Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

Brandeis: A Free Man's Life

Excerpt

If Louis BRANDEIS knew how to use freedom, it was because his parents, Adolph Brandeis and Frederika Dembitz Brandeis, knew how to acquire it. Though neither family actively participated in the European revolutions of 1848, they suffered from the severity with which the revolutions were crushed. Along with thousands of other "Forty-eighters," Adolph and Frederika came to America, where they found some of the freedom Europe denied them; and here they passed along to their children much of the spirit that had made them rebels in Europe.

ADOLPH BRANDEIS (1822-1906)

Adolph Brandeis, son of Simon and father of Louis, was born in Prague, May 13, 1822, of an old Bohemian-Jewish family which traced back to the fifteenth century.

Adolph wanted to be a chemist, but he was never able to make the necessary preparation. He worked for a while as manager of his father's cotton-print mill in Prague. But there was no future in it, as the Brandeis handblock printing became less and less able to compete with machine methods. Adolph entered the local Technical School to study agriculture, estate management, and marketing. He was graduated with distinction in March 1843, but times were hard, and especially so for Jews, and he couldn't get a job. This was doubly disappointing because he had fallen in love.

Opposite the Brandeis factory stood the house of Amalia Wehle with whom Frederika Dembitz lived. Adolph called there often, and Frederika thought him "uncommonly charming, graceful, possessed of all the poetry of youth and unusually good manners." He thought equally well of her, and soon they were in love, "more deeply than they realized." Talk of marriage followed, but first Adolph had to find suitable employment. Since Prague offered little, Adolph, in the spring of 1846, journeyed to Hamburg . . .

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