New Book: Železnice, cukr, noviny a odvaha: Osudy Beniesů v Čechách i jinde

DUFEK, Pavel – MARŠÁLEK, Zdenko – NOVOTNÝ, Michal. Železnice, cukr, noviny a odvaha: Osudy Beniesů v Čechách i jinde [Railroads, Sugar, Newspapers and Courage: The Fates of the Benies Family in Bohemia and Elsewhere]. Praha: NLN, s. r. o.; Národní technické muzeum, 2023. 340 s. ISBN 978-80-7422-917-6 (NLN), ISBN 978-80-7037-376-7 (NTM).

The story of the entrepreneurial activities and life vicissitudes of the Benies family is an illustrative example of the business elites of Jewish origin who managed an astonishing social and economic rise during the few decades of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Business success, accompanied by the building of business, friendship and kinship relationships, was behind their gradual penetration into the highest circles of society at the time. After 1918, they were able to largely maintain their position in the independent Czechoslovak state until the Nazi occupation. All the sadder is the fact that the post-war Czechoslovak Republic was not very interested in its citizens of Jewish origin. Although most of the Benies family survived the war, they were unable to claim the right to their lost property. They left Czechoslovakia forever, and with them disappeared the memory of all they had done. The history of one family is thus rather a gradual uncovering of a whole large and important part of Czech society, whose role and even very existence was completely overlaid by a monochromatic national story.

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