The Good Soldier Švejk

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Who is who

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This Who's who page contains a selection of people who are referred to in the People and Places and Institutions databases. The persons listed are either:

  • Real-life prototypes for characters participating in the novel
  • People who knew Jaroslav Hašek personally and later contributed to our knowledge on Švejk and his creator

As of 31 December 1918 the list is limited to the more obvious of the real-life "models", as well as two early Haškologists. In the latter category Břetislav Hůla deserves special credit. Being a personal acquaintance of the author, he was also an excellent researcher.

Švejkologists HůlaMorávek

Adamička, Josef
*24.6.1876 Dębica - †3.11.1917 Beograd

Police registration 1912

Josef Adamička was no doubt the prototype of Hašek's captain Adamička. Born in 1876 in Dębica (Galicia, now in Poland), his right of domicile was in Hlízov by Kutná Hora. He graduated from cadet school in Kraków with excellent marks.

Starting with his enrolment in the army in 1896, he served with Infanterieregiment Nr. 24 and Pionierbataillion Nr. 11 at various garrisons in Galicia (Lwów, Przemyśl ao.), until he on 1 November 1904 was transferred to Prague and enlisted in IR91. Later he served with the regiment in Budva, Cattaro (now Kotor), and some other locations in southern Dalmatia (the regiment's 1st battalion was stationed there). At the time his rank was Oberleutnant.

On 14 March 1910 Josef Adamička married Hermenegilde Mallovič, they were to bear one child. The wedding took place in the parish of Mulla, bezirk Cattaro, in current Montenegro. In 1912 he was back in Prague, and from 1913 until 30 April 1914 he was commander of the 11th field company. This unit was part of the 3rd field batn. that was garrisoned in Karlín. His private address was Bubeneč čp. 913, and by 1915 he had moved to Janovská čp. 979, Holešovice. Otherwise his Evidenzblatt reveals that he was bilingual in Czech and German, and mastered Polish adequately. On 1 November 1911 we was promoted to Hauptmann.

First world war

Qualifikationsbeschreibung. ©2013 VÚA.

When Austria-Hungary partly mobilised on 26 August 1914, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of IR91 were transferred from Prague to Budějovice. Already on 1 August the regiment (except the I. btn.) left for the front by the Drina. They arrived in the area on 4 August and on that date Josef Adamička was again given command of the 11th Field Company, actually the very unit that Hašek was to serve in a year later. His stay didn't last long: on 8 September he was wounded and spent the period until 4 December 1914 in various hospitals, and after a short leave he reported at IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Budějovice (4 January 1915).

In between he was appointed head of the reserve officer's school in Budějovice and here he had direct contact with Jaroslav Hašek. According to Franta Hofer he liked the author and was very indulgent with his eccentricities and even protected him. Adamička also invited him to the officer's dining rooms to entertain the gentlemen with his anecdotes; the favourite theme were jokes about priests and Jews. On 18 March 1915 Adamička left for the front as commander of the 8th March Btn., and by this time Jaroslav Hašek was already hospitalised. On arrival (March 26) he became commander of the II. Field Btn. which at the time was fighting in the Carpathians.

Marek's assertion that Adamička departed for the front early is therefore authentic: Hašek's 12th March Battalion, commanded by Franz Wenzel, only left at the end of June.

Again his stay at the front was brief: a shot in the arm on 18 June by Kiernica was the last action he saw in the war. After some months in hospital and a period of Urlaub he was assigned to K.u.k Heeresbahn Süd in Belgrade. In 1917 Adamička contracted typhus and died on 3 November at the age of 41 at K.u.k. Reservespital Brčko in Serbia.

Gott strafe England

Death certificate. ©2013 VÚA.

Adamička is the main character in the short-story Gott strafe England by Jaroslav Hašek, first published in Československý voják - 10 October 1917. Here he is mercilessly pilloried as a lunatic who promotes the slogan "Gott strafe England" at every opportunity. In this story Adamička initially has the role as head of the School for one-year volunteers (Einjährig-Freiwilligerschule) in Budějovice, and his Qualifikationsbeschreibung confirms that this was indeed his position at the time when Jaroslav Hašek joined IR91.

The story also reveals that he has a brother in the Prague police force. This is also a fact: his brother Ladislav, born 1871, was employed in the state police. Hašek’s story can of course not fully qualify as a trusted source of information, but at least parts of it appear authentic. Other sequences are however pure invention: he lets Adamička go mad and join Infanterieregiment Nr. 75, and then lets him get captured at Zborów. Clearly none of this could have been the case as he served in Belgrade at the time of the battle (2 July 1917).


Source: VÚA, Franta Hofer, Jaroslav Šerák

Bigler, Hans Hermann Gustav
*25.12.1894 Blasewitz - †13.10.1962 Dresden

Hans Bigler (but surely not in 1955)

Hans Bigler was indisputably the prototype of cadet Biegler, one of several characters in the novel that the author created with a real person in mind. Hans Bigler served with Jaroslav Hašek in IR91 in 1915, and one of the ranks he held was indeed cadet. Whereas other models were "discovered" as early as 1924, Bigler remained an unknown entity until he surfaced in 1955 in a personal letter written to Dietz Verlag, the East German publisher of Hašek's famous novel.

Hans Bigler was born in 1894 in Blasewitz, an affluent suburb of Dresden. As the son of a wealthy merchant and former ship captain (at Wolfgangsee) and a Berlin-born lady, he was obviously raised in privileged surroundings. As far as we know he had no siblings. His father lived in Dresden at least until young Hans was seven (his mother had died on 31 January 1900 and then appeared to have moved to Switzerland. Information on the first twenty years of Bigler's life is scarce, and even in army records his occupation at the time of enlisting in K.u.k. Heer is Privat, i.e. self-employed or even idle.

In documents from the War Archive in Prague (VÚA), Hans Bigler is listed with German nationality (i.e Austro-German), religion protestant. The same source states that Bigler lived in Frauenfeld in Switzerland when he reported for service in 1914. On the other hand documents in Vienna's Kriegsarchiv about reserve officer schools, indicate that he lived in Lausanne. This is at first sight a contradiction, but there may be a logical explanation. It has been verified that his father was Honorarkanzler at the Austro-Hungarian Vizekonsulat in Lausanne in 1914, and on Hans Bigler's Vormerkblatt there is a note "Convikt" next to Frauenfeld. This indicates that he was studying at a boarding school in Frauenfeld (there was indeed a Canton school with student accommodation there), but could still have been officially registered as a resident in Lausanne. According to army records he spoke French and Italian fluently.

Details like rank and position in the army units are accurately reproduced by the author. This despite the change of Hans Bigler's first name to Adolf and him being portrayed as a native of Budějovice (in the words of Ságner). According to the records of the Reserve Officer School, Bigler volunteered for war service, and this was also the case with his literary counterpart.

Joining the Austro-Hungarian army

Qualifikationsliste. Post-war Czech translation

Due to the family's roots in Koloděje nad Lužnicí (German Kaladei/Kaladey) in South Bohemia he had Heimatrecht within the recruitment area of K.u.k. Böhmisches Infanterieregiment Nr. 91. Bigler enlisted on 24 October 1914 as a one-year volunteer and attended the reserve officer school in Budějovice. At the school (often called Einjährig-Freiwilligerschule) he obtained good grades. On 22 December he was promoted to Gefreiter, his rank when Jaroslav Hašek reported on 17 February 1915. On 24 February he became a Korporal. His education was completed on 5 March, and his promotion to Zugsführer followed the next day. He served as an instructor at the school until the end of the month. On 1 April he was transferred to the 3rd replacement company, promoted to Feldwebel (sergeant), serving as Kadettaspirant and as Zugskommandant. He surely knew Jaroslav Hašek at the time; the author was initially enrolled in the 1st replacement company but later transferred to the 3rd (probably after returning from hospitalisation).

On 1 June 1915 IR91 Ersatzbattailon was transferred to Királyhida and around this date the 12th march battalion was formed. Bigler and Hašek were both assigned to the 4th march company, which commander was senior lieutenant Rudolf Lukas. On 13 June Bigler was promoted to Kadett in der Reserve, the rank that made him famous. His role was still squad leader (Zugskommandant). The march battalion left Királyhida on 30 June, and on 11 July it reached the front and was integrated into the field regiment. Hans Bigler and Jaroslav Hašek both continued to serve under Lukas, now in the 11th field company. This unit belonged to the 3rd field battalion (commanded by Oberleutnant Čeněk Sagner).


"Belohnungsantrag", application for decoration, 6 August 1915. © ÖSTA

Hat als Zugskommandant am 25. 7. laufenden Jahres nächst Poturzyce einen feindlichen Gegenstoß gegen den rechten Flügel der eigenen Angriffsgruppe durch rasches, umsichtiges Eingreifen erfolgreich abgeschlagen, wobei er selbst persönlichen Mut und Tapferkeit an den Tag legte. Im weiteren Verlauf des Angriffes am 26. 7. führte er seinen Zug mit bestem Erfolg gegen den Feind vor, wobei er seine Leute durch persönliches Beispiel an Unerschrockenheit mitriss und mit diesen zahlreiche Gefangene machte.

Steht seit 30. 6. 1915 im Felde.

Antrag B. (?) T. M. II Kl (Bronzene / Silberne / Goldene Tapferkeitsmedaille 2. Klasse)Transkription dank Doris & Gert Kerschbaumer

Hans Bigler distinguished himself during the battle by Sokal (25 - 31 July 1915) and was promoted to Fähnrich in der Reserve on 1 August 1915, the same day that Jaroslav Hašek was promoted to Gefreiter. In the aftermath of Sokal he was also awarded a silver medal for bravery. As the above Belohnungsantrag reveals the award was a result of his conduct by Poturzyca during the first two days of the battle. As squad commander he demonstrated bravery and fearlessness and thus encouraged his men by example. His squad also captured numerous enemies. The decoration took place on 18 August, one the very day that Bigler fell ill. It is therefore unclear if he received the medal that day or had to wait until later.

A sick-tale of literary proportions

After the battle IR91 was placed in the reserve and relocated to Żdżary, 15 km north of Sokal. Here Hans Bigler assumed a new role, serving at battalion staff with Čeněk Sagner as his direct superior. In these relatively peaceful surrounding the regiment stayed until a new offensive was launched on 27 August 1915. For the first time IR91 advanced onto Russian territory, and they reached Dubno before the offensive ground to a halt.


Note from 18 August 1915, Bigler suffering from gastroentirities and typhoid fever

Advancing into Russia was an undertaking Bigler never had the privilege to take part in. On 18 August 1915 he fell ill with gastroenteritis and typhoid fever. It is a twist of irony that on this very day, the Emperor's 85th birthday, both Hašek and Bigler were awarded silver medals (second class) for bravery, but only the future author of Švejk was to carry his medal into enemy territory. Bigler's route went, perhaps fortunately for him, back into the hinterland, from one Red Cross hospital to another. Via Lwów he ended up in Linz, and it was only on 28 November that he was back in active duty with IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Királyhida (his absence included restitution in Linz and Budějovice. By then Hašek had already been captured (Chorupan, 24 September) and IR91 transferred to the front in Italy. It is easy to imagine that the sad state of Hans Bigler's bowels on 18 August served as inspiration for the author when he assigned a similarly unsavoury fate to his unfortunate cadet Biegler.

Hans Bigler saw out the war unhurt. On 1 July 1916 he attained the rank Leutnant, and was on 1 September 1918 promoted to Oberleutnant. Like the rest of the regiment he served at the Italian front by Isonzo and Piave, but not with Rudolf Lukas and Čeněk Sagner any more. The last official record we have of his war-time whereabouts is that the returned to the field with the 40th march battalion on 13 May 1918. The regiment was at the time stationed by Piave.

An incriminating "Vormerkblatt"

Vormerkblatt für die Qualifikationsbeschreibung, 1915

Hans Bigler's records for the period he served in Jaroslav Hašek's units reveal some unflattering parallels to his literary counter-part. The document was written by Sagner and signed by him and Lukas, his nearest superiors during that period. It is close to character assassination, and shows many of the negative personal qualities that HašekJ assigned to cadet Biegler. It is very clear that his superiors didn't think much of him, and we can easily imagine that the conflict between Ságner and the young cadet from the novel might have some real-life background. Some of Čeněk Sagner's notes seem strange and even smell of personal antipathy. He writes that Bigler was a failure during fighting, apart from at Sokal. Seen on the background that his company before and after this battle were involved in only minor engagements, this assertion appears strange. A soldier that was decorated for bravery and promoted after the battle can't have been that useless?

Vormerkblatt für die Qualifikationsbeschreibung
für die Zeit von 1 Juni 1915 bis 28 November 1915.
1Charge/StandesverhaltnisFähnrich i d. R. [in der Reserve]
2Vor- und ZunameBigler Hans
3Standeszuständiger Truppenkörper (Militärkommando [Landwehrgruppe] bzw. Landsturmbezirkskommando)I R. 91
4Befördert (womöglich PVBl)1. 8. 15 zum Fhrch i. d. R [Fähnrich in der Reserve]
5Im Laufe des Krieges verliehene Allerhöchste Auszeichnungen, dann Belobungen von Divisionskommando aufwärts (womöglich Anführung des PVBl. oder Befehls)O 2 P. V. Bl. 18 7/15
6Kurze Beschreibung betreffs Charakter, militärischer Eigenschaften, Verhalten im Gefechte, besondere Waffentaten und TätigkeitenUngefestigter Charakter, großsprecherisch, wenig aufrichtig, unter Aufsicht für Ausbildungszwecke geeignet / hat bis auf die Schlacht bei Sokal im Gefechte versagt. Kein Pflichtgefühl.
7Eignung zur Führung des nächtshöheren Kommandos. Funktionen. Besondere Eignung für bestimmte Dienstzweige oder PostenKeine
8Einwirkung auf Untergebene, Eignung zur Führung von Offizierskorps, Anstalten etc.Überhebend, rücksicht[s]los, zeigt wenig Verständnis für die Behandlung des einfachen Mannes, nicht fürsorglich, gleichgiltig [gleichgültig] / nur unter Aufsicht verwendbar.
9AnmerkungZur Aktivierung [zum aktiven Dienst im Militär] ungeeignet. Bei entsprechend scharfer Anleitung u[nd] Führung dürfte er sein Wesen und [seinen] Charakter ändern.
10Datum und Unterschrift des (der) Verfassers(s); hiebei bestätigen, für welche Zeit die Beschreibung von jeden derselben giltBruck-Királyhida [= Bruckneudorf, damals Westungarn, heute Burgenland], 29. 10. 1917 / gilt für die Zeit von 1. 6. – zirka 28. 7. 1915 / für die gleiche Zeit / Sagner Hptm. Rud Lukas Oblt.
Transkription dank Doris & Gert Kerschbaumer

After the war

Bigler lived in Pohlandstrasse 20, Blasewitz from 1933 and at least until 1955

After the war Hans Bigler first returned to Switzerland, then moved to Czechoslovakia, where he became a reserve officer in the young state's army from 1920 until 1924. Documents from the Czechoslovak Ministry of Defence (MNO) reveals that he was released from military duty in 1927 after obtaining German citizenship. From 1933 to 1944 he is recorded with address Dresden, Blasewitz, Pohlandstrasse 20, but he had already lived at another address in Dresden from 1931. His whereabouts between 1927 and 1931 are not known. Curiously enough documents from the Czechoslovak ministry of Defence gives his occupation as "Konsul" but no traces of any consul Biegler can be found in the address books of Dresden from that time. Was this just another example of the boastfulness described in his Vormerkblatt and in the novel itself?

Surfacing again

Persecuted by the Nazis, saved by an Allied bomb-raid: from Literární Noviny 1955

In 1955 he reported publicly after having read Švejk and discovered that he was the real-life model of cadet Biegler, and not ashamed of it despite the rough treatment Jaroslav Hašek dished out. He even said that most of what was written about him in the novel was true. He still lived at the same address, and here he was interviewed by Literární Noviny (8 October 1955). News about him also appeared in Rudé Pravo and in Volksstimme in Vienna. In the interview it was revealed that his father, who had been consul in Switzerland, was murdered in Bergen-Belsen because his Ahnenpass was unsatisfactory. Hans Bigler himself was apparently spared the same fate by a bomb attack that destroyed the Gestapo HQ with his official papers. This makes it obvious that the family on his father's side was of Jewish origin. At the time of his "surfacing" he worked in a hospital. Hans Bigler lived in Dresden for the rest of his life. He was married but there is no record of the couple having any children. He died in 1962.

Ev.-Luth. Kirchgemeinde Dresden-Blasewitz: Hans Hermann Gustav Biegler, geboren 25. Dezember 1894 Dresden, getauft 24. Januar 1895 Dresden-Blasewitz, 1. Kind. Verstorben 13. Oktober 1962 Dresden, bestattet 19. Oktober 1962 Krematorium Dresden-Tolkewitz. Beruf: kfm. Angestellter, verheiratet. Vater: Eduard Biegler, Kapitän aus Wels in Oberösterreich, ständig in Gmunden in Österreich, ev.-ref. Mutter: Eugenie Luise Johanna geb. von Eichhorn aus Berlin, ev.-luth.

Eduard Bigler

Handelsregister, 1900


Address in 1902. Note the distinctions from Japan, Turkey and Austria-Hungary


Stolperstein in the memory of Eduard Bigler (Salzburg)

In May 2013, thanks to the research of Dr. Gert Kerschbaumer in Salzburg, it is possible to identify Hans Bigler's father, who was mentioned in the interview in Literární Noviny. His father, Eduard Bigler, was born in Wels, Oberösterreich on 15 March 1868, son of David and Rosa Bigler. David Bigler 24 March 1833 - 10 March 1913 was a Jewish immigrant from Kaladey, South Bohemia. In Vienna in January 1894 Eduard Bigler converted to protestantism (Evangelical reformed - Helvetic Confession). It is also clear from Kerschbaumer’s research that Bigler lived in Dresden for a while. Further Eduard Bigler is in 1894 registered as ship captain, marital status single. The parish in Blasewitz adds that he was married to Eugenie Luise Johanna von Eichhorn from Berlin and that they had a son Hans Hermann Gustav. This suggests that they married in 1894.

The address books of Dresden provide further information. Here Eduard Biegler is registered from 1899 to 1902, home address Blasewitz, business address Dresden. His firm dealt in luxury furniture and art. By 1902 he had evidently sold it, and his private address is no longer registered. Interestingly he is listed in the address book of 1902 with distinctions from foreign nations: Turkey, Japan and Austria-Hungary. In 1914 and 1918 newspapers notices reveals that he was Honorarkanzler at the k.u.k Vizekonsulat in Lausanne, and had been given an award by the Red Cross.

In 1921 he reappears in Salzburg, now registered as Kaufmann (merchant). Here he served as Argentine vice-consul and was married to Jolanda, born Goldberger. Moreover, it transpires that his last address before Salzburg was Zurich, Bleicherweg 5. He held onto his domicile rights in Koloděje/Kaladey until 1921, and this explains why Hans Bigler belonged to the 91st infantry regiment.

Anschluss in 1938 created serious difficulties for the Bigler couple. Their property was aryanised, ie. confiscated, but they saved their lives by taking Argentine citizenship. In 1944 Argentina entered the war on the Allied side, and the situation worsened: they were no longer protected as citizens of a neutral state. The Bigler couple were deported to Bergen-Belsen, to a special camp for foreign Jews. Eduard Bigler was murdered on 4 June 1944, at the age of 76.

His wife Jolanda survived and fought several court cases after the war to retrieve the confiscated property, mostly in vain. In Salzburg there is now established a Stolperstein (stumble-stone) in memory of Eduard Bigler.


Source: ÖSTA, VÚA, Gert Kerschbaumer, Literární Noviny, Bohumil Vlček, Luth.Evang. Pfarre Blasewitz

Eybl, Jan Evangelista
*15.11.1882 Mahouš - †21.6.1968 Hrusice

© SOkA Beroun





Jan Evangelista Eybl was an Austrian (later Czechoslovak) army cleric who seems to a certain extent to have served as the prototype of Švejk's Oberfeldkurat Ibl. He served with Hašek in IR91 from 10 July to 24 September 1915 with the exception of four weeks of leave in August/September. Eybl performed several field masses for IR91 in Galicia and Volyn during this period but according to his own diary he was at the front all of June, exactly the period when Jaroslav Hašek was in Királyhida. Thus the service described in Švejk is likely to have drawn inspiration either by field masses at the front as witnessed by Hašek, or by services held by some other field chaplain in Királyhida. Eybl stated in an interview in his old age that he did visit Királyhida but never held any mass there, and moreover he had never at any time given a service with the content that is described in the novel.

