Emanuel Jan Hajný (1891 – 1972) was the second consular representative of the Czechoslovak Republic in Sydney, but the first of the Czechoslovak community in Australia who tried to register to serve in the Australian army during World War I.
Official relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Czechoslovak Republic began in 1920. The first Consul General of Czechoslovakia, Jiří Daneš, travelled around Australia conducting research and built a long list of useful contacts.
Let’s take a look at one of the other people who worked at the first Consulate of the Czechoslovak Republic in Sydney.
Emanuel Jan Hajný was born on 27th December 1890 in Moravia. Before the Great War he embarked on a study trip for the company, Farbwerke, which brought him via Asia to Australia, where he then studied and graduated from electrical engineering in Sydney.
After war broke out he volunteered for the Australian Army, but, like most former inhabitants of now rival Austrio-Hungary, he ended up in an internment camp in NSW. There, together with other Czech nationals he not only faced tough conditions, but also bullying from the German-speaking detainees, who formed the vast majority.
In November 1916, after successful negotiations led to Hajny’s release, with determination he continued his search for a way he could fight on the side of the Triple Entente. In 1917 he successfully made it through the drawn-out bureaucratic process with Australian authorities to be able to fight. That very year he was sent to the Macedonian front, which was in a stalemate at the time. He landed together with other Czechoslovak soldiers under the “Yugoslavian” division. They faced harsh conditions and malaria.
The wounded and ill were cared for by a unit of Australian nurses who were anchored nearby. Once the Czechoslovak Foreign Legion was founded, he was transferred to the front in France.
After the declaration of an independent Czechoslovakia and the end of the war he returned to his homeland and then set off for Australia as an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as Vice-Consul in Sydney from January 1921 and on 8th January 1923 he took over the Consulate General in Sydney from Jiří Viktor Daneš. In 1926 he became the first Czech to go on a business trip to Tahiti.
Hajný worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1948. During his successful career he served 10 years as Consul at the General Consulate in New York and as Consul of the Czechoslovak Republic in Cleveland. After formally retiring from the Ministry he decided to stay in the USA in exile. He passed away in New York in 1972.