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Petschek

PETSCHEK

PETSCHEK , Bohemian family of financiers and industrialists, for half a century owners of one of the leading coal mining companies in central Europe. moses ben israel (1822–1888), its founder, moved from his native village, Pečky (hence the family's name), to nearby Kolin, where isidor (1854–1919), julius (1856–1932), and ignaz (1857–1934) were born. Moses made his fortune mainly in real estate. In 1871 he acquired stock in a lignite mining company in Most (Bruex) and in 1876 moved to Prague. The real pioneer of the Petschek family's entry into the coal industry was Ignaz, who began his career as a bank clerk. After an apprenticeship with J.E. *Weinmann in Ústí nad Labem (Aussig an der Elbe), he founded his own coal marketing agency there. In 1890 Ignaz was selling up to 7 million tons of lignite a year. In 1906 he bought his first mines. The business of Isidor and Julius, conducted from Prague, became known as "Grosser Petschek" while Ignaz's firm was known as "Kleiner Petschek"; they were competitors and acquired interests in many other branches of industry and finance throughout Europe. Both groups, but mainly Ignaz's, acquired coal mines during the post-World War i inflation years, and subsequently, with 50 other German mining firms, formed a syndicate, in which they themselves controlled 50% of all the output. After World War i the Prague group (Julius and Isidor) founded their own bank.

After Julius' death, the Prague group was owned by seven families, and in 1938 by 40, who transferred their property to a specially created British corporation, and as such in 1937 opened negotiations with their Nazi competitors. In May they succeeded in selling the property at a huge loss for $4.75 million in hard currency. Subsequently they also sold the majority of their possessions in the Sudeten area, including 24 coal mines, their sales organization, and 30% of the north Bohemian coal output. All the Prague Petschek families moved to England in July 1938, and later to the U.S. The property of the Ústí branch, managed by Ignaz's son Karl, was too large to be acquired by the Germans and the family tried to withstand them. When the Nazis occupied Ústí (1938) they immediately appointed a German executor (trustee) and in spring 1939 the property was sold by the German Reich as restitution for 3 billion Reichsmark allegedly defrauded from taxes due in Germany. The Hermann *Goering Werke organized a special firm, known as Subag, to include both groups. During the German occupation of Prague the Petschek residence was taken over by the Gestapo. The Petschek possessions became state-owned after World War ii.

bibliography:

F. Pinner, Deutsche Wirtschaftsfuehrer (1925), 305–6; J. Stoessler, in: H. Gold (ed.), Die Juden und Judengemeinden Boehmens in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (1934), 22; Jews of Czechoslovakia, 1 (1968), index; R. Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews (19672), 61, 81; K. Kratochvíl, Bankéři (1962).

[Meir Lamed]

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