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The Good Soldier Švejk

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Jan Vaněk was arguably the most obvious of all the prototypes of characters in The Good Soldier Švejk.

This Who's who page on Jaroslav Hašek presents a gallery of persons from real life who to a varying degree are associated with The Good Soldier Švejk and Hašek. Several of the characters in the novel are known to be based on real-life people, mostly officers from k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91. Som carry the names of their model, some names are only thinly disguised and some are different, be it intentionally or by accident.

A handful are easily recognisable like Rudolf Lukas and Jan Vaněk, others like Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj and Emanuél Michálek are less obvious inspirations. One would also assume that most of these characters borrow traits from more than one person, an example is Švejk himself.

A far larger number of assumed prototypes are connected to their literary counterparts by little more than the name. Josef Švejk is here the prime example, but Jan Eybl also fits in this category. The list of prototypes only contains those who inspired characeters that directly take part in the plot.

Researchers in the field, the so-called Haškologists, are also included on this page but this list is per 8 March 2021 restricted to two important but relatively unknown contributors to our knowledge of Hašek and Švejk. In due course entries on better known experts like Václav Menger and Zdena Ančík will be added.



Adamička, Josef
*24.6.1876 Dębica - †3.11.1917 Beograd
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Police registration 1912

Josef Adamička was no doubt the prototype of Hašek's Hauptmann 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91. From 22 March 1906 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. From 1 May 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



When Austria-Hungary partly mobilised on 26 July 1914, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of IR 91 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 Jaroslav 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 EB91 in Budějovice 4 January 1915.

The same month 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. Josef 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 Hauptmann Adamička left for the front as commander of the 8th March Btn., and by this time Jaroslav Hašek was already hospitalised. On arrival (26 March) he became commander of the II. Field Btn. which at the time was fighting in the Carpathians.

Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek's assertion that Hauptmann 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 20 May 1915 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 3 November 1917 at the age of 41, at k.u.k. Reservespital "Brčko" in Belgrade.

Gott strafe England

Death certificate


Hauptmann Adamička is the main character in the short-story Gott strafe England by Jaroslav Hašek, first published in Československý voják in Kiev on 15 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 IR 91.

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 by the 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 Hauptmann Adamička go mad and join k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 75, and then lets him get captured during the battle by Zborów. Clearly none of this could have been the case because he served in Belgrade at the time of the battle (2 July 1917).

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesVÚA, Franta Hofer, Jaroslav Šerák


Bigler, Hans Hermann Gustav
*25.12.1894 Blasewitz - †13.10.1962 Dresden
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Heinz Knobloch/Erwin Bekier, Wochenpost nr. 46, 1955.

Hans Bigler (also written Biegler) was indisputably the prototype of Kadett Biegler, one of several characters in the novel that the author created with a real person in mind. Bigler served with Jaroslav Hašek in k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 in 1915, and one of the ranks he held was indeed cadet. Whereas many prototypes 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 the family 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 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 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 of Lausanne. According to information provided by himself for the army records he spoke French and Italian fluently.

Details like rank and position in the army units are accurately mirrored in The Good Soldier Švejk. 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 Hauptmann Ságner). According to the records of the Reserve Officer School, Bigler was a Kriegsfreiwiliger, i.e. he 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 IR 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, serving as Kadet­taspirant and as Zugskommandant. He had surely by know met Hašek who was initially enrolled in the 1st replacement company but later transferred to the 3rd (probably after returning from hospitalisation).

On 1 June 1915 EB91 was transferred to Királyhida and around this date the 12th march battalion was formed. Bigler was 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 commander (Zugskommandant). The march battalion left Királyhida on 30 June, and on 11 July it reached the front and where it offset the losses of 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" (request for reward), 6.8.1915

© 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 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 IR 91 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 IR 91 advanced onto Russian territory, and they reached Dubno before the offensive ground to a halt.


Note from 18 August 1915, Bigler suffering from gastroenteritis 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 The Good Soldier 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 EB91 in Királyhida (his absence included restitution in Linz and Budějovice. By then Hašek had already been captured (Chorupan, 24 September) and IR 91 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 Kadett 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 23 May 1918. The regiment was at the time stationed by Piave.


From IR 91's casualty list.

© ÖStA/Jan Ciglbauer

In an interview in 1955 he reveals that he was taken prisoner by Saloniki[a], a statement that at first glance appears like nonsense, but in the end makes sense. After Bulgaria pulled out of the war Infanteriedivision Nr. 9 was transferred from the Piave front to southern Serbia to fill the gap left by the Bulgarians on the so-called Saloniki Front. The transfer took place in early October and IR 91 and the other regiments of the division reached the battle field on 3 October 1918.

Thus Hans Bigler served at he front longer than any of the other real-life prototypes of characters from The Good Soldier Švejk. Military records (Vormerkblatt) show the date of his captivity: 6 November 1918, i.e. after the armistice. He was released on 20 June 1919. IR 91's Verlustliste however provides a more plausible explanation. On 6 October 1918 he was reported missing at the hills north-east of Priboj (Прибој)[b], 100 km south of Niš on the Macedonian front.

An incriminating "Vormerkblatt"

Vormerkblatt für die Qualifikationsbeschreibung, 1915


Hans Bigler's records from 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 Hašek assigned to Kadett Biegler. He was "an unsteady character, boastful, arrogant, ruthless, indifferent, had no sense of duty and only of use when under supervision". The verdict was that he was unfit to become a regular officer.

It is very clear that his superiors didn't think much of him, and we can easily imagine that the conflict between Hauptmann 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 being released from captivity in 1919 Hans Bigler first returned to Switzerland, then moved to Czechoslovakia, where he is registered as reserve officer in the young state's army between 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.

Literární Noviny, 8.10.1955.

In 1955 he "surfaced" publicly after having read The Good Soldier Švejk and discovered that he in fact was the prototype of Kadett Biegler. In interviews he revealed that he was 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[a]. News about him also appeared in Rudé Pravo, Wochenpost (Berlin) and in Volksstimme (Vienna).

In the interview in Literární Noviny 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 and was cremated at Tolkewitz cemetery.

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 became possible to identify Hans Bigler's father, who was mentioned in the interview in Literární Noviny. The father was Eduard Bigler, was born in Wels, Oberösterreich on 15 March 1868, son of David and Rosa Bigler, a Jewish couple who had moved there from Kaladey (Koloděje nad Lužnicí), 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 was 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 laid down a Stolperstein (stumble-stone) in memory of Eduard Bigler.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: ÖStA, VÚA, Gert Kerschbaumer, Luth.Evang. Pfarre Blasewitz, Literární Noviny, Wochenpost, Bohumil Vlček


aKadet B­iglerMarie Tomanová, Literární noviny8.10.1955
bSeznamy ztrát - 91. pěší plukÖStA/Jan Ciglbauer
Dub, Robert
*1.9.1875 Wien - †12.10.1941 Berlin
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Ihrem lieben Freunde, S. Hochwürden Herrn Feldkurat Eybl, Herzlichst gewidmet, Dr. Robert Dub und Frau Bianca. Im Sommer 1916.

Atelier Wertheim. Leipziger Str. Berlin..

© SOkA Beroun

Robert Dub was an Austrian medical doctor enlisted in k.k. Landwehr who served in the field with k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 from 6 October 1915 to 21 August 1916.

The justification for including Robert Dub on the list of prototypes is that former field chaplain Jan Eybl in interviews around 1965 claimed that Dub repeatedly turned away Jaroslav Hašek when he tried to report sick in 1915. If his statements are true we may have identified the source for at least the surname of Leutnant Dub, a literary figure that researchers never have been able to find an obvious inspiration for.

Army records

Robert Dub was born in Vienna in 1875, with right of domicile in Schwarz-Kosteletz (Kostelec nad Černými lesy), okres Böhmisch Brod (Český Brod), of Jewish confession, 163 cm tall, shoe size 12, black hair, brown eyes etc.

On 1 October 1898 he was enlisted in the army as a one-year volunteer, promoted to Korporal 22 March 1899, and on 19 September to Feldwebel, from 1 January 1900 Reservekadett at IR70 in Peterwardein (Petrovaradin, Novi Sad, Serbia).

On 1 January 1906 he was promoted to Leutnant, while still enlisted in Infanterieregiment Nr. 70. From 1 January 1908 he was transferred to the reserve with Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 6 in Eger (Cheb), and later to the 12th k.k. Landwehr district (Čáslav).

The World War

Transfer to IR 91 6.10.1915.

Unterabteilungs-Grundbuchsblatt. © VÚA.


Regimentsarzt Dr. Dub, Oberstleunant Wenzel, Leutnant Gleissner. Wołkowyje, 1.11.1915.

Nachlass Rudolf Kiesswetter. © ÖStA..

At the outbreak of war Robert Dub was called up and assigned to the newly formed Landsturm-Infanterieregiment Nr. 12, recruited from the Čáslav home guard district. He served in the field with this regiment from 3 August 1914, fighting in Galicia, first as Zugskommandant (squad leader).

On 1 November 1914 he was promoted to Oberleutnant, and he was by then also battalion medic. On 15 June 1915 he was named head doctor at his regiment, and at the same time proposed for a Signum Laudis as reward for his bravery in the field.

From July 1915 his regiment was fighting in the same front sector as IR 91: at Sokal, then from 12 September at Pogorelcy, from 18 September at Chorupan. On 6 October 1915 Robert Dub was officially transferred to IR 91 and was named regimental doctor on 1 November.

With IR 91 he took part in the transfer to the Isonzo front in November 1915, and remained with the regiment until 21 August 1916 (some documents state 23 June) when he was transferred to k.u.k. Reserve-Spital Nr. 3 in Laibach (Ljubljana).

When he war ended he worked at a reserve hospital in Vršovice. Due to his Heimatrecht in Bohemia he was briefly on the books of the Czechoslovak army before being removed from their records in 1920.


Belohnungsantrag 1917. © ÖStA.

Robert Dub was decorated three times during the war, one of them for his services with IR 91 by the Doberdò plateau during the 4th, 5th and 6th Isonzo battles from November 1915 to July 1916.

His military file also contains brief details from his civilian life. He is for many years listed as ledig (single), and with a steadily increasing income, living in Berlin from 1902. In 1918 his status is married, with address Bamberger Str. 37, Berlin. He seems to have married in a synagogue in the 9th district of Vienna on 30 April 1916. The bride was Miss Bianka Schimpf from Bonn.

Postwar life and a tragic end

Berliner Adreßbuch, 1920

More about Robert Dub appears in the book Jüdische Ärzte als Krankenbehandler: in Berlin zwischen 1938 und 1945 (Rebecca Schwoch, 2018). He was born in Vienna 1 September 1875, son of merchant Marcus Emmanuel Dub. He studied in Berlin, where he was a general practitioner from 1902 until the Nazi regime barred Jews from practising as medical doctors (30 September 1938).


Berliner Adreßbuch, 1940

In the 1940 address book he is listed as Robert Israel Dub, now with the annotation "jüd". In previous address books his name was simply Robert Dub. During the final years of his life he provided medical care for forced labourers. Robert Dub died in Berlin 12 October 1941 and is buried at Friedhof Weißensee. He was married with two children, but the fate of his family under the Nazi regime is not known. It should be noted that the first deportation of Jews from Berlin to the Łódź ghetto started 4 days later, and that many committed suicide in the period leading up to the deportation (Hans-Peter Laqueur). Whether Robert Dub was one of them has not yet been confirmed.

Eybl, Hašek and Dub

Zdeněk Matoušek, Svoboda, 22.5.1966

In the 1960's, with "haškology" increasingly promoted by the Czechoslovak (Communist) authorities, journalists started to take an interest in the elderly Jan Eybl, and several interviews with him appeared in the press. In all of these Robert Dub is mentioned and surprisingly Eybl claims that Hašek knew Dr. Dub and often came to see him to get reported sick.

The reports/interviews were published by Karel Pichlík (1961), Zdeněk Matoušek (1966) and Zdeněk Šťastný (1967, 1972) where the latter's contribution is on the speculative side, even assigning Dub the rank "poručík" (lieutenant). His actual rank in 1915 was however "nadporučík" (senior lieutenant).

The surprise in this respect is that Robert Dub officially was transferred to IR 91 as late as 6 October 1915, two weeks after Jaroslav Hašek was captured! There are several examples in the history of Hašek-research where journalists and scholars alike align their narrative to suit "literary facts" but in this case all three of them mention the Dub-Hašek connection so the source is no doubt Jan Eybl himself and thus can't be out of hand dismissed.

Considering that Dub's and Hašek's respective regiments fought in close vicinity from 15 July to 24 September 1915, the story from the elderly priest may well be true (at least in parts). Leutnant Dub's 12th Landsturm regiment was positioned next to IR 91 at Chorupan. This is confirmed not only by material from military archives but also by the diary of Jan Eybl. It was common that staff of one regiment assisted another, also confirmed by Eybl.


Zdeněk Šťastný, Obrana lidu, 15.1.1972

Otherwise Jan Eybl revealed that Dub was a Jew from Berlin (in another interview he was allegedly from Vienna), with roots in Čáslav, and was married to a Jewish woman, and he was on her initiative transferred to a hospital in Ljubljana. Before the war Dr. Dub ran a prospering medical practice in Berlin. These details are largely confirmed by information from the War Archives of Prague and Vienna.

Jan Eybl's claim that he found Robert Dub a wife and even got them married at first seems strange, but in the Matoušek story it is revealed that he was simply picking a photo of one of eight women Dub was corresponding with at the time.

Eybl's diaries

Eybl confirming that the Landsturm-Regiment Nr. 12 operated next to IR 91 by Sokal, 24 September 1915.

© SOkA Beroun


"In the afternoon for a walk with Doctor Dub ..."

Minulostí Berounska, 2018..

© SOkA Beroun

Dub is mentioned many times in Jan Eybl's diaries and it is apparent that the two were in frequent contact due to their duties by the staff of IR 91. In the diary Dub first appears 27 November 1915. That Eybl knew Dub is obvious, and despite some negative comments being made in the diary, they seem to have been friends. Eybl even received a photo of the newly wed Robert Dub and his wife Bianca in the summer of 1916. He kept the photo for the rest of his life and made notes that Dub left for his wedding on 26 April 1916 and was back on 6 May. The last mention of Dub in Eybl's diary is on 13 July 1918 when the two met in Udine.


"Doctor Dub sobbed ...".

Minulostí Berounska, 2018..

© SOkA Beroun

Other revelations in the diary are that Dub once talked nonsense when drunk, and during an Italian artillery barrage he "fled like a little boy". He also kept the field chaplain awake with his incessant snoring. On the positive side he proposed Jan Eybl for a decoration, approved by Oberst Alfred Steinsberg (IR 91 commander).

On 23 January 1916 Dub burst out in tears during Eybl's holy mass, a curious parallel to Feldkurat Katz and Švejk. This incident was also mentioned in one of the interviews in the 1960's, but the reader was not informed that Hašek could not possibly have witnessed it.

Borrowed name

Irrespective of whether Hašek knew doctor Dub or not: like the case is with Feldoberkurat Ibl versus Jan Eybl, Leutnant Dub versus Robert Dub. It is surely not more than a borrowed name. Biographical details and the personal qualities of the abject lieutenant are rather borrowed from Johann Hutzler, Emanuél Michálek, and perhaps other officers the author knew or had heard of (and not least from the author's imagination).

Quote(s) from the novel
[3.1] Kadet Biegler se mezitím díval vítězně po všech a poručík Dub pošeptal nadporučíkovi Lukášovi, že to ,Čapí křídlo s rybím ocasem’ zjelo Ságnera jaksepatří.

SourcesVÚA, ÖStA, Jan Eybl, Rebecca Schwoch, Hans-Peter Laqueur


Eybl, Jan Evangelista
*15.11.1882 Mahouš - †21.6.1968 Hrusice
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© SOkA Beroun

Jan Eybl was an Austrian (later Czechoslovak) Roman Catholic cleric who eventually lent his name to Švejk's Feldoberkurat Ibl.

Eybl served as Feldkurat in der Reserve with k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 from 1 November 1914 to 1 January 1917, overlapping with Jaroslav Hašek at the eastern front from 10 July to 24 September 1915 (except 23 August to 15 September when the field chaplain was on leave). During this period he performed several field masses that Hašek probably witnessed: 11 July Łonie, 17 July Dalnicz, 1 August Opulsko.

He can however not have conducted any field mass for march battalions during the period Jaroslav Hašek was stationed in Királyhida (all of June 1915), as he served with the regiment at the front the entire month. Jan Eybl himself later maintained that he never held any sermon with the content that is described in the novel, and emphasized that 90 percent of what Hašek wrote about his figures who had real life counterparts was thought up.

Eybl's legacy

From the diary, 23.9.1915.

© SOkA Beroun


Jaworzec, 3 March 1915. Eybl in the middle.

© SOkA Beroun


© SOkA Beroun

Fortunately Jan Eybl's documents and photos have been preserved, including his war time diaries. He is therefore probably the person who have contributed most to our current knowledge about the surroundings in which Jaroslav Hašek lived in 1915, environs that to a large extent influenced the novel from book two onwards. Eybl's diaries, photos, personal letters, and official documents are preserved at Státní Okresní Archiv in Beroun.

The diaries provide first-hand information directly from the front and are therefore more reliable than any other written material, including army documents. The entries are dated and also indicate where they were scribbled down, and what happened on that day. It is a thorough description of the movements of the regiment, and add details about the weather, who he spent spare moments with etc. The diaries also give a grim insight into the horrors the men had to endure, all the last rites the priest had to give, all the young men he had to bury. It was also the field chaplain's duty to write death certificates and to inform relatives back home about the loss of their sons, brothers and husbands.

Jan Eybl also reveals the privileges the officers enjoyed: wine and decent food, including Gabelfrühstück. The field chaplain was assigned to regiment staff and thus often spent time with higher ranking officers, socializing and playing cards with them in the evening. On the downside (judged by today's standards) he often made derogatory comments about other ethnic groups, particularly Jews and Hungarians. He even used the term, "Jewish nests". Mosty Wielkie which IR 91 marched through 21 June 1915 was categorised as such. That said one of his best friends in the regiment, Robert Dub, was a Jew.

Geographically the descriptions in the diary correspond very well with Inft.Reg. 91 Galizien... bar a minor discrepancy. According to Jan Eybl the date of Jaroslav Hašek's 12th march battalion's arrival at the front was 10 July 1915, not 11 July as the mentioned history of IR 91 (1927) states. The diaries contain four volumes, written in Czech and cover the period from 17 November 1914 to 1920. On 28 July 2014 Jaroslav Šerák published an illustrated transcription covering the period that Hašek served in the regiment(see link).

