Maybe the most important
book about Štefánik was published in
1929, redactor was Arnost Bares and the
book (420 pages, bound, 27,5x23 cm, 78 photographs) was printed by the Czech
Graphic Union in Prague. It is called "Štefánikuv
Memorial", Praha, Památnik Odboje, 1929.
Some of the people who contributed to the book are Arnost Bares, Josef Bartusek,
Rudolf Medek (a poem), Hana Gregorová, Jan Zikmundík, Prof. Dr. Jan Konrád,
Alois Kalvoda, F.X. Svoboda, Fr. Bílý, B. Kafka, Tavik František
Hugo Boettinger, Stefan Krcméry, Ruzena Svobodová, Vojteska Vanecková, V.
Tille, K.J. Zákoucký, Camille Flammarion, Camille Mauclaire, Jan Havlasa, J.A.
Amédet, A.V. Novák, J. Rivnác, Fedor Houdek, Anatole de Monzie, Marshal Lyautey,
T.G. Masaryk, Dr. Eduard Benes, Marshal Foch, General Weygand, Major Prat, Major
Roger Vitrat, Major Dangelzer, Dr. Svetislav Predic, Josef Procházka, C. Boas de
Jouvenel, Bertrand de Jouvenel (son of C. Boas de Jouvenel), C. Picard, J.
Sauerwein, Aristide Briand, Louise Weiss, Prof. Hartmann, Camille Barrčre,
General Girard, General Berthelot, Count Lareinty de Tholozan, Dr. J. Markovic,
V.E. Orlando, General A. Diaz, Arnaldo Agnelli, Gen. V. Zupelli, Gen. Pietro
Badoglio, Count R.A. Galenga Stuart, Rafaela de Vita, Enrico Scodnik, Admiral
Lacaze, Jean Jusserand, Dr. Lev Sychrava, Julien Luchaire, Josef Rybka, Emil
Konrád, Jan Seba, Ferd. Písecký, General Maurice Janin, Dr. Josef Kudela, Ing.
Ant. Pavel, Major Tulasne, Dr. Lev Sychrava, Dr. Ivan Markovic, General E. Mittelhauser,
Adolf Cerný and J.Bohác.
'From the live
Štefanik in Paris'
When I was told on a nice day in the
spring of the year 1919 in my atelier in Rue Humboldt by my friend Dr.
Stech of the unbelievable announcement, the tragic news of the death of my
friend Milan Štefánik, I was astonished, however I had to believe his words.
This had to be the end of Štefánik! It reminds me of his live in Paris before
the war, when he acted sometimes voluntarily,
dangerously and resolutely. There is no answer yet to the question whether his
death was caused accidentally or by a catastrophe, by an enemy attack or perhaps
I had looked forward to meet him again very much after several horrible war
years but this great hero, a general, our prospective minister of
Military Forces, an extraordinary human being, a kind and honest friend is not
among living beings anymore. He was killed like Ikarus by a fall from the
heights of the Sum and the stars where he always headed and where he –
physically weak and small man – was driven to go by passion, ambition and desire
for glory, success and even sensation.
Then I started to remember hundreds of characteristic episodes from the life of
my friend Štefánik, during the time we stayed in Paris. I recalled under a
different point of view what had been in the beginning. I recalled his
breathtaking career and its individual phases. I recalled his expressions,
proverb and words, his anxiety and apprehensions, fearless actions and fantastic
plans, his often and mysterious illness, his extraordinary smiling face, so
often exhausted and distorted by deep thoughts and sleepless nights, his bright
blue eyes many times inflamed by hard work and lack of sleep.
I recalled our first accidental meeting and acquaintance in autumn 1904 in the
cheap restaurant ‘Amiot’ on the Saint Michel Boulevard where I regularly came at
noon to dine on with two fine artists Spaniel
and Kafka, and other people. I brought to mind also our stay and friendly
contact in Paris in May 1914, when Štefánik had
returned from the Hospital
of Anger after a heavy stomach-operation. That was thus our
It was really a casual encounter, the first time I met him. My favourite Paris
quarter had always been the Quarters Latin. Following me, Czech fellow artists
and friends moved to this quarter one after another. It was my friend painter F.
Michl, sculptors Spaniel and Kafka, later painter Strumple and the illustrator
Placek. Štefánik had called us once for a fun a ‘bunch of fumblers’. The oldest
Paris residents were of course: Kupka living in Montmartre, A. Wiesner in
Neuilly, J. Dedina and K. Spillar in Montrouge but we met them occasionally or
We were youthful, had the same interest and modern
thinking, always overflowing with merriment, and although our work was
different, the relation with them was amicable and somehow amusing. We did not
have much money but we had strong appetite for life, especially for the Parisian
life, and the sense of humour and merriment was never missing.
We were happy in a Bohemian way. We used to go for lunch to some restaurant at
noon and instead of dinner, we rather went to some café-house at Bulmys(?),
where we could sit, with a glass of café or another drink, relaxing, talking and
sketching till or even over midnight.
This was at the beginning of my stay in Paris – in the end of February 1904 when
I came there with my friend Michl.
One autumn day at noon, a young stranger appeared suddenly at the Amiat’s. We
surely would not had noticed him if the Czech newspaper “Narodni Listy’ could
not be seen in the pocket of his coat hanging on the coat rack. Some little
Czech fellow again, we said with Spaniel and Kafka to ourselves with a little
scorn and we observed the strange provincial appearance of the novice foreigner
and noticed his self-conscious behaviour. We noticed also his distress and his
funny French pronunciation during his conservation with a ‘garcon’ and we were
making jokes about according to his habit. This probably has drawn his attention
and Štefánik then became closer to us and asked us if we were Czechs by a
change, and introduced himself as a Doctor Milan Štefánik from Slovakia, an
astronomer. We introduced ourselves to him too and soon we asked him questions
such as what he was going to do in Paris, how long he would stay and where he
lived. After dinner, we walked together along the boulevard and we accompanied
him talking all the way ‘Cluny Square’Hotel, well-known to me and located on
the corner of St. Germain Boulevard and St. Michel Boulevard, where Štefánik
I had a great sympathy for him, in the first place
because he was Slovak and Slovaks were something like
fashion in those days in our country. Their students
were invited to the best Czech families, Slovak national
songs were sung in café-houses, restaurants and pubs
etc. However, this astronomer and his science was
for us the main attraction.
Dressed in a modest dark lounge-suite, waddling, his
figure was relatively small. However, his face with
traces of smallpox revealed spirited and active
expression, which was brighten up by his pale blue eyes.
He had a moustache and full beard, rather sparse, which
gave him older and more serious, respectful look. He
spook Czech but with a strange Slovak accent using in
his speech many Slovak words and expressions.
We were impressed by his intelligence and his unusual
profession immediately during our first meeting.
Šimon in a sketchbook (Paris, 1905).
So, the next day we met again
at Amiat’s and after that he used to go with us to our evening discussions and
walks around the café-houses talking about his life, experiences and plans. He
told us the most frequently about the astronomy and natural sciences and we
listened to him with great pleasure and curiosity. He described to us his
studies, his family, his student life in
Hungary and in Prague and his contacts
with important Czech people and Prague families, among others with Professor
Zenfrov, for whom he had a great admiration.
End of part I.