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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

SECRET NOTES REDISCOVERED (Addendum to Chapter 12)

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 London.

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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