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Sebastian Hensel (1830 - 1896) auf der Terrasse seines Hauses an der Ahornallee in Berlin-Westend.
4th Generation

An ideal for well-educated citizens

While the lives of the members of the fourth generation played out mostly in the age of Historicism, they did look back towards their grand forebears. Against the backdrop of burgeoning anti-Semitism and its gradual acceptance in polite society, Sebastian Hensel (1830 - 1898), the son of Fanny and Wilhelm Hensel, publicized the family as the epitome of an ideal German family, of well-educated and aesthetically refined citizens (Bildungsb├╝rger) of Jewish origin, in his successful book "The Mendelssohn Family". When the German Reich was formed in 1871 and the boom years of the Gr├╝nderzeit ensued, this also saw the largest private bank in Berlin expand: Mendelssohn & Co. had prospered enormously in the second decade of the 19th century due to the transactions connected to the war reparations of that time. Now, the financing needs of railroad construction projects and the bank"s role as principal banker of the Russian Czar boosted its profits even further. The Mendelssohn family embraced its responsibility in society, sponsoring social and cultural foundations and promoting the arts. The years 1888, 1896 and 1907 saw the ennoblement of three Mendelssohn bankers: Franz (von) Mendelssohn (1829 - 1889) by Emperor Friedrich III., who reigned for a mere 99 days, his first cousin Ernst (von) Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1846 - 1909) and his nephew Otto (von) Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1868 - 1949), who was ennobled by Emperor Wilhelm II. Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1841 - 1880), a son of the composer Felix, left his mark on the history of industrialization in the 1870s. He was among the founders of AGFA, which his brother in law Franz Oppenheim (1852 - 1929) later merged with I.G. Farben. The conflicts of identity that the members of this fourth generation will have felt are given shape by the composer Arnold Mendelssohn (1855 - 1933) in his works, torn between Romanticism and Modernism, while making great efforts to strictly adhere to traditional forms. The most important Protestant church composer of his time died a few days following Hitler"s takeover of power.