|Born||17 August 1890 |
Tuřanech u Brna, Moravia, Austria-Hungary
|Died||9 February 1972 (aged 81) |
|Years of service||1910, 1914–51|
|Rank||General of the Army|
|Relations||Daughters: Marie (born 1930) and Jarmila (born 1932)|
Ludvík Krejčí (born August 17, 1890) was a prominent four-star general of the Czechoslovak Army, a veteran of the Czechoslovak Legion and the Chief of Staff of the Czechoslovak Army from 1933 to 1938. On September 23, 1938 he was appointed Chief of the Main Headquarters of the Czechoslovak Army, and was responsible for the reorganization and mobilization of the Czechoslovak Army during the Munich Crisis and the subsequent Axis invasion of Czechoslovakia between October 1, 1938 and March 15, 1939.
Early life and military career
He was born on 17 August 17 1890 in Tuřanech u Brna, a town near Brno. He was the youngest of eight children of a farmer from an old farmer family. He studied at the Gymnasium in Vyškov, and from 1907 in the professional school for forest economy in Písek. After graduation, he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1910. After one-year military service in Brno he was appointed to an official in the low service of the forest office in Slavonia. Already in July 1914, he was transferred to the 4. Bosnien-Herzegowina-Regiment, where he climbed up the ranks from company commander up to the battalion commander. He fought in Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and later on the Italian and the Romanian fronts. In May, 1917, he was captured by the Russians and already three months later he entered in Borispol the Czechoslovak Legion. As a First Lieutenant of the reserve and with the honouring "Signum laudis" he was one of the highest ranked officer who joined the legion.
Service in the Czechoslovak Legion
In October 1917 he was appointed second-in-command of the 1st battalion, 6th Rifle Regiment in in Pirjatino, and later the commander of the whole regiment. This regiment was counted as the best in the Czechoslovak Legion and was also present in most fights. His fame began with the victory in the fight in Bakhmach in the Ukraine in March 1918, where he was the commander. During the next two years Krejčí proved himself in the defence of the Siberian Railway. With this railway line the legionaries was to be transported to Vladivostok and from there then to the French battlefield. During the transport to Vladivostok, known as "Siberian Anabasis", Krejčí became commander of one of the units of the 6th Regiment. Later he was promoted (already then colonel) to the commander of the 2nd Legion Division (from Milan Rastislav Stefánik). He commanded the so-called Kungur front in the Urals. Under his guidance his division came without appreciable losses to Vladivostok. Krejčí even led the transport of the legionaries on the ship "USS Grant".
He returned to the young Czechoslovak Republic on 18 June 1920. After his return he concluded the War Academy in Paris, then at home he became the commander of the infantry division in Hradec Králové with the rank of the Brigadier General.
From 1932 to 1933 he was the commander of the Košice Military Command. Considered to be a capable and experienced officer, he was appointed Chief of General Staff on 30 November 1933 by President Masaryk, and in March 1934 he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army. Krejčí was aware of the German threat, which continued to build up its armed forces, and worked with determination on the strengthening of the defensive possibilities of the Czechoslovak Republic. Under him the army was motorized and a system was built by border defence arrangements (fortresses).
Invasion of Czechoslovakia
- Main article: Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1938-1939)
In the early hours of October 1, 1938, Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.
During the whole conflict, Krejčí worked closely with both his Chief of Staff, Gen. Bohuslav Fiala, the Military High Command as well as Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Jan Syrový. While he spent most of his time in the headquarters of the Military High Command in Prague, he also made many visits to the front as long as the situation allowed it. His military and organisational skills made him one of the prominent figures of the Czechoslovak defence against the Axis invasion.
The Czechoslovak Army managed to stop the initial offensive following the decisive victories at Ivančice, Otnice, Bošovice and Velké Hostěrádky as well as the defence of Plzeň. The Czechoslovak Army, supported by Soviet reinforcements, managed to hold off the German and Hungarian invaders for five months, but the defence, albeit fierce and effective, was ultimately futile. When the Germans launched their spring offensive on March 1, 1939 the Czech defences collapsed due to lack of ammunition, supplies, equipment and manpower. On March 11, as the Germans were closing in on Prague, the commander of the Tenth Army, Gen.d.Art. Walther v. Reichenau presented Arm. Gen. Sergěj Vojcechovský, the commander of the I. armáda "Havlíček", and Brig. Gen. Langer, the commander of the defence of Prague, an ultimatum: All Czech military units in Prague should capitulate on March 14, or else the Luftwaffe would carry out their orders to "remove Prague from the face of the earth".
Gen. Sergěj Vojcechovský and Brig. Gen. Langer, seeing they had no chance to continue the battle without risking the lives of hundreds of thousands civilians in Prague, started negotiations for capitulation with the Gen.d.Art. v. Reichenau in the morning of March 13. At noon, President Beneš and most of the Czech government left for Warszaw from Prague's Ruzyně Airport. Prime Minister Syrový wished to stay in Prague, as he insisted that as a soldier and the minister of national defence, he should stay until the end. He shared the same thoughts as Vojcechovský and Langer, and a capitulation would spare the suffering inhabitants of Prague from unnecessary aerial bombardment. However, he chose to follow the chief of military intelligence František Moravec after being told that his position as prime minister, minister of national defence and as a soldier could be abused in the post-invasion Czechoslovakia.
In the early morning of March 14, František Moravec, 10 of his fellow intelligence officers and Syrový secretly managed to fly away with the most valuable intelligence files and archives from Prague Ruzyně Airport to Stockholm-Bromma Airport with a stopover on Warszawa-Okęcie Fryderyka Chopina Airport in an ad hoc chartered KLM Douglas DC-3, as the Germans were closing in. Only 20 minutes after Moravec and Syrový left for Warsaw, the forward elements of the 1st Panzer-Division swarmed the airfield. Rescued files and archives were handed over to the British MI6 to be used against Germany. The next morning the remaining Czech forces capitulated to the Germans and Hungarians, thus ending the five-month conflict.
|Czechoslovak War Cross (1918) with two linden branches||1920|
|Czechoslovak War Cross (1945) with two linden branches||1945|
|Order of the Falcon of Štefánik with swords||1919|
|Medal of Jan Žižka of Trocnova 2nd Class||1918|
|Czechoslovak Revolutionary Medal 1914–1918 with "Bachmač" and "6" bars||1918|
|Inter-Allied Victory Medal 1918||1922|
|Template:Country data Romania Romania|
|Office established|| |
Chief of the Main Headquarters of the Czechoslovak Army
September 23, 1938 - March 15, 1939
| Preceded by:|
Chief of Staff of the Czechoslovak Army
1933 - 1938
| Succeeded by:|