Being a geo-nerd
The reason for going there was that I had perceived that Jaroslav Hašek spent some time in Sarny in 1916. Radko Pytlik mentions the place, and Cecil Parrott also indicates some connection. Parrott's "The Bad Bohemian" even states that Hašek had been to a place called Berezno in Belarus, located nearby (the information was first published by Jaroslav Křížek in 1957). In Oslo, before I set off on the journey, I located the place. Then I discovered that I needed a visa to go to that (presumably) marshy hole by the river Horyn. I had backed off: common sense had prevailed and trumped my geo-nerdish fundamentalist inclinations. Former sovkhoz director Lukachenko and his loyal subjects in Berezno must have me excused.
|Chernobyl: "to the dead, the living and those not yet born"|
On the streets Russian was heard a lot more than in Lviv. Sarny had been part of the Russian Empire but was in the interwar period part of Poland. The Polish past is commemorated by a placard near the railway station and on a few occasions I was even asked if I was a Pole. Nearby there is also a plaque commemorating the victims of Chernobyl.
The elusive Regiment HQ
|Between Polyany and Berezne|
|Church near Berezne|
|A bus-stop on the road to Berezne|
But: two years later I discovered that it was ME who had been barking up the wrong tree, not Cecil Parrott and Jaroslav Křížek! His Berezno in Belarus was indeed where the 1st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was located. To add to the confusion: they were also located at Berezna in 1917, but this was another place, near Zhitomir, and his was this place Holub wrote about! I admit I was totally off track, but I am not the only one. Haškologs in general are on thin ice; even the reliable Bibliografie Jaroslava Haška gets mixed up. The accounts given by Křížek, Pytlík and Parrott are suspiciously close to a description Adam Kříž gave of Hašek and the regiment's stay in Berezna in 1917, after the battle of Zborów. It seems to me that there were quite a few dogs around, and they were barking up awfully many trees (and I was the last to join their ranks).
Later I discovered the details of Hašek's connection with Sarny. His regiment was stationed at Remczyca (15 km to the north) in May 1917, and this is the place where he appeared before a court of honour because of his infamous Czech Pickwick Klub. I was blissfully unaware of this connection and could easily have visited Remczyca (now Remchytsi). That is: if I had known about it! Amen!