Minulostí Berounska eventually published the three diaries that cover the war, competently edited and commented by historian Miloš Garkisch. Volume one was published in 1914, and the next two followed in 2015 and 2018 respectively. There is currently no plan to publish the 4th volume (it deals with the post-war period until 1920).

Jan Eybl mentions Jaroslav Hašek in his diary and and went on a stroll with him and Rudolf Lukas 23 September 1915, the day before the author was captured. Otherwise the two probably had no more than fleeting encounters.

Early life

Stráž na Šumavě, 21.5.1906


Letter 25.10.1907.

© SOkA Beroun

Jan Eybl was born 15 November 1982 in Mahouš by Prachatice, son of Václav and Veronika. His right of domicile was Ondřejov near Krumlov.

He studied at the Czech gymnasium in Budějovice from 1894 to 1902 and obtained good grades, and excelled in the subjects of religion, history, geography and Czech (language). Upon encouragement from his uncle in Kolín (a namesake), he decided on a clerical career and was eventually ordained as a priest on 22 June 1906.

He had been drafted into the army already on 15 March 1902 but immediately assigned as a reserve. His military service seems to have consisted of administrative duties at the Prachatice garrison from 1 December 1907 to 1 March 1913. This was surely part-time as he also worked at the parish of nearby Katovice. From 1913 he held a position at the parish in Netolice where he was still serving when the war started.

In k.u.k. Heer


© Milan Hodík


Вреоци (Vreoci), Serbia, 2.12.1914

© SOkA Beroun




Doberdò, August 1916

© SOkA Beroun


News about Martin Eybl's death.

Našinec, 25.10.1916.


Funeral, Prosecco, 1917

© SOkA Beroun


© SOkA Beroun

As Feldkurat in der Reserve, Jan Eybl was not called up immediately on outbreak of war, but his turn was to come. From 1 November 1915 Eybl he is listed in the ranks of IR 91 and from the 17th he served as regimental field chaplain at the front in Serbia. He witnessed the defeat of k.u.k. Heer in Serbia and took part in the withdrawal to southern Hungary.

In Új-Futak (now part of Novi Sad, Serbia) the regiment remained for approx. six weeks. He then followed his unit in their transfer to the Carpathians in early February 1915, and served the regiment spring/summer offensive in Galicia, took part in the fierce fighting by Grodek, Gołogóry and Sokal. He remained at the front until 23 August 1915, but from 27 July to 17 August he was assigned to the division.

Eybl returned to the front on 14 September 1915 and experienced the bloody battle at Chorupan 10 days later, where the regiment suffered more than 900 dead, wounded, and missing. 509 soldiers from IR 91 were reported missing after the battle, amongst them Jaroslav Hašek, Emanuél Michálek and František Strašlipka. The vast majority of them were captured after being caught in a surprise Russian attack in the early hours.

After the battle the fighting subsided and the rest of October passed in relative calm. The regiment spent most of the time in Targowica (ukr. Торговиця), a town at the confluence of the rivers Styr and Ikva. On 26 October 1915 the regiment was inspected by Erzherzog Karl Franz Joseph, and Eybl writes about the heir to the throne in positive terms, even noting that he spoke Czech to the ordinary soldiers. In the meantime it had been decided to transfer Infanteriedivision Nr. 9 to the front in Italy, and on 31 October the march south to the railway station at Rudnia(ukr. Рудня) started. It was however not until the 16th that the journey to Italy started, and they reached Prosecco by Trieste on 19 November 1915.

Eybl was to stay at the front until October 1916, with only had two short holidays in between. He took part in the regiment's short-lived engagement in the mountains south-east of Trento in May/June 1916. From then until 14 October 1916 he was posted with the regiment at the front section east of Monfalcone, i.e. returning to their old positions. That day he suffered a personal tragedy by Doberdò. His brother Martin (who also was his army servant) died before his eyes when they were struck by Italian artillery fire during the 8th Isonzo battle. The field chaplain was wounded in the arm, and sent back to Budějovice for recuperation. His brother's body was transported home and put to rest in Netolice. In 1968 Jan Eybl was buried in the same grave.

Although the diary is largely dry and factual, Jan Eybl from time to time shared his personal thought about the situation he was in. He was appalled by reports of orgies amongst officers behind the lines when ordinary soldiers suffered at the front. He observed drunk officers parading with Krankenscwhestern (nurses), an echo of Švejk in Przemyśl. He couldn't hide his disgust when writing about officer's gatherings that degenerated into drinking binges, and named several of the officers that took part. In 1916 there was even discontent amongst other officers regarding his sermons, and he observed that some of them took notes. He was on good term with most of them though, particularly IR 91's commander Alfred Steinsberg, regimental doctor Robert Dub, and captain Václav Urban. When Steinsberg was replaced by Rudolf Kiesswetter it became less rosy, although he was generally on good term also with this officer. Other of his colleagues were described as horrible, particularly reserve lieutenant Orgelmeister who he seems to have had qualities that reminds one of Leutnant Dub from Švejk. Eybl also mentions Rudolf Lukas, Čeněk Sagner, Franz Wenzel and Oberleutnant Wurm in his diary but without characterising them closer.

After returning to service after his injury, Jan Eybl only rarely served directly by the front line. On 1 January 1917 he had been transferred to k.u.k. Feldsuperiorat in Ljubljana. Almost immediately he was sent back to serve at the army hospital in Prosecco where he often encountered soldiers from IR 91. He stayed here until the hospital in mid November was transferred to Italian territory after the Central Power's victory at Caporetto (Kobarid).

On 23 April 1918 he was (at least according to his Qualifikationsliste) transferred to k.u.k. Feldsuperiorat in Vienna, but his diary reveals that the transfer took place as late as mid-July. Here he served for the rest of the war, travelling to nearby garrisons and hospitals, holding sermons and giving lectures. In Bruck an der Leitha he again met former colleagues from his regiment. He served his last ever holy mass in k.u.k. Heer in St. Pölten on 20 October 1918. Jan Eybl was decorated twice during his time in k.u.k. Heer (1915, 1917).

Although loyal to Austria-Hungary all the time it shines through in his diary that Jan Eybl was first and foremost Czech, and he welcomed the independent Czechoslovakia. The modern reader may also find the hostility towards Jews and Hungarians striking, but at the time these sentiments were widespread in Czech society. This hostility towards non-Czechs is often reflected in The Good Soldier Švejk, but there is one major difference between Eybl's diaries and the novel: the formers lack of anti-German sentiments.


Tages-Post, 18.3.1915.

During the war Eybl newspapers repeatedly published his letters from the front. It is confirmed that he contributed to Čech, Tages-Post, Hlas lidu and Jihočeské listy.

After the war he also provided two short tales for Böhmerwald's Söhne im Felde, a veteran's magazine published in Budějovice from 1924 to 1928.

Post-war life

© SOkA Beroun

At the end of the war Jan Eybl was immediately transferred to the Czechoslovak army but never actively served here. Returning to civilian life he worked as a priest in various parishes around Budějovice, his longest stay was in Kamenný Újezd, where he retired in 1938. Before that had worked for some time Kuschwarda (now Strážný) on the border with Bavaria. He moved to Beroun 1 October 1939, almost certainly a result of ethnic cleansing when the area became part of the Third Reich.

In Beroun Eybl was involved in the resistance movement, distributed illegal newsapapers and held sermons with anti-Nazi contents. In 1942 he was arrested by Gestapo and spent the rest of the war in prisons: Kladno, Pankrác, and the concentration camps at Terezín (Theresienstadt) and Dachau.[1]

After World War II Jan Eybl returned to Beroun but also spent some time in the Polish border town of Kłodzko by Náchod. After the Communist coup in 1948 he was again in the focus of the authorities, and characterized as a reactionary. On once instance he refused to sign a congratulation letter to Stalin and he also said that "Jesus Christ was also convicted by a peoples court". In 1955 he moved to Hrusice, incidentally the birthplace of famous The Good Soldier Švejk illustrator Josef Lada. This is also where Eybl died, at the respectable age of 86. He is buried in Netolice, the nearest town to his home village Mahouš.


Eybl in his senior years.

Svoboda, 1966.


Karel Pichlík, 1961.

During the upswing in Hašek-research under the Communist regime, stories about Eybl and other models for characters in The Good Soldier Švejk started to appear in newspapers. The first of those surfaced in Dějiny a současnost, and was penned by renowned historian Karel Pichlík. In 1966 Zdeněk Matoušek followed up with a detailed, albeit rambling report in Svoboda. Another contributor was Zdeněk Šťastný, a writer who published extensively on Hašek. Two of his articles involve Eybl: Průboj (1967) and Obrana lidu (1972), with a largely similar content.

Common to these stories is that they are based on personal interviews with the elderly priest, and they focus on his encounters with Hašek shortly before the author was captured 24 September 1915. The stories agree that Hašek tried to report sick and get away from the front and that medical doctor Robert Dub and Eybl tried to help him in this. It was Rudolf Lukas who instigated the move to get Hašek away from the front, as he allegedly wanted to get the troublesome author off his neck. It is also apparent that Dub and Eybl were friends, that Dub was a Jew with family origins around Čáslav, and that the priest even picked a wife for the doctor (from a selection of photos of ladies Dub corresponded with)!

Otherwise the stories diverge, and there are several minor errors, to be expected when someone tries to remember details from 50 years back. The Matoušek version incorrectly claims that Rudolf Lukas married some Miss Bügler from Vienna and moved there after the war. There are also inconsistencies with regards to the numbering of military units (even the famous but fictive 11th March Company crops up).

There is also suspicion that "literary facts" from the novel may have crept in, and particularly Zdeněk Šťastný spiced up his story to align it better with "the reality of Švejk". This "reverse engineering of history" is known from other literature about Jaroslav Hašek, even in the work of serious scholars. The big mystery is how Hašek had anything to do with Robert Dub at all, as the doctor was transferred to IR 91 (at least according to army documents) some days after Jaroslav Hašek was captured …

An upright person

Feldkurat Jan Eybl, as opposed to some other army clerics in k.u.k. Heer (read Ludvík Lacina), did not leave behind a volumous file in the archive of k.u.k. Feldvikariat (Kriegsarchiv, Vienna). His record is exemplary and his diary underpins the impression. He was well liked by soldiers and officers alike, and many of them kept in touch with him after the war. The manner in which he later stood up to the Nazi's to the extent that he ended up in Dachau bears further testimony to his courage and integrity.

Rudolf Kiesswetter

Böhmerwalds Söhne im Felde.

Hier, in Lukavica rückte auch unser Feldkurat, der allen 91ern in angenehmer Erinnerung gebliebene Weltpriester Johann Eybl aus Netolitz bei Budweis, derzeit Pfarrer in Kuschwerda (Böhmerwald), sowie als Regimentschefarzt der Assistenzarzt in der Reserve Dr. Löwy aus Karlsbad, zum Regimente ein.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesVÚA, ÖStA, SOkA Beroun, Flosman Martin, Miloš Garkisch, Ivo Pejčoch, Jan Ciglbauer, Jaroslav Šerák, Karel Pichlík, Zdeněk Matoušek, Zdeněk Šťastný

1. The book S orlem i lvem I., Příběhy českých vojenských duchovních od 17. století do první světové války Martin Flosman (2019) gives a good and detailed overview of Jan Eybl's life, not only the period of World War I.


Hašek, Jaroslav Matěj František
*30.4.1883 Praha - †3.1.1923 Lipnice nad Sázavou
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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 Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek, but even more so for the book's main character, the soldier Švejk. The most relevant period with regards to The Good Soldier Švejk is of course the author's time in k.u.k. Heer in 1915, although sequences that draw from other periods of the writer's life appear throughout.

NB! This page does not attempt a general biography about Jaroslav Hašek. The scope is limited to periods and episodes in his life that had an obvious and direct impact on The Good Soldier Švejk.

Jaroslav 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 Good Soldier Švejk 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 he inherited from his creator. This very strategy for survival was something that both Švejk and Hašek 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 due to their South Bohemian ancestry. They were mostly present in the same places and in the same historical circumstances during their time in k.u.k. Heer. Many of Švejk’s superiors and peers are inspired by Hašek’s own milieu in IR 91, albeit with their qualities and identities modified, caricatured and part disguised. 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. From November 1910 Hašek ran a short-lived dog-trading firm but was accused of selling dogs with fake pedigrees, dogs who who had been stolen by his assistant. Both had also been apprentice chemists. Švejk's stay at Blázinec (lunatic asylum) has clear traces of autobiography, likewise his stints at Policejní ředitelství (Police HQ), Zemský trestní soud (Country criminal court) and Policejní komisařství Salmova ulice (Salmovská ulice). Of course 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 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

Einjährigfreiwilliger 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 Hašek: his occupation as editor of Svět zvířat seems in part 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. In this respect he is the very opposite of Švejk who conceals his opinions whenever it serves him.

Although Einjährigfreiwilliger 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: Offiziersdiener Baloun (gluttony), and Feldkurat Katz (drunkenness and shirking financial obligations, ref. not paying the moneylender in [1.13]).


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 first chapter. Similar examples abound, like the two anecdotes about Rittmeister Rotter, and the anecdote about "nějakej" (some) Mestek.

NB! This chapter is work in progress.

Before the draft

Jaroslav Hašek's "Vormerkblatt Nr. 4886"


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 was 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 were 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 doctor 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

Jaroslav Hašek's time in IR 91 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 Hašek was Präsentiert (reported at) 1. Ersatzkompanie in EB91 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: Hauptmann Josef Adamička (head of the school), Oberleutnant Čeněk Sagner, and Fähnrich Hans Bigler. He may also have met Major Franz Wenzel and staff sergeant Jan Vaněk, but this has not been possible to confirm. 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 information that however often was blurred due to the distance in time: Jaroslav Kejla, Bohumil Vlček, Franta Hofer, Bohumil Šindelár, František Skřivánek 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 Einjährigfreiwilliger 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 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.


Hašek in k.u.k. Reservespital, Budweis

In the 1950s several witnesses recorded their reminiscences from Hašek's time in Budějovice, but most of them suffer in accuracy due to the distance in time. One of them was František Skřivánek 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 the city 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 young Bohumil Mičan whose family owned the restaurant U Mičanů 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 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 Mičan's stories seem never to have been published, but they are available 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 Hašek. He was at the time working in the kitchen peeling potatoes, a story story that aligns well with Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek from the novel and also the author's own In strategical difficulties.

Rheumatism, heart-trouble and superarbitration

The verdict of the superarbitration-commission.


In May 2015 Hašek's military record was investigated at VÚA and the picture of his illness and superarbitration becomes clearer. Already on 6 March he was admitted 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. It was also concluded that none of his health problems were caused by his military service. The decision was rubber-stamped by the k.u.k. Militärkommando in Prague on 25 May.

The 91st regiment transferred

Jihočeské Listy, 2.6.1915.


Budweiser Zeitung, 11.6.1915.

As reflected in the novel EB91 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. “Kanonen-futter” and the civilian population could harm their will to die for the emperor and could also be infected by anti-war sentiments that were taking root in the population as it became clear that the war would not be over soon. Czech reserve battalions were often swapped with Hungarians (or others), and in Budějovice a Hungarian regiment (IR101) replaced them.

Hašek was part of this transfer and describes it in his novel. According to Jan Vaněk he arrived in Királyhida under arrest, just like Švejk did. In literature about Hašek there has been contradictory information regarding the actual date of the transfer. Radko Pytlík status 10 May 1915 as the date of the transfer whereas Jaroslav Kejla claims it took place on the 20th. František Skřivánek remembered that Hašek wrote him a few lines of goodbye, dated 5 May. The actual date of the transfer was however much later, on 1 June 1915. This is confirmed by Jihočeské Listy, Budweiser Zeitung, and Deutsche Böhmerwaldzeitung. The departure scenes by the station are described by the newspapers and correspond to the description in the novel, that a sizeable crowd was gathered etc. In the first two newspapers many lines have been removed by the censorship. Perhaps these contained the Czech nationalist sentiments that the author describes?

The departure took place before noon, in two stages. Their replacement, IR101 from Hungary, arrived during the evening of the 9th and occupied the now vacant Mariánská kasárna.


Hašek in IR 91, 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). After arriving in Királyhida 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 cook 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.

XII./91 Marschbataillon

Hašek in IR 91. According to Jan Morávek this photo was taken at the beginning of September 1915 with Hašek already promoted to Gefreiter.

The 12th march battalion of IR 91 was formed around 1 June 1915, 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 Hans Bigler again, the prototype of Kadett 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 barred 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 March 1968) he was found in U zlatého růže (Zur Goldene Rose). Jan Vaněk's diary reveals that the march battalion departed from Bruck station at 8:15 PM on 30 July.

Across the Carpathians

Hašek in IR 91 (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 Hašek draw a route that is identical to Švejk’s from Bruck an der Leitha (30 June 1915), 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, a town they approached on 4 July 1915. Hašek in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí even has the soldiers continue beyond Sambor to a station he calls Kamenec (not identified). The novel itself draws a very different picture: it has the march battalion leave the train much earlier, in Sanok. Hašek himself mentions Łupków Pass also in The Good Soldier Švejk in captivity, so we can safely assume that the route described in The Good Soldier Švejk is accurate at least until Zagórz by Sanok. On the way to Sambor the train would have passed more places that are familiar to readers of the novel: Krościenko, Chyrów and Felsztyn.

The only stretch where 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 the battalion would definitely not have been marching with any brigade. The map Jaroslav Hašek u své marškumpanie shows MB12/IR 91's route to the front (updated with information from the diary of Jan Vaněk, 1 June 2014).

"Einkantonierung" and marching to the front

The orders directing IR 91 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 11, IR73, IR 91 and IR102 were to gather and form the 18th March Brigade and continue to the front. Interestingly IR 91 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 IR 91/11th field company


Another of Jaroslav Hašek's poem lists towns and villages on a line between Sambor and Łonie (the village by Gołogóry where the 12th march battalion joined the field battalions of IR 91). 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 Eybl and Vaněk is was on 10 July, Inft.Reg. 91 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 1915 is very well covered. Morávek’s above-mentioned series focuses mainly on this period and additionally Inft.Reg. 91 Galizien... covers the regiments route in great detail, at times almost down to the hour and with accurate geographical information. The diaries of Jan Vaněk and Jan Eybl pin down the events even more accurately.

When the march battalion (appx. 800 men) joined the IR 91 operative body, Rudolf Lukas took command of the renewed 11th company, with 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. Hašek was named messenger in the 11th field company soon after 11 July 1915, 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 (IR 91 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 IR 91'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 (IR 91 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 IR 91 never set foot at).


Application for reward, 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) in the aftermath of the battle by Sokal. The application for his decoration was written on 2 August 1915, signed by Steinsberg (for the regiment). Oddly enough his rank is noted as "Kriegsfreiwilliger" (war volunteer). If this is correct it means that he joined the army voluntarily.

