Christened a „King of Railways" by Poles, because he accumulated gigantic wealth by building railway networks in the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Poland. Polish financier, social activist, great philanthropist, author of "the bible of pacifism" – a multi-volume work, titled "The Future of War in its technical, Economic and Political Relations", which secured him a nomination to the Nobel Peace Prize. Just like Hipolit Wawelberg, he was perfectly in sync with the positivistic ideals of his time.
Jan Gottlib Bloch was born in 1836 into a Jewish family in Radom. As a 15 year old boy he became a member of the Polish Reformed Church. It is said that 5 years later he converted again, this time to Catholicism.
His social activities were multi-dimensional. He took part in the creation of the Warsaw Polytechnic, giving the new school his own buildings in the city center. It took 100 thousand rubles to convert them for the didactic purpose. He helped to build a children's hospital, created a loan facility for poor university students, bequested a considerable sum for the Warsaw Charitable Society, gave land to the Francis de Sales orphanage, collected money for charity. Bloch died of a heart attack on the 6th of January 1902, aged 67. Not surprising, considering his lifestyle – he was known as a workaholic. He ran his businesses during the day, and devoted nights to his research.
His biggest project, however, one that he did not live to see, were folk houses – institutions promoting culture and morality within poorer classes of society. He made a huge, for the time, bequest to them – 250 thousand rubles. He also gave considerable sums of money for charity and the creation of the Jewish Library (Biblioteka Żydowska) publishing house. His collection of books, 10 thousand volume strong, was given to the Warsaw Public Library.
Wojciech Surmacz – Newsweek Nr1/2008