Bcia Wolf i Icek Schoenberg

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Pablo Edronkin

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My mother had a vague memory about buildings related to the family; this is one of the real estate companies that belonged to the Schönberg family of Warsaw before the Second World War.

As in the case of most Jewish companies of the time, it is important to understand the familiar context in which they evolved, since banking, finances, real estate and such activities were always kept within relatively closed circles; even employees of such companies were most of the times relatives of the owners or stockholders, and if they were not at the moment they were hired, they would often soon become part of the extended family by means of contract marriages so that they would associate their fate with that of the company.

Bcia Wolf i Icek Schönberg was a real estate company formed by two brothers of our family, Wolf - Zeev - and Icek; they were two of the sons of Israel Shlomo Schoenberg and Nekhama Semyaticka. We do not know the exact date of incorporation of this company, but phone books from 1930 indicate that Wolf was the building administrator at ul. Ceglana 10 that year, showing that he was already in the real estate business, and Lea Schoenberg neé Norwind was living there in 1927. That building was - is, or at least the ground where it was - property of our family because it belonged to Laja Schoenberg[186.2]. Israel Shlomo was a brother of my great great grandmother Dinah Schoenberg, so here you can see one nice example of how, unlike most families, in this case branches never grew too far apart and money and riches were kept within certain boundaries because fortunes, even if divided by wills and testaments would never become completely dissociated, and even in the event of something really bad happening - like the Holocaust - there would be someone to keep on going and keep the family name and capital in existence - that is, us in this case, since there were only a handful of survivors (ver Outcasting Those Unsuitably Married).

The seemingly impregnable fortunes of Jewish bankers and other wealthy families are not the product of conspiracies but of some long-standing marriage policies, education and work ethos involving trans-generational thinking (see Skowronek Genealogy). Even in the face of extermination, if someone is left alive, no matter how insignificant or distantly related he or she might seem to be, that person will be able to rebuild what had been destroyed. Different sorts of investments, properties and lines of work - that is, diversification, guarantees higher odds of survivability.

In a very real sense, Wolf and Icek might have made their fortunes thinking about us, descendants living a century later whom they never expected to meet. Several centuries ago, one member of the family even wrote a book entitled "Livro das Gerasoims" in which he talked to future, distant generations[24.46], and anyone who knows us is aware of the fact that we usually keep diaries.

Evidence of the existence of the company that they created is found in phone and address books, where addresses, properties and mortgages corresponding mostly to entire buildings are listed[186]; the company owned two of them at Mylna 10 and Nowolipie 24. In 1930 Wolf appears as the administrator of the building located ul. Ceglana 10 in Warsaw, where several members of the family lived and which later appears as property of Laja Schönberg[186.2][188] (see Kamienica Banku Handlowego at ul. Ceglana 10). Clearly, Wolf was in the real estate business. Wolf also owned a shop that sold fishing and outdoor equipment, its building, and the building next door, at ul. Karmelicka 11 and 13, and there is another address to his name, at ul. Piekna 62.

It is worth of notice that ul. Piekna 64 - the building next door - was owned by the Zamoyscy family[187]. This shows the same pattern of behaviour evidenced by the family regarding Count Potocki (see Skowronek the Horse and Skowronek the Bank), and it is highly likely that this real estate company intervened in property loans and mortgages related issued by the banks of the family.

Considering that the building located at Ceglana 10 was valued at about 14 million euros, if we do the same conservative calculations for the properties that Bcia Wolf i Icek Schoenberg (and Wolf, personally) had, it can be concluded that its real estate assets surpassed - in today's terms - 60 million euros. However, thorough other company names and resources, the family owned about 70 buildings in Warsaw; in some cases, they owned entire city blocks and in at least one case, half the buildings of an entire street.

So my mother's memories were true: There were buildings involved, but then again, this wasn't the only real estate company owned by the family.


Auth: P. Edronkin.
Royalty III, Pablo Edronkin.



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