I. Sad card game

Introduction

Some 400 years ago, the face of Europe was forever changed by a series of unprecedented conflicts beginning in 1618. In Bohemia, long-standing grievances over sovereignty and religious freedoms sparked into one of the most destructive military conflicts in history. Some of the most prominently featured belligerents in the war were the Hapsburg lead alliance of the Holy Roman Empire, The Spanish Empire, and Bavaria among others. Facing off against the variable anti-Hapsburg alliances of the Low countries (then known as the United Provinces), Denmark, Sweden, France, Saxony, the Principality of Transylvania and many of their own allies. In reference to the duration, these wars were later known collectively as the ‘Thirty years war’, a war that reverberated through, and irrevocably changed, much of the European continent, adversely affecting even the far away colonies of the New World. Chief among the affected lands were those of the Czech people, which were frequently targeted and ravaged during the conflict. Beginning with the famous Bohemian Revolt between 1618-1620, and other similar revolts of the time, as well as the campaign to Opava. Later in 1631, Saxons invaded Bohemia and even besieged, captured and held the city of Prague for a short time. Later again in 1639, Swedish led campaigns descended into our lands, successfully capturing a number of cities, with Swedish troops stubbornly holding onto Olomouc until as late as 1650. The war culminated in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the first peace conference of such scale in Europe.

The Swedish campaign of 1645 is of particular importance, as after a short lived respite from the conflict Bohemia once again became a battlefield. A large Swedish army invaded the Czech lands under the command of General Lennart Torstensson. The general and his French and Transylvanian allies launched the campaign with the grandiose plan to besiege the Hapsburg capital and Imperial residence at Vienna. This army was Swedish in name only however, as much of the rank and file of the army were in fact Mercenaries, paid for by the Swedish crown. The army comprised of a core of some one thousand Swedish troops, supported by as many as fifteen thousand mercenaries, with at least twice that number in camp followers. These mercenary contingents were mostly drawn from parts of Germany, Denmark, Scotland and much of the rest of Europe. It is highly likely that we would find a smaller number of men from Bohemia, Morava, Silesia and today´s Slovakia. The Swedish General’s ambitions did not go unchallenged however, the Hapsburg Emperor’s army attempted to stop the Swedish at the battle of Jankov, between the villages of Jankov and Ratměřice, but they were utterly defeated by the Swedish forces. The Hapsburg defeat opened the path to Vienna through Bohemia and Moravia, and all the towns in-between. The oncoming Swedish army burned, looted and in many cases utterly destroyed entire villages in their relentless march. Only the failed siege of Vienna and the stout unyielding defence of Brno halted their advance and stole complete victory from of the Swedish Campaign.

It is in this backdrop that sets the scene for the story we are about to tell, and it is in this setting we would like to introduce you to Georg Erdhart. This online series of short stories and articles will take you through a detailed narrative of his personal story, and his experiences of the events of the Thirty Years War. Georg Erdhart will be our guide through the conflict in Bohemia, offering an eyewitness account on the day to day lives of the people, and the soldiers who lived in the first half of the 17th century, when Europe was at war.

The studies on this war are innumerable, and well-crafted and gripping books have been written in their hundreds on the politics, the causes, and the results of the war. Books that analyse with extreme scrutiny, an explain with academic professionalism, how the religious implications and power disputes devolved into a contest of strength to gain, or maintain control. These books often offer comprehensive analysis of the many great battles, and the intentions of the belligerents. However this is only one scope with which to see the Thirty Years War.

In this series we hope to offer a more personal view of the war, through the eyes of the brave officers and the often overlooked common soldiery. Furthermore, to see and feel the extent and impact of the conflict through the eyes of their families, and the non-combatant civilians across society. Stories that in some cases began with the war, and in other cases ended with it. Stories that exist in their thousands, but are rarely given a voice.

It is at this point I should say that any research into the character of Georg Erdhart would be in vain. He never existed. The Soldier and Mercenary called Georg is a fictional character invented to give the reader a way to see the world of the time. Specifically, we will be spending time with Georg Erdhart in the year 1645, at the time of the Great Swedish Campaign and their invasion into the Bohemian lands.

To avoid making Erdhart a shallow fantasy, his story is followed by a Journal to act as the primary source material from which the story is drawn. The Journal entries will represent the key moments in Georg´s story. Based on these entries we will discuss these themes: soldiers, their everyday lives, military craft, personal stories, personal hardships, and the paradox of fining joy in life while struggling with the ever present fear of death. 

