Vladimir Krajina: World War II Hero and Ecology Pioneer

Vladimir Krajina

World War II Hero and Ecology Pioneer

by Jan Drabek


  • October 2012
  • print ISBN 978-1-55380-147-4
  • ebook ISBN 978-1-55380-192-4
  • pdf ISBN 978-1-55380-193-1
  • 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 200 pp
  • Biography/History

In 1939 the botanist Vladimir Krajina joined the Czech Resistance and quickly became one of its leaders. Incredible escapes from the Gestapo followed while some 20,000 radio messages were sent by his group to London, among them those about the pending invasion of the Balkans and of the Soviet Union. As the strongest anti-Communist Party’s general secretary he escaped from the country on skis after the Communist takeover. Personally thanked for his wartime effort by Winston Churchill, Krajina came to the University of British Columbia where as a professor of botany he battled the forest barons and their practice of clear-cutting and slash burning. He then turned his attention to saving pristine areas of the province, earning the title of father of the Ecological Reserve Program, since replicated throughout Canada. As a Companion of the Order of Canada, he returned triumphantly to Prague in 1990 to receive the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czechoslovak award, from President Vaclav Havel. Krajina died peacefully in Vancouver in 1993 as one of those happy individuals who had achieved practically everything they had set out to do in life.

Reviews & Awards:

“Our relationship to the wild is globally unique—less romantic than nuanced, less abstracted and more concrete—and it warrants a literature to give voice to our experience. This is the quietly important contribution of Jan Drabek’s Vladimir Krajina . . . At a time of such total human domination that scientists have declared a new geological time—the Anthropocene, or “Human Age”—stories like Krajina’s offer critical perspective.” — J.B. MacKinnon, Literary Review of Canada

“Drabek has written a detailed portrayal of a man who spent his life engaged in principled struggles for democracy and the environment, from which and from whom much can be learned and applied today.” —Reading by the Fraser

“Drabek’s book . . . has filled the gaps in my own (and, I suspect, many others’) knowledge of this determined, stubborn, intelligent, and brave individual.” —British Columbia History

“Drabek says, ‘Krajina straddled two worlds, during two different ages.’ And true to this description the author uses half the book to tell the story of the Czech resistor, and hero and half the book for the visionary botanist and mentor. The story chronicles a man who did what was right and necessary at the time; whether it be as leader of a wartime resistance, botanist, or teacher.” —Mike Larock, BC Forest Professional

“The concepts he fathered became standard; pioneers of the modern ecology movement acknowledged Krajina’s leadership.” —Canada’s History

“A major addition to our understanding of Vladimir Krajina’s life and times.” —BC Studies