Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930 as György Švarc,
or George Schwartz, of parents Tivadar
(Theodore) and Erzebet (Elizabeth). Both were
nonobservant Jews. His mother was from a wealthy family and his
father a lawyer from humble origins.
Tivadar was a leading proponent of Esperanto, the
invented trans-European language promoted by
those who desired a world free of nationality.
When George and his older brother Paul were still young, his father
changed the family name to the
Hungarian-sounding but actually Esperanto Soros. It
means “soar” (in the future tense). Anti-nationalism is embedded
in George Soros’ name as well as in his
As a child, he felt he had extraordinary powers, of even
being “God-like.” It developed into an adult
sense of messianic personal destiny.
The family was well-off until 1944 when Hitler sent
Adolph Eichmann to oversee the extermination
of Hungary’s Jews. Tivadar obtained false identity
papers for his family and they each fled to separate homes,
hidden as Christians. All four survived the
With the Soviet takeover of Hungary in 1947, the
impoverished Tivadar sent George, then 17, to
stay with cousins in London, where he worked odd
jobs and studied at the London School of Economics (LSE).
While pursuing his economics degree at the Fabian
socialist LSE, Soros met the man who changed
his life: Prof. Karl Popper, philosopher of science,
teacher of logic and scientific method, towering intellect, and
author of The Logic of Scientific Discovery.
His technical concept of “falsification” as the
test for validating scientific theories brought him wide
Popper was also a distinguished social philosopher whose
passionate denunciation of all forms of
totalitarianism in The Open Society and Its
Enemies (1945) gave Soros a personal idol, a lifetime belief system,
and a brand name for his future charities.
Soros took the open society idea to
extravagant heights: for him it transcended all other standards of civic
Soros never studied under Popper, but read his works and
submitted essays to him for review and
comment. In 1982, when Soros named his first
foundation the Open Society Fund and informed the philosopher,
Popper was not sure he recalled Soros, but was pleased by the
Although a mediocre student at LSE, Soros was intensely
intellectual and felt he was meant to be a
philosopher, fancying himself Popper’s successor.
However, in midlife he realized that he had no talent for it,
and, after years in psychotherapy, resigned
himself to making large amounts of money for his
messianic mission to promote Popper’s open society concept
Popper’s two-volume Open Society and Its Enemies
focused on closed societies that suppressed
reason—ones he condemned as “magical, tribal
or collectivist”—but didn’t say much about the open society itself,
beyond freedom of scientific inquiry and the
freedom to dissent. Ironically, Soros
donations go largely to collectivist dissent. The logical disconnect
between Popper’s concept and Soros’
implementation has been noted by critics.
Soros's network of associations is mapped
Read Ron Arnold's book
Freezing in the Dark: Money, Power, Politics and
The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.