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 for 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.

On 4 August 1915 the application was approved by Mossig for the brigade and Schenk for the division. The medals were handed out on 18 August. Soldiers from the 3rd battalion Hašek were decorated by Rudolf Kiesswetter. That day Hans Bigler, Jan Vaněk, and František Strašlipka also received their awards.

The official rubber stamp was given by the central authorities as late as 20 November, at a time when the author was already in Russian captivity.

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. He had also before the war talked about his intention of defecting. For years it was therefore an established "fact" that he actively crossed over to the Russians at Chorupan 24 September 1915, 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 Hašek was a good soldier, that the 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 Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek, was locked up in the garrison prison 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


© 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. One exception is 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, Darnitsa).


Čechoslovan, 17.6.1917 (30.7)


Hochverräterische Umtriebe ...

A more co-incidental connection is the story of a tomcat 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 tomcat emptied his bladder on the pictures and made them unsellable. The story was picked up by the Austrian intelligence services 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 tomcat story was in good company: professor 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!

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesRadko Pytlík, Břetislav Hůla, Jan Morávek, Jan Vaněk, Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Kejla, František Skřivánek, Franta Hofer, VÚA, ÖStA


aJaroslav Hašek na LipniciKliment Štěpánek, Lidové noviny20.12.1927
Hůla, Břetislav Josef Antonín
*31.3.1894 Polička - †2.4.1964 Dobřichovice
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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-World War II 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.k. Gendarmerie (Austrian 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 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 28, he was sent first to the Serbian with the 2nd battalion. At some stage he was injured; he appears in Verlustliste Nr. 140 on 12 March 1915 as Verwundet, belonging to the 7th company. Here his rank is listed as one-year volunteer. On 3 April 1915 he was captured by Dukla, now with the 10th company (i.e. 3rd battalion). 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 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 professor 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 although there is a period of 11 days where it hypothetically could have happened. The author/activist appeared in Prague on 19 December 1920, and Hůla was arrested in his flat in Dejvice on new years eve.


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 World War II 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 The Good Soldier 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 The Good Soldier 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 Matěj Kuděj, Gustav Roger Opočenský and others. He also collected extensive material from other archives and sources, including newspapers and magazines.


Letter to Hůla, 16 February 1951

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 129. 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 PZDA 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 The Good Soldier 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 The Good Soldier Švejk (e.g Rava Ruska). If anything could be criticised it would be a Oberst 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 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 Jaroslav Hašek. It was published as an epilogue 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 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

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


Kuděj, Zdeněk Matěj
*24.11.1881 Hořice - †8.8.1955 Litomyšl
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Family picture from around 1895

© Michal Giacintov

Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj - that he is included in the collection of prototypes of figures in Švejk may raise a few eyebrows. The justification is mainly that he served as an inspiration for some of the events in the first book, but also that Kuděj was arguably Hašek’s closest friend and surely passed on other details that may eventually have appeared in the novel. Kuděj is also an important source of information about Hašek in general as he wrote three books about their travel adevemtures, 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) edited and published in book form by Miloš Doležal. The two Bohemian authors knew each other from about 1909, then travelled together in 1913 and 1914, and renewed the contact after Jaroslav Hašek returned from Russia in 1920. This is important in a Švejk context, as Kuděj was in close contact with Hašek during the creation of the novel, and certain fragments were no doubt inspired by him.

Early life

Matrika narozených, Hořice, 1876-1884 (Birth record).

Born in Hořice on 24 November 1881, Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj (real name Zdeněk Marián) was the son of building engineer Jan Kuděj (born 1841, Málkov by Strakonice) and Božena (born Fiebrigová, 1850 in Bakov nad Jizerou). His father was employed at the railways, and at the time of Zdeněk’s birth he worked on construction of the line Hradec Králové - Ostroměř.

From 1883 the family lived in Vinohrady and Prague, and in 1900 they moved to Příbram. Kuděj was the fourth of six children and the police records show them living at no less than 7 different addresses in Vinohrady. The children were: Jan (1878), Arnošt (1879), Václav (1880), Zdeněk (1881), Ludmila (1889) and Ružena (1893). In 1888 a tragedy hit the family when eight year old Václav died from heart failure. Father Jan died in 1900 and this is presumably the reason why the family moved.


Kuděj mischievously advises readers who are curious about his stays abroad to read his books. Vlastní životopis, fond Zdena Ančík


Kuděj attended gymnasium (secondary school) in Vinohrady (c. k. státní gymnázium na Král. Vinohradech) and Příbram but left after six years when he failed the exams. The Austrian gymnasium education started at the age of eleven, so he must have left school in 1898 (unless he had to retake some years). He then worked as an apprentice chemist in Pacov and Sadská.

According to his own autobiography his work as a chemist lasted for four years, then he left his homeland. He is remarkably terse on what he was doing abroad, and advices whoever may be curious to read his books. Those who followed his advice will however have been misinformed as army files and ship registers reveal a glaring discrepancy between the actual world and his own account.

K.k. Landwehr



When he was 21 he was enlisted as a conscript in k.k. Landwehr (lit. Country Guard, the territorial army of Cisleithanien). After having been accepted as fit for armed service in April, he was enrolled on 1 October 1902. His home unit was Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7 from Pilsen, but for unknown reasons he was transferred to Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 6 in Eger (now Cheb) only five 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 k.k. Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7, and his service in Landwehr ended on 1 September 1904.


Transkription dank Doris und Gert Kerschbaumer


Compulsory service in k.k. Landwehr lasted for two years (as opposed to three years in k.u.k. Heer). The men however remained in the reserve until they were 32, and had to report for periodic "Waffenübungen" (weapons exercises). These exercises lasted for four weeks and Kuděj took part in 1905, 1909, 1911 and 1913.

On 20 January 1906 his rank was changed to Blessiertenträger (carrier of wounded). Thereafter he disappears from the records until he surfaces again after having participated 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. He is described as a quiet, modest, and indifferent person. In his service he is characterised as keen, obedient, and well educated as an infantryman. He spoke "Böhmisch" and some "Deutsch".

Going abroad

Passenger list "Graf Waldersee", Hamburg 17 March 1906

© Staatsarchiv Hamburg

Some time after 9 September 1905 (he finished the k.k. Landwehr "Waffenübung" that day) he travelled to Germany. Kuděj later wrote that 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.

Passenger lists

Passenger list, "Graf Waldersee", New York, 29 March 1906.

© The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation

Two passenger lists describing his journey are available. The first is from the port authority in Hamburg, the second from the US Immigration authorities at Ellis Island (New York).

From the passenger lists of Graf Waldersee many details are revealed. The vessel set off from Cuxhaven 17 March 1906 and passengers were registered in New York on the 29th. The list submitted to the US immigration authorities is quite detailed. Kuděj is entered as a 25 year old male, single, resident in Prag (sic), occupation chemist, an Austrian citizen of Bohemian ethnicity, travelling 2nd class. His immediate destination was Chicago where he was going to visit someone he knew (or a relative). He was in possession of 100 dollars but didn't have an onwards ticket. For good measures it is revealed that he was neither a polygamist nor an anarchist, and he had never been in prison. He was literate, did not suffer from any diseases and had never previously visited the United States.

The corresponding passenger list from Hamburg confirms the name of the ship and some other items, but is less detailed than the New York equivalent and even gets Kuděj’s age wrong (as 28 years instead of 25). S.S. Graf Waldersee was operated by Hamburg-Amerika Linie and travelled via Boulogne.

Dramatic crossing

The Evening World, 29.3.1906.

Newspapers published the movements of ocean steamers, so dates from the journey are available. On 18 March Graf Waldersee stopped at ports of of Dover and Boulogne in the English Channel. The next day it passed The Lizard (Cornwall) (from Washington Post, The Guardian) and thus entered open sea. On 28 March the ship cleared Sandy Hook (New Jersey) and arrived at Ellis Island the same day.


Ellis Island immigration station, 1905

Details from the journey were reported by The Evening World on 29 March 1906. Already from Hamburg the ship had been in a race with Rhein from Bremen, a competition that the latter eventually won. The weather had been good, apart from the 25th when fog set in. On 21 March a 16 year old passenger died, on the day that captain Albert Krech celebrated his 56th birthday. Later three babies died, two of them from a peculiar rash, a symptom that many third class passengers suffered from.

Graf Waldersee carried 2,573 third class passengers and all the dead were amongst these, and they were buried at sea. Many third class passengers were therefore quarantined at Hoffman Island with the suspicion of small-pox. That day was the biggest rush of immigrants ever seen in New York, all in all 12,283 passengers arrived at Ellis Island that day and half were young girls.


Kuděj would have known these offices

Denní hlasatel, 1.5.1916.

All known literature on Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj, be it in books, newspaper articles or websites, contradict the above-mentioned army file and the passenger lists. 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 madness This is obviously not true, as he served out the compulsory two-year term with k.k. Landwehr.


Actor František Kovářík lived in the US from 1903 to 1908 and become a friend of Kuděj there. The picture is from 1908.

In the story “Malý cestopis“ he describes his travels in North America in some detail. The first part of the story doesn’t make sense as he claimed to have visited San Francisco shortly after the earthquake. That he should have reached California such a short time after arriving in New York 29 March 1906 is impossible considering that the earthquake struck on 18 April 1906. Moreover he implausibly claims to have been to Cleveland, Alabama, Seattle and other places in between. This makes one suspect that at least parts of his impressive itinerary is fictional.

The source of the legend about his 6 year stay is indisputably Kuděj himself as he mentioned it in “Malý cestopis” and also in an interview with Světozor in 1941. Presumably the story about him being dismissed from the army due to feigned madness also originates from himself. There is in general little confirmatory evidence about his life before 1918 so we are mostly left to rely on the author's own writing and what he told others (for what it is worth). This is particularly the case when it comes to his sojourns abroad. In his “Small travel tale” there is another lie, albeit a minor one: he actually travelled 2nd class[1] on Graf Waldersee, not 1st class as he claimed himself.

Apart from his arrival in New York on 27 March 1906 there are no confirmed dates regarding his stay in the New World. There is however no reason to doubt his account that he returned to Europe in 1909, as a he took part in k.k. Landwehr exercises in August that year. In his stories he mentions November in connection with Alabama so that indicates 1906. He also mentions a US financial crisis that triggered him leaving Chicago for Canada. This fits with the “Panic of 1907” that took place in October that year. He also mentions a gold rush in Oregon, but no such occurrence seems to have taken place between 1906 and 1909. Finally he writes that he arrived in Akron (Ohio) in freezing cold, so presumably we are now in the winter of 1908-1909 as he from there set off for New York to get back home.

Richard Šimanovský and the actor František Kovářík (1886-1984) both knew Kuděj from America but it is not known if they ever provided any firm evidence on where he was and what he was up to. Other possible sources for backup proof are the Chicago newspapers Denní hlasatel and Spravedlnost and the farmers weekly Domácnost in Milwaukee, but these have not yet been investigated.

Sidney Godday


Světozor, 27.3.1914.


"Bidné dny"

Zlatá Praha, 22.9.1911.

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, as there seem to be no second-hand information confirming his version. His story "Malý cestopis" (A small travel tale) does however provide a complete but undated North American itinerary. It was published in the book Dobrodružné cestování in 1959, but we don’t know when the author originally penned the story. It appears to be in his later years as he mentions his youthful irresponsibility, and a few sections seem to adhere to the jargon of the ruling Communist regime, indicating it may have been written after 1948.

US itinerary, in his own words

Places visited. Based on "Malý cestopis" (1959)

This is a summary of his movements in North America, according to Malý cestopis (1959). After arriving in New York in the spring of 1903 (sic) he used his last dollars to buy a train ticket to Chicago. Here he undertook various short-term jobs, amongst them cleaning intestines in a slaughterhouse. Thereafter his whereabouts in the United States and Canada can the classed in six distinct parts.

  1. On invitation from his cousin he left for Cleveland where he took a job in a medicine factory. From here the journey went to Detroit where he was robbed and eventually ended up in prison. Then he returned to Chicago utterly destitute, and on foot.
  2. He had no option but to enlist for railway construction in Alabama. The conditions were harsh, many of the workers were convicts. When not getting paid he and a Czech friend decided to escape, and succeeded to get back to Chicago via Evansville. The experience is also described in the story "Bidné dny", printed as a series in Světozor as early as 1911, in 1913 it was published as a book.
  3. After spending some time in Chicago he set out on an impressive journey to the west, eventually reaching Seattle, going by boat to San Francisco before ending up in Galveston by the Gulf of Mexico, travelling via Salt Lake City, Denver and Dallas.
  4. In Galveston he took hire on a ship that travelled along the coast all the way to New York, stopping en route in New Orleans, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Philadelphia a.o.
  5. Leaving the ship he travelled back to Chicago, mainly on the Mississippi river.
  6. The final big journey was triggered by an economic crisis that hit USA. Setting off to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan he tried his hand at farming in the far north by the lakes, but gave up, continued to Alberta, then allegedly tried his luck as a gold digger in Oregon, heading east again via Yellowstone, St. Louis, Ohio before reaching New York and Boston. Here he became ill but eventually managed to head home to Europe on a boat carrying cattle.


Světozor, 21.11.1941.

Kuděj was interviewed by Světozor in connection with his 60th birthday (1941) and here he claims to have been present during the San Francisco earthquake, that he took part in construction of the Panama Canal, that he stayed in the Americas for six years and returned to Europe in 1909 and then took a job at the chemical factory Hartmann in Berlin. He also states that prior to departing for America he worked in chemical factories in Germany but didn’t stay there long. About his stay in Russia he said he was locked up there in 1912 for six months before being expelled.

The journey home


Světozor, 11.4.1917.


From "Ships of our Ancestors"

© Michael J. Anuta, 1983

For information about Kuděj's return to Europe we are again left to rely on the author's own words. The story "Domů" describes how he travelled from United States to England. The steamer Satchem, carrying cattle and passengers from Boston, arrived in Liverpool and then he travelled by train across England to Grimsby where he left for Rotterdam. The story ends before they reach Rotterdam when his young friend Tomáš gets lost at sea. It seems that Kuděj had already worked on Satchem before leaving for Europe, as he knew the shipping agent in Boston who hired him as a cattleman for the journey. Later Kuděj wrote that he returned "in the company of around 700 bulls and members of other nationalities".


Boston Globe, 19.3.1909.

The ship Kuděj refers to is very likely S.S. Sachem, a steamship of 5,204 tons built in 1893 by Harland and Wolff and in 1909 operated by Warren Line. This ship sailed the route Boston-Liverpool and was a multi-purpose freighter that often transported livestock to England. Sachem was registered in Liverpool. Later the vessel was rebuilt as a passenger carrier and continued service until 1927 when she was finally scrapped.

In 1909 she had nine registered arrivals in Boston from Liverpool. The passenger lists consist almost entirely of cattlemen. The full list of outgoing dates and corresponding crew/passenger lists are not yet available, but some information can be extracted from Boston Globe and The Guardian. One of the departures was on 20 March 1909 at 10 A.M. and the steamer carried 1002 sheep, 911 cattle, as well as corn, flour, cotton and beef. Boston Globe also informs that the captain was A.W. Murdoch and the ship was not filled to her capacity.

Confirmed dates of 1909 departures where Kuděj could have travelled are: 2 January, 7 February, 20 March, 27 June. There was also departures in early May and in July but the exact dates are not known. We do however know that the May transport passed Old Head of Kinsale (Ireland) on 18 May and arrived in Liverpool on the 19th. The July transport arrived in Liverpool on the 23rd. This is the last possible date that Kuděj could have arrived in England as was present at the k.k. Landwehr exercise that started on 9 August 1909. So most likely he travelled on one of the previous transports.

In the story "Konsuláty" he describes the rest of his journey back home. It starts in England where Kuděj had worked on a fishing boat that eventually arrived in Grimsby. From there he went to Rotterdam where he jumped on the train. He mentions Osnabrück, but here the story ends. This has probably been on the way to Berlin. In the Berlin branch of Sokol a certain Arnošt Kuděj worked, and this may have been his elder brother.

Back home

Národní listy, 26.6.1910.


Pokrok západu, 5.12.1917.

Some time in 1909 arrived in his homeland, and again he took part in the k.k. Landwehr exercises, from 9 August to 5 September 1909. Soon after his return he started to associate with writers and other intellectuals and became a friend of Jaroslav Hašek, Josef Lada, Franta Sauer, Gustav R. Opočenský, Emil Artur Longen a.o.

He had his first story published in Národní listy 26 June 1910. The story is called "People from the forest" and is set in the state of Washington. During the next two years he mainly wrote for Zlatá Praha, a picture and entertainment magazine in the publisher Otto portfolio. Most of the stories were based on his stay in the United States, particularly in Chicago.

Over the next few years his tales appeared in a number of publications, amongst them Venkov, Světozor, Šípy, Smích republiky, Humoristické listy, Besedy lidu, Právo lidu, and Kopřivy. His stories could also be read in Czech-American periodicals like Slavie, Pokrok západu, Svět and Dennice novověku. In the inter-war years selected stories were translated into German and printed by Prager Presse, probably the only translation of his work that exists. Most stories were later compiled and published as books.

In 1911 and 1913 he took part in the periodic k.k. Landwehr exercises but by now he was 32 years old and could thus say goodbye to compulsory military service (at least in times of peace).

Meeting Hašek


Kuděj relates that he met Hašek for the first time after returning from America, at Havelské náměstí and that the encounter was brief but cordial. They sat down for a drink at U Mrázků, and present were also Sauer, the actor Longen and poet Arne Laurin (real name Arnošt Lustig). They continued to Montmartre where he also recalls meeting sochař Štursa, Egon Erwin Kisch, Jan Morávek, Hájek a.o. “From that time I formed a firm friendship with Hašek”, Kuděj recalls in a document he wrote for Zdena Ančík some time after 1948.

In Russia, 1912

In 1912 he travelled to Kiev where he after a few days was arrested because he resembled the assassin of the police director of Tashkent. He allegedly spent 7 months in jail and was then expelled from Russia. His experiences are reflected in his book Hostem u baťušky cara (1914). The exact dates are not available, but the first story with a theme from Russia was published in Zlatá Praha on 20 December 1912. There is a period from May to November where none of his stories appear in the magazines he used to write for, so a seven month stay from May to December is plausible. Even the newspaper Pokrok západu (Omaha, Nebraska) printed one of his stories from Russia. This describes his transport back to the Austrian border after he had been been expelled.

Kuděj and Hašek, 1913

Český svět, 5.9.1913.

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).

