Historický ústav akademie věd České republiky, v. v. i.

MODERNÍ DĚJINY
roč. 25, 2017, č. 2



OBSAH • CONTENT


STUDIE • STUDIES

Stanislav HOLUBEC
„Na bitevní čáře.“ Česko-německé zápasy o Krkonoše 1890‒1938
[“On the Battlefront” Czech-German conflicts over Krkonoše 1890‒1938]
s. 1–37

Ivana KOLÁŘOVÁ – Ondřej KOLÁŘ – Martin LOKAJ
Důstojnický sbor československého četnictva – sociohistorická sonda
[Officer Corps of Czechoslovak Gendarmerie – A Sociohistorical Study]
s. 39–62

Jakub DRÁBEK – Aleš SKŘIVAN, ml.
Chadbourneova mezinárodní dohoda o cukru a její dopad na československé
Cukrovarnictví
[The Chadbourne International Sugar Agreement and its Impact on the
Czechoslovak Sugar Industry]
s. 63–86

Lukáš NOVOTNÝ
Návštěvy Konrada Henleina v Londýně. Příspěvek k internacionalizaci
sudetoněmecké otázky ve druhé polovině 30. let 20. Století
[Konrad Henlein’s Visits to London. Paper on the internationalisation of the
Sudeten German issue in the second half of the 1930s]
s. 87–104

David MAJTENYI
Od interbrigadisty k palubnímu střelci 311. perutě RAF – rotný Rudolf Bolfík 
(1913–1941)
[A journey from Spanish international brigades to the no. 311 Squadron RAF –
Flight sergeant Rudolf Bolfík (1913–1941)]
s. 105–122

Milan SOVILJ
Osudové okamžiky Království Jugoslávie na jaře roku 1941 očima představitelů
československého exilu
[Pivotal moments for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in spring 1941 as viewed by
Czechoslovak exiles]
s. 123–146

Daniela NĚMEČKOVÁ
Boj o retribuci. Činnost ministrů spravedlnosti 1945–1948
[The Battle for Retribution. Justice Ministers’ actions 1945–1948]
s. 147–169

Vojtěch KYNCL
Poválečné vyšetřování zločinů gestapa v Klatovech. Případ Kilian Anton
Rupprecht
[Post-war investigation of the Gestapo’s crimes in Klatory. The Case of Kilian
Anton Rupprecht]
s. 171–187

Zdeněk DOSKOČIL
Obvinění Ladislava Novomeského z tzv. slovenského buržoazního nacionalismu
a jeho sebekritika na jaře 1950
[Charges of Slovak bourgeois nationalism against Ladislav Novomeský and his
self-criticism in spring 1950]
s. 189–238

Ladislav KUDRNA – František STÁREK ČUŇAS
(Proto)underground v politice komunistické strany. Vybraná reflexe
z let 1965–1980
[The (Proto)underground in Communist Party policy. Selected reflections
from 1965–1980]
s. 239–264

Ondřej ŽÍLA
Západní velmoci a jejich role v řízení repatriačního procesu v daytonské Bosně
a Hercegovině.
[The Western Powers and their Role in Managing the Repatriation Process in the Dayton Agreement’s Bosnia and Herzegovina]
s. 265–283


MATERIÁLY • MATERIALS

Jakub KUNERT
Vrchní ředitel Živnostenské banky JUDr. Jaroslav Preiss a jeho vztah
k výtvarnému umění
[Živnostenská banka Director General, JUDr. Jaroslav Preiss, and his relationship to art]
s. 285–322

 
KRONIKA • CHRONICLES

Za Valeriánem Bystrickým (1936–2017)
(Jindřich Dejmek)
s. 323–329

Rozkulačeno. Půlstoletí perzekuce selského stavu, 25. 5. 2016 – 30. 9. 2016
(Martin Dolejský)
s. 329–331


RECENZE • REVIEWS

Milada SEKYRKOVÁ (ed.), Minerva 1890‒1936. Kronika prvního dívčího gymnázia v habsburské monarchii, Praha, Karolinum 2016, 402 s. ISBN 978-80-246-3437-1.
(Marie L. Neudorflová)
s. 333–334

Zdeněk POUSTA, Jaroslav Císař. Astronom a diplomat v Masarykových služ-bách, Praha, Vyšehrad 2016, 343 s. ISBN 978-80-7429-702-1.
(Marie L. Neudorflová)
s. 335–338

