served as the company’s president. In 1926, he was elected vice president of the Association of Hungarian Industrialists. He established the Hungarian Employment Center in 1922, serving as its president until 1933. In 1928, he became a member of the Upper House.

Through his marriage to the daughter of Manfréd Weiss, the leading Hungarian industrialist of the time, Chorin came to play a decisive role in the Hungarian economy by the end of the 1920s. He maintained an increasingly close relationship with Miklós Horthy. From 1932, Chorin served as vice president of the Hungarian Mercantile Bank of Pest and was also a member of the so-called Committee of 32 that in effect was the country’s legislative body in the years of the Great Depression. After 1941, Ferenc Chorin Jr. was forced to resign his various posts because of his Jewish origins.

During the German occupation, the SS proposed that Chorin’s family’s could escape in exchange for a supply of trucks. Chorin refused, offering instead 51 percent of the industrial conglomerate owned by Christian members of Weiss’s family (by this point, assets of the Jewish family members had already been nationalized). With Himmler’s approval, the SS took a “lease” for 25 years on the largest industrial empire in Hungary in exchange for the family’s departure, 40 members of whom were permitted to travel to Portugal and Switzerland. Ferenc Chorin Jr. moved to New York in 1947, where he played an active role among Hungarian immigrants.

Suggested Reading

Strasserné Chorin Daisy and Bán D. András, Az Andrássy úttól a Park Avenue-ig: Fejezetek Chorin Ferenc élétből, 1879–1964 (Budapest, 1999).



Translated from Hungarian by Anna Szalai