Josef Šnejdárek

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Josef Šnejdárek
Josef Šnajdárek (1875-1945).jpg
Šnejdárek in uniform of the French Foreign Legion
Born (1875-04-02)2 April 1875
Napajedla, Moravia, Austria-Hungary
Died 13 May 1945(1945-05-13) (aged 70)
Casablanca, French Morocco
Buried at Casablanca (until 1996), Napajedla (since 1996)
Allegiance Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary
France France
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Service/branch Flag of legion.svg French Foreign Legion
Logo Czechoslovak Army (pre1961).svg Czechoslovak Army
Years of service 1895–1935; 1940
Rank General of the army
Battles/wars Second Franco-Moroccan War
World War I
Poland–Czechoslovakia war
World War II

Josef Šnejdárek (2 April 1875 in Napajedla – 13 May 1945 in Casablanca) was a Czech soldier. He served 28 years in the French Foreign Legion, before joined Czechoslovak Army. He saw service in World War I, the Poland–Czechoslovakia war over Cieszyn Silesia and in the war with the Hungarian Soviet Republic over territories in today's Slovakia.

Early life and French Foreign Legion[edit]

Šnejdárek was born into a miller's family. After graduating from the cadet school he entered the Austro-Hungarian Army and served in Budapest and Innsbruck. He left the Austro-Hungarian Army and joined the French Foreign Legion. During his service there he took a part in North African battles.

In World War I Šnejdárek fought on the Western Front, was wounded several times and awarded. He served then in the Czechoslovak Legion in France.

In 1919 Šnejdárek returned to Czechoslovakia (as a French citizen). He became the commander of Czechoslovak forces operating in Cieszyn Silesia and led his forces in a short conflict with Poland. He later became the divisional commander in battles against the Hungarian Soviet Republic in nowadays Slovakia, where he was victorious in the battle of Zvolen. It was not until 1927 that Šnejdárek formally left the French Army and joined the Czechoslovak Army. According to his memoirs, he never lost - neither battle nor duel, of which he had scores.

Czechoslovak Army[edit]

In the Czechoslovak Army Šnejdárek was promoted to General and was the army commander in Slovakia. In 1932 he gave orders to fortify Petržalka with concrete bunkers, nine of which were built.

Later life[edit]

Šnejdárek retired in the 1930s. In 1939 he went in exile to France. When France was defeated by Nazi Germany he went to North Africa, where he died. In 1996 his remnants were transferred from Casablanca to the family grave in Napajedla.

Life timeline[edit]

