Moses Siegfried

State Comptroller 1949 – 1961 

 

​Siegfried Moses was born in Germany in 1887 and came to Israel (then Mandatory Palestine) in 1937. In 1904 he finished high school at the Sophien-Gymnasium in Berlin and then studied law. In 1912 he settled in Berlin and worked as an attorney. Immediately after taking the first government law exam, he submitted his doctoral dissertation in Heidelburg and received his doctorate.

In 1914 he settled in Marienwerder. During World War I and in the period immediately following it, he worked as an attorney in the Superior District Court. In 1916 he was drafted into the Tank Corps and sent to Danzig for an infantry officers course but failed to pass the medical exam, being found unfit for combat service. Subsequently he served as business manager pro tem for the Association of German Cities, which was located in Berlin. In 1921, he resigned this position and for a short period served as the Chair of the Government Authority for Supply of Shoes, after which he resigned from the German civil service.

Zionist Public Activities

In 1904 Moses was a member of K.J.V. (Kartell Juedischer Verbindungen) – the Jewish Students’ Federation.

In 1913 he participated for the first time in the 11th Zionist Congress as a replacement representative. In the following congresses, he attended as a full representative.

He served as a member of the administrative committee of the German Zionist Federation. He served for an extended period as Chair of its Finance Committee, was the Federation’s representative in the Office for Workers’ Welfare and was a member of the Federation’s presidency.

From the beginning of the 1920s Moses devoted special attention to the socialist activities of German Jewish organizations among the Jews of Eastern Europe. During the 16th conference of representatives of the German Zionist Federation, which was held in 1920 in Berlin, he was the keynote speaker and lectured about the problem of “Social Work among the People”.

During the years 1921-1923 he served as the acting Chair of the Workers’ Welfare Office.

In 1922, he retired from German public administration work. Moses served for one year as a Zionist functionary and was one of the main participants in the management of the German Zionist Federation. Aside from dealing with the subject of socialist work, Moses was involved in internal organization and development of the organization’s administration, as well as its finances and operations.

After the rise of Hitler to power in 1933, Moses remained in Germany and was involved in Zionist activities and activities on behalf of the Jews in Germany. From 1933 until his Aliyah to Israel (then Mandatory Palestine) in 1937, Moses was the Chair of the German Zionist Federation and the vice-president of the Reich’s Representation of German Jews (Reichsvertretung). During this period he was mainly involved in internal organization of the Jewish community in German, emigration from Germany and transfer of Jewish assets from it. Moses was one of the first to get involved, even before the end of World War II, in establishing a legal basis that was later used to sue for compensation for Jews after the Holocaust.  

After his Aliyah in 1937, as mentioned above, Moses settled in Tel Aviv and worked as an accountant. In 1942 his book dealing with the Israeli Income Tax Ordinance, which was enacted in 1941, was published; in 1946 the book’s second edition was published. His thorough scholarship in this ordinance and his deep study of it aided him later in his work as regulator of the Income Tax Department for the Israel Treasury Ministry.

In 1946 Moses participated in the 22nd Congress in Basel as a representative of the “Aliyah Hahadasha”. There he gave a speech in which he forcefully demanded that the Congress’ decision of 20 years earlier to establish a body to regulate the Zionist Federation be implemented.

In 1949, three years later, Siegfried Moses was appointed the first Comptroller of the State of Israel by President Chaim Weizmann and he held this position until 1961.

A number of days before he finished his tenure, the Chair of the Knesset Committee, within whose authority it was to choose the State Comptroller, asked Moses, on behalf of all the parties in the Knesset, to continue in the position. Moses thanked him for the trust they expressed but declined the request. On December 10th, 1961 he retired from the position.

Additional Public Activities

Moses was one of the leaders of German immigrants in Israel.

He was counted as one of the founders of the Leo Baeck Institute in Jerusalem (1955), which researches the German Jewish heritage.

Siegfried Moses died in 1974.