Martin VAŠŠ, Bratislavská umelecká bohéma v rokoch 1920‒1945, Bratislava, Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave 2016, 456 s., ISBN 978-80-223-4173-8.
(Marek Šmíd)
s. 338–340

Jan RANDÁK, V záři rudého kalicha. Politika dějin a husitská tradice v Česko¬slovensku 1948–1956, Praha, Nakladatelství Lidové noviny – Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy v Praze 2015, 403 s. ISBN 978-80-7422-373-0 (NLN), 978-80-7308-597-1 (FF UK).
(Tomáš Pánek)
s. 341–346

Frank McDONOUGH, Gestapo. Mýtus a realita Hitlerovy tajné policie, Praha,
Vyšehrad 2016, 296 s. ISBN 978-80-7429-724-7.
(Vojtěch Češík)
s. 346–350


SUMMARY

Stanislav HOLUBEC
“On the Battlefront” Czech-German conflicts over Krkonoše 1890‒1938

Krkonoše (The Giant Mountains) was settled by a mainly German population. Germans were also dominant amongst visiting tourists. But the mountains’ proximity to Czech settlements and their symbolic importance on the Czech mental map as its highest mountains and also a “defensive wall”, and the beauty of the countryside there made it a destination of interest to the Czech public. As such, from the 1890s there were endeavours to assert Czech influence there. This nationalist campaign was seen in a number of areas, in particular in the depiction of Krkonoše as a Czech and unfairly Germanised mountain range in tourism literature. In this perspective, the development of tourism was to be a tool for reacquiring the mountains. Around the turn of the century, Czech interest focused on that part of Krkonoše close to Czech settlements, which were for Czech tourists. Mountain chalets were considered the base for the Czech element in the mountains. Support for their construction and their acquisition for Czech usage was an important element of the nationalist campaign. Subsequent to 1918, the focus was on demanding Czech service in the mountain chalets, implementing Czech-German walking signs throughout the mountain range, large celebrations and the positioning of commemorative plaques and monuments in the mountains. Although the period post-1918 was marked by a clear strengthening of the Czech ethnicity’s influence in the mountains, especially in the Czech language’s status as supported by state authorities, infiltration by Czech capital lagged behind. Despite extensive attempts by Czech national activists, however, the German influence in the mountains (population, capital, nationality of visitors) remained larger. Czech-German conflicts in the mountains were also made greater by conflicts in the foothills at the language border and in towns with a Czech minority. While in the mountains the main area of nationality conflicts was in tourism, in the foothills it mainly involved conflicts over so-called Czech minority schools, and post-1918 their expansion into mountain areas, including villages where there were extremely small numbers of Czechs. Manifestations of nationalism were particularly strong in the towns in the foothills, in the form of minor street skirmishes against minority symbols (minority schools, so-called National Houses, Czech signs), or against the minority population themselves (e.g. bar skirmishes, demonstrations) or insufficiently loyal members of their own ethnicity in society being denounced in the local press. Local elections and censuses were also occasions for nationalist conflict.


Ivana KOLÁŘOVÁ – Ondřej KOLÁŘ – Martin LOKAJ
Officer Corps of Czechoslovak Gendarmerie – A Sociohistorical Study

We can essentially divide gendarmerie officers in the interwar period into two generational groups. The first of these comprises men born in the 1860s and 1870s who had followed a standard career path prior to 1918. This normally included successfully completed secondary school education and often also achieving officer rank in the army. They were usually in middle or high posts in the gendarmerie hierarchy when Czechoslovakia was established, commonly division commanders. It was usually gendarmerie generals and higher officers who were recruited from the representatives of this generation. The younger generation born in the last two decades of the 19th century displayed greater socioprofessional variability. They were mainly lower officers (usually district commanders) taken on from the monarchy, and officers of the legions and Czechoslovak army joining after 1918. It was this younger generation which formed the backbone of the gendarmerie hierarchy during the 1930s in particular, although they were not present in the highest posts. The family background of higher officers was most frequently middle class in nature, while we can find representatives of more varied social groups at lower rungs of the hierarchy. There were limited numbers of legionaries in the officer corps, although they often held important positions. It is worth noting the gradual increasing demand on officers’ education and general expertise. While the first Commander General of the Czechoslovak gendarmerie, Václav Řežáč had just the traditional secondary school and military education, most of his successors had further studied (if perhaps unfinished) law or education. We can also find many graduates of specialised criminalist and related courses amongst the ranks of lower officers, and this is due to the general process of professionalization of the police service during roughly the first third of the 20th century. Although these people (with the exception of Josef Ježek) did not reach the post of regional commander, the work of some of them in the Interior Ministry’s 13th Division and also in the Central Search Division made a significant contribution to the modernisation of gendarmerie criminology.


