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To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: A. Klimek obituary The Death of Czech Historian Antonín Klimek The prominent Czech historian, Antonín Klimek, died on 9 January 2005. Though he started publishing his books late in life, he had a great influence on modern Czech historiography, particularly the interwar history of Czechoslovakia. He was born in Prague on 18 January 1937. Klimek's later life was deeply marked by the ineluctable past of Central Europe. He remembered the wartime fears of his parents, the bombing of Prague, the postwar euphoria, and the Czech hatred of the Germans. After the communist take over of power his father could not practice his profession as a judge. His uncle, a parliamentary deputy, went into exile and was one of the founders of the Committee of Free Czechoslovakia. Communist Czechoslovakia meant trouble for Antonín Klimek. Fortunately in 1960, he was able to matriculate at the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University in Prague, where he was an outstanding student. He found it difficult to get suitable employment; finally, he became an archivist in the Skoda company archives in Prague. He spent some 30 years in the depository, which was located in a cellar. There he became an expert on economic history,  but his main interest was the political history of the First Czechoslovak Republic. He was fortunate in that a friend helped him gain access to the papers of former presidents T. G. Masaryk and Edvard Benes, which were then kept in the archive of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. For a long time Klimek was not certain if he would be able to publish the results of his work. When his study of Czechoslovak foreign policy was finally published in 1989,  he was unknown, even among Czech historians. It was clear, however, that he had a profound knowledge of Czechoslovak history. During the 1990s, he published broadly.  His most important study was the two-volume Boj o Hrad (Struggle for the Castle).  The response of the community of professional historians in Czechoslovak was at first hesitant. Klimek´s account of the First Republic did not conform to the accepted picture of Czechoslovakia as an island of democracy in Central Europe. Its democracy was according to Klimek limited and the new state was perhaps established on faulty assumptions. But he knew that even a restricted democracy was an exception in Central Europe. After the appearance of the first volume of the study, a public discussion of Klimek's book took place. Klimek successfully defended his views, though he was reproached for his attempt to explain the history of the First Republic solely on the basis of the private papers of Masaryk and Benes. Klimek wrote at the beginning of the period of the fragmentation of Czechoslovak communist historiography. Some historians tried to find an alternative, equally valid interpretation of Czech history, which would replace the former communist orthodoxy. The time was not yet suitable for tolerance of a wide variety of interpretations of Czech history. Many historians believed that they should be helpful to politicians and assist them in building the new state; others were afraid of the new Europe, especially united Germany. Klimek defended his singular position in the post-revolutionary confusion and in a society with the unstable ethical values. When the Skoda archives closed, Klimek was offered a job in Prague's Military Historical Institute. Czech and foreign scholars, journalists, and students found a warm welcome in his study there. He was a good host: friendly, open, and always ready to help. His sense of humor was keen and uncommon. Klimek did not write only for a small circle of professional historians. His articles and interviews appeared in the press, he was often heard on the radio and seen on the television. He had a strong sense of the comic and the accidental aspects of history. After a long period of anonymity, he became a public person; and he was unusual among Czech historians in that he was ready to take his views to the market place. His work opened the possibility of a thorough reexamination of the history of Czechoslovakia. He provided a starting place for those young historians who are attempting to put modern Czech history into a wider historical context. Dagmara Hájková  _Nejvetsí zbrojovka monarchie. skodovka v dejinách, dejiny ve skodovce 1859-1918_. (Praha, 1990). Co-author.  _Diplomacie na krisovatce Evropy_ (Praha, 1989); _Jak se delal mír roku 1919_ (Praha, 1989).  _Zrození státníka. Edvard Benes 1884-1918_. (Praha 1990); _Ceskoslovenská zahranicní politika_ (Praha, 1995) with E. Kubu; _Vítez, který prohrál. Generál Radola Gajda_ (Praha, 1995) with P. Hofmann; _Dokumenty ceskoslovenské zahranicní politiky_ (Praha, 1994); _The life of Edvard Benes 1884-1949. Czechoslovakia in Peace and War_ (Oxford, 1997) with Z. Zeman; _Ríjen 1918: Vznik Ceskoslovenska_ (Praha 1998); _Velké dejiny zemí Koruny ceské. XIII, XIV_ (Praha 2000, 2002); 30.1.1933. _Nástup Hitlera k moci - zacátek konce Ceskoslovenska_ (Praha 2003); _Vítejte v první republice_ (Praha 2003). _Boj o Hrad_. (Praha 1996, 1998)