To what degree the author's description of the person in the novel fits the real Eybl is therefore debatable, probably not much. Ibl was at the receiving end of some of Hašek's most vicious scorn, whereas his real-life counterpart Eybl seems to have been an upright and decent person (which of course wouldn't protect him from the satirist's sharp pen). Jan Evangelista Eybl mentions Jaroslav Hašek twice in his diary and met him shortly before the author was captured, but otherwise probably had no more than fleeting encounters with him. Jaroslav Hašek would of course have been present at a few field masses the chaplain gave between 11 July and 18 August but the suspicion lingers that the author was lashing out at the Catholic Church and the institution of military clergy in general, rather than attacking a specific person.

Eybl even had some material published: he contributed columns to the Catholic daily Čech in 1916, signing them Jan Ev. Eybl, and also provided two short tales for Böhmerwald's Söhne im Felde, a local military history periodical issued in Budějovice from 1924 to 1927.

After the war Eybl worked as a priest in various places in Bohemia, but in 1942 he was arrested by the Nazi occupiers and spent the rest of the war in the concentration camps of Terezín (Theresienstadt) and Dachau. After WW2 he returned to Beroun where he had lived before the occupation. Later he moved to Hrusice, incidentally the birthplace of famous Švejk illustrator Josef Lada. This is also where he died, aged 86. Eybl is buried in Netolice, the nearest town to his home village of Mahouš.

Eybl's diaries

Jaworzec, 3 March 1915. Eybl in the middle.


From the diary, 23 September 1915

In 2013 švejkologists became aware of the existence of Jan Evangelista Eybl's file in the state district archive in Beroun (SOkA). On 5 May 2014 the most relevant of the documents were photographed, and studies could commence. The content revealed important new information. Four volumes of the field chaplain's war time diaries were discovered together with numerous photos. The diaries are particularly valuable as they provide first-hand information directly from the front and is therefore more reliable than any other known material about Jaroslav Hašek and IR91 during this period. The entries are dated and also indicate where they were scribbled down, and what happened on that day. It is an extremely thorough description of the movements of the regiment, and Jaroslav Hašek is mentioned twice. They also give a gruelling insight into the horrors the men had to endure, all the last rites he had to give, all the young men he had to bury... But he also reveals the privileges the officers enjoyed: wine and decent food, including Gabelfrühstück. Eybl enjoyed the company of the higher ranking officers, and often played cards with them in the evening. Eybl also makes derogatory comments about "Jewish nests" - Mosty Wielkie which they marched through on 21 June 1915 was one of those.

Geographically the descriptions in the diary correspond very well with Das Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 auf Vormarsch in Galizien bar a minor discrepancy. That date of Hašek's 12th march battalion's arrival at the front was 10 July 1915, not 11 July as the "Geschichte" (1927) states. The diaries contain four volumes, written in Czech and cover the period from 17 November 1914 to the end of the war. Only the first two volumes have been photographed and subjected to closer scrutiny. They cover the six last weeks of 1914 and the whole of 1915. On 28 July 2014 an illustrated transcription was published by Jaroslav Šerák (see link).

Eybl post-mortem

Eybl's letter to Zdeněk Šťastný


Eybl's grave in Netolice

Feature stories about father Eybl appeared in Průboj (1968) and Obrana lidu (1972), both almost identical and both signed Zdeněk Šťastný. Here the venerable father claims to have met the author in September 1915 by Dubno, witnessing the author allegedly refusing Rudolf Lukas' order to lay down in the mud during an assault exercise. The chaplain tried to help the soldier away from the front by persuading him to report sick. Hašek apparently tried to no avail, and also initially appeared disinterested as he wanted to get captured! He is also said to have met a certain lieutenant Robert Dub, a regimental doctor from Vienna.

The whole story begs a few questions. Jan Evangelista Eybl claims to have been at the front all the time, but VÚA records (and even hos own diary) show that he returned to the front from Urlaub on 15 September, at a time when the regiment was in an entrenched position by Pogorelcy. Assault exercises right in front of the enemy? Eybl informs that Jaroslav Hašek was an ordinary infantryman, whereas in fact he at the time was Landsturm Gefreiter mit Einjährig-Freiwilliger Abzeichen (home guard vice-corporal with one-year volunteer insignia). Hašek had already on 25 May been assigned lighter duties (for health reasons), and would surely not have taken much part in field exercises from that point on. It is also claimed that he after the episode with Lukas was assigned to Jan Vaněk as messenger, whereas this was a position he had held for months, assigned to Lukas as "Kompanieordonnanz". Eybl does however write in his diary entry from 23 September that "in the morning he went for a walk with Daněk, Lukas and Jaroslav Hašek", a piece of information that no doubt is true as it was written more or less on the spot.

It all adds up to a confusing mix of events from Királyhida and the front, perhaps not surprising when an 82-year old tries to remember events that took place 50 years back (the initial letter from Jan Evangelista Eybl to the interviewer is dated 16 December 1964). There is also a suspicion that "literary facts" from the novel may have crept in, quite a common occurrence in literature about Jaroslav Hašek, particularly in newspaper articles.


Source: Milan Hodík, Jaroslav Šerák, Zdeněk Šťastný, VÚA, SOkA Beroun

Hašek, Jaroslav Matěj František
*30.4.1883 Praha - †3.1.1923 Lipnice nad Sázavou

Jaroslav Hašek embedded innumerable autobiographical elements and episodes from his own unusual life experience into his famous novel. He no doubt served as direct inspiration not only for one-year volunteer Marek, but even more so for the book's main character, Josef Švejk. The most relevant period with regards to the novel Švejk is of course the time in K.u.k. Heer in 1915, although sequences that draw from other periods of the writer's life appear throughout.

NB! This is not an attempt at a general biography about Jaroslav Hašek. The scope is limited to periods and episodes in Hašek’s life that had an obvious and direct impact on the novel.

Hašek mirrored in Josef Švejk

Żdżary, 18 August 1915. Hašek decorated. © ÖSTA

The author attaches unmistakable personal characteristics directly to his literary hero. In the first few lines of the novel he exposed his own rheumatism to world literature "by proxy", and we can safely assume that Švejk’s verbal skills, quick wits, charm, calm, and the all-important ability to talk/wriggle himself out of difficult situations were gifts borrowed from the author. This very strategy for survival was something that both Švejk and his creator shared. Both were also outgoing and sociable persons, liked to tell stories and to entertain.

Even more striking are the technical similarities between Hašek’s and Švejk’s military careers. They both lived in Prague, but served in IR91 due to their South Bohemian ancestry. They were mostly present in the same places and in the same historical circumstances during their time in the Austrian army. Many of Švejk’s superiors and peers are inspired by Hašek’s own milieu in IR91, albeit with their qualities and identities modified and caricatured. Švejk was company messenger in his 11th march company which corresponds exactly with Hašek’s role in the 11th field company. In addition, both were assigned the responsibility of finding accommodation for their military units.

An obvious pre-war connection between Švejk and the author is the occupation of selling stolen dogs with forged pedigrees; Hašek at one time did just that! Both had also been apprentice chemists. Švejk’s stay at Blázinec (lunatic asylum) has clear traces of autobiography, likewise his stint at Policejní ředitelství (Police HQ), Zemský trestní soud (Country criminal court) and Policejní komisařství Salmova ulice (Salmovská ulice). Of course Jaroslav Hašek and his hero both shared the liking of life in the pubs, and many of the establishments mentioned in the novel were favourites of the author (U Fleků, Bendlovka, Montmartre, U Brejšky - to name a few). Their relative indifference to (or lack of luck with) ladies seems to be another common trait. They also liked to sing army songs but were by all accounts very poor singers.

One-year volunteer Marek

Švejk and Marek, Hašek's two alter egos enjoying themselves in Regimentsarrest in Budějovice

Marek seems to be even more consistently modelled on the satirist, portraying an intellectual side of his personality that he never assigns to Švejk. Marek borrows a number of biographical details from Jaroslav Hašek: his stint as editor of Animal World is almost completely authentic. So are some of Marek’s experiences in Budějovice: his status as one-year volunteer, turning up at the exercise ground in civilian clothes, being dismissed from the School for one-year volunteers, his arrest by artillery patrols and hospitalisation. The affair with the Krankenbuch is also believed to be based on facts. Hašek was allegedly, like his literary alter-ego Marek, transported from Budějovice to Királyhida in the prisoner's carriage. On a general note it is evident that Marek is the mouth-piece for Hašek's own political views. This is the very opposite of Švejk who conceals his opinions when it serves him.

Although Marek and Švejk are the figures that most obviously bear traces of the author, it is tempting to suggest that Hašek contributed a few of his less admirable qualities to at least two more of his literary creations: Baloun (gluttony), and Katz (drunkenness and shirking financial obligations, ref. not paying the moneylender in [I.13]).


Many of the numerous monologues show traces of Hašek’s own experiences. An example of this is the introduction of his own grandfather Jareš at several points in the novel, starting in the very first chapter. Similar examples abound, like the two anecdotes about police chief Rotter, and the anecdote about nějakej Mestek.

NB! This chapter is work in progress.

Before the draft

From Hašek's Grundbuchblatt

Jaroslav Hašek was 31 years old in 1914 and had avoided military service so far. The reasons for this are unknown and no records of his early encounters with the armed forces have been found. He must either have been declared unfit for armed service (Waffenunfähig), or dismissed after starting it (Superarbitriert). According to Emil Artur Longen the writer was disappointed because he hadn't been admitted to the army and was proud when he was finally deemed "Tauglich" after the outbreak of war. This seems likely as his military medical records state that he was drafted as late as 1914. As a result of this he was assigned to Landsturm (Home Guard or militia), a reserve force that were only called up in times of danger. In the autumn of 1914 it was decided to reassess this large reserve of man-power to offset the losses at the front. From 13 to 15 December 1914 the Landsturm medical examination for Hašek's age-group and geographical affinity took place at Střelecký ostrov. Those who passed had to report for duty on 15 February 1915. The parallel to Švejk is obvious although the chronological details differ (as is the case throughout the novel). It is also striking that the author mentions that Bautze had been acting for 10 weeks in his role as chief doctor at the medical board, and we know that Landsturm medical examinations started on Střelecký ostrov on 1 October 1914. This fits very well with mid December. It should also be noted that Bautze declared 10,999 of 11,000 recruits fit for service. In fact only about 60 per cent of the early recruits were deemed Tauglich, and by the end of the year when Hašek's age group was called up, the rate of acceptance had dropped towards 30 per cent.

In Budějovice

Hašek’s time in IR91 deserves particular attention as it is during this period the novel comes closest to an autobiography. More than half the novel is set in K.u.k. Heer. According to army records Jaroslav Hašek was Präsentiert (reported at) 1. Ersatzkompanie in the reserve battalion of IR91 on 17 February 1915. Here in Budějovice he enlisted at the school for reserve officers where he met some of the people he would later caricature in his writing: captain Josef Adamička (head of the school), senior lieutenant Čeněk Sagner, and ensign Hans Bigler. He may also have met major Franz Wenzel and staff sergeant Jan Vaněk, but this can't be confirmed. Senior lieutenant Rudolf Lukas was at the front in the Východní Beskydy until 13 march, then on sick-leave, so they would only have met later, presumably in early June in Királyhida. In Budějovice Hašek also met fellow soldiers who forty or more years later would provide researchers with vital but muddled information: Jaroslav Kejla, Bohumil Vlček, Franta Hofer, Bohumil Šindelár and a few more.


Jihočeské Listy, 13.3.1915

His stay at the school proved unsuccessful. Due to his poor physical condition he found the exercises and drill taxing and according to his own writing (confirmed by Kejla and Hofer) he was expelled from the school. The exact reason for the dismissal is not clear, although he himself gives a few colourful accounts both through Marek (in Švejk) and in the short stories Gott Strafe England and In strategical difficulties. Kejla and Hofer offer a more mundane view: Hašek was dismissed for behaviour that was incompatible with that expected of a K.u.k. officer. Most likely it was drunkenness and public order violations (he had been repeatedly arrested for such offences in Prague). Still the eloquent and rebellious author may well have upset his superiors sufficiently to get himself disciplined, but hardly expelled. There is no mention of Jaroslav Hašek in lists of graduates from Reserveoffizier-Schule Budweis so there is no doubt that he had left the school.

Generally he seems to have taken little part in military life, some of it doubtlessly because of illness but surely also because he was locked up from time to time (according to himself as long as 30 days). Suffering from rheumatism and heart-trouble, he was first hospitalised on 6 March near the railway station in the K.u.k. Reserve-Spital in Radeckého třída. A note on his hospitalisation appeared in Jihočeské Listy on 13 March 1915. Then he was sent to a recuperation unit in Linecké předměstí. From here he seems to have been able to make a few excursions. The longest was for four days and he got as far as Protivín and Netolice, some claim that he even appeared in Radomyšl. He is also reported to have been to Zliv and České Vrbné. During his stay in Budějovice he wrote a few short stories and even had the collection "My business with dogs" published at this time. According to his own colourful account he signed a contract with publisher Svátek on 21 April but the book actually appeared at the beginning of April.


Hašek in K.u.k. Reservespital, Budweis

In the 1950s several witnesses recorded their reminiscences from Jaroslav Hašek's time in Budějovice, but most of them suffer in accuracy due to the distance in time. One of them was František Škřivánek who published the details in Stráž míru, 8 September 1954 (a similar story had appeared in Jihočeské Listy as early as 1923). During his time in Budějovice the author visited an impressive range of pubs (no surprise here), but only a few of them seem to have found their way into the novel. Amongst the cluster of witnesses was the young Bohumil Mühlstein whose family owned the restaurant U Milčanů that Hašek frequented. He also slept over at their place and got to know the family well.

Another witness was fellow one-year volunteer Franta Hofer. He gives an amusing account of Jaroslav Hašek's first weeks at the reserve-officer school and adds that many officers liked the author (notably Josef Adamička) and invited him into their canteen to entertain them. This may have inspired the passages in the novel that take place in the local hotel and in the officer's dining rooms. Hofer's and Mühlstein's stories seem never to have been published, they are found in LA PNP, fond Zdena Ančík and links are provided below. Another source of information is František Langer who wrote that the poet Peter Křička had stopped over in Budějovice on his way home from the front and met Jaroslav Hašek. He was at the time working in the kitchen peeling potatoes, a story story that aligns well with Marek from the novel and also the author's own In strategical difficulties.

Rheumatism, heart-trouble and superarbitration

The verdict of the superarbitration-commission. © VHA

In May 2015 Hašek's military record was investigated at VHA and the picture of his illness and superarbitration becomes clearer. Already on 6 March he was sent to hospital and seem to have stayed there at least until 8 April. He was suffering from rheumatism in the joints, as well as a heart condition, and an application for having him dismissed from the army for health reasons was lodged that day. On 30 April the superarbitration commission gave its verdict. The soldier was not relieved from army duties entirely: he was deemed capable of salvage, guard and other lighter tasks. The decision was rubber-stamped by the K.u.k. Militärkommando in Prague on 25 May.

IR91 transferred

Jihočeské Listy, 2.6.1915

On 1 June 1915 the Ersatzbattailon of IR91 was transferred to Királyhida, a town on the border between the two constituent parts of the Dual Monarchy. The reason for the transfer was political; regiments from the various parts of the empire were moved to “foreign” parts because it was believed that too close contact between the K.u.k. “Kanonenfutter” and the civilian population could harm their will to die for the emperor. Czech reserve battalions were often swapped with Hungarians (or others), and in Budějovice a Hungarian regiment (IR101) moved into Mariánská kasárna when it was vacated by IR91. Hašek was part of this transfer and describes it in his novel. According to Jan Vaněk he arrived under arrest, just like Švejk did. The date of the transfer is confirmed by both Jihočeské Listy and Budweiser Zeitung. The departure scenes by the station are described by both newspapers and partly correspond to the description in the novel. In both papers some lines have been removed by the censorship, perhaps these contained the Czech nationalist sentiments that the author describes?


Hašek in IR91, probably in Żdżary in August. To the left of him is František Strašlipka (with the cigarette).

As we already know Jaroslav Hašek had on 25 May been partly superarbitrated for health reasons and assigned lighter duties (capable of Rettungsdienst, i.e. rescue duties). This put him in contact with Jan Vaněk, a staff sergeant who was responsible for accounting and logistics. Vaněk was subsequently to find his way into world literature through this encounter. He was arguably the most obvious of all the “prototypes” found in Švejk. The author helped him with office duties, and also got to know the cook Perníček, perhaps a model for Jurajda. Vaněk was to provide valuable testimonies about Hašek’s time in the K.u.k. Heer, as retold by Jan Morávek in 1924, Večerní České Slovo. The series from 1924 is by far the most detailed we have on Hašek’s period in the Austro-Hungarian army, and should be considered the very first contribution to “švejkology”. Morávek also personally met the author in Királyhida.


Hašek in IR91. According to Jan Morávek this photo was taken at the beginning of September 1915 with Hašek already promoted to Gefreiter.

The 12th march battalion was formed around 1 June, and the soldiers continued training and preparation for front duty. The commander of the battalion was Franz Wenzel, a major who also inspired a character in the novel. Each battalion consisted of four companies, and Hašek was assigned to the 4th (deduced from the "Qualifikationsbeschreibung" of Hans Bigler). Kejla however assigns him to the 3rd company and Vlček to the 2nd! There is anyway no doubt that Švejk’s 11th march company never existed. This fictive unit is rather a projection of the 11th field company in which Jaroslav Hašek was soon to serve.

On 1 June Rudolf Lukas was appointed commander of the 4th march company. With this Oberleutnant Hašek developed a good relationship, a bond that found its way into world literature some six years later. Lukas kept his hand over the author and even urged him to stop drinking. In the march company he also met Bigler again, the prototype of cadet Biegler, and František Strašlipka, the servant of Lukas. Apart from his position as an officer servant, Strašlipka is also believed to have inspired Švejk’s incessant storytelling and was one of Hašek’s closest friends in the regiment.

Departure for the front loomed and on 24 June the men were prohibited from leaving the camp as they were to depart three days later. Hašek disappeared and was only found after three days, according to one report drunk in a haystack, according to another he was discovered in the same state in a café by the railway station, and according to Jan Morávek (interview printed in Průboj 3.3. 1968) he was found in U zlatého růže (Zur Goldene Rose). Vaněk's diary reveals that the march battalion departed from Bruck station at 8:15 PM on 30 July.

Across the Carpathians

Hašek in IR91 (extracted from the picture above)

The journey from Bruck to Sambor is not documented in any known official material, but Jan Vaněk's diary gives a rough idea. It has details on the departure, some places along the route and also mentions three dates. The author himself adds substance through Švejk but even more importantly in his poem “Cestou na bojišti” (On the road to the battle field). The poem was written more or less “on the spot” so it is likely to be more accurate than his later writings. Vaněk and Jaroslav Hašek draw a route that is identical to Švejk’s from Bruck an der Leitha (30 June), Győr, Budapest, Miskolc and Humenné (2 July). Thereafter there is no mention of any places until Sambor.

Jan Vaněk confirms that the train journey terminated in Sambor, they arrived here on 4 July. Hašek in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí even has the soldiers continuing beyond Sambor to a station he calls Kamenec (not identified). The novel itself draws a very different picture: it has the march company leave the train much earlier, in Sanok. Hašek himself mentions Łupków Pass also in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí, so we can safely assume that the route described in Švejk is accurate at least until Zagórz by Sanok. En route to Sambor the train would have passed more places that are familiar from the novel: Krościenko, Chyrów and Felsztyn. The only stretch where Jaroslav Hašek's and Švejk's routes diverge is between Sanok and Krościenko. Given the timing- and geographical constraints it is unlikely to have taken place in the way described in the chapter "Marschieren Marsch!" and they would definitely not have been marching with the brigade. The map Jaroslav Hašek u své marškumpanie shows MB12/IR91's route to the front (updated with information from Vaněk, 1 June 2014).

"Einkantonierung" and marching to the front

The orders directing IR91 to their "Einkantonierungsgebiet" east of Sambor. © ÖSTA

Official 2nd Army orders were the following: the “Einkantonierungsgebiet” was Komarno (ukr. Комарно), east of Sambor, and the daily legs are outlined in detail. Note that this was the planned route and not necessarily the one that was carried out.

