Radio Prague remembers leading Czechoslovak scholar Professor Skilling

06-03-2001

One of the world's foremost scholars of 20th century Czech and Slovak history, Gordon Skilling, died peacefully at the age of 89 in Toronto over the weekend. David Vaughan has more.

Professor Skilling first came to Prague in 1937, where he worked for the international service of Czechoslovak Radio, today's Radio Prague, at the same time as completing his doctoral thesis. He witnessed the tragedy of the Munich Agreement in 1938, and shared some of his memories of the time in an interview with Radio Prague two years ago: Portrait of H. Gordon Skilling, by Maria GabankovaPortrait of H. Gordon Skilling, by Maria Gabankova

Professor Skilling also witnessed the darkest moment in Czech 20th century history, when the Nazis marched into Prague six months later in March 1939, an event that always haunted him. He never lost his love for Czechoslovakia and in a long academic career wrote many books about the country. On hearing of his death, President Havel spoke of Professor Skilling as a personal friend, who had played no small part in helping to return Czechoslovakia to democracy. Radio Prague spoke with one of Professor Skilling's students from the University of Toronto, Linda Mastalir, who started by telling us something about his work as a historian.
Professor Skilling's autobiography "The Education of a Canadian: My Life as a Scholar and Activist" was published in Canada earlier this year. He will be fondly remembered at Radio Prague.

Related links:
"Memories of the Munich Tragedy" September 28th 1999