THE GOMPERZ FAMILY

Professor David Kaufman and Dr Max Freudenthal, published in Frankfurt in 1907, in an English translation by Dr Bernard Standring

This classic book that traces the genealogy of the Gomperz family is first and foremost a fascinating work of history.  The family settled in Germany along the Lower Rhine around the year 1600, and moved on to Berlin, Frankfurt, Metz, Vienna and Prague as well as to Holland, England, and later the United States of America. Today, it would be difficult to find a country that does not have a Gomperz, Gompertz, Gomperts, Gumpertz, Gompers or other variation of the name, descended from the original settlers on the Rhine

The book is, in effect, a history of the Jews in Germany in the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, concentrating on the activities of the court Jews and showing the general attitude of the Electors of Prussia and Saxony and other Royal Houses towards the Jews who were sometimes treated with a modicum of respect and rewarded for their efforts, but equally often thrown into prison on the whim of a prince or through the machinations of members of the court. It highlights the enormous difficulties that the Jews faced to obtain a respected position in society, where medicine was the only career open to them – apart from trade, which was precarious because they were always restricted in the range of trades they were permitted to engage in and were taxed much more heavily that the rest of the population.

The book also deals with the gradual emergence of the Jews from a system of education and upbringing based on highly restrictive religious values to a more enlightened and broader education system, and presents a detailed and sympathetic treatment of Moses Mendelssohn and the scholars around him as they achieved the Jewish ‘Enlightenment’ at the same time that Lessing and others were achieving it for the German-speaking world and for Western Europe.

The authors concluded that the Gomperz family was one of ‘outstanding intellectual gifts, of noble virtues of the heart, and of prospering activity in the service of the narrow Jewish community, the wider fatherland, and the whole of humanity’

The book is accompanied by a CD ROM documenting the Gomperz family from Reb Mordechai Gumpel, born about 1520 up to 1945. It can be opened in most of the available software such as Family Tree Maker and can be used as a basis for further research. The supplement to the book includes a useful genealogical bibliography.

There is also a remarkable note from Professor Bastien Gomperts regarding the phenomenon that all males descending through the paternal line from a common ancestor share a unique Y-chromosome, from father to son, from father to son.  The Y-chromosome inherited by Salomon Gompertz in about 1550 from his father Mordechai Gumpel was a hairy pinnae, technically described as hypertrichosis pinnae auris which Professor Gomperts has. The pinnae are the upper rims of the external ear, and in Professor Gomperts’ case consists of rather sparse hairs in that position that can grow up to 7cm long. 
He invites correspondence from other Gomperz descendants on its occurrence (or absence) in them. Contact him at b.gomperts@ucl.ac.uk.

More than 80 illustrations include Benjamin Gompertz the mathematician; Lewis Gompertz, founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals; Samuel Gompers founder and president of the American Federation of Labor and the statue in Washington commemorating his life unveiled by President Roosevelt; and many gravestones and their inscriptions from the cemetery at Emmerich.

Hardback. ISBN  0 9531104-6-X

 

This book is currently out of print and not available to order directly through Tymsder. New or used copies may be available though sites such as Amazon or AbeBooks

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