  • 5 July: Komarno - Szczerzec (ukr. Щирець)
  • 6 July: Szczerzec - Zagorsze (ukr. Заґiря)
  • 7 July: Zagorsze - Stare Sioło (ukr. Старе Село)

In the “Einkantonierungsgebiet” the 12th march battalions from IR11, IR73, IR91 and IR102 were to gather and form the 18th March Brigade and continue to the front. Interestingly IR91 disappears from the records whereas the march battalions from the other three regiments are reported to have arrived at their destination on 9 July. Jan Vaněk's diary gives us the most reliable information available to date: on 4 July they are still in the transport but approaching Sambor. Then on 5 July they left Sambor for Rudki, on 6 July they marched to Szczerzec. This indicates a delay of one day compared to the 2nd Army orders.


The planned route towards the front. © ÖSTA


Hašek as Kriegsordonnanz in IR91/11th field company

Another of Jaroslav Hašek's poem lists a number of towns/villages on a line between Sambor and Lonie (the village by Gologory where the 12th march battalion joined the field battalions of IR91). This description in the poem corresponds almost perfectly to official orders stored in Kriegsarchiv in Vienna (2nd army files) and Jan Vaněk adds several confirmatory items in his entry from 10 July. The places he mentions are: Wańkowce, Lahodów, and Jaktorów. At the last place he notes on 10 July that they were waiting to join the regiment in the afternoon. The only slight contradiction between the various sources is the actual date of joining the regiment. According to Jan Evangelista Eybl and Vaněk is was on 10 July, Das Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 auf Vormarsch in Galizien claims 11 July.

Joining the 11th Field Company

Fähnrich Biegler and Einjährig-Freiwilliger Hašek from the 11th company were awarded silver medals for corageous conduct at Sokal. Feldwebel Vaněk and Offiziers-Diener Strašlipka were given bronze medals.

However patchily Hašek’s journey to the front is documented, his stay at the front from around 10 July to 24 September is extremely well covered. Morávek’s above-mentioned series focuses mainly on this period and additionally Das Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 auf Vormarsch in Galizien covers the regiments route in great detail, at times almost down to the hour and with accurate geographical information.

When the march battalion (appx. 800 men) joined the IR91 operative body, Rudolf Lukas took command of the renewed 11th company, with Jaroslav Hašek as his messenger. Hans Bigler was also assigned to this company as a squad leader (Zugsführer) and Jan Vaněk and František Strašlipka served in this unit. Companies 9 to 12 made up the 3rd battalion, commanded by Čeněk Sagner who had left for the front around mid June. Franz Wenzel assumed command of the 2nd battalion (companies 5-8). From now it should be clear that the 11th field company and part of its command structure has been projected directly onto the march units described in the novel. Jaroslav Hašek was named messenger in the 11th field company soon after 11 July, this is a role Švejk gets much earlier in the 11th march company (although Hašek may have been a messenger also in his march company).

After Żółtańce

Although the novel geographically ends at Żółtańce (IR91 made a 2 hour 15 minute break here on 16 July), the period after is still interesting even seen from the view of the pure “švejkologist”. Fragments from IR91's continuous march still appear in the novel and the most notable of those is Sokal which is dedicated a chapter header as early as Királyhida, in the final chapter of book two. The vicious battle that was fought here during the last week of July was no doubt intended to play a prominent part in the unfinished book four.

Some real events have been shifted forward in time. The order to build a bridge across the Bug was given on 17 July, i.e. not in Királyhida as the novel states. Brought forward in the same way is the order to march to Sokal. It was only issued on 20 July when the regiment was busy building that very bridge, by Kamionka Strumiłowa. During the march to Sokal the regiment met German troops both in Mosty Wielkie and Sokal (IR91 replaced German units there), both these encounters may have inspired the various meetings with German military units and Švejk observing the well-fed Germans at Żółtańce town square (a place IR91 never set foot at).


"Belohnungsantrag", application for decoration, 2 August 1915. © ÖSTA

Hat in den Kämpfen am 25./7. nächst Poturzyce unermüdlich u. mit Lebensverachtung in die Schwarmlinie [= Schützen- oder Gefechtslinie] wichtige Befehle und von dort Situationsmeldungen überbracht, wobei er die Mannschaft durch Erheitern u. Zurufe aufmunterte, selbst freiwillig Rekognoszierungen [Erkundungen] durchführte und kleine Gruppen in entsprechende Linien vorführte.
Steht seit 30./6. l. J. [laufenden Jahres] im Felde

Antrag: Silb. Tapferkeitsmed. II Kl.

Standort, am 2. August 1915
Transkription dank Doris & Gert Kerschbaumer

Jaroslav Hašek was indeed decorated with the Silver Medal for bravery (II. Class) after the battle of Sokal. The application for his decoration was written on 2 August 1915, and awarded on 18 August. Together with his fellow soldiers from the 3rd battalion he was decorated by Rudolf Kiesswetter.

The officers who signed the application were Steinsberg for the regiment, Mossig for the brigade and Schenck for the division. The final approval was given by the central authorities as late as 20 November, at a time when the author was already in Russian captivity. The justification for the award was the bravery he displayed on 25 July 1915, the first day of an Austrian attack which aim was to recapture the strategically important Góra Sokal, 254 metres. Without regard regard to his own life he had carried important messages to and from the trenches, encouraged his comrades with shouts, had voluntarily undertaken reconnaissance, and led smaller groups into position.

More loyal than he is made out to be?

Hašek seemingly had no disciplinary record

Much has been made of Jaroslav Hašek's alleged disloyalty to K.u.k. Heer, an impression he himself for obvious reasons was eager to promote from 1916 onwards. For years it was an established "fact" that he actively crossed over to the Russians at Chorupan, that he tried to desert on several occasions before that, that he was even given a three year sentence for attempted desertion. None of these claims have been verified, and there is no sign of any punishment on his military record. On the other hand it is documented that he was awarded a silver medal for bravery, taking risks that he didn't have to take, that he may even have signed up as a Kriegsfreiwilliger, in fact volunteered for his emperor. Nor was he forced to enlist at the reserve officer's school in Budějovice. His superior in K.u.k. Heer Rudolf Lukas told Jan Morávek that Jaroslav Hašek was a good soldier, that his problem was his drinking, and does not mention any political stance. Bohumil Vlček quotes Hašek from Sokal: "this war we must win at all costs".

There is no doubt that he, like Marek, was locked up in IR91's "Regimentsarrest" from time to time, but again it was likely to be public order offences rather than politics. The only instance we know of where he was disciplined for a political outburst was in České legie in 1917 after his infamous article The Czech Pickwick Club. It is also tempting to ask that if he was so convinced in his anti-Austrian views, why did it take him eight months to land on the "other side"? He surely could have done what the main target of his scorn in the "Czech Pickwick Klub", Bohdan Pavlů, did in late 1914: join the Czech volunteers on the spot of capture or shortly thereafter.

Hašek's time in Russia reflected in Švejk

"Kriegsgefangenenkartei" © ÖSTA

Jaroslav Hašek and his time in Russia (1915-1920) is comprehensively covered under the headline České legie, and there is little from this period that is directly reflected in the novel. There is some connection in the author's description of officer's servant where he mentions the Legions directly and also describes a "pucflek's" journey into captivity carrying his master's luggage. They route described is at least partly identical to that of the author (see Dubno, Darnitsya).


Čechoslovan, 17.6.1917 (30.7)


Hochverräterische Umtriebe ...

A more co-incidental connection is the story of a tom cat soiling a picture of the emperor, a clear parallel to the scene from U kalicha where the flies were equally impertinent to his majesty. The story Povídka o obrazu císaře Františka Josefa I. was published in the Kiev weekly Čechoslovan on 17 July 1916 (i.e. 30 July) and described the owner of a paper-shop, Mr. Petiška from Mladá Boleslav, who traded pictures of the emperor in Jewish liquor shops and also eagerly hoisted the flag on official state holidays. Unfortunately a tom-cat emptied his bladder on the pictures and made them unsellable. The story was picked up by the Austrian state police and led to an investigation in absentia of the author, for high treason (Hochverrat) and defamation of the His Imperial Majesty (Majestätsbeleidigung). The case was jointly investigated by Policejní ředitelství and the K.u.k. Divisionsgericht in Vienna.

Thanks to this story Jaroslav Hašek earned a place in the book "The treacherous activities of Austrian Czechs abroad", published by Policejní ředitelství in 1917. It named around 1,000 people, and the author of the tom-cat story was in good company: Masaryk, Beneš, his own friend Vlasta Amort, and more surprisingly James Joyce. How the latter became involved with "Austrian Czechs" is beyond comprehension. According to the police records his nationality was unknown, he lived in Zürich and was classed as politically suspect.


SourceRadko Pytlík, Břetislav Hůla, Jan Morávek, Jan Vaněk, Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Kejla, František Škřivánek, Franta Hofer, VÚA, ÖSTA

Hůla, Břetislav Josef Antonín
*31.3.1894 Polička - †2.4.1964 Dobřichovice

Letem světem, 4.4.1933

Břetislav Hůla - that this seemingly obscure name is included in a ‘Who’s who’ section on a web page about the Good Soldier Švejk, may raise a few eyebrows. He was surely not a model for any of the characters in the book, nor did he serve in the same regiment as Jaroslav Hašek. To justify his inclusion in the list of Švejkologists we therefore need to be aware of a little known fact: his explanations to Švejk (vysvětlíky). This 170 page document was never published under his name, but it was still his effort. When the explanations finally appeared publicly in 1953 someone else took the credit. This is however not the whole story: Břetislav Hůla has arguably researched more and collected more material on Jaroslav Hašek than anyone apart from Radko Pytlík. He was very knowledgeable on his subject, very thorough in his research and also document his findings impeccably. All later haškologists owe Hůla much but hardly any of a them gave him credit for his efforts (and most of them admittedly didn't even know about his existence).

Břetislav Hůla was a columnist, translator and Communist political activist who rightfully ought to be considered the first ever "scientific" Haškologist and Švejkologist, and in hindsight he ranks as one of the most important. He was the only post-WW2 Hašek-expert who knew (and worked with) the author personally over time. Sadly Hůla’s contribution to our knowledge on Jaroslav Hašek has gone largely unnoticed, and I hope this article will redress some of the imbalance.

Early years

Church records on birth and christening, Polička 1894

Břetislav Hůla was born in 1894 in Polička, a small town in Vysočina. His parents were František Hůla, a K.u.k. Gendarmerie (state police) officer, his mother Marie Hůlová, born Borešová (from Soběslav). Břetislav was the youngest of four children. In 1896, after his father’s premature death, the widow and the children moved to Královské Vinohrady, then to Praha II.. Here they show up in police records in 1896, 1897, 1901 and 1903. Young Břetislav studied at the gymnasium in Žitná ulice, incidentally where Jaroslav Hašek had studied ten years earlier. By 1907 (and still in 1910) his mother seems to have been the proprietor of a “trafika” in that very street (568/18), and they lived in Žitná ulice 565/12. On 10 July 1913 Hůla graduated from the gymnasium and embarked on law studies at Univerzita Karlova (Charles University) that same autumn. He had completed two terms by the outbreak of war, aided by a Franz-Joseph Stipendium worth 240 Crowns!

In the Austro-Hungarian army

Soldiers in IR28, Hůla's regiment

Soon he was off to fight for his emperor. Called up to serve with the Prague's own 28th Infantry Regiment, he was sent first to the Serbian front, then to the Carpathians. At some stage he was injured; he appears in Verlustliste Nr. 140 on 12 March 1915 as Verwundet. Here his rank is listed as Gefreiter. On 3 April 1915 he was captured near Dukla, and subsequently interned in camps in Ardatov and Simbirsk, and in total he spent 17 months in Russian captivity.

Czech volunteer

On 3 August 1916 he joined the Czech anti-Austrian volunteers in Russia (Českoslovenká Střelecká Brigada, later known as the Czechoslovak Legions). He was assigned to the same unit as Jaroslav Hašek; the 1st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment. Like Hašek he worked for the Union of Czechoslovak Associations in Russia, and both became contributors to Čechoslovan, a weekly published in Kiev. It is possible that the two met already in the autumn of 1916, but we don’t know exactly when Hůla started to write for the paper (Hašek had his first contribution published in July).


From "Revoluce", Kiev 1917

In June 1917 Hůla wrote an article in Revoluce, a Czech weekly in Kiev who were centred around the ultra-nationalist group Černá Ruka (Black Hand). It was in this paper that Jaroslav Hašek on 6 May (23 April Orthodox calendar) published his infamous The Czech Pickwick Club that pilloried virtually the whole leadership of the Czech organisations in Russia. The loud-thinking writer and satirist was "exiled" to the front already on 3 May, but from 15 November 1917 he was back in the offices of Čechoslovan. If he hadn't met Hůla already he would surely have done so now (or very soon after).

From January 1918 both are listed on the front page of Čechoslovan as editors. Hůla and Hašek celebrated New Year 1917/18 together in the editorial offices, and Jaroslav Hašek was reportedly in a very sentimental mood (Pytlík). Around this time they were part of a group of radicals who toyed with idea of organising terrorist groups to operate in Austria-Hungary, an idea firmly rejected by Masaryk (who was in Kiev at the time).


Hůla and Hašek as editors of Čechoslovan. This is the weekly's final issue before Kiev was occupied by German troops in 1918 and both left for Moscow.

Hašek-expert Cecil Parrott even notes that "the Communist Hůla” was instrumental in Hašek's shift towards the extreme left in early 1918. This view is shared by Radko Pytlík in his latest book (2013). It is however not clear when Hůla started to sympathise with the Bolsheviks; Biography of the Comintern claims “after the October Revolution” whereas Encyclopaedia of Czech Literature states that “early in 1918 he joined the Czech Communists in Kiev, organised around the weekly Svoboda”. In either case Parrott and Pytlík may have a good point.

In the meantime the Bolsheviks had occupied Kiev 8 February 1918. This event made an impression on the two journalists who for the first time came in contact with representatives of the new regime. This is very clear in the two issues of Čechoslovan that were published during the Bolshevik occupation. Although Hašek’s writing had started to drift towards the left already in January, the shift was now dramatic. The paper as a whole more or less espoused Bolshevik ideas, and according to historian Jaroslav Křižek, Hůla played a prominent role in this break with the past. Amongst the Bolshevik occupiers of Kiev were also a few hundred Czechs, amongst them Václav Fridrich, who was head of the Red Guards in Kiev, appointed by commander Mikhail Muravyov.


Rudolf Medek lashing out at Hašek and Hůla.
Československý deník, 6.4.1918


Československý deník, 8.4.1918

At some stage during this retreat Hašek and Hůla left the army and travelled together to Moscow (via Kharkov) where they joined the Petrograd section of the left wing of the Czech Social Democrats. In Moscow they contributed to the paper Průkopník where Hašek in a front page article on 27 March made his opposition to the transfer of the legions to France clear, and also rued the Czech Army's reluctance to fight the Germans during the invasion of Ukraine. Hůla published articles in the same newspaper. Václav Menger remembers meeting both in Moscow at this time and writes that Jaroslav Hašek and Hůla were inseparable, but were also on friendly terms with their former comrades from the Legions, and even went drinking with them. Amongst those "enemies" were the sculptor Vlasta Amort and the future Czechoslovak general Jan Šípek.

At the beginning of April Hašek was sent to Samara as an agitator/recruiter, and their paths split. In May 1918 Hůla was instrumental in organising the Czech section of the Bolshevik Party. Rudolf Medek also mentions him in a scathing attack on the left-wing social democrats. The article Průkopníci was published in Československý deník (6 April 1918). In his book Pout’ do Československa he tells how Jaroslav Hašek and Hůla in Restaurant Praha in Moscow tried to convince Ladislav Tuček to join the Bolsheviks. This allegedly happened after the battle of Bachmach (ended 13 March).

Back home

Czechs and Slovaks at the 2nd Comintern congress in Moscow in July/August 1920. Hůla was one of the delegates and is almost certainly present on this picture. At the front in the middle is Antonín Zápotocký. The other Czech delegates with voting rights were Miloš Vaněk and Ivan Olbracht (from Jaroslav Křížek - Jaroslav Hašek v revolučním Rusko).

In November 1918 Hůla returned to Prague and took up his abandoned law studies, where he completed another two terms. There is however no evidence of him having graduated in the summer of 1919. He lived at two different addresses: Všehrdova ulice 17 (Malá Strana) and Ruská ulice 26 (Vršovice). He also edited the papers Naš venkov and Svoboda, and translated Russian Communist literature. In 1920 he was one of four Czech delegates at the 2nd congress of Comintern in Petrograd and Moscow, and even became a member of the Comintern executive committee (EKKI). It was at the request of Hůla that Jaroslav Hašek in October 1920 was asked to return to Czechoslovakia to aid the revolutionary movement in his homeland. There is no evidence that the two met after Hašek's return (the author/activist appeared in Prague on 19 December 1920, and by that time Hůla had already been arrested).


Hůla was at this stage editor of the weekly Svoboda in Kladno, together with later Czechoslovak president and hard-line Stalinist Antonín Zápotocký. During the previous week they were amongst the organisers of a general strike and attempted revolution that the left wing of the Czech Social Democrats (Communists) instigated. After the failed coup the leaders were put on trial, incidentally at Zemský trestní soud, an institution well known to Švejk!. Hůla was sentenced to 13 months in prison. In press reports from the court proceedings in April 1921 he is listed as “editor from Dejvice”.

Interwar years

Hůla sentenced, 13 April 1921
Lidové noviny

After his release on 3 January 1922 and until 1926 Hůla worked for several Communist newspapers, amongst them Rudé Právo. He was active in the Communist party organisation until 1926 when he left, accused of "rightism" and "opportunism". In 1927 he signed a petition against the treatment of Trotsky, printed in Rudé Právo. He seems never to have returned to active politics, instead making a living as a translator from Russian and German (he translated Lenin, Dostoevsky, Turgenev etc.) using pseudonyms. He also attended classes in philosophy at Charles University. From 1928 he was active in Umělecká Beseda (Artists Union) and after WW2 briefly in the Czechoslovak Red Cross.

Nazi occupation

Little is known about his activities during the Nazi occupation, but in 1942 he appears to have been writing for a periodical named Přitomnost. Lidové Noviny reproduced one of his articles and it shows a pro-German tendency. During the protectorate he continued his work as a translator, working on Dostojevsky and Mikhail Sholokhov (And Quiet Flows the Don). He also translated a book by German art historian Wilhelm Waetzoldt. The book titled Nebojte se umění (Have no fear of the arts) was published in 1942. The original text was presumably Du und die Kunst (1938).

Professional haškologist for Synek

About the new collection.
Václav Kapický, Práce 13.3.1947

From 1 February 1947 he was commissioned by the publishers of Švejk, Nakladatelství Karel Synek, to edit and publish a new version of Sebrané spisy (Collected works), to be issued in 12 or 13 volumes. An early version had been published by Synek from 1925 to 1929, edited by Dolenský, but was deemed incomplete. It contained 419 stories, was issued in 16 soft back instalments and was illustrated by Josef Lada. Hůla went about assembling and identifying new material very methodically; browsing newspapers and magazines and reporting on the progress once a month. The result was an impressive collection: he found 303 previously unknown stories. In addition Hůla identified many of the pseudonyms the author had used, more than 100 in total, paving the way for further discoveries. In a letter to Synek dated 27 December 1948 he summarises his work, and also estimates that a further 500 stories could exists. He also thanks Synek for honouring their contract. In 1947 he also met actor Václav Menger, another friend of Hašek’s who in the thirties had written two semi-factual biographies about the author. Menger handed over all the material he had collected and was very pleased that Synek and Hůla had taken on the task to publish an updated Sebrané Spisy (Collected works). The contract with Synek covered two entire years; 1947 and 1948.

Working for the Ministry of Information

From fond Břetislav Hůla, LA PNP

By early 1948 he had also started to collaborate with Zdena Ančík, a Communist journalist and columnist who at the time was secretary for minister of information, Václav Kopecký. Ančík later achieved recognition as a pioneer haškologist. He had been active in the Czech resistance during the war, and managed to escape to England. He was an admirer of Jaroslav Hašek, and in 1953 he published the first post-war biography on the famous father of Švejk. The book O životě Jaroslava Haška contained a lot of new material, no doubt (in part) thanks to Hůla.

Correspondence dated 15 January 1948 reveals that Břetislav Hůla was assisting the ministry of information in collecting material for an exhibition on Jaroslav Hašek (it eventually opened on 19 May 1953). In a letter to Ančík he reveals how a photo from 1917 that shows Jaroslav Hašek together with Václav Menger and Jan Šípek was to be modified for the upcoming exhibition, retaining Hašek alone. From October he started to report and hand over material at regular intervals. This included not only stories by Hašek that he was discovering but also material from archives, most importantly from the Ministry of Interior who had kept records on the author's encounters with the police. These have been drawn upon extensively by biographers like Radko Pytlík. He was also in close contact with former friends and colleagues of the author: Josef Lada, Alois Hatina, Ladislav Grund, Zdeněk M. Kuděj, Gustav Roger Opočenský and others. He also collected extensive material from other archives and sources, including newspapers and magazines.

