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The Good Soldier Švejk

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

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

This web page contains short write-ups on the persons the novel refers to; from Napoléon in the introduction to Hauptmann Ságner in the last few lines of the unfinished Book Four. The list is sorted in to the order of which the names first appear. The chapter headlines are from Zenny Sadlon's recent translation (1999-2008) and will in most cases differ from Cecil Parrott's version from 1973. In January 2021 there were still around twenty entries to be added.

The quotes in Czech are copied from the on-line version of The Good Soldier Švejk: provided by Jaroslav Šerák and contain links to the relevant chapter. The toolbar has links for direct access to Wikipedia, Google maps, Google search, and the novel on-line.

The names are coloured according to their role in the novel, illustrated by the following examples: Dr. Grünstein as a fictional characters who is directly involved in the plot, Fähnrich Dauerling as a fictional character who is not part of the plot, Heinrich Heine as a historical person. Note that a number of seemingly fictional characters are inspired by living persons. Examples are Oberleutnant Lukáš, Major Wenzl and many others.

Titles and ranks have until 2020 largely been missing on this web page. Senior Lieutenant Lukáš has, for instance, only been known as Lukáš. This weakness is now (24 December 2020) slowly being addressed. Military ranks and other titles related to Austrian officialdom will appear in German, and in line with the terms used at the time. This means that Captain Ságner is still referred to as Hauptmann although the term is now obsolete, having been replaced by Kapitän. Civilian titles denoting profession etc. are mostly translated into English.

>> People index of people, mythical figures, animals ... (587) Show all
>> I. In the rear
>> II. At the front
>> III. The famous thrashing
Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

2. The good soldier Švejk at police headquarters

Detective Brixinn flag
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Adresář královského hlavního města Prahy a obcí sousedních (1907)

Brixi was a policeman who arrested an unusually fat paper merchant who had paid for to Serbian students at U Brejšky and had been observed drunk with them at Café Montmartre. The owner of the paper shop was one of Švejk's fellow prisoners at c.k. policejní ředitelství.


This detective may well have had a model from real life but the surname Brixi (including the variant Briksi) was relatively rare in Prague. At most ten people carrying this name were alive at the time and none of them are listed with professions that seem related to the police.

Quote(s) from the novel
[I.2] Výjimku dělal neobyčejně tlustý pán s brýlemi, s uplakanýma očima, který byl zatčen doma ve svém bytě, poněvadž dva dny před atentátem v Sarajevu platil „U Brejšky“ za dva srbské studenty, techniky, útratu a detektivem Brixim byl spatřen v jejich společnosti opilý v „Montmartru“ v Řetězové ulici, kde, jak již v protokole potvrdil svým podpisem, též za ně platil.
Columbus, Cristoforonn flag
*1451(?) Genova(?) - †20.5.1506 Valladolid
Wikipedia czdeenesitnn Search

Columbus breaking the egg

Columbus is mentioned indirectly through the description of the event who led to the arrest of one of Švejk's fellow prisoners. Švejk's fellow inmate was a teacher of history who concluded his analysis of various assassinations with the words: "The idea of an assassination is as easy as Columbus' egg.


Columbus was a discoverer and merchant og Italian origin, known for the European "discovery" of America in 1492.

Columbus' egg describes a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to a popular story of how Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip; and, after they gave up, he did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.

Quote(s) from the novel
[I.2] Malý pán, kterému se to stalo ve vinárně, byl profesorem dějepisu a vykládal vinárníkovi dějiny různých atentátů. Byl zatčen právě v okamžiku, když končil psychologický rozbor každého atentátu slovy: „Myšlenka atentátu je tak jednoduchá jako, Kolumbovo vejce’.“

Also written:Kolumbus cz Kolumbus de Cristóbal Colón es Columbus nn

Jesus Christnn flag
*4 Betlehem - †30(?) Jersusalem
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As seen by El Greco

Jesus Christ is referred to by Švejk as "Kristus Pán", literally "Christ the Lord". This is when he tells his fellow prisoners about their hopeless situation. "Christ the Lord was also innocent" are the discouraging words they hear. Jesus is mentioned more peripherally in the first chapter, through the expression Ježíšmarjá that Švejk used when he heard about the killings in Sarajevo. Jesus is mentioned at various stages through the novel, mostly in common expressions.