To add additional depth to Georg´s character we consulted a wide range of resources. His last name, for example, was inspired by a real living member of the city council in Košice at the beginning of the 17th century. Košice had a big German citizen body at the time, and therefore there was no lack of German names in the area. The first name Georg (in English ‘George’, and ‘Jiří’ in Czech) was therefore picked for its universality and applicability.

The greatest source of inspiration for the character that became the mercenary Erdhart comes from the journal of the soldier Peter Hagendorf. Hagendorf wrote in the years between 1625 to 1649, and in his unique style of writing he captured his military career with crystal clarity. He wrote about the countries he visited, as well as the things he saw, felt and experienced during his service. Hagendorf artistically illustrated both happy and tragic moments in his writing, and because of his direct and frank first person perspective on war itself, his journal is arguably an extremely valuable insight into everyday military life. More so than second hand writings, for example the novel about the Adventurous Simplicius from Jacob von Grimmelshausen. Hagendorf regretfully omitted Bohemia and much of the middle European battlefield during the year of 1645.

Other less central, but none the less important sources that inspired this story were the preserved journals and memoirs of other participants of the conflicts in the first half of the 17th century. Particular credit is due to Robert Monro, Augustin Fritch, James Turner, Nehemiah Wharton, James Spens, Sydnam Poyntz, colonel Muschamp, Alonso de Contrersas and many others. When we could not find the historical sources, we turned to specialized literature for further inspiration. As a final disclaimer, it is worth noting that any other characters, accompanying Georg on his life´s journey, are also fictional.

First Encounter

Writing was never his strength. His hands were coarse and tired from hard manual work, the signature of an uneasy life in the field. His hands had long lost the customary softness of a tailor’s son. Nevertheless, his quill danced across the paper and left in its wake the words “diesem Jahr 1645”.

He had been writing the journal for several years now, but had never made a daily habit of it. Sometimes the pause between entries was so long that Georg almost forgot he was even writing a journal. But during his most important moments, the moments that left the biggest impressions, he always tried to find a quill and something to write on, with which to commit the moment to paper.

Georg Erdhart’s story does not begin here however, it begins in 1609. He was born the son of a tailor, in the early summer of 1609, in the city of Košice, known then as Cassau. His parents, Johann Erdhart and Marie Erdhart had other children of course, of which he was the middle child. His childhood passed by quickly, and without incident considering most of it was not in fact spent with his family. It was not considered an unusual practice at the time for children to be sent into the care of guardians, as wards. These guardians were often relatives, friends, clients or important patrons and benefactors. It was by this method that the young and restless Georg found his way into the home of his father’s patron, a settled merchant and his family. The ward of a wealthy townsman, young Georg´s upbringing was privileged but unremarkable. By the custom of the time, children were often considered to be ‘small adults’, and were therefore required to contribute and to work. Georg however was more fortunate. Being schooled at the expense of his guardian Georg received an education. Given that Košice was largely a Protestant city, Georg attended a Protestant public school, situated in the vicinity of where the chapel of st. Michael stands today.

But Georg was born with an adventurous spirit and quick temper. He was ill suited to the quiet world of fabrics, numbers and business. He wasn´t a complete disappointment to his family, but they didn´t put much hope in him all the same. As a middle son he didn´t have many prospects in any case. He wouldn´t take over his father´s business and had no desire to start his own. At best, he would likely become an assistant to his older brother.

In 1625 however, a relative of his tutor and guardian, Hanz Joachym, was due to go on a business trip to Vienna. For Georg, it would be an excellent opportunity to escape an increasingly unbearable environment and to see the world. His tutor also saw in this an opportunity, a chance for the young man to have a close look at what real trade looked like, which he hoped would set him back on the right path, that of the family business.

It was not to be. While Hanz Joachym was indeed a merchant with a wide assortment of goods, he was also an adventurer with a broader arsenal of stories. Hanz knew all too well the lure of foreign and faraway lands, the call for adventure, Hanz proved unable to resist that call. As a young man he served in the Habsburg military, fighting against the Turks in long ago campaigns and battles. On their long journey to Vienna, the impressionable Georg pressed Hanz for one tale after another, reliving the adventures as if he himself had been there. It was at this time that Georg first new that he wanted to become a soldier.