In the autumn of 1948 Hůla landed in trouble as he was being investigated for his conduct during the Nazi occupation. Ančík informed him on the proceedings, that he had been given a one-year sentence, but was offered an amnesty. It is obvious that Hůla had become very dependent on Ančík who was well connected in the party hierarchy.

According to the official Slovník české literatury Hůla retired due to ill health in 1948 but his letters to Ančík reveal continued and impressive research until September 1951 when he in a desperate tone pleads to Ančík for protection against confiscation of his property. From now the correspondence seems to have ceased. By early April 1950 he had moved to Dobřichovice where he lived in house number 358. Otherwise his names appears in several StB documents dated from 1953 to 1958, some of them indicating that he may have been an informer (unconfirmed). He lived in Dobřichovice until his death in 1964.


From Hůla's vysvětlíky, a few of them rather obvious

Hůla’s collection of is still available at LA PNP at Strahov. It contains seven cartons of documents, the bulk of it directly related to Jaroslav Hašek. Yet more is stored in the files of Zdena Ančík to whom he had passed on virtually all the results of his research. Hůla also edited a selection of stories by Hašek: Škola humoru (1949). Hůla's research was extensively used by Zdena Ančík and František Daneš when they finally set about publishing Spisy Jaroslav Haška (later Milan Jankovič and Radko Pytlík joined the editorial board).

Ančík in particular owes much of his reputation as a Hašek-expert to the endeavours of Hůla. In some editions of the novel that appeared in the 1950's he printed (with minor modifications) Hůla's extensive "vysvětlíky" (explanations) without saying a word about their origin (his only contribution to them was proof-reading). When Ančík and Daneš in 1955 published the first volume of the 16-part “Writings of Jaroslav Hašek”, Hůla is not mentioned although the series mainly consisted of stories that he had identified as written by Jaroslav Hašek. In 1960, In Bibliografie Jaroslava Haška Hůla's name finally appears, albeit as a minor note. Radko Pytlík reveals that Břetislav Hůla's collection had been deposited at PNP by 1955, the year Pytlík became aware of it. How the material ended there 10 years before the owners death is not known.

Hůla's explanations to Švejk is a 170-page type-written document, still in the custody of PNP. He seems to have been commissioned by Ančík to collect the explanations, and the latter also did some proof-reading. The work started on 25 May 1951 and was to be completed by 1 October. The explanations shows evidence of a very knowledgeable person, and the sheer extent of the information is impressive. Errors of course exist, but those are remarkably few and Hůla had not even finished the document when he seems to have abandoned work on it. His political views shine through, some of the entries are quite amusing in retrospect. U Fleků is described as a place where “the petite bourgeoisie get radicalised after a few beers”. All of this, including Hůla’s blunders, is faithfully reproduced by Ančík who only corrected some minor errors in the original manuscript. The odd explanation has also found the way into English translations of Švejk (e.g Rava Ruska). If anything could be criticised it would be a Kraus like tendency to explain even the most obvious of terms.

The extent of Břetislav Hůla's research has largely remained unknown. There was not a single word said about him at the conference in Bamberg in 1983, and of course not at the rival conference in Dobříš that same year. Nor has he (to my knowledge) been mentioned at subsequent Hašek-conferences at Lipnice nad Sázavou in 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2018. The side-lining of Hůla has been so effective that even Hašek-experts with an explicit anti-communist agenda (e.g. Pavel Gan and Jan Berwid-Buquoy) have overlooked him completely. So did Hašek's only other foreign-language biographers: Gustav Janouch and Cecil Parrott.


About Hůla in Sergey Soloukh's book

Only the recent research of Petr Kovařík has shed proper light on the importance of Břetislav Hůla and his research on Hašek. It was published as an afterword to his book Když bolševici zrušili Vánoce (2005). In Radko Pytklík’s latest collection of Hašek’s short stories, Turista Arataš a jiné humoresky, 2012, Hůla’s role in collecting stories by Hašek’s is briefly mentioned. Recently, in an extensive fact file on "Švejk": Jaroslav Hašek’s Good Soldier Švejk, Notes on the Russian Translation (Sergey Soloukh, 2013), Hůla’s contribution is given due recognition.


Source: SOA Zámrsk, NAČR, VHA, LA PNP, Lexicon české literatury, Radko Pytlík, Petr Kovařík, Archiv UK (Petr Šmíd)

Kuděj, Zdeněk Matěj
*24.11.1881 Hořice - †8.8.1955 Litomyšl

© Památník národního písemnictví

Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj (real name Zdeněk Marian Kuděj) was a Czech author, translator, journalist and traveller who was also known as a close friend of Jaroslav Hašek. The two knew each other from 1909, then travelled widely together in 1913 and 1914, and renewed the contact after Hašek returned from Russia in 1920. Kuděj also visited Hašek a couple of times after the latter moved to Lipnice nad Sázavou on 25 August 1921. He was the only one amongst Hašek's closest friends who attended the funeral on 6 January 1923.

Kuděj is an important source of information about Hašek as he wrote three books about their travels together, and also left considerable unpublished material in the custody of Zdena Ančík. This material is today stored in the archive of Památník národního písemnictví and was in 2018 (in part) published in book form by Miloš Doležal.

Early life

Born in Hořice on 24 November 1881, Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj was the son of a building engineer who was employed at the railways. Due to the father's occupation the family moved frequently during his childhood. He attended the gymnasium in Příbram but never completed his education. Before getting called up by the military in 1902 he had worked as an apprentice chemist in Pacov and Sadská.

Two years in Landwehr

He was Präsentiert (enlisted) in K.k. Landwehr (lit. Country Guard, the territorial army of Cisleithanien) on 1 October 1902. His home unit was LIR7 (Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 7), Pilsen (Plzeň), but for unknown reasons he was transferred to LIR6 in Eger (Cheb) only 5 days later. His rank was initially Infanterist and on 1 March 1903 he was appointed Schützen (rifleman). On 11 May 1904 he was transferred back to LIR7, and his two year compulsory service by K.k. Landwehr ended on 1 September 1904.

Compulsory service in K.k. Landwehr was two years (as opposed to three years in K.u.k. Heer). Still, until the were 32, men had to report every second year for a "Waffenübung" (weapons exercise) that lasted for four weeks and took place in August. Kuděj took part in such an exercise in August 1905.

On 20 January 1906 his rank was changed to Blessiertenträger (carrier of wounded). Thereafter he disappears from the records for three full years until he appears as participant in the August 1909 exercise. Otherwise his Unterabtheilungs-Grundbuchsblatt reveals that he was 164 centimetres tall and that his shoe size was 14. He had grey eyes and a long face, and was moderately narrow-chested. His right of domicile was in Drahenický Málkov, okres Strakonice.

Going abroad

© The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation


Passenger list, Graf Waldersee, 29 March 1916.

Some time after 9 September 1905 (he finished the Landwehr "Waffenübung" that day) he travelled to Germany. According to his own account he wanted to see the ocean, and after a prolonged period of wandering he went to Hamburg. In a wild hazard joint in the Altona district he won a large amount that he exchanged for a first class ticket to New York on "Hrabě Waldersee". Here he planned to stay for only two weeks as his money would otherwise run out.

From the passenger list of Graf Waldersee, submitted to the US immigration authorities, many details are available. The vessel set off from Cuxhaven 17 March 1906 and arrived in New York on the 29th. Kuděj is entered as a 25 year old male, single, resident in "Prag", occupation chemist, Austrian citizen, of Bohemian ethnicity, travelling 2nd class. His immediate destination was Chicago and he was in possession of 100 dollars (but he didn't have an onwards ticket). For good measures it is revealed that he was neither a polygamist nor an anarchist and had never previously visited the United States.

Sidney Godday

In America he assumed the name Sidney Goodday that phonetically resembled his real name. During the three years in the New World he travelled the continent and his experiences were later reflected in his literary output. One example is the book Bidné dny (Miserable Days), first published in Zlatá Praha as a seven-part series (22.9 to 3 November 1911). The story starts in November (year unspecified) where the I person and his friend Frank work on railway construction site in Alabama together with convicts who are hired in. They soon decide to get away and head back to Chicago, and set off as blind passengers on a train towards Bismarck (IL) before eventually reaching Chicago after some turbulent experiences. How much of this has base in reality is hard to say, but we should assume that at least the geographical context is factual.

In her doctoral thesis Kateřina Křenová (2004) states that it is problematic to trace Kuděj's movements in North America, but based on information from various sources she attempts to piece together a rough itinerary. After arriving in New York in the spring of 1903 (sic) he used his last dollars to buy a train ticket to Chicago (in his own words, quoted by E. Strohsová, 1982). Here he undertook various short-term jobs, amongst them cleaning intestines in a slaughter-house. On invitation from his cousin he then left for Cleveland where he took up a job in a medicine factory. From here the journey went to Detroit where he ended up in prison and in then returned to Chicago penniless.


Almost all literature on Kuděj, be it books, newspaper articles or web sites, contain information that flatly contradicts the above-mentioned army file and passenger list. This even includes the reputable Slovník české literatury po roce 1945 that states that Kuděj was dismissed from the army during his first-time service because he feigned feeble-mindedness. This is obviously not true, as he served out the compulsory two-year term with K.k. Landwehr. It is also universally claimed that he left for Amerika in 1903, whereas he actually left in 1906. At the moment the author of this web site does not know who the sources of these fictive accounts are, but presumably most of it originates from Kuděj himself. There is in general little confirmatory evidence about his life before 1918 so we are left to rely on the author's own writing and what he told friends (for what it is worth). This is particularly the case when it comes to his sojourns in Germany and North America.

Returning home

Český svět, 5.9.1913


Světozor, 6.2.1914

In 1909 he was back in his homeland and from 1910 his stories started to appear in various publications, amongst them Venkov, Světozor and Právo lidu. He started to associate with writers and other intellectuals and became a friend of Jaroslav Hašek. In the autumn of 1912 he travelled to Russia where he was arrested and spent 7 months in jail (all this according to his own account).

After returning from Russia he and Jaroslav Hašek set out on their first journey together, in the summer of 1913. It was from this trip a photo of them in dressed in ladies bathing gear appeared in Český svět on 5 September 1913. They visited the districts of Berounsko, Křivoklátsko and Plzeňsko. The trip is humorously described in Kuděj's book Ve dvou se to lépe táhne (1923-24).

During the next winter he appears on a photo in Světozor, on 6 February 1914. It shows him with Hašek and others breaking ice by U Brejšky. This was during a typographer's strike and journalists and writers had to offset the less of income. The photo gives us another firm date on Kuděj's whereabouts. It was taken on Saturday 17 January 1914.

The First World War

Kuděj listed as wounded. Venkov 5.12.1914

Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj got off lightly during the war. He was enlisted at the outbreak of war but was given 6 weeks leave immediately due to rheumatism. Somehow he dodged the army but in 1917 he was eventually called up - to the 7. Landwehrregiment from Plzeň where he had completed part of his regular service from 1902 to 1904. He worked as a clerk at the regiment's reserve battalion in Rumburk, and then in Beroun. For some time he had similar duties at the offices of the military bishop in Vienna (see Militärgeistlichkeit). Here he had a serious clash with a Hungarian field chaplain and feigned a nervous breakdown to avoid disciplinary proceedings after having insulted his superior. In the summer of 1918 he was finally superarbitrated due to his "mental illness".

Later life

In the inter-war years he published a number of books, amongst them two about his time together with Hašek. He also translated from English into Czech, amongst them Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and even Tarzan. He changed domicile frequently and died in Litomyšl in 1955. In his later years he handed over much material to Haškologist Zdena Ančík.

Kuděj in Švejk

Parallels to Švejk in Kuděj's notes.

It seems clear that Jaroslav Hašek added certain fragments from the live of his good friend to his literary hero. This is particularly the case in the first book, with the scene where Švejk is escorted from Hradčany to feldkurát Katz. Kuděj describes a remarkably similar journey in his unpublished memoirs. He is led from the garrison prison at Hradčany to the railway station by two older soldiers who get drunk to the degree that Kuděj in the end has to help them. In the same document he reveals that he suffered from rheumatism since his recent stay in Russia, and during call-up in 1914 he was pushed up to Pohořelec in a wheel-chair where army doctor Sojka declared him temporarily unfit and allowed him six weeks leave.

His service with the military clergy during the later stages of the war may well have provided Hašek with material for his field chaplains. The sources of some of the stories are at the moment unclear, but quite likely they stem from Kuděj himself. In this case we can not rule out that he may have been tempted to engineer snippets from Švejk back into his own biography, but the way it is written suggests otherwise. Another detail that may have been borrowed from Kuděj is the fact that Švejk visited Bremen (Cuxhaven is not far).


Source: Gert Kerschbaumer, Kateřina Křenová, Miloš Doležal, VHA, LA-PNP

Lacina, Ludvík
*Nedakonice 25.7.1868 - †Valašské Meziříčí 15.7.1928

Václav Petera


Birth and baptism record from the church book

Ludvík Lacina was an army chaplain from Moravia who served in K.u.k. Heer during the war and was an obvious model for Oberfeldkurat Lacina from the novel. It is known that he from 1912 to 1916 served in 7. Kavaleriedivision and this fact together with his surname and his profession connects him firmly to his literary counterpart.

Born in a Moravian family of teachers, little is known about his early years. His right of domicile was Vienna. Thereafter his name appears in various newspaper articles over the years, and there is also a solid Wikipedia article on him, partly based on his Qualifikationsliste from Kriegsarchiv in Vienna, and the research of Miha Šimac. Moreover Vojenský historický archiv (VHA) in Prague has a comprehensive file on him.


Našinec, 11.2.1913

He studied at the Czech gymnasium in Valašské Meziříčí, then theology in Olomouc and Gorica and in 1892 he was ordained as priest in Gorica. In 1906 he joined the army as an active (i.e. professional) military cleric. From 1 November 1906 he served with the garrison in Vienna as Feldkurat 2. Klasse, 1908-1912 in Gorica and Maribor and from 1912 in Kraków.

He was very active in cultural life, particularly in music where he excelled as a singer, and also played the piano and accordion. Apart from his native Czech he spoke Polish, German and Slovenian. In 1901 he passed the Staatsprüfung (State Exam) for piano at Musikschule Kaiser in Vienna.

During the war he served in Russian Poland, Galicia and towards the end in 15 months in Albania. In 1915 he was decorated with Geistliche Verdienstkreuz zweiter Klasse am Weissroten Bande.

After the war he continued to serve as a military cleric in the Czechoslovak army. On 1 January 1919 he was promoted to vrchní polní kurát (chief field chaplain) and was stationed in Hranice na Moravě, Moravská Ostrava, Hradec Králové, Chomutov, and Pardubice. From 22 January 1921 he was ill and hospitalised in Pardubice and Prague. He was superarbitrated on 26 August 1921 and retired on 27 September 1921. The reasons for his illness and early retirement are unknown. Ludvík Lacina died in his native Moravia at the age of 60.

Meeting Hašek before the war

Radko Pytlik, 1983

According to Radko Pytlík and his book Kniha o Švejkovi p.146, Jaroslav Hašek met Ludvík Lacina on one of his wanderings before the war and that the latter had a liking for animals, both alive and on the dinner table, and that this may have drawn the attention of the author. When and where they could have met is however a mystery because the author's and the field chaplain's domiciles never overlapped, and Hašek is not known to have travelled to areas where Lacina lived at the time (the opposite is of course possible). Nor do we know where Radko Pytlík got the information from, but the first name Ludvík and the geographical affinity to Valašské Meziříčí is correct so the source is presumably quite reliable.

Specific knowledge

Wiener Zeitung, 25.12.1915

Important is the fact that the author states exactly which troop unit the literary Lacina served with, knowledge that he must have acquired after 1912 when the real Ludvík Lacina was assigned to the 7th cavalry division. This unit didn't fight in areas where IR91 operated in 1915, so the hypothesis is rather that the field chaplain bumped into the regiment (or IR91 Ersatzbattailon) during a period of Urlaub. It is known from his records that he also gave field masses for other units (K.u.k. Ulanenregiment Nr. 2); army chaplains often served masses outside their "home" unit.

Kuděj or Pardubice connection?

Osobní věstník čs. ministerstva národní obrany, 17.5.1919

Given the vagueness and lack of references in the information from Radko Pytlík it is tempting to look for other links between the author and the field chaplain. One possible connection is ZMK who for some time served at K.u.k. Feldvikariat (see Militärgeistlichkeit) and may well have known Ludvík Lacina or at least heard about the colourful army cleric and passed the details on to his friend Jaroslav Hašek at some stage after Hašek's return from Siberia.


Lacina served in Pardubice when Hašek stayed there in December 1920. © VHA

Another possible connection is Pardubice where Jaroslav Hašek and his wife spent a week in quarantine after returning from Russia in December 1920. From 1 October 1920 to 27 September 1921 Ludvík Lacina served with the local garrison in the 2nd reserve hospital, now of course as a Czechoslovak officer. Interestingly enough he was promoted to chief field chaplain on 1 January 1919, exactly the rank Jaroslav Hašek assigned to him in the novel. This may however not mean much as Jaroslav Hašek quite liberally juggled ranks (as was the case also with Oberfeldkurat Ibl).

Another caricature

It's open to speculation whether the grotesque traits that Jaroslav Hašek assigns to the field chaplain has any foundation in reality. If so they are obviously exaggerated or even invented, as goes with the descriptions of all four army clerics who feature in the novel.



Otherwise there is a discrepancy between the fictive and the real person. According to the note about his decoration Wiener Zeitung, 25 December 1915 Ludvík Lacina held the rank Feldkurat and his file at VHA confirms that this was his rank throughout the war.

His literary counterpart had however advanced further. He was Oberfeldkurat when he famously entered world literature in Budějovice and this corresponds to the rank Lacina attained in the Czechoslovak army on 1 January 1919.


Miha Šimac has during his research recorded a disciplinary report on Ludvík Lacina, and reproduces it in his book Vojaški duhovniki iz slovenskih dežel pod habsburškim žezlom, Ljubljana: Teološka fakulteta, 2014, page 373-374. It refers to an incident on 18 October 1916. Lacina had applied for promotion despite a poor disciplinary record. He was however popular amongst the younger officers, he was good company, played the piano so he had considerable backing. When during a visit to army bishop Emmerich Bjelik's office Lacina was told the negative verdict, the bad-tempered field chaplain lashed out and gravely insulted his superior, swore at him, accused Bjelik of persecuting him, and wished that the Mother of God punish him and would do so! The incident was reported to Kriegsministerium on 20 October, and Lacina was given a stern warning but there was no formal prosecution. The full text of the report is printed below.

Feldkurat Lacina – Disziplinärwidriges Genehmen

ÖSTA/KA , AFV, karton 273

 305. Res. 
 Feldkurat Lacina – Disziplinärwidriges Genehmen 
 An das k. u. k. K. M. in Wien. 
 20. Oktober 1916

Der Feldkurat Ludwig Lacina des Mob. ResSpitals Nr. 2/10, welcher schon von meinem Vorgänger wegen seiner Lauheit im Dienste und Pflichtvergessenheit oft gemahnt und gerügt, wiederholt strafweise versetzt und wegen grober Verletzung der Standesehre auch mit einem strengen Verweise bestraft, von den namentlich jüngeren Offizieren aber, - weil er ein guter Gesellschafter, Klavierspieler und kein Spassverderber war – gerne in Schutz genommen wurde, ist mit Befürwortung des 2. AKmdos von der 7. KTD zur Beförderung in die VIII. Rangklasse außer der [Bar. ?] beantragt worden.

Er ist am 18. i. Mts. bei mir erschienen und hat sich auf den vorerwähnten Antrag berufen und um seine Beförderung gebeten. Ich habe unter Hinweis auf sein so oft beanständetes Verhalten vor dem Kriege die Erfüllung dieser Bitte abgelehnt und musste dies, als er unter Hervorhebung seiner 10-jährigen Dienstzeit und seines Alters das Ansuchen mit heftigem, ungebührendem Ton und eben solcher Haltung wiederholte als eine Dreistigkeit und Kränkung seiner wohlverdienten Vordermänner energisch zurückweisen. Er gebärdete sich aber in ungehöriger Art weiter und warf mit verletzendem Ton und anmassender Haltung vor, dass ich ihn verfolge und verfluchte mich, die Mutter Gottes solle mich strafen und sie werde es auch tun, wie es auch dem versterbenen Weihbischof Marschall gesehehen, dem er auch gleiches gewünscht habe. Ich bringe dieses achtungswidrige, die Auktorität und Disziplin tief verletzende Benehmen des Feldkuraten Lacina zur Kenntnis und bitte, - da es sich um meine Persone handelt, - von einer härteren Ahndung absehen und ihn nur mit einem strengen Verweise und Verwarnung bestrafen lassen zu wollen.

