Born in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia in 1913, Vaclav only distantly remembers the time before his homeland's independence; the son of a factory worker, who became a factory worker in turn, his scant education did nothing to alter the idea he was raised with: that the old tyrannies of monarchy had given way before the freedom of the workers, embodied by communism. Though his life was no better than that of the generation before, Vaclav grew to adulthood during a turning point in the time of his homeland, and with all the zeal of youth, he took part.

Though of poor education, Vaclav had always been intelligent, reflected in the ease with which he learned languages; though hardly unique in that trait (sitting at the crossroads of Europe, most in the Czech state learned the tongues of their neighbors), his spelling in foreign languages is worse than most.

He joined the Communist Party as soon as he went to work, at age 15. Employed in the Skoda Works manufacturing tools of war for the Czechoslovak army, Vaclav was one of many of the younger party members who- as Hitler's Germany intrigued in the Sudetenland, saw Spain as the front lines in the war against fascism.

He traveled to Paris to volunteer, and from there to Spain, assigned first to the XII International brigade. Trained as a machine gunner, he was reassigned to K Company of the XI International during the reorganization of the XIIth, following it's devastating casualties in the Battle of Madrid.

When three corporals died in the storming of Boadilla, Vaclav was chosen to occupy one of the vacancies. After that, Vaclav collected a colorful assortment of nicknames for his short temper, stern manner, and the severity of the wounds he survived in fighting with a squad of K Company through the fields of the war's most desperate fighting.

Over the course of the civil war, he personally led twenty-six combat missions (in addition to four actions as a subordinate), and survived wounds in twenty-one separate actions. Following the Munich Agreement in which Czechoslovakia's allies endorsed the partition of Czech lands (and the occupation of Pilsen by German forces), the disbandment of the International Brigades in Spain left Vaclav to go into exile; a solider left alive after the death of his homeland and idealism alike.

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