Janoušek, Karel, born 30-10-1893, in Přerov, Austria-Hungary, the second child of a clerk on the Imperial Royal Austrian State Railways. His father, also called Karel Janoušek, was a founding member of the Czech Social Democratic Party. Janoušek’s mother, Adelheid, died when Janoušek was two years old. His father remarried and had another nine children by his second wife, Božena.
Janoušek completed secondary school in 1912 and then went to a German business school. He spent the first three years of his working life as a clerk in a local business that belonged to a distant relative. In June 1915 Janoušek was conscripted into the Austrian Imperial-Royal Landwehr, trained at Opava in Czech Silesia and was promoted to corporal. He served in the 57th Infantry Regiment and fought in the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo on the Italian Front.
Janoušek was then transferred to the Eastern Front to resist the Russian Brusilov Offensive. Russian forces captured him on 02-07-1916 and detained him in a prisoner-of-war camp near Kiev, Ukraine. However, on 01-08-1916 Janoušek was released to join the II Volunteer Division of the Serbian Army in Odessa, which recognised his Austrian rank of corporal.
During the Sudeten Crisis Czechoslovakia ordered a partial mobilization on 21 May and complete mobilization on 23 September. Janoušek commanded the Air Force of General Sergei Wojciechowski’s 1st Army, which was to protect the frontier with Nazi Germany from České Budějovice in the southwest to Králíky in the north. But on 29 September France and the United Kingdom signed the Munich Agreement with Germany, forcing Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland without a fight.
On 15-03-1939 Germany occupied Czechoslovakia and created the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia under controle of Governor-General Hans Frank, which was required to dissolve its army and air force. Nevertheless, Janoušek completed his course at Charles University and graduated with a doctorate in natural sciences (RNDr) on 23-06-1939
Hundreds of Czechoslovak army and air force personnel responded to the German occupation by escaping to Poland or France. The secret Obrana národa Czechoslovak resistance organisation helped Janoušek to cross into Slovakia on 15-11-1939. From there he travelled via Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece and Beirut in French-ruled Lebanon to reach France
Janoušek reported for duty in Paris on 01-12-1939. He was assigned to the Czechoslovak Military Administration (CsVS) as Head of the 3rd (Air) Department, de facto commanding the free Czechoslovak Air Force being formed in France, for which there were agreements between the French and Free Czechoslovak governments. But turning the force into a reality was hampered by inaction of the French Ministry of Aviation, lack of equipment, and Czechoslovak air force personnel being scattered at more than 20 locations in France and the French Empire. On 15-03-1940 Janoušek was replaced by his senior and rival, Brigadier General Alois Vicherek. Vicherek survived the war and died 15-01-1956, age 63, in Praque
Janoušek was then to command a Czechoslovak Air Force training centre, which was to be built at Cognac in western France. It never materialised. On 10-03-1945 Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France. As French armed forces were collapsing, on 18 June Janoušek and a large group of Czechoslovak airmen left Bordeaux aboard a small Dutch ship, the Karanan, which reached Falmouth in England on 21-06-1940. The next day France capitulated to Germany.
In the United Kingdom he organized the creation of the Czechoslovak air force units in the Royal Air Force . Janoušek was knighted by HM King George VI and the British granted him the rank of air marshal. Janoušek himself returned to Czechoslovakia on 13-08-1945. In six years of occupation the Nazis had jailed most of his family. His wife Anna and one of his sisters had died in Auschwitz. One of his brothers had died in Buchenwald, two of his brothers-in-law had also died in jail: one in Litoměřice in Bohemia and the other in Pankrác Prison in Prague. Meeting with the family in August 1945 in Přerov. From left, brothers Josef and Otto, who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp. In the middle mother Božena Janoušková and sisters Anna, Božena and Marie.
An OBZ double agent, Jaroslav Doubravský, lured Janoušek into trying to escape from Czechoslovakia. On 30-04-1948 Janoušek was arrested in the escape attempt, and on 2 May he was taken to an OBZ-controlled prison in the Hradčany district of Prague. A High Military Tribunal court-martialled Janoušek on 17 June and sentenced him to 18 years imprisonment. He was stripped of his air force rank, his university doctorate and his awards. On 30 December the tribunal rejected his claim of a mistrial but on 09-02-1949 Janoušek was retried and his sentence was increased to 19 years. He appealed, but on 26 May the appeal court confirmed his sentence Janoušek was imprisoned in Bory prison in Plzeň. There a prison guard approached him with an escape plan. Janoušek thought it was a trap and rejected the proposal. The guard was arrested in November 1949 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Janoušek and another political prisoner, Major René Černý, were accused of failing to report the escape proposal. In March 1950 they were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. On 18 April the prison authorities announced that they had uncovered a plan for a prison uprising and mass escape. Černý, the ČSL politician Stanislav Broj and a guard were tried and executed and other prisoners were given long sentences. Janoušek was moved to a prison at Opava. The entrance to Leopoldov Prison, where Janoušek served four of his 12 years’ imprisonment In June 1952 Janoušek was moved to Leopoldov Prison, a converted 17th-century fortress in Slovakia. In 1955 President Antonín Zápotocký granted a partial amnesty and Janoušek’s life sentence was reduced to 25 years. In November 1956 he was moved again, to a prison at Ruzyně near Prague. Before the end of the year Janoušek’s 25-year sentence was reduced to four years and his earlier 19-year sentence was reduced to 16 years.
Death and burial ground of Janoušek, Dr. Karel.
In 1960, on the 15th anniversary of the liberation of Czechoslovakia, President Antonín Novotný granted an amnesty to many political prisoners. It included Janoušek, who was released on 9 May. All his property had been confiscated and he had only a small pension, so he took work as a clerk at a state enterprise in Prague. He worked until 1967, when he was 74 years old and could retire on a higher pension. On 05-07-1968, during the Prague Spring, a Higher Military Tribunal at Příbram in Bohemia cancelled Janoušek’s convictions. Janoušek died on 27-10-1971, three days before what would have been his 78th birthday. He was buried in the Libeň suburb of Prague. In 2014 Janoušek’s remains were exhumed from the Libeň Cemetery in Prague and on 12 May they were reinterred in the Šárka Cemetery, Praque, Street: U Matěje 213/7, Section: I – C. My Czech friend Radek Hroch visited the cemetery in Praque and sent me the grave photo’s.