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Independent Bohemia by Vladimir Nosek

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From the foregoing chapters it is clear that by continuous misrule and by
the attempt to reduce the Czecho-Slovak nation to impotence through
terrorism and extermination during this war, the Habsburgs have created a
gulf between themselves and their Czecho-Slovak subjects which can never
again be bridged over. Realising this, and seeing that since Austria has
voluntarily sold herself to Berlin their only hope for a better future lies
in the destruction of the political system called Austria-Hungary, the
Czecho-Slovaks have from the beginning staked their all on the victory of
the Entente, towards which they have contributed with all possible means at
their disposal.

1. Since they could not think of revolting, the Czecho-Slovaks at home
tried to paralyse the power of Austria in every way. Not only individuals
but also Czech banks and other institutions refused to subscribe to the war
loans. Their newspapers published official reports with reluctance, and
between the lines laid stress on news unfavourable to Austria so as to keep
up the spirit of the people. Czech peasants refused to give up provisions,
and thus the Czechs, who already before the war boycotted German goods,
accelerated the present economic and financial ruin of Austria.

2. Politically, too, they contributed to the internal confusion of the Dual
Monarchy, and to-day their opposition forms a real menace to the existence
of Austria. Czech political leaders unanimously refused to sign any
declaration of loyalty to Austria, and they never issued a single protest
against Professor Masaryk and his political and military action abroad. On
several occasions they even publicly expressed their sympathies and
approval of this action. For nearly three years they prevented the opening
of the Austrian Parliament which would have been to their prejudice. Only
after the Russian Revolution, when Austria began to totter and her rulers
were apprehensive lest events in Russia should have a repercussion in the
Dual Monarchy, did the Czechs decide to speak out and exerted pressure to
bring about the opening of the Reichsrat, where they boldly declared their
programme, revealed Austria's rule of terror during the first three years
of war, and by their firm opposition, which they by and by induced the
Poles and Yugoslavs to imitate, they brought about a permanent political
deadlock, menacing Austria's very existence internally and weakening her
resistance externally.

3. But the most important assistance the Czechs rendered to the Allies was
their refusal to fight for Austria.

Out of 70,000 prisoners taken by Serbia during the first months of the war,
35,000 were Czechs. Of these, 24,000 perished during the Serbian retreat,
and 8000 died of typhoid fever and cholera at Asinara. The remaining 3000
were transferred to France and voluntarily joined the Czecho-Slovak army.

Over 300,000 Czecho-Slovaks surrendered voluntarily to Russia whom they
regarded as their liberator. Unfortunately the old régime in Russia did not
always show much understanding of their aspirations. They were scattered
over Siberia, cut off from the outer world, and often abandoned to the
ill-treatment of German and Magyar officers. It is estimated that over
thirty thousand of them perished from starvation. It was only after great
efforts, after the Russian Revolution, and especially when Professor
Masaryk himself went to Russia, that the Czecho-Slovak National Council
succeeded in organising a great part of them into an army. Finally, when
Austria desired to strike a death-blow at Italy in 1918, and began again to
employ Slav troops, she failed again, and this failure was once more to a
large extent caused by the disaffection of her Slav troops, as is proved by
the Austrian official statements. Indeed, whenever Austria relied solely on
her own troops she was always beaten, even by the "contemptible" Serbians.
The Czechs and other Slavs have greatly contributed to these defeats by
their passive resistance. It was only the intervention of German troops
which saved Austria from an utter collapse in 1915, and which prevented the
Czechs from completing their aim of entirely disorganising the military
power of Austria. Slav regiments have since then been intermixed with
German and Magyar troops. The Slavs receive their ammunition only at the
front, where they are placed in the foremost ranks with Germans or Magyars
behind them, so that they are exposed to a double fire if they attempt to
surrender. Nevertheless, up to 1916 some 350,000 Czechs out of a total of
600,000 in the Austrian army surrendered to the Allies.

4. From the very beginning of the war Czech soldiers showed their real
feelings. They were driven to fight against the Russians and Serbs who were
their brothers by race and their sincere and devoted friends. They were
driven to fight for that hated Austria which had trampled their liberties
underfoot for centuries past, and for a cause which they detested from the
bottom of their hearts. They were driven to fight in the interests of their
German and Magyar enemies against their Slav brothers and friends under
terrible circumstances.

In September, 1914, the 8th Czech Regiment refused to go to the front until
threatened by the German troops. The 11th Czech Regiment of Pisek refused
to march against Serbia and was decimated. The 36th Regiment revolted in
the barracks and was massacred by German troops. The 88th Regiment, which
made an unsuccessful attempt to surrender to Russia, was shot down by the
Magyar Honveds. A similar fate befell the 13th and 72nd Slovak Regiments.

On the other hand, many Czech troops succeeded in surrendering. The 35th
Regiment of Pilsen went over to the Russians in a body half-an-hour after
arriving at the front. Soon after, the 28th Regiment of Prague surrendered
_en masse_, having been "fetched" by the Czechs fighting on the Russian
side. Immediately afterwards the Austrian commander-in-chief issued an
order of the day in which he declared.

