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Josten, Josef, 1913-1985



  • Existence: 1913 - 1985


Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on 25 March 1913, Josef Josten became interested in journalism at an early age. In his late teens he worked as a sports reporter and in his early twenties he joined the staff of the Prague daily newspaper Lidove Noviny. His interests turned to political journalism as Nazism spread across Europe. When the Germans marched into Prague in March 1939, Josten joined the Czech underground movement. By December his activities forced him to flee from the Nazi military police or gestapo. He traveled through Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East until he finally reached France, where he joined up with the newly formed Czechoslovak brigade.

After the fall of France, the Czech units evacuated to Britain, where Josten met Patricia Giles, whom he would marry in 1943. He rejoined his unit for the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944. After nine months at the front, he was posted to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in Luxembourg to broadcast news to the millions of displaced persons in Europe.

The Jostens made their home in Prague for the next few years, where Josef worked in the Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Jan Masaryk, the son of the founder of the Czechoslovak Republic. He was dismissed shortly after the Communist coup in February 1948 because he refused to join the Communist Party.

The Jostens settled again in England, where Josef set up the Free Czechoslovak Information (FCI) Service. The main mission of the FCI Service focused on providing uncensored news and editorial comment to the world's media. The FCI circulated their newsletter, "Features and News from behind the Iron Curtain"to subscribers in over fifty countries.

In 1980 Josten's concern about the imprisonment of intellectuals behind the Iron Curtain led to his founding the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted and the Human Rights Charity. His efforts on behalf of humanitarian causes in journalism led to his appointment as Member of the British Empire in 1985. Josef Josten died in London on 29 November 1985 at the age of 72.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Josef Josten, Czech Heritage Papers

Identifier: MS-0087
Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the personal papers of Joseph Josten and includes correspondence, photographs, various subject files, news clippings, and newspapers. The materials relate mainly to Josten's work as a journalist during and after World War II.

Dates: 1913-1985