Jakub DRÁBEK ‒ Aleš SKŘIVAN ml.
The Chadbourne International Sugar Agreement and its Impact on the Czechoslovak Sugar Industry

One of the key international phenomena to impact the situation in the Czechoslovak sugar industry was the changing circumstances and countries which participated in the Chadbourne Agreement, and those which for various reasons did not join the project. In a way, those countries participating in the agreement essentially reduced their production only so that other countries which had not signed the agreement could take advantage of this reduction.  Between 1929 and 1934, the ratio of signatory and non-signatory countries in global sugar production changed markedly (from a ratio of 46.1 % to 53.9 %, this became roughly 24 % to 76 %). The described evolution essentially demonstrates that the Great Depression had visibly less impact on sugar production than the 1931 international agreement. The Brussels agreement ended up, like all previous attempts at administrative restriction, in failure. Administrative measures could not stop the outcome of the sales crisis, with the global price for raw sugar per 100 kg collapsing from 78 CZK at the start of the 1930s to 45 CZK in the mid-1930s. The international situation was just one part of the complex problem. The sugar beet central union advocated the area of land given over to sugar beet crops being reduced, resulting in less sugar being produced, but this did not increase the sugar price as beet had a variable price related to international prices. As such, it was no longer worth small and medium-sized farmers growing the commodity, and they had to move on to other crops. One of the commodities which farmers grew in place of sugar beet was cereals. The expansion of cereal growing led to self-sufficiency in the Czech lands, something which disrupted trade with the Balkan countries, amongst other impacts.


Lukáš NOVOTNÝ
Konrad Henlein’s Visits to London. Paper on the internationalisation of the Sudeten German issue in the second half of the 1930s

Konrad Henlein’s visits to London represent an interesting phenomenon in the internationalisation of the Sudeten German problem from 1935.  The SdP leader found, superficially perhaps somewhat surprisingly, an audience in the British capital which expanded with each of his trips – while in December 1935 he spoke only in Chatham House, in July 1936 he was received by Sir Robert Vansittart, and in May 1938 he met the leader of the Liberal Party, Archibald Sinclair, and then with Winston Churchill; even the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister agreed to his visit. On the other hand, however, neither of them ever received him. Henlein found a sympathetic environment in London which listened to him carefully, one reason for this being that he said what his co-debaters wanted to hear, and proposed the solution to the Sudeten German problem which they preferred – increasing pressure on the Czechoslovak government and forging an agreement between Prague and the Sudeten German Party. The SdP leader determined an objective; to give a positive representation of himself and style himself as moderate compared to the Nazis, the assessment of him as a moderate and fair main confirming this, and to present the Sudeten German Party as a reliable and essentially the only real partner for discussions with the Czechoslovak government; this objective was then gradually met. Henlein’s next objective was to ascertain the opinion of the British elite on the Sudeten Germans’ position as regards Czechoslovakia. One reason for his success in achieving this was that his speeches and pronouncements fell within the British policy concept towards Czechoslovakia which worked from the idea that this issue, marginal from a British interests perspective, should not become a reason for global conflict. Thus, for London Henlein became a man a deal could be made with, a guarantee of the potential to find a solution to the minorities problem in Czechoslovakia. In contrast, Prague was unable to respond adequately to his trips to the British capital, unable to politically neutralise his presentations of his own opinion on the matter; the question remains as to whether this was even possible under the circumstances of the time. Henlein’s final visit to London boosted his conviction that Great Britain would “abandon” Prague.


David MAJTENYI
A journey from Spanish international brigades to the no. 311 Squadron RAF – Flight sergeant Rudolf Bolfík (1913–1941)

