The original owners
The married couple Ferdinand and Vlasta Menger bought a plot of land with a building site in Dejvice, 1852 Komornická Street, in 1934. A year later, they commissioned the construction of a villa to the company of architects Freiwald – Böhm, 45 Palackého Street, Karlín.
Mr. Ferdinand Menger was a leading Prague financier. Over the years, he went from a prominent chief accounting executive to the chief executive officer of the Prague Municipal Savings Bank, with its seat in the Old Town Hall and later on the corner of Rytířská and Melantrichova Streets. In its time, it was Czechoslovakia´s largest savings bank with over 3 billion crowns´ worth of deposits1.It played a significant role in financing Prague ´s extensive construction projects in the interwar era.
At the same time, Menger held other significant offices, especially in the financial sector as the chief accountant of the Surveillance Authority; he was a founding member of Spořilov, a building society of savings bank depositors in Prague and Royal Vinohrady2, while also being a member of the administrative board of Melantrich in 1920 – 1929.3
The architecture of the villa
The villa´s architects and builders, Jindřich Freiwald and Jaroslav Böhm (both were favourite disciples of the prominent Prague urbanist Jan Kotěra), designed a number of financial institutions (Czech Savings Banks in Červený Kostelec, in Nové Město nad Metují, Úpice, Česká Skalice and Hronov), townhouses, residential colonies and theatres in Chrudim, Hronov and Kolín.
In Prague, these architects were the authors of the functionalist building of the Aero Cinema in Žižkov and the Aero industrial factory in Karlín. Later, from 1935, the architects were designing the villas in Braník Nad Kostelem 725/8 (in the administration of the Diplomatic Service), in Vlnitá Street and in Mezivrší.
Jindřich Freiwald, a great patriot and Czechoslovak reserve officer, became involved in anti-Nazi resistance during World War II and as a captain of the Czechoslovak Army participated in the Prague Uprising. During the capitulation negotiations, he was captured by SS men on 8 May and shot dead the following day on a hill above the Krč Hospital4.
The use of the villa
The villa was purchased from the original owner Mrs. Vlasta Mengerová and the later co-owners, Mrs. Vlasta Nováková and Mr. Lubomír Enger, on the basis of a purchase contract of 28 October 1971 by the Services Management of the Diplomatic Corps, and was transferred to the ownership of the Czech Republic.
In the years to come, the villa was consecutively rented out to the embassies of the Iraqi republic, Republic of Colombia, Kingdom of Morocco and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
1 Menger, Ferdinand, Šedesát let Městské spořitelny Pražské, 1938
2 Prostor – architektura, interiér, design – Spořilova v médiích: Zájmy Spořilova, roč. II, č. 1, z 9. února 1929, https://prostor-ad.cz/pruvodce/praha/sporilov/media/zakladatel.htm
3 On-line archiv Langhans, http://www.langhans.cz/cz/archiv/online-archiv/name/m/menger/1004/
4 Vítejte u nás, hrob Ing. Arch. Jindřicha Freiwalda, http://www.mestohronov.cz/vitejte-u-nas/clanek/hrob-ing-arch-jindricha-freiwalda