They set off by train from Prague to Zbuzany, where they stayed only briefly. Onwards they didn't have time to buy a ticket, but still entered the train but ended up in a row with the conductor near Loděnice. From there they went on to Beroun where they stayed overnight, before continuing to Nový Jáchymov. Here the stay was longer, four full days. This is also where the famous picture with the two in ladies bathing custom is taken. The journey continued to Křivoklat and Rakovník where they founded the local branch of Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona. The next major stop was Zbiroh and U slunce where the two in the usual manner drank copious quantities of pivo despite being penniless. They were saved by bumping into František Kuděj, the author’s cousin, and it all turned out well.


U slunce, Zbiroh

© Václav Víšek

The trip onwards to Plzeň led via Rokycany, and on the way there had an encounter with an American couple and also local scouts. In the West Bohemian capital they had more time, and Kuděj even bought a tourist guide, in which the list of pubs was more important than the rest. Hašek knew an editor in the city who owed him money for some stories and after some back and forwards the editor turned up at U Salzmanů where the issue was settled in another drinking binge. They went back to Prague by train, obviously paid for by the editor. They stopped yet again in Zbiroh before getting back home, tired of travelling.

Radko Pytlík identifies the editor in Plzeň as Karel Pelant, but also concludes that the trip took place in 1912. In that case it must have been in May, otherwise it conflicts with the information that Kuděj stayed in Russia for 7 months and was back in December. Pelant is a character known from Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona and Hašek wrote him a letter in 1912 that he printed in his newspaper Směr. Pelant was also co-founder of Volná myšlenka and Kuděj mentions him directly in his memoirs.

The dates are difficult to establish, but the trip seem to have been in early summer. It can not have been before mid May as Jaroslav Hašek until then spent some time in Poděbrady. The duration of the trip is difficult to estimate, but 2 to 4 weeks seems a reasonable guess.

Farewell to Landwehr

"Again I became a soldier...".
letter to Pavel F. Malý, 29 August 1913



Pilsner Tagblatt, 26.8.1913.

The excursion must in any case have ended well before 27 August 1913 because Kuděj started his last ever Landwehr-exercise that day. He was back in Rokycany when he two days later wrote a letter to the painter Pavel F. Malý where he stated that "again I became a soldier".

Three days later his regiment was inspected by Landwehr-Oberkommandant Erzherzog Erzherzog Friedrich in Milevsko, taking part in the "Kaisermanövern" around Písek that year. It is altogether tempting to suggest that Kuděj's experiences from manévry might have inspired some of Švejk's anecdotes along the lines of "when I was on manoeuvres in ...". One such example can be found in [4.1] where Švejk told Oberleutnant Lukáš an anecdote about some archduke at the manoeuvres by Písek.

The author's own experiences was surely not the inspiration for the manoeuvre stories. Jaroslav Hašek never took part in army exercises as he was enlisted as late as 1914. Another part "model" for the Good Soldier, František Strašlipka, was simply to young to have taken part. That said, the author of The Good Soldier Švejk knew a lot of people who could have provided him with stories from manoeuvres. It is for instance unlikely that Kuděj's regiment ever took part in exercises in Velké Meziříčí, Veszprém and Osijek like Švejk's did.

Kuděj and Hašek, 1914

Světozor, 6.2.1914.

During the next winter Kuděj 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.

During spring/early summer of 1914 they again wandered off together, this time to Posázaví. Hašek even mentioned Kuděj in connection with this trip, in the story Český Baedeker (Humoristické listy, 3 July 1914). Radko Pytlík informs that they visited Kamenný přívoz, Ládví, Hrusice, Hoření Kostelec, Týnec, Hvězdonice, Kácov, Ledeč, Dolní Královice, and finally Kutná Hora.

The book also contains many amusing anecdotes about Jaroslav Hašek as editor of the animal magazine Svět zvířat and more detailed than in The Good Soldier Švejk. Kuděj notes in his memoirs that he "lost" Hašek in Kutná Hora and that he returned to Prague in the summer of 1914. At the time he worked in a factory and could afford to rent a flat in the street Na Rybníčku in Praha II..

To the draft-board in a wheelchair

Dobrý voják Švejk, 1930.

The sections covering the World War I is largely based on extracts from Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj's unpublished autobiography.

Kuděj was called up for the army immediately on outbreak of war. He was at the time staying with his mother in Příbram due to a severe fit of rheumatism. He still reported at the k.k. Landwehr barracks at Pohořelec but had to be manoeuvred up the hill in a wheelchair, pushed by his brother and sister. This scene undoubtedly served as inspiration for Švejk, and this is acknowledged as such by Miloš Doležal (2018) and Radko Pytlík in Toulavé House as early as 1971.

At the draft board Dr. Sojka[2] allowed him six weeks of leave for recuperation. He returned to Příbram, but after three months he had received no further call-ups and started to become uneasy; that people in this small town might wonder why a man in his best age wasn’t serving the Emperor at the front.


The barracks of LIR7, Plzeň


Pilsner Tagblatt, 27.5.1915.

He decided to go to Plzeň where he would be more anonymous and also hoped to meet someone who could discreetly investigate at his regiment why he hadn’t been called up. In the meantime the reserve battalion of his unit Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7 had been transferred to Rumburk[3], so that plan seemed doomed. In Plzeň only a registration office remained and here were employed almost exclusively “Germans or renegades”, so after three days he gave up and set off for Prague.

A living corpse from Serbia

Matěj Kuděj listed as fallen.

Verlustliste, 21.11.1914.

On the way to the station he however met an old acquaintance Mleziva who owed him a favour and they sat down in the pub U Spačku to discuss the matter. Mleziva was employed at the Ergänzungsbezirkskommando (Recruitment District Command) and promised to investigate the matter. After two days they met again at the same place and Mleziva could report that Kuděj, according to official documents, had fallen by Šabac in mid September 1914 and this explained why he hadn’t received the expected call-up!

The mix-up in the army files that Kuděj describes seems real enough. One-year volunteer Matěj Kuděj, serving in the same regiment, actually fell on 27 September 1914 in Serbia near Šabac. He was born in 1880 in Vyšíce, very close to where Zdeněk's father came from and may even have been a relative.

In the hinterland

Akademie, 3.1916.

The "living corpse" then set off for Prague where it stayed with friends (Opočenský a.o.), made sure he moved often, and officially registered in Smíchov. He was present when a group of friends took leave with Jaroslav Hašek who in February 1915 left for k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 in Budějovice. On 8 October 1915 he wrote a letter to Jaroslav Hašek, not knowing that the author of The Good Soldier Švejk had been captured two weeks earlier. In the winter of 1916 he received a letter from Jan Vaněk who informed him that the steadfast one year volunteer Jaroslav Hašek, decorated with a small silver medal for bravery, had been captured together with six companies.

That Kuděj was present when Jaroslav Hašek left for Budějovice in February doesn't fit time-wise. He was in his own words investigating why he hadn't been called only after k.k. Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7 had been transferred from Plzeň to Rumburk. This happened in May 1915. It is of course possible that he had been on a trip to Prague in February without mentioning it in his memoirs.

From 1915 to 1917 Kuděj published widely, not only stories for magazines, but also a collection of tales from the war Na frontě a doma (At home and at the Front), presumably based on stories he had heard from returning veterans. In his own words he benefited greatly from the lack of competition as many literates had been called up for duty. In 1917 he published the novel Mezí dvěma oceány (Between two oceans) about two friends and their experiences in America. The original version of the book also contains a rare photo of the author in uniform.

Belated call-up

© Michal Giacintov

The happy days would end though. The state police agent Eduard Kučera had picked up news about Kuděj having had an overnight visitor and the unfortunate host was subjected to a house search led by Mr. Klíma. In addition certain questions were asked and it was no longer possible to avoid the draft. His call-up seems to have occurred in early 1917 as inside the cover of the above-mentioned novel can be seen a picture of him in uniform, dated 20 March 1917.

Contraband in Rumburk

He was escorted to his mother unit, the 7. Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment. Again he was hit by rheumatism and thus avoided being sent to the front. He was assigned as a clerk to the regiment's reserve battalion in Rumburk. Another duty he had was escorting recruits to Prague and on these trips he did well from smuggling German-produced cigarettes (Rumburk is on the border in northern Bohemia). One of the trips ended badly and it turned out to be the last one. His Rusyn soldiers accepted some snacks from the good patriotic ladies of the Red Cross in Mladá Boleslav and suffered a fate similar to that of Kadett Biegler in Švejk. The whole contingent including Kuděj ended up in a three week quarantine at Pohořelec.

Good life in Beroun

After returning to Rumburk he was transferred to Beroun, a town he knew from his travel with Jaroslav Hašek 5 years earlier. This indicates that we are already in 1918. In Beroun he had a similarly good time. One of his friends was an expert on forging signatures and secured Kuděj several periods of leave in Prague. But again it ended badly as he was caught and locked up in the garrison prison at Hradčany, and here we find another parallel to Švejk. His release from the prison also happened in a manner that was very similar to Hašek’ novel. Kuděj was commanded back to his unit in Beroun and was to be escorted to the railway station by two senior soldiers. Like in Švejk they had a stop on the way, this time in Kavárna Union and it was a joyful encounter. They just about caught the last train to Beroun. The two soldiers were so drunk that Kuděj had to carry their rifles and sort out all the practicalities. Needless to say the arrest in Prague meant an end to the good times in Beroun.

K.u.k. Apostolisches Feldvikariat

Feldvikar Emmerich Bjelik visiting the front in 1916

© Bildarchiv Austria

Fortunately the officers in Beroun left it for senior lieutenant Jošt, a friend of Kuděj, to decide his fate. He was sent off to k.u.k Feldvikariat (the office of the Military Bishop) in Vienna, his task was to write death certificates. The next day he was off to the capital, travelling with corporal Gangelhuber who was also sent there to fill in “Totenscheine”. Their immediate supervisor was feldsuperiat Krepler, who raised little sympathy.

Otherwise he had a good time, living in comfortable private accommodation by Frau Kokal who he got on well with. He also met the Field Bishop[4] himself a few times and describe him in positive terms. The clerks had a easy life, enjoyed great freedom and were even allowed holidays (Kuděj visited his mother in Příbram). Kuděj also got on well with Feldkurat Krofler who needed help due to his poor English. He also has good things to say about Gangelhuber, despite him being German.

"Going mad"

Ranglisten der kaiserlich und königlichen Heeres ... 1918.

Feldoberkurat Bartholomäus Boross was however a different specimen. This "wannabe Hungarian” of Slovak origin was generally disliked both by his superiors and subordinates, and for Kuděj the ensuing conflict meant an end to his blissful life in Vienna. After an incident Boross swore at Kuděj and called him a “Czech swine”, causing the offended soldier to retaliate with similar words about “Slovak renegade”, and not only that: he physically attacked his superior who fled the office! Immediately realising what he’d done, and the possibly fatal consequences he decided to feign a nervous breakdown and ran straight to the army bishops office in a state of agony. It worked, the good-hearted field bishop and others took care of him and he didn’t have to face Boross again. In the end three doctors investigated him and he was let off the hook, sent back to Beroun, then to Rumburk and finally to Litoměřice where he was to appear before a medical commission, applying for 6 months leave from the army.

Back in Beroun and Rumburk

Kuděj was back in Rumbruk some time after the 21 May 1918 uprising

There is little indication to the dates and duration of his various stays in Rumburk, Beroun, Vienna, Beroun and finally Rumburk again. One historical event does however give an indication. Kuděj mentions the Rumburk rebellion where soldiers rose up due to hunger, non-payment of wages and bullying by officers. The uprising took place 21 May 1918 and the leaders were executed on the 29th. Kuděj must therefore have been back in Rumburk after this date. In Litoměřice a conversation reveals that his proposed leave would end in January, indicating he was there in July 1918. In Vienna he must have spent several months as he mentions that he had been on several holidays.

Superartbitration and illness

Dr. Josef Thomayer

Světozor, 21.3.1913.

In Litoměřice the doctor benevolently allowed Kuděj a full year of leave, based on the medical reports from Vienna and Beroun where he was described as a “neurotic of the highest degree”. He then set off for Prague where he stayed with Josef Lada and his first beer in freedom was enjoyed at U Brejšky. Thus ended his brief but colourful military career.

The next morning events took a dramatic turn. Kuděj woke up late, could hardly move or speak and Lada had to get a doctor and eventually an ambulance took the patient to hospital where he was looked after by dr. Thomayer (a famous Czech medical scientist who is also mentioned in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí). This time it was serious, and the illness resulted in a prolonged stay: from the day of St. Anne (25 July 1918) to the end of October. He was still in hospital when the Czechoslovak republic was declared 28 October 1918 but was soon after released.

Volunteer in Slovakia

In the euphoria after the declaration of the new republic, many writers volunteered for army service to help their “Slovak brothers” who were facing a military threat from Hungary. Kuděj was accepted in the new Czechoslovak army and set off for Slovakia via U Fleků and Union. The volunteers were given guard duties in Trenčiánské Teplice and led a relatively comfortable life. The bloodthirsty Hungarians never appeared, apart from a man who cooked for these brave Czech volunteers.

The Tourist Club and dr. Guth

How long the stay in Slovakia lasted is unclear, but it ended when Kuděj was contacted by dr. doctor Guth and offered the post as secretary of Klub Českých Turistů. Guth was Kuděj’s former teacher at the gymnasium and long term chairman of the club. This was according to some sources Kuděj's first permanent employment. How long he worked there is not clear, but eventually he resigned after a conflict with a female clerk who was annoyed with him because he had rejected her advances. His resignation was much to the dismay of Guth.


Kuděj's first visited Lipnice together with the painter Jaroslav Panuška

During the farewell trip with the tourist club to the area around Mnichovo Hradiště he met and became a friend of the painter malíř Panuška. This would have a major impact on his future life as the two set out on a trip to Vysočina, an area the painter knew well. During this trip Kuděj visited Lipnice for the first time. The trip took place before Jaroslav Hašek returned to Prague, surely in 1920. At Lipnice they met the teacher Mareš, a fervent follower of Volná myšlenka (Free thought). Mareš was later to give a speech at the funeral of Jaroslav Hašek, 5 January 1923. Needless to say they visited U Invaldů (Česká koruna), the inn that later would pay host to Jaroslav Hašek and where large parts of Švejk was written in 1921 and 1922. Kuděj dedicates no less than four chapters of his autobiography to his first stay at Lipnice.

A postcard from 19 April 1920 has been preserved so it may have been part of this trip as Vlašim is mentioned. Then on 20 May 1920 Kuděj wrote a postcards from what seem to have been a trip to western Slovakia and Trenčín. Strangely enough both postcards are from the caves by Mladeč west of Olomouc.

Between the Ministry of Defence and Tarzan


He was then called back to Prague and offered the post as co-editor of Armádní buletín, published by the ministry of defence(MNO). This took place at the time Klofáč resigned as defence secretary, so the date can be established: 25 May 1920. To get to his destinations he obviously had to refresh himself at several inns, amongst them U Fleků. That he was not a military expert didn’t matter, his main duty was to translate articles from English and American journals. He was very efficient, to the degree that he often needed to work for a mere two hours. Thus he would have had ample time to mix with intellectuals at places like U Petříků, Union and U Vejvodů.

During a vacation he visited Litomyšl, the place where he lived the last three years of his life and where he eventually found his grave. When returning to Prague he rented a room in Dejvice, from Mrs. Friedlová. From the end of the war he had been busy translating, and now came the time to create a Czech version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' “Tarzan”. The translation work was well paid, fifteen sheets were worth three times his monthly salary at MNO. Still he was in a dilemma whether to quit his post or not. At the time he met his eldest brother, who was three years older [Jan, born 1878]. His brother was “a well balanced person, physically and spiritually different from me”.

He did however translate Tarzan and remarked that “it wasn’t necessary to use the brain”. His work on Tarzan caused a certain fame, and one of his new followers from the countryside invited him to the brewery in Dolní Královice, a place he had visited with Hašek in 1914.


At the time he took another step, he married Božena Fibrigová, his landlady in Dejvice. The wedding took place at okreshejtmanství in Smíchov, in a ceremony led by the hejtman himself. No rings were involved as it was “a relic from barbarian times when women could be bought for a piece of gold”. The honeymoon trip went to Mnichovo Hradiště, Bakov nad Jizerou, Jičín, Sobotka, Kost and other places in Český raj (the Czech paradise). His mother was born in Bakov and here Kuděj spent his boyhood summer holidays. The trip lasted for 14 days, and even included a reunion with Karel Pelant, the editor that Kuděj and Hašek had met in Plzeň in 1913. With the honeymoon his autobiography ends.

Reunion with Hašek

Postcard from Lipnice 22.6.1922, also signed by Hašek



On hearing of Hašek's death. Mnichovo Hradiště, January 1923


Kuděj met the author of Švejk again in 1921 in Prague and also visited him at Lipnice a few times. Kuděj remembers a visit in June 1922 where the two thought up a title that would later decorate the first book about their travels together: “Ve dvou se to lépe táhne”.

He had spent Christmas 1922 with his friend Břetislav Hrdina in Mnichovo Hradiště, had contracted a cold that forced him to remain. When picking up again he went to a gathering in Hoškovice and here he heard of his friends death. He immediately set off for Lipnice and as the only one among Hašek's literary friends he attended the funeral. Of the others who travelled to attend the funeral he mentions Hašek's brother Bohuslav, son Richard and the journalist Michal Mareš.

Books about Hašek

Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj was one of the first to publish his reminiscences of his late friend. Already in 1924 the first of the two books Ve dvou se to lépe táhne was on the market, followed by part two the next year. The book almost exclusively concentrated on their trip in 1913. In 192ý he followed up with Ve dvou se to lépe tahne, ve třech hůře. This was also a travel tale, this time from their trip to Posásaví in 1914. In 1930 he published Když táhne silná čtyrka.

Later life

From 1927


During the inter-war years he published a number of books, amongst them three about his time together with Hašek. He translated from English into Czech, amongst them Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and as already mentioned: Tarzan.

In 1926 he moved to Vysočina and from then on he never returned to live in Prague. In 1931 he travelled to Ruthenia (now Ukraine, then part of Czechoslovakia) and his experiences there resulted in the novel Horálská republika (1932). This was the last ever novel he published during his lifetime, what has appeared since has been collections and re-edits published by others.

Most of the rest of his life he lived at Vysočina - at Ledeč nad Sázavou, Dolní město, Světla nad Sázavou, Radostovice, Humpolec and Polná. News about his round birthdays were printed in local newspapers. He continued to publish, in 1941 and 1942 he worked on the novel "Sid" that was never published in his lifetime.

Time line

Police registers, army files and passenger lists give us many dates from his younger years. After 1920 we are mainly left to rely on personal correspondence. The list also includes visits, for instance in Kochánov where malíř Panuška lived. In a few rare cases the dates can be deduced (e.g. the photo by U Brejšky). Only exact dates are included in this list.


Washington Post, 19.3.1906.