It was as if fate had known of this change in Georg, and it conspired to give him an opportunity. The whole Merchant caravan was stopped in Nitra (southern Slovakia), which became the scene of a renewed insurrection against the Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand II, led by Gabriel Bethlen. At the same time the retreating protestant general Mansfeld was returning from an unsuccessful campaign in Denmark and northern Germany. Despite the need to lead his men to safety, Mansfeld was also eager to engage Hapsburg forces were possible. To this end Mansfeld hoped to link up with Bethlen and his insurrection, supplementing the numbers in his own mercenary army, and continue the war against Ferdinand II. Georg seized the opportunity. When Mansfred’s marching army crossed his path Georg enlisted without hesitation, signing on with a protestant infantry regiment. Excited, eager and happy he was not to know that this was the beginning of a sometimes tragic, sometimes cheerful, 20 year career.

The war was short lived. By 1626 Bethlen had made peace with emperor Ferdinand II in Prešporok (Bratislava). Protestant regiments were moved from northern Hungary, and the majority of them were dismissed. But Georg´s bonds to his old life were long since severed.

These years of Georg Erdhart´s life, and the adventures therein will be covered in another complimentary article. All we need for now is to know that Georg continued in his military career. With one short interlude, in which he found employment as a labourer in a river harbour, and later as the owner of a small merchant boat, trading goods up and down the river Danube. When his business stopped earning money however he scrambled to join the army once more

It was in this time that Georg began writing his journal. The further he travelled, the more places he saw, the more foreign the people he met, the more he felt compelled to capture his experience and put his memories to paper. His need to chronicle his life did not come from a place of profit or posterity, he neither wanted to sell his journal not share it with younger generations. His need was more personal, a reaction to the constant change that his life brought. His journal offered a semblance of stability in an uncertain world. A motivation shared by one of our main sources of inspiration – in the journal of Peter Hagendorf. And so Georg journal shares entries similar to those of Hagendorf’s below:

„Wiesbaden, downriver of Frankfurt, served as our headquarters under Count Pappenheim. Our captain, with the rest of the company, encamped in the region of Vogelsberg. The captain camped in Lauterbach, the company in the countryside. Here we had good quarters for twenty weeks.“

Such entries, about places through which they passed or stayed, however short or seemingly insignificant to the greater conflict, became for Peter Hagendorf and for Georg Erdhart the only way to anchor their existence in the vast theatre of war. The endless marching, seemingly from nowhere to nowhere, consumed much of their military lives and naturally features in the writing heavily. That is not to say these journals contained only information on the places they went, and the places they stayed. From time to time it was necessary to write on the events to which they were witness that drastically impacted them, and the world around them.

A Sad Card Game

4th of May

‘At sunrise we hanged Greek. Everyone called him that. He killed Burge during a card game. Schultheiss sentenced him, then left and we continued our march.‘

 

A Short entry that at first glance doesn´t give us much information, but hides within an interesting story. It wasn´t the event itself that was so important, it was that the writer thought it significant enough to need to put to paper. He considered it important to take note of the event, as it commemorates the death of his friend “Greek”.

The man who´s execution Georg witnessed, was indeed Greek in origin. His name was Alesandro Gerikaris. In one part due to his origin, and in another part his appearance, everyone adopted the moniker “Greek” for him.

Before he became known as Greek, Alesandro and his family were refugees, fleeing Ottoman rule in Greece. Ottoman rule was tough for those communities that did not convert to Islam, leading the Gerikaris family and many others to seek a new home. Many settled in in Italy, particularly around Venice, and so Alesandro´s family established themselves in the Republic of Venice. Their social status was low, and their position tenuous, but they were comparatively safe. Alesandro’s young life was not a good one however, he was treated as a slave by his guardian family, something he couldn´t bear for long, given that he too had a hot temper. Alesandro had seen the freedom with which mercenary companies moved, they were often hired by the Venetian Republic, and were never far from view. It by watching them that he had decided to become a soldier. Later, like Georg, Alesandro ran from his legal guardian and relative. He was fit and strong, and had not trouble finding a company to sign him on, and so Alesandro enlisted in the army. This is where Alesandro found a new life, and picked up his new name.

