PRAGUE — Jan Wiener, a Czech Jew who fought in the British air force during World War II after fleeing Nazis in Germany and Czechoslovakia, died Wednesday, Nov. 24 at a Prague military hospital. He was 90. The cause of death was not given.
Born May 26, 1920 in Hamburg, Germany, to a Czech-German Jewish family, Wiener and his family fled Hitler’s Germany for Prague, but Wiener found himself on the run again after the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia.
He managed to escape to Britain through Yugoslavia and Italy, where he was captured, to join the Royal Air Force’s No. 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron.
Wiener’s father committed suicide to avoid ending up in the hands of the Nazis. His mother died in the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp north of Prague.
After the Communists took over Czechoslovakia in 1948, Wiener spent five years in communist prisons, a fate shared by many anti-Nazi fighters who fought in the West and were considered enemies of the communist state.
In the mid-1960s, Wiener settled in the United States and became professor of history at the American University in Washington, D.C.
After the collapse of communism, he returned to his homeland on a regular basis and became a guest lecturer at Prague’s branch of New York University.
Wiener is survived by his wife, Zuzana, a son and a daughter.