Ernest Oppenheimer
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Sir Ernest Oppenheimer (22 May 1880 – 25 November 1957) was a
diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, room temperature and pressure, another solid form of c ...

diamond
and
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In a pure form, it is a brightness, bright, slightly reddish yel ...

gold
mining
entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk beyond what is normally encountered in starting a business, which may include other values than simply ...

entrepreneur
,
financier An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return (profit) or to gain an advantage (interest). Through this allocated capital most of the time the investor purchases some species of property. Types ...

financier
and
philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a list of specialized agencies of the ...
, who controlled
De Beers De Beers Group is an international corporation that specializes in diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for te ...
and founded the
Anglo American Corporation Anglo is a prefix indicating a relation to, or descent from, the Angles, England, English culture, the English people or the English language, such as in the term ''Anglo-Saxon language''. It is often used alone, somewhat loosely, to refer to ...
of
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...

South Africa
.


Career

He was born in
Friedberg, Hesse Friedberg (Friedberg in der Wetterau) is a town and the capital of the Wetteraukreis district, in Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=no, Land Hessen), is a state of the Germany, Fede ...
, Germany, the son of Edward Oppenheimer, a
cigar A cigar is a rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco village in Xanthi, Greece Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and scienc ...

cigar
merchant. Oppenheimer began his working life at 17, when he entered Dunkelsbuhler & Company, a diamond brokerage in
London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...

London
. His efforts impressed his employer and in 1902, at the age of 22, he was sent to South Africa to represent the
company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common ...
as a buyer in
Kimberley Kimberly or Kimberley may refer to: Places and historical events Australia * Kimberley (Western Australia) ** Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimberley * Kimberley Warm Springs, Tasmania * Kimberley, Tasmania a small town * County of Kimberley, a ca ...
, of which he went on to become the mayor of from 1912 to 1915. In this role, he helped raise the manpower for the
Kimberley Regiment The Kimberley Regiment is an infantry regiment of the South African Army. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a United Kingdom, British Army Reserve (United Kingdom), Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard ...
for service during
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "The war to end war, the war ...

World War I
. He became great friends with William Lincoln Honnold, an American engineer and chairman of Transvaal Coal Trust, Brakpan Mines, Springs Mines and The New Era Company.William L. Honnold Papers, H.Mss.0381, Special Collections, Honnold Mudd Library, Claremont University Consortium, https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c89s1rpp/entire_text/ In 1917, they launched the
Anglo American Corporation Anglo is a prefix indicating a relation to, or descent from, the Angles, England, English culture, the English people or the English language, such as in the term ''Anglo-Saxon language''. It is often used alone, somewhat loosely, to refer to ...
with financial assistance from J. P. Morgan. The initial capital was £1 million. Half of the capital was subscribed in the United States and half in England and South Africa.H. F. Oppenheimer, R. B. Hagart, W. D. Wilson, Francis Whitmore, H. MacConachie, Dr. J. E. Holloway,
Optima
', September 1967 Volume seventeen number three, Commemorates the Fiftieth Anniversary of Anglo American Corporation September 25th 1967, p.97.
He would remain as a permanent director and its chairman until 1953. In 1919, two years after its launch, Anglo American purchased diamond mines in
South West Africa South West Africa ( af, Suidwes-Afrika; german: Südwestafrika; nl, Zuidwest-Afrika) was the name for modern-day Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southe ...
which would pose a challenge to the
De Beers De Beers Group is an international corporation that specializes in diamond Diamond is a Allotropes of carbon, solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic. At Standard conditions for te ...
diamond business monopoly. He took part in the
1924 South African general election General elections were held in South Africa on 19 June 1924 to elect 135 members of the House of Assembly of South Africa, House of Assembly. Considered a realigning election, rising discontent with the government of Jan Smuts led to the defeat ...
and was elected to the
House of Assembly House of Assembly is a name given to the legislature or lower house of a bicameralism, bicameral parliament. In some countries this may be at a administrative division, subnational level. Historically, in Kingdom of Great Britain, British Crown c ...
as the Member for Kimberley. He held the seat until 1938. In 1927, Ernest Oppenheimer managed to wrest control of the late
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, Rho ...
' De Beers empire and built and consolidated the company's global monopoly over the world's diamond industry until his retirement. He gained the chairmanship of De Beers in 1929. He was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing,
antitrust Competition law is a law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is ...
behaviour, and an allegation of not releasing industrial diamonds for the U.S. war effort during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
.


Personal life

He married Mary Lena Pollak in 1906 and had two sons. She died in 1934. In 1935, he married Caroline Magdalen Oppenheimer (née Harvey) widow of Michael Oppenheimer. He died in
Johannesburg Johannesburg (, also ; ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), informally known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, megacity, and is List of urban areas by ...

Johannesburg
in 1957. He was born into a
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2International Organization for Standardization, ISO 259 is a series of international standards for the romanization of Hebrew, romanization of Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew characters into Latin alphabet, La ...

Jew
ish family, but, as an adult, he converted to
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; th ...
and was buried at St George's Church,
Parktown Parktown is a suburb of Johannesburg Johannesburg (, also ; ; Zulu language, Zulu and xh, eGoli ), informally known as Jozi, Joburg, or "The City of Gold", is the largest city in South Africa, classified as a Megacity#List of megacities, me ...
. He was succeeded in the business by his son,
Harry Oppenheimer Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (28 October 1908 – 19 August 2000) was a prominent South African businessman, industrialist and philanthropist. Oppenheimer was often ranked as one of the wealthiest people in the world, and was considered South Afri ...

Harry Oppenheimer
. Oppenheimer's brother, Sir Bernard Oppenheimer, was also heavily involved in the diamond industry.


Legacy

In 1964, the
Oppenheimer Diamond The Oppenheimer Diamond, a nearly perfectly formed yellow diamond crystal, is one of the largest uncut diamonds in the world, and measures approximately 20 × 20 millimeters. It was discovered in the Du Toit's Pan, Dutoitspan Mine, Kimberley, South ...

Oppenheimer Diamond
was named in his honour by its owner,
Harry Winston Harry Winston (March 1, 1896December 8, 1978) was an American jeweler. He donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian Institution ( ), also known simply as The Smithsonian, is a trust instrumentality of the Unit ...
, who donated the stone (not a
gem A gemstone (also called a gem, fine gem, jewel, precious stone, or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewellery, jewelry or other adornments. However, certain Rock (geology), rocks ...

gem
, as it remains uncut and unpolished) to the
Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian Institution ( ), or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded o ...

Smithsonian Institution
as a memorial.


See also

*
Gustav Imroth Gustav Imroth (29 June 1862 – 10 October 1946) was a minor Randlord who played a role in the development of the South African diamond-mining industry and sports. He was born in Friedberg, Germany in 1862 into a Jewish banking family, travell ...
* Mining industry of South Africa * Economy of South Africa * Joel family *
Cecil Rhodes Cecil John Rhodes (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was a British mining business magnate, magnate and politician in southern Africa who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. An ardent believer in British imperialism, Rho ...


References


External links


Sir Ernest Oppenheimer - South African History Online



Biography Ernest Oppenheimer online version
Gregory, Ernest Oppenheimer and the Economic Development of South Africa, Cape Town University Press, New York, 1965 {{DEFAULTSORT:Oppenheimer, Ernest 1880 births 1957 deaths People from Friedberg, Hesse People from the Grand Duchy of Hesse Oppenheimer family, Ernest 19th-century German Jews German emigrants to South Africa South African Anglicans Converts to Anglicanism from Judaism South African mining businesspeople Diamond dealers 20th-century South African businesspeople South African knights De Beers people