TODESCO, HERMANN (1791–1844), Austrian industrialist and philanthropist. Todesco was born in Pressburg (Bratislava) to Babette, née Pick, of Breslau, and Aaron Hirschl Wellisch (Welsche) of Pressburg, a silk merchant, who acquired the surname Todesco after numerous trips to Italy (tedesco is Italian for "German"). In 1789 he was included in the list of Jews permitted to reside in Vienna. Hermann's business abilities soon brought him appreciable wealth and position. He was an efficient military contractor and established one of the first cotton mills in Marienthal (near Vienna), introducing modern machines and methods from abroad. In 1835 he bought an estate in Legnaro, Italy, where he planted mulberry trees for raising silk worms. Todesco was one of the founders of the Vienna temple in 1826 and was distinguished by his munificent philanthropic activities. He donated a school to the Pressburg community, made a magnificent bequest for a Jewish hospital in Baden, and gave large sums to the Vienna Jewish community to develop handicrafts. Shortly before his death he was nominated a member of the Kollegium of the community and opened a public kitchen for the poor. Hermann's banking firm was managed after his death by two of his seven children, Eduard (1814–1887) and Moritz (1816–1873). Eduard continued his father's philanthropic policies by establishing generous foundations to help needy army officers and impoverished Jewish students.
B. Wachstein, Die ersten Statuten (1926), index; C. Von Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, S.V.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.