 Bischof, Apostolischer Feldvikar


Am mobilisierungstage eingerückt zur K. u. k. 7. K.D. (1. VIII. 1914 bis nach 14. VII. 1916). 2. Dezember. Hl. Messe mit Ansprache und hl. Segen für das k. u. k. Ulanenregiment Nr. 2 in den Schützengräben /: Seine wie stets stark im Vertrauen auf Gott; deutsch, polnisch./

Jaroslav Šerák

Jeho otec byl učitel v Nedakovicích a jeho matka pocházela také z učitelské rodiny Antonína Peka ze Štípě (Štípa u Zlína). Děd našeho pátera Jan, měl ve Štípě hospodu.


Source: Miha Šimac, Václav Petera, Jaroslav Šerák, Radko Pytlík, VHA

Lukas, Rudolf
*11.10.1886 Nagyvárad (Oradea) - †22.2.1938 Praha

Rudolf Lukas as K.u.k. Hauptmann in 1918

Rudolf Lukas is easily recognisable as a real-life model of Švejk’s obrlajtnant Lukáš, without this necessarily meaning that he was his only prototype.

Rudolf Lukas was Jaroslav Hašek's superior from 1 June 1915 until the writer was captured on 24 September the same year. Lukas was company commander in both the 4th company/12th march btn from June 1 to July 11, and the 11th company/3rd field btn from July 12 onwards. The officer seems to have held his hand over the writer, and even urged him to stop drinking. The good-will was reciprocated, and this spills over into the novel, reflected in Švejk's gradually warming relationship with Lukáš and the author’s obvious sympathy for the obrlajtnant.

Rudolf Lukas' servant in 1914 and 1915 was František Strašlipka, from whom Hašek reportedly borrowed some of the traits he assigned to Švejk, particularly the incessant storytelling. Rudolf Lukas seems to have shared certain qualities with his fictional counterpart: fairness, treating his men well, and even had the same rank in the army. But there are also major differences: Lukas' mother tongue was German, and he was not from the Czech south. He never attended cadet school in Prague, and he was apparently no womaniser.

Early life and career

From his K.u.k. Heer file © VHA

Lukas was born in current Nagyvárad (now Oradea in Romania) in 1886. His parents were Heinrich Lukas and Josefa Skoupy. He had one sister, Ida. His father was an official in the K.u.k. postal services. In 1892 they moved to Bodenbach (now Podmokly) and in 1895 to Smíchov where young Rudolf spent the rest of his youth. He attended the Lower German Gymnasium in Prague.

In 1903 he embarked on a military career as he completed a preparatory course in Maribor. From 1904 to 1909 he attended cadet school in Královo Pole by Brno. He was no model student and had to retake a few subjects. On 18 August 1909 he joined IR91, the unit he was to serve for the next nine years. On 1 May 1912 he was promoted from Fähnrich to Leutnant, and from 1 January 1915 Oberleutnant, the rank that eventually made him famous. Otherwise his Evidenzblatt reveals that he spoke Czech and German fluently, and mastered Croat and French adequately. From 18 August 1909 until 1 September 1911 he was stationed in Prague, then until outbreak of war he was assigned to the regiment’s 4th battalion in Budějovice, where his name appears in address books and in the Schematismus.

First year of the war

Lukas during the war, in his own words © ÖSTA

On 1 August 1914 Lukas was sent to the front by the Drina (IR 91 arrived on 4 August) and thereafter he took part in the first invasion of Serbia, the battle of Cer (which ended in defeat for K.u.k. Heer). Conveniently he contracted pneumonia on 6 September 1914 so he did not take part in the disastrous attack across Drina two days later. Here many soldiers drowned after fleeing back to the Bosnian side. He was hospitalised in Bjelina in Bosnia until 27 September.

After a short holiday, he reported in Budějovice on 16 October to teach at the Einjährig-Freiwilligerschule before returning to the front in Serbia on 14 December 1914. During this month IR91 suffered disastrous losses, three entire companies were captured by the Serbs. Lukas remained with the field unit 13 March 1915, and thus took part in the regiment's transfer to the Carpathians in early February. He took part in the heavy battles of Vychodní Beskydy in February and March. He returned to Budějovice for a holiday and recuperation - via Košice where he was in hospital due to neuralgia.

It has not been established whether Lukas met Jaroslav Hašek already in Budějovice, but both were patients in K.u.k. Reserve-spital at the end of March. On 1 April he was transferred to private care, also in the town. His servant from the outbreak of war until 24 September 1915 was by near certainty always František Strašlipka, their respective dates of front service correspond exactly.

The 12th March Batallion

Żdżary, 18 August 1915. Officers from IR91 at the decoration by IR91/11th company. ©ÖSTA


Signatures (photo above): : Kiehswetter (obst.lt), Sagner (ob.lt), Müller (lt.), Lukas (ob.lt.), Wessely (lt.res), Fehre (lt.), Black (lt.res). ©ÖSTA

On 1 June 1915 Rudolf Lukas returned from his second period away from the front, and was made commander of the 4th company of IR91/12th march battalion. This is also the date when IR91 Ersatzbattailon was transferred to Királyhida and from now on Jaroslav Hašek and his obrlajtnant were in regular contact. Lukas was interviewed by Jan Morávek after the war, and told him that Jaroslav Hašek surprised him by being a good soldier who did his duties, but he drank a lot and Lukas had tried to make him sober up.

The 11th Field Company

When the march battalion joined the core of the regiment on 11 July 1915, Rudolf Lukas took command of the reconstituted 11th field company and commanded them during the brutal battle by Sokal (25 July - 31 July) where he lost half his company. By this time Jaroslav Hašek had already been appointed company messenger (Ordonnanz). During the battle František Strašlipka saved his commander's life by shouting out that an enemy soldier was aiming at him.

After the battle followed four weeks in the reserve by Żdżary (15 km north of Sokal) before a new offensive into Russian territory started on 27 August. IR91 reached the area by Dubno by 8 September but were forced to withdraw on the 18th. In the early hours of 24 September parts of IR91, including the 11th company, were caught in their sleep by a surprise Russian attack. Rudolf Lukas lost his messenger Jaroslav Hašek and also his servant František Strašlipka, they were both amongst the 509 from the regiment who were reported missing. According to Jaroslav Kejla Lukas and his superior Čeněk Sagner fled in panic and only narrowly escaped capture.

The rest of the war

In November 1915 IR91 was transferred from the Dubno region to the Italian front by the river Isonzo. Apart from a brief stint with the regiment in South Tyrol, Lukas remained by Isonzo until 15 July 1916, his last day ever at the front. From 1 September 1916 until 31 July 1917 he was posted in Vienna and then at IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Bruck an der Leitha, where he remained for the rest of the war. In Vienna he worked as a riding instructor for Meldereiter (dispatch riders), and in Bruck he served as head of the regiment's history group. He was promoted to Hauptmann on 1 February 1918. Rudolf Lukas was decorated several times, twice with Signum Laudis. In 1916 his third decoration was mentioned by Budweiser Zeitung. For the occasion his sister Miss Ida Lukas, a teacher in Briethal, donated 10 crowns to the blinds of IR91.

Vormerkblatt für die Qualifikationsbeschreibung für die Zeit von 1. August 1914 bis 31. Mai 1916

Lebhafter engagierter Charakter, tüchtiger Offizier, im Gefechte umsichtig, initiativ, tapfer. Fester, gerader, engagierter Charakter, von netter Denkungsart, mit lebhaftem Temperament. Besitzt ein reifes Fundament und nützliche Kenntnisse, welche er Richtig anwendet. Dementsprechend im Gefecht rasche Auffassung und zielbewusste Durchführung, begleitet von menschlicher Tapferkeit, ein besonders tüchtiger erprobter Offizier. Besitzt hervorragende soldatische Eigenschaften. In der Führung einer Kompanie hervorragend bewährt, besitzt ein gewisses administratives Talent mit praktischem Blick. In der Leitung der Mobilführungsberater versiert. Ist zur Führung eines Baons (Bataillons) vollkommen geeignet. Auf Untergebene disziplinierend einwirkend, von durchdringenden Einfluß, sowie stehts besorgt um das Wohl jedes Einzelnen, Subalterne Offiziere und Chargen sehr gut führend und entsprechend sehr gute Erfolge. Oblt. Rudolf Lukas ist das Muster d. vorzüglichen, strebsamen, äußerst selbstbewußten, selbsttätigen, vorausdenkenden Offizier, seine Handlungen sind stehts vom Interesse für den Dienste geleitet. © ÖSTA. Reinschrift dank Johanna Wallegger, Stadt und Museumsverein Bruck an der Leitha

In military documents Rudolf Lukas is described as a steadfast character, but also lively and enthusiastic, with a vivid temper. He was a good soldier who treated his sub-ordinates well. He had a disciplining effect on his men, another trait the connects him to his fictive counterpart. The verdict from his superiors was that he was fully capable of commanding a battalion. He was quick to react to situations in the field, brave, full of initiative, possessed a certain administrative talent, and was practical in his approach. Lukas was an model of a self-concious and independently minded officer, his actions were always guided by interests of the armed forces.

Marriage and the end of IR91

Marriage records from Bruck. Located by Wolfgang Gruber, transcription by Johanna Wallegger, to Czech by Jaroslav Šerák.

On 19 December 1918 Rudolf Lukas married the 22 year old Anna Marie Bauer (born 26 December 1896). She was the daughter of property owner Karl Bauer and Anna (born Reisenberger) in Alstadt 7, Bruck an der Leitha. Their wedding took place in the town's parish church, witnessed by two officers from IR91, Kamillo Kettner and Karl Gröbner. The regiment was soon transferred to Enns and during 1919 dissolved. In Enns Lukas lived in Reintalgasse 12.

In court

In Enns Hauptmann Lukas was involved in a controversy with a junior officer Leopold Hopfinger. Rudolf Lukas accused Hopfinger of having made a threatening movement towards him, and allegedly threatened: "I'll throw you out of the window". The episode took place on 19 September 1919. The case was heard in the brigade court in Linz on 19 November and reported in the local newspaper a few days later. Hopfinger was in the end found "not guilty" after the court decided he was victim of undue behaviour from the captain who reportedly shouted at the junior officers and threatened them with prison.

Czechoslovak officer

Tagblatt, 23.11.1919

On 13 March 1919 he reported for service in the Czechoslovak Army, and he returned to Bohemia on 13 November 1919 and was eventually accepted by the new state's army after having been through a vetting process and a language course. He became staff captain at the Ministry of Defence in Prague, bud also had stints in Budějovice and in Slovakia. In 1935 he was promoted to major. He even kept some material related to Jaroslav Hašek which unfortunately got lost after his death in 1938. He lived at U Průhonu čp.48 in Holešovice, by chance the neighbour of future communist prime minister Klement Gottwald. His wife moved moved to Brno after her husband's death, then back to her parents in Bruck an der Leitha (Karel Stránský, fond Zdena Ančík, LA-PNP). During WW2 her brother Karl was Nazi mayor of Bruck (Friedrich Petzneck).

Identified as prototype

Lukas as a Czechoslovak officer. © Ivo Pejčoch

Already by 1924 Rudolf Lukas had been identified as a prototype for Lukáš. In the 16 part series by Jan Morávek in Večerné České Slovo in September/October Lukas is interviewed and tells about his encounters with Jaroslav Hašek. Lukas was worried about the author and begged him to stop drinking. Otherwise he reveals that Hašek was a good soldier and that the two had got on well. He also kept some of his poems and other material that he planned to publish after his retirement, but his early death put a stop to that.

More information about Rudolf Lukas has become available over the years, mainly through the research of Milan Hodík and Ivo Pejčoch who both use material from military and other archives. Otherwise he is mentioned in virtually all literature that exists on the theme Švejk; including Radko Pytlík, Cecil Parrott, Gustav Janouch a.o. Apart from published information there are extensive files on him in the war archives in Vienna and Prague, and his marriage record from Bruck an der Leitha (1918) has also been found (courtesy of Wolfgang Gruber).

He also appears in newspapers from time to time. News of promoted officers were always printed, as well as decorations. Apart from the episode at Enns mentioned above, he was involved in a court case against a female tram conductor in Vienna in 1917. After the war he also appeared in Czechoslovak newspapers, and several of them printed his obituary. Here he is first and foremost noted as a model for Lukáš. In the Literature Archive at Strahov (LA-PNP) there are some unpublished accounts about him, collected by Haškologist Zdena Ančík.

As is often the case with other prototypes of characters from the novel there is false, outdated or unconfirmed information floating around in books and on the Internet: that he changed his surname to Lukáš after the war, that he commanded the 11th March Company (such a unit never existed), and that he married the sister of Hans Bigler.

The first ever Švejk-society?

On 9 November 1932 a small note appeared in Budweiser Zeitung. It reveals that on 28 October a meeting took place where former officers of IR91 decided to establish a society called Verein der Freunde des guten Soldaten Schwejk (Society of friends of the Good Soldier Švejk). The aim was to invite as members persons who were descbrbed in the novel. Staff Captain Rudolf Lukas himself was present at the meeting and reserve captain Jan Maleček who reportedly was the model for some Zugsführer Marek (sic).

Grave being kept

The grave of Lukas and his mother, Malvazinky, Praha

Rudolf Lukas is buried at Malvazinky cemetery in Smíchov and thanks to the initiative of the IR91 society from Budějovice it is from 2016 onwards being maintained.


Source: VÚA, ÖSTA, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Kejla, Wolfgang Gruber, Milan Hodík, Ivo Pejčoch, Jan Ciglbauer

Michálek, Emanuél
*21.10.1885 Plzeň - †?

Emanuél Michálek is frequently suggested as a possible model for Dub, but the facts that support this theory are few. The personal traits of the abject reserve lieutenant seem to be a mosaic of the worst from several people, rather than being picked from one particular person. Still there are some indications that Emanuél Michálek to a degree served as inspiration for the author's caricature of a Czech monarchist.


Michálek complaining at the slighest physical "Anstrengung", he was close to "Superarbitrierung"

Emanuél Michálek joined IR91's operative body with the 13th march battalion on 15 August 1915. He was captured by Chorupan on 24 September, a fate he shared with Jaroslav Hašek. According to Jan Morávek the two had a serious clash earlier in September, when Hašek stood up for his friend Jan Vaněk who was threatened by Michálek. During the incident the lieutenant is reported to have used the well-known phrase of Dub: You know me perhaps from the good side, but wait until you get to know me from the bad side. This is however the only known connection between Dub and Michálek, apart from their identical ranks and they both belonging to IR91. Hašek and Michálek travelled to the front in different march battalions, but may possibly have met each other in Királyhida in June. Another interesting parallel goes back to their youth: they both studied at The Czecho-Slavonic Commercial Academy in Prague. With Michálek being only two years younger than Hašek they may even have met.

But in general Dub's and Michálek’s biographical details differ. Michálek was a bank official whereas Dub was a schoolmaster. Emanuél Michálek lived in Královské Vinohrady whereas Dub resided in Smíchov (at times Hašek has him hail from some country town). Michálek had battle experience from Serbia and the Carpathians, whereas in the novel there is no mention of Dub ever having been at the front. Michálek was married and had two children, another detail that goes unmentioned in the novel (it is even suggested that Dub was a homosexual).

For the records: Emanuél Michálek joined the Czechoslovak Legions in the summer of 1918, at a time when Jaroslav Hašek had already left the corps. After the war he was enrolled as a reserve officer in the Czechoslovak Army, where he served until 1935. It is not known where and when Michálek passed away.

Other candidates

Cecil Parrott: A study of Švejk and the short stories, page 132


František Trávníček

With such vague links between the prototype and the infamous literary figure, several alternative real-life models have been suggested. Radko Pytlík (1998) is of the opinion that no particular model exists, but mentions a few alternatives, apart from Michálek. He notes that Hašek is reported to have told teacher Jakl at Lipnice that the model for Dub was some Senior Lieutenant Kreibich and researchers in Brno have come up with the theory that Dub’s model was linguistician František Trávníček. Pytlík (2003) characterizes the rumours about Trávníček as “malicious”. Cecil Parrott (1982) writes: “Finally, it has long been whispered that the model of Dub was in fact the famous linguistician František Trávníček”, but no one dared to state it because he held a place of honour in the Communist republic until his death in 1961”.

The Kreibich and Trávníček connections both rest on an even less solid foundation than the Michálek theory. There was as far as we know no officer called Kreibich in IR91. Interestingly a Kreibich is mentioned in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí, but here he is assigned the role of servant of Dauerling and has little that fits the description of Lt. Dub. It should also be noted that Vladimír Stejskal, the source of this reference was later exposed as a hoaxer.

The Trávníček hypothesis originates from Brno (Pytlík 1998) but it is not known who is behind the rumour. Records in Vienna’s Kriegsarchiv, Reserveoffizierschule Budweis 1915, do indeed reveal that a František Trávníček attended the school at the same time as Hašek, and at first sight adds some weight to the theory about Dub being modelled on the famous linguist. But a quick comparison of data puts the theory firmly to rest. There were many persons carrying this name in the armed forces, and ten of them later served in the Czechoslovak Army in Russia. Records from VÚA shows that the Moravian linguist served in IR8, and he only joined the Czechoslovak Army ("legions") on 18 January 1918, i.e. shortly before Jaroslav Hašek left it. Although Trávníček may have shared some characteristics with Dub, it is very unlikely that Hašek ever had anything to do with him. Trávníček should therefore be considered "not guilty".

Karel Dub's research

Johann Hutzler

The most solid research on lajtnant Dub is not done by any renowned Hašek-expert, but by Karel Dub who has done a remarkably detailed investigation into the background of his namesake. Significantly he found that no-one with the name Dub served in IR91 at the short time Jaroslav Hašek was there, contrary to what others (Jan Evangelista Eybl) have claimed (there is supposed to have existed a regimental doctor named Dub). He suggests that Hašek borrowed the name Dub from people he knew from before the war or during his time in Russia (there were eight Dubs in the Čechoslovak Army). He also methodically goes through the lists of reserve-lieutenants that served with Hašek and comes up with vital information. He mentions Emanuél Michálek, but also discusses other persons that may have inspired Hašek: Richard Müller, Ferdinand Black, and Johann Hutzler. Black, who was twenty at the time, was too young to fit the schoolmaster role but may still have lent other traits to Dub. Müller is as good as ruled out, but Hutzler has a few striking similarities with Dub. He was the right age (born in 1880), was a teacher, and had not served at the front before. He was not married, and suffered from sciatica. He was of minuscule stature (156 cm tall), arrived at the front in Hašek’s march battalion, and seems to fit Dub well. He was squad leader in Hašek's 11th field company but was quickly replaced by the much younger Black, presumably for not being up to the task. Otherwise Karel Dub provides an impressive array of facts, and concludes that Johann Hutzler rather than Michálek appears to be the main prototype for Dub.

An entry in the list of wounded and from April further underpins Karel Dub's conclusion. In March 1915 Hutzler was hospitalised in K.u.k Reservespital in Budějovice, at exactly the same time as Jaroslav Hašek. It is therefore very likely that they would have known each other already from then on, and that time-wise both men's career in K.u.k. Heer overlapped almost entirely.


SourceKarel Dub, Jan Morávek, Radko Pytlík, Cecil Parrott

Morávek, Jan
*1.5.1888 Kamenný Přívoz - †14.4.1958 Praha

Jan Morávek should rightly be considered the first ever "švejkologist" as he was the first to pinpoint the parallels between the novel Švejk and the author's own experiences in K.u.k. Heer. He published his findings in a sixteen part series in Večerní České Slovo (1 September to 4 October 1924). The series is based on post-war interviews with Rudolf Lukas and Jan Vaněk and also the latter's diaries. Jan Morávek reveals that a number of Hašek's literary figures were inspired by people that the author met during his seven month service in Austro-Hugarian army.

The series appear quite trustworthy although the number of dialogues and leaning towards "beletrie" to a degree diminishes its value as a primary source. However, none of the interviewed parts ever openly contradicted Jan Morávek's version, but at the end the author makes comments that suggest that the veracity of his series had already been questioned.

Reasons to be sceptical

Večerní České Slovo, 1.9.1924

His description of the circumstances around Jaroslav Hašek's decoration seems highly dubious. It contains a number of minor factual errors, but more importantly it is flatly contradicted by the author's Belohnungsantrag, nor by Vaněk's own.