Jesus Christ was a central figure in the Bible. He laid the foundations of the Christian faith. He was crucified for instigating rebellion in the year of 33 during the period of Roman rule. His birth and death dates are most uncertain. According to the Cristian faith and his own claims he was the Son of God and Messiah the Saviour. Jesus was also an important prophet in islam but this religion credits him with a less important role. The Jewish religion regards him as a false Messiah.

Quote(s) from the novel
[I.2] „Já jsem nevinnej, já jsem nevinnej,“ opakoval zježený muž. „Kristus Pán byl taky nevinnej,“ řekl Švejk, „a taky ho ukřižovali. Nikde nikdy nikomu na nějakým nevinným člověku nezáleželo. Maul halten und weiter dienen!, jako říkávali nám na vojně. To je to nejlepší a nejkrásnější.“
[I.15] "Co s ním udělám?" mihlo se hlavou nadporučíkovi, "má, prokristapána, takový pitomý výraz."
[I.15] "Švejku, ježíšmarjá, himlhergot, já vás zastřelím, vy hovado, vy dobytku, vy vole, vy hajzle jeden. Jste tak blbej?"
[II.3] "Ježíšmarjá", vzdychl pro sebe desátník, vida, že po důkladném loku zmizelo půl láhve.

Also written:Ježíš Kristus cz

Lombroso, Cesarenn flag
*6.11.1835 Verona - †19.10.1909 Torino
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Lombroso is referred to in connection with the book L'uomo delinquente where the author describes the interrogator at c.k. policejní ředitelství. He looked like a criminal type described by Lombroso in this particular book.


Lombroso was an Italian criminologist, anthropologist and lawyer. He was a pioneer of anthropological criminology which promoted the claim that criminality was inherited. Lombroso rejected the hitherto classical view that the criminal instinct was part of human nature. His V(political anthropology criminology) maintained that criminal behaviour is in the genes and could be enhanced by physical defects. The physical shape could indicate whether a person was a criminal, which he gave many examples of in the illustrations in his books. Lombroso was of Jewish origin and baptised Ezechia Marco Lombroso.

Quote(s) from the novel
[I.2] „Dobrý večer přeju, pánové, všem vespolek.“ Místo odpovědi dloubl ho někdo pod žebra a postavil před stůl, za kterým seděl pán chladné úřední tváře s rysy zvířecké ukrutnosti, jako by právě vypadl z Lombrosovy knihy „O typech zločinných“. Podíval se krvežíznivě na Švejka a řekl: „Netvařte se tak blbě.“


Jan Nepomuckýnn flag
*1345(?) Nepomuk - †20.3.1391 Praha
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Statue in Třeboň, 2011.

Jan Nepomucký was by Švejk held as an example of how badly prisoners were treated before, compared to the good treatment Švejk and his fellow inmates got these July days in 1914. Our hero falsely claimed that Nepomuk was drowned from Eliščin most. He appears again in the anecdote about Šic in [II.5].


Jan Nepomucký was a Czech priest and martyr who was blinded, tortured, and drowned in the Vltava. Today there is a statue of him at the point at Karlův most where he was thrown off. He was canonized in 1729 and is now a patron saint. He is buried in Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Quote(s) from the novel
[I.2] Nebo mu dali nohy do španělský boty a natáhli ho na žebřík, když se nechtěl přiznat, nebo mu pálili boky hasičskou pochodní, jako to udělali svatému Janu Nepomuckému.

Also written:John of Nepomuk en Johannes Nepomuk de Johan Nepomuk no


Index Back Forward I. In the rear Hovudpersonen

2. The good soldier Švejk at police headquarters

© 2009 - 2022 Jomar Hønsi Last updated: 27.11.2022