The Good Soldier Švejk

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Franz Ferdinand and Sophie leave the Sarajevo Town Hall, five minutes before the assassination, 28 June 1914.

The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk is a novel with an unusually rich array of characters. In addition to the many who directly form part of the plot, a large number of fictive and real people (and animals) are mentioned; either through Švejk's anecdotes, the narrative or indirectly through words and expressions.

This web page contains short write-ups on the persons the novel refers to; from Napoléon in the introduction to captain Ságner in the last few lines of the unfinished Book Four. The list is sorted in to the order of which the names first appear. The chapter headlines are from Zenny K. Sadlon's recent translation and will in most cases differ from Cecil Parrott's version from 1973. In January 2014 there were still around twenty entries to be added.

  • The quotes in Czech are copied from the on-line version of the novel provided by Jaroslav Šerák and contain links to the relevant chapter
  • The tool-bar has links for direct access to Wikipedia, Google search and Švejk on-line

The names are colored according to their role in the novel, illustrated by the following examples: Doctor Grünstein who is directly involved in the plot, Heinrich Heine as a historical person, and Ferdinand Kokoška as an invented person. Note that a number of seemingly fictive characters are modelled after very real living persons. See for instance Lukáš and Wenzl.

>> The Good Soldier Švejk index of people mentioned in the novel (581) Show all
>> I. In the rear
>> II. At the front
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

15. Catastrophe

Oberst Kraus von Zillergut, Friedrichnn flag
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Kraus, Lukáš and Fox/Max, as envisaged by Josef Lada.

Kraus was a colonel at some barracks in Prague (presumably Karlín), he originated from the Salzburg area. He was the owner of the stolen dog Fox (who was named Max for the short period he belonged to Lukáš).

Kraus was a price idiot and also had plenty of other despicable characteristics. He was probably the most stupid of the many officers that are described in the novel. He had a habit of explaining the most obvious things, which drove his colleagues to insanity. Despite of all this he had advanced in the military hierarchy thanks to good connections, a fact the author uses to emphasise the rottenness of the Habsburg Empire.

After running into Lukáš who was promenading with Fox/Max, Kraus made sure that Lukáš and Švejk were sent to the front. This was an important turning point in the novel which from now on mostly uses military life as a backdrop to the plot.


Kraus does not have any obvious model from real life, and the author gives little biographical information that could help to identify him. With his grotesque stupidity one must assume that the colonel is a caricature, but some of his character traits may well have been borrowed from officers or other people that Hašek knew. Not even the geographical name Zillergut gives any clue as no such place can be identified, be it on modern maps or in historical newspapers.

The theories of Augustín Knesl

Augustín Knesl, Večerní Praha, 1983


Adresář ... 1910

Seemingly Augustín Knesl is the only researcher that has made a serious attempt at identifying a model for the idiotic colonel. Allegedly he is inspired by a certain Friedrich Kraus who studied civil engineering at the German technical high school in Prague. This Kraus was born in 1880 and Knesl claims that he was a colonel and served at the Prague garrison. Knesl also maintain that Kraus had a mania for explaining the most obvious of things.

Unfortunately Knesl's conclusions are unconvincing. As usual he naively accepts information from the novel as facts, and thus concludes that Kraus was a colonel in Prague. However no trace of such a colonel exist, be it in Schematismus für das k.u.k. Heer (1914) or in the Prague address books. The closest are some reservists, but none of them served in Prague in 1914. Not even in K.k. Landwehr can any such officer be traced.

Friedrich Kraus was a common name, so Hašek may well have known a few of them, and there is good reason to believe that Knesl's engineering student actually lived. Apart from this there is little tangible information and the parallel to Knesl's write-up on Katz is striking: the researcher dug out a person with some similarities to the literary figure, but then assumed that additional information can be deduced from Švejk.

A fellow student

One Kraus who Hašek may have known was Bedřich (Friedrich), a fellow student at the gymnasium in Žitná ulice from 1893 to 1896. This Kraus hailed from Karlín and studied five years above Hašek, so he would probably have been no more than a peripheral acquaintance.

Rector Řežábek

In the Hašek biography The Bad Bohemian, Cecil Parrott notes that rector of Českoslovánské akademie obchodní, Řežábek was detested by the author who wrote a scathing satire Karikatury in 1908. Parrott observed that Řežábek like colonel Kraus demanded that "sub-ordinates" had to greet him already at distance and woe betide he who didn't.

Cecil Parrott: "The Bad Bohemian"

Režábek's insistence that the students should greet him from a long way off recalls Colonel Kraus von Zillergut in The Good< Soldier Švejk. Woe betide anyone who failed to notice him! The culprit was given a dressing down before the whole class and his crime was recorded in the class book. In addition his marks for good behaviour were slashed and he was led off to the Rector's office, where he got a second dressing down and his parents were told of his unheard of behaviour.

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Quote from the novel
[1.15] Plukovník Bedřich Kraus, mající též přídomek von Zillergut, po nějaké vesničce v Solnohradech, kterou jeho předkové prožrali již ve století osmnáctém, byl úctyhodným pitomcem.
[1.15] Scházela mu polovička levého ucha, kterou mu usekl jeho protivník za mládí v souboji kvůli prostému konstatování pravdy, že Bedřich Kraus von Zillergut je prachpitomý chlap.

Also written:Bedřich Kraus von Zillergut cz

Mannlicher, Ferdinand Karl Adolf Josefnn flag
*30.1.1848 Mainz - †20.1.1904 Wien
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Mannlicher Repetier-Gewehr M1895

Andrew Bossi.


Leitmeritzer Zeitung, 23.1.1904.

Mannlicher is indirectly referred to by the Mannlicher rifle, called manlicherovka in the novel. The theme here is colonel Kraus who was obsessed with this rifle and therefore got the nickname "Mannlicher idiot" (Manlichertrottel).


Mannlicher was an Austrian inventor and small armaments designer, best known for M1895, a series of automatically loading rifles that became the standard hand gun in K.u.k. Heer. The term manclicherovka refers to this gun. The most common version was Infanterie Repetier-Gewehr M1895. The rifles were produced in Steyr and later also in Budapest.

Mannlicher, who hailed from a family in Brüx (now Most) in Bohemia, moved with them to Vienna in 1857. Here he studied machine engineering and made a career as a railway engineer. In 1876 he travelled to Philadelphia for a railway equipment exhibition, and on the side he had a chance to study the patents of various small-arms designs. This was probably the impetus for his career as a small arms designer.

In 1879 his first design for an 11 mm repeater rifle was ready. It underwent several improvements over the next few years, until it in 1886 was introduced in K.u.k. Heer. Two years later the 8 mm M88 was introduced, and several models followed until the flagship M1895 was introduced in 1895. Mannlicher also designed pistols and hunting guns. Mannlicher firearms were also widely exported. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest small arms designers in history.

Personal details

Mannlicher remained employed by the railways until 1887 when he finally took up a full position at the Steyr armaments factory, Österreichische Waffenfabriksaktiengesellschaft. He was by now famous, repeatedly decorated, and in 1892 he was ennobled, choosing the name Ritter von Mannlicher. In 1899 he was awarded life long membership of Herrenhaus, the upper chamber of Reichsrat (the parliament of Cisleithanien). Mannlicher was married with two daughters. In 1904 he died of a heart attack, still only 55.

Hašek and "manlicherovka"

Mannlicher's famous rifle is mentioned by Hašek already in the story "Smrt Horala" (The death of Horal). It was published first in Národní listy on 8 April 1902 and also appeared across the Atlantic in Národní noviny, Baltimore, on 3 May. This was surely the first time ever that Hašek had a story published outside Bohemia.

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Quote from the novel
[1.15] Při přehlídkách pluku dával se do hovoru s vojáky a ptal se jich vždy jedno a totéž: „Proč se ručnici, zavedené ve vojsku, říká manlicherovka?“ U pluku měl přezdívku „manlichertrottel“. Byl neobyčejně mstivý, ničil podřízené důstojníky, když se mu nelíbili, a když se chtěli ženit, tu posílal nahoru velmi špatná doporučení jejich žádostí.
Schiller, Friedrichnn flag
*10.11.1759 Marbach - †9.5.1805 Weimar
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Schiller is mentioned because colonel Kraus passed idiotic remarks when his officer colleagues talked about Schiller at a banquet.


Schiller was a world-famous German composer, poet, historian and philosopher. He belonged to the Romantic era and was strongly associated with Goethe and Weimar. His full name his was Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller.

Quote from the novel
[1.15] Týž spád řeči, táž zásoba největší naivnosti. Na jednom banketu v důstojnickém kasině plukovník Bedřich Kraus von Zillergut z čista jasna pronesl, když byla řeč o Schillerovi: „Tak jsem vám, pánové, včera viděl parní pluh hnaný lokomotivou. Považte si, pánové, lokomotivou, ale ne jednou, dvěma lokomotivami. Vidím kouř, jdu blíž, a ona to lokomotiva a na druhé straně druhá. Řekněte mně, pánové, není-liž to směšné? Dvě lokomotivy, jako by nestačila jedna.“
Vierordt, Heinrich Wilhelmnn flag
*1.10.1855 Karlsruhe - †17.6.1945 Hornberg
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Arbeiterwille, 25.11.1914

Vierordt gets compared to colonel Kraus due to his grotesque poem "Deutschland, Hasse!" (Hate, Germany!), which is spiritually in line with the attitudes of the colonel.


Vierordt was a local poet from Karlsruhe who wrote bloodthirsty poems during the war. The most infamous one, "Deutschland, Hasse!", is referred to by the author in the novel. It was even banned by the German General Staff.

The poem was published some time before 25 November 1914, and was reproduced by Arbeiterwille in 1914 and 1915. It also appeared in the booklet Deutschland hasse! Kriegsruf by Verlag Müller & Gräff in 1914. The text published on the front page of the paper 25 November 1915 differs slightly from what has been reproduced since.

Arbeiterwille mentioned the poem again on 22 April 1915 and clearly distanced themselves from the content. They might have done so already in November 1914, but as most of the surrounding text was removed by sensorship it is difficult to pass judgement on the context.

O Du Deutschland, jetzt hasse mit eisigem Blut,
Hinschlachte Millionen der teuflischen Brut,
Und türmten sich berghoch in Wolken hinein
Das rauchende Fleisch und das Menschengebein!

O du Deutschland, jetzt hasse geharnischt in Erz!
Jedem Feind ein Bajonettstoß ins Herz!
Nimm keinen gefangen! Mach jeden gleich stumm!
Schaff zur Wüste den Gürtel der Länder ringsum!

O du Deutschland, jetzt hasse! Im Zorn glüht das Heil,
Und zerspalt ihre Schädel mit Kolben und Beil.
Diese Räuber sind Bestien, sind Menschen ja nicht.
Mit der Faustkraft vollstrecke des Herrgotts Gericht.

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Quote from the novel
[1.15] Nebyl o nic horší než německý básník Vierordt, který zveřejnil za války verše, aby Německo nenávidělo a zabíjelo s železnou duší miliony francouzských ďáblů:
Ať až k oblakům nad hory 
hromadí se lidské kosti a kouřící se maso.
Kunešnn flag
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Kuneš was a bagmaker in Spálená ulice, described by Švejk when he tries to explain the dog theft to the furious Lukáš.

Quote from the novel
[1.15] Ve Spálený ulici je nějakej brašnář Kuneš a ten nemoh jít se psem na procházku, aby ho neztratil. Vobyčejně ho nechal někde v hospodě nebo mu ho někdo ukrad nebo si ho vypůjčil a nevrátil
General von Laudon, Ernst Gideonnn flag
*2.2.1717 Ļaudona(Tootzen) - †14.7.1790 Nový Jičín
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Laudon is mentioned indirectly through the powerful expression Himllaudon that Lukáš used when he verbally wiped the floor with Švejk after discovering that the dog was stolen. He is also mentioned in the in the final chapter when the author is describing colonel Gerbich.


Laudon was an Austrian field marshal of Baltic origin, and one of the most successful commanders of the 18th century. He fought in the Seven Years' War, the War of the Bavarian Succession and the wars against Turkey.

Quote from the novel
[1.15] „Švejku, dobytku, himmellaudon, držte hubu! Buď jste takový rafinovaný ničema, nebo jste takový velbloud a blboun nejapný. Jste samý příklad, ale povídám vám, se mnou si nehrajte. Odkud jste přived toho psa? Jak jste k němu přišel? Víte, že patří našemu panu plukovníkovi, který si ho odvedl, když jsme se náhodou potkali? Víte, že je to světová ohromná ostuda? Tak řekněte pravdu, ukrad jste ho, nebo neukrad?“
Božetěchnn flag
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Božetěch was a man from Košíře who specialized in stealing dogs and claimed reward on the basis of newspaper ads for the missing animals. Švejk found it appropriate to mention this for Lukáš in the midst of the severe reprimand he was subjected to after the lieutenant got to know that Max was stolen.

Quote from the novel
[1.15] Nějakej Božetěch z Košíř, ten se jen tak živil. Ukrad vždycky psa, pak hledal v inserátech, kdo se zaběh, a hned tam šel.
General Folliot de Crenneville, Franznn flag
*22.3.1815 Sopron - †22.6.1888 Gmunden
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Folliot de Crenneville is mentioned in a song Švejk sings, he uses the name Grenevil.


Folliot de Crenneville was an Austrian count and general from a renowned military family of French decent. He served in the Austrian army in Croatia, Italy and Bohemia and for a while he represented the Austrian military authorities at the Royal Court in Paris. He took part in the battle of Solferino where he was injured. Later in his career he was awarded the command of the 75th infantry regiment in Jindřichův Hradec.

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Source: Milan Hodík

Quote from the novel
[1.15] Nadporučík se odvrátil, vzdychl a uznal za vhodné místo se Švejkem obírat se raději bílou kávou.Švejk šukal již v kuchyni a nadporučík Lukáš slyšel zpěv Švejkův:
Mašíruje Grenevil
Prašnou bránou na špacír,
šavle se mu blejskají,
hezký holky plakají
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

15. Catastrophe

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