History's Last Knight in Shining Armor: The Odd Story of Josef Mencik the Knight Who Stood Up Against Nazi Germany in 1938

 A lone knight in full armor plate and with drawn sword sits atop his mighty warhorse before his castle as the sun rises and burns away the early morning fog.

His name is Josef Mencik.

He claims that he can trace his noble knightley lineage back for generations--all the way to, perhaps, the 12th century.

The name of his family castle, one which he has spent a lifetime fortifying, is Dobrs.  It is a massive stone walled edifice with enormous turreted towers that sits atop a hillside amidst a tiny village in central Europe.

He knows that they’re coming that morning.  He knows that they’re coming not just for him, but for his entire nation.

Josef Mencik knows that as the last in a long line of noble knights on horseback, the last practitioner of the Medieval art and way of life known as chivalry, that he must stand against them.

Josef Mencik knows, even if he has to do it all alone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and martyr himself in the effort if need be, that it is his sworn duty to defend Christendom against this onslaught of unspeakable evil that has befallen his country.

So he sits firm, with sword drawn and at the ready, atop his horse clutching his shield as the sun comes up over the horizon.

He can hear them, feel them even, coming up the hill towards his castle before he can see them in the distance.  It begins as a rumbling in the earth--a shaking of the ground like a man-made earthquake that vibrates up through his horse and rattles his armor.

Within minutes he can see them coming to take Dobrs--his castle.

A long, snaking, seemingly unending line of steel and iron emitting smoke and the sound of metal gears grinding--tanks!  German panzers ready to storm the walls of his castle.

Josef Mencik raises his sword high above his head, gives a shout and a prayer to Heaven, and charges on horseback towards the line of Nazi tanks!

The date is September 30, 1938 and Josef Menick, owner of Dobrs Castle and quite possibly the last medieval knight in shining armor then on the planet earth, is ready to single-handedly defend his homeland of Czechoslovakia against the blitzkrieg of Nazi Germany…

Josef Mencik

As could probably be expected of a man who purported to be a Medieval knight during World War Two, not much is known about the life of Josef Mencik.  There are few details about who he actually was or where he actually came from.

It is known that Mencik was born in February of 1911 which would have made him a still youthful twenty-seven years old in 1938 during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Sources say that from an early age Mencik was extremely patriotic and proud of his homeland, but since the nation of Czechoslovakia itself was an artificial creation formed and forced upon Europe by the victorious nations of World War One in 1919, it is unclear exactly what Josef Mencik would have been patriotic about in his childhood and teenage years.

At some point, using money from God only knows where, sometime in early adulthood Josef Mencik was able to buy and begin restoration on the fourteenth century castle known as Dobrs that stood above a small village in the region of western Czechoslovakia known as the Bohmerwald, part of the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia populated by people who were largely native German speaking and of German ancestry.  A region of Czechoslovakia that Hitler and his minions considered rightfully theirs due to its Germanic past.

Based on the observations of locals we know that Mencik was an honest man who eschewed all modern conveniences and technologies including electricity, the automobile and even indoor plumbing!  It appears as if Mencik sought to live his life exactly as a knight of the fourteenth century would have lived theirs.

It should be noted though, that despite having no visible source of income, Mencik apparently owned the finest suit of French made plate armor that money could buy; he sat atop a stately horse and invested untold sums of money in the restorations of Dobrs Castle after he purchased the edifice, to bring it back to life in all of its original fourteenth century Medieval splendor.

Dobrs in Czech Republic with Castle in Background

We know that Josef Mencik was married.  Local marriage records record his wife’s name as Ema Mencikova and it is believed that the couple had two children.  Also, Josef Mencik, the twentieth century man who lived his life as a medieval knight, lived to nearly eighty years of age, dying in 1989 at the age of seventy-eight!

However, despite the fact that Josef Mencik lived to a ripe old age, and gained much notoriety in his lifetime as a sort of Czech Don Quixote, with guided tours of his castle still being conducted to this very day, there seems to be little to no record of his family before he purchased Dobrs Castle sometime in the 1930’s, nor does the historical record seem to make any reference to his children or his wife after the Second World War.  It is as if his entire family somehow fell off the face of the earth around mid-century, and Josef Mencik magically materialized out of thin air sometime during the 1930’s.

