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Jan Jelínek (1912 - 2009) - Biography

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“I don’t know Jews. I know only people!”

Jan Jelínek was born on May 19, 1912, in the Polish town of Zelov, in a family of descendants of Czech evangelical exiles. He was raised in the Protestant faith and led to Czech patriotism. As a boy, he was already working on accounting in the form of some scattered workshops at the Jan Sláma firm, which was involved in the textile industry. Afterwards, he purchased a textile factory. However, Mr. Jelínek wanted to become a preacher, so he studied at a missionary school in Olomouc from 1931-1935 and became an evangelical pastor. Then he worked as a director of a textile factory in his native town of Zelová. In 1937 he accepted the position of a preacher in Volhynia, and he served in the Czech village of Kupičov. Besides spiritual work, he also helped persecuted people regardless of their nationality or religion. He hid the Jews from the Germans, the Poles from the Ukrainian nationalists (so-called "Banderovci"), and the Ukrainian nationalists from the Russians. In 1942 he married Mrs. Anne, who was his faithful companion until his death in 2009. Together, they joined the Czechoslovak Foreign Army in 1944. Jan Jelinek was responsible for supplying an artillery regiment and his wife acted as a liaison for the regiment headquarters. He participated in the struggle for Czechoslovakian liberation and in the battles of Dukla. After the war he settled in the village of Oráčová, near Rakovník. Mr. Jelinek then worked as a preacher in Podbořany. He also helped with the repatriation of Czech exiles from Poland and the USSR. Because he strongly disagreed with the Communist regime, he did not support the establishment of co-operatives (JZD) and refused to cooperate with the secret police. Therefore, he was arrested in 1958 and sentenced to two years in prison for sedition. He served his penalty in a labor camp in Rtyně (in the foothills of the Krkonoše Mountains), where he worked as a coal miner. After his release in 1960, he was banned to stay in the Karlovy Vary region (Karlovarsko) and therefore could not return to Oráčová (which is located in that region). So, he worked as a laborer in a Prague factory that produced paints and varnishes. He stayed there until his retirement in 1972, when he could finally return to Oráčová. After a prolonged effort he received the necessary state approval and served as assistant pastor in Podbořany. He remained a cleric after the fall of Communism in 1989.

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