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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:783 1800-1947

Bleichröder Bank collection

Scope and Contents

Although there is both some earlier and later material, almost all the manuscripts are from the period when the bank was headed by Gerson von Bleichröder. Mainly letters received, they cover both the political and financial role of Bleichröder. In addition to providing information on investments, particularly in railroads and government securities around the world, the manuscripts show Bleichröder acting as a court banker for Bismarck--serving as a diplomatic channel, helping Bismarck through promotion of quasi-public ventures that could not be justified by the usual market considerations, or acting in an area outside the normal channels of state finance, such as the negotiation of the French war indemnity of 1871. Bleichröder's involvement in Jewish affairs is covered. Included is correspondence with Bismarck, the Rothschilds, and others prominent in financial and public affairs.

Dates

  • 1800-1947
  • Majority of material found within 1840-1894

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information regarding access procedures.

Extent

20 linear feet (42 boxes, 2 cartons)

Biographical / Historical

The following note is a condensed description from The Encyclopedia of the Industrial Revolution in World History, Volume 3, pages 106-107.

In 1803, Samuel Bleichröder founded an exchange office in Berlin which he eventually transformed into the Bleichröder Bank. In 1828, the bank first collaborated with the powerful Rothschild banking family and for a period of time during the 1830s operated as the Berlin branch office of the Rothschild Bank. In 1839, Samuel's son Gerson Bleichröder (1822-1893) began working for the bank and was made a partner in 1847. After his father's death in 1855, Gerson became the head of the bank and under his leadership expanded the operations of the bank by investing heavily in railroads, industry and many other fields. As a result of these investments, the bank ultimately played a key role in Prussian and Germany industrialization in the nineteenth century.

In the 1850s Bleichröder befriended the German politician Otto von Bismarck, becoming his private banker and close confidant. This complicated relationship gave Bleichröder the opportunity to exert a great influence on Bismarck while simultaneously being influenced by Bismarck. He became involved in transferring credits or placing loans on behalf of the Prussian state and later the national government of Germany. This made both the Bleichröder Bank and Bleichröder himself wealthy and powerful. Bleichröder was also keen to show himself and other members of the Jewish community as being loyal to the Prussian Crown. His relationship with Bismarck and the German government cemented a political alliance between the Jewish community and the government.

Gershon Bleichröder died in 1893, leaving a personal fortune estimated at between seventy and one hundred million marks.

Arrangement

The collection consists of two series, Bleichröder I and Bleichröder II. Bleichröder I, which consists of 34 series, represents a bulk of the material and are described in the collection scope and contents note. Bleichröder II is not original material, but instead consists of photocopies of correspondence. The materials in Bleichröder II are described at the series scope and contents note

Physical Location

MANU

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Frederick H. Brunner, 1971.

Processing Information

Processed: June 2020 By: Baker Library Special Collections Staff

Creator

Author
Baker Library
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
und
EAD ID
bak01088

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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