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Bondy, Bohumil

(1832–1907), Czech industrialist, political leader, and historian. As the son of one of the most prominent Jewish families in nineteenth-century Prague, Bohumil Bondy himself became a major figure in the economic life of Bohemia and one of the leading entrepreneurs in the metal industry in the Czech lands. He demonstrated his unusual talents in this field during the economic crisis of 1873, when the factory he owned (located in Bubeneč, an industrial suburb of Prague) was the only one in Prague to survive the crisis without dismissing a single employee.

Although his socioeconomic status made Bondy a member of the German Jewish economic elite of Prague, he nevertheless was one of the leading activists of the Czech Jewish movement, which advocated closer relations between Jews and Czechs. The group’s ideology also called for the integration of Jews into the social and cultural fabric of Czech society. In 1876, Bondy was among the founders of Spolek Českých Akademiků-Židů (the Czech Jewish Academic Society), an organization that opposed the German orientation of the Prague Jewish community.

Throughout his career, Bondy was active in the local public and political scene. He served as a member of the Prague city council from 1864 to 1869 and again from 1875 to 1878, and was voted onto Obchodní a Živnostenská Komora v Praze, the Prague Commerce and Industry Board of Directors; indeed, he was the only member of this board who spoke the Czech language. In 1883, he was elected to the Old Czech Party (Staročeská strana or Národni strana) in the Bohemian Diet, where he represented the old quarter of Prague (Staré město).

In addition to his extensive economic, public, and political activities, Bondy invested substantial intellectual effort into studying the history of Jews in Czech lands. This effort bore fruit in 1906 in the form of a comprehensive two-volume historiography project he published in cooperation with Franz Dvorský, the director of the Bohemian National Archives. The project—K historii Židů v Čechách, na Moravě a v Slezsky, 906–1620—collected primary reference sources on the history of Jews of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia between 906 and 1620.

Suggested Reading

Gary B. Cohen, “Jews in German Liberal Politics: Prague, 1880–1914,” Jewish History 1.1 (1986): 55–74; Hillel J. Kieval, The Making of Czech Jewry: National Conflict and Jewish Society in Bohemia, 1870–1918 (New York, 1988).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann