Money from Hitler

Radka Denemarková: Peníze od Hitlera (2006)Original title: Peníze od Hitlera: Letní mozaika
Pages: 242
Year of publication: 2006
Published by: Host
ISBN: 978-80-7294-309-8
Buy the book: AmazonHost
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16-year-old Gita Lauschmannová, who grew up in a German-speaking, assimilated Jewish family in a Czech village, returns from a Nazi concentration camp at the end of the war.

The book won Magnesia Litera Prize, Usedom Literary Prize and Georg Dehio Prize.

16-year-old Gita Lauschmannová, who grew up in a German-speaking, assimilated Jewish family in a Czech village, returns from a Nazi concentration camp at the end of the war. Now an orphan, she hopes for a warm welcome but instead finds a hostile reception from her father’s former employees who have taken possession of her family’s property and moved into her family’s house. Denouncing her for speaking German and labelling her a Nazi, they put her through a terrifying ordeal. Gita only narrowly escaping being murdered, and is lumped together with the Germans being driven out of Czechoslovakia. She manages to escape again and makes her way to her only surviving relative, an aunt in Prague.

Following the end of communism, Gita Lauschmannová – now a retired doctor – returns to the village to seek justice and an apology. But again the locals, terrified that she wants to recover her long-lost property, close ranks against her. Her only – unlikely – ally turns out to be the son of the family that had driven her out.

Is it possible to get justice for barbaric acts? Can old wrongs be righted? Gita is the victim of racist, anti-Semitic and political prejudice and collective guilt. “Money from Hitler” is a harrowing story infused with the power of a classical tragedy. It is a timeless story of persecution and expulsion, and the futility of the struggle for justice. Radka Denemarková’s second novel won the Magnesia Litera for fiction, Czech Republic’s most prestigious literary prize, in 2007. A critically acclaimed play based on the novel was staged in 2010-2012 at Prague’s Svanda Theatre. The production stirred lively public debate on the highly sensitive subject of postwar expulsions and German-Czech-Jewish triangle.

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2007 MAGNESIA LITERA PRIZE for the best prose work of the year

2009 shortlisted for ANGELUS prize (Poland)

2011 USEDOMER LITERATURPREIS (Usedom Prize for Literature), Germany. Laudatio: Hellmuth Karasek. Porota: Hellmuth Karasek, Andreas Kossert, Doris Lemmermeier, Thomas Schulz.

2012 GEORG-DEHIO-BUCHPREIS (Georg Dehio Prize). Berlin, Germany. Laudatio: Andreas Kossert.

2022 Audiobook of the year 2021: best performer Zuzana Slavíková for the audiobook Peníze od Hitlera (Money from Hitler)

From the jury’s reasoning

Six chapters, six attempts to return home to the place of the happy pre-war childhood of Gita Lauschmann, whose family only learned about their Jewish heritage when they were dragged into the concentration camps. The first attempt opens the second and longer post-war act of the historical tragedy: the villagers are trying, by confiscating Gita’s family’s property and land, to get rid of two children who returned from the camp. They manage to kill and bury the boy, but Gita survives. The sombre shadow of the murder and of the unjust theft brings the villagers close together. When, sixty years later, Gita reappears one summer, they are scared and refuse to accept her as one of them, even though she does not intend to get her property back, but only seeks a symbolic expression of justice for her father. The five summertime returns show Gita how difficult it is to admit to being guilty of a crime, especially when a whole village participated in it. Great, dark and very current story, reaching the depths of an ancient drama.Jury of the Magnesia Litera Prize
Reading Money from Hitler (Peníze od Hitlera) is a mind shattering experience. The novel tells a classical story of persecution and expulsion, but also of a fight for justice. Radka Denemarková has made a major contribution, with a literary mastery, to the extensive chronicles of the history of German-Czech-Jewish relationships.Jury of the Georg Dehio Prize
Radka Denemarková is to receive the Georg Dehio Book Prize on 29 November 2012 in Berlin for her novel MONEY FROM HITLER. The Georg Dehio Book Prize is awarded by German Cultural Forum of Eastern Europe to writers, who throughout their works thoroughly investigate the common cultural heritage and traditions in each of the eastern European regions that have been inhabited by Germans over history, and thus contribute to mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. The winners are to be announced in autumn 2012 in Berlin. The Georg Dehio Book Prize winners for 2012 are Peter Demetz for lifetime achievement and Radka Denemarková for her book Money from Hitler (Peníze od Hitlera). The prize is named after Georg Dehio (1850–1932), a German art historian, whose approach to regional context and heritage conservation also became a base for the work of the German Cultural Forum of Eastern Europe. This year’s jury members are: Bernd Busch (German Academy for Language and Literature, Darmstadt, Germany). Blanka Mouralová (Collegium Bohemicum, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic). Martin Pollack (author and translator, Bocksdorf, Austria). Manfred Sapper (Osteuropa magazine, Berlin, Germany). Stefan Sienerth (Institute for German Culture and History in Southeast Europe, Munich, Germany). Beate Störtkuhl (Federal Institute for the Culture and History of Germans in Eastern Europe, Oldenburg, as a representative of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, Germany).Ernest Wichner, Literaturhaus Berlin, Germany

From the reviews

Returning from the concentration camp does not bring the end to evil – that’s one of the ways to characterize Radka Denemarková’s book “Money from Hitler: A Summer Mosaic”. It is not a novelty of this year, it was released six years ago, it also got the second edition (2009) and subsequent reprinting this year. Meanwhile, the novel was able to collect several awards – Magnesia Litera in 2007, Usedom Literary Prize in 2011, and the most recent German Georg Dehio Book Prize (2012).Jiří Lojín, Vaš

All reviews

Foreign editions

  • Hungarian edition: Hitler pénze. Translated by Klára Körtvélyessy. Európa, Budapest 2009.
  • Polish edition: Pieniądze od Hitlera. Translated by Tomasz Timingeriu and Olga Czernikow. Oficyna Wydawnicza ATUT, Wroclaw 2008. Nominated for the Angelus Prize 2009.
  • German edition: Ein herrlicher Flecken Erde. Translated by Eva Profousová. DVA Random House, Munich 2009. Usedomer Literaturpreis 2011 & Georg-Dehio-Buchpreis 2012.
  • English edition: Money from Hitler. Translated by Andrew Oakland. Women’s Press, Toronto 2009. [Rights free!]
  • Slovenian edition: Denar od Hitlerja. Translated by Tatjana Jamnik. Modrijan, Ljubljana 2010.
  • Anthology in Portuguese language (Brasil): Elas escrevem (Antologia de Pontos tchecos contemporaneos escritos por mulheres). Thesaurus, Brasília 2010. (anthology of Czech female writers. A chapter from the book Money from Hitler).
  • Italian edition: I soldi di Hitler. Translated by Angela Zavettieri. Keller editore, Torino 2012.
  • Moldavian anthology of contemporary Czech literature: Coama leului pe pernă (And a Head of a Lion on the Pillow). Translated by Lidia Našincová. Chişinău, 2013.
  • Bulgarian edition: Pari ot Hitler. Translated by Jordanka Trifonova. Afterword by Dobromir Grigorov. Elias Canetti, Ruse 2013.
  • Spanish edition: El dinero de Hitler. Translated by Elena Buixaderas. Galaxia Gutenberg, Barcelona 2015.
  • Macedonian edition: Parite od Hitler. Translated by Margareta Karajanova. Begemot, Skopje 2016.
  • Swedish edition: Pengar från Hitler. Translated by Karin Eriksson. Aspekt Vörlag, Vallentuna 2016. Nominated for Kulturhuset Stadsteatern International Literary Prize 2017.
  • Serbian edition: Novac od Hitlera. Translated by Aleksandar Ivić. Heliks, Smederevo 2018.
  • Croatian edition: Novac od Hitlera. Translated by Suzana Kos. Hena Com, Zagreb 2018.
  • Chinese edition: Flower City Publishing House, Guangdong 2019
  • Romanian edition: Bani de la Hitler. Translated by Anca Irina Ionescu. Casa Cărții de Știință, Cluj-Napoca 2021.
  • Vietnamese edition: Tiến tứ Hitler. Translated by Hau Phamová. Nhà xuất bản Phụ nữ Việt Nam (Vietnam Women’s Publishing House), Hanoi 2021.
  • Rights sold to:
    Armenia: EDGE Publishing House – for 2023

Theatre dramatisation

Peníze od Hitlera (dramatisation of the novel Money from Hitler)
Premiere: 9. 1. 2010. Derniere: 15. 2. 2012. Švandovo divadlo theatre, Smíchov, Prague.
Directed by Michal Lang
Actress Marie Málková in the role of Gita Lauschmannová in the staging of the Money from Hitler was nominated for the Alfréd Radok Prize for the year 2010 in the category the best female acting performance.

Film adaptation

Peníze od Hitlera (drama)
Based on the novel by Radka Denemarková
Directed by Tomáš Mašín
Premiere: 2019

Other books from this trilogy: