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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


My political education started at the store, rather than in the classroom. My father was a clothier. He sold cloth to the tailors or to men who would then go to a tailor. Ready made men's clothing did not exist; everybody had it tailored.

I worked in the store on most afternoons, when I came back from the "reŠlka." My specialty was accessories: I sold shirts, collars (all of them detached), ties and such. But mostly I listened. The store was more than a store. Each afternoon or almost so the professors whom I heard in class in the morning would come to the store, which was a kind of political club. They were mostly members of the same political party, certainly they all had the same political outlook.

My father was very politically minded. Progressive, reformist, anticlerical, anti the prevailing reactionary Austrian government, moderately Czech nationalist -- as was their recognized leader, the future president of the future Czechoslovak Republic, Thomas G. Masaryk. He was something of a dissenter, hated by many, and his party, while minuscule in numbers, had an intense appeal for intellectuals. He suddenly leaped to popularity when he, almost single-handed, founded the republic at the end of the First World War, but that came later. My story starts in the first two decades of this century.

My father, Alfred Munk, was a freethinker. He sympathized in a general way with the moderate left and he was one of the first people who organized the local chapter of Masaryk's party. One of the cherished possessions of our family was a card Masaryk had sent to my father from Russia. The papers I read were first of all Masaryk's daily CAS, the free thought weeklies VOLNA MYSLENKA and VOLNA SKOLA and a weekly published by the Social Democrats RUD… KVETY ("Red Blooms").

My mother, born Marie MautnerovŠ, was more interested in literature, she was an avid reader of fiction in Czech and German. Once a year she would visit her sister in Vienna and would go to the theater of opera evening after evening. But she agreed with my father (and me) on politics.

I suppose I have never wavered much from the philosophy I learned while selling those shirts.



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