Leopoldo Popper

Leopoldo Popper

Born into a Jewish family in Altposchau Tans, Bohemia, Sept. 28, 1862. Came to Trieste and established Adolf Blum & Popper in 1885 (which 30 years later Joyce would use for the name of his protagonist in Ulysses). In 1888 he married the Triestine-born Letizia, an accomplished painter with strong pro-Italian sentiments and they had three children: Amalia, Lisetta and Peppino.

In 1894 he established his own import-export company, which was located on the Canal Grande in the centre of Trieste. In 1906, he became a founding partner of the ‘Adriatica’, the largest shipping firm in Trieste. About the same time, the Popper family moved into their new villa on the hill of San Vito, where James Joyce would come to give lessons to Amalia and her sister Lisetta and, according to some sources, was also invited for social occasions with the Poppers and their neighbours. Popper left Trieste at the start of WWI, moving first to Vienna and then to Italy to join the  rest of his family.

At war’s end, Popper resumed his position at the ‘Adriatica’ but by the mid-1930’s he had been forced into retirement. In 1937, his son Peppino died, aged only 42. With the Race Laws in 1938 a procedure was begun to deprive him of his citizenship (it is not clear what the outcome of this procedure was). In 1942, he moved into Amalia’s house in via Carpaccio with his son-in-law Michele Risolo. The war years were extremely difficult: Amalia was estranged from her husband and living in Florence, the house was bombed, Trieste was  occupied by the Nazis, and his daughter Lisetta deported and killed together with her husband in Auschwitz in 1944. Leopoldo Popper died on January 14, 1945.