Marcus Sieff

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Biographical Information

Marcus Sieff (died in 2001) "was chairman of Marks & Spencer, the family business, from 1972 to 1984, and an evangelist for the philosophy on which it had been built; he was also a leading figure in British Zionism." His father was Israel Sieff. Marcus' "earliest memory was of being taken at the age of four to a meeting in Manchester in 1917 to celebrate the Balfour Declaration. The principal speaker was Chaim Weizmann, a friend of Sieff's parents and later first president of Israel... When the State of Israel was declared in 1948, Sieff received a message from the prime minister, David Ben Gurion, requesting his help in the impending conflict with Israel's Arab neighbours. Although still a colonel in the British Army Reserve, Sieff became transport adviser to the Israeli defence ministry. Throughout Israel's War of Independence, Sieff participated in Ben Gurion's innermost councils, bringing his wartime experience as a movements control officer in the North African desert to bear on the Israeli forces. He was close to President Weizmann, and was later chairman of the Weizmann Institute Foundation. He also befriended future leaders of Israel, from Golda Meir to Shimon Peres.

"Sieff remained a constant supporter and fund-raiser for the Israeli cause, although one who always favoured peace. His memoirs revealed that in 1974 James Callaghan had offered him the post of Ambassador to Israel. He declined...

"Although his relations with the stubborn Simon Marks (who held the chairmanship until his death, in his office, in 1964) were turbulent, Sieff was clearly destined to lead the company. He became a joint managing director in 1967 and succeeded his uncle Edward Sieff as chairman in 1972. ... In retirement, Sieff was honorary president of Marks & Spencer, non-executive chairman of The Independent newspaper from 1986-1993, and a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. He published an autobiography, Don't Ask The Price in 1987...." [1]

His mother was Becky Sieff. His wife was Lady Sieff of Brimpton and his son was David Sieff.

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  1. Lord Sieff of Brimpton, organizational web page, accessed May 11, 2012.