Letter to Jaroslav Hašek



Ledeč nad Sázavou, 31 March 1936

© Michal Giacintov


Postcard to Zdena Ančík


24 November 1881Hořice (birth)
20 September 1884Vinohrady
13 February 1888Prague (brother Václav died)
22 September 1888Vinohrady
25 August 1889Vinohrady
23 August 1890Vinohrady
29 May 1893Vinohrady
21 August 1895Vinohrady
23 November 1896Vinohrady
14 April 1902Plzeň (?) (k.k. Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7)
1 October 1902Plzeň (LIR7)
6 October 1902Cheb (LIR6)
11 May 1904Plzeň (LIR7)
13 August 1905Plzeň (?)(LIR7)
17 March 1906Cuxhaven (dep. Graf Waldersee)
18 March 1906Dover (port)
18 March 1906Boulogne (port)
19 March 1906The Lizard (passed)
28 March 1906Sandy Hook (passed)
28 March 1906New York (arr. Graf Waldersee)
29 March 1906New York (immigration)
9 August 1909Rokycany (?) (LIR7)
19 August 1911Rokycany (?) (LIR7)
29 August 1913Rokycany (LIR7)
5 December 1913Prague
17 January 1914Prague, U Brejšky (photo)
8 October 1915Prague, (letter to Hašek)
20 March 1917Rumburk (?) (photo)
25 July 1918Praha
19 April 1920Vlášim
20 May 1920Trenčín
14 June 1921Lipnice
22 June 1922Lipnice
14 September 1921Dejvice 348
22 December 1925Dejvice 348
26 August 1927Kochánov (malíř Panuška)
13 April 1931Jasina (Ruthenia)
31 March 1936Ledeč
1 May 1940Radostovice
1 January 1944Radostovice
10 January 1946Humpolec
18 March 1946Humpolec
12 April 1949Ledeč
31 July 1950Ledeč
10 September 1950Humpolec (hospital)
18 September 1950Humpolec (hospital)
14 January 1951Polná
12 March 1952Polná
28 April 1952Ledeč
14 July 1952Litomyšl
16 September 1952Praha
9 October 1952Litomyšl
23 December 1954Litomyšl
8 August 1955Litomyšl (death)

Litomyšl and the end

With Anna Soukupová, Litomyšl, July 1947.

© Regionální muzeum v Litomyšli

In 1952 he moved to Litomyšl a town he knew well from many visits and where he had many friends. Being hit by pneumonia after an operation he died in the local hospital on 8 August 1955, at the age of 73. His grave is kept and can be found at the city cemetery.

Since his death most of his writing has been collected and re-published, the latest being Neklidný zadek mě pálí, edited by Miloš Doležal (2018). This book contains parts of the mentioned unpublished autobiography and also part of an unpublished essay on Jaroslav Hašek that he wrote for Haškologist and culture apparatchik Zdena Ančík.

In his later years Kuděj handed over some material, including his autobiography and notes about Hašek to Ančík. Some of the correspondence between the two has also been preserved.

Kuděj reflected in Švejk

Švejk and Kuděj both had to take care of their inebriated escort


Parallels to Švejk in Kuděj's notes

It is obvious 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 pushed to the draft board in a wheelchair because of rheumatism, exactly what happened to Kuděj in 1914.

His service with the military clergy during the later stages of the war may well have provided Hašek with material for his field chaplains. Another detail that probably was borrowed from Kuděj is the fact that Švejk visited Bremen (Hamburg is not far).

Another striking parallel is the trip from Hradčany to feldkurát Feldkurat Katz. Kuděj describes a remarkably similar journey in his unpublished memoirs. He was escorted from the garrison prison at Hradčany to the railway station by two older soldiers who got drunk to the degree that Kuděj in the end had to assist them.

Some place names from his trips with Hašek in 1913 and 1914 also appear in The Good Soldier Švejk, a full overview has not yet been compiled.

Another hypothesis is that Kuděj’s claimed "dismissal from the army" may have inspired Hašek to assign a similar fate to his good soldier. Although we know today that the story is invented, Kuděj may well have told his own version to Hašek and others. The "superarbitration" theme appears in Švejk already in 1911 and by then the two writers knew each others. That does logically contradict the earlier mentioned possibility that some of Kuděj's stories from the in total four "Waffenübungen" he took part in eventually found their way into The Good Soldier Švejk. Or does it? Švejk himself was also superarbitrated but still took part in several manoeuvres, an apparent contradiction.

Gustav Janouch

From Gustav Janouch's book "Prager Begegnungen" (Leipzig, 1959)

Foreign language literature about Kuděj is virtually non-existent, the only known exception being Gustav Janouch’s[5] book Prager Begegnungen (Leipzig, 1959) where Kuděj features in one of the chapters. Janouch notes that he met Kuděj in May 1922, in café Rokoko. They bumped into each other several times after that, and the last meeting was in café Dalles in Liliova ulice in Staré město in 1928, next to the offices of Bohemia. Kuděj is described as melancholic and his mood was worse when he drank. Like Hašek he shows disregard for high culture and claims that in the bourgeois world it is all about money anyway. He briefly touches on his stay in America, and also mentions The Good Soldier Švejk. He gives Max Brod most of the credit for making Hašek's novel known abroad and laments that no-one propagated his own work in the way that Brod did for Jaroslav Hašek.

Kuděj’s legacy

Two recent books about Kuděj (2018, 2017)

Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj never got close to achieving the fame of Jaroslav Hašek and remains a rather obscure writer, practically unknown outside his homeland. Apart from a few stories that appeared in Prager Presse none of his work seems to have been translated. Still his books were re-published as late as the 1980’s and from time to time media articles and radio programmes about him appear.

In 2004 a doctoral thesis on “Travelling themes in Kuděj’s writing” was published by Kateřina Křenová, at Charles University. In recent years two new publications centred on Kuděj have appeared: the already mentioned “Neklidný zadek mě pálí” (2018) and the novel “Kuděj aneb Krása kuráže” by František Všetička (2017).


The only pub in the world dedicated to the author: "U Kuděje" in Olomouc

Another legacy is the "fact" that Kuděj spent six years in America when he was actually there for three years. Similarly the story about him being dismissed from the army during his first time service still persists, more than 100 years on. Why did he lie about these parts of his live? Perhaps only psychologists can give an answer, otherwise we're left with conspiracy theories.

Outside literary circles his memory is kept alive by a group of enthusiasts (Memoriál Matěje Kuděje). They have since 1993 have arranged a pub-crawl in Prague, wearing uniforms. Each summer they also (loosely) undertake excursions in Kuděj’s footsteps in the Czech countryside. This society has strong links to similarly loosely organised groups who keep the memory of Jaroslav Hašek alive.

Also connected is U Kuděje, a popular pub in Olomouc. It is the only pub on the planet dedicated to the Kuděj, and every November the author’s birthday is celebrated here.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: Miloš Doležal, Kateřina Křenová, Michal Giacintov, Gert Kerschbaumer, VÚA, LA-PNP

1. The ship had three passenger classes: 1st cabin, 2nd cabin and 3rd class. Kuděj travelled 2nd cabin.
2. Antonín Sojka, a regiment doctor at Prague's Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 8, garrisoned at Pohořelec.
3. During the first half of 1915 most Czech regiments were moved away from their home area, a measure by the military authorities to prevent soldiers from mixing with the increasingly discontent population. They were in most cases swapped with more loyal Hungarian or German regiments. On 25 May 1915 Rumburger Zeitung reported the recent arrival of the replacement battalion of Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr. 7 in Rumburk.
4. Emmerich Bjelik, 1860-1927, was the last ever head of Apostolisches Feldvikariat, the highest authority in the Austro-Hungarian Roman-Catholic military clergy. He was of Slovak origin and served as Feldvikar from 1911 to 1918.
5. Gustav Janouch was a Czech musician and author who is best known for his somewhat controversial book Converstions with Kafka, but who also wrote a valuable biography on Jaroslav Hašek (in German).


Lacina, Ludvík Jakub
*Nedakonice 25.7.1868 - †Valašské Meziříčí 15.7.1928
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Václav Petera.


Birth and baptism record

Ludvík Lacina was a Roman-Catholic priest from Moravia who served in k.u.k. Heer as a regular army chaplain from 1906 to 1918. Due to the fact that he from 1912 to 1916 was assigned to 7. Kavalleriedivision and moreover was the only military cleric with this surname in Austria-Hungary, there is no doubt that he was the model for the literary Feldoberkurat Feldoberkurat Lacina. He was identified as Hašek's feldkurát in an obituary printed in Národní listy in 1928.

Early life

Son of the teacher Ludvík Lacina and Emilia he was born in 1868 in Nedakonice, okres Uherské Hradiště in Moravia, his right of domicile was Nedakonice. In 1877 his father took up a position as teacher in Nový Hrozenkov on the Slovakian border and in 1881 he became head teacher in Lešná by Valašské Meziříčí, a position he held until 1902. His son Ludvík must therefore have lived at all these places before moving to Olomouc to embark on his clerical education. Eventually Feldoberkurat Lacina Sr. moved the short way Krásná nad Bečvou (now part of Valašské Meziříčí) where he continued as head teacher and also was elected mayor.

Civilian career

© ÖStA

Ludvík Lacina studied at the Czech gymnasium in Valašské Meziříčí where he graduated in 1887, then theology in Olomouc and Gorizia (Görz). He was drafted into the armed forces in 1888, but details about his compulsory service in k.u.k. Heer are missing. He is however listed as a reserve field chaplain in 1899. He was ordained priest in Gorizia 18 April 1892. For the next two years he worked as chaplain at the parish in nearby Šempeter pri Gorici (St. Peter bei Görz).


Wien Städtisches Jahrbuch, 1896


Lehmanns Wohnungsanzeiger, 1907

In 1894 he moved to Vienna and appears in the address book from 1897 under the name Ljudevik Lacina, title Priester. He lived in Wiedner Hauptstrasse 82, IV. Bezirk. In Wiener Kommunal-Kalender und städtisches Jahrbuch (Vienna Municipal Calendar and City Yearbook) from 1896 he is entered as a teacher of Catholic religion at a primary school in Leopold Ernstgasse 37.

Ludvík Lacina worked as a teacher until 1906, the year he joined the army as a regular field chaplain. The city yearbooks reveal that the taught both boys and girls (these were gender segregated schools) but often changed schools. He is listed at no less than eight home addresses up to and including 1909. His address in 1906 year was Wurlitzer-gasse 9, XVI. Bezirk. He lived in at least three of the capital's districts during his 14 year stay in Vienna.

Cyclist and musician

Ostdeutsche Rundschau, 6.5.1900

In the cultural sphere he was very active, particularly in music where he excelled as a singer, and also played the piano and accordion. As a student at Musikschule Kaiser in 1900 and 1901 he passed the Staatsprüfung (state exam) in singing, piano- and organ-playing.


Reichspost, 3.12.1899

Ludvík Lacina was also an active cyclist and newspapers record that he to great acclaim played the piano at the gatherings of the Christian Cyclists Association.

In December 1899 the cyclist and cleric Lacina hit the headlines. Sitting with a group of other cyclists in Tiroler Weinstube on 11 July 1899 they overheard a railway employee describing the Social-Clerical Party as a "Saubande" (pack of swine) and added other derogatory terms. Lacina and his group objected and a heated argument erupted, indeed so heated that the belligerents ended at Polizeikommisoriat, and eventually in court. Lacina sued based on a claim that the harsh words were in insult to the entire Catholic clergy, but the defendant Josef Wild claimed it was only aimed at the Clerical Party. The court in the end acquitted the accused railway man.

In k.u.k. Heer

Schematismus für das k.u.k. Heer und für die k.u.k. Kriegsmarine 1907


Našinec, 11.2.1913

On 1 November 1906 Lacina joined k.u.k. Heer as an active (i.e. professional) military cleric. The first two years he served with the Feldsuperiorat in Vienna as Feldkurat 2. Klasse, from January 1909 to February 1912 in Gorizia before he was transferred to Maribor. On 21 January 1913 he changed assignment again, now to 7. Kavalleriedivision in Kraków, the division that is mentioned by Hašek in The Good Soldier Švejk. With this division he served in the field from the outbreak of war. In 1915 he was decorated with Geistliche Verdienstkreuz zweiter Klasse am Weissroten Bande. In August 1916 he was transferred to K.u.k Mobiles Reserve-Spital Nr. 2/10, serving with the 2nd Army behind the lines on the Eastern Front.

Documents from the Czechoslovak army state that he during the war had served in Russian Poland, Galicia and finally 18 months in Albania. There are however no firms dates for these assignments.

More details will appear as soon as Feldoberkurat Lacina's personal files from Kriegsarhiv have been consulted.

Disciplinary record

One of the many warnings Lacina received from k.u.k. Feldvikariat in Vienna. The letter is dated 16 March 1910, at the time Lacina served in Görz (now Gorizia in Italy and Nova Gorcia in Slovenia).

© ÖStA

When he entered the army clergy Lacina had a spotless record, but this was soon to change. Several incidents are record during his 12 year army career, resulting in several written warnings. Lacina however defended himself quite eloquently and the measures taken against him never seem to have gone beyond reprimands and transfers.


Warned by military bishop Bjelik, 22 March 1911

© ÖStA


Testimony from the Capuchinian monastry in Gorizia

© ÖStA

The first recorded incident happened in March 1910 in Gorizia when Lacina allegedly charged the widow of an officer 6 crowns for her late husband's funeral and adjoining holy mass. k.u.k. Feldvikariat in Vienna issued a strong-worded reaction where the field chaplain was told that "he, despite previous warnings, didn't seem to have bettered himself". He was berated for his "filthy greed" and "unusual laziness and indolence", and the Feldvikar (Roman-Catholic military bishop) had "lost every remaining trust in him (Lacina) that he ever had". Expulsion from k.u.k. Militärseelsorge loomed, but in the end he was shown mercy and allowed to continue. It will have helped that fellow officers put in a good word for him.

Less than a year later he was in trouble again. During a masquerade ball at Deutsche Schulverein in Gorizia on 21 January 1911 Lacina was present and he was soon after accused of behaviour that was incompatible with that expected of a military cleric. Reportedly he was involved in some joke with an officer dressed as a lady, and this was deemed inappropriate. More gravely he was accused of letting a lady sleep over at his flat. These incidents caused gossip and consternation in the city, and reflected badly on the military clergy as a whole. Again fellow officers backed him, but a few months later he received a stern warning from military bishop Bjelik. He was offered to voluntarily resign within 6 months, and if anything untoward happened during this period he would be dismissed.

He was even ordered to report at a monastery for eight days to undergo geistliche Exercisien (spiritual retreats). In a letter dated 22 April 1911 he informed his superior in Vienna that he underwent spiritual cleansing at Kapuzinerkloster in Gorizia, and the attached a testimony from the monastery (written in Latin) confirms that this took place from 8 to 15 April.

The incident at the masquerade ball is almost certainly the reason for his transfer from Gorizia to Maribor. This seems to have taken place in February 1912.

During the war

Wiener Zeitung, 25.12.1915

When the war broke out he was still with 7. Kavalleriedivision in Kraków, he served with this unit at the front in Poland and Galicia from 1 August 1914 to 14 August 1916. In 1915 he was decorated but in 1916 the division requested that he be transferred to a less demanding post as he "was not up to the tasks demanded by a cavalry division".


© ÖStA

He was thus in August 1916 transferred to Mobile Reservespital Nr. 2/10 (the 10th mobile reserve hospital of the 2nd army), but before that he had been proposed for promotion by the 7th cavalry division. The attempted promotion was so-called Aussertourlich (out of turn) as 29 priests were ahead of him in the queue for promotion. Military bishop Emmerich Bjelik therefore rejected the application, not only for this reason but also due to the field chaplain's relatively short time of service (10 years) and his poor disciplinary record.


© ÖStA

The rejection led to another incident and this time the bishop was on the receiving end himself. Lacina turned up in the bishop's office on 18 October 1916 to enquire about the promotion. When told the verdict he lost his temper and lashed out at his superior, accusing Bjelik of persecuting him and wished that the Mother of God punish him. The bishop was in the end pretty lenient: he reported the incident to k.u.k. Kriegsministerium but asked that the punishment be no more a stern warning.

Miha Šimac has during his research recorded Bjelik's 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.

Feldkurat Lacina – Disziplinärwidriges Genehmen

© ÖStA


© ÖStA

Der Feldkurat Ludwig Feldoberkurat 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. A-Kmdos 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 verstorbenen Weihbischof Marschall geschehen, 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.

Bjelik, Bischof, Apostolischer Feldvikar


Inspcection and neglected patients.

© ÖStA

Throughout the rest of 1916 and 1917 Lacina continued in the mobile reserve hospital and again there were controversies. During an inspection on 4 December 1916 by Feldsuperior Várady a number of wounded soldiers at the hospital complained that they had not received Holy Communion from the field chaplain for eight weeks.

In September 1917 he was also accused of having arranged illicit collection of money from the hospital's patients. Ludvík Lacina energetically refuted the accusations and requested that the case be investigated by the military judiciary. On 7 October 1917 XIX. Korpskommando concluded that he indeed had committed a transgression but had not violated the letter of the law. The case was thus left for the Feldsuperiorat to decide. The latest recorded correspondence regarding the matter is dated 16 December 1917 and the outcome is unclear.


Locating Lacina's unit: Albania 1917

© ÖStA

One of the documents suggests that the reserve hospital was located in the cavalry barracks of Kamionka Strumiłowa in 1916 and this makes sense as the 2nd army operating in eastern Galicia at the time. His documents from the Czechoslovak army claim that he served for 18 months in Albania, and the correspondence regarding the money collection case shows the location of Feldsuperiorat as Skutari (now Shkodër). It thus appears that the mobile reserve hospital was transported to Albania in early 1917.

His whereabouts during 1918 are not known, apart from the fact that he was back in his native Moravia by the time Austria-Hungary collapsed and that he on 14 August 1918 had arrived in the spa town of Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), registered with permanent address Krasna.

In the Czechoslovak Army


When Czechoslovak independence was declared 28 October 1918 he was stationed in Hranice na Moravě and immediately joined the army of the newly formed state where he remained as an active military cleric for another three years. In the Czechoslovak Army his record is spotless and the army documents do not mention any of the disciplinary issues from his time k.u.k. Heer.

On 3 May 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 reported ill and was hospitalised in Pardubice and Prague. He was eventually superarbitrated on 26 August 1921 and retired on 27 September 1921. The reasons for his illness and early retirement are not yet known. Ludvík Lacina died in his native Moravia at the age of 60 and is buried in Valašské Meziříčí.

Meeting Hašek before the war?

