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Private First Class (ret.) Otto Pick (1925 - 2016) - Biography

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Petr Zenkl looked at me and said something I would never forget: Young man, don’t meddle in things you don’t understand!

Retired lance corporal Prof. PhDr. Otto Pick, Ph.D, was born on March 4, 1925 in Prague into a mixed Czech-Jewish family. Young Otto grew up in Prague. He went to a primary school and later attended an English high school. He was assigned to Winton´s transport after the creation of the Protectorate on March 15, 1939. Then he headed to London through Hoek van Holland and Harwich. In England he graduated from school and gained a scholarship at Oxford University. He joined the Czechoslovak army units on March 10, 1943. The unit was reorganized into a Czechoslovak independent armored brigade in 1944. He passed a course to become a signalman. After the landing in France he participated in the siege of Dunkirk in an artillery division as a signalman and a radio operator in the 3rd battery. He suffered a light injury during the attack on Dunkirk on April 15, 1945. The whole brigade went back to Czechoslovakia after the war. Thereafter, Otto Pick served briefly in Železná Ruda before going to Kiev to train Soviet soldiers. And After he came back from Kiev he was demobilized. His plan was to attend the Faculty of Law in Prague. He started studying at the faculty and in 1948, he took part in student demonstrations. At that time he already knew he had to emigrate somewhere abroad because of his status of a foreign soldier who had served in England. Otto Pick decided to escape to England because of the scholarship he had been granted at Oxford University. He studied history at Oxford and later earned a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics. An academic career followed. In the beginning he worked as a specialized assistant at the London School of Economics. The next step was a move to the newly established university in Guildford where he became a dean and a vice-chancellor. The height of his career was a professorship in Bologna and Munich. From 1983 he worked as the director of the Czechoslovak Broadcasting Service of Radio Free Europe. In 1991 he decided to return to Prague. His attempt to establish political sciences as a field of study at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University was successful. Later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic offered him the post of deputy minister. He still works as an advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and teaches at the Diplomatic Academy and at Charles University. Mr. Otto Pick died on March the 20th 2016.

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