Obituary: From D-day participant to anti-Soviet agent

Pavel Baroch
11. 7. 2008 16:45
Miloš Knorr fought both Nazi and communist regimes
General Knorr (right) and mayor of Ivančice, Knorr´s hometown
General Knorr (right) and mayor of Ivančice, Knorr´s hometown | Foto:

Prague - Only few Czech soldiers participated in one of the largest seaborne military invasion in history - the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, dubbed D-Day.

Among them was Czech soldier Miloš Knorr. He was the only Czech that was in the second disembarkment phase. In the first wave there was none, in the third only two.

On July 1, General Knorr passed away. In September, he would have celebrated his 90th birthday. 

"We became good friends in mid-1990s. Miloš was a wonderful man. He joked about the status he was promoted to in 1995, but of course, he was happy to have it," Czech journalist Karel Pacner reminisces about Miloš Knorr at his web site.

Fled homeland. Twice

The life story of General Knorr resembles stories of many other Czech soldiers who fought during World War II. First, they left Czechoslovakia after it was occupied by Nazi Germany. Then, they had to leave the country again after the Communist coup in 1948.

Read more: February 1948 - not bloody enough for Moscow

Knorr fought in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. His regiment suffered great losses. After the war, he was honored with the Order of the British Empire, the highest possible honor.

After the war, he helped to transport Czechoslovak prisoners from German concentration camp Bergen Belsen back to Czechoslovakia.

After the Communist coup in February 1948, he left the country again - he moved to Vienna with the help of a high school friend of his, František Mucha. Paradoxically, Mucha was an agent of the communist secret police (STB).

Screening exiles

"I had never told anybody what Mucha did for me," Knorr said to his friend Pacner once. Only in 1990, after the Velvet Revolution, Knorr went in person to thank Mucha´s wife and daughter, after František was long dead at that time.

Once in Vienna, Miloš Knorr was persuaded by the US counter-intelligence agents to help them with screening those who fled the Soviet bloc to Western countries.

Some days there were tens of Czechs and Slovaks trying to escape their home country. Other days, Knorr admitted, he had limited time to check all of them, so communist spies could infiltrate the American zone.

Despite that, he remained proud to have helped hundreds of people to gain freedom.

From spy to health insurance agent

Knorr continued to work for the US counter-intelligence even in the following years. At the beginning of the 1950s he worked closely with another exiled soldier, General František Moravec, who headed the Czech exile intelligence service in London during the Second World War.

Knorr became a reliable partner to the Americans and was assigned to command several secret operations aimed against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

In 1995, Knorr moved to the USA where he worked in the insurance business. In 1995, he was promoted to General by the then-president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel.

You can find Karel Pacner´s website here.


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Zdroj: ČTK
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