Radko Pytlik, 1983


Radko Pytlik, 2003

The fact that Jaroslav Hašek knew exactly what unit Ludvík Lacina served with indicates that the two met in person at some stage. According to Radko Pytlík and his book Kniha o Švejkovi p.146, Hašek met Lacina on one of his wanderings 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 the two could have met is however not clear 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 has the information from, but he mentions the first name Ludvík and the geographical affinity to Valašské Meziříčí so the source appears reliable enough. In his book Osudy a cesty Josefa Švejka (2003) Pytlík elaborates on the theme and suggests that the two met already when Hašek was editor of Svět zvířat (1909-1910)[a]. Pytlík also adds that Ludvík Lacina was a frequent guest in bars and coffee houses.


Neue Freie Presse, 12.1.1913

Given the fact that Hašek knew what unit the field chaplain served with, any meeting between the two is unlikely to have happened before January 1913 when Ludvík Lacina was transferred to 7. Kavalleriedivision in Kraków. In the summers of 1913 and 1914 Jaroslav Hašek together with Zdeněk Matěj Kuděj undertook two major trips, both in Bohemia, i.e. in areas where Lacina would not typically spend time. Kuděj later described both journeys in detail and never mentioned any field chaplain. In the autumn of 1914 Hašek spent some time around Jaroměř but it seems unlikely that Lacina at the time ventured in this area. He had after all just been called up for front duty.

Meeting Hašek in 1915?

From the book "O Szwejku i o nas" (2002)

© Antoni Kroh

That the two met during the war is also possible, and if so it is likely to have happened when the field chaplain was on leave, a hypothesis supported by the fact that the literary Feldoberkurat Lacina turned up at the railway station in Budějovice in a hard hat, indicating that he was off duty. Could he have been visiting someone in the city around 1 June 1915 when EB91 departed for BAL? That the two met in the field later that year is unlikely as 7. Kavalleriedivision didn't operate in the same areas as k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91.

Polish translator of The Good Soldier Švejk, Antoni Kroh, claims that Hašek met Ludvík Lacina on the way to the front in Galicia, but does not reveal the source of this information.

Pardubice 1920?

Lacina served in Pardubice when Hašek was there.


A more tangible link 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 December 1921 Ludvík Lacina served with the local garrison in the 2nd reserve hospital, now of course as a Czechoslovak officer.

Interestingly enough he had by now advanced to chief field chaplain, exactly the rank Jaroslav Hašek assigned to him in the novel. This may however not mean much as the author quite liberally juggled ranks (this was the case also with Feldoberkurat Ibl).

Another caricature?

Národní listy, 20.7.1928

It's open to speculation whether the grotesque traits that Jaroslav Hašek assigns to the chief field chaplain has any root in reality. Two of the field chaplains that take part in the plot are obvious caricatures without any obvious model from real life (Feldkurat Katz and Feldkurat Martinec), one does share a name with a real field chaplain (Feldoberkurat Ibl) but not much else. Feldoberkurat Lacina therefore remains the only field chaplain with some firm connection to a real person. The personal traits and situations that Hašek assigns to his Feldoberkurat travelling with Švejk and Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek are obvious caricatures, but there is no doubt that Ludvík Lacina was a loose cannon in Militärseelsorge, and, although not officially recorded, it is quite possible that his excesses also included drunkenness and gluttony.


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.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: Miha Šimac, Václav Petera, Jaroslav Šerák, Radko Pytlík, VÚA, ÖStA


aOsudy a cesty Josefa ŠvejkaRadko Pytlík2003
Lukas, Rudolf
*11.10.1886 Nagyvárad (Oradea) - †22.2.1938 Praha
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Rudolf Lukas as k.u.k. Hauptmann in 1918

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

Rudolf Lukas was Jaroslav Hašek's superior in k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 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 Oberleutnant 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.


Lukas was born in 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 the family 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 one year. On 18 August 1909 he joined IR 91, 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 1911 until 1 September 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-Freiwilligenschule before returning to the front in Serbia on 14 December 1914. During this month IR 91 suffered disastrous losses, three entire companies were captured by the Serbs. Lukas remained with the field unit 13 March 1915 when he reported ill. Thus he took part in the regiment's transfer to the Carpathians in early February and the heavy battles in Východní 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 IR 91 at the decoration by IR 91/11th company.

© ÖStA


Signatures (photo above): : Kiehswetter (, Sagner (, Müller (lt.), Lukas (, 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 IR 91/12th march battalion. This is also the date when EB91 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 led 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. IR 91 reached the area by Dubno by 8 September but were forced to withdraw on the 18th. In the early hours of 24 September 1915 parts of IR 91, 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 IR 91 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 June 1916, his last day ever at the front. From 1 September 1916 until 31 July 1917 he was posted in Vienna and then at EB91 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 IR 91.

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 IR 91

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 IR 91, 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 and was eventually accepted by the new state's army after having been through the compulsory 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 World War II 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 Oberleutnant 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 The Good Soldier Švejk; including Radko Pytlík, Cecil Parrott, and Gustav Janouch. 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 Oberleutnant Lukáš. In the Literature Archive at Strahov (LA-PNP) there are some unpublished accounts about him, collected by Haškologist Zdena Ančík.

False information

Regarding prototypes of characters from the novel there is a lot of false, outdated or unconfirmed information floating around, be it in books, newspaper articles or on the Internet. This is also the case with Rudolf Lukas, and the following claims have been disproved:

  • He changed his surname to Oberleutnant Lukáš after the war (Czechoslovak Army files use Lukas).
  • He commanded the 11th March Company (such a unit never existed).
  • He married the sister of Hans Bigler (he married Anna Bauer in 1918).

Moreover there is some unconfirmed information/hearsay in circulation: that he was a womaniser, that he dated some Anna Wendler in 1915 (see Katy Wendler). Nearly improbable is the claim by Jan Mikolášek (via Jan Berwid-Buquoy) that Hašek met Rudolf Lukas in 1920 when the soldier Mikolášek served under Lukas and thus became the inspiration for Major Wenzl's servant Offiziersdiener Mikulášek due to an episode similar to that of the novel. Hašek only arrived in Prague on 19 December 1920, not leaving much time for any meeting that year. Lukas stayed in Prague from 2 November 1920 to 27 April 1921 so a meeting can't be entirely ruled out, but it is striking that no other biographer mentions Mikolášek nor any meeting between Hašek and his former superior. Although there is no doubt Mikolášek lived (JBB, Pejčoch) the story is extremely far fecthed, and it is tempting to suggest that Mikolášek was amongst those who attempted to attach themselves to a celebrity.

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 IR 91 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 described in the novel. Staff Captain Rudolf Lukas himself was present at the meeting and so was 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 IR 91 society from Budějovice it is from 2016 onwards being maintained.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesVÚA, ÖStA, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Kejla, Wolfgang Gruber, Milan Hodík, Ivo Pejčoch, Jan Ciglbauer


Mašek, Hynek
*4.9.1882 Troja - †20.6.1909 Studenec
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Agent provocateur Mašek: Alexander Osipovič and/or Hynek?


Hynek Mašek may well have been the main inspiration for Hašek's literary undercover police detective detective Bretschneider. He was a notorious thief, adventurer, fraudster, and agent provocateur, from time to time working for Staatspolizei. Hašek knew him and even had one or two encounters with him around 1907. In 1916 Hašek wrote a very detailed story about a man he presumed to be the same person, a certain Alexander Osipovič Mašek. The latter was eventually shot when the Legions hastily withdrew from Ukraine in February 1918.

In hindsight it is not obvious that Hynek and Alexander were the same persons, although both no doubt were questionable characters and shared some characteristics. Could detective Bretschneider's tragic fate, being eaten by his own dogs, refer to Alexander Mašek's death?

Hynek Mašek is also mentioned in Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona but here his first name is not used. According to Hašek the party was founded "at the time when the agent provocateur Mašek appeared as the Italian anarchist "Pietro Perri" in the offices of Komuna, having fled from Sevastopol in Russia".

Birth and background

Ř.K. fárnost Bohnice, birth record.

Whether the same person or not, let's start with Hynek Mašek. Not much is known about his early years. He was born in Troja (now a suburb of Prague) 4 September 1882, son of Václav Mašek and Anna (neé Valterová). His father hailed from Kamberk by Tábor, and this is reflected reflected in news stories that appeared many years later.

A juvenile delinquent

Národní listy, 19.6.1904.

Details from the first 22 years of his life can be drawn from newspaper reports that appeared between 1904 and 1909. Some of it is through his own admissions to the police, and reveal an extremely chequered existence. How much one should believe such a notorious hoaxer is debatable, but we have few other sources available. The picture that emerges from the news items is roughly the following: in 1897 he was convicted after taking part in street riots and in 1899 he was caught for fraud and theft, and banned for life from staying in the Prague police district. Presumably he was too young to be given a prison term, or at least no such sentence is mentioned. At some stage he stole a bike in Královéhradecko and from the profit of the sale he went abroad and joined the French Foreign Legion in Algeria.

Foreign Legion

Národní listy, 18.6.1905.

Newspapers reported that the kept a book with notes about his stay in Algeria but there is nothing to indicate when he went there and when he left. He told the police that he was caught stealing from fellow soldiers and was about to be punished when he managed to escape. Another account has that his unit was transferred to another country via the Suez canal and there he jumped ship, shots were fired at him, but he escaped. Fearing the French authorities[1] he got onto a train as a stowaway and arrived safely in a British colony in Africa. From here he returned home via England, and appeared in Prague in 1904 where he surfaced as the "French student" Victor Chatany.

French student

Prager Tagblatt, 19.6.1904.

From 1904 onwards newspapers started to take notice of the young adventurer. Back in Prague he pretended to be a pure-bred French student named Victor Chatany. He frequented franchophile circles, with the aim of luring money from his various victims. He was elegantly dressed, wore a French tricolour, boasted that he studied at the oriental academy in Paris, and also happened to mention that he was short of money. Several prominent citizens were tricked, amongst them Sokol chairman Scheiner. Two ladies from Roztoky also fell in his trap, but in the end the police found out and he was arrested on 18 June 1904. His identity was revealed by using fingerprints and photos, and it turned out that the "French student" was identical to Hynek Mašek who had been arrested and tried during street riots in 1897. Initially he claimed to be Vítěslav Mašek and pleaded innocent. He was taken to court at Zemský trestní soud on the 19th, and he was handed a six month sentence.

Deceiving school children

Čech, 27.7.1905.

On 27 July 1905 Čech and Národní listy printed stories that revealed more about his background. It appears that he was a mechanic from Troja, and was 22 years old with a colourful past, and again his stay in the Foreign Legion is mentioned. In 1904 he had been in Prague but had gone to Trieste from where he returned after two months. In April and May 1905 he committed repeated thefts by deception, and he even robbed school children! He was arrested on 17 June and was sentenced to 18 months in gaol.

Agent Provocateur "Pietro Perri"

Čas, 12.1.1909.


Ladislav Knotek had an encounter with "Pietro Perri" on 30 Desember 1906, and wrote about him in České Slovo.

Historický spolek Zádruha,z.s..

Given this 18 months prison term from June 1905, he appears to have kept out of the limelight. But almost exactly one and a half year later he appeared at the offices of the anarchist newspaper Nová Omladina on 30 December 1906. Here he claimed to be an Italian anarchist Pietro Perri who had escaped from Russia via Berlin. He spoke French, German and English. The anarchists didn't put trust in this story so he choose to disappear.

The information about "Pietro Perri" and the Anarchist movement is mainly drawn from an article by Nová Omladina editor Ladislav Knotek (1884-1957). It appeared in České Slovo 12 January 1909 (partly reproduced in Čas, Pozor, Prager Tagblatt the same day). Knotek was scathing about Hynek Mašek as a person (of low moral substance) but also when describing his talents as an infiltrator. His lies and fabricated stories were stupid and easy to see through and he didn't even manage to keep his cover stories consistent. Knotek thus didn't regard him a major threat.

His identity thus revealed, Hynek Mašek moved to North Bohemia, and in an attempt to incriminate anarchist miners, he provided them with instructions for making bombs. On 27 June 1907 he was arrested after it was revealed that he had tried to cheat ladies tailor's and fashion designers. He had pretended to be half French, half American and was handed over to Policejní ředitelství again and identified as Ignaz Maschek aus Kemberg bei Tabor.

In May 1908 he was again caught after committing some common crime, and put on trial in Litoměřice under his real name. For the rest of 1908 his whereabouts are unknown.

Klofáč's reveleations

Prager Tagblatt, 9.1.1909.

On 9 January 1909 the name Hynek Mašek reached notorious fame after České Slovo printed a sensational story on its front page. During the next few days his name was known all over Cisleithanian. Already the same evening Prager Tagblatt decorated its front page with the case, calling it a "sentimental spy story". The author of the story was Klofáč, chairman of Česká strana národně sociální. He claimed that the state police via Mašek had fabricated compromising evidence against the party. When the case hit the headlines, more information about Mašek was revealed in the newspapers, mainly about his activities from 1906 until 1908.


Lidové noviny, 21.2.1909.

On 19 February 1909 Hynek Mašek was allegedly recognised by members of the public and beaten with sticks. This happened late at night in Hybernská ulice, but he managed to escape to his nearby flat. He was then taken to hospital, but now using the name Robert Herzog. He was reportedly seriously ill, and his hospitalization at first sight didn't seem to be connected to the assault. Still from the hospital "Herzog" contacted two editors from the press of Česká strana národně sociální, revealing that he had some important news for them. During the Šviha affair in 1914, the editors, Emil Špatný and Karel Půlpán, revealed that they had indeed visited "Herzog", who was then very ill, but nothing came out of it. The next time they went to see him at the hospital he had disappeared.

Debated in Parliament

Abgeordnetenhaus, 10.3.1909.

Klofáč took the case to Reichsrat where it was filed on 10 March 1909 as a Dringlichkeitsantrag (Urgent plea). The plea had 22 signatories and was accepted for debate the next day. The K.k. Regierung (government of Cisleithanien) was urged to put an end to the shameful activities of agent provocateur Hynek Mašek, also known and Viktor Mašek.

The case was brought up on the 12th. Klofáč himself presented the it and after an introduction in Czech, he continued in German. He first spoke about the activities of the state police in Prague, seasoned with political demagoguery. Eventually he got to the point, and described the activities of Hynek Mašek in detail, based on his original article in České Slovo. Klofáč said that Mašek had been imprisoned no less than seven times. He also claimed that Mašek was paid by the head of the Prague state police, Viktor Chum, from a secret fund.


Guido Freiherr von Haerdtl, minister of the interior.


Klofáč's speak in Reichsrat was seasoned with nationalist, anti-German and pan-Slavic rhetoric, and the Austro-German press was singled out for particular criticism. He explicitly warned about provoking a conflict on the Balkans and said that the consequences of a bloody war would be economical ruin for Austria-Hungary and that it could even lead to the breakup of the empire[2]. Minister of the interior, Freiherr von Haerdtl[3], categorically rejected that any Hynek Mašek (or others) were used as agent provocateurs by the state police. He also claimed that the proofs that Klofáč sat on were not handed over when the state police wanted to investigate the matter. The debate that followed became more of a general discussion on the tense relation between Czechs and Germans, and Klofáč was supported by his party comrade Baxa, and the social democrat Němec. The case was however rejected with 182 votes against and 156 for (it would have needed a two third majority anyway).

Still there is little doubt that the allegations were based on reality. Klofáč provided detailed information about the spy's background but the Austrian authorities were obviously not willing to put spanners in the wheels of Staatspolizei, despite the claim that they used illegal methods.

Reported dead

Čas, 23.6.1909.

In June 1909 it was reported that Hynek Mašek had died in Jilemnice near Trutnov, and that the death cause was tuberculosis. Some newspapers carried short obituaries. Whereas most Czech publications accepted the fact that Mašek was an agent provocateur serving Staatspolizei, Prager Tagblatt and other German language publications classed him as no more than a common criminal with no proven link to the police. The Realist Party newspaper Čas landed in between and commented in their terse and realistic way: "we know that Mašek has a peculiar relationship with both the police and Česká strana národně sociální, but that's all there is to it".


Entry about Mašek's death in the church records.

News about his death were entered in the church books, and revealed that he actually had died in Studenec No. 180 on 15 June 1909, but that the body was brought to Jilemnice where he was recorded dead on the 20th, and buried on the 22nd. Significantly he is entered as tajný policista z Prahy (secret policeman from Prague) so he did indeed have "a strange relationship with the police" as Čas correctly pointed out! Only an investigation of the police archives could shed further light on the life, fate, and misdemeanours of this strange character named Hynek Mašek, alias Robert Herzog, Victor Chatany, Hrabě - acting as a French student, Italian anarchist, and surely in many other roles.

Rumoured "resurrection"

Naše snahy, 9.7.1909.

Still it didn't take long before rumours started to circulate that Hynek Mašek had risen from the dead. Several newspapers reported that he had been observed on the streets of Prague, and already on 9 July 1909 the national-social newspaper Naše snahy from Plzeň urged their readers to be alert and keep a photo of him, published in Mladé proudy, in mind. Some time later the paper reported a story about the body of Mašek had been transported from Studenec to Jlemnice on a dung chart but this story has not been confirmed.

In the steps of the state police in Prague

Jaroslav Hašek, Čechoslovan, 21.8.1916 (3.9).

The notorious fraudster Hynek Mašek now disappeared from the news, but in 1916 his name would appear again, in faraway Kiev, and under the first name Alexander. The person who first publicly claimed that Mašek had resurfaced in Russia was none other than Jaroslav Hašek. Still there remains doubt whether or not Hynek and Alexandr was/were the same person(s).


Editor Ladislav Knotek on "Pietro Perri", confirming some of the details from Hašek's story.

Čas, 12.1.1909.

The medium for Mašek's "resurrection" was a story by Jaroslav Hašek in Čechoslovan on 21 August 1916: Po stopách státní policie v Praze (In the steps of the state police in Prague). After a general introduction about various persons and their encounters with the state police, the story focused on the period Hašek contributed to the anarchists newspapers Nová Omladina and Chuďas, published by Knotek in Žižkov.

One day an "Italian Anarchist" Pietro Perri appeared in their offices, telling them he had escaped from Russia. He spoke poor Italian, claiming that he had forgotten much of his mother tongue after a long stay in Russia. Strangely enough he didn't even know Russian so he communicated with his hosts in bad German. Present were Hašek, Knotek[4], Rosenzweig-Moir[5], Kalina[6] and Opočenský[7]. When Hašek said "let's drag him into the bathroom and cut his throat", Pietro Perri turned pale and said he was feeling unsafe. In the end he was allowed to stay in the flat of Rosenzweig-Moir. After two days there he disappeared but only after having rummaged through his host's documents.

