'From the live of  
Štefanik  in Paris'


Portrait of Milan Ratislav Štefanik
Etching by
Tavik František Šimon, 1918

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
Šimon, 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.


imon's essay in this book has been translated partly from Czech to the English language.
Translation: Catharine Bentinck
Reworded by Zbynęk Svoboda. 2008.


From the live of  Milan 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 by suicide.

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 last farewell.

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 by chance.
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 lived.

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.

Štefanik. Drawing by 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.




                                            Štefanik. Drawing by Šimon. 25,5x20cm.


End of part I.