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Švejk [shvāke] Svejk

This blog is dedicated to the title character of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War and his creator, Jaroslav Hašek.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Proofreading of Book Three has begun.

The following excerpt is from Book Two, Chapter 2 of The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War titled "ŠVEJK’S BUDĚJOVICKÁ ['bood-ye-yo-vits-kah] ANABASIS". It might as well had been titled: HOMELAND SECURITY, OLD-WORLD STYLE:

.... The State police Station Chief wrung his hands with pleasure, rejoicing over the richness of the collected material and the exact results of his interrogation method. He remembered his predecessor, Station Chief Bürger who would not speak with the detainee at all, would not ask him anything and send him immediately to the county court with a short report: "By the judgement of the Sergeant of the Watch he was detained for vagrancy and begging." Was that supposed to be an interrogation?

And the State police Station Chief, looking at the pages of his report, flashed a smile of vindication and pulled out of his desk the secret circular from the State police Headquarters of the Land in Prague marked with the customary ‘Strictly Confidential’ and read through it one more time:

"All State police stations are under strict orders to monitor with immeasurably increased alertness all persons passing through the area. The redeployment of our troops in eastern Galicia has brought about that some Russian military detachments, having crossed the Carpathians, have assumed positions in the interior of our Empire, whereby the front has been shifted deeper toward the west of the Monarchy. This new situation has allowed Russian spies, given the mobility of the front, deeper penetration into the territory of our Monarchy, especially into Silesia and Moravia, from where, according to confidential reports, a large number of Russian intelligence operatives have set out for Bohemia. It has been determined that among them there are many Russian Czechs educated at the Russian military staff colleges who, having perfect mastery of the Czech language, seem to be especially dangerous spies since they can and certainly will conduct treasonous propaganda among the Czech populace. The Land Headquarters therefore orders the apprehension and detention of all suspects and above all increased vigilance in those areas where nearby there are garrisons, military centers and stations with military transport trains passing through. The detained are to be subjected to an immediate search and transported to the next higher authority."

The State police Station Chief Flanderka flashed a smile of contentment again and deposited the secret circular, "Sekretreservaten", among the others in the folder labeled "Secret Directives".

There were many of those that were prepared by the Ministry of Interior State Security in cooperation with the Ministry of Land Defense to which the State police was subordinate.

At the Land Headquarters of the State police in Prague they could not copy and send them out fast enough.

There was:

The directive on controlling the local population’s views.

The guidance on how to monitor, in conversations with the local population, the influence of the news from the battlefield on its views.

A questionnaire regarding how the local population behaves toward the publicly tendered war loans and collections.

A questionnaire on the mood among the members of local self-governing bodies and intellectuals.

A directive on determining without delay to which political parties the local population belongs, and how strong the individual parties are.

A directive on controlling the activities of the leaders of local political parties and determining the level of loyalty of certain political parties, represented among the local population.

A questionnaire on which newspapers, magazines and brochures get delivered within the police station’s beat.

An instruction regarding determining with whom the persons suspected of disloyalty are in contact, and how their disloyalty manifests itself.

An instruction regarding how to recruit paid finks and informers among the local population.

An instruction for the paid informers from among the local population who were registered at the State police station as being in its service.

Every day brought new instructions, guidances, questionnaires, and regulations. Inundated by the mass of innovations from the Austrian Ministry of Interior, the State police Station Chief Flanderka had a huge backlog of items and answered the questionnaires in a stereotypical manner to the effect that on his beat everything was O.K. and loyalty among the local population was of grade Ia.

The Austrian Ministry of Interior devised the following grades of loyalty and steadfastness toward the Monarchy: Ia, Ib, Ic—IIa, IIb, IIc—IIIa, IIIb, IIIc—IVa, IVb, IVc. The last Roman numeral four in connection with the letter 'a' meant high treason and the rope, with the letter 'b' internment, and with 'c' the order to monitor and lock up the perpetrator.

In the State police Station Chief’s desk there were to be found all kinds of forms and records. The Government wanted to know of each citizen how it was thought of.

Quite a number of times the Station Chief Flanderka raised his clasped hands in desperation over the forms which mercilessly kept coming and adding up with each mail delivery. As soon as he saw the familiar envelopes with the stamp "Portofrei — dienstlich, Postage free — official business" his heart always thumped a few times and at night, thinking everything over, he would arrive at the conviction that he wouldn’t live to see the end of the war, and that the State police Land Headquarters would rid him of the last pinch of his sanity and that he would not be able to enjoy the victory of Austrian arms because he would have either one screw too many or one screw too few in his head. And the County Headquarters of the State police would bombard him daily with inquiries why the questionnaire issued under the number 72345 OVER { 721a/f }d, has not been answered, how the instruction issued under the number 88992 OVER { 822gfch } z, has been disposed of, and what are the practical results of the guidance under the number 123456 OVER { 1292b/r } V, etc.

He was the most worried over the instruction on how to gain paid finks and informants among the local populace. In the end, since he figured it impossible that it could be somebody from the area where The Marshes began and where the folk were such stubborn knuckleheads, he came across the idea to take into service the village herdsman whom they called "Joey, jump!" He was a cretin who always jumped in response to this call. One of those poor characters neglected by nature and men, a cripple who grazed the village cattle for a few gold pieces a year and some food. ...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


In 1990, the Czechoslovak President Václav Havel, much admired by the "progressive elements" of the otherwise "rotting Capitalist West", advanced the idea that Czechoslovakia could contribute to international progress by proposing to abolish the obsolete North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). "We," said Havel, "would not necessarily have to get credit" for this marvelous foundation of eternal international peace.

