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Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Jiří Pavel Kafka (1924) - Biography

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I don’t like to portray it as a heroic episode

Retired Colonel Jiří Pavel Kafka was born on May 5, 1924, in Prague in Czechoslovakia. His family was of Jewish extraction, his father worked as a lawyer and was also the chairman of the Jewish community in Prague, his mother was a housewife. Jiří Pavel Kafka attended elementary school and later grammar school. Thanks to the providence of his father, Jiří and his siblings managed to travel to England on the so-called Winton train (June 28, 1939) shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. In England, Jiří Pavel Kafka and his brother at first ended up in a camp for refugee children in Ipswich. But later, thanks to his father, who fortuitously came to England and then worked as head of the Nečas ministry for economic recovery in the Beneš exile government, the two brothers got on a summer school and subsequently on a high school in Cheltenham. However, Jiří Pavel Kafka grew tired of studying and thus he went into business, taking an apprentice at the company Sigmund Pumps. Then, on June 13, 1942, he resolved to join the army. For approximately three months, he served in the Czechoslovak land army, he completed basic training and then was accepted to the Royal Air Force (RAF). He attended training in Wales, Scotland and the Bahamas and was ranked as a gunner and radio operator in the 311th Fighting Wing, where he served between September 3, 1942 and September 19, 1945. His crew operated over the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea and the Atlantic. Their task was to accompany Allied convoys and destroy enemy ships and submarines. In 1945, he returned to Czechoslovakia where he found his mother, who had survived the Lodz ghetto, the Auschwitz concentration camp and then a camp in northern Bohemia. However, Jiří Pavel Kafka left Czechoslovakia again in 1947 and he went back to England. In 1949, he visited his native country for the funeral of his father, but didn't remain in the country permanently. In England, he lived with his brother and then they were joined by their mom. Jiří Pavel Kafka, together with a friend, founded a company for the import of components for the manufacture of jewelry. However, he became influenced by Zionism, and thus in 1960, he and his wife decided to move to Israel. In Israel, he became active in the real estate business, renting, buying and rebuilding houses. He continued to work in this field even after 1968, when he returned to England. In 1986, his mother died, followed by his wife in 1988, and so he decided to return to Czechoslovakia in 1990. Jiří Pavel Kafka currently lives in Prague.

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