Poznański Izrael Kalmanowicz (15th August 1833 Aleksandrów Łódzki – 29th April 1900, Łódź) – industrialist.
Izrael Poznański was the son of Kalman and Małka (nee Gdański), coming from Kowal near Kujawa. In 1834, the Poznański family moved from Aleksandrów to Łódź. In Łódź, Izrael completed his primary school and “grammar school” education. In the Old City, his father ran a haberdashery stall. It was actually in his father’s where Izrael the basics of being an entrepreneur. As a teenager, driving a cart pulled by a scrawny horse, he collected old materials. When he was seventeen, he married Leonia Hertz, the daughter of Mojżesz Hertz, a wealthy merchant from Warsaw. For a dowry, Leonia Hertz brought with her a “haberdashery store” worth 750 rubles, this adding to the wealth of her husband who was, by then, a master in the “weaving profession”.
A significant increase in his wealth allowed Izrael Poznański to also engage in residential real estate investments and to buy land in the Łódka river valley, on the eastern side of the New Town (from the Helenów side). In 1865, have 6000 złoty in capital, he joined the City of Łódź Merchants’ Association, successfully engaging in commercial activities, including for the Scheibler Cotton Factory. In 1861, Izrael Poznański bought the first plots of land on the western side of the New Town, along the length of ul. Ogrodowa, in the direction of the city’s cemeteries (beginning from ul. Zachodna). He built his “cotton empire” in this area, as well as a housing estate comprising multi-storey workers’ housing. In 1872, he built and established the weaving mill (single-storey) on ul. Ogrodowa, with two hundred English weaving looms. To accommodate the needs of his factory, he created his own gasworks, brickyard and dye-works. By 1889, he had already transformed the I.K. Poznański family business into the I.K. Poznański Joint Stock Company of Cotton Products (Towarzystwo Akcyjne Wyrobów Bawełnianych) with the huge capital of five million rubles and a register of two hundred shares. Holding 156 of these shares, he held the position of company Chairman until the end of his life.
He would import his raw materials from the south of Russia, from Bukhara or from Persia. In turn, fabrics made in Łódź found their way onto the markets of the Russian Empire, through their own warehouses and agents. By 1900, Izrael Poznański’s wealth had grown to more than eleven million rubles, thanks to which he was amongst the wealthiest industrialists in the Russian partition.
Initially, Poznański was known as a tough employer, not caring about the safety of his employee. There were many fatal accidents in his factories. He was also responsible for many of his workers becoming disabled. But, at the end of his life, he had become involved in charitable causes. Together with his wife, he had funded a hospital for Jews. He had donated a significant sum towards to building of the Warsaw University of Technology. He looked after Jewish schools and provided scholarships for talented youth. He worked actively for the Jewish community. He was President of the Jewish Community Council, a member of the Synagogue Supervisory Board, a member of the City Council and a co-founder of the Łódź Jewish Charitable Society.
Poznański also dealt in real estate. He bought up plots of land and estates in the Łódź region. He donated one plot of land to the Jewish Community Council for the establishment of a new cemetery. He also built numerous residences for members of his family.
Izrael Poznański died in Łódź and was buried, as he had desired, in the family grave in the new cemetery. He was one of the most powerful and richest Jewish entrepreneurs in Łódź. Together with Ludwik Geyer and Karol Scheibler, he was one of Łódź’s trinity of “Cotton Kings”.
- Badziak K., Wielkość i upadek fortuny Poznańskich, [w:] Dzieje Żydów w Łodzi 1820–1944, ed. W. Puś, S. Liszewski, Łódź 1991.
- Poznański Izrael, [in:] Kempa A., Szukalak M., Żydzi dawnej Łodzi. Słownik biograficzny, Vol. 1, Łódź 1991, pp. 119–121.