Louis Nathaniel von Rothschild (1882-1955)
Louis Nathaniel von Rothschild was born in Vienna on 5 March 1882, the third son of Albert and Bettina. He was educated at the Theresianum Academy, before embarking on a banking apprenticeship in Hamburg and New York.
On Albert's death in 1911, Louis found himself managing the family firm which continued to play an active role in the Witkowitz iron works and the Florisdorf Engineering works. He was also chairman of the Creditanstalt.
During the First World War, Louis provided his support for the Austro-Hungarian cause on the home front as the director of the Viennese House of Rothschild. Although he was called into active service on August 16, 1915, he was stationed in Vienna to be part of the monarchy’s consortium of banks to focus on the empire’s finances and war bond campaigns. Louis personally wrote an article in the Neue Freie Presse calling for the Austro-Hungarian public to purchase war bonds: “Just as the soldier in the trenches fulfills his duty to the fatherland, everyone should contribute within their means toward the fulfillment of the fatherland’s financial needs.” While Louis’s words and actions exuded patriotism, the international character of his family stirred up feelings of suspicion in the press. The Armeeblatt in particular criticized Louis for his family connections in enemy lands and not having translated his “French” name, thus calling into question his allegiance. The honors Louis received for his financial contributions on the home front, however, speak greater volumes about his loyalty to his home country: he received the Komturkreuz des Franz-Joseph-Ordens mit dem Stern in 1915 and the Großkreuz des Franz-Joseph-Ordens in 1916.
Louis brazened out the machinations of the Nazis in Austria, but he was arrested after the Anschluss and spent a year in prison, refusing to hand over Witkowitz, the price of his freedom. On his eventual release in July 1939, Louis headed for the USA.
On 14 August 1946, Louis married the Countess Hildegard Johanna Caroline Marie Auersperg, and the couple settled on a farm in Vermont. He enjoyed the mountains, and was able to continue with his other hobbies, including botany, and golf, which replaced the polo of his early years.
He died while swimming in Montego Bay on 15 January 1955.
(WWI information curtesy of Caitlin Gura-Redl, Assistenzkuratorin, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien GmbH, 2021.)