My Century And My Many Lives, by Frank Munk
Frank Munk, my grandfather, wrote this autobiography to record his memories
from 1901 onwards. This history and its postscript are available on our family website in his
memory as they tell a complete story of the 20th century. These memoirs may be referenced as
long as proper attribution is made; our family retains ownership and copyright. We have one
request: if you reference this material in any way, please send us email at
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© Copyright 1993, 1994, The Munk/Ragen Families
A group of Czech historians, studying the
period leading to World War II, have recently discovered the secret notes
President Benes made of important conversations.
I have just received a letter from Dr.
Antonin Klimek, a well-known Czech historian, telling me that among many other
documents that have just been unearthed, there have also been jottings about my
meeting with Benes in Chicago in July, 1939. He also sent me a transcript of
these notes insofar as they could be deciphered.
These notes basically confirm my own
account, as reported in my Memoirs. In addition, they complement my report by
bringing up points I had forgotten in the years that have passed. Some of them
refer to persons who were to play important roles in Czech resistance to Nazism,
and subsequently to Communism, as well as measures and countermeasures related
to German plans for economic exploitation of the Protectorate Bohemia and
Moravia (the part of former Czechoslovakia now embodied in the Czech Republic).
Other points dealt with future communications between the President and the
underground at home, and the plans for setting up a government in exile in
Dr. Benes was known to have made notes of
many meetings, but they were thought to be lost. Evidently, the Communists
seized them after the 1948 coup and held them closely in the offices of the
Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, hoping to find material
they could use to undercut Benes' reputation. For that purpose, the notes were
deciphered some time between 1952 and 1955.
However, both the Communist Party
investigators, and contemporary historians, ran into a problem. Not only were
the notes hastily jotted down, often in abbreviated form, but they were all
taken in a type of shorthand, originally designed in German/and known as the
Gabelsberger method, which was used by the Czechs prior to World War I. Dr.
Klimek mentioned in his letter to me that there is no one presently conversant
with this kind of shorthand!
It so happens that I could have been of
help to the investigators. I am one of those ancients who not only knew
Gabelsberger shorthand, but also actively used it. During my student days I used
to supplement my finances by taking shorthand records of speeches, lectures, and
conferences, etc. I recall, for example, taking a shorthand record of a major
speech by the Czech national leader and first Prime Minister of newly founded
Czechoslovakia, Dr. Karel Kramar.
Dr. Klimek's letter was not only a welcome confirmation of my
recollections of the encounter in Chicago; it also reminded me of the length of
my life's span and the historic upheavals of this century, especially since the
letter arrived on my 92nd birthday, May 26, 1993.
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