Brigadier Josef Korbell, O.F. answers Heaven’s call

Brigadier Josef Korbel, O.F., was promoted to Glory on July 4, 2002.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Korbel became an Army officer in 1926, serving with his wife Erna in their homeland until the start of World War II. Their freedom after the war was short-lived, as the Communists soon took it away.

In September 1949 Korbel was arrested by the secret police. The country’s rulers viewed his devotion to God as a major threat. For the next ten years he was a prisoner. His arrest record stated: “a very dangerous man for his strong religious influence, especially on young people and children.”

After years of privation and torture, he was released in 1959, only to find more limitations on his personal freedom. His family

continued to suffer. His younger son was shot and killed while trying to seek permission to attend Good Friday services. In 1966, Helmuth, the eldest, was imprisoned on false charges of avoiding work and enmity against the people’s democratic regime.

In 1967, as the Czech people attempted to lessen their restraints, Helmuth was released. As Soviet troops invaded, the family prepared to leave the country, though Korbel delayed three weeks to translate for some evangelists.

The Korbels were appointed to the Arbon Corps, Switzerland, and in 1971 were transferred to the U.S. Central Territorial Headquarters. Two years later they retired from active service. When Erna was promoted to Glory in 1980, Korbel moved to Denver, Colo., where he continued to spread the good news of salvation.

In 1990, General Eva Burrows admitted Brigadier Korbel into the Order of the Founder, recognizing Korbel’s extraordinary lifelong service to God.

A Celebration of his life and service was held at the Crown Hill Mortuary in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

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