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My Century And My Many Lives, by Frank Munk
Memoirs, 1993
Postscript, 1994

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 and a copy of the paper, if possible, as we would like to know when this material is of interest and we are curious as to how it is being used. We'd like to hear from you.
© Copyright 1993, 1994, The Munk/Ragen Families


The year is 1992. Bosnia is in the forefront of news.

Bosnia also was in the forefront of news in 1908: That year Austria-Hungary, then one of five major powers, annexed Bosnia which it had occupied in 1879. This very nearly precipitated a world war, although it was averted for another six years. When it exploded, the flash point still was Bosnia, namely a shot fired by a young Serb in a spot commemorated in the pavement: the assassination of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

The Bosnian crisis happened also to be a determining moment in my life. I was then a ripe seven years, as curious then as I am now at 91. This is how it happened...

My family and I went for a hike every Sunday afternoon, frequently to a wooded hill dominating the surroundings of our town, Kutná Hora. The name of the hill was and is Haj.

That particular Sunday the talk was about Bosnia and whether there will be war. That was what my parents were talking about. So I started to ask questions...where was Bosnia, why was it so important, how come Austria could annex it? I was not quite sure my parents had all the answers. So I decided to find out for myself and I did. Next morning I picked up the newspaper they were reading (it was Masaryk's old CAS) and from that day on I read a newspaper, or more than one, for the next 85 or so years. My interest was set. I could not know then that my daughter would one day marry a man whose family originally came from a place neighboring Bosnia, called Montenegro, but that is another story. At any rate Nadia, my son-in-law, and our daughter visited Bosnia with Sarajevo, Mostar and so on just a few years before it was rent asunder by a bloody civil war.

In the succeeding decades I was able to satisfy my curiosity in international affairs by actively participating in what you might call student-diplomacy, by leading the Czechoslovak League of Nations Association, by becoming Secretary General of the Čnternational Confederation of Students, by participating at least in a marginal way in Czechoslovak politics, by spending time in the United States as a Research Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, as Director of Training of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, as director of Radio Free Europe in Munich, and I do not know in how many other functions around the globe, while as the same time teaching and publishing books in several languages.

Yet my curiosity is not quite assuaged: I and the world are getting curiouser and curiouser, if not better. In this year of 1992, I do not expect we shall get any closer to a New World Order. To me it looks more like a new and worse World Disorder. I only can hope I am wrong.


The books listed below provide additional background on Montenegro to help illustrate this portion of my grandfather's memoirs.


The Falcon & the Eagle: Montenegro & Austria-Hungary, 1908-1914; John D. Treadway


Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History; Robert D. Kaplan


The Bridge on the Drina; Ivo Andric


The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1809-1999 by Misha Glenny



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