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Wesendonck, Hugo

Hugo Wesendonck was born into a merchant family in the Prussian Rhineland. He worked as a lawyer before his involvement in the ill-fated Frankfurt Parliament, the first attempt to build a democratic government for a unified Germany, forced him to seek asylum and take up commercial activities in the United States. His entrepreneurial ambitions there were informed by the needs of German immigrants and in 1860 he helped to found the Germania Life Insurance Company in New York City, a corporation still operating under the name Guardian Life Insurance in the present. While the company picked up a timely trend in the financial sector, Wesendonck spotted in the life insurance business a way to manifest an ethnicity-based idea of security that served the sovereignty of a transnational community of German people.