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Post Greetings from Przemysl, Good Soldier Schwejk
Created by John Eipper on 10/15/21 6:22 AM

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Greetings from Przemysl, Good Soldier Schwejk (Patrick Mears, -Germany, 10/15/21 6:22 am)

Greetings to WAISworld from Przemysl, Poland:

The travel group that Connie and I are members of arrived in the city of Przemysl yesterday afternoon and were treated to a guided tour of the city and the central site of the now-destroyed, main fortress in what was in 1914 a huge, double-ringed "Festung" that had been constructed by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.  The primary function of this fortress was to act as a deterrent to any armed invasion by the Russian Empire aiming south towards the cities of Budapest and Vienna.

On the tour, we visited one of the three existing statues of the famous Czech literary character, Schwejk, that I am aware of. I had seen and touched the one in Prague years ago and yesterday sat next to the same fellow pictured below with Connie and myself in a park in Przemysl. Although we had toured the nearby town of Sanok earlier in the day, that was a quick in-and-out visit with no time to search for the third such statue. I believe that John and Aldona did sit next to Schwejk in Sanok some years ago and that John has photographs of the literary character's bronze likeness there.

The Good Soldier Schwejk is an unfinished, dark-comedy novel written by the Czech author, Jaroslav Hasek (1883-1923) just prior to his death. It is a classic of Czech and world literature that has often been categorized as an "anti-war novel." Rather than have me describe this work, here is the link to the Wikipedia entry on the novel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Soldier_Švejk .

I read this wonderful work in the first year or two after I moved to Germany in 2014 and highly recommend it to WAISers. But probably the best recommendation comes from Joseph Heller, the author of a similar novel, Catch-22, who remarked that he could not have written his anti-war novel if he had not first read Schwejk.

Concerning the fortress itself, a few ruins of the inner and outer rings remain. According to our guide, perhaps five of these sites in the former outer ring still exist, but are difficult for tourists to visit. Here is the link to the Wikipedia entry on the "Siege of Przemysl" that tells the story of the siege and its outcome.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Przemyśl .

Finally, I suspect that when my grandfather, Joseph Mislik, and my grandmother, Caroline Bolanowski (I'm using their Americanized last names here), emigrated separately to the Taunton-Fall River area of Massachusetts between 1900-1905, they traveled a portion of their respective journeys to the German port of Bremerhaven by train. These two railway trips likely started from the Galician town of Ternopil near their home village of Horodnica. It appears from a few, contemporary maps of this area that I have seen that trains did not service their small, country village. Some thirty years later in 1935, my mother visited this village and her relatives still residing there on her sole European trip. To end up in this remote place, she traveled in trains that began in Naples and continued through the cites of Florence, Venice, Vienna, Przemysl, Lemberg/Lvov, and then finally to Ternopil, where she managed to secure further transportation (via bus? horse-drawn wagon? automobile?) to Horodnica. That is dedication for you.

JE comments:  Splendid travelogue, Pat!  I thought I knew my Great War history, but not this fact:  the Russians surrounded the Austro-Hungarian garrison in Przemysl for 133 days, in what would be the longest siege of the war.  (For this dubious honor, I would have guessed the far shorter German siege at Liege, Belgium.)

Ah, Schwejk!  Aldona and sis-in-law Justyna posed with his Sanok counterpart back in 2014.  Click below.  I see that his Przemysl counterpart is a fan of Tyskie beer, in a real flourish of Polish nationalism.  (Tychy, the hometown of the eponymous Tyskie, was actually part of the German Empire prior to 1918.)

Wouldn't Schwejk have drunk Pilsner Urquell?


Pat Mears with the Good Soldier Schwejk, Przemysl

Connie Lohs and Schwejk

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