Over his career Greek transferred between companies a number of times, and despite a principled distain for Austrians he found himself in the service of the Emperor’s army all the same. He fought in many battles, and managed to avoid other less favourable engagements. Greek moved with the freedom he had dreamed of as a child. He had no wife and no children that he knew of, after all like many career soldiers was no stranger to women. He and Georg became friends early in their service together. What Greek liked about Georg was that he saw much of himself in his comrade, while Georg could always find amusement in Greek’s easiness, and occasional irascibility. Greek and Georg found in one another a way of brightening their surroundings, no matter how bleak the battlefield or gloomy the march.  In the end however, it was that same irascibility that would prove fatal for Greek, not some enemy bullet, one evening in April.

While the company with which Georg and Greek were serving were billeted in the surrounding countryside, there was something of a central meeting point known as the ‘By the Red Tree’. When off duty, or not trying to make some extra money on the side, many of the troop could be found drinking beer or wine there. The regiment didn’t seem to be going anywhere so they tried to spend their time as comfortably as possible. Any comfort found was usually short lived however, things often got so heated that the provost had to keep one of his men nearby to prevent any inequity. Regardless, in the evenings cards would materialise and the fun would take a turn

Karetní partie

So it was, one fated evening after a long patrol, Greek joined a card game. Playing against a corporal named Hanz Burge from Salzburg. Burge left Salzburg fleeing large debts and angry debtors. By that time Burge’s weakness for cards and poor business sense had already cost him two toes on his left foot, and he had suffered death threats. Never having pictured himself as a soldier, he certainly wasn’t looking for the career that found him. One night while on the run a recruiter filled his head with tales of riches won in battle, and leaving ones past life behind them. Burge signed up that night. The recruiter did prove honest in the end, no one in the company cared about Burge’s past life, and he was often able to top up his wages with loot from battle. So good to him was this life that Burge could no longer imagine a life outside of the army.

When the cards were first dealt Greek had no idea that Burge was a swindler. At first the game was going in Greek’s favour, but Burge’s suspect behaviour gave enough clues to his dishonest nature. Suspecting Burge, Greek waited until Burge began squirming again, and loudly announced to anyone that would listen that he had trouble with lice. Suddenly, Greek adroitly closed the distance between him and Burge, Seizing Burge’s wrist and pulling it from his pants from where he was ‘scratching’, Greek uncovered the card he had concealed therein.  The discovered card would have given Burge a perfect winning hand. In the midst of spilt wine and flying cards the men fought.

Zapas

Greek was an excellent soldier, and had performed with ruthless and exquisite efficiency in countless fights before this one. But now, knowing his opponent to be a swindler and an Austrian, he was overcome with blood lust and could not stop himself. Pulling a knife, Greek cleanly stabbed Corporal Hanz Burge three times in the neck. Only when Burge was in his death throes, with Greek spitting insults at the dying man, did anyone truly realise the scene that had just unfolded. By then, it was too late. 

Burge was beyond saving. Clutching his throat, eyes strained, wheezing and kicking, it was a horrific sight, and it was all over in less than a minute. Burge was dead.

Hansovi už není pomoci

It wasn’t until Burge was dead that Greek had calmed and realised what he had done. Unfortunately for Greek the commotion caused had caught the attention of one of the provost’s men, and soon thereafter the Provost himself. They took Greek and beat him mercilessly with staffs until he was barely conscious, and then they put him in shackles and dragged him to the Captain.

Greek’s prospects were bleak. While the Captain had the authority to pass sentence, there were so many other transgressors that the Captain chosen to delegate and called for a judge to come and oversee proceedings.

Shackled to the porch of the house the Captain was billeted in, Greek waited three days under guard, eating only stale bread and drinking water.

Finally, the Judge arrived with his whole retinue, including the Hangman. He passed sentences, and adjudicated on punishments. Nine men were on trial, charged with all manner of offences, including murder, rape, theft, and even falling asleep while on watch. Of the nine, five were sentenced to death by hanging, one by gunshot, and three received heavy corporal punishments. Military law can be merciless. But in Greeks case, it was not a particularly hard sentence to pass, he had after all been seen killing a fellow soldier and comrade. So, Alesandro Gerikaris, a mercenary nicknamed Greek, was sentenced by court martial to death by hanging.