This document does not mention the "300 Russian prisoners" that Jaroslav Hašek is claimed to have brought into captivity. It is also striking that none of the recently discovered (2014) diaries of Jan Evangelista Eybl and Jan Vaněk mention this "deed".

A similar story does however show up in Rudolf Lukas' obituary. Jaroslav Hašek was given the task to lead a group of Russian prisoners to divisional HQ but he let them keep their guns, assuming they were happy to have the war behind them anyway. This understandably caused panic when they arrived at HQ, which again reflected badly on Lukas. But it was obviously not the reason why Jaroslav Hašek was decorated.

Another unlikely claim is that his superiors requested that Jaroslav Hašek was pardoned a three year sentence for desertion because he "led the whole battalion across the river Ikva, having used his knowledge of Russian to ask the locals where the ford was". There is no sign of any conviction in Hašek's military records. A three year sentence is no minor matter and would have had to been imposed by a military court. He was allegedly also proposed for promotion in connection with this deed. Jaroslav Kejla, who was present by the Ikva on 18 September 1918 when the river crossing took place, openly questions the story.

The Bad Soldier

From "Špatný voják"

In 1930 Jan Morávek published a novel that is based on his time with IR91 on the Serbian front in 1914. The title is "Špatný voják" (The Bad Soldier). The novel is autobiographical although it is impossible to verify to which extent the author keeps to facts. The first part deals with his youth and life before the war, his relation to his family in the countryside, his career as an actor and his relationship to women. It also describes his pre-war three-year military service with IR91 in Karlín.

His war time service started with the mobilisation at the end of July 1914. This part of the novel appears very authentic, the geographical names and dates of the campaign in Serbia in 1914 are accurate and verifiable, and align very well with Böhmerwalds Söhne im Felde and Egon Erwin Kisch's diary Schreib das auf Kisch!.

Morávek took part in the catastrophic battle of Cer in August and was was wounded, Thus he luckily avoided the calamity at the mouth of the Drina on 8 September where a huge numbers of K.u.k. soldiers drowned when retreating in panic after a failed attempt to establish a foothold on the eastern bank. The whole operation is vividly described by Kisch and a number of others.

On 12 September he became messenger (Ordonnanz) for major Franz Wenzel who had just been appointed commander of the 2nd battalion. Jan Morávek's description of Wenzel is merciless: a megalomaniac, madman and coward who gave the most ridiculous orders. This picture is confirmed by Jaroslav Hašek, Bohumil Vlček and also documents from the war archives.

In October Jan Morávek had suffered another injury and with aid of understanding doctors he was transported behind the front line, then home via Osijek - Budapest - Vienna and finally "super-arbitrated" in Budějovice. He then returns to Prague where the novel ends.

Army records

The first page of Morávek's army file

Jan Morávek's army file (Hauptgrundbuchblatt) underpins the authenticity of Morávek's account. He did his military service by IR91 in Karlín from 1909 to 1912. He was promoted to corporal during the service and it is revealed that he served in the 7th company (i.e. 2nd battalion). On 28 July 1914 he was called up, and on 1 March 1915 he was super-arbitrated. On 8 May he was called back into service and finally released again on 13 October 1917. The file confirms his pre-war occupation as an editor and actor. Although largely unknown as a writer today, he produced a number of novels and other prose in the inter-war years and his novel from the Serbian campaign is a vital supplement to other eye-witness accounts from that period.


Source: Milan Hodík, VÚA

Sagner, Čeněk
*13.3.1884 Zámrsk - †22.6.1927 Praha-Bohnice

Čeněk Sagner © ÖSTA

Čeněk Sagner was an Austrian (from 1918 Czechoslovak) officer who clearly is the main inspiration for Hašek’s hejtman Ságner. He was the author's battalion commander from 11 July to 24 September 1915 (IR91, 3rd field battalion) and they both served in Budějovice and Bruck an der Leitha earlier that year.

The author borrowed the name, position in the command hierarchy, and to a degree the rank (Čeněk Sagner was promoted from senior lieutenant to captain only on 1 September 1915). Otherwise the literary hejtman Ságner and the real Sagner seem to have had little in common, and Sagner was not even the commander of Jaroslav Hašek's march battalion.

Sagner was born in Zámrsk in eastern Bohemia in 1884, the son of K.u.k. railway official Jan Sagner and Josefa (born Machačková). He studied in Svitavy and Prague, and in 1905 he joined the army, after having attended Infanteriekadettenschule Prag from 1901 onwards. He graduated with excellent results and joined IR91 immediately after graduation. He was mostly stationed with the 3rd battalion in Prague where he also served as instructor at the Reserveoffizierschule. On 1 May 1908 he was promoted to lieutenant and on 1 May 1913 to senior lieutenant.

Incident at "Staatsbahnhof"

Arbeiter-Zeitung, 16.5.1913


Arbeiter-Zeitung, 16.5.1913


Lidové noviny, 5.11.1913

On 8 February 1913 Čeněk Sagner was involved in an incident that later hit the headlines in national newspaper and in the end reached Parlament. Together with his father and brother he was involved in a dispute with the waiter Johann Strauß in the restaurant at Vienna's Staatsbahnhof. The officer insulted the waiter by calling him a Schweinskopf (pig-head), tried to draw his sabre and finally slapped him in the face. After the episode Sagner took the waiter to court, accusing him of showing disrespect for an officer. The hearing took place on in the district court of Favoriten (Vienna) in May and Sagner lost the case.

That was however not the end of the story. Attorney general Dr. Viktor von Hochenburger seemingly intervened in an attempt to influence the course of justice, and this was apparently not the first time the minister had come under scrutiny for such approaches. He had allegedly contacted the judge Dr. Ertl and classed the verdict as "tactless". The case escalated and ended in parliament where it was debated in Justizausschuss (justice committee) on 13 November. The case was widely reported and even reached some front pages but most of them didn't mention the officer's name. It is therefore unlikely that Jaroslav Hašek ever connected the court case with his future superior in K.u.k. Heer, otherwise it would no doubt have resulted in a biting anecdote by Marek.

During the war

© 2013 VÚA


Gefecthtsbericht, Sokal, 9. August 1915. © 2013 ÖSTA

Soon after mobilisation in August 1914 he was sent to the front in Serbia where he took part in fighting until 27 November when he fell ill. After this followed a period of recuperation and leave. Sagner distinguished himself several times on the Serbian front and was decorated with Signum Laudis. On one occasion he even climbed a tree and directed the artillery fire from there, a curious parallel to obrlajtnant Berger in the novel.

On 28 February 1915 he was back in service with IR91 in Budějovice, as commander of 1. Ersatzkompanie, the company Jaroslav Hašek initially joined. It is overwhelmingly likely that they met already during this period. Sagner took part in the transfer of the regiment’s replacement battalion to Bruck (1 June), but on 14 June 1915 he left for the front in Galicia as Einzelreisender (single traveller), in time to take part in the battles by Grodek and Gniła Lipa. On 3 July he assumed command of the 3rd Field Battalion of IR91. It was this unit Jaroslav Hašek joined eight days later, by Gologory.

Material from VÚA portrays Sagner as quite ruthless; urging his soldiers to show the enemy (and potentially untrustworthy Galician civilians) no mercy. On the positive side it is noted that he led his battalion commendably during the battle of Sokal (25 July - 31 July), a fact that is recorded in the Gefechtsbericht (battle report) issued after the fighting ceased. He was promoted to Hauptmann on 1 September, the rank Jaroslav Hašek used consistently (albeit chronologically incorrect) throughout the novel. He was decorated with Eiserne Kreuz around the same time.


Testimony in Sagner's favour to the Czechoslovak Army vetting commision.
© 2013 VÚA

In the early hours of 24 September 1915 Čeněk Sagner and Rudolf Lukas both narrowly escaped capture at Chorupan: they fled, leaving their men behind (Jaroslav Kejla). It was during this very Russian attack that Jaroslav Hašek was captured together with more than 500 of his companions from IR91.

On 30 September 1915 Čeněk Sagner was hospitalised, and the rest of the war he spent ambulating between hospitals, the Isonzo front and IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Bruck an der Leitha. Towards the end of the war he caught malaria and was generally dogged by illness.

Czechoslovak officer

In November 1918 his career took a new turn. From his sickbed he immediately joined the newly formed Czechoslovak army, and was instrumental in putting down a rebellion in the area of Kaplice. In this region the population was predominantly Germans who sought to join the newly formed Republic of Austria.

After the war, former K.u.k. officers who applied for service in the Czechoslovak army, had to go through a vetting process (“lustrace”). Several witnesses testified to his “czechness” in Austrian times: he had spoken Czech whenever he could, he protected Czech soldiers, and according to one witness he even took issue with a decree in Bruck an der Leitha that prohibited the use of Czech in the officer's dining room.

Spelling a name

Birth and baptism record

The claim by some haškologists that Čeněk Sagner in Czechoslovakia started to “czechify” his name, spelling it Ságner appears unfounded. On all his papers stored in VÚA (more than 100 pages) his signature is Sagner and this is also the name used by officials. He did however “teutonify” his first name to Vinzenz in K.u.k. Heer, in Czechoslovakia both Vincenc and Čeněk were used. On his grave his name is however Ságner, but in the birth and baptism record from Zámrsk he is listed as Čeněk Sagner.

Insanity and death

Notice on Sagner's death. "Insane captain in retirement".
© 2013 VÚA

From 1920 onwards his health deteriorated rapidly and he spent the rest of his life in mental hospitals in Brno and Bohnice. All in all we see a picture of a competent, duty-conscious soldier but an unhappy and mentally unstable individual. He was only 43 when he died in 1927. Sagner never married and little is known about his personal life.

Memorial plaque

In Svitavy there is a memorial plaque to Čeněk Sagner, and his literary counterpart. The family lived here in 1900-01 as his father Jan Sagner held a position at the railways. The young Vincenc attended the Realschule here, before moving to Prague in 1901 to start at the cadet school.


Source: VÚA, Milan Hodík, Bohumil Vlček, Arbeiter-Zeitung

Schlager, Karl
*16.12.1859 Praha - †20.11.1936 Praha

Schlager's "Haupt-Grundbuchsblatt" © 2015 VÚA

Karl Schlager (christened Mathaeus Carl Julius) is no doubt the main inspiration for colonel Schröder. Schlager was commander of IR91 Ersatzbattailon during the entire period Jaroslav Hašek served in the hinterland and Schröder's references to Hungary cement the connection.

The colonel was a Prague German, born at Hradčany (Pohořelec 112/25), son of Ambros and Marie (born Soupková). By 1914 he had a long military career behind him. Having joined the army as a cadet in 1877, he served as an active officer in various parts of the empire: Beroun, Osijek, Pécs, Budapest etc. He spent the time between 1904 and 1911 in Hungary with IR52, and revisited the country at the ebb of his military career from 1915 and 1918. Having retired in 1911, he was recalled to active service in August 1914. During the war he served in various functions behind the lines and was finally pensioned in Czechoslovakia on 1 December 1918.

Protracted investigations

Sagner's superiors in 1915. © 2013 VÚA

Throughout the history of "švejkology" little has been written about a possible model for Schröder and he largely remained an enigma. The uncertainty was underpinned by Bohumil Vlček who in 1956 claimed that the commander of IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Budějovice (and for a short while in Bruck an der Leitha) was indeed colonel Schröder. Vlček describes the officer as a serious elderly gentleman who resumed active service at the beginning of the war after initially having retired. He liked to talk about the old days, about marshal Radetzky and the campaigns in Italy in the mid nineteenth century. Vlček even describes him as "an otherwise harmless gentleman".

Finding further information on Schröder however proved difficult. There was never any trace of any Schröder connected to IR91; be it in Kriegsarchiv in Vienna, VHA in Prague or even in Chytilův adresář from 1915. In this address book Jan Splichal is listed as the commander of IR91 Ersatzbattailon.


From The Good Soldier Švejk in captivity

This made one suspect that Vlček got the name wrong, that the commander of the reserve battalion had another name (Vlček wrote his reminiscences much later, in 1956). Radko Pytlík in Osudy a cesty Josefa Švejka (page 64), noted that Hašek frequently juggled with names and ranks, and concluded that Schröder remains a mystery and correctly added that the commander of the reserve battalion in Bruck an der Leitha was Benedikt Pallweber. At the time we could therefore assume that Pallweber was the successor of Hašek's and Vlček's Oberst Schröder.

Documents from VHA, more precisely the Qualifikationsbeschreibung of Čeněk Sagner, reveal clues to the identity of the mysterious Schröder. Here Sagner's superior during his stay with IR91 Ersatzbattailon 28 February - 14 June 1915 was explicitly stated as Oberst Schlager, and it seemed very likely that Schlager was indeed the commander of the reserve unit. The same document revealed that Jan Splichal was regimental commander on the Serbian front from 5 November 1914, which effectively ruled him out as a model. He was presumably replaced by Schlager around this time. Nor is it very likely that Jaroslav Hašek would have picked Splichal (obviously a Czech) as a model for his very Austrian colonel. It should also be added that Splichal died in March 1915 and would surely not have met the author.


Signature from Reserveoffizier-schule, Budweis. © 2013 ÖSTA

Significantly Hans Bigler in a letter to Dietz Verlag in 1955 refers to Schlager (but he had obviously not noticed Hašek's renaming of him). The letter appeared in an article by the renowned Hašek-expert Zdena Ančík in Rudé Pravo in 1955.

To further cement the hypothesis that Schlager was "Schröder", a quick look at Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí proves fruitful and makes it all appear obvious. In this early version of the Kákonyi affair, Hašek lets Obrst Schlager, commander of the 91st regiment, sign an official statement, published in three Hungarian newspapers: Velitel c. a k. pěš. pl. č. 91 plukovník Schlager. Note that the author throughout uses the term "regiment" even when referring to the replacement battalion. By now it was clear that the model of Schröder must have been Oberst Schlager.

Further evidence is a signature on the list of graduates from the reserve officer school in Budějovice that clearly reads Schlager. It was signed on 10 May 1915, and also serves as evidence that the IR91 Ersatzbattailon still hadn't been transferred to Királyhida.


From Seidels Armeschema, 1908

Assuming that Schlager was as elderly officer, a look in the Armeeschematismus from 1908 gives further clues. Here two officers named Schlager are listed, but only one had a higher rank: Oberstleutnant Karl Schlager. At the time he served with 52. Ungarisches Infanterieregiment in Budapest, and may have been promoted to colonel in between. Was it a co-incidence that Schröder seemed to know Hungary? A notice in Bohemia in 1910 reveals that Oberstleutnant Karl Schlager had donated 100 crowns and a number of pictures of the emperor to his former school in Tetschen (now Děčín). Occasion: the emperor's 80th birthday. Bohemia also informs that he served in Fünfkirchen, i.e. Pécs in southern Hungary.

Police records, army documents, and newspaper clips

Qualifikationsliste 1908. © 2014 ÖSTA

Police registration records from Prague supplemented the information we already had on Schlager. Here he is listed as Oberstleutnant in 1911, but in 1912 he has become an Oberst d.R (colonel in the reserve). Born in 1859 in Prague, but Zuständig in Děčín, his age fits Vlček's description well. Schlager was married to Anna (née Unfried), born 1885. In 1912 the couple lived in Mělnická ulice 576/1 in Malá Strana. In 1913 they had already moved on.

In 2014 his Qualifikationsliste was investigated in Vienna's Kriegsarchiv and confirmed the details about his army career up to 1911, but documentation about his re-entry into the army after the outbreak of war was still missing. Amongst many other items the document confirms that Karl Schlager was born in Prague but his right of domicile was in Děčín.


Tages-Post, 11.9.1915

Due to lack of army documents from after 1911 we were left with newspaper items for information about his war-time activities. These could indeed reveal that he was Oberst der Reserve in IR91 in 1915, and that he in 1917 was commander of the IR35 replacement battalion. Both news items concerned decorations.

Conclusive evidence

Schlager's war time career. © 2015 VÚA

The final jigsaw in the puzzle fell into place in May 2015. Documents at VHA reveal that Schlager had, as previously expected, served as commander of IR91 Ersatzbattailon: his term with the regiment was from 25 August 1914 to 26 July 1915. He was also Platzkommandant in both Budějovice and Bruck an der Leitha during this period.


Osobní věstník čs. ministerstva národní obrany, 1937

Karl Schlager was then transferred to IR35 in Székesfehérvár where he served as head of the convalescents unit until the end of the war. On 1 December 1918 he was released from the now dissolved K.u.k. Heer and registered as resident of Smíchov in Dvořákova čp. 1245 (now Pecháčkova 1245/8). In January 1920 he was formally recognised as a pensioner of Czechoslovakia. Schlager died in his native Prague on 20 November 1936. His latest registered address (1933) was the one above in Smíchov.


Source: Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Šerák, VÚA, ÖSTA, MNO

Strašlipka, František Jan
*19.2.1891 Hostivice - †21.9.1949 Veselí nad Lužnicí

Strašlipka in IR91. © 1924 Jan Morávek


Hašek's poem from 1915, a strong indication that Švejk's story-telling was inspired by Strašlipka. © 1924 Jan Morávek

František Strašlipka is often touted as prototype of Švejk due to his position as "Putzfleck" (officer's servant) of Oberleutnant Rudolf Lukas in 1915. His story-telling, and the fact that Jaroslav Hašek knew him well underpins this hypothesis. Jaroslav Hašek mentions him briefly in the poem "In the reserve" from 1915, in a non-flattering way: "There is nothing worse than Strašlipka's old anecdotes".

Despite this important link between him and Švejk: the claim by some writers that he more or less was identical to Švejk carries little factual and logical substance. He definitely would have provided Jaroslav Hašek with a few traits and features for his literary creation, but the real and fictive pucflék's life stories only briefly run in parallel, and he is far from being as obvious a prototype as Jan Vaněk, Rudolf Lukas, Čeněk Sagner, Hans Bigler, Karl Schlager, Franz Wenzel, Josef Adamička, Ludvík Lacina, Jan Evangelista Eybl and Jaroslav Hašek himself.

František Strašlipka was the son of Jakob Strašlipka and wife Františka in Hostivice no. 82 (the village is now part of greater Prague, located near the airport). He had at least two sisters: Majdalena (1886), and Barbora (1888). He also had at least another sibling, Václav. Barbora was to prove an important witness for Zdeněk Matoušek's in his series Kdo byl Josef Švejk in 1966 (see below).


František Jan Strašlipka's birth record (and a note about his marriage). Discovered by Jaroslav Šerák on 14 August 2013.

The key source of information on Strašlipka is Jan Morávek's sixteen-part series about Hašek's time in K.u.k. Heer, published in Večerní České Slovo in 1924 (link A). Morávek however narrows the focus down to the army, so little else was known about him until Zdeněk Matoušek provided two near identical articles that were published in Obrana lidu and Svoboda during the summer of 1966. They are based on interviews with relatives and friends of the former "pucflék" of Rudolf Lukas. The fact that the interviews took place many years after the events in question reduces the article's reliability, but pulling in several witnesses to a degree offsets this shortcoming. The essence of Matoušek's serial is reproduced by Jaroslav Šerák at svejkmuseum.cz (link B).

A fanciful story

Strašlipka recorded as officer's servant in IR91 © VHA

An alternative (and extremely fanciful) version has been produced by Jan Berwid-Buquoy. With minor modifications the theory is contained in both his books on Jaroslav Hašek, and has recently appeared on-line in the magazine Reflex (link C). The account is partly based on the testimony of Václav Chalupa, reportedly a friend of Strašlipka. Here it is claimed that Strašlipka provided Jaroslav Hašek with the information he used in the first chapter of the novel, set at U kalicha, a pub Strašlipka allegedly visited regularly before the war. He was reportedly even the lover of a certain "bordel-mama" Marie Müllerová who is claimed to have been the model of Müllerová.

Relying on one single witness (Chalupa) who provides second-hand information about events that took place some sixty years earlier gives the whole account an air of urban legend. No more convincing is the information that doesn't originate from Chalupa. Hardly a single "fact" in the article can be verified, and quite a few can be directly disproved by looking up address books, "matriky" and police registers.

In K.u.k. Heer

Strašlipka's "Kriegsgefangenenkarte". © ÖSTA

Strašlipka was drafted into the army at the start of war in 1914, and presumably served with Lukas already in Serbia. Continuing this assumption he had long stays in Budějovice in the autumn where Lukas was recuperating (and at times serving as an instructor) and again during the spring of 1915. In the meantime IR91 was transferred to the Carpathians and here the dates of transfer derived from army documents confirm that Strašlipka now for sure served Rudolf Lukas. He might have met Jaroslav Hašek already in Budějovice but this can not be confirmed.

When Lukas was appointed commander of the 4th march company of the 12th march battalion of IR91 on 1 June 1915, Strašlipka would definitely have got in closer contact with Jaroslav Hašek, and thereafter the two and a certain Bohuslav Masopušt formed a "happy trinity". As the march battalion arrived at the front on 11 July, the 11th field company was re-formed with Rudolf Lukas as commander. Strašlipka took part in the battle by Sokal from 25 July, and was on 18 August awarded a bronze medal for bravery shown during the battle. On 24 September he suffered the same fate as Jaroslav Hašek; he was captured. Reportedly he brought his master's provisions with him into captivity.

Together with Jaroslav Hašek, Jan Vaněk and Hans Bigler, František Strašlipka was decorated after the battle of Sokal. More details below.


Belohnungsantrag, 6 August 1915. © ÖSTA

Charge: Offiziersdiener. Vor- u. Zuname: Franz Straslipka.

Hat trotz verheerenden feindlichen Artillerie- und Infanteriefeuer am 26. 7. laufenden Jahres bei Poturzyce freiwillig an alle Teile der Kompanie wichtige Befehle des Kompaniekommandanten überbracht, hiedurch viel zum Erfolge beigetragen und hat beim Vorgehen zum Sturm auf die feindliche Sturmstellung seinem Kompaniekommandanten durch rechtzeitiges Zurufen, dass ein feindlicher Soldat aus der nächsten Nähe auf ihn anlegt, das Leben gerettet.

Steht seit Kriegsbeginn bis 8. 9., dann vom 14. 12. 1914 bis 13. 3. und seit 30. 6. als Offiziersdiener im Felde, ohne verwundet oder erkrankt zu sein.

Antrag: Silberne Tapferkeitsmedaille 2. Klasse

Standort, am 6. August 1915.Transkription dank Doris & Gert Kerschbaumer

According to the Belohnungsantrag (application for reward) František Strašlipka had volunteered for dangerous messenger tasks, despite heavy artillery- and rifle-fire, and had also saved his commander's (Rudolf Lukas) life by shouting out that an enemy soldier was aiming at him. He was never wounded or reported sick during his service with IR91. The dates of his service at the front correspond exactly to those of Lukas so we can safely assume that he was Lukas' servant during the whole period from the outbreak of war until Strašlipka was captured on 24 September 1915.

Thanks to his superior contracting pneumonia on the eve of the disastrous crossing attempt at the mouth of the Drina on 8 September 1914 he enjoyed a two month break before returning to active service on 14 December 1914 in Serbia. Then he would have taken part in the inglorious withdrawal from Serbia, had a break in Újfutak (now part of Novi Sad, Serbia) until 2 February 1915. On this cold winter day the regiment started the transfer to the Carpathians where they arrived on 7 February. During the next month they took part in fierce battles in unforgiving winter conditions in Východní Beskydy. On 13 March Rudolf Lukas reported sick again, and the pair only returned to front service on 30 June 1915 when the 12th march battalion left Királyhida for Galicia.

News from the sixties

Strašlipka later in life

Matoušek's story mostly concentrates on the time after the capture. Unlike Jaroslav Hašek, Strašlipka never volunteered for the Czechoslovak Brigade (later known as "Legions"), and spent the time is Russian captivity as a labourer, as the vast majority of Czechs and Slovaks did.

During a prisoner exchange in April 1918 he was sent back to Austria-Hungary and again had to report for duty, this time at the front against Italy. Some time after he deserted and returned to Prague, but even here he was walking on hot coals. He and his brother Jan (interviewed by Matoušek) managed to get to the Ukrainian Volyn province, now under German occupation. One of the places mentioned is Podhajcy, very close to Chorupan where František Strašlipka was captured in 1915. In November 1918 he returned to Prague.

The route from Italy via Prague to Russia (simultaneously avoiding arrest) seems quite an adventure and raises some questions. According to the civil registry of Hostivice Strašlipka married Marie Burdová here on 16 April 1918, which is consistent with the timing of the prisoners return after the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty between the Central Powers and Russia. At the time he was also recorded as a reservist in IR91. That he later was sent to Italy and then deserted is therefore possible, but that they tried to get back into Russia at a time when the latter was out of the war does not make sense.

After the war František Strašlipka reportedly met both Jaroslav Hašek and Rudolf Lukas again, the latter providing him with some financial assistance. He moved away from Hostivice, worked on the railways, mostly as a stoker, and seems to have made no use of his claim to fame as "předloha" of one of the most famous fictional Czechs ever. For two years he was even co-owner of a pub. Strašlipka passed away in Veseli nad Lužnici at the age of 59. His grandson Bohuslav still lives there.


SourceJan Morávek, Zdeněk Matoušek, Jaroslav Šerák, Státní Oblastní Archiv Praha

Vaněk, Jan
*23.5.1888 Žižkov - †25.8.1927 Praha

Vaněk on the Italian front. © Hana Svobodová

Jan Vaněk is arguably the most obvious amongst the real-life prototypes for characters in the novel Švejk. His home town, his rank and position in the army, his occupation and his marital status correspond largely to that of his literary counterpart, accounting sergeant and "drogista" Vaněk from Kralupy.

Jan Vaněk was born in Žižkov in 1888, and learned the chemist's trade in Prague. After completing his three year military service in Budějovice from 1909 to 1912, he served as an apprentice chemist in Kralupy. In 1913 he bought house No. 95 on Palackého náměstí, the Kralupy town square. Here he combined the existing chemist's and drug store into one shop. The store is still operating as a chemist's but under another name. Vaněk was married to Božena and the couple had two children: Jan and Božena.

A key witness

Vaněk provided posterity with key information about Jaroslav Hašek and his time in K.u.k. Heer, knowledge that has been drawn on extensively by Haškologists. Vaněk kept a diary that formed most of the background for Jan Morávek's serial about Jaroslav Hašek that was published in sixteen parts in Večerní České Slovo during September and October 1924. He further provided Bohumil Vlček with information that was passed on to Zdena Ančík as late as 1956. In 2014 some of his diaries were re-discovered and additional information thus became available.

Similarities and differences

Jan Vaněk was, like his counterpart in the novel, a chemist from Kralupy, was married as the novel reveals, and frequently wrote home to direct his business. The rank Rechnungsfeldwebel (accounting sergeant) that the author assigned to his literary figure was abolished before the war, but was surely still in use in daily jargon so those who claim that Hašek "was wrong" may have concluded too early. He started the war as a Rechnungsunteroffizier (accounting junior officer), and is in March 1915 recorded as Reserve Korporal und Titulärer Zugsführer (reserve corporal and titular squad leader). At the time he was decorated together with Jaroslav Hašek (18 August 1915), he was functioning as Dientsführender Feldwebel (operative sergeant). His army files reveals that he was promoted to Feldwebel (sergeant) as late as 24 August 1915. On 2 October he attained the rank Stabsfeldwebel.

The first ever decorated "Einundneunziger"

Válečné dějiny c.a.k. p. pl. č. 91. © VHA

18. (srpna 1914) prodělal „křest ohněm.“ Zatím co 2. a 3. setnina sváděly prvý boj u Grkovace, účastnila se 1. a 4. setnina útoku na Pločský průsmyk u Kličevače. Ten den byl pro prapor na obou místech velice horký. Zvláště u Grkovace bylo tuho zápoleno. Setník Kron a zál. por. Dohnálek od 2. setniny byli zraněni, por. Havel od 3. setniny padl. Bojující mužstvo sužoval nedostatek pitné vody. Účetní poddůstojník Vaněk, který ji dopravoval neúnavně z Grkovace, zasloužil si proto plným právem stříbrný peníz v uznání své zásluhy. K večeru se setniny spojily u Grkovace a ustoupily, jsouce vystřídány, do zálohy. Předpis Jan Ciglbauer

Information from Jan Ciglbauer (2017) suggests that Jan Vaněk may have been decorated very early. At the start of the war he served with the regiment's detached 1st battalion in Dalmatia on the front against Montenegro. Here he was decorated for his efforts bandaging wounded comrades during fighting by Grkovac fortress on 18. August 1914. According to a handwritten document stored in the Prague Central War Archive (Vojenský Ústředný Archiv) he was the first ever IR91 soldier to be decorated for bravery. Strangely enough his name is not on Rudolf Kiesswetter's (1868-1926) list of the regiment's first decorated soldiers, but this list perhaps only contains names from the three battalions that Kiesswetter was in charge of (ref. Böhmerwalds Söhne im Felde). On pictures VaněkJ seems to wear only two medals (one silver, one bronze). Could there have been an administrative mix-up so that he received his medal from Dalmatia only 10 months later? His Belohnungsantrag from 2 August 1915 reveals that he was already decorated with a silver medal 2nd class on 16 March 1915. At the time he was wounded, so it is presumably this medal he was awarded on 14 July (noted in his diary). Finding his first Belohnungsantrag will shed further light on the issue.

White spots

Verlustliste Nr. 161, 15.4.1915

The first 11 months of Jan Vaněk's service during the war are poorly documented. Apart from the information about his activities in Dalmatia we know that he was in the field from the outbreak of war until he was wounded on 1 March 1915. This is information from his Belohnungsantrag (2 August 1915) and is underpinned by Verlustliste Nr. 161 (15 April 1915). Here he is listed as wounded, belonging to IR91 5th company (i.e. 2nd battalion) and his rank is the somewhat cryptic reserve corporal and titular squad leader. The 2nd battalion was at the time fighting in the Carpathians. So at some stage between August 1914 and February 1915 he was transferred from the 1st to the 2nd battalion. Unfortunately the main service records for his year of birth were destroyed during the 1970's (Dr. Christoph Trepperberg, Kriegsarchiv, Vienna). It will thus be difficult to map his early war-time career unless the missing diary from this period is found or circumstantial documents are discovered. According to Augustin Knesl (1988), Jan Morávek never returned the material he borrowed for his 1924 series about Jaroslav Hašek and IR91.

Meeting Hašek

Večerní České Slovo, 1924

From around 1 June 1915 his whereabouts are well documented, partly due to Jan Morávek, but mainly information from his own diaries. Vaněk was one of the persons who was closest to Jaroslav Hašek in IR91. The author was from 25 May 1915 partly "superarbitrated" and assigned lighter duties (rescue duties) for health reasons, and assisted with accounting and administrative work. This gave him valuable insight into the inner workings of the K.u.k. Heer, knowledge that he used to great effect in the novel. The two knew each other already in Királyhida, and served together both in the 12th march battalion and from 11 July 1915 in the 3rd Field Battalion.

On one occasion Jan Vaněk expressed great gratitude to Jaroslav Hašek after he had a serious clash with reserve lieutenant Emanuél Michálek, often mentioned as a possible model for the moronic reserve lieutenant Dub. There are however examples that Hašek assigned traits to the literary Vaněk that the real-life “drogista” never had. In the novel the author gives him a red nose attributed to excess intake of alcohol. The real-life person in fact drank very little due to stomach problems. In Švejk he is also described as a shirker, a description that seems far from the truth. He was in fact decorated twice for bravery; on 14 July and 18 August 1915.

Belohnungsantrag 154663

"Belohnungsantrag", 2 August 1915. © ÖSTA

Sorgte in den Kämpfen nächst Sokal und Poturzyce in todesmutiger Weise für den äußerst schwierigen Munitionsersatz in die Schwarmlinie. Im größten Kugelregen und offenen Terrain brachte er persönlich Munitionsverschläge vor und wirkte durch seine beispielgebende Unerschrockenheit und Tapferkeit während der Gefechte vorteilhaft auf die Mannschaft. Seiner Unerschrockenheit und Energie ist es zu danken, dass die Kompanie stets reichlich mit Munition versorgt war. Steht seit Kriegsbeginn bis zu seiner Verwundung am 1. 3. laufenden Jahres, dann seit 30. 6. im Felde.

Antrag: Silberne Tapferkeitsmedaille 1. Klasse.

Standort, am 2. August 1915 Transkription dank Doris & Gert Kerschbaumer

In reward for his efforts during the battle of Sokal, Vaněk was awarded a bronze medal for courageous behaviour. The medal was handed out in Żdżary (15 km north of Sokal) on 18 August 1915 by Rudolf Kiesswetter. On 2 August he was proposed a 1st class silver medal, and it's unclear why it wasn't accepted and he in the end was awarded a medal two levels down. According to his Belohnungsantrag it was his personal effort that made sure that the company always was well supplied with munition. He personally carried munition crates through hails of rifle fire in open terrain and by his example he had an encouraging effect on the men.


Jan Vaněk recorded several of Hašek's war-time poems in this diary and it is thanks to him that these poems are known today. He was also one of the last persons who saw Jaroslav Hašek before he was captured and passed his experiences on to Jan Morávek who in turn published them in 1924. The humorist reportedly was in in no hurry to get away as the Russians attacked by Chorupan in the small hours of 24 September 1915. In the aftermath Vaněk was interrogated in Bruck an der Leitha about the case (according to Morávek).

Vaněk's diaries

Vaněk's diary, 2 July 1915


"14 July, I was decorated"

The discovery of Jan Vaněk's war-time diaries in Kralupy in May 2014 has provided Haškologists with priceless new information and vital confirmatory evidence. Although not every day is covered, the notes give a good overview of the movements of Jaroslav Hašek from Királyhida 30 June 1915 to the time of his capture 24 September 1915. It verifies the route of the 12th march battalion better then any other document we know of so far, and confirms that Hašek's poem The road to the battlefield was indeed very precise in a geographical sense.

The diary reveals that the 12th march battalion departed from Bruck station at 8:15 PM on 30 June 1915, travelled across Győr, Budapest and Miskolc. By 2 July they had arrived in Humenné and on 4 July they were still en route, waiting close to Sambor. On 5 July they (presumably) left Sambor for the front were they joined the regiment on the afternoon of 10 July. The diaries are from the private archive of Hana Svobodová, grand-daughter of Jan Vaněk.

The archive also contains notes from his peace-time service in Budějovice before the war and a number of rare photos. Unfortunately his notes from autumn 1914 and the first half of 1915 are missing. These would have revealed when and how he met Jaroslav Hašek and also revealed to which extent the anecdotes from Serbia and the Carpathians that the author assigns to him are authentic.

The rest of the war

Drogerie Vaněk, Kralupy nad Vltavou

In the aftermath of the battle Vaněk was called in for interrogation about Jaroslav Hašek back in Királyhida. In early November 1915 the regiment was transferred to the Isonzo front in Italy. His diary that also cover 1916, 1917 and 1918, reveals that he on 8 November 1918 received a letter from the army command, acknowledging his war effort. In December he had a quick break, but Christmas 1915 he spent in the field. On 26.1.196 he was wounded and sent to a field hospital and from there to a hospital in Vienna.

After recuperation and a holiday he was back with IR91 Ersatzbattailon in Bruck an der Leitha in June. On 8 July 1916 he reported ill and on his own request send to Kralupy for a short rest. Back in Bruck he served in various capacities, for instance escorting prisoners to Vienna. The rest of the year he suffered from health problems, but spent some time ambulating between recuperation centers, leave and the replacement battalion in Bruck.

In late March 1917 he was back at the front in Italy but soon fell ill again, and was diagnosed with a heart condition. The rest of the year he mostly spent at home, and only on 20 March 1918 he reported in Bruck, but he never went back to the front. He had a short stint with Infanterieregiment Nr. 75 in Debrecen but when Austria-Hungary collapsed he was back in Bruck. He witnessed the collapse and plundering of the military camp in Királyhida. Finally on 2 November he left for home.


News about Vaněk's death

On a picture from Bruck late in the war he wears four medals, including the two he was awarded in 1915. The circumstances surrounding his two latest decorations are unknown.


He died at the age of 39 and was buried at Olšany in Žižkov. In 2012 his remains were transferred to Kralupy where he has found his final resting place in the family grave. His shop at the square in Kralupy is still operating but very much changed.

Some of his descendants still live in Kralupy and thanks to them the priceless above-mentioned diaries and photos were discovered in 2014!


SourceHana Svobodová, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček, ÖSTA, Jan Ciglbauer, Jaroslav Šerák, Kamil Hainc, Miroslav Fér

Wenzel, Franz
*12.9.1866 Niederhanichen - †12.7.1929 Reichenberg

Entry in the civil registry, details on birth and marriage

Franz Wenzel was clearly the main inspiration for Jaroslav Hašek's literary Major Wenzl. Apart from the near-identical surname their ranks correspond and the association with Kutná Hora cements the connection further. Both served their emperor ingloriously in Serbia. Otherwise many of the biographical details differ.

Franz Wenzel (baptised Franciscus) was born in Niederhanichen (now Dolní Hanychov), son of gardener Wolf Wenzel and Karolina, born Miethig. His "Heimatrecht" was in neighbouring Oberhanichen (now Horní Hanychov). Both communities later became part of urban Liberec. Wenzel is registered in army records with German (i.e. Austro-German) nationality, religion roman-catholic.

From 1882 he attended cadet school in Pressburg (Bratislava), where he had initially joined IR69 as an infantryman. From 1886 to 1902 he served with IR35 in Plzeň, Prague and Prachatice. He then transferred to IR10 and subsequently spent the next nine years in Przemyśl and nearby Jarosław. During those years by the river San he advanced to the rank of captain.

Kutná Hora

IR21, Kutná Hora, 1914

On 30 April 1913 he moved again, and from now on it is possible to see parallels to his literary alter ego. The destination was IR21 in Kutná Hora! On the very first day in his new regiment he was promoted to major (his literary counterpart was, according to Marek, still a captain in Kutná Hora). In his new regiment we was in charge of the shooting range and had some administrative duties, information that bears remarkable similarity to Major Wenzl’s role in the novel. His army records reveal that he was unmarried in 1913, so Marek may well have invented parts of the story from Kutná Hora (where he had a Czech wife) or perhaps drawn from an incident involving someone else (Wenzel was still unmarried in 1919).

With IR91 in Serbia

Qualifikationsbeschreibung 1913. © VHA

His transfer to IR91 took place on 13 August 1914, and he was soon sent to the Serbian front, where he served as commander of 2nd Battalion. It has not been possible to confirm the story about the pontoon bridge, but it may well refer to the catastrophic invasion attempt by the mouth of the river Drina on 8 September 1914 where Franz Wenzel was very quick to get himself into safety on the western bank of the river while many of his men were left behind and perished under enemy fire and drowning during the panic-stricken retreat. Wenzel remained btn. commander for the rest of IR91's stay in Serbia (they retreated north of the Danube around 20 December), but had reported sick before the actual withdrawal. From then until June 1915 we have no records of his activities, but it must be assumed that Jaroslav Hašek had met him already in Budějovice.

Exposed by Kisch and Morávek

From "Schreib das auf, Kisch!", 1930

Franz Wenzel suffered the misfortune of being ridiculed not only in one book, he brifely features in at least two more. Although E.E. Kisch never mentions his name directly in his diary entry from 3 December 1914 it is obvious who he refers to. When Kisch's IR11 met soldiers from IR91 they heard running anecdotes underlining the stupidity of a major in the regiment (at the time there were not that many to choose from). Kisch indicates that this major carries a lot of responsibility for the disaster by the Drina on 8 September 1914.


From "Špatný voják", 1930

Jan Morávek is much more direct. He served Franz Wenzel as a messenger from 12 September 1914 and delivers a damning verdict in his novel The Bad Soldier. The major is described as a madman, megalomaniac and even a coward. According to Morávek he had some crazy idea that his battalion alone could capture the entire Serbian army. He regularly pestered his subordinates with idiotic orders and was disliked even by his fellow officers. Morávek himself was ordered to keep an eye on the sun and report on sunset. For what reason remains unknown. Wenzel also ordered the arrest of an officer from IR73, thinking we has a spy.

During Hašek's time

Wenzel(1) flanked by lt. Gleissner(2) and regimental doctor Dub(3). Photo from 1 November 1915, Volyn. © ÖSTA

Franz Wenzel plays a much greater part in Jaroslav Hašek's own story than Wenzl does in Švejk. Franz Wenzel was in fact commander of the author's 12th March Battalion that left for the front on 30 June 1915 and joined IR91's field unit on the 11 July by Łonie. On 1 July he had been promoted to Oberstleutnant, a distinction he never bears in the novel. After joining the operative body of IR91, he again took up his former position as commander of the 2nd Battalion. On 23 July the regiment was in position in the trenches by Sokal and during a fierce battle raged between the 25th and the 31st.

