Three worlds joined today in mourning Lord Melchett, whose death on Saturday came as a distinct shock, though he was an old man and had been ill of phlebitis for some time. The world of Jews knew him as one of the leaders in their concerted effort to establish the Jewish National Home in Palestine, the chairman of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine; the world of industry knew him as the head of a $500,000,000 chemical corporation, reputed to be the richest man in England, and the wisest of modern industrialists; the world of art knew him as a great collector, and as a patron of living artists and writers.
Lord Melchett was 62 years old when he died. He became ill last October, immediately after his return from the United States, but his illness was not regarded as serious until early last week.
He was, until shortly before his death, president of the English Zionist Federation. Upon the death of Louis Marshall, Lord Melchett was chosen as chairman of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. He resigned this post when Dr. Chaim Weizmann resigned as president of the Jewish Agency in protest at the Passfield White Paper on Palestine.
Lord Melchett was not merely a Zionist of word, but of strong deed. He was chairman of the Non-Partisan Survey Commission for Palestine, and sought to establish definite constructive plans for the development of the country. He took part in the organization of various Palestinian industries, being on the board of the Palestine Electric Corporation, and taking part, through the Economic Board for Palestine, in many other commercial ventures. Tel Mond, a new settlement in the orange-growing district of Palestine, was his latest venture.
SON OF NOTED CHEMIST
Lord Melchett, or Alfred Mond, was born in 1868, the son of Dr. Ludwig Mond, world-renowned chemist, who founded the family fortunes when he discovered a new way of making and bottling soda water. Dr. Ludwig Mond came from Germany to England, and started his factory there in partnership with John Brunner. Later they extended their industry, pioneering in heavy chemical production.
Alfred Mond was educated at Cheltenham College, St. John’s College, Cambridge, and at Edinburgh University. He was called to the Bar, but forsook the practice of law to continue the development of his father’s enterprises.
As a chemist and metallurgist he received honorary medals and degrees from many universities, including the Sorbonne of Paris, the Gold Medal of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, and Fellowship of the Royal Society.
In politics, he began in 1906 as a Liberal member of the House of Commons. Subsequently he accepted the office of Minister of Health in 1921. Later he retired from politics. By popular vote conducted by the Spectator, he was seventh in the poll for “The Best Brains of England.”
He is regarded as the man who saved England after the War, by the promulgation of a wise industrialist policy, solving the labor situation. He repeatedly decried all emphasis on distinctions as between the working class and any other class, urging cooperation for the efficient development of mankind’s resources.
ORGANIZED CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES
After leaving politics, he organized the Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., regarded as one of the greatest trusts in the world. He was chairman of the International Nickel Company of Canada, of the Finance Company of Great Britain and America, and the former of the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries, Ltd., which controls over 80 per cent of the anthracite output of South Wales.
He was elevated to the peerage a few years ago, becoming the third Jew in the House of Lords.
His son Henry will succeed him to the title. Of his two daughters, one is married to Viscount Erleugh, who was one of the counsel for the Jews before the Inquiry Commission in Palestine in 1929 and who is the eldest son and heir of the Earl of Reading; the second daughter married Sir Neville Pearson, Bart., the son and successor of Sir Arthur Pearson, founder of the London Daily Express.
Lord Melchett retained his strong interest in Jewish affairs to the very end. Perhaps the last public statement he made was on October 21, when he resigned his Agency post, saying that the White Paper was “an act of almost unparalleled ingratitude and treachery committed by a government toward a credulous and harassed people.”
Lady Melchett was at his bedside when he died.