Professor Josef Jařab

* 1937  

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I was reading in between the lines and was prepared with all my heart that something would start

Josef Jařab was born on the 26 of July 1937 in Kravaře in the part of Hlučínsko into a family of small-scale farmers. His father Max Jařab had to enlist into the Wehrmacht during the war. He went through the fights in France and Russia from where he was transferred to Breslau (today Wroclaw) because of frostbite. He was taken captive in Wroclaw and did not return home until 1946. Josef Jařab studied at grammar school in Hlučín and then he studied English studies and Russian studies at Palacký University in Olomouc. Between 1964 and 1968 he graduated from doctoral studies at the Faculty of Arts in Prešov where he also gave lectures. He worked at a language school in Ostrava and at Mining University in Ostrava, he was employed as a Czech language teacher at The University of the 17th November and from 1972 he worked at Palacký University in Olomouc. During the whole time that he spent working at universities he did not enter the Czechoslovak Communist Party and in comparison with his colleagues he did not become a member of the Union of Czechoslovak-Soviet friendship. He also kept in touch with dissidents and one of his best friends was Milan Hořínek, Charter 77 signatory. With Jaroslav Kořán, he also prepared the book Child on Top of a Greenhouse (Dítě na skleníku) about contemporary American poetry but the police confiscated it right in the printing office. Josef Jařab was summoned to interrogation by State Security several times because of his activities. In 1989 he became one of the leading figures of the Velvet Revolution and one of the founding members of Civic Forum in Olomouc. He was elected rector of Palacký University Olomouc on the 19th January 1990 and he stayed in the position until 1997. He was rector of private Central European University in Budapest. He was senator for the Olomouc district from 1996 to 1998 and he was senator for the Opava district from 2000 to 2006. He was a member of the Czech Television Council since March 2008 to March 2009. In 2018, he was living in Olomouc, was still teaching at university and he just published almost three-hundred-pages book Rektorské rozpomínání (“Memories of Rector”).