In a 2018 Facebook post, Marjory Taylor Greene—who subsequently became a congresswoman from Georgia—speculated about the role of the “Rothschild Inc. international investment-banking firm” in causing wildfires in California by means of “space solar generators.” In the same year, a Washington, DC councilman blamed a snowstorm on “a model based off the Rothschilds” that involves “controlling the climate to create natural disasters.” Of course, the real Rothschild family—whose name comes from the red shield logo of their pawnshop in the Frankfurt ghetto—has little to do with such fantasies. Its fascinating history is the subject of a new exhibition at Vienna’s Jewish museum, reviewed by Liam Hoare:
The family’s Austrian branch can trace its roots back to Salomon Mayer von Rothschild, born in Frankfurt in September 1774, the third child of the great banker Mayer Amschel Rothschild. In Vienna, Rothschild fils established the banking enterprise S.M. von Rothschild in Vienna in 1820, was the personal banker to Chancellor Klemens von Metternich, and financed the construction of the railway network that connected Vienna to points northward in the Austrian land empire in Bohemia, Moravia, and Galicia.
The Vienna Rothschilds were a Jewish success story. They entered the ranks of the country’s nobility. . . . The Rothschilds were also a philanthropic family, donating to Vienna’s Jewish community its hospital. Salomon’s grandson, Nathaniel Meyer von Rothschild, established a foundation in his will whose proceeds would be used to found two neurological hospitals in the Austrian capital.
The Rothschilds’ downfall occurred in two stages. The first happened in the 1920s when the family bank, the Creditanstalt, became a victim of the turbulent Austrian and world economies. The bank was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1931; bailed out by the state, it was de-facto government property by 1934. The second occurred after the Anschluss of March 1938. The Nazi regime held Louis Nathaniel de Rothschild for ransom, in essence, while his family’s possessions—its homes, its businesses, its paintings—were seized and “Aryanized” without compensation. After 1938, the Rothschilds left Austria—never to return.