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©Helmut Wimmer
©Helmut Wimmer
©Helmut Wimmer
©Helmut Wimmer

The Rothschild Legacy. Rise – Riches – Repercussions

TV Docu-drama, 52 mins, 2021
Director: Klaus T. Steindl

It is 1938. Zoologist Miriam Rothschild, the central protagonist of this ZDF/ARTE docu-drama, has established a facility for insect research near London, where she also explores the history of her celebrated family. The story of the Rothschilds begins in the Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt, which Mayer Amschel Rothschild leaves in 1756 as a 12-year-old boy. He learns one of the few professions open to Jews: the trade in antique coins and, subsequently, banking. After his death, his five sons continue to run the successful family business from London, Paris, Vienna, Naples and Frankfurt.

The 13. March 1938 is a fateful day: for Austria, and for the Austrian branch of the Rothschild family. They become the target of Nazi persecution and propaganda. Most family members are able to escape, but Louis Nathaniel is arrested and kept in solitary confinement for more than a year. He is finally freed when the Nazis get their hands on his entire fortune.

Freedom comes at a high price – just as it did more than a century earlier in Frankfurt’s Jewish ghetto. In 1811, Mayer Amschel Rothschild transfers a significant sum of money to the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt. In return, the Jews receive an “emancipation edict” which guarantees their civil rights. They are finally free and allowed to flee the ghetto.

Mayer Amschel was driven by more than profit. He was also determined to end the discrimination against Jews. To this day, however, the name “Rothschild” is the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and smear campaigns.


Writer & Director
Klaus T. Steindl

Re-enactment D.O.P.
Helmut Wimmer

Documentary D.O.P.
Hubert Doppler

Robert Zapletal

Sound Recordists
Peter Priemer
Philipp Putz

Set Design
Zizi Bohrer-Lehner

Regina Tichy

Prop Department
Peter Suchy

Alina Fritsch (Miriam Rothschild)
Roman Blumenschein (William Shirer)
Alexander E. Fennon (Louis Nathaniel Rothschild)
David Jakob (Heinrich Himmler)
Rainer Doppler (Mayer Amschel Rothschild as an adult)
Inge Maux (Chaperone)

Photo © Helmut Wimmer