Abraham Ernst Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1776 - 1835) MP

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Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Death: Died in Berlin, Germany
Occupation: banker in Hamburg and Berlin
Managed by: Nadav Barkai
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About Abraham Ernst Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Abraham Mendelssohn Bartholdy (born Abraham Mendelssohn) (Berlin, 10 December 1776 – 19 November 1835 in Berlin) was a German Jewish banker and philanthropist. He was the son of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and the father of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn.

Abraham is supposed to have complained to a friend, "Once I was the son of a famous father, now I am the father of a famous son."

In 1797 Abraham went to study banking in Paris at the behest of his brother Joseph, who had formed the banking house of Mendelssohn and Friedlaender in association with Daniel Itzig's grandson, Moses Friedlander. French life did not appeal to him. In 1804 Abraham married Lea in Hamburg, where he managed an office of the family bank.

In 1804, Abraham Mendelssohn became a partner in his brother Joseph's banking company. The cooperation lasted until 1822. The private bank which later was renamed into Mendelssohn & Co., existed on the Jägerstraße in Berlin from 1815 until the end of 1938, when it was liquidated under Nazi pressure.

Abraham and Lea had two other children: Rebecka (b. 1811), who married the mathematician Dirichlet and the banker Paul (b. 1812). In 1825 Abraham was elected a town councillor in Berlin.

Abraham took an uncompromising attitude towards his Jewish origins. He felt that the day of Judaism was over and that it was necessary to take practical steps to assimilate with German society. To this end he and Lea took the (then) daring decision not to have their sons Felix and Paul circumcised after their births in 1809 and 1812 respectively, although this led to arguments with Lea's mother. He further took the advice of Lea's brother Jakob to change his surname. Jakob had adopted the name Bartholdy after a property which he had acquired, and Abraham, too, chose to take this name. As he was to write later to Felix, (urging his son to drop the Mendelssohn name and use only Bartholdy), because of the fame of Moses Mendelssohn ´there can no more be a Christian Mendelssohn than there can be a Jewish Confucius´ . (Despite this, Felix continued to use both names himself, and his public tended to use only 'Mendelssohn'). Abraham's children were brought up at first without any religious education; they were baptised in 1816, and Abraham and Lea were baptised on 4 October 1822 in Frankfurt am Main, that is, well away from their friends and relatives in Berlin.

Abraham and his wife are buried close to three of their children in the Trinity Church Cemetery in Berlin.

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Abraham Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's Timeline

December 10, 1776
Berlin, Germany
December 26, 1804
Age 28
Hamburg, Germany
November 14, 1805
Age 28
Hamburg, Germany
February 3, 1809
Age 32
Hamburg, Germany
April 11, 1811
Age 34
Hamburg, Germany
October 30, 1812
Age 35
Berlin Stadt, Brandenburg, Preussen
February, 1816
Age 39
October 4, 1822
Age 45
Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
November 19, 1835
Age 58
Berlin, Germany
November, 1835
Age 58
Berlin, Germany