He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Kaiserlich und Königlich

The k.u.k Dobbeladler
Jaroslav Hašek was transferred to Brucker Lager in Királyhida on 1 June 1915 and left for the front with his 12th March Battalion on 30 June. Brucker Lager was at the time the largest military camp and exercise ground in the entire empire and at it's  peak  up to 26,000 soldiers were located here. The camp was set up in 1867 to the east of the river Leitha, just behind Bruck railway station who until then had been the only institution of note that side of the river.
Robert Musil as k.u.k Offizier.

That year and the year before, crucial events took place in Kaisertum Österreich, the Austrian Empire. The short war with Prussia in 1866 ended in disaster, and the Hungarians exploited the situation to demand parity with Austria. This led  to the 1867 Ausgleich which granted The Kingdom of Hungary full control of internal affairs. Only foreign policy and defence were  left in common institutions. Head of state was still Franz Joseph I but from now on he was emperor only in the Austrian part of the Empire. He was crowned king  I Ferenc Jószef of Hungary the same year. The armed forces, as a common institution, subsequently became Kaiserlich und Königlich shortened to k.k or often k.u.k. These terms will of course be familiar to readers of Švejk. Even though the good Czech soldier and loyal subject served his Austrian Emperor, he served in the k.k army. The abbreviation k.k  also gave rise to the expression Kakanien, immortalised in Robert Musil's unfinished masterpiece Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without qualities). The new political entity didn't even have a manageable official name. For years it was officially known as Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und die Länder der Heiligen Ungarischen Stephanskrone. Informally it was shortened to  Austria-Hungary, the Dual Monarchy or the Danube Monarchy. Hungarians must have me excused for not providing a translation...

The river Leitha is not a  major river, being only 180 km long. Still, it's name got far more famous than it's murky waters merited. Leitha became the political border between the Austrian and Hungarian parts of the Empire. The two parts subsequently became known as Cisleithanien and Transleithanien. As the names indicate, this was seen from the Austrian side! Not that Leitha formed the border all the way, the Austrian domains of Galicia and Bukovina were east  of Hungary and geographically the Carpathians was the most important divide between the Empire of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary.
Cisleithanien in red

The 1867 Ausgleich affected Bruck an der Leitha dramatically. The eastern part with Brucker Lager and the railway station became part of Hungary, and with the policies of magyarisation  the settlement east of the Leitha changed it's name twice: in 1898 it became Uj-Bruck (New Bruck) and in 1902 it was given the name Királyhida (Kings Bridge) which is so familiar to  readers of Švejk. There was even in those times confusion on the naming and distinction between Bruck and Királyhida. Old Hungarian post-cards from Bruck are titled Királyhida and Hašek is himself muddled. Although he at one stage explicitly states that these are two towns, he at other times mixes them up.

After the Treaty of Trianon in 1921 the German speaking areas in Western Hungary were transferred to Austria and Királyhida became Bruckneudorf. A referendum left the main city of "German Hungary", Sopron, in Hungary, the rest became part of the Republic of Austria. That didn't mean that the towns got reunited as would have been natural from an administrative point of view (only the Nazis did this). After 1955  they ended up in different Bundesländer, Bruck in Niederösterreich and Bruckneudorf in Burgenland. In the meantime they had been part of the Soviet occupation zone. This administrative divide still exists and has some odd consequences...

Thus it happened that on 5 June 2010 17:00, I arrived at Bruck and der Leitha Bahnhof in Bruckneudorf, and headed for Hotel Ungarische Krone, also in Transleithanien, which was to be my home for the next week. It is located right by the river, with an excellent view across to Bruck an der Leitha and Cisleithanien.


  1. I enjoyed reading this blog as much as I did with all the previous ones. Let me make just a comment or two to it:

    "k.k." and "k.u.k." are NOT synonyms:
    k.k. (kaiserlich königlich) before the "Ausgleich" was used for all institutions covering the whole empire. After the "Ausgleich" these were called "k.u.k." (kaiserlich und königlich), whereas "k.k." was used for institutions of the Austrian (cis-leithanian) part only.

    The (never official) terminology of "Cis-Leithanien" and "Trans-Leithanien" might have been formed in analogy to the ancient Roman division of Gallia in ”Gallia cisalpina” (=Northwestern Italy) and ”Gallia transalpina” (=France). If I rember correctly Caesar’s ”De bello gallico” beginns with the words 'Gallia omnia divisa est in partes tres quarum ununm incolunt belgae ...' The other two are the cis- and the transalpine Gallia.
    Looking foreward to many more interesting blogs and wishing "Bon voyage"
    Hans-Peter Laqueur

  2. Than you both, Mr. Hønsi and Mr. Laqueur, for the information. It is much appreciated.