Two days later a young man with a bandaged head appeared in the offices. He claimed to be an anarchist who had been beaten up by German nationalists in North Bohemia and begged for help. The bandage was however far too perfect and the voice sounded familiar, so they tore his bandage off and in front of them stood "Pietro Perri"! After interrogation "according to the Spanish inquisition" he admitted that his name was Alexandr Mašek and that he was in the service of Staatspolizei, trying to plant instructions for bomb-making in their offices. The anarchists suspected on upcoming house search and destroyed all material that could compromise them. The house search duly took place but they came through unhurt and from then on the state police left them in peace.


J. Hašek, Čechoslovan, 21.8.1916 (3.9).

Hašek also states that Mašek was involved in the anti-militarist process and that the police spread the news that he was dead. Hašek finished the story like this: "Alexandr Hynek Mašek remained alive and is now in Russia where he was very interested in the Czech issue. I heard that he is locked up and that he might be hanged. If he is hanged I'll place this story on his grave".

Analysing Hašek's story

The story contains many of the details that appeared in the newspapers in 1909. The article by Ladislav Knotek in České Slovo in January confirms Hašek's assertion that "Pietro Perri's" appeared at Nová Omladina in Žižkov, and also that he was found out and then disappeared. Hašek also mentioned that Mašek was assaulted in Hybernská ulice. The details about Hynek Mašek's second appearance "two days later" in the editorial offices bear certain similarities with reports that Mašek had been to North Bohemia where he tried to plant bomb-making instructions in the hands of anarchist miners. In the story this attempt however takes place in Žižkov.

Hašek times the incident with Pietro Perri to the eve of a visit by Kaiser Franz Joseph I. to Prague, a schedule that included Žižkov. This fits fairly well with information from Knotek that "Perri" visited them on 30 December 1906. The emperor's visit duly took place from 15 April 1907 (it lasted for nine days) and the imperial visit would have been common knowledge at new year, so it is surely this visit Hašek had in mind. He also mentioned that the emperor knocked on the foundation stone of some new bridge, and he actually did so on the 16th. His majesty duly visited Žižkov on the 24th.

Faked death?

Although many details in Hašek story fits available information from newspapers, it is at odds with the reports on two important accounts. The first name Alexandr conflicts with information from pre-war newspapers and also the death certificate, and his given name was no doubt Hynek. Although he himself according to Hašek reported as "Alexandr" they also checked his identity at Policejní ředitelství. The name Alexandr Mašek is not mentioned at all in the numerous newspaper articles from 1904 to 1909. Here he was always Hynek/Ignaz or known under some cover name.

A more crucial discrepancy concerns the circumstances of his death. Not even the editor's of the Česká strana národně sociální press (who saw him in February 1909) seemed to suspect that the story about his death was fake: during questioning of witnesses during the Šviha[8] trial in 1914, they confirmed that he was very ill when they last saw him. The death record from Jilemnice is definitely real. If Staatspolizei really faked his death, they have been unusually attentive to detail. To plant stories in the press is an easy thing to do, but going to the length of issuing a fake Church record? Moreover the death record lists him as "secret policeman", which is very strange for a record allegedly faked by those who employed him. It is also odd that after repeatedly getting caught red-handed between 1904 and 1909, he now kept out of the news for the next seven years.

On the other hand it is odd that he suddenly disappeared from a hospital in Prague and ended up in the unlikely location of Studenec by Jilemnice. It should also be noted that rumours in the press that Hynek Mašek had been seen on the streets of Prague appeared only weeks after his reported death. Only an investigation of the Prague police archives could shed further light on the matter, perhaps also the files on anarchists and Česká strana národně sociální at ÖStA (Austrian State Archive).

Alexander Osipovič Mašek

Alexander Osipovič Mašek in a Russian uniform.



A.O. Mašek, a letter to Josef Gotfrid (Russian), 14 April 1917


On 23 April 1917 (6 May) Čechoslovan reported that the Austrian agent provocateur Alexandr Mašek had left the prison in Minsk, was wandering about in a Russian uniform and carried documents to testify that he was an Austrian prisoner of war. He was allegedly heading towards Turkestan. The newspaper warned that his unhindered movements may hurt the cause of the Czech revolution and that he might also be a spy. The readers were urged to report him to the authorities.

On 11 June 1917 (24 June) more information appeared in the newspaper. The news arrived from Tashkent that Mašek had been arrested, and more information appeared in the paper two weeks later. It reported that the suspect claimed he was working for the Russian secret police but had also served in a Czech regiment. He had turned up hungry, was wearing a dirty Russian uniform and tried to get involved with Czech prisoners of war.

The research of Břetislav Hůla

For more information we have to lean on the research of Břetislav Hůla. Not only did he collect and translate material related to A.O. Mašek (some of it in Russian), he also provided photos of him. Hůla focussed his research on material from VHA regarding Alexander, so he collected little material related to Hynek. The documents are still preserved at LA-PNP in Prague, and appear in the collection of Hůla himself as well as that of Zdena Ančík. They contain transcripts of the articles in Čechoslovan, translations of the correspondence from Alexander Osipovič Mašek and other related material. Here Mašek tells his own story, end also sent letters to Jaroslav Hašek and Čechoslovan's chief editor Venceslav Švihovský where he ask both them to leave him alone, and also threatened to sue them. Part of the material on Mašek was reprinted in Radko Pytlík's Toulavé house in 1971 but the chapter in question is left out in later editions.

The first dated item in Břetislav Hůla's collection is however from January 1916 when Alexander Osipovíč Mašek appeared at the Czech Petrograd newspaper Čechoslovák and asked editor Bohdan Pavlů to print a letter declaring that the Mašek who was involved in the pre-war "Omladina" process was a Russian spy and not an Austrian one. This rose suspicion, because the standard bearer of the Česká družina, Jaroslav Heyduk, had already written a letter to the Czech Union in Petrograd where he warned that Alexandr Osipovíč was identical to the mentioned detective from Prague. It is also stated that A.O. Mašek worked for the counter-espionage unit at the staff of the Russian 9th army. The investigations eventually led to Mašek's arrest on 21 August 1916, and he was subsequently detained and interrogated in Minsk. The information was sent to the Union of Czecshoslovak societies in Kiev and also contained a photo of the detained.


Jaroslav Heyduk was probably the first person ever who suspected that Hynek and Alexander Mašek were identical.

In a personal letter to the Union dated 1 May 1917 Mašek demanded that Čechoslovan editor Švihovský be taken to court, that what the paper wrote were pure inventions, and he even invited "whoever wrote the article in 1916" (i.e. Jaroslav Hašek) to a revolver duel! He also hinted that Švihovský was on good terms with Austrian spies and gave details about his contacts in Prague in 1908 and also claimed that there were eight Mašeks in the service of the Prague state police.

In several rambling accounts Alexander Osipovič gave details of his activities from 1908 onwards. For Okhrana[9] (the Russian secret police) he had operated in Prague, in Serbia and elsewhere on Balkans and was very well informed on the situation in Odessa. He gives information about a number of contacts in these places. He denied having fled from Minsk, rather he was released during a general amnesty after the Russian February Revolution.

The stories, whether from his pre-war activities as an undercover, or during the war, are every bit as fantastic as Hynek's adventures in Africa and elsewhere, many years earlier. It is difficult to decide what to make of it, but it is tempting to believe that most of the fantastic events only existed in A.O. Mašek's own imagination.

Earlier life

In Břetislav Hůla's files there is an undated and unsigned document that gives details on A.O. Mašek's activities until 1 April 1916. It seems to be based on interrogations of the suspect himself and is surely from 1916. Some of the content, mainly post 1908, is repeated in personal a letter to Josef Gotfrid, dated 3 June 1917. He asked that it be forwarded to the authorities it may concern. Certain details also appear in an undated letter to Jaroslav Heyduk, seemingly from 1916.


Details regarding place of birth, date etc.


Born in 1880 in Kiev, the family moved to Prague in 1886. He studied for 6 years at an academic gymnasium. Then he studied gardening at Troja. He was involved in the Omladina[10] movement in 1892 and knew some of the members. During his student years he was also introduced to Serbian students. In 1900 he left Prague for Kiev and then went to Caucasus where he worked as a gardener.

A.O. Mašek portrayed himself as an ardent Slavophile and anti-German, using every possible opportunity to fight for the Slav cause, rifle in hand. In 1903 he was called to Caribrod (now Dimitrovgrad) in Serbia, believing he was to assist in the Ilinden uprising[11] in Macedonia. Instead he was drawn into the coup against king Alexandar Obrenović[12], and during the action he claimed to have killed several Austrian agents and even a Serbian minister! Then he was off to Makedonia to assist the mentioned uprising. In 1904 he was back in Caucausus, fell ill, and also went to Kiev to present himself at the draft board at the Austrian Consulate. He was rejected so did no military service at all. From January 1905 he lived in Trieste where he got to know Czech police agents and presented himself as a Russian anarchist.

From Trieste he went on to Montenegro where he was poisoned with arsenic by some other spy but survived. He was advised to get out of Montenegro, but on the border he clashed with three Austrian agents and killed them all! Two of them were Czechs, the third a Serb. The Serb's head was "sent by mail to the victim's relatives and it weighed 10 kilos". Then there is a long white spot in his narrative but around 25 July 1907 it continues as he arrived in Sofia through Serbia! He lived there and in Plovdiv until 1 March 1908 and 20 March he arrived in Petrograd, and from 15 June in Uman.

In October 1908 he undertook a reconnaissance trip to Prague via Lwów in the guise of a Georgian nobleman. He arrived 6 days after the Jubilee Exihibition closed[13]. He also claimed that he met police president Křikava. The trip was short (20 days in total) and it is not clear what the results of the trip were. When he returned to Kiev he fell ill, but still undertook a shorter trip to Czernowitz, then in Austria. In 1909 and 1910 he lived in Turkey, Egypt and India for health reasons, and at his own expense.

In 1911 he was back in Russia, now in Tashkent, where he was granted Russian citizenship (this is confirmed by Gotfrid). He worked as a gardener until the outbreak of the Balkans wars when he again left for Serbia. His activities there are not known, but at outbreak of war he reported as a volunteer in Kamenec Podolski. He was rejected as an ordinary soldier, but allowed to work as a spy on enemy territory. Here he was arrested by Landwehr-regiment Nr. 66, pretended to be a Bulgarian trader and handed over to the Bulgarian consul in Budapest. When transported to Bulgaria he escaped to the Russian consul in Bucharest and thus got back to Kamenec Podolski. Here he contracted typhus and was ill for two months.

As soon has he was partly fit again he immediately volunteered for service. Assigned to the 1st Siberian Amur Border Regiment he was transferred to Kołomyja with them. Due to his knowledge of languages he was on 15 May 1915 transferred to the counter-intelligence unit of 9th Army in Tarnopol where he remained until September. During this assignment he wore an officer's uniform and interrogated many Czechs. Again he fell ill and on 13 September he left for Petrograd. After recovering he reported for service and wanted to join a Russian regiment but was instead assigned to the Czechoslovak reserves and in March 1916 he enrolled in the 9th company of the 1st Czechoslovak Regiment. Around 1 April 1916 he was arrested but didn't know why.

Gymnasium, Žitná ulice, 1896

Hašek and one Alexander Mašek were class mates.

A hitherto unsolved mystery is an Alexander Mašek from Kiev who was a fellow pupil of Jaroslav Hašek at the gymnasium in Žitná ulice in the 3rd school year (1895-96). Whether or not this person could have been the above-mentioned Alexander Osipovič is of course pure speculation but at least the name that Hašek used in his story from 1916 corresponds. Interesting is also that the alleged agent A.O. Mašek later claimed he was born in Kiev in 1880, in which case he would not have been in the 3rd year at the gymnasium.

Legion service record

A.O. Mašek's service record[14] is kept in the Czech Central Military Archive and states that he joined Družina[15] on 15 November 1915, it is noted that he was a suspect agent provocateur and was detained because of this. He was shot by the guard as he tried to desert. His place of birth is not entered and his birth date in an obvious error (24 February 1916). His date of leaving the Legions is given as 24 March 1918 (it should certainly read 24 February, the day he was killed).

Unbelievable stories

A.O. Mašek referring to a non-existing unit.


It is in general difficult to put much trust in A.O. Mašek's narrative. On one side it sounds much like a fantastic spy novel (or a series of them), and Hynek Mašek's is strikingly eager to emphasize his patriotism, his hatred of everything German and boasting of his great exploits in fighting for "the cause". It is therefore no surprise that he was viewed with suspicion from many quarters, and not only by Jaroslav Hašek. On top of this there are inconsistencies in the various accounts he gives; in the unsigned/undated notes above, in letters to Jaroslav Heyduk, Josef Gotfrid, Věnceslav Švihovský and Jaroslav Hašek. In this respect it's tempting to draw a parallel to Knotek's description of Mašek, who "was incapable of keeping his cover stories consistent". One example is how he presented his capture by Austro-Hungarian forces soon after the outbreak of war. His two alternative narratives contain many contradictions, and the units he refers to vary from one to the other. He even managed to mention Landwehr-Infanterieregiment Nr. 66, a non-existing unit in the Dual Monarchy's armed forces (it could have been in the German army though).

Few clear answers

Photos of both "candidates" exist...


We might never arrive at a the definite conclusion as to whether Hynek Mašek and A.O. Mašek were/was the same person(s). That said they had strikingly much in common, apart from the surname. Both had a very colourful and tumultuous background, both were capable of boasting the most fantastic exploits, both were unable to keep their stories consistent, and both were notorious hoaxers. Although the "Russian" Mašek was never tried and convicted, he was perceived as suspicious, and was arrested on at least three occasions during the war.


Hašek claimed that Mašek remained alive and was now in Russia where he took much interest in the Czech cause.

Čechoslovan, 21.8.1916.

Hašek's story in Čechoslovan no doubt made it more difficult for him, but the revelations in the story was not the sole reason for him being kept in custody. The suspicion that the two were identical persons had been raised already by January 1916, at a time when Hašek was languishing in the Totskoje prisoner camp. The news about Hynek's death in 1909 was greeted by scepticism already at the time. Two people or one? We have no hard evidence, but the fact remains that both were extremely lugubrious personalities, whoever they spied for...

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesJaroslav Šerák,Břetislav Hůla

1. Why he would need to get on a train to reach British colonial territory from Suez is a mystery. Egypt was after all a British mandate, though formally part of Turkey.
2. Klofáč's prophesies were tragically fulfilled five years later ...
3. Guido von Haerdtl (1859-1928), lawyer and minister of the interior of Austria from 1908 to 1911.
4. Ladislav Knotek (1884-1957), anarchist editor and publisher.
5. Josef Rosenzweig-Moir (1887-1944), anarchist writer.
6. Bedřich Kalina (1876-1950), anarchist politician and journalist.
7. Gustav Roger Opočenský (1881-1949), poet, one of Hašek's closest friends.
8. Karel Sviha (1877-1937), Czech lawyer and National-Social politician, member of parliament. In March 1914 it was claimed that he was a police informer. Šviha then sued Národní listy, the newspaper that first published the allegations. He was not able to prove his innocence and withdrew from politics.
9. Охрана (Okhrana): The Imperial Russian secret police, existing from 1881 to 1917.
10. Omladina: A radical youth movement whose leaders were put on trial in 1894.
11. Ilinden uprising: A Macedonian revolt against Ottoman rule, launched 2 August 1903.
12. Alexandar Obrenović: Serbian king killed during a coup in May 1903.
13. The Prague Jubilee Exhibition closed 18 October 1908.
14. As entered on the web page of VÚA (database of legionnaires), the actual document has not been studied.
15. A unit of mainly Czech volunteers serving in the Russian army from 1914 to 1916. Eventually they grew more numerous and became the cornerstone of the future Czechoslovak Legion. See České legie.


Michálek, Emanuél
*21.10.1885 Plzeň - †?
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Emanuél Michálek is frequently suggested as a possible model for Leutnant 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91'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 Leutnant 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 Leutnant Dub and Michálek, apart from their identical ranks and they both belonging to IR 91. Hašek and Emanuél 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 large Leutnant Dub's and Michálek’s biographical details differ. Michálek was a bank official whereas Dub was a schoolmaster. Emanuél Michálek lived in Vinohrady whereas Dub resided in Smíchov (at times Jaroslav 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 Legions in the summer of 1918, at a time when Jaroslav Hašek had already left. 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 Jaroslav Hašek is reported to have told teacher Jakl at Lipnice that the model for Leutnant 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 no officer called Kreibich in IR 91. Interestingly a Kreibich is mentioned in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí, but here he is assigned the role of servant of Fähnrich 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 Leutnant 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 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 Leutnant Dub has not been done by a renowned Hašek-expert, but by Karel Dub. He did a remarkably detailed investigation into the background of his namesake. Significantly he found that no-one with the name Dub served in IR 91 at the short time Jaroslav Hašek was there, contrary to what others (Jan Eybl) have claimed. In several interviews in his old age Eybl mentions a regimental doctor named Robert Dub who he claims served in the regiment at the same time as Hašek. Robert Dub was in fact regimental doctor from 5 October 1915, and we have a picture of him together with Franz Wenzel from 1 November 1915. The mystery is that he joined IR 91 after Hašek had been captured, so it is tempting to dismiss Eybl's version as fiction. On the other hand there is no doubt that Eybl knew Dub well, he mentions him many times in his diary.

Karel Dub suggests that Hašek borrowed the name Leutnant 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.

Hutzler was of the right age (born in 1880), he 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 the author's description of Leutnant 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 Emanuél Michálek appears to be the main prototype for Dub.

An entry in Verlustliste from April further underpins Karel Dub's conclusion. In March 1915 Hutzler was hospitalised in k.u.k. Reserve-Spital 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesKarel Dub, Jan Morávek, Radko Pytlík, Cecil Parrott


Morávek, Jan
*1.5.1888 Kamenný Přívoz - †14.4.1958 Praha
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Jan Morávek should rightly be considered the first ever "švejkologist" as he was a pioneer in pinpointing the parallels between the The Good Soldier 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 Jaroslav Hašek's literary figures were inspired by people that the author met during his seven month service in Austro-Hungarian 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.

Ground for sceptiscism

Večerní České Slovo, 1.9.1924

His description of the circumstances around Jaroslav Hašek's decoration is particularly dubious. It contains a number of minor factual errors, but more importantly it is flatly contradicted by the author's Belohnungsantrag and also that of Rechnungsfeldwebel Vaněk.

These two documents do not mention the "300 Russian prisoners" that Jaroslav Hašek and Vaněk is claimed to have brought into captivity. It is also striking that none of the recently discovered (2014) diaries of Jan 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 Hašek and Vaněk were 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 Jaroslav 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 1915 when the river crossing took place, flatly dismisses the story as "invented".

The Bad Soldier

From "Špatný voják"

In 1930 Jan Morávek published a novel that is based on his time with k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 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 IR 91 in Karlín.