  • 2 April 1875: Born in Napajedla
  • 18 August 1895:: After graduating a cadet school in Prague, he is accepted as cadet to Austro-Hungarian Army. He is detached to the headquarters of 2nd Rear Regiment in Budapest.
  • 1 November 1895: Promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to 14th Rear Battalion in Innsbruck. Later, during leave, for a couple of days he volunteers to fight alongside the Turkish Army, which was defending Preveza against the Greeks. He shoots two or three foes, while an injury leaves a scar on his head. Later he spends 30 days in an Austrian Army prison for the engagement.
  • 1 October 1896: On his own request Šnejdárek leaves the Austro-Hungarian Army. After this, he travels around the Mediterranean Basin, North Africa and Central Africa for about two years.
  • 24 January 1899: Šnejdárek voluntarily enters the French Foreign Legion as a private, 2nd Class
  • 10 May 1900: Enters his first military campaign in the Sahara
  • 19 May 1900: First wounds in a fight against the Bedouin
  • 26 September 1900: Promoted to Corporal
  • 1 March 1901: Promoted to Sergeant
  • 1 April 1906: Promoted to Sergeant major, awarded French citizenship and starts studying
  • 1 April 1907: After graduating from military school in Saint-Maixant he is promoted to Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Regiment of Algerian Gunners
  • 1 April 1909: Promoted to Lieutenant
  • 25 September 1911: Transfers to 4th Regiment of Algerian Gunners
  • 4 June 1912: Marries Cathérine de Constantin
  • 24 June 1912: Starts military expedition in Morocco
  • 15 April 1913: Transferred to 4th Regiment of the Colonial Infantry
  • 11 July 1913: Sent for recuperative leave to Tunisia
  • 2 August 1914: Reaches German-French frontline as a secondary troop commander
  • 21 September 1914: Wounded in First Battle of the Aisne
  • 25 September 1914: Promoted to Captain and cited in the army report for bravery
  • 12 February 1915: After recovery returns to the frontline
  • 16 June 1915: Wounded in Battle of Arras
  • 1 August 1915: Daughter Miriam was born
  • 17 November 1917: Transferred as Liaison officer to Czechoslovak Army in France
  • 21 January 1918: Designated the position of adjutant of commander of Czechoslovak 21st Regiment of Gunners
  • 13 December 1918: Promoted to Major and designated the position of temporary commander of the Czechoslovak 21st Regiment of Gunners
  • 4 January 1919: Returns to Czechoslovakia
  • 15 January 1919: Appointed to be commander of the Army Inspectorate of Moravian Ostrava (at the time the city was divided into Silesian and Moravia parts)
  • 17 January 1919: Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed to be commander of armies in the Cieszyn Silesia region
  • 23 January 1919: Starts military operation against Polish units in Cieszyn Silesia, starting the Polish–Czechoslovak War
  • 30 January 1919: Prepares for the battle of Skoczów
  • 31 January 1919: The Polish–Czechoslovak War ends by the command of Czechoslovak Minister of Defence, Šnejdárek's units stand down
  • 23 February 1919: Promoted to Colonel and appointed to position of Czechoslovak delegate to The Entente Commission in Warsaw
  • 31 May 1919: Appointed to position of commander of 2nd infantry division, which was at the time fighting in Central Slovakia against Hungarian Soviet Republic. He immediately turns the course of war in favour of Czechoslovakia
  • 10 June 1919: Starts offensive against Hungarian Bolsheviks at his part of the front
  • 13 June 1919: Prevails in Battle of Zvolen
  • 17 September 1919: Appointed to be commander of Prague garrison, eliminates leftist guerilla bands
  • 30 December 1919: Included in French Army mission in Czechoslovakia
  • 11 July 1920: Son Jiří is born
  • 19 November 1920: Promoted to Brigadier General
  • 29 December 1920: Appointed to be commander of 9th Infantry Division in Trnava
  • 24 November 1921: During Czechoslovak mobilisation appointed to be commander of the Danube sector
  • 31 January 1923: Appointed to be the commander of 7th Infantry Division in Olomouc
  • 1 December 1924: Appointed to be the commander of 11th Infantry Division in Košice
  • 10 February 1925 Promoted to Major General
  • 15 September 1925: Appointed to be the army commander in Košice
  • 7 June 1926: Promoted to Lieutenant General
  • 5 January 1927: Following his own request retires from French Army
  • 15 February 1927: Cleared from duties to the French Army
  • 16 February 1927: Submits Czechoslovak citizenship certificate and is accepted into the Czechoslovak Army
  • 13 November 1930: Promoted to General
  • 31 December 1932: Appointed to be the army commander in Bratislava
  • 30 September 1933: Receives annual evaluation beyond praise from general Jan Syrový (chief staff officer)
  • 30 September 1934: Receives negative annual evaluation from general Krejčí (new chief staff officer)
  • 11 October 1934: Chief-of-staff wants Šnejdárek to retire
  • 2 April 1935: Takes leave before retirement
  • 28 June 1935: Handed retirement notice
  • 1 July 1935: Retires, lives in Bratislava
  • 20 November 1938: Appointed the commander of National Gunners Guards
  • 14 March 1939: As he lives in Bratislava, he receives citizenship of the Slovak Fascist State
  • 31 March 1939: Relieved from position of commander of the National Gunners Guards
  • 2 June 1939: Goes into exile
  • 1 March 1940: Temporarily resumes active duty in Czechoslovak Exile Army in France
  • 5 November 1940: Following the fall of France leaves for Northern French Africa
  • 13 May 1945: Dies in Casablanca
  • 1996: His remains are relocated to his hometown of Napajedla, Czech Republic[1]


Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with palm.jpg Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Palm
Ruban de la Croix de guerre des Théâtres d'opérations extérieures.PNG Croix de guerre TOE
Ruban de la Médaille d'Outre-Mer.PNG Colonial Medal with Algeria and Sahara Clasps
Ruban de la Médaille commémorative du Maroc 1909.PNG Morocco commemorative medal
Ordre du Nichan Iftikhar Officier ribbon (Tunisia).svg Tunisian Order of Glory IV. Class
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Legion of Honour, Knight
Medaille (Insigne) des Blesses Militaires ribbon.svg Insignia for the Military Wounded
Czechoslovak War Cross 1918 (2x) Bar.png Czechoslovak War Cross 1918 with Oak Leaves
Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg Legion of Honour, Officer
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War I Victory Medal
TCH CS revolucni medaile BAR.svg Czechoslovakian Revolutionary Medal
UK Order St-Michael St-George ribbon.svg Order of St Michael and St George, III. Class
Commendatore OCI Kingdom BAR.svg Order of the Crown of Italy III. Class - Commander
Ord.St.Sava-ribbon.jpg Order of St. Sava, II. Class
Star of Romania Ribbon.PNG Order of the Star of Romania, I. Class with Swords
MAR Order of the Ouissam Alaouite - Grand Officer (1913-1956) BAR.png Order of Ouissam Alaouite, II. Class
Ruban de la Médaille commémorative de la bataille de Verdun.PNG Verdun Medal
Legion Honneur Commandeur ribbon.svg Legion of Honour, Commander
Order of the Crown of Romania-Ribbon 1881-1932 100x30px.jpg Romanian Order of the Crown, I. Class with Swords


In 1939 Šnejdárek published his autobiography, Co jsem prožil ("What I Lived Through"). It was published again in 1994 under the name Pochoduj, nebo zemři! ("March or Die!").

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Šnejdárek, Josef (1994). Pochoduj, nebo zemři (in Czech). Most: Elka Press.