This tale is short, and gloomy, but we are given an excellent example of the value of Georg as a primary source for military life during the Thirty Years War. We saw interesting themes in this introductory episode such as gambling in the army, and the realities and practice of Military law on the march.  Future episodes will revisit these themes, and follow the same structure.

Gambling in the Army

Illustrations and depictions of soldiers playing cards, or gambling by other means, were very popular among 17th century painters. We could mention the paintings of David Teniers Junior, Peter Quast and Peter Sneyers as examples.

Peter Sneyers Karetní hraci

These depictions show us more than just gambling. Gambling came hand in hand with other activities, drinking of course but smoking too, as by the 17th century pipes were common. After all a military life was not an easy one, nor was it very entertaining. Soldiers often had to endure extended periods of idleness, in the field and during sieges, which could last months. The few available tasks such as patrolling, offered little release from the monotony. Soldiers therefore were often in search of distraction, moments to brighten the gloom. Gambling was obviously common, it also offered a chance at the thrill of victory, and some extra cash besides.

Gambling, and specifically card games at the time of the Thirty Years War, often manifested in games such as ‘Piquet’, especially in Germany. Originally a Spanish card game, it was first mentioned in 1532 in the novel “The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel”. The game spread quickly in the 17th century, gaining great popularity and is even played to this day. Card games with principles, rules, trumps and scoring cards were quite popular.

Despite its transparent presence, gambling and the accompanying habits were often frowned upon, and if possible restricted by the command structure. The activities themselves were seen as degenerate, but more importantly corrosive to an armies cohesion, morals and discipline. Even in the absence of cheats and swindlers, alcohol combined with loss and frustration all tied together with gambling is a recipe for trouble. Fortune after all could not be with everyone at the table, and every loss risked confrontation.

So it was that this kind of entertainment was forbidden, or at least heavily restricted and policed. After all, armies survival was completely dependent on cohesion and discipline, especially in armies made of varied mercenaries. In part due to this, beginning in the 16th century, armies became increasingly regulated by their own legal systems, establishing order and securing discipline among soldiers and officers. 

Military Law (and Order)

The disassociation of soldiers with civilians began in the 16th century, soldiers were seen less and less as citizens and more and more as separate entities. Armies therefore adopted the practice of maintaining order with their own laws and judges. This practice had changed very little by the time of the thirty years war, but the war itself would extensively evolve military law interpretations well into the 17th and 18th centuries. Simply outlined, the responsibility of maintaining order fell to the regimental level. A part of the officers body was a regimental judge, a regimental advocate, court officials and in some cases even executioners and hangmen. Such examples can be seen in Swedish Regiments around 1632, which included two judges (Shults), a hangman, and a regimental advocate (Gerichts webell). In addition there were four provosts, an early styling of Military Police, called ‘profost marshalls’.

Trials, or court martials, were led by the regimental judge, largely referred to a ‘Schultheiss’ in central Europe (or in a Swedish regiment, simply ‘schultz’). Judgment was often passed according to the will of the regiments commanding officer. At the time of the Thirty Years War such trials, or ‘standrecht’, were widely used to maintain order. It was an effective and efficient way of publicly punishing an offender without delay.

The responsibility to maintain day to day order fell to the lower ranks of the regimental hierarchy. The men charged with these duties were usually specially appointed officers and non-commissioned officers, usually titled as ‘provosts’, and rarely known as anything else. These provosts would have their own subordinates, making up an early military police force.

These men kept order in the camps. Provosts ensured that soldiers behaved and that they respected the vendors and tradesmen that travelled with and supplied the army. In some instances of Habsburg armies there even existed the post of ‘Hurenwebel’. A post created for the protection of the un-married women who travelled with the army, and offered their services to lonely soldiers, at cost of course. While the leaders of armies often disliked this kind of female companion in their army, they tolerated them all the same, understanding that it was unfeasible to forbid such services. 

These regulations were clearly detailed in military law books. Therein articles on the more frequent and predictable crimes and violations were noted, together with suggested punishments for such offences. Soldiers were also expected to be aware of these regulations, as they were often read to the regiment during mustering. The extent to which soldiers did know and understand these regulations is uncertain however.

