(1848–1929), banker. Maurice Blank was born in Piteşti, Romania, into the family of a Jewish tradesman and entrepreneur, Mauriciu Blanco. Blank studied economics in Vienna and Leipzig, and upon his return to Romania became Iacob Marmorosch’s partner in running the largest bank in Romania, which in 1874 was renamed the Marmorosch-Blank Bank.
The period of modernization in which Blank lived witnessed expanded banking activity, and Blank’s enterprise played a major role in influencing the dynamics of the Romanian economy. He helped to finance the country’s first railways, supporting connections between Ploieşti and Predeal (1876), Buzău and Mărăşeşti (1879–1881), and Dorohoi and Iaşi (1894). Under his management, the bank funded new industrial works in Romania, including paper mills in Letea (Bacău,1879) and Scăieni (Prahova, 1887); the cement plant in the port town of Brăila (1889); an upgraded sugar factory in Chitila (1896); and a rice factory in Brăila (1904). Blank also backed a large insurance company that was established in Brăila in 1897.
Blank’s name is also associated with the beginnings of domestic tourism in Romania, as he helped to found spas in Olăneşti and Tekerghiol. His bank was also the first Romanian one to open subsidiaries abroad in such cities as New York and Paris (1919). He personally represented the Romanian government on several missions to European capitals, and laid the foundations for an air transport company in Romania.
Maurice Blank also supported several cultural initiatives and was active in Jewish affairs, funding a folk theater in Bucharest in 1920, as well as a symphonic orchestra. He was a member of the Committee for Jewish Education in Bucharest (1905), and also financed the activities of a number of publishing houses in Bucharest, Iaşi, and Timişoara.
His son Aristide Blank (born in 1883 in Bucharest) pursued his father’s financial interests and also was a patron of the arts in the 1930s; among others endeavors, he sponsored a Romanian edition of the Bible, translated by the writer and priest Gala Galaction. Aristide founded the Cultura Națională (National Culture) publishing house and wrote several works of social and economic analysis.
Ludovic Báthory, “Prominent Jewish Businessmen from Romania, 1890–1940: Mauriciu and Aristide Blank,” Studia judaica (Cluj) 1 (1991): 94–103; I. Boamba, ed., Banca Marmorosch Blank and Co.: Societate anonimă, 1848–1923 (Bucharest, 1924).
Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea