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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 (585) Show all
>> I. In the rear
>> II. At the front
>> III. The famous thrashing
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

7. Švejk goes in the military

Doktor Páveknn flag
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Pávek was a medical doctor from Královské Vinohrady who prescribed Švejk bromium against his rheumatism, belligerance and exaggerated patriotism.

Background

The address book of Prague (1910) does not show up any doktor Pávek. This also goes for the address book of Královské Vinohrady (1912).

The surname Pávek also shows up in the story How Mr. Cetlička voted from 1913, but here there is no question of a doctor.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.7] A tak byl probuzen obtloustlým pánem, který mu chvíli držel ruku na čele a říkal: „Nebojte se, já jsem doktor Pávek z Vinohrad - ukažte ruku - tenhle teploměr si dejte pod paždí... Tak - ukažte jazyk - ještě víc - držte jazyk - na co zemřel váš pan otec a vaše matka?“ A tak v době, kdy Vídeň si přála, aby všichni národové Rakousko-Uherska dávali nejskvělejší příklady věrnosti a oddanosti, předepsal doktor Pávek Švejkovi proti jeho vlasteneckému nadšení brom a doporučoval statečnému a hodnému vojínu Švejkovi, aby nemyslil na vojnu.
Mucius Scaevolann flag
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scaevola.jpg

Scaevola and king Porsena by Bernardo Cavellino

scaevola.png

Ein zweiter Mucius Scaevola. Die neue Zeitung, 13.6.1915.

Mucius Scaevola is mentioned in an article in Pražské úřední novinty and compared to Švejk in the news about the incident where Švejk gets pushed off to the draft commission in a wheel-chair. The headline reads: "The patriotism of a cripple".

Background

Mucius Scaevola was a known figure from ancient Rome who through his bravery is supposed to have saved the city during the Ethruschian siege of 508 BC. He was send to the enemy's camp to murder king Porsena but was captured. To show the king how little physical sufferings meant to a Roman soldier he held his hand in the fire without showing any signs of pain. The king released Mucius and offered peace. It has not be established if this story has a factual background but is in any cased based on the writing of Roman historian Titus Livius.

Symbol in stories of war heroism

Mucius and his burnt hand often appears as symbolism in stories about heroic deeds that the press of the Dual Monarchy printed during the war, particularly during the summer of 1915. References can also be found in the Czech press, even before the war. Amongst the papers who printed these stories in 1915 were Neue Freie Presse and Pester Lloyd. One such story appeared in June 1915 and was printed in several newspapers, including Pester Lloyd. It refers to an attack on Italian coastal defences by Porto Corsini on 24 May 1915, led by admiral Miklos Horthy. The admiral is better known as the inter-war and WW2 Hungarian dictator who led his country to war as an allied of Nazi Germany.

Reuse of themes

Many themes from the novel have earlier appeared in short stories by Jaroslav Hašek, so also Mucius: Jak se Baluška naučil lhát (How Baluška learned to lie), first printed in Právo lidu, Dělnická besídka, 2 March 1913.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.7] O celé této události objevil se v „Pražských úředních novinách“ tento článek:
[1.7] Vlastenectví mrzáka: Včera dopoledne byli chodci na hlavních pražských třídách svědky scény, která krásně mluví o tom, že v této veliké a vážné době i synové našeho národa mohou dáti nejskvělejší příklady věrnosti a oddanosti k trůnu stařičkého mocnáře. Zdá se nám, že se vrátily doby starých Řeků a Římanů, kdy Mucius Scaevola dal se odvésti do boje, nedbaje své upálené ruky.
Lynch, Williamnn flag
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lynch.png

Dunkle Geschichten aus dem Alten Österreich

Lynch is mentioned indirectly by the term "lycnhing". It is Prager Tagblatt who report that Czech agents of the Entente tried to lynch the cripple Švejk as he was wheeled to Odvodní komise in a wheelchair. The brave cripple was protected by Germans.

Background

Lynch (Charles or William) are both the probable candidates for the etymological origin of the term "lynching". Both lived in the 18th century, were judges and the circumstance was the American war of independence (1776-1783). In the US the term was later mostly used in connection with abuses directed against blacks. Austrian newspapers used the term "Lynchjustiz" already before 1840, mostly in connection with cases in the US (but not exclusively there).

It has not been possible to find anything in Prager Tagblatt that relates to the quote from the novel and fatal lynching was unusual amongst civilians in Austria-Hungary, even during the war. Arbitrary justice was however widespread at the front. It was used against both the enemy population and own subjects who were suspected of co-operating with the enemy. The victims were mostly Ukrainians and South Slavs.

Quote from the novel
[1.7] Ve stejném smyslu psal i Prager Tagblatt, který končil. svůj článek slovy, že mrzáka dobrovolce vyprovázel zástup Němců, kteří ho svými těly chránili před lynčováním ze strany českých agentů známé Dohody.
Doktor Bautzenn flag
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halbhuber1.png

Jaroslav R. Veselý, Květy, 7.9.1968

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Pester Lloyd, 24.10.1914

Bautze was head officer at the medical examination board at Střelecký ostrov. He exposed all malingerers in the most efficient and ruthless manner. He is the man behind one of the most famous quotes from Švejk: Das ganze tschechische Volk ist eine Simulantenbande (the whole Czech nation is a pack of malingerers). Švejk suffered the same fate as the other 11,000 malingerers Bautze had smoked out during his ten weeks in service.

Background

Bautze has no obvious model but we know with near certainty that Jaroslav Hašek in mid December 1914 appeared in front of the Landsturm draft commission at Střelecký ostrov, so he would have known who examined him, and might have borrowed traits for his literary figure from this person. Still no dr. Bautze is found in the address books from the years before the war.

In an article in Květy from 7 September 1968 Jaroslav R. Veselý states that some Dr. Halbhuber examined Josef Švejk at Střelecký ostrov, and his claim at first sight seems worth investigating. Dr. Franz Halbhuber was indeed an army doctor and by all accounts extremely cruel to the soldiers who were unlucky enough to get within his reach. He sent hundreds of ill and crippled soldiers back to the front and was also known as a German chauvinist, all this making him very unpopular amongst the Czech population.

There are however many reasons to doubt the veracity of Veselý's account. Halbhuber seems to have been in Prague only from 1916 to 1918. He served as "Oberstabsarzt" at Vojenská nemocnice Karlovo náměstí, and before that he had been in the same function in Košice and Litoměřice. That he was involved with the Landsturm draft commission (see Odvodní komise) in 1914 as Veselý claims, is difficult to believe, particularly in view of a news item from Pester Lloyd 24 October 1914 that says Halbhuber at the time, in Košice, was receiving a delegation led by Hungarian prime minister Count Tisza. October 1914 was precisely when Josef Švejk and others who were born in 1892 would have appeared before the commission (Josef was by all account to appear on the 20th, that is if the story about him being "superarbitrated" is true at all ...). Some temporary assignment can obviously not be ruled out, but for this to be verified, Halbhuber's military documents need to be consulted.

Still it is quite possible that Halbhuber and other brutal medics may have inspired the author to create the characters Bautze and Grünstein. Halbhuber had a number of similarities with both of them, for instance treating seriously ill people as malingerers and sending them to the front. In addition he was notoriously infamous so Hašek surely knew about him.

Halbhuber's predecessor as "Oberstabsarzt", MUDr. Jaromír Pečírka, may be the person who examined Hašek at Střelecký ostrov in 1914, or at least led the draft commission. But that he in any way was a model for those very German medics appears improbable. Pečírka was Czech and his obituary contradicts any suggestion that he in any way had anything in common with the two obnoxious medics Švejk encountered.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.7] Zejména ne vrchní vojenský lékař Bautze. Byl to muž neúprosný, který ve všem viděl podvodný pokus uniknout vojně, frontě, kulce a šrapnelům. Známý jest jeho výrok: „Das ganze tschechische Volk ist eine Simulantenbande.“ Za deset týdnů své činnosti vymýtil z 11.000 civilistů 10.999 simulantů a byl by se dostal na kobylku i tomu jedenáctitisícímu, kdyby nebyla toho šťastného člověka právě v tom okamžiku, když na něho zařval „Kehrt euch!“ ranila mrtvice. „Odneste toho simulanta,“ řekl Bautze, když zjistil, že je muž mrtev.
Marschall Radetzky, Johann Joseph Wenzelnn flag
*2.11.1776 Třebnice - †5.1.1858 Milano
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radecky.jpg

Radetzky, 1857

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Bohemia, 6.1.1858

Radetzky is mentioned when Švejk is led past a statue of him on the way to the garrison prison. Švejk obviously honoured him by saluting. Radetzky is mentioned several times later in the novel, and claims centre stage during the field mass that Ibl serves in Királyhida before the departure to the front. The Radetzky march is mentioned directly in [IV.1] Dobromyl where the not very sober interrogator/interpreter hums it but adds his own lyrics.

Background

Radetzky was a nobleman and Austrian field marshal of Czech origin. He was Austria's most prominent commander in the first half of the 19th century and distinguished himself in the wars in Italy in 1848/49 where his armies emerged victorious in the battles of Custoza and Novara. He served in Austria's army for 72 years, under five emperors, participated in 17 field operations, and was decorated 146 times.

In 1848 Johann Strauss the Elder composed the famous Radetzky-march which even today is played at the end of the Vienna New Year Concerts.

The statue

The statue that is mentioned in the novel stood at Malostranské náměstí in and was removed in 1919. It is now stored in the Lapidárium in Holešovice, a subsidiary of the National Museum.

Links

Quote from the novel
[1.7] Bajonety svítily v záři slunce a na Malé Straně obrátil se Švejk před pomníkem Radeckého k zástupu, který je vyprovázel: „Na Bělehrad! Na Bělehrad!“
A maršálek Radecký snivě se díval ze svého pomníku za vzdalujícím se dobrým vojákem Švejkem s rekrutskou kytkou na kabátě, kulhajícím na starých berlích, zatímco sděloval nějaký vážný pán lidem kolem, že vedou desentéra.

Also written:Radecký cz

Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

7. Švejk goes in the military


© 2009 - 2018 Jomar Hønsi Last updated: 12/10-2018