That universal dream was shattered by the intransigence of the American imperialist government and its international lackeys. As they say, the proof is in the pudding: Eleven years later, the warmongering of the Americans ignited a new scourge, global terrorism.

Once again, the Czechs - and I'm sure their Slovak brothers and sisters as well - stand ready to pull their heavy share.

From the land - or more precisely the Czech Lands - that gave the world the very paradigm of survival in hostile circumstances, the Good Soldier Švejk, comes another ingenious idea in the nick of time. I just received it by e-mail today (written in Czech) and could hardly wait to share it with my fellow Americans and all people of good will everywhere who don't have the benefit of understanding Czech. Please, since this could mean the difference between life and death, take your time to read the following appeal and consider joining the growing ranks of this grass-roots, citizen-soldier antiterrorist army:


"Common Struggle Against the Taliban Terrorists

"As is commonly known, for any Taliban man of deep faith it is a deadly sin to take a look at a naked woman unless she is his own wife. If he were to behold her it would be his holy duty to commit suicide.

"We hereby call on all women to walk out into the streets naked this coming Saturday at two o’clock in the afternoon. In doing so you will help to identify undesirable terrorists, the so-called sleepers. We recommend walking in the vicinity for about an hour so as to create a sufficient anti-terrorist effect.

"We are calling on all men to extend support to their wive’s endeavor and lie down on lawn chairs in front of their places of residence, and in doing so observe the naked women - even if they are not their own wives. Of course, the men will engage in this activity only to support their wives in the struggle against terrorism.

"Since it is forbidden for Taliban men to drink alcoholic beverages, a cold beer in every man’s hand should be a clear signal of his healthy antiterrorist stance. The Czech Government holds this initiative of the citizens in great esteem in advance of the event, and thanks all for helping in the struggle against terrorism.

"It is your damn patriotic duty to pass this e-mail on."

Needless to say, I am proud of the anonymous author of this missive. Perhaps one day we can erect a monument to him. Or chisel it in granite in the same quarry - or one nearby - where just this summer a group of Czech patriots created the Czech answer to Mount Rushmore.

Monday, August 08, 2005


June 23, 2005 at 4:00 p.m. history was made once again in Lipnice on the Sázava River, Czech Republic where Jaroslav Hašek wrote Books Two, Three, and Four of his Good Soldier Švejk.

A relief of a human ear almost ten feet tall, chiseled in the face of a granite rock of the local abandoned Quarry #1 was unveiled. The work by a team of sculptors, Messrs. Radomír Dvořák, Martin Roháček, Jan Šíma, and Martin Šimek is titled Bretschneider's Ear - The National Memorial of Eavesdropping And Wiretapping.

Of course, Bretschneider was the "neighborhood patrolman, on loan and working undercover for the State Security Police", introduced to readers of Švejk in Chapter 1 of Book One. He is to neighborhood finks in Central Europe what Quisling is to collaborators in high places - the paradigm of their essence.

There exists an uncanny correlation between the 10,000 years the sculpture is expected to survive the corrosive effect of the elements, and the 10,000 wiretaps executed in the Czech Republic, a NATO member, annually. (see 'Normal' Czech police practice: Wiretaps installed on 100 out of every 100,000 inhabitants)

By comparison, "A total of 1,442 interceptions of wire, oral or electronic communications were authorized by federal and state courts in 2003, an increase of 6 percent over 2002", according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and "A total of 1,710 intercepts authorized by federal and state courts were completed in 2004, an increase of 19 percent compared to the number terminated in 2003." (see Interceptions at U.S. Courts.gov) That's in the U.S. where the population is approaching 300 million. In contrast, the population of Czech Republic is about 10 million. Shouldn't there be 300,000 wiretaps executed in the U.S. every year? (Just kidding ...)

Is it any wonder the Czech media practically ignored the unveiling event? However, quite a number of members of the Czech Parliament attended, including an MP who chairs a commission with jurisdiction over - you guessed it - wiretapping.

Under the headline "Vysočina bude mít památník odposlechů", i.e. "The Highlands [region] Will Have an Eavesdropping And Wiretapping Memorial" you can see a picture of the work in progress at this local Czech newspaper web site PDF page: http://extranet.kr-vysocina.cz/download/pdf/noviny/noviny5_05.pdf. (You can see the finished product in the "Sculpture" section of SvejkCentral.)

The subhead reads: "A Giant Ear of Stone on the Face of the Granite Rock of an Old Quarry Makes the Connections Between Communist-era Spying, Švejk, and Current Scandals."

This one is for Buddy Don ... and actually all hillbillies: Perusing the web in connection with this post I just found that "Lipnice", the name of the town on the Sázava River, is the same as Poa, a genus of about 500 species of grasses, native to the temperate regions of both hemispheres. Well, there is more. Common to the area is, it seems, "lipnice hajní", i.e. "Poa nemoralis - Wood Meadow-grass", the European cousin of Wood BLUE GRASS! I knew there was a reason ... There are no accidents! :-)

Well, on a personal note, one fifth of the last chapter of Book Two has been proofread. :-) And, I have posted the essay Tropos Kynikos by Peter Steiner among the Analyses at www.SvejkCentral.com, at last ...