His war time service started with the mobilisation at the end of July 1914. This part of the novel appears 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 wounded, Thus he luckily avoided the calamity at the mouth of the Drina on 8 September 1914 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 1914 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 IR 91 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesMilan Hodík, VÚA


Sagner, Čeněk
*13.3.1884 Zámrsk - †22.6.1927 Praha-Bohnice
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Vinzenz Sagner in IR91 during the war. Bestand Rudolf Kiesswetter. Kriegsarchiv.

© 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 (IR 91, 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 Hauptmann 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 railway inspector Jan Sagner and Josefa (born Machačková). The family moved to Prague where they registered with the police 4 August 1890, resident in Karlín. In 1896 he enrolled at Česká reálka in Ječná ulice in Praha, where he studied 4 years. Incidentally the school was located in the very neighbourhood where Jaroslav Hašek grew up and studied. He completed his studies in Svitavy, presumably in 1900 and 1901.

on 18 August 1905 he joined the army, after having attended k.u.k. Infanteriekadettenschule Prag from 1901 onwards. He graduated with excellent results and joined k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 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.

Otherwise his military service record (Hauptgrunduchblatt Nr. 259) reveals that he was 180 cm tall, shoes size 10, blond hair, oval face, blue eyes, civilian status single. He spoke adn wrote Czech and German.

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 newspapers and in the end reached Reichsrat. Together with his father and brother he had 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 1913. 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 Einjährigfreiwilliger Marek.

During the war



Gefecthtsbericht, Sokal, 9. August 1915.

© ÖStA

Soon after mobilisation in August 1914 he was sent to the front in Serbia where he took part in fighting until 27 November 1914 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 9 January 1915. On one occasion he even climbed a tree and directed the artillery fire from there, a curious parallel to Oberleutnant Berger in the novel.

During his period of sick leave in Prague he volunteered as an instructor at the school for One Year Volunteers at k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 11. He started here on 25 January 1915 but from 28 February he was back in service with IR 91 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. Initially he served as company commander but on 2 July he assumed command of the newly formed 3rd Field Battalion, a unit that in the preceding battles had been totally decimated. The battalion still had only half its manpower, consisting of the 9th and 10th field company. Only with the arrival of the 12th march battalion by Łonie (ukr. Лоні) on 11 July 1915 did the battalion reach full manpower. It was with this march battalion Hašek arrived at the front, and here he and his fellow soldiers Rudolf Lukas, Jan Vaněk, Hans Bigler, and František Strašlipka joined the 11th field company.

Material from VÚA portrays Čeněk 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 again two days later.


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


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 IR 91.

On 30 September 1915 Čeněk Sagner was hospitalised, and transferred to Prague. Here he underwent surgery, not due to war-inflicted injuries but due to an anal abscess. On 20 October 1915 he was decorated with the German Eiserne Kreiz (Iron Cross), by none other than the famous field marshal Mackensen. The rest of the war he spent ambulating between hospitals, the Isonzo front and EB91 in Bruck an der Leitha. On 16 February 1916 he was decorated for the 4th time. Towards the end of the war he caught malaria and was dogged with illness. In 1917 he had been decorated again, now with the Karl-Truppen-Kreuz, and in 1918 yet another decoration followed.

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 preferred to be part of 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 stood up for Czech soldiers, and according to one witness he even took issue with a decree in Brucker Lager 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 unsubstantiated. In his personal file stored in VÚA (more than 100 pages) his signature is consitently 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 Hauptmann 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".


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. Young Vincenc attended Realschule here, before moving to Prague in 1901 to attend k.u.k. Infanteriekadettenschule Prag.

Not only in Švejk

Jaroslav Hašek also mentions Sagner in other of his writing. Like Oberleutnant Lukáš, Major Wenzl, Fähnrich Dauerling a.o. he appears in Dobrý voják Švejk v zajetí albeit as a peripheral figure at the end of the story. Like in the novel he is commander of the march battalion and also here he has the rank captain.

More curiously his name can be found under the headline Kapicky in Čechoslovan on 7 January 1918. Here he inspects suscpected infected wells in Barannie Pereloki[1] in Galicia in May 1915, and his rank is still hejtman.

1. Correctly Barannie Peretoki, actually in Russia a few kilometres across the border by Sokal. IR 91 with Čeněk Sagner and Jaroslav Hašek reached this spot on 27 August 1915, not in May as Hašek claimed.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesVÚA, Milan Hodík, Bohumil Vlček, Arbeiter-Zeitung


Schlager, Karl
*16.12.1859 Praha - †20.11.1936 Praha
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Schlager's "Haupt-Grundbuchsblatt"


Karl Schlager (christened Mathaeus Carl Julius) is no doubt the main inspiration for the character Oberst Schröder. Schlager was commander of EB91 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 to 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.


Throughout the history of "švejkology" little has been written about a possible model for Oberst Schröder and he largely remained an enigma. The uncertainty was underpinned by Bohumil Vlček who in 1956 claimed that the commander of EB91 in Budějovice and for a short while in Bruck an der Leitha was indeed some Schröder[a]. 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 Marschall Radetzky and the campaigns in Italy in the mid nineteenth century. Vlček even describes him as "an otherwise harmless gentleman".

Finding further information on Oberst Schröder however proved difficult. There was never any trace of any Schröder connected to k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91; be it in Kriegsarchiv in Vienna, VÚA in Prague or even in Chytilův adresář from 1915. In this address book Jan Splichal is listed as the commander of EB91.


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 noted that Hašek frequently juggled with names and ranks, and concluded that Oberst Schröder remains a mystery and correctly added that the commander of the replacement battalion in Bruck an der Leitha was Benedikt Pallweber[b]. At the time we could therefore assume that Pallweber was the successor of Hašek's and Vlček's Schröder.

Documents from VÚA, more precisely the Qualifikationsbeschreibung of Čeněk Sagner, reveal clues to the identity of the mysterious Schröder. Here Sagner's superior during his stay with EB91 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.

© 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 Mr. Kákonyi affair, Jaroslav 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 inspiration for Oberst 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 EB91 still hadn't been transferred to Királyhida.


From Seidels Armeschema, 1908

Assuming that Schlager was as elderly officer, a look in the Schematismus from 1908 gave further clues. Here two officers named Schlager are listed, but only one had a higher rank: Oberstleutnant Carl Schlager. At the time he was commander of the replacement battalion of Infanterieregiment Nr. 35 in Budapest[c], and may have been promoted to colonel in between. Was it a co-incidence that Oberst Schröder seemed to know Hungary? A notice in Bohemia in 1910 reveals that Oberleutnant 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.

© ÖStA

Police registration records from Prague supplemented the information we already had on Schlager. Here he is listed as Oberleutnant 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 in 1915, and that he in 1917 was commander of the replacement battalion of k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 35. Both news items concerned decorations.

Conclusive evidence

Schlager's war time career.


The final jigsaw in the puzzle fell into place in May 2015. Documents at VÚA reveal that Schlager had, as previously expected, served as commander of EB91: 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 35 in Székesfehérvár where he served as head of the convalescents unit for the rest 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: Bohumil Vlček, Jaroslav Šerák, VÚA, ÖStA, MNO


aVojenské figuryBohumil Vlček20.3.1956
bOsudy a cesty Josefa ŠvejkaRadko Pytlík2003
cSchematismus für das k. u. k. Heer...K.k. Hof und Staatsdruckerei1910
Strašlipka, František Jan
*19.2.1891 Hostivice - †21.9.1949 Veselí nad Lužnicí
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Strašlipka in IR 91

© Jan Morávek


Hašek's poem from 1915, a strong indication that Švejk's story-telling was inspired by Strašlipka

© 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. Hašek even mentions him 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 writers like Jan Berwid-Buquoy and Pavel Gan that he more or less was identical to Hašek's good soldier 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 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 (Who was 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[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 value as a source, but pulling in several witnesses to a degree offsets this shortcoming. The essence of Matoušek's series is reproduced by Jaroslav Šerák at[b].

A fanciful story

Strašlipka recorded as officer's servant in IR 91


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[c]. The account is partly based on the testimony of some 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 allegedly also the lover of a certain "bordel-mama" Marie Müllerová who is claimed to have been the model of Mrs. Müllerová.

Relying on one single witness (Chalupa) who provides second-hand information about events that took place some sixty years earlier gives the whole story 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 IR 91 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 and is not very likely.

When Lukas was appointed commander of the 4th march company of the 12th march battalion of IR 91 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.[a]

Together with Jaroslav Hašek, Jan Vaněk and Hans Bigler, František Strašlipka was decorated in the aftermath of 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 IR 91. 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

Jaroslav 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 prisoner's return after the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty between the Central Powers and Russia. At the time he was also recorded as a reservist in IR 91. That he later was sent to Italy is possible, but if he had deserted he would surely have been reported as missing in the Verlustliste. That they tried to get back to Ukraine at a time when it was occupied by the German army also does not make much 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

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


aJaroslav Hašek - dobrý voják ŠvejkJan Morávek
bFrantišek StrašlipkaJaroslav Šerák2009 - 2021
cOsudy záhadného hostince U kalicha aneb Jak to vlastně bylo doopravdy?Jan Berwid-Buquoy, Reflex
Vaněk, Jan
*23.5.1888 Žižkov - †25.8.1927 Praha
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Vaněk on the Italian front.

Hana Svobodová.

Jan Vaněk is arguably the most obvious amongst the real-life prototypes for characters in The Good Soldier 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" Rechnungsfeldwebel 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. Rechnungsfeldwebel 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.


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 Rechnungsfeldwebel 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 border with 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 VÚA he was the first ever k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 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 Vaněk 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 IR 91 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 Augustín Knesl (1988), Jan Morávek never returned the material he borrowed for his 1924 series about Jaroslav Hašek and IR 91.

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 IR 91. 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 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 Leutnant Dub. There are however examples that Hašek assigned traits to the literary Rechnungsfeldwebel 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 The Good Soldier 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 January 1916 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 EB91 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 an der Leitha, but he never went back to the front. He had a short stint with k.u.k. 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!

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesHana Svobodová, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček, ÖStA, Jan Ciglbauer, Jaroslav Šerák, Kamil Hainc, Miroslav Fér


Wenzel, Franz
*12.9.1866 Niederhanichen - †12.7.1929 Reichenberg
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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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 35 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 Infanterieregiment Nr. 21 in Kutná Hora! On the very first day in his new regiment he was promoted to major (his literary counterpart was, according to Einjährigfreiwilliger 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 IR 91 in Serbia

Qualifikationsbeschreibung 1913.


His transfer to k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 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 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 IR 91'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 Egon Erwin Kisch never mentions his name directly in his diary entry from 3 December 1914 it is obvious who he refers to. When Kisch's k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 11 met soldiers from IR 91 they heard running anecdotes underlining the stupidity of some major in the regiment (at the time there were not that many left 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 onwards and delivered 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 was a spy!

During Hašek's time

Wenzel(1) flanked by lt. Gleissner(2) and regimental doctor Dub(3). Wołkowyje, 1.11.1915.

© ÖStA

Franz Wenzel plays a much greater part in Jaroslav Hašek's own story than Major Wenzl does in The Good Soldier Švejk. Wenzel was in fact commander of the author's 12th March Battalion that left for the front on 30 June 1915 and joined IR 91's field unit on 10 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 IR 91, 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 k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 commander from 12 to 18 September due to illness further up the command chain. He remained battalion commander until 1916 when he reported sick and then became commander of k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 28's replacement battalion in Bruck an der Mur. By 1918 he appeared in Wiesbaden as Aufsichstsoffizier für Beurlaubte, i.e. supervising officer for men on leave. Franz Wenzel was pensioned in 1919.


Promotion dates.


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 Oberst on 1 February 1918. The lasting impression is that Wenzel was a capable enough administrator but an extremely inept officer.


Osobní věstník čs. ministerstva národní obrany, 1921.

Franz Wenzel officially retired from the (now Czechoslovak) army on 1 January 1919. After the war he returned to Liberec (Reichenberg) and he also lived for some time in Wiesbaden where he on 10 January 1920 married Ludmilla Stary, widowed after Markoff. She appears to have been Czech but Einjährigfreiwilliger 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.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: ÖStA, VÚA, MNO, Jan Morávek, Bohumil Vlček


Čížek, Ladislav Antonín
*6.5.1883 Vysoká - †? - ?
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Hašek's friend "Julča" with her guardian. The picture is from "Svět zvířat" and the person holding her may well be Čížek.

Ladislav Čížek was a former travelling salesman who worked for Psinec nad Klamovkou during the time Jaroslav Hašek was employed at editor of Svět zvířat above Klamovka. This coupled with the fact that Hašek used his name in several short-stories, set in the same surroundings at Klamovka, leaves little doubt that he was the main inspiration for the dog thief Blahník from The Good Soldier Švejk. Čížek plays a major part in the stories Kynologický ústav (Cynological Institute) and Má drahá přitelkyně Julča (My dear friend Julie) and is also mentioned in Strana mírného pokroku v mezích zákona.

When Hašek set up his Kynologický ústav (Cynological Institute) in November 1910, several sources (including the author himself) indicate that he employed Ladislav Čížek as his assistant. Josef Mach wrote that Čížek was caught stealing dogs and put on trial while he was an agent for Hašek's dog trade. Radko Pytlík adds that this also landed his boss in trouble and contributed to the firm's rapid demise. Hašek and his wife (who formally owned the enterprise) had to report in court, and as late as 9 March 1912 they were finally informed that the proceedings were cancelled.


Police records irrefutably reveal the identity of Čížek. He was born Ladislav Antonín Čížek in Vysoká okres Mělník 6 May 1883, baptised evangelical-reformed (i.e. Protestant), parents Václav and Marie. We also know that he from 1908 to 1913 lived at various addresses in Košíře and Smíchov. In 1911 and 1912 his name even appeared (at least twice) in Prager Tagblatt, where he advertised dogs for sale, fifty per cent cheaper than the competitors.

Kennel assistant

Prager Tagblatt, 12.3.1911

Significant in a Švejk context is his address from 9 May 1908 onwards. It was Smíchov 908 which corresponds to Villa Svět zvířat and the adjoining kennel. The police records state that he lived there until 10 January 1911, marital status single, employed as a servant at Svět zvířat, and was previously a travelling salesman. This firmly links him to Hašek's own "cynological assistant", the servant at Svět zvířat, and also to Blahník from The Good Soldier Švejk.

Kynologický ústav?

Prager Tagblatt, 21.4.1912

10 January 1911 he moved to Košíře nr. 10, but only for 17 days! Coincidently this was around the time when we believe that Hašek's dog trading firm went bankrupt, and this address gives us an interesting link to the story Kynologický ústav (Světozor, april 1914). In this tale about his "dog institute" Hašek advertised for an assistant and had many replies. The person he employed was Ladislav Čížek, living at U Medřičkých, Košíře. In the restaurant/pub section of the 1910 Prague address book is entered Medřický Antonín, Koš. Hlaváčkova ul. 10. As pubs at the time usually were named after their landlords, it is clear that Hašek even revealed where Čížek lived (although he obviously invented many other details). Ladislav Čížek then moved to Smíchov 1195 which is identical to Karlova tř. 88, the address he used in the first advert in Prager Tagblatt (12 March 1911).

Back above Klamovka

The 1939 address book

From 23 November 1911 he was back at Psinec nad Klamovkou but from 10 April 1912 he stayed with the Jirásek family in Košíře nr. 413. This is also the address that shows up in the second advert in Prager Tagblatt on 21 April 1912. He changed addresses a few more times until we 26 November 1913 again find him at the kennel above Klamovka, since the death of editor Fuchs occupied by the firm Canisport, owned by František Pober, the son-in-law of the late Fuchs. Here he is entered as an administrator at the enterprise, but from now on we have no information about his whereabouts and activities.

In the 1939 address book he makes an appearance again, as a kennel owner in Horní Černošice. Ironically he is listed next to his former employer Canisport.

Quote(s) from the novel

SourcesJaroslav Šerák,Radko Pytlík


Švejk, Josef
*8.6.1865 Svatá Kateřina - †18.11.1939 Svatá Kateřina
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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 Oberleutnant Lukáš and Kadett 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 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 followed during the 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 The Good Soldier 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 (according to 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 Landwehrinfanterieregiment 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 poem mentioning his name appeared in the satirical magazine Kopřivy, another publication that Hašek at times contributed to.


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 story about The Good Soldier 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 he 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 the 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[a]. 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 k.k. Landwehr on 31 December 1897. The excact reason for his premature departure from the army is not known. Several news items from 1914 and 1915 confirm his superarbitration, 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 Hašek may 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. Břetislav Ludvík and Offiziersdiener Baloun are good examples of this approach. Ludvík was an artist/writer who Jaroslav Hašek knew personally, and Baloun was the name of a k.u.k. Infanterieregiment Nr. 91 doctor, a one-year volunteer in the regiment, and a 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 anything in common 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 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 Augustín Knesl attached some importance 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.

Josef Švejk's army career

Kmenový list, čs. vojsko.


Veselý's 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 in the transit camp, and not sent onwards as one would expect.

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 Veselý, 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 on 13 June 1912, so they may have lived there also 13 months earlier, assuming they were late to register with the police (Jaroslav 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 Hašek there as the author of The Good Soldier Švejk arrived from the 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, and so on. 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 Šerák's research 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 noticed Josef's existence. 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 (Jan 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, Hašek visited him in his flat and asked him to make a drawing for the cover of the The Good Soldier 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 Hašek in Kavárna Union as Veselý claims.

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 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 World War II.

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 the two 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 put trust 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 Josef Švejk's army career are missing.


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

Newspaper clips and Verlustliste 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, the Landsturm draft commission started operating 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 doctor 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 Jaroslav R. Veselý actually gathered enough facts to claim some credibility and knew the life story of 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 Augustín 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 5 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 (or been aware of it).

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.


Das Oestrreichische Abgeordnetenhaus 1911, p. 295

© Tom Alner

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 Hašek in the reserve battalion of the Czechoslovak brigade in 1916 and they both continued as Czech volunteers until 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 he indeed was 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 from Veselý's attempt to link Švejk to the author has been confirmed, and some of them 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 Švejk and Hašek. This leaves the good soldier from Infanterieregiment Nr. 36 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 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 didn't even lived in Prague at the time the soldier Švejk was conceived. That said it is likely that Jaroslav Hašek could met or heard of the young Josef Švejk during or after the war and that this somehow rekindled his interest in his 1911 hero, be it in 1917 or 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 neighbour of U kalicha.

Quote(s) from the novel

Sources: Národní listy, Čech, VÚA, K.k. Reichsrat, Jaroslav Šerák, Jaroslav Veselý, Sergey Nikholskij, Sergey Soloukh


aZ KutnohorskaČech14.5.1911

© 2009 - 2021 Jomar Hønsi Last updated: 29.7.2021