Thursday, 21 September 2017

Czech war veteran and journalist Utitz dies aged 96 years

ČTK |
14 February 2017

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) - Czech war veteran and journalist Bedrich Utitz, who fought at Tobruk and Dunkerque and who worked with the Czechoslovak News Agency and Czechoslovak Radio after the war, has died aged 96, server Lidovky.cz reported on Monday.

In 1998, he was presented with the top state award, the Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order, and three years ago he was awarded the Arnost Lustig Prize for "courage, bravery, humanity and justice."

Utitz was born in Vienna on November 20, 1920, to a Jewish family. When he was 12, the family moved back to Prague, the native city of his father. He passed his secondary school leaving exams in 1938. After Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939, he emigrated with the family, with the exception of the father who died in the mid-1930s, to Palestine.

In 1940, Utitz joined the military and fought at Tobruk with the Czechoslovak unit. Later he was admitted to the officers' school in Haifa and in 1943, he moved to Britain.

Utitz participated in the siege of the Dunkerque port with the Czechoslovak independent armoured brigade in 1944. In January 1945, he was taken prisoner. He rejoined his unit after a swap of prisoners of war two months later.

After the war, he returned to Prague and in the autumn of the year, he was admitted to CTK. He was its correspondent in Berlin, among others.

In 1949, Utitz started to work for the Telepress agency which broadcast propaganda abroad. When it was closed after the communist coup in 1951, Utizt worked as a librarian of the Institute of Experimental Surgery in Prague.

He returned to the media in 1954, when he started to work for Czechoslovak Radio and later became head of the foreign broadcasts editorial desk.

In 1963-65, Utitz stayed in Cuba where he worked for the Cuban broadcasts for America and later became a Czechoslovak Radio correspondent. After return, he headed the German section of the radio's foreign broadcasts until the 1968 Soviet-occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Afterwards, he participated in the anti-occupation broadcasts and still in 1968, he went for a year-long unpaid leave to Germany, where he stayed in emigration.

In 1971, he and Adolf Muller founded the Index publishing house in Cologne. Until the end of the 1980s, the house issued some 200 book titles by authors banned in Czechoslovakia.

After the fall of the communist regime, Utitz contributed to a number of Czech media outlets.

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