Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

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Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

Birthplace: Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
Death: Died in Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Cause of death: injuries suffered from a fall into an open manhole
Immediate Family:

Son of Falk Feilchenfeld and Bertha Feilchenfeld
Husband of Henrietta Maria Feilchenfeld
Father of Franz Karl Fabry (Feilchenfeld); Otto Feilchenfeld; Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm Feilchenfeld; Otto Fabry Feilchenfeld and Hans Josef Feilchenfeld
Brother of Louis Feilchenfeld; Moritz Feilchenfeld; Wilhelm Feilchenfeld; Julius Feilchenfeld; Hermann Feilchenfeld and 5 others

Occupation: director of Teplitz branch of Boehmische Escompte Bank, 1886 director of this bank in Prague, financial adviser of Karl Wittgenstein, 1898 president of Boehmische Escompte Bank in Vienna
Managed by: Paul Heinegg
Last Updated:

About Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

Max was born 13 July 1852 in Frankfurt on Oder. At the age of 16 he followed his brother to Teplitz-Schonau, Northern Bohemia, where he took a job as office boy in a small bank. In 1871 he was director of a small local bank in Steyr, Upper Austria. In 1873 he went back to Teplitz, as clerk, and became director of a branch of the Bohemian Escompte Bank in 1877 when he married Henriette Scheuer. He became adviser to Karl Wittgenstein, owner of the Teplitz Rolling Mill and one of the most important figures in Austrian economic life--a friend of Andrew Carnegie, with whom he was often compared. Max made his bank the agency through which the Austrian Iron Trust performed its transactions. In 1886 he moved to Prague where he was director of the bank's central office. In 1894 Max and his family were living in a house in Prague connected by a large courtyard around the corner to the Koenig family, well-to-do industrialists who had emigrated from Belgium.

In 1898 he was called by Karl Wittgenstein to Vienna. In 1900 he brought about the fusion of his bank with the Niederosesterrische Escompte Gesellschaft and became Chairman of the Board and Vice President of the new bank which was chief agent for Wittgenstein's steel firm. He and his family stayed at the Sacher Hotel until their house at 30 Weihburggasse was habitable. Wittgenstein gave Max a modest share of his steel firm and paid Max 400,000 gilders when he sold the firm.

Max's wife Henriette pressured him to have his son Franz baptized on 5 August 1894 at the parish church in St. Wolfgang. She was baptized at the same time. Fritz and Otto followed and Max finally agreed in 1899, perhaps due also to pressure as a senior bank official of the monarchy. His son Franz recalled in 1949 that "baptism was customary for Jews in Franz Josef's Austria once they had acquired a certain status." His father never told his ultra-orthodox family about it.

During the early 1890s he sent his family for the Summer to the Baltics, later the Austrian Alps, and from 1902, as his situation improved, to Switzerland for eight weeks at a hotel in Engadin. He usually took a 2-3 week vacation and joined them. (His son Otto owned a large villa on Brioni in 1901, built by Karl Wittgenstein and later demolished to build a summer residence for Tito).

In 1902 and 1904 Hungarian artist Philip de Laszio painted Max and Henriette's portrait (after painting Emperor Franz Josef in 1899, the German Imperial family in 1900, and Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

He purchased the Bilroth home in St. Gilgen in 1904 and hired the renowned architect Albert Pecha to build the famous "villa on the Wofgangsee" from 1904-1906. His son Franz recalled that he spent nearly 1 million kronen on the villa. It was listed as one of the historic gardens of Austria and one of Pecha's finer achievements [Burger, Eva. Historiche Garten Osterreichs: Garten und Parkainiagen von der Renaissance. Google Books].

After 1907 he became president of the Niederosterreichische Escompte Gesellschaft .

He was a very patriotic Austrian and invested his entire fortune in Austrian war bonds which were worthless after the war.

He had retired sometime before 6 June 1922 when he had an accident that led to his death 16 days later. He returned home late at night from a social gathering and fell into an open manhole in front of his house. (The person responsible for guarding the spot had fallen asleep). He was buried from the bank building, where thousands of people pressed around to watch the funeral procession.

His friend Georg Gunther, Director General of the Steyr Steel Works, wrote one of Max's obituaries in the Neue Freie Presse on 28 June 1922, praising his kindness, humanity, humor and sunny nature.

In November 1938 the Nazis began pressuring his widow Henriette to transfer the Villa Bilroth to an Aryan, and ordered all Jews out of St. Gilgen. Henriette was living at 1 Pension Elite, Vienna 1, 32 Wipplinger St. when she attempted to transfer the property to her great grandchildren Elisabeth and Maria Rulf whose married names later became Liesl Seiller Tarbuk and Pantjo Von Schram. However, Henriette died in February 1944 in a collective apartment in a former school in the Talmud Malzgasse.

Most of the above is taken from the memoirs of Max's son Franz Feilchenfeld Fabry which are published on this site under "Sources."

