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October 25, 2014

Helena Rubenstein — another Jewish success story

Filed under: Germany, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:11 am

Helena Rubenstein is in the news today, in a story which you can read in full here. What’s this got to do with anything? you ask.

Helena Rubenstein was born poor — and ugly — yet she became fabulously wealthy and her name became a household word around the world.

How did she do it?  I think that it was because she was born a Jew and, as one of the Chosen people, she thought highly of herself.  She was a human being, not a lowly goy.  What’s not to like?

The greatest crime in world history was the Holocaust, which was perpetrated by the Nazis.  It started when Adolf Hitler instilled pride in the German people. The Jews were affronted by this because only Jews are human. According to the Jews, the Germans were evil because they had been persuaded, by Hitler, to think of themselves as superior people, e.g. the Herrenfolk (Master race).

The Jewish quarter in Krakow which was shown in Schindler's List

The Kazimierz Jewish quarter in Krakow where  Schindler’s List was filmed

This quote is from the news article about Helena Rubenstein:

Four-foot-ten and squat—“built like an icebox,” in the words of one acquaintance—with a strong nose and an iron jaw, Helena Rubinstein was an unlikely ambassador for beauty. Which may have worked to her advantage: If she could transform herself by force of will into a paragon of good taste and high style, so could her clients. In clothes by the finest Paris couturiers and jewelry fit for a maharani, she cut a striking figure. Her dark hair pulled into a tight chignon, her eyes traced in black, her mouth accentuated by lipstick, she proved that it wasn’t what you were born with that counted but what you did with it.

Helena Rubenstein after she transformed herself into a beauty

Helena Rubenstein after she transformed herself into a beauty

Rubinstein was ahead of her era, not only “the first self-made woman magnate of modern times,” as Klein contends (in 1928 she sold her business to Lehmann Brothers for more than $7 million, then, after the stock market crashed, bought it back at a fraction of the price) but also a visionary who understood the power of what is now known as “building a brand” long before business schools taught marketing. She had a seemingly infallible instinct for what women would buy and how to present it to them. “I could have made a fortune selling paper clips!” she claimed, and one suspects that she was right, though the self-aggrandizement that worked to her benefit as a high priestess of beauty might not have dovetailed so conveniently with her business interests had she gone into office supplies.

Her story starts in Krakow, in the Jewish ghetto called Kazimierz, which was shown in the movie entitled Schindler’s List. 

Helena Rubenstein began by lying about her birthplace.  She was actually born in the house shown in the first photo below, but she claimed that she was born in the house shown in the second photo below.  Her birthplace has been restored, but the other house had not been restored when I visited Krakow in 1998.

The birthplace of Helena Rubenstein in Krakow

The birthplace of Helena Rubenstein

The house where Helena Rubenstein claimed that she was born

The house where Helena Rubenstein claimed that she was born

I personally think that the first house, where Rubenstein was actually born, is better than the house that she claimed as her birthplace.  Maybe she wanted to emphasize her humble beginning, which would make her rise to power more interesting.

You can read more about Kazimierz on my website at