Rudolf Bolfík was born on 13 June 1913 in the Moravian town of Mikulčice. He attended the air force military academy at Prostějov, qualified as an aircraft mechanic, and served in this function during his national service. He was honourably discharged from his national service as a platoon sergeant in 1935. In 1937, Bolfík matriculated at a gendarme school, but quitted without permission at the end of his first year. He made an attempt to flee to revolutionary Spain, was detained in Austria, returned to Czechoslovakia and put to trial as a deserter, resulting in three months in jail. He spent his jail term at Pilsen-Bory. He succeeded in his third attempt at escape and reached Spain in 1938. Subsequently Bolfík enlisted with the battalion Divisionario, and was wounded three times. After the fall of the republican Spain he was again detained and spent several months in French internment camps Argéles-sur-Mer and Gurs. He enlisted with the newly formed Czechoslovak army in France and joined the air force again. As an aircraft engineer he was part of the fighter unit Groupe de Chase 1/1 of the French Army, and was promoted to sergeant. After the fall of France he was evacuated to the United Kingdom, disembarking in Liverpool after a dramatic voyage of HMS Neuralia on 12 July 1940. He did not participate in the so-called Cholmondeley mutiny that complicated the Czechoslovak units’ status. He was accepted in the Royal Air Force and was among the founding members of the no. 311 Squadron. After attending a specialist gunner course he was promoted to Sergeant in the British army ranks, and was part of the operational sortie unit. He died on a return flight at night of 16-17 January 1941, coming back from his fourth operational sortie, the raid on Wilhelmshaven. Bolfík was the front gunner in the crew of the Wellington bomber Mk.IC T2519 (KX-Y) of captain P/O Antonín Kubizňák. The Wellington had an accident in heavy weather and freezing fog and went down in the North Sea. The crew was first considered missing, and after a customary seven-month period officially declared dead.


Milan SOVILJ
Pivotal moments for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in spring 1941 as viewed by Czechoslovak exiles

Czechoslovak-Yugoslav collaboration in the Little Entente, which occurred during almost the whole period between the two World Wars, saw great changes during the Sudeten crisis. Due to Czechoslovakia’s deteriorating international position and Yugoslavia’s restrained, very cautious policy, the two states drifted apart. When the Czechoslovak state was under threat, in particular the Sudetenland, Yugoslavia stood back and focused on maintaining a neutral position in the event of conflict. Czechoslovak exiled leaders were reminded of this Yugoslav policy in their role of observer in spring 1941 when Yugoslavia was threatened by Germany similarly to Czechoslovakia two and a half years previously. Yugoslav neutrality policy was no longer sustainable in March 1941. Yugoslavia’s leading politicians were faced with a very difficult decision: whether to embrace Germany’s offensive policy and the Tripartite Pact, or whether to resist the stronger German army and its allies. Whatever decision they made would lead the Yugoslav state into conflict and to great losses. Czechoslovak exiles were greatly interested to see how events in Yugoslavia would turn out, as Yugoslavia had been a very important transit territory for Czechoslovak refugees trying to escape to the Middle East or France since September 1939. The fact that Yugoslav territories and other parts of the Balkans might join the war against Germany with Yugoslavia’s deteriorating position meant that Czechoslovak bodies in exile expressed their interest that Czechoslovak foreign army undertake increased intelligence activities in the territory. The Yugoslav leaders’ decision to join the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941 disappointed the Czechoslovak government in exile, but the coup two days later made them more hopeful that the Yugoslav territory could be exploited in some way for the Czechoslovak intelligence service. Although the Yugoslav army and new government opposed the stronger German army, the leader of the Czechoslovak exiles, Edvard Beneš, continued to take a negative stance towards Yugoslavia because of the reserved and cautious Yugoslav policy from the period before the Munich Agreement and immediately following it.


Daniela NĚMEČKOVÁ
The Battle for Retribution. Justice Ministers’ actions 1945–1948

This study set itself the task of comparing the approaches of different post-war Justice Ministers towards retribution, in particular from their position in the government. During the first period of retribution, i.e. from 14 May 1945 to 6 November 1945, National Socialist Jaroslav Stránský met with difficulties in preparing the great retribution decree, its implementation and enforcement, although these conflicts were nowhere near as acute as in the subsequent period. The second period, i.e. from 6 November 1945 until 25 February 1948, can be divided into three parts. The first part of this term was influenced by the pre-election battle to the Constitutional National Assembly, in which new Justice Minister Prokop Drtina and his department were attacked for the less than ideal purge they carried out. After the election and the communists’ victory, there was a change in approach to non-communist ministers. This can be documented in the period following the judgement against the so-called protectorate government when there was a danger an amendment to the retribution decree could be issued which would once again breach non-retroactivity, but for retribution already begun. Only the robust position of the minister and other non-communist ministers in the government prevented serious damage to legal certainty. The special people’s courts and the National Court ceased their activities on 4 May 1947, following which time unfinished cases were taken over by ordinary courts. A turning point in the ending of retribution occurred on 25 April 1947 at a government meeting when the Prime Minister Klement Gottwald rejected the idea of the government backing the Justice Minister in the issue of retribution. The final part of Drtina’s term was not important in terms of retribution, rather the opposite – he had to deal with other problems; non-adoption of the Marshall Plan, investigation of the so-called Krčman affair, and the February 1948 government crisis. His term ended on 25 February 1948 with his resignation. The third and final period occurred following the communist coup and the arrival of communist Justice Minister Alexej Čepička, K. Gottwald’s son-in-law, on 25 February 1948. The previous two periods had been marked by battles over retribution and the communists took advantage of propaganda from previous years to revise it, with the new act on revision not bringing about the desired results, and the revision of retribution was put on the back burner alongside the legal two-year plan and preparations for an act protecting the People’s Democratic Republic and the State Court at the Justice Ministry.


