George Soros escaped the Nazis to become one of the world’s most successful investors.
George Soros is much more popular as a philanthropist than an investor. He has been giving away over $12 billion to date. His funding has supported individuals and organizations such as schools and universities across the globe fighting for freedom of expression, transparency, accountable government, and societies that promote justice and equality.
This giving has often focused on those who face discrimination purely for who they are. He has supported groups representing Europe’s Roma people, and others pushed to the margins of mainstream society, such as drug users, sex workers, and LGBTI people.
Source of Soros’ Philanthropy
Why is George Soros so giving? Because Soros has experienced such intolerance firsthand.
He was born in Hungary in 1930, he lived through the Nazi occupation of 1944–1945, which resulted in the murder of over 500,000 Hungarian Jews.
His own Jewish family survived by securing false identity papers, concealing their backgrounds, and helping others do the same.
Soros says “instead of submitting to our fate, we resisted an evil force that was much stronger than we were—yet we prevailed. Not only did we survive, but we managed to help others.”
As the Communists consolidated power in Hungary after the war, Soros left Budapest in 1947 for London, working part-time as a railway porter and as a night-club waiter to support his studies at the London School of Economics.
In 1956, he emigrated to the United States, entering the world of finance and investments. This is where Soros found success.
In 1970, he launched his own hedge fund, Soros Fund Management, and went on to become one of the most successful investors in the history of the United States.
His wealth enabled Soros to create his own philanthropic organizations such as the Open Society Foundations—a network of foundations, partners, and projects in more than 100 countries.
Its work, and its name, reflects the influence on Soros’s thinking of the philosophy of Karl Popper, which Soros first encountered at the London School of Economics.
Karl Popper, in his book Open Society and Its Enemies, Popper argues that no philosophy or ideology is the final arbiter of truth, and that societies can only flourish when they allow for democratic governance, freedom of expression, and respect for individual rights—an approach at the core of the work at the Open Society Foundations.
Soros began his philanthropy in 1979/ He gave scholarship grants to desolate places especially to black South Africans under apartheid.
In the 1980s, he helped promote the open exchange of ideas in the Communist Eastern Bloc by providing photocopiers to reprint banned texts. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he created the Central European University as a space to foster critical thinking—at that time an alien concept at most universities in former Soviet states. The Central European University is a leading university in the world in terms social scientific thinking.
George Soros also funded cultural exchanges between Eastern Europe and the West, playing a pivotal role in helping the Soviet society he had himself briefly lived in open itself to the world. In a way or two, Soros helped usher the world of capitalism and liberal thought to the closed and communist Soviet society.
In late 1990s, when the Cold War was over, he expanded his philanthropy to the United States, Africa, and Asia, supporting a vast array of new efforts to create more accountable, transparent, and democratic societies.
George Soros was one of the early prominent voices to criticize the war on drugs as “arguably more harmful than the drug problem itself,” and helped kick-start America’s medical marijuana movement.
In the early 2000s, he became a vocal backer of same-sex marriage efforts. Though his causes evolved over time, they continued to how closely to his ideals of an open society.
Over the years, Soros has supported paralegals and lawyers representing thousands of unlawfully held individuals, underwritten the largest effort in history to integrate Europe’s Roma, and provided school and university fees for thousands of promising students from marginalized groups. Although Soros has his own network of organizations, he also support independent organizations such as Global Witness, the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Now in his 80s, Soros continues to take an active personal interest in the work of Open Society Foundations, traveling widely to support its work and advocating for positive policy changes with world leaders both publicly and privately.
Soros returned to trading in 2016 as he expected greater political uncertainty to provide opportunities to profit in markets.
“My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people,” Soros once wrote. That independence has allowed him to forge his own path towards a world that’s more open, more just, and more equitable for all.
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