Augustin Přeučil

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Augustin Přeučil (3 July 1914, Třebsín – 14 April 1947, Prague) was a Czechoslovak pilot who joined the Royal Air Force while he collaborated with the Nazi Gestapo during the Second World War. After the war, Přeučil was executed by hanging for treason.

Life[edit]

Přeučil was born in the village Třebsín in the district of Benešov in central Bohemia. In the age of 21 he absolved civil aviatic school and after he was drafted to army he was sent to Military Aviation School in Prostějov. Přeučil then served as a reconnaissance pilot in Air Regiment 6 of the Czechoslovak Air Force by early 1939.[1]

In the service of Gestapo[edit]

When the Germans invaded in March 1939, he attempted to illegally cross the border from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, on his way to offer his services as a pilot in South America. But he was caught and subsequently recruited by Gestapo officer Oskar Fleischer, who sent him into exile to monitor the exiled Czechoslovak military abroad, and the air forces in particular.[1]

After brief experience in Poland Přeučil together with nearly 200 other Czechoslovak soldiers was sent to France, in August 1939, to join the Foreign legion but the outbreak of war changed the attitude of the French command and Czechoslovak pilots were sent to Chartres to train on French Morane-Saulnier planes. Here Přeučil continued to report to gestapo via German agents based in France. After the fall of France, Přeučil was evacuated to Britain in June 1940 where he joined the Royal Air Force.[1]

Defection with the Hurricane[edit]

In England Přeučil served in a number of non-combat training and maintenance units of RAF. In July 1941, Přeučil married British citizen Muriel Graham Kirby. Then he was ordered by Nazis to deliver the new type of a Hawker Hurricane. As the training instructor, Přeučil had access only to Hawker Hurricane type Mk IIa. This theft of a plane serial number W9147 of 55 OTU based at RAF Usworth, near Sunderland, occurred on 18 September 1941. Instead of training with young Polish pilot, Přeučil flew to Germany but because of low fuel he was forced to land near Bastogne, Belgium. He got the assistance from Belgian civilians who he later mercilessly betrayed to Nazi authorities. The Hurricane ended up displayed at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Berlin. At the time, the RAF assumed the aircraft and pilot lost at sea; it was not until the Belgian resistance reported the incident, which cost the lives of two Belgian civilians, that the circumstances of the lost plane alerted the attention of Allied intelligence services.[2]

By the end of September 1941, Přeučil had returned home. Until the end of the war he was an undercover agent, whose task was to infiltrate Czech resistance movements. In 1944 he helped the Prague Gestapo to identify those captured Czechoslovak pilots who had been shot down and who the Nazis wanted to try as traitors. From March 1943 to May 1944 he also infiltrated the concentration camp of Theresienstadt where, posing as a captured Czech pilot, he informed on Czech political prisoners and spied on American prisoners of war.[3][4]

Trial[edit]

As an infamous Gestapo informer, Přeučil was arrested shortly after the war, on 19 May 1945. Soon his activities abroad and his defection from the RAF were discovered, for which we was first tried by Military court, but later his case was referred to the competent People's Court in Prague. After two years of investigation, Přeučil was accused by chief public prosecutor Jaroslav Drábek on 3 March 1947 of treason. He was sentenced to death by the People's Court and hanged in Pankrác Prison on 14 April 1947.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kellner, Zdeněk (24 March 2016). "Příběh osudové zrady 1: Augustin Přeučil" (in Czech). Benešovský deník.cz. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  2. ^ Kellner, Zdeněk (27 March 2016). "Příběh osudové zrady 2: Augustin Přeučil" (in Czech). Benešovský deník.cz. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Kellner, Zdeněk (30 March 2016). "Příběh osudové zrady 3: Augustin Přeučil" (in Czech). Benešovský deník.cz. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  4. ^ Harris, Paul (15 June 2003). "Hero pilot unmasked as Hitler's spy in the RAF". The Observer. Retrieved 28 March 2015.