The history of the Bolivian Schindler

Pablo Peralta reports for Pagina Siete:

Little-known dimension of the three tin barons

The history of the Bolivian Schindler

The mining entrepreneur Mauricio Hochschild saved several Jews from the Nazis; besides humanitarian reasons, this entrepreneur sought them to contribute.

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Mauricio Hochschild was one of the tin barons. But today, thanks to recent research, a facet not addressed before for this character: Patron for many Jews who escaped the Nazi regime.

“Of the three tin barons, Mauricio Hochschild has been the least addressed in the Bolivian historiography,” says political scientist and historian Leon E. Bieber, who is author of the book Dr. Mauricio Hochschild. Mining entrepreneur, promoter and encourager of the Jewish immigration to Bolivia.

The researcher says that until the book was published this year, there was not a single history text or in social sciences about this personality. “Allusions to him were only found in a few pages, essentially in the framework of works on economics and / or historical Bolivian reality. The references focused on his role as rescuer owner of minerals and mining, and almost always in his role as spoiler and insensitive entrepreneur to social issues,” he adds.

For former President Carlos D. Mesa, due to Hochschild’s behavior about Jews, you can compare him with businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved many Jews from the Nazis. His story inspired the movie Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg.

The political context

Robert Brockmann, who is working on a book about Germán Busch explains that during this government (1937-1939), Jewish immigration was open to the country. Paradoxically, he explains, Busch was currently seeking political identity of his government and in that sense made “very strong” approaches with the regime of Nazi Germany. However, he who also opened the possibility for Jew migration who were fleeing the regime.

“It’s very interesting that Busch, on the one hand, has been approaching the Nazis, from an ideological point of view and yet from the other, it would open the borders of Bolivia to the Jews, who were seen by the Nazis as at least a bad thing and there was Hochschild, who is certainly the main promoter of the steps that had to be made to bring Jews to Bolivia,” says Brockmann.

The aim of Hochschild

Apart from the humanitarian goal of saving the lives of his fellow from Nazi anti-Semitic harassment policy, Hochschild sought to generate a migration process of Jews to Bolivia in order to boost agricultural productivity in the country. In this context is that sought to erect a pioneer agricultural project.

“What is unquestionable is that the growing harassment of Jews in Germany after Adolf Hitler’s appointment to the post of Chancellor was decisive for Hochschild to push forward and be the first to help emigrate his family members of that country and then to support thousands of fugitives from Hebrew descent to settle in a South American republic, particularly in Bolivia. In this sense, there is no doubt that had a strong affinity with their peers,” says Bieber.

However, the specialist believes to interpret the behavior of Hochschild regarding the massive arrival of Jews to Bolivia according to their religious origin, obscures the main reason for his behavior.

“First and foremost, Don Mauricio was, as has been pointed out, an entrepreneur and visionary entrepreneur. The determined and conclusive support he provided to Jews, so they could immigrate to Bolivia and his tireless efforts to integrate them economically to this country, not only they emerged from his eagerness to save lives, but concomitantly as a purely business concept: bring the country human element capable of raising productivity and thus modernize” he explains.

In a questionnaire answered by email to Pagina Siete, this researcher said that the minutes of the organization that the employer created: the Society for the Protection of the Israelites Immigrants (SOPRO) stipulated in its statutes to integrate Jewish immigrants “to the Bolivian productive economic life and, above all, to direct them towards agricultural colonization”.

In this framework, Hochschild also promoted and conceived the project of the Colonization Society of Bolivia, that although he had an upswing during the early years, in the end failed.

In the questionnaire, that the author responded, he reports that between 1938 and 1940 came to Bolivia about 8,000 Jews.

History and MNR

Although the initiative launched by Hochschild was developed during the early twentieth century, it is just beginning to explore this little-known facet of the mining entrepreneur.

Brockmann attributes this to the fact that after the revolution of 52 the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement established a formula: “There was a homeland and there was an unpatriotic, and country were the poor Bolivians and miners and exploited; and unpatriotic were the three tin barons: Patiño Hochschild and Aramayo.

“And in that sense the history that has left us the MNR, it is quite a Manichean story between good and evil. There is no kind of possibility for that guideline in history, under which we still live today, to establish a range of grays, there are, very much. We have grown up under the idea that the three miners were absolutely evil and that nothing salvageable would have been done by them,” says Brockmann.

Point of view

Leon E. Bieber – Historian

The life and work of this man are little known.

I do not look like it was a fortuity that from the three tin barons, it was Simon Patiño who has been the man in the historiography of Bolivia that came to grab a distance from the other for the most attention. He was born in Bolivia, a mestizo who was not born with a silver spoon and who thanks to his industry not only created the largest mining company in the country has ever known, but came to have worldwide business irradiation; it is not by chance that he has come to be known as the king of tin.

Such a huge personality necessarily had to call the attention of both apologists as revilers in a move never corresponded to the two other barons. When in the second decade of the twentieth century, the company Patino knew a meteoric rise, Carlos Victor Aramayo, the third in a dynasty of miners met its splendor during the silver mining in the second half of the eighteenth century, it had begun to dim to even have to give up his position as second to Mauricio Hochschild mining magnate at the end of the 20s of last century.

Unlike the two named individuals, the latter was not born in Bolivia (He came into the world in a small German town in 1881), the country in which he lived barely 23 years (from 1921-1944) and also, by the third decade of that century had a multinational company. To this should be added that even in the investigations conducted by Antonio Carlos Tenorio L. makes scarcely a matter of five years ago, access to literature Hochschild was a real challenge, whether considering the enormous difficulty of having primary sources, and the fact that most of the literature on Don Mauricio is not so far translated into Castilian. Hence, in the final part of my aforementioned book I point out that both life and business work of this man are obviously unfamiliar. Later I add that knowing about it “still can be deepened in future studies,” and that maybe academics or amateur scholars will one day undertake this task.

It is true that works have recently appeared on Mauricio Hochschild. Like the research aforementioned by Antonio Carlos Tenorio and the novel The infamous by Veronica Hormachea Gutierrez. I do not know the reasons that led to this one and interested in the figure of the mining entrepreneur. My work is the result of a concern for work and investigate this so unknown facet of Bolivian history and the fate of a good friend offered me the infrastructure to do so.

What I consider to be rescued from this effort to deal again with the figure of a businessman in front of Bolivia in the history of the twentieth century, is the fact that unlike the scattered observations that there are several books on it and responding basically the trend of revolutionary nationalism in vogue as a result of the Chaco War, which lasted until at least late 50s trend which absolutely unilaterally took to injure the biographee – this new literature is weighted; in any case not only shows the dark sides will rightly be attributed to Mauricio Hochschild, but also his abilities and virtues.

So, the truth finally comes to light, no matter what, Mauricio helped people escape from the Nazi hatred!

I welcome Mauricio Hochschild to The Hall of Bolivian Fame, my jewish friends in Bolivia and abroad should be happy to know about the Bolivian “Schindler”.


Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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