Rise and Fall of a Secret Courier by Alan Svejk

How my Grandpa influenced the Czech history?

Let me tell you a truthful tale of valor and life mistakes. This almost 100 years old matter influenced my professional direction, and it affects every day of my life now.

Rise and Fall of a Secret Courier by Alan SvejkMy Grandpa was a very brave soldier, faithful servant of the state and higher interests, but controversial as a person. It is only me in this whole world, who is willing and obliged to do something in his affair yet. Of course, that I have my own interests in this matter too – but some remedies should be made. To get a late state medal for my Grandpa, for example, to be capable and best in my business, so his life failure can be reformed somehow. Is it even possible?

The basic personal military file of my Grandpa was declassified recently, so the following information is exact, suported by written and official evidence, so I can partially recover his life steps now.

My Grandpa was one of the millions of soldiers in the ruthless World War I. He joined the Army already in 1911, as a conscript, after finishing high school and choosing the accountant profession. His mandatory military service was ending, when the war was declared in 1914. He became the prisoner of war soon, voluntarily, as many of his comrades on the Eastern front. They rejected to fight for Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In 1915, still in the prisoner camp, he found somehow, that our national military forces are to be established in Russia, serving the idea of future Czech independence from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. He wrote a persuasive letterto the responsible persons, that he would like to participate in this noble mission of our independence, still only an illusion at that time. The response letter he received exists to this day.

They delegated him to organize the recruitment and screening of the candidates, so no foreigners would infiltrate the ‚Czech Company‘ ranks. He was the active and devoted servant, brave in battles his unit fought, so he went up in the ranks. In 1918, when the war was coming to an the end, he was already serving as an adjutant of Military Counterintelligence command.

The Czech forces in Russia trusted him, so they tasked him with dangerous missions: to become a Secret Courier, and carry packets of the highest importance through the enemy lines, without any protection or support, deep in foreign territory, and alone.

Our future president T.G. Masaryk became an important player in shaping the idea of our sovereignity in that time. There was a lot of negotiations with powerful countries: United States, Great Britain, and France. Telephone was not possible to use for sending these secret materials, so couriers must be used. It should be reminded, that the Russian authorities became hostile to the Czech Legion, after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. So he would be executed as a spy, as he probably had no documents, and he wore civilian clothes.

And then: in one transient moment in April 1918, my Grandpa had the future of Czech republic in his own hands – literally.

That time, T.G. Masaryk was travelling through the whole Russia to Siberia by train, to board a ship and continue to the United States, to negotiate with the president Woodrow Wilson.

My Grandpa was sent to pick up and save the manuscript of the most important book, which was written by T.G. Masaryk during this trip. The name makes very clear, how important this book was: „The New Europe”. In fact, this was the first written and complex thought, how the Europe should look like after the war, so the Slavic nations can have their own destiny and freedom. Our territory was still a part of Austria-Hungary, and war was still going.

So Grandpa had to go through the enemy lines to get it, and bring it back, so the book could be published, and it could start influencing our soldiers and future state elite, to fight for independence. They would be the first soldiers of our new state.

My Grandpa carried it personally, and risked his life to deliver this critical package. He was even caught on the way by the Red authorities, but he managed to escape the detention.

Anyway, he delivered it successfully, and the rest is well-known history. Our Legion published the book, dedicated directly to Legion soldiers, in a local Czech magazine, and the idea of our state could grow and get strong. Grandpa then made at least two more dangerous trips: one to support the troop transport to France, and later, he carried a package from Joint Allied Command. He also participated in heavy fighting.

Several months later, the war was over and our independency became reality.

But the war was not over for Grandpa and his fellow soldiers. Because of complicated international relations, they could not be repatriated, and they got stuck in Russia till 1920. My Grandpa was serving as the secretary of Red Cross mission in Kiev that time.

In 1920, he finally came home, as a courier of the new Czech diplomacy, after delivering the last packet. He left the Army for a while, but then volunteered again, and served with the rank of the Captain of Infantry.

But somehow, his career halted. He had some discipline issues, and the Army noticed it. In 1925, he stood at the military court, and all of his misconducts in previous years were put together, with the most unpleasant result: he was dishonorably discharged from the Army, and he lost the right for military social aid. But his alleged sins seem quite minor. His defense attorney performed poorly.

Allegedly, he was tired of military life, and he wanted something else in life. He complained about low military wage. But I know today, that this was a serious mistake. Because he became nobody. He made no further career in the civilian environment. He never married, and never had a family. He never published a book about his Legion experience, as he declared in 1920s.

Of course, there can be an alternative explanation of this – if he was activated by the (Counter) Intelligence, and tasked with some mission in deep cover, it would be good to stage his disciplinary discharge, to manufacture his ‚legend‘, as the Intelligence community calls it. But this is the theory unable to confirm or deny – only a speculation.

Why he didn´t contact his former Legion superiors, to offer him a possibility of a good work place, where he could be useful? But he had his reasons maybe, to stay out of security branch.

In 1950s, when Communists persecuted their enemies heavily, my Grandpa was detained in a prison, allegedly for some unwise talk about the new Red government. His former Legion participation, plus connection with T.G. Masaryk, hated by the Communists as the symbol of the ‚old‘ regime, was also not for his benefit. But he was released eventually.

Anyway, nothing remained after him to this day – only this military file and forgotten dreams of success he maybe ever had, like everybody of us. He spent his last years living with some widow. He passed away unexpectedly, and she sent just a several personal belongings to my Grandma. And then the life tale of my Grandpa was concluded – until recently.

I feel obliged to ask the Czech state authorities for a late state medal for my Grandpa. He received some medals in 1920, but in that time, nobody knew, how miserably his life will end. Of course, it was his own decisions and mistakes – but it is now 100 years anniversary of our independence, and my Grandpa was very close to it, he contributed to it directly, widely and without question. So let´s say it should be some anniversary medal. I am certain that Grandpa would be pleased, that modern Czech government would recognize him, a long forgotten soldier.

Even if my first official suggestion will be rejected, I will try in following years, improving my arguments and reasons, until 2018, when there will be a new president elected, and it will be exactly 100 years from the most heroic deed of my Grandpa. A new president means new laws and approach.

And finally: I should learn from his example and take care, so I will not end so miserably as Grandpa eventually. His example is a serious warning, how a certain approach to life can end.

Rise and Fall of a Secret Courier by Alan Svejk PDF

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