Paul Heinegg

Max Feilchenfeld (* 1852, † June 27, 1922 in Vienna) was a banker of the Austrian monarchy.

In the 1890s Max Feilchenfeld headed the Bohemian Escompte Bank and was a close confidant of Karl Wittgenstein, steel magnate who controlled the steel and iron resources in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1899 Wittgenstein invited him to Vienna and appointed him vice president and chairman of the board of the Lower Austrian Escompte Company, chief agent for Wittgenstein's steel firm. The Institute had a pioneering role in Austrian banking, counted among the seven major banks in Vienna in 1910 and sole owner of the Bohemian Escompte Bank and Creditanstalt (Bebca), one of the three largest German-Czech commercial banks. It was thus a leader in the Bohemian iron industry.

The Lower Austrian Escompte Company was engaged in the conversion of unincorporated companies into joint stock companies in the last years of the monarchy, as in the case of Hutter & Schrantz and Bela Egger. After World War I, Max Feilchenfeld was one of the major forces who influenced money supply policy in Vienna [Kurt R. Leube, Preliminary Remarks on Mises in Interwar Vienna, Working Paper No. 34 (2002), p. 15,

The Escompte Company had its headquarters in the Kärntner Straße. Built on the site of the former headquarters of the Institute Hofkriegsratsgebäudes at court No. 2.

Max Feilchenfeld was also active as a builder, privately establishing the mighty Villa in St Gilgen am Wolfgangsee. The obituary of the Director General of the Steyr-Werke, then still Austrian Arms Factory society, Georg Günther (in: Neue Freie Presse of 28 June 1922) boasts Feilchenfelds kindness, humanity, his humor and his sunny nature. (Translated from the German that is on Wikipedia). Wikipedia Source: Literatur[Bearbeiten] Karl M. Brousek: Die Großindustrie Böhmens 1848-1918, Verlag Oldenbourg, München 1987 ISBN 978-3-486-51871-9. Georg Günther: Lebenserinnerungen, 1936. Karl M. Brousek: The big industry of Bohemia 1848-1918, Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1987 ISBN 978-3-486-51871-9. Georg Günther: memoirs, 1936. Richard L. Rudolph: Banking and Industrialization in Austria-Hungary: The Role Of Banks In The Industrialization Of The Czech Crown Lands, 1873-1914, Cambridge University Press 2008 Nature.

Hungarian artist Philip de Laszlo painted the portrait of Emporer Franz Josef in 1899, the German Imperial family in 1900, Pope Leo XIII, also in 1900 (winner of the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition), Mrs. Feilchenfeld (Henrietta) in 1902 and Max Feilchenfeld in 1904. The de Laszlo Archive Trust is interested in locating these two portraits.

Max Feilchenfeld purchased the Bilroth home and hired renowned architect Albert Pecha to build the "villa in St. Gilgen on the Wolfganzee" from 1904 to 1905. He had previously vacationed in Broni. (In 1987 my father Fritz Heinegg recalled that Max's sister-in-law Matilda Scheuer lived in Brioni).

The St. Gilgen property was listed as one of the historic gardens of Austria and considered one of Pecha's finer achievements [Historische Gärten Österreichs: Garten- und Parkanlagen von der Renaissance ...By Eva Berger] on Google Books.

As to his humor and sunny nature, have a look at him in his son Franz's wedding photo! His grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews said in 1987 that he had held parties every weekend when he was in St. Gilgen, where he entertained the well-to-do Christians and Jews.

Max died in 1922, leaving his wife Henrietta with the St. Gilgen property. As the Nazis consolidated their control of Austria in the latter part of 1938, they ordered that large properties like St. Gilgen be transferred from Jewish to Aryan ownership. In fact, they ordered all Jews out of St. Gilgen:

"As an example of the typically arbitrary procedure reflecting the pseudo-legal foundations of Nazism, there is an important St. Gilgen property, the so-called Villa Billroth. The property once belonged to the famous doctor Billroth, but it was completely rebuilt. By the outbreak of WWI it was in possession of the family of Mrs. Henriette Feilchenfeld. In November, 1938 she received an inquiry from the Nazi administrative district of Salzburg, asking how she would go about "transferring" the property "into Aryan hands." Henriette Feilchenfeld wanted to keep the estate in her family, and so, making use of a deed of gift contract she handed it over to her two minor great-grandaughters Elizabeth and Maria Rulf, who according to the Nuremberg Laws were "second-degree half-breeds." Beginning in December, 1938 Mathias Ebner applied to have the property Aryanized. On Jan. 27, 1939 Henriette Feilchenfeld received a contract of sale from the Property Transfer Office (from a Dr. Mueller [a lawyer]) that said:

