Bernhard Baron, the Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe who rose from a cigar bench in a New York factory to become a leading manufacturer and distributor in the British tobacco industry, and one of the world’s leading millionaire philanthropists for Jewish and nonsectarian causes, died early this morning at his home in Brighton, England. He was 78 years of age.
Following the coming into power of the Labor government, it was reported in circles close to the government that Mr. Baron would be made a peer in recognition of his services to the Labor party, of his large contributions to charity and the sums he distributed among his employees. He started his career in the tobacco industry as a cigar maker in a New York factory, where he worked at the same bench with the late Samuel Gompers, who was to become the unforgettable leader and president of the American Federation of Labor.
During the past several years Mr. Baron distributed funds to various charities totalling ten million dollars. Hardly a month passed without some benefaction from him. He was greatly interested in the Labor party and helped it financially. A short while ago it was reported that Mr. Baron proposed to the national executive of the British Socialist party, that he would provide an annual income for the party through proceeds from the manufacture and sale of cigarettes of his company, Carreras, Ltd. (Continued on Page 4)
Some time ago it was also reported that Mr. Baron had expressed his intention to Dr. Chaim Weizmann to set aside a sum of $5,000,000 for the upbuilding of Palestine and only several days ago it was rumored among the delegates attending the Zionist Congress in Zurich that Mr. Baron had pledged to place at the disposal of the extended Jewish Agency the amount of $2,500,000. This report could not at the time be verified due to Mr. Baron’s illness and there is no information available as to whether any provision to this effect was made in his will. Several years ago he made a contribution of $125,000 toward the Palestine Foundation Fund.
In 1928 the late Mr. Baron established the Bernhard Baron Charitable Trust for Hospitals and Asylums for Orphans and Crippled Children, transferring to the trustees a sum of Â£575,000 for this purpose.
The Marquis of Reading was named chairman of the trustees of the fund, Louis B. Baron, his son, vice-chairman. Other members of the board of trustees were Albert I. Belisha, director of the Metropolitan Railway, London, and a prominent figure in connection with Jewish charities; W. H. Louden and Edward S. Baron, directors of Carreras, Ltd., and H. W. Danbury, secretary of Carreras.
Mr. Baron stipulated under the trust deed that the moneys available for distribution shall be applied in the proportion of seventy-five per cent among Christian and undenominational hospitals homes and asylums, and twenty-five per cent among similar institutions under Jewish control. Over a period of twenty years, beginning with 1928, the trustees were authorized to apply such part of the capital and income of the fund every year as they shall think fit for the benefit of the institutions described. The first distribution of the moneys was set for December 5, 1928, when Mr. Baron attained his seventy-eighth birthday. The annual distributions are to take place on this date each year.
Mr. Baron was a member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue of London.
On the occasion of the opening of his company’s new great factory which was attended by many prominent Britishers and 3,000 employees, Mr. Baron told the story of his life in the following concise sentences:
“I was born in Russia, at Brest-Litovsk. That was in 1850. I was taken as a child to Rostov-on-the-Don, and there I grew up among the Don Cossacks. I am really more of a Cossack than anything else. Then as a young man I went to America. I had nothing in my pocket when I got there. However I got to work without any waiting-$4 a week-and saved $2.50 of them. I worked, oh, how I worked and I went on saving; every week I saved. I saved because I wanted independence; because I wanted to have a business of my own. I did not think then how great a business.
“After I had been thirty years in America, I came to England. I had invented a machine for making cigarettes. I brought it to England. Then I heard of a small tobacco business that was for sale. It was small, but it was not unknown. It was Carreras. It manufactured a pipe tobacco that Sir James Barrie had written about in his ‘Lady Nicotine.’ In 1903, I bought it, that Carreras firm. For five years I made no profits. In the sixth year I made Â£163;11,000, and after that, well, every year more, until now. . .
“I advertised, advertised, advertised. And now we turn out millions and millions and millions of cigarettes a day. Well, there is the story.
“Just a young man with nothing in his pocket and now this factory, 3,000 people employed-and happy-a million and a half pounds given away-all my family, sons, grandsons, rich,-and happy, and myself feeling now old, used up, tired, old, not well.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.