Moritz Breidenbach 1796-1857
Moritz studied at the University of Heidelberg, graduating in 1817 with a degree in law. After a supplementary course at Göttingen he began the practise of law at Darmstadt in 1820. In 1831 he became counselor of the treasury in the Ministry of the Interior, and in 1836 counselor of the cabinet, in which capacity he officiated as commissioner of the Hessian government in the Landtag.
He became a member of the council of state in 1848, but was compelled to resign this office upon the outbreak of the Revolution. He was recalled, however, in 1849 as chief counselor of education, which position he held until his death.
Breidenbach displayed exceptional ability in every capacity, whether as a jurist, official, or popular representative. But he was frequently opposed by those who admired his learning, because of his pronounced monarchical views. He was the principal author of the penal code of Hesse, and actively participated in framing the “Allgemeine Deutsche Wechselund Handelsrecht.” His principal literary work is his commentary on the Hessian legal code.
He was the son of Wolf Breidenbach, a German court agent and champion of Jewish emancipation who had made his way up from being a poor yet talented Yeshiva student and chess player, to wealthy banker and jeweler. Wolf Breidenbach used his wealth and influence to benefit the Jewish communities, and was successful in effecting the abolition of the noxious Jewish Headtax in Ratisbon and Darmstadt in 1805. (This was a tax every Jew had to pay on entering towns other than his home town.)
Of the three children of Wolf Breidenbach, Moritz and his brother Isaac (Julius) became Christians. Isaac became an ambassador in Stuttgart. Their sister, Sarah, married the banker Abraham Gans. Sarah’s son, Eduard Gans, made a profession of faith as an adult but it is not know if this was motivated by social convenience or due to a true conviction.
Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie;
Le Roi, Evangelische Judenmission, p. 229.S.J. So
Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906