IIN 1938, ADOLF HITLER began his conquest of Europe by gobbling up Czechoslovakia.
It was accomplished with the full compliance of Great Britain and France, whose leaders thought that appeasing the ruthless German dictator would somehow avoid war.
Radomir Vaclav Luza was 18 when the Germans marched in. He was the son of a famous Czech general, Vojtech Luza, who became a leader of Czech resistance to the Nazi conquest. His son soon joined him.
From bitter years of fighting the Germans, hiding underground and seeing comrades hunted and killed by the Gestapo, including his own father, then battling the Communist takeover of his country after the war, Radomir found his way to the United States, became a distinguished professor of history and author and raised a family.
He died Nov. 24 at the age of 87. He lived in Blue Bell, Montgomery County.
Even after moving to academia, Luza continued to fight communism and promote democracy for his embattled native country.
His most famous book was "The Hitler Kiss: A Memoir of the Czech Resistance," published in 2002.
"I picked up 'The Hitler Kiss' only a few hours afer I had returned from a research trip in Europe," wrote Igor Lukes, historian and author.
"As I was very tired after a long flight, I expected to be able only to glance at a few pages. I found myself reading and reading more, for hours, until the pages virtually fell from my fingers . . . At the end I was so moved that I had tears in my eyes."
Karl Roider, author of "Austria's Eastern Question," wrote, "This is a remarkable book . . . a fabulous adventure story . . . The reader's blood pressure goes up just wondering what will happen."
The book, co-authored by Christina Vella, a writer and historian, was published in the Czech Republic in 2006.
Among other harrowing incidents, the book relates how Luza was imprisoned by the Gestapo, then released in the expectation that he would lead them to his fugitive father. Instead, he fled his captors and went to live with his father in the Resistance underground.
At one time, he organized a guerrilla force of 800 men, including Russian ex-prisoners, and launched attacks on the Germans. He was fortunate to have survived such adventures, but then he came up against the Communists when they took over his native land.
He was forced to flee the country in 1948. He became involved with the Czech government-in-exile for a time and spent the next 40 years opposing the Communist regime and building the foundation of the Czech Social Democratic Party.
With a law degree from Masaryk University in Brno, Luza emigrated to the United States in 1953 and obtained a Ph.D in history from New York University. He spent the rest of his life teaching, lecturing and writing about modern European history.
He became a tenured professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, and was named professor emeritus in 1993. He then moved to the Philadelphia area, residing first in Langhorne, then in Blue Bell.
Luza received numerous awards from the Czech Republic for his wartime activities and his lifelong support of democratic causes.
In 1957, he married the late Libuse Podrazska. He is survived by a son, Radomir Luza Jr.; a daughter, Sabrina Luza Armitage; and two grandchildren.
Services: Memorial service 2 p.m. Dec. 28 at Normandy Farms Estates, 9000 Twin Silo Drive, Blue Bell.