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December 06, 2002

Mystery Still Surrounds Berlitz Origins

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Maximillian D. Berlitz (1852-1921), founder of one of the world's most famous English schools. Prussian-born to a family of teachers and mathematicians, he was highly intelligent and was fluent in more than a dozen languages. At least, that's what the official Berlitz history says. But it seems the company he founded is perpetuating a veil of mystery that the man himself created about his true origins. It was only in recent years that his real date of birth was discovered. A family relative claims that he was actually born David Berlizheimer, the son of a Jewish religious teacher, near the Black Forest in Southern Germany; and that he arrived in the US, a poor 18-year old emigrant and quickly went about creating a new persona for himself. When asked for a comment on the claims, a Berlitz representative replied, "We are neither in a position to refute or validate this story and thus, will continue to publish the company history as it has been presented for the past 125 years." Read more about the "New Berlitz Story."

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