Why was this man, Josef Mencik, who seemingly appeared as if transported from the distant past-a true time traveler from the Middle Ages-sitting in full plate armor on a horse in front of a castle ready to single-handedly take on Nazi Germany on the eve of World War Two?

The answer to that question dates back to 1919 and the end of World War One.  It was then that the victorious allied powers of Europe decided to incorporate an area known as the Sudetenland into the borders of the new nation-state of Czechoslovakia which they created by the signing of the Treaty of Saint Germain.

The Sudetenland was home to about 3,000,000 ethnic German speakers called the Sudeten, hence the name, Sudetenland.  The fact that these people were under Czech and not German control on the eve of World War Two infuriated Hitler and the Nazis and was a source of contention and hostility between Germany and Czechoslovakia during the 1930’s.

Upon ascending to complete totalitarian power in Germany in 1933 it was both Hitler and the Nazi Party’s desire to incorporate the Czech Sudetenland into the borders of Germany proper but the Nazis were not yet ready to launch a military campaign and unsure of what the world’s reaction would be at the time.  As German Admiral Wilhelm Keitel commander of the German High Command told Hitler at the time (early 1938), “A surprise onslaught on the Sudetenland out of a clear sky without any justification would result in a hostile world opinion and could lead to a critical military situation.”

An outright invasion of the Sudetenland, at the time, was rejected by both Hitler and Keitel and instead the Nazis decided to launch a campaign of political agitation and intrigue to gain control of Czechoslovakia.

Map Depicting Nazi Annexation of Czechoslovakia 

Josef Mencik, the medieval knight in shining armor, was a Sudeten Czech and was fiercely loyal to the local population.  He had no intention of succumbing to German rule and becoming incorporated into a greater Nazi Germany driven by Hitler’s insatiable need for more Lebensraum-- “living space” for his supposed Aryan super race.

Though Mencik may have been ready to stand tall and defend his homeland from Nazi tyranny, the allied powers namely Great Britain and France, were not yet ready to do so.

During the Munich Conference of September 1938 between Hitler and the leaders of Great Britain and France, control of the Sudetenland was ceded to Nazi Germany, and that very day German panzers rolled into Czech territory.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when he returned to London from Germany stood on the tarmac outside his plane and waved a piece of paper, a treaty that he had signed with Hitler in the air and declared to the assembled press and media that, “I have spoken with the man Hitler and declare that there will be peace in our time.”

Chamberlain had used the Sudetenland and all of Czechoslovakia as a pawn to gain false promises of peace and to appease Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  Soon, the entire country would be conquered without even a shot being fired and no world power would come to aid the Czechs and attempt to stop Nazi aggression.

British PM Neville Chamberlain meets with Adolf Hitler 1938

        Josef Mencik put on his armor and prepared for battle.

And for a moment it worked!  The column of Nazi tanks came to a screeching halt unsure of what to make of the unusual sight of a knight on horseback ready to do battle.

Unwilling to fire upon this man the tank commanders simply ordered their vehicles to drive around the strange man who sat so steadfast and resolute before them high in his saddle.

It isn’t known if any member of the Wehrmacht laughed as they passed Josef Mencik, or if any thought for a second of firing at the knight in shining armor and knocking him off his horse dead for his bravado, but undoubtedly many a German soldier turned their heads to look as they passed in their tanks, armored vehicles and motorcycles to get a second look at the most incongruous spectacle of a Medieval knight charging after them with sword drawn galloping high in his saddle on the eve of World War Two in 1938.

Nazi Tank Enters the Sudetenland

Less than a year later the Second World War in Europe would begin in earnest when Hitler invaded Poland.  This time shots were fired, world powers did pledge aid (which was never forthcoming) to the Poles who so gallantly attempted to defend themselves from Nazi aggression and there most certainly would not be peace in that time as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had promised.

But before all of that, Josef Mencik, history’s last knight in shining armor had led the charge and stood up first against Nazi tyranny before anyone else..


  1. May God grant him rest, and honors. He was a brave and true Knight.


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