"In accordance with section 6 of the Order concerning the recovery of Jewish property, you are required to sell your property at St. Gilgen 87 to Mr. Mathias Ebner, who resides at Kammer on the Attersee, and to conclude with him a bill of sale within a period of eight days [ …] If this deadline passes without anything being done, I will, in keeping with the last paragraph of Section 6 of the above-mentioned Order, make use of the right to appoint a fiduciary." The pressure from the "Aryanization" office was great; for example, on Feb. 22, 1939 the Nazi district administration of Salzburg wrote to Mrs. Feilchenfeld's legal representative […] "St. Gilgen must be set free, without exception, from the Jews. For this reason it (the Nazi Party) also stresses how important it is to de-Judify the Feilchenfeld property. Hence, we request that you impress on Mrs. Feilchenfeld the need to begin negotiating about the sale. Mr. Ebner, residing at the Hotel Kammer on the Attersee is the applicant." Without her knowledge, Mrs. Feilchenfeld's legal representative drew up a contract of sale that was handed in to the Property Transfer Office. When Mrs. Feilchenfeld learned of this, she dismissed her legal representative. With a notification dated dated April 4, 1939 the Property Transfer Office rejected the deed of gift contract between Mrs. Feilchenfeld and her great-granddaughters. In response, she filed a complaint with the Economic Ministry of the Reich. Meanwhile, the Property Transfer Office had documents drawn up about the estimated value of the property. Engineer Adolf Sachse, in his report of August 5, 1939 rated the value of the land and building at 120,000 Reichmarks and the current market value at 66,442 Reichmarks. In the transfer contract there is evidence of a trick: the author of the report has deducted 45% not only of the construction costs but of the value of the land as well in order to arrive at the estimated amount. On March 2, 1940 a further estimate relative to the 85,000 Reichmark sale price was present by Government Building officer Geppert.

In the documents of the Salzburg Property Transfer Office there is a note dated 30 March and April, 1940 [sic]: "Architect Geppert phoned to say that the Feilchenfeld Villa with all its furnishings yields--assuming it functions as a pension with 25 beds over a period of 60 days--3,000-4,000 Reichmarks per year. Since the Villa is a luxury bulding, with a relatively high overhead (?), according to the judgment of Government Building officer Geppert, the sale of the Villa at a price of 85,000 Reichmarks amounts to giving it away."

With the shift to Salzburg of the authorities responsible for the Aryanization process at the end of 1939, a new strategy was pursued. The finance officer of the Nazi administrative district, a man named Lippert, was initially in charge of working out the Aryanization process. On Feb. 13, 1940 he published a contract of sale that, as was usual, appeared in the Deutsche Rechtsanzeiger and the Preussische Staatsanzeiger. Lippert acted as if Henriette Feilchenfeld's place of residence was not known, although her Vienna address--1 Pension Elite, Vienna I, 32 Wipplinger St.--hadn't changed up till then. On February 9, 1940 financial and economic advisor Hans Autor was appointed as fiduciary for the sale; and on April 30, 1940 the sale was concluded between him and the married couple Mathias and Hildegard Ebner.

That contract was officially approved on the same day by the Reich governor in Salzburg. The sale price, the funds for which could only be raised through a loan, was 85,000 Reichmarks. Amusingly enough, the contract of transfer lists the address of the supposedly address-unknown Henriette Feilchenfeld. The wronged owner of the property filed a complaint against the Ebners' acquisition of the right to the estate and against the appointment of the fiduciary for the sale. The only effect of the complaint was that on Jan. 2, 1941 the Economic Ministry of the Reich reversed the approval of the deed of sale and ordered the governor of Salzburg to approve a contract of sale so long as the price was raised to 100,000 Reichmarks.

At the same time the deed of gift to the great-grandchildren was declared invalid. Once more the Reich governor appointed a fduciary for the sale, Dipl. Kfm. Bruno Kreuzhuber, who on Feb. 6, 1941 signed offf on a contract with Hildegard and Mathias Ebner. All the Ebner family had to do was come up with the money.

Henriette Feilchenfeld died in Vienna (i.e., during the war), and her son Otto Feilchenfeld was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp."

[Lichtblau, Albert, "Arisierungen", beschlagnahmte Vermögen, Rückstellungen und ..., Part 2, pages 87-90, on google books.

Note that Henrietta's great grandchildren Elisabeth and Maria Rulf are identical to Hans and Mutzi Rulf's children Liesl Seiller Tarbuk and Panto Von Schram.

Paul Heinegg

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Max Mendel Feilchenfeld's Timeline

July 13, 1852
Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
Age 24
Teplice, Teplice District, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
November 13, 1878
Age 26
Teplice, Teplice, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
April 11, 1879
Age 26
Teplice, Teplice District, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
June 29, 1882
Age 29
Teplice, Teplice, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
May 16, 1888
Age 35
Prague, Czech Republic
Age 46
Salzburg, Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
June 27, 1922
Age 69
Vienna, Vienna, Austria