Alice Teichova, 1920-2015

A leading economic historian, whose life was shaped by the upheavals of Eastern European history, has died

April 9, 2015

Alice Teichova was born Alice Schwartz in Vienna on 19 September 1920. In 1938, however, the annexing of Austria by the Nazis forced her to seek refuge in England on a Kindertransport. She worked initially in domestic service, but continued to study at evening classes and, in 1942, secured a scholarship at the University of Leeds, graduating in 1945 with a BA in economics.

In 1948, Professor Teichova accompanied her refugee husband Mikuláš Teich back to his native Czechoslovakia, where she obtained a PhD at Charles University in Prague (1952) and became a lecturer in economic history. With the Soviet Union’s suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, they opted for a second and permanent exile in the UK, where she was soon made professor of economic history at the University of East Anglia, a post that she held until she retired and became emeritus.

Continuing to work well beyond normal retirement age, Professor Teichova served as a member of the Faculty of Economics and Politics at Cambridge (from 1986) and senior research associate at the London School of Economics (from 1989). Her publications, some of them in German, included An Economic Background to Munich: International Business and Czechoslovakia 1918-1938 (1974), The Czechoslovak Economy 1918-1980 (1988) and Nation, State, and the Economy in History (edited with Herbert Matis, 2003).

Sir Richard Evans, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge, recalled Professor Teichova as a woman with “a wonderful Viennese charm that she used to build up an international network of contacts in the field of economic and social history. A series of eminent historians visited the University of East Anglia at her behest.

“As a teacher, she was lucid and persuasive. I invited her regularly to my classes on Nazi Germany, where she enthralled the students with her stories of escaping from Vienna when the Germans invaded in 1938, and Prague when the Russians invaded 30 years later (‘I was the only person to get out twice,’ she liked to say).”

He added that Professor Teichova and her husband Mikuláš, a distinguished historian of science, continued with academic visits to Vienna well into their nineties and regularly took part in European history seminars at Cambridge. “Next month they would have celebrated 75 years together,” Sir Richard said.

Professor Teichova died on 12 March and is survived by her husband, son Peter and daughter Eva.

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