Zbyněk Zeman

Zeman headshot
Born in Prague, Zbyněk Zeman (1928-2011) had his secondary education interrupted by the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. During the 1946-47 academic year as a student in Britain, he fell in love with that country and after the 1948 Communist coup, he fled Czechoslovakia and settled in Britain. Supported by the Czechoslovak Trust Fund in London, he completed a history degree at University College London in 1951 before receiving a doctorate at St Antony’s College, Oxford. After a research fellowship at Oxford, Zeman taught at the University of St Andrews until 1976, then led the Comenius Centre of East European Studies at Lancaster University until 1982, when he moved to Oxford to teach European history.

The 1968 Prague Spring spurred Zeman to leave academia for a few years to join Amnesty International where, as first director of its research department, he chronicled human rights abuses more systematically than ever before.

Zeman’s books include
The Break-up of the Habsburg Empire, 1914-18 (1961), Nazi Propaganda (1964), The Merchant of Revolution: The Life of Alexander Israel Helpland (Parvus) 1867-1924 (1965), Prague Spring: A Report On Czechoslovakia 1968 (1969), A Diplomatic History of the First World War (1971), The Masaryks: The Making of Czechoslovakia (1976), The Making and Breaking of Communist Europe (1991) and The Life of Edvard Beneš, 1884-1948 (1997).

After the fall of communism in 1989, Zeman returned to Prague where he taught at the university and lived until his death.

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