Wenzel took a far from glorious part in the battle. In the Gefechtsbericht (battle report) to the division (9 August) it transpires that he inexplicably sought refuge with the 4th battalion (which formed the regiment's reserve), and let Oberleutnant Peregrin Baudisch command his battalion. Despite the incriminating evidence he was promoted to interim IR91 commander from 12 to 18 September due to illness further up the command chain. He remained battalion commander until 1916 when reported sick and then became commander of IR28's replacement battalion. By 1918 he appeared in Wiesbaden as Aufsichstsoffizier für Beurlaubte, i.e. supervising officer for men on leave. He was pensioned in 1919.


Promotion dates. © VHA

Bohumil Vlček confirms that Franz Wenzel was extremely faint-hearted. He wore a soldiers cap to avoid being spotted by enemy snipers, and ordered his subordinates to cover him with their bodies during critical situations in Serbia. Still he was promoted to colonel on 1 February 1918, but there are no records in the archives that he was ever decorated during the war. Wenzel seems to have been a good administrator but a poor soldier.


Osobní věstník čs. ministerstva národní obrany, 1921

Franz Wenzel officially retired from the army on 1 January 1919. After the war he returned to Liberec (Reichenberg) and he also spent some more time in Wiesbaden where he on 10 January 1920 married Ludmilla Stary, widowed after Markoff. She appears to have been Czech but Marek could not possibly have known about this marriage five years in advance! In 1921 his records refer to an application that was dealt with by the Czechoslovak army, but so far it has not been possibly to figure out the circumstances, it seems to be concerning his pension.


Reichenberger Zeitung, 17.7.1929

Franz Wenzel passed away in Reichenberg (now Liberec) on 12 July 1929. The family of Stephan Wenzel placed an advert in Reichenberger Zeitung that instead of spending on flowers, they would prefer a donation to the local German Cultural Society in Nieder-Hanichen (now Dolní Hanychov), the place where Wenzel was born. Wenzel's latest known domicile (1927) was Dolní Hanychov čp. 58.


Source: ÖSTA, VÚA, MNO, KA, Jaroslav Šerák, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček

Švejk, Josef
*8.6.1865 Svatá Kateřina - †18.11.1939 Svatá Kateřina

Josef Švejk was the name of at least two persons that Jaroslav Hašek could have heard of (or even met) when he created his famous soldier. The author hardly ever picked names for his characters at random, so it is safe to assume that some Švejk lent the author the famous-to-be name and perhaps the odd piece of biographical information. Probably it is just a case of using a name, and there is of course also a possibility that only the surname was borrowed (as was the case with Lukáš and Biegler). In general the author only re-used the family name, and even these were often twisted slightly.

It is important to note that The Good Soldier Švejk was invented in 1911, so any inspiration for the author’s choice of name must be looked for amongst people who Jaroslav Hašek knew (or was aware of) before mid May 1911.

The origins

Hašek's brilliant idea, hardly legible.

The idea of creating a literary “company idiot” seems to have been spontaneous. Jaroslav Hašek's wife Jarmila remembers that he one evening arrived home in a sorry state, but scribbled down a few sentences on a piece of paper, hardly legible. She attached no importance to it, threw it in the bin, but as her husband woke up the next morning he remembered his brilliant idea and frantically looked for the sheet, found it, had a quick look at it, and threw it away again. This time Jarmila kept it and copies of it since appeared in most major publications on Hašek. The headline was Pitomec u kumpanie (The company fool).

On 22 May 1911 the first story appeared in Karikatury, titled: Švejk stojí proti Itálii (Švejk stands against Italy), and four more stories followed later that summer. It should be noted that his first name Josef never appeared at this stage. It was first revealed in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí (1917), the second version of Švejk. Even in the novel it appears only a couple of times.

The name Švejk also appeared in two plays that were performed that year by the group around Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona: Pevnost and Agadir.

The politician Švejk

For years researchers found little that could explain the origins of the name Švejk. Most were content to link him to a politician Josef Švejk from the Agrarian Party, and the possible connection between him and the good soldier was first suggested by Václav Menger in the inter-war years (Radko Pytlík). This Švejk was from Svatá Kateřina by Kutná Hora and in 1907 he was elected deputy for the Czech electoral district no. 58. At the time he was the only well known person carrying the surname.

Born in 1865, a notice about his marriage (from 1889) reveals that he was a k.u.k. reserve lieutenant at the time. In the army he served with the Trainregiment Nr. 3, in 1895 he was transferred to Landwehrregiment Nr. 10, and on 31 December 1897 he was fully relieved from his duties in the armed forces.


Marriage on 16 November 1889, as reserve lieutenant

From 1903 Švejk's name started to appear in national newspapers in connection with a by-election in Chrudim. He even hit the front page of Národní listy after tumultuous election meetings where he regularly insulted his opponents, including František Udržal who in 1903 was elected ahead of his foul-mouthed opponent. Before the election in 1907 the outrageous behaviour repeated itself, and he is recorded calling his opponents traitors, dogs, scoundrels, socialists paid by Jews etc. Jaroslav Hašek must surely have read about or at least heard of Švejk's antics at some stage, particularly since Národní listy was a newspaper he often wrote for. It should be added that this time Švejk was in fact his party's candidate and he was elected to parliament with a solid margin. In 1909 a satirical poem mentioning his name appeared in the satirical magazine Kopřivy.


Transfer from Landwehr reg.10 to non-duty on the 31 December 1897

In 1911 Švejk stood for re-election and this coincides well with the publishing of the first Švejk story. This happened in the middle of the 1911 election campaign in which Jaroslav Hašek took part with his unregistered Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona (Party of moderate progress within the limits of the law). The party was designed to mock politics and politicians and the satirist/party chairman took aim at several of them, using their full name. Švejk's name is not found amongst those Jaroslav Hašek mentions in the history of the party, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't aware of him.

As a deputy Josef Švejk seems to have modified his eccentric behaviour somewhat. He repeatedly stood up for Czech interests in language, budgetary and cultural matters, campaigned for agriculture and the countryside in general, but most striking is his hostility to the military. In a speech in Parlament in 1908 he claimed that the military "used every opportunity to harass our nation". The parliamentary records shows that we was secretary of several sub-committees of the Abgeordnetenhaus, amongst them the defence committee. He campaigned against monopolies and cartels, mainly the sugar beet cartel. He himself grew sugar beet and eventually wrote a book on the history of the Czech sugar beet industry.

On 14 May 1911, eight days before Jaroslav Hašek published the first Švejk-story, the agrarian MP was again in a news after he in an article in the agrarian party's newspaper Venkov had attacked and insulted Dr. Hrachovský from Kolín, a member of the Christian-social party. It is of course possible that Jaroslav Hašek heard about this dispute and that it inspired him to use the name Švejk for his story a few days later.


Čech, 19.5.1915

On 19 May 1915 a note appeared in the catholic daily Čech, informing that deputy Josef Švejk from the Agrarian Party had served in the army as a lieutenant but had been superarbitrated. This obviously refers to his exit from the armed service on 31 December 1897. The reason for his premature departure from the armed forces remains to be investigated. Several news items from 1914 and 1915 confirm this, but in 1915 he and 28 other Czech parliamentarians were called up for Landsturm medical examinations, but again he was let off the hook.

In 1918 he again raised his voice in Parlament supporting the Czech drive for parity within the monarchy and even proposed grabbing Slovak (i.e. Hungarian) land. His political career seems to have nose-dived in the newly created Czechoslovakia and he lead a relatively anonymous life during the first republic. He died in his home village at the age of 74 and is buried at the local churchyard and on the grave he is given the title captain!

Borrowing names

It could be argued that the agrarian politician had absolutely nothing in common with the good soldier (apart from the superarbitration which Jaroslav Hašek may well have heard of), but that in itself wouldn’t have stopped Jaroslav Hašek from exploiting his name. The author often picked the name of some person, only to attach a story to it that not necessarily had much to do with the unfortunate subject itself. Ludvík and Baloun are good examples of this approach. Ludvík was an artist/writer who Jaroslav Hašek knew personally, and Baloun was the name of a IR91 doctor, a one-year volunteer is the regiment, and a Královské Vinohrady pub landlord respectively. Presumably none of them had much in common with the gluttonous miller from the Krumlov area, as little as Ludvík had to do with the cattle trader in Budějovice.

Introducing a second candidate

Květy, 7 September 1968

The next major revelation happened as late as 7 September 1968. The glossy weekly Květy published an article that sought to identify a certain citizen of Královské Vinohrady, Josef Švejk, as not only the originator of the name, but also a person that Jaroslav Hašek knew in 1911 and who even served as a prototype for the good soldier. The article was signed Jaroslav R. Veselý and contained photos, a wealth of information, and several sensational claims. Haškologists were sceptical, but at least Radko Pytlík and Augustin Knesl attached some significance to it. Knesl even took the trouble to investigate some of the clues Veselý left behind, and could confirm that a Josef Švejk indeed had lived in Na Bojiští 463/10 by U kalicha before the war. But it was Russian bohemist Sergey Nikholsky who instigated a more thorough follow-up on the article in Květy. More on that later.

The article in Květy was titled “Hašek’s friend Josef Švejk” and starts with an interview with Josef where he relates from his call-up for service in 1914, led to Střelecký ostrov by his mother, on crutches, about passive resistance, sabotage and feigning idiocy. He also gives a summary of his time in Russia with the Čs. army (see České legie), and adds that he was decorated twice. The interview also claims that Josef met Jaroslav Hašek repeatedly after the latter's return from Russia and that Švejk attended the author’s funeral at Lipnice on 6 January 1923. The article also claims that the two became good friends already in 1911.

Švejk's army career

Kmenový list, čs. vojsko. © VÚA

The article continues with Švejk’s army career. Allegedly he had been called up already before he met Hašek, but was “superarbitrated” after two months. He was called up again in January 1915, left for the front from Liberec, and defected to the Russians later that year. The prisoners were taken to the transit camp in Darnitsa by Kiev where Josef impressed camp commander Gribojedov with his cooking skills and seems to have stayed there, and not sent onwards as one would expect for a transit camp.

Later Josef joined the Czechoslovak Brigade (Czech and Slovak volunteers under Russian command) and reportedly took part in the battle by Zborów on 2 July 1917. Here we see many parallels to Hašek’s own time in the volunteer corps. The most striking of the claims is that the two met in Samara on 8 June 1918. A the time Jaroslav Hašek had just left the Czechoslovak Army Corps to join the left wing of the Czech Social Democrats (Communists). When the Czechoslovak troops (now officially part of the French army) rebelled against the new Bolshevik regime, Hašek became regarded a traitor and was in a very difficult situation when his former comrades occupied Samara that morning. Apparently an arrest order was issued by the command of the 4th infantry regiment, one of the units that attacked Samara. A patrol where Josef Švejk took part found Jaroslav Hašek, but, according to the story, Josef mercifully let his enemy slip away.

Details confirmed

Police registers, 1912

The Květy article is written in a style that has more in common with fictive stories from magazines than with a research publication. It even includes many dialogues, a fact that in itself detracts from its credibility. This should be no surprise as Květy was in fact a glossy magazine, although oriented towards news. The article makes no reference to sources (apart from the interview with Josef Švejk), and there was no chance of getting hold of his (assumed) primary source any more as Švejk had been dead for three years. Who Jaroslav R. Veselý was is also a mystery, presumably it is a pseudonym.


Church record, Dubí

Nevertheless a surprising number of the claims in the article have been verified. According to police records a young Švejk was registered with address (Na Bojišti 463/10) (next to U kalicha) with his mother Kateřina and his brother Jindřich in June 1912, so they may have lived there also 13 months earlier, assuming they were late to register with the police (Šerák). It can also be confirmed that a person with the same name joined the Czechoslovak Brigade in Kiev on 25 June 1916. He may well have met Jaroslav Hašek there as the author arrived from Totskoye camp only four days later and both were enrolled in the replacement battalion of the brigade. The article’s reference to events that took place around May 1911 is also correct (parliamentary elections, unveiling of a monument of Karel Havlíček in Žižkov, etc). It has also been confirmed that Švejk was decorated in 1924 and 1947, and that he was captured by Sienawa on 14 May 1915 (Nikholsky/VÚA). Thanks to Jaroslav Šerák his birth date has been confirmed: 22 November 1892.

Creating a bogus story

Josef Lada's first drawing of Švejk. Veselý claims Josef Švejk was sitting model at Kavárna Union in January 1921. Lada himself contradicts this information.

Although many of the claims from Květy can be verified, numerous remain unconfirmed and several of them appear to be products of hearsay, and attempts to “fit the legend”. Josef Švejk is supposed to have been a good friend of Jaroslav Hašek and even attended his funeral. In that case it is a mystery why none of the author's friends and biographers failed to notice Josef's existence for more than 50 years. According to Jan Mikolášek (allegedly the last living friend of the author, but for similar mysterious reasons unknown to biographers), Jaroslav Hašek told him that he had heard of a Švejk but never met him (Berwid-Buquoy).

It is also striking that the story of him sitting model for Josef Lada for the first drawing of Švejk is flatly contradicted by the artist himself. According to Lada Jaroslav Hašek visited him in his flat and asked him to make a drawing for the cover of the Švejk instalments. He did, but adds that he created this slim and tall figure according to how he imagined Švejk was and how the author described him. He delivered the result in café U Mohelských, and did not met Švejk and Jaroslav Hašek in Kavárna Union as Veselý claims. Present on this occasion was also Franta Sauer.

Questionable is also a picture of Josef in uniform that supposedly hails from 1911. At the time he would have been only 19 and too young to have been called up for the army. On the picture he also wears distinctions, hardly likely to have been awarded to a raw recruit who on top of that was dismissed due to idiocy (Sergey Soloukh). It has been confirmed that he had the rank of corporal in the K.u.k. Heer, but surely not in 1911 and not even in 1914 (another picture). The story about him feigning idiocy and walking on crutches to the draft board carries the familiar sign of “reverse-engineering” literature back into the real world. This very phenomenon occurs frequently in “Haškology”, particularly in newspaper and magazine articles published after WW2.

Another discrepancy was discovered by Jaroslav Šerák when he investigated police registers. Mother Katěřina was not married and was born Švejková so the story about the father who was also named Josef Švejk clearly doesn’t hold. He might have been a common law husband or an uncle, but his identity has not been established.

From Russia there is the story about them meeting in Darnitsa. Josef Švejk was captured four months before Jaroslav Hašek and surely wouldn’t have been kept in a transit camp all summer. The story gives the appearance that the pair met again in this camp and stayed there until they both joined the Czech volunteer brigade. Army records reveal that Josef was sent onwards to Tashkent and Chelyabinsk, and it is well documented that Hašek spent his time in Russian captivity in Totskoye in southern Ural. In Darnica he was kept for only three days (Jaroslav Kejla), not much time to meet any Švejk (who had probably been in Tashkent or Chelyabinsk a long time by then). The Samara story is also difficult to believe in. Army records shows that Švejk belonged to the 3rd regiment, a unit that did not take part in the attack on Samara, it had in fact just occupied Chelyabinsk, much further east. Unfortunately the documents that cover this part of Švejk's army career are missing.


Infantryman Josef Švejk from IR36, 5th company, in a Vienna hospital on 9 October 1914

Newspaper and "Verlustliste" clips discovered as recently as 2015 undermines the story further, and provides overwhelming evidence that Veselý was inventing not only Švejk as a soldier in 1911, but also fictively lets him turn up at Střelecký ostrov in 1914. Infantryman Josef Švejk is listed as a patient in a Vienna hospital on 9 October 1914. According to Verlustliste Nr. 644 Švejk was a regular infantry man and would as such not been examined at Střelecký ostrov (those were examinations of Landsturm recruits who had previously been declared unfit for armed service or dismissed from the army, they started on 1 October). Thus Švejk would never have been superarbitrated, never mind been helped to the draft commission on crutches by his mother. At Střelecký ostrov Švejk was also supposed to have been examined by the dr. Halbhuber, a person who served in Košice at the time! See also Bautze.


Josef Švejk was no "landšturmák", as opposed to his comrade from IR36, Karel Švarc from Kutná Hora

The general impression of the article is that the author actually gathered enough facts to claim some credibility and knew the life story of Jaroslav Hašek in detail, had met and interviewed Švejk, but then liberally filled in the holes with his own colourful accounts when necessary. And not only that: there is every reason to believe that the core of the story, the connection and friendship between Josef and Jaroslav is pure fiction. It is therefore no wonder that the article at the time was viewed with scepticism by established Hašek experts. Still Radko Pytlík includes the more credible parts in his books, but attaches little importance to the rest.

Sergey Nikholsky's research

Apart from the investigations by Augustin Knesl around 1983, the only serious researcher who followed up the story was Russian bohemist Sergey Nicholsky who devotes about a third of his book News about Hašek and his hero (1997) to the story. Nikolsky found material in the archives that confirms some details about Švejk in the K.u.k. Heer and in the Čechoslovak legions. Apart from this he provides nothing that verifies Veselý's claims that Jaroslav Hašek and Josef Švejk were friends or even knew (about) each other.

Sergey Nikholsky discusses two other possible prototypes of Švejk, claims that have been circulating for decades. The first is well known: František Strašlipka. Nikholsky is sceptical to the role Strašlipka has been assigned as model for Švejk, noting that apart from the story-telling and position in the army hierarchy there is little that links them, and that the story of their lives are otherwise very different. The second is a little known story that appeared in Prager Presse on 6 December 1929. It was penned by Maximilian Huppert and here a František Švejk is introduced. The whole story bears traces of being adapted from the novel and no-one seems to have taken it seriously.

Other Švejks?

Another Josef Švejk also appears in Verlustliste and has like his namesake his right of domicile is Nový Bydžov. This person is however listed in IR74 and reportedly landed in Serbian captivity (Niš). Then there is a wood trader by the same name from Karlín who repeatedly placed adverts in Národní listy in 1909. According to biographer František Langer (Byli a bylo, 1963) Jaroslav Hašek was an avid newspaper reader, who often started by reading adverts, in fact reading papers back to front. On top of that he had a photographic memory so if he had seen those adverts he would surely have remembered them. Jaroslav Šerák has done a comprehensive study on families named Švejk which lists numerous persons. For details see link A below.

A curiosity is an advert in Národní listy from 1891 where a Josef Švejk in Salmova ulice No. 14 advertises bukové fošny (beech planks) for sale. This Švejk was a wood trader and lived in the area only for two years but it is still possible that the 8 year old Jaroslav Hašek could have heard of him. He also has a son Josef (born in 1878) that Hašek could have known. That said, the likelihood that this person lent his name to a figure that was invented 20 years later is remote.


Although Veselý provided interesting new information and Nikholsky added more through his meticulous research, what we are left with boils down to the following: Josef Švejk, born 22 November 1892 in Dubí (hejtmanství Kladno) indeed lived two doors from U kalicha in 1912. He served briefly with Jaroslav Hašek in the reserve battalion of the Czechoslovak brigade in 1916 and they both continued as Czech volunteers until Jaroslav Hašek left the legions in March 1918. The photos Veselý provides appear to be authentic, and shows an infantryman from IR36, 5th company. This is consistent with Švejk's documents from K.u.k. Heer so we can safely assumed that Veselý at least got some of his information and photos directly from Josef Švejk and that this is indeed identical to the 19 year old from Dubí who lived by U kalicha in 1912.

But does this prove that Josef Švejk was a friend of the author and an inspiration for the famous good soldier? Not at all. The information from Vesely´s article that is designed to provide the missing link between the two is highly questionable. In fact not a single detail that firmly links Švejk to the author has been confirmed, and some of it can be flatly dismissed. Veselý and Nikholsky may have given Švejkologists some alternative perspectives, and a lot of information on Josef Švejk himself, but nothing of value regarding the connection between him and Jaroslav Hašek. This leaves the good soldier from K.u.k. IR36 and 3.pluk "Prokopa Velíkeho" as a rather peripheral figure. Peripheral or not, at least we know about his existence!

So who is the most likely person to have lent his name to Švejk? We will never know for sure what Jaroslav Hašek had in his mind in 1911 but it is overwhelmingly likely to be the well-known politician Josef Švejk from Kutná Hora district rather than the obscure 19-year old boy who probably not even lived in Prague at the time the soldier Švejk was conceived. But this doesn't rule out that Jaroslav Hašek could have met the young Josef Švejk during or after the war and that this somehow rekindled his interest in his 1911 hero, both in 1917 and 1921. It should also be noted that U kalicha became a theme for Jaroslav Hašek only in 1921. It may be a coincidence, but it is tempting to suggest a link to the next-door neighbour. Jaroslav R. Veselý certainly tried just that, or better put, he rather overdid it …


Source: Národní listy, Čech, VHA, K.k. Reichsrat, Jaroslav Šerák, Jaroslav Veselý, Sergej Nikholskij, Sergej Soloukh

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