Thirteen

Jan Drabek

The world was on fire; the red hue of Father’s map attested to it. Bombarded with such powerful stimuli, we nine-year-olds were facing the world naked, unprotected by any pre-war experiences…

Escaping from Communist Czechoslovakia on skis with his family in 1948, Jan Drabek’s experience of World War II was anything but ordinary. Thirteen follows a young Drabek growing up in tumultuous Prague where Nazi propaganda, clandestine BBC radio broadcasts, conspiratorial talk at home and escapist comedies in the theatres provided an unconventional upbringing and a unique war experience. Recollecting one of history’s darkest periods, Drabek’s unexpected humour and sharp wit offer a remarkable glance at the impact of the Third Reich. A noteworthy memoir, this re-release commemorates the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

A one-time Vancouver taxi driver, refugee representative in Austria, Czechoslovak ambassador and Canadian schoolteacher, Drabek emigrated to North America from Prague in 1948. He received his university education in America and served in the US Navy. He has long been active in the Canadian writing scene—he is the former president of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, and has served on the National Council of the Writers Union of Canada. He is the author of many books, including Vladimir Krajina: World War II Hero and Ecology Pioneer (Ronsdale Press, 2012).