Jacob Blaustein, Jewish Leader, Industrialist, Diplomat, Dies at Age 78

Funeral services will be held at Temple Oheb Shalom here Wednesday for Jacob Blaustein, an American Jewish leader, millionaire industrialist and diplomat, who died at his Maryland farm yesterday at the age of 78. Mr. Blaustein, who founded the American Oil Co. in 1910 and guided its development from a small localized company to one of the giants of the American petroleum industry, served as president of the American Jewish Committee from 1949 to 1954 and was an honorary president of the organization at the time of his death. He was known nationally and internationally as an adviser and diplomatic trouble shooter for five American presidents and an advocate of Jewish and general humanitarian causes with world leaders. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him a regular member of the United States delegation to the United Nations. Mr. Blaustein was at home in world diplomatic circles. In 1945 he helped talk Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov into accepting the human rights articles of the UN Charter, then in its conceptual stages in San Francisco. In 1948 he was one of the Jewish leaders who convinced David Ben Gurion to accept the UN plan for the partition of Palestine which led to the creation of the State of Israel. Later he negotiated with West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer for the payment of more than $10 billion in reparations to the surviving victims of Nazism. Mr. Blaustein was on close terms with Mr. Ben Gurion and his successors, the late Premier Levi Eshkol and Premier Golda Meir of Israel.

It was in his relations with Israeli leaders that Mr. Blaustein helped formulate the understanding that while American Jews are deeply concerned with the welfare and support of Israel, they owe political allegiance only to the United States. That understanding, which successive Israeli premiers subscribed to, was necessitated by accusations of dual loyalty against pro-Israel American Jews. Mr. Blaustein’s career followed the rags-to-riches pattern once familiar in American life. Born in Baltimore, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant who worked briefly as an oil jobber he and his father founded American Oil which consisted of the two men and a horse-drawn tank wagon. The tiny firm grew quickly thanks to numerous innovations. It opened the first drive-in gasoline station in the U.S. and later blended the first anti-knock gasoline. It was the Blaustein gasoline, Amoco, that powered Charles A. Lindbergh’s historic solo flight to Paris in 1927. Mr. Blaustein during his business career, owned a fleet of tankers, oil wells in Texas and Louisiana and several manufacturing companies. He had vast real estate holdings in Baltimore, San Diego, Dallas and Los Angeles and was a controlling stockholder of the Union Trust Co. of Baltimore. His diplomatic career began in 1945 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked him to attend the formative meetings of the UN in San Francisco.

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