Jewish Vienna and the Epstein Family
“It is generally assumed that the real and typical aim in the life of a Jewish person is to become rich. Nothing could be further from the truth. For him, becoming rich is merely an intermediate stage, a means to an end, not an end in itself. What a Jew strives for, his immanent ideal, is his ascent into the realm of the spiritual, a higher cultural level - This is why among the Jews the striving for riches almost invariably exhausts itself in a matter of two or at most three generations of a family, and it is in particular the most influential dynasties that find their sons unwilling to take over the banks or factories, the well-established, cushy businesses of their fathers.” (Stefan Zweig)
The Epstein family is prototypical of the model developed by Stefan Zweig in his “The World of Yesterday”: Having attained wealth in the course of two generations, its orientation changed with the representative of the third, Gustav Ritter von Epstein, whose ideal - a life devoted to culture and philanthropy - was to be shattered by the consequences of the Stock Exchange crash of 1873.