Vojtěch KYNCL
Post-war investigation of the Gestapo’s crimes in Klatory. The Case of Kilian Anton Rupprecht

Between 1965 and 1979, the Czechoslovak government commission for prosecuting Nazi war criminals managed to collect and substantiate accusations in almost a hundred cases. Many of the crimes investigated took place during the period of the second martial law. In Klatovy, Anton Kilian Rupprecht was a phenomenon similar to Walter Kröger in Pardubice. They were both involved in dozens of deaths, and there are a number of unanswered questions and suspicions following the postponement of their prosecutions. The submitted article is an overview of the documentary material acquired from archives in the Czech Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, although when they were written the two countries did not provide materials to each other to such an extent. Many other similar cases were put on hold due to the withholding of documents, in particular from personal collections in the BDC in Berlin, and justified with the suspension of prosecution in the German Federal Republic. Although this practice changed over the course of fifteen years, it effectively did not lead to successful prosecutions, although one single Nazi criminal detailed in the records from Czechoslovakia, Kilian Rupprecht, was proven to have direct guilt in the death of at least 73 people. The public prosecutor in Germany, however, determined that the victims effectively breached the law in force at the time, and the court-martial death sentence was in accordance with the law and this sentence was then passed by the “ordinary” court.  This interpretation was overturned entirely in 2009 by the Bundestag, which adopted a law cancelling the validation of decisions of National Socialist courts which invoked laws in force after the Nazis’ rise to power. These include explicitly named 59 acts and laws adopted between 1933 and 1945. Kilian Rupprecht would no longer be able to escape conviction.


Zdeněk DOSKOČIL
Charges of Slovak bourgeois nationalism against Ladislav Novomeský and his self-criticism in spring 1950

This study looks at the circumstances of origin of the campaign against so-called Slovak bourgeois nationalism in spring 1950. It primarily focuses on poet and Communist Party of Slovakia figure, Ladislav Novomeský, then commissioner for education, science and art, who became one of its victims. Ideas of the existence of so-called bourgeois nationalism in Slovakia were an entirely deliberate construction with no basis in reality serving only to justify the Communist Party’s immediate needs for power. They were triggered by Stalin’s split with Yugoslavia, persistent disagreements between KSČ and KSS members regarding the constitutional solution to Czech-Slovak relations and a power struggle between centralist and nationally-focused (rebel) wings of the KSS. The most engaged politician was head of the KSS, Viliam Široký. He charged State Security with collecting compromising material on Vladimír Clementis, Gustáv Husák, Ladislav Novomeský and Karol Šmidke. The material collected was used to produce an extensive report which KSS politicians (Viliam Široký, Štefan Bašťovanský) used in spring 1950 as a key source of arguments in their public criticism of Novomeský and the other accused. Those accused first tried to defend themselves. In the end, however, with growing pressure they conceded defeat and made the self-criticism required. The study analyses from many perspectives the (ir)relevant arguments made in the allegations against Novomeský. It also looks in detail at how the poet’s self-criticism, repeated a number of times, gradually deepened. The first version indicates that Novomeský first tried to give a substantive response to the accusations, aiming to honestly deal with everything that sounded at least a little rational in the criticisms made of him. Escalating attacks and repeated calls for party discipline forced Novomeský to change his position and mechanically admit to guilt. His willingness to concede was helped significantly by the fact that so-called Slovak bourgeois nationalism was criticised in spring 1950 merely as an ideological deviation, and not as a criminal act. The selected victims were as yet only punished within the party by being deprived of political functions. Novomeský was forced to leave his post as education commissioner and was removed to head the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts. He was arrested in February 1951.


