Petr Zenkl, Czech Heritage Papers
Title: Petr Zenkl,
Czech Heritage Papers
Creator: Zenkl, Petr, 1884-1975
Quantity: 2 boxes (0.8 linear
Collection Number: MS 0097
Copyright: To inquire about usage, please contact Archives & Special Collections,
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. For more information see the
Preferred Citation: Petr Zenkl, Czech Heritage Papers (MS 0097). Archives & Special Collections, University of
Born on 13 June 1884 in Tabor, Czech Kingdom, Petr Zenkl, son of Petr and Veronika
(Unger) Zenkl, attended Charles University in Prague, completing his Ph.D. in 1907.
He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Strasbourg, France, in
1947. Zenkl married Pavla Sevcovic on November 13, 1909.
Between 1907 and 1918 Zenkl taught at the School of Commerce, the Graduate Schools of
Engineering, Social Service, and Agriculture in Tabor. From 1918 to 1926 he worked
as the Chief of the Division of Education and Welfare for the Ministry of Social
Welfare. From 1926 to 1948 Zenkl acted as the General Manager of the Czechoslovak
Social Security system. Zenkl, from 1911 to 1921, served as Mayor and Member of the
Municipality of Karlin and on the City's Committee for Public Welfare. Between 1921
and 1946, he served on the City Council, as chairman of the Central Committee for
Social Welfare, and three terms as Lord Mayor of Prague.
From 1932 to 1936 he was a member of the Provincial Diet of Bohemia and became
chairman of the Committee for Social Welfare and Public Assistance. In 1938 he was
elected to the Czechoslovak Parliament and became the Minister of Social Welfare and
Public Health. Between 1939 to 1945 he was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration
camps of Dachau and Buchenwald.
After the Czechoslovak government collapsed in 1948, Zenkl and his wife were
imprisoned, eventually making it to the U.S. In 1949 Zenkl joined the Council of
Free Czechoslovakia and served as chairman until 1951. He also served as chairman of
the Executive Committee of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia and as the chairman of
the National Committee of Free Czechoslovakia. Petr Zenkl died in Raleigh, North
Carolina, on November 3, 1975.
Scope and Content:
The collection consists of Zenkl's manuscripts and papers, including correspondence,
published and unpublished writings, and biographical information. Of particular
interest are a memorandum signed by various Eastern European political exiles and
Zenkl's unpublished memoirs.
Zenkl, Petr, 1884-1975 -- Archives
Political refugees -- Czechoslovakia -- Archives
Czechoslovakia -- Politics and government -- 20th century
Series 1: Correspondence Box 1, Folder 1
This series consists of personal and professional correspondence to and from
Series 2: Writings Box 1, Folders 2-8, Box 2, Folders 1-5
This series contains the unpublished memoirs of Petr Zenkl. The manuscript
drafts are written in Czech with some English translations. Also included in
this series is the speech, "Czechoslovakia
Today," which was published in Vital
Speeches of the Day, 1 April 1949.
Series 3: Biographical materials Box 2, Folders 6-7
This series consists of biographical sketches and articles documenting
Box 1. Folder 1. Correspondence, 1948-1970
Consists of personal and professional correspondence to and from Zenkl. Of
special interest is a letter to Zenkl from U.S. President Richard Nixon in
honor of Zenkl's 85th birthday and a 1954 memorandum to the U.S. Congress
urging its members to conduct public hearings into the activities of
political exiles. A big number of noted exiles from Central and Eastern
Europe signed the memorandum, including former Vice-Premier of Yugoslavia
Miha Krek, former Prime Minister of Poland Stanislaw Mikolajczyk and former
Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Trade Hubert Ripka. The signers of the
memorandum felt that closed investigations of various Czechoslovak exiles by
the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security headed by U.S. Senator
William J. Jenner were unfairly influenced by allegations made by
anti-democratic Czechoslovak extremists.
Box 1. Folder 2. Memoirs, part 1
Manuscripts on childhood, siblings, Christmas, poor family conditions, and
Box 1. Folder 3. Memoirs, part 2
Manuscripts containing information on grammar school in Tabor, Zenkl's
favorite professor, the Sokol athletics organization, working in Tabor and
going to Prague only for exams due to his family's financial conditions,
studying philology, life in Prague, his friendship with Czech poet
Vrchlicky, teaching at the Commerce School in Karlin, and activities during
Box 1. Folder 4. Memoirs, part 3
Manuscripts regarding activities after the 1918 revolution, social
activities, the establishment of the Czechoslovak Red Cross, and information
on accomodation policies, employment, transport, and beggary.
Box 1. Folder 5. Memoirs, part 4
Manuscripts regarding Zenkl's memories of the first Czechoslovak President
Tomas G. Masaryk as his teacher, colleague, and president.
Box 1. Folder 6. Memoirs, part 5
Manuscripts regarding politics in the first Czechoslovak Republic and the
honorary citizenship of the City of Prague, along with accounts of escaping
Czechoslovakia, the 1938 mobilization in Czechoslovakia, the election of
Emil Hacha as President in 1938, being taken by gestapo in 1939, the first
day in prison, and conditions in the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Box 1. Folder 7. Memoirs, part 6
Manuscripts on Communist co-prisoners in Buchenwald, on sardines sent
President Benes through the Red Cross, and liberation of Buchenwald.
Box 1. Folder 8. Memoirs, part 7
Manuscripts regarding Ilsa Koch, wife of a Buchenwald camp commander, last
days in Buchenwald, examples of the spread of Communist power in
Czechoslovakia, and an Eastern German publication about Buchenwald.
Box 2. Folder 1. Memoirs, part 8
Manuscripts on Czechoslovak politicians before the Communist putsch,
Communist power and techniques, and the government of Klement Gottwald.
Box 2. Folder 2. Memoirs, part 9
Contains a copy Walter H. Judd's speech in the U.S. House of Representatives
on the 10th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Communist putsch in 1958,
Zenkl's article in Ceske Slovo an article
titled "Why Have We Submitted Over the Demission
in February 1948?", manuscripts on the Marshall Plan, and
information on Zenkl's job search in the U.S.
Box 2. Folder 3. Memoirs, part 10
Manuscripts regarding the last days in Buchenwald, political challenges in
the 1930s, an attempt to kill Zenkl with a bomb package, political events
before the Communist putsch, and advice given by the Lord Mayor of Vienna,
who was also being detained in Buchenwald.
Box 2. Folder 4. Memoirs, part 11
Manuscripts on Zenkl's reaction to a publication written by Jan Kozak called
"The Role of the Parliament and the Unions In
the Communist Revolution," an address to the U.N. on Kozak, an
international partnership organization, cultural activities in exile, and
Zenkl's return to Czechoslovakia after WWII.
Box 2. Folder 5. Speech, "Czechoslovakia Today: No Way of
Cooperating With Russia," Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XV, No.
12, 1949, Apr. 1
Box 2. Folder 6. Biographical sketches
Contains biographical information and versions of Zenkl's resumes. In Czech
Box 2. Folder 7. Articles
Contains articles about Zenkl, memories of him in the concentration camp
Buchenwald, propaganda about Zenkl's behavior in the camp, and Zenkl's
manuscripts regarding Buchenwald.
Related Material and Resources: Please see other Czech Heritage Collections under the Ethnic American