(1812-1878) The son of Eleazar Kronenberg
(1772-1826), founder of a banking house (1820), which became the basis
for the Kronenbergs' later wealth.
Leopold inherited a great deal, but also accumulated a great deal of
wealth himself in the tobacco business. In 1845, he converted to
Protestantism, thus avoiding the legal regulations that were
disadvantageous for Jews; these were abolished after Poland regained its
independence. He founded several sugar refineries and organized the
Warsaw Association of Sugar Refineries. It was at his initiative, too,
that the Association of Coal Mines and Steel Mills was created.
He was also one of the main share holders and moving forces behind
the construction of the railway between Warsaw and Brzesc. In 1896, he
leased the Warsaw-Vienna railway, thus saving it from bankruptcy. Firms
Kronenberg founded were responsible for the construction of the
Nadwislanska Railway in 1877 (from Lublin through Warsaw to Mława, which
was on the Prussian border at that time). Kronenberg cooperated in his
businesses with members of the Polish aristocracy: Count Andrzej
Zamojski, August Potocki and Ksawery Puslowski, as well as the wealthy
Jewish families, the Epsteins and the Loewensteins.
Despite the fact that he forsook Judaism, Kronenberg did not stop
providing assistance to Jews, and granted Jewish firms a great deal of
credit and subsidies, assisted Jewish hospitals and other charity
During the January Uprising, Kronenberg was
a leader of the White party. In danger of being arrested by the tsarist
authorities, he left for France. He returned to Poland in 1864, but was
not as successful as he had been earlier, because every Polish
organization was considered by the Russians to be a potential source of
rebellion. Wladyslaw Mickiewicz, the son of the Polish national bard,
Adam Mickiewicz, said: "Kronenberg is very wise and stable in his views,
though very prudent, as if he realized full well how pleased he would
make the Russians if he gave them the opportunity to confiscate his
In 1868, he was ennobled. Leopold Kronenberg's family tomb is in Warsaw's Powazki cemetery.
His son Leopold Julian Kronenberg continued his father's broad range
of activities, and was famous as a co-founder of the Warsaw
Philharmonic; in 1897, he was made a baron.
In 1996, on the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening
of the Commerce Bank in Warsaw, the Leopold Kronenberg Bank Foundation
was inaugurated. It is involved in activities aimed at supporting the
public good, education, culture and art, as well as healthcare and
social services. The Leopold Kronenberg Bank Foundation supports
effective associations and foundations in specific fields that are of
interest to the Foundation, as well as gifted young people; it also
funds a yearly award for outstanding scholarly achievement in the fields
of economics and finance.