Up until the Thirty Years War these laws were pretty similar between armies and through the eras. It was often a case that the high command would take existing principles and adapted them to suit the conditions of a campaign. Arguably, the most popular orders were those established by Maurice Nassau in 1590, and later by Gustav Adolf II 1621, and by Ferdinand I in 1526. The latter order was later modified by Charles V and Maximillian II, it remained in use until the end of the Thirty years War. All of these orders were wide spread, printed in many places and into different languages. The Code of Gustav Adolf II for example was translated no only into German, but also into English. It had also seen many reprints, even as late as 1647, fifteen years after the authors death.

These military orders were largely devoted to detailing violations of a soldiers duty. Examples such as not attending to a watch or guard duty, sleeping or drinking while on watch, as well as ill-treatment of weapons, equipment, and camp quarters. 

There was also a certain focus on a soldiers religious practices. Requiring soldiers to behave as good Christians, to not use profane language and of course to attend prayers. The use of these regulations was likely controversial during the Thirty Years War, given the culture of rebellion against dictatorial worship practices in military subculture.

Naturally, commanders actively tried to restrict soldiers opportunities to break discipline. Soldiers had restrictions on the right to gather in groups, communicating with the enemy, leaving the campsite, and so on. Soldiers were even expected to perform labouring tasks such as fortifying the camp, or digging latrines, without complaint. Punishments for disobedience were harsh. Other articles of these legal mandates cover behaviour towards civilians and their property. These laws covered more than just behaviour, the camp, and the march however. Grave regulations and punishments for cowardice on the battlefield were written about extensively.

While instigators in brawls, fights, duels and of course murders were often treated to the death sentence, Punishments for lighter offence were comparatively light. Examples of such punishments included being clapped in irons, running the gauntlet, the wooden mule, a beating etc. Other laws governed decency however, Swedish law utilised some interesting alternatives to punishment. For example, if a soldier was caught with a woman who was not his wife, in case they were both unmarried, he would be required to marry her, and treat her as his rightful wife.

This raises the question, how strictly were these regulations observed, policed and executed? Rules were often bent, for example there was a practice of promising soldiers the plunder of conquered cities. This in fact was often the only motivation to encourage soldiers to attack heavily defended fortifications. The same practice was often applied to enemy territory. This would redefine a more selfish pursuit for wealth, into a sanctioned plundering. With looting being a crime and plundering being a strategy, a distinction was mandated. This is an example of one of the many legal paradoxes of the time. Another example would be that during a campaign, with death a constant companion, overzealous executions could do more harm than any enemy. What would the sentence be therefore if there were for example a dozen offenders? To execute them all would deplete the morale of the unit, as well as cripple its battle readiness. In these cases it was a common practice to select only a couple exemplary offenders for punishment. Selection could be decided by chance, or by the fate of game. Severity or leniency could be decided, for example, in a game of dice. This scene is a classic motive on painting from this period, it became most “popular” thanks to the engraving by Jacques Callot.

Jacques Callot

We could therefore justly suppose that a significant number of offences calling for the death sentence were negated in favour of less severe punishment. Imprisonment, fines, corporal punishment, property confiscation, degradation, or anything else that the officers could think of.  Another reason for negated or reduced sentences might be pay stoppages. Discipline crashed when troops weren’t paid, and as one Dutch author said in 1650: “One could not hang those whom one did not pay”.

What we have discussed thus far might give the impression that military law focussed on the common soldier only, but regulations was as strict for the soldiery as it was for the officers and commanders. They were subject to different rules of course. For example, one could hardly accuse a senior officer of falling asleep on watch if he had no such duties. Greater emphasis was however placed on exemplifying the armies ideals of honour, and bravery. Cowardice or treason received heavy punishments therefore. So much as being accused of treason could mean that any given officer was only a step away from execution. 

A whole other chapter would be offences and punishments not covered by military order. It was a common practice, especially before the Thirty years War, that officers would pass flippant or arbitrary sentences at will. In some cases the abuse of power went so far as to lead to mutiny. There was a specific case in a Spanish army in the 16th century. Soldiers made their voices heard, and made terms with their officers that every corporal and non-corporal punishment must be rightfully justified and based on a provable offence.

Life in a 17th century army was far from easy, especially from the view of maintaining discipline and order. Georg Erdhart was fortunate to never find in any such situations as those above. Not that he was guiltless. His own small offences of too much alcohol from time to time, gambling occasionally and sometimes taking an unobserved break while digging the trenches, went unnoticed and he escaped the punishment.

Viselec

 

 

Writen by Tomáš Koch to proper english translated and edited by Nicholas Weaver