Ladislav KUDRNA – František STÁREK ČUŇAS
The (Proto)underground in Communist Party policy. Selected reflections from 1965–1980

We can place the birth of the protounderground in the mid-1960s. It was then that beat music began its unprecedented golden age, inspired by famous British bands The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The new music style was also reflected in fashion, with males growing long hair. The communist regime began repression of this “bad” music as early as in 1957, while a campaign against long-haired men took place in the summer and autumn of 1966. First Secretary Antonín Novotný was involved in both these cases. Another turning point came ten years later, on 30 March 1974, following the brutal methods used to disperse a Plastic People of the Universe and DG 307 concert in the village of Rudolf near České Budějovice. It is clear that the transformation of the protounderground into an underground was the result of pressure from centres of power. An unwanted outcome of the repression was the politicisation of the underground, including its huge involvement in Charter 77. It was no coincidence that it was in February 1975 that Ivan Martin Jirous wrote the fundamental text, A Report on the Third Czech Musical Renaissance, in which he described the underground’s main objectives. The response to the activities of this alternative culture was the establishment of Directorate X, and the launch of the nationwide “Band” operation. The order to begin came from its commander, Colonel Vladimír Stárek. The local persecution of long-haired men, which had continued since the end of the 1960s, was replaced by systematic persecution from State Security and the police. However, this massive campaign against the Czech underground ended up doing a disservice to the regime, uniting the fragmented opposition on a shared platform, Charter 77. Furthermore, the security forces found themselves confronted with a new wave of “illegal” music ten years later.


Ondřej ŽÍLA
The Western Powers and their Role in Managing the Repatriation Process in the Dayton Agreement’s Bosnia and Herzegovina

This study focuses on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons after the end of the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the point of view of the international community, i.e. “from the outside”. The paper first aims to briefly characterise the role of Western powers in the post-war peace-building process in Bosnia and Herzegovina at a general level, and then to analyse the gradual development of repatriation strategies from the international community, their partial modification as a result of the low number of returning refugees and the search for new approaches and tools to stimulate the feeble repatriation process. The paper looks to verify two central hypotheses. The first of these involves the Dayton commitment to secure the return of all refugees to their original homes, something which represents an extraordinary precedent in previous international law practice, setting the level for success of the peace reconstruction process very high. This leads on to the second hypothesis on the international community’s approach, which in its attempts at reversing the outcome of ethnic cleansing through mediated so-called minority repatriation, became ever more reliant on measuring the “success” of refugee returns solely by using quantitative data on officially registered returnees. Official records, however, did not correspond to the actual number of people who had permanently returned to their pre-war homes.


Jakub KUNERT
Živnostenská banka Director General, JUDr. Jaroslav Preiss, and his relationship to art

Živnostenská banka General Director, JUDr. Jaroslav Preiss, was not just a passionate collector, but also an expert and supporter of artists and their organisations. Preiss’s relationship to art and culture in general was undoubtedly shaped in the period shortly after entering business and public life in the 1890s. An important factor here was his relationship with the family of his wife Olga Dostalová, who had extensive contacts within the Czech national art scene. Besides family, also of significant influence on his relationship with art was his work as editor of Národní listy, where he met not just major art critics of the time, but also through them other major figures within Czech culture. The focus of Preiss’s collection was not particularly different from other collections owned by leading Czech entrepreneurs and top managers. It was based around pictures, mostly landscape, from the most well-known Czech painters of the first and second half of the 19th century, although he also endeavoured to acquire pictures from leading figures in the Czech avant-garde movement. Jaroslav Preiss was also known for his passion for books, and this led to him owning the second largest private book collection in Czechoslovakia, and this may be why a large part of his collection is made up of prints, mostly by contemporary authors. He built up his collection systematically and did not give in to ill-considered purchases. Although he did take price into account in his purchases, it was not of key importance to him. As such, he was not a wealthy investor or speculator who only saw his pictures as investments. Similarly, the objective of his collection was not to demonstrate his social status or wealth. As such, he rejected the popularisation of his collection, although on the other hand he did allow art academics to access it. Similarly, Preiss was not a showy philanthropist trying to win admiration for his wealth, social status or political influence as he undertook a number of acts of charity and interventions entirely privately without needing any wider response. Thus Živnostenská banka Director General Jaroslav Preiss’s interest in art does not just exemplify the cultural interests of the elites in business and management in the First and Second Czechoslovak Republic, but also clearly shows the links between the cultural, political and economic elites of Czech society in the first half of the 20th century.