"On April 3, 1915, almost the whole of the 28th Regiment surrendered
without fighting to a single enemy battalion.... This disgraceful act
not only destroys the reputation of this regiment, but necessitates its
name being struck off the list of our army corps, until new deeds of
heroism retrieve its character. His Apostolic Majesty has accordingly
ordered the dissolution of this regiment, and the deposition of its
banners in the army museum."

And indeed "new deeds of heroism" did follow. A fresh battalion was founded
composed of Czech youths who were sent to the Isonzo front and exposed in a
dangerous position to deadly artillery fire. Almost the whole battalion was
thus unscrupulously wiped out. Only eighteen of them survived. This was
followed by a new imperial order saying that the disgrace of the 28th
Regiment was "atoned for" by the "sacrifice" of this regiment on
the Isonzo.

As regards Italy, over 20,000 Czechs surrendered voluntarily on the Italian
front up to 1917, and 7000 during the last offensive on the Piave in June,
1918. Of recent cases we need mention only the "treachery of Carzano,"
where, on September 18, 1917, some Czech officers went over to the
Italians, communicated to them the Austrian plans of campaign and led them
against the Austrians whose front was thus successfully broken through.
This incident was not the only one of its kind. It has been repeated
several times by Czech officers whenever they found an opportunity of going
over to the Italians. During the offensive of June, 1918, the Austrian
press openly attributed the Austrian failure to "Czech treachery,"
asserting that the plan of the offensive was communicated to the Italian
headquarters staff by Czecho-Slovak officers. This the Austrian military
authorities themselves admitted later, when they published the following
official statement, which appeared in the German press on July 28:

"On the morning of June 15, we started a vigorous offensive on the
whole front between the Tyrolese mountains and the Adriatic, with a
power that can be attained only by complete co-operation of all the
units and with an accurate execution and a common and uniform action.
But, just at the beginning of the attack, it became apparent that the
enemy were making a counter-attack according to a well-defined plan, as
in the case of a projected vigorous offensive. It was also found out
that the enemy was perfectly aware of the extent, the day and the hour
of our attack. The intended surprise, so important for the success of
an offensive, has thus failed. In due course Italy also obtained, from
documents which some deserters handed to the Italian high command,
information which gave her a sufficiently precise idea of our
dispositions. English, French and Italian officers and men captured by
us declare unanimously that their regiments were advised on the evening
of June 14 that the Austrian offensive would start at two o'clock on
the following morning.

"The exact time of the beginning of our offensive must have been
betrayed by _Yugoslav and Czech deserters_. The enemy took steps
against the bombardment by means of gas, which was expected. These
steps later proved insufficient. As an example we may mention only the
following facts: The battalion of bersaglieri received, at 3.20 on June
14, a quantity of ammunition at 72 to 240 cartridges per man. The
Pinerolo Brigade took up fighting position at 2 o'clock at night. An
order, captured late on July 14, said: 'According to reports received,
the enemy will commence early on June 15 their bombardment preparations
for attack. At midnight hot coffee and meat conserves will be
distributed. The troops will remain awake, armed and prepared to use
their gas-masks.'

"For some time now the Italian command have tried to disorganise our
troops by high treasonable propaganda. In the Italian prisoners-of-war
camps the Slavs are persuaded by promises and corruption to enlist in
the Czecho-Slovak army. This is done in a way prohibited by law. Their
ignorance of the international situation and their lack of news from
home, partly caused by Italian censorship, are exploited by means of
propaganda without scruples. An order of the 5th Italian Army Corps
(1658 Prot. R. J.) of May 14, 1918, refers to active propaganda by
Czecho-Slovak volunteers with the object of disorganising the
Austro-Hungarian army. The Italian military authorities on their part
deceive the Czecho-Slovaks by telling them of the continuous disorders
and insurrections in Bohemia. In the above-mentioned order it is
asserted that in the corps to which it is addressed, as well as in
other corps, some attempts of the Czecho-Slovak elements have been
successful in causing confusion among enemy ranks. _Some of our
Czecho-Slovak soldiers deserted and went over to the Italians_. Others
remained in touch with them and declared themselves ready to stay in
our positions as a source of ferment for future insurrections. Although
the high treason miscarried owing to the heroic resistance which our
troops, without distinction of nationality, offered to the enemy, it is
nevertheless true that some elements succumbed to the treacherous enemy

"The gunner Rudolf Paprikar, of the machine gun section, according to
reports of the 8th Army Corps jumped off the river bank into the Piave
below Villa Jacur and swam across under danger of being drowned. He
betrayed the position, strength and composition of his sector, and
through observation and spying, he acquired some valuable information
by which our projected attack against Montello was disclosed. Further,
he revealed to the enemy some very secret preparations for the crossing
of the river Piave, and also supplied him with plans of the
organisation of troops, battery positions, etc.

"The principal part in the treachery is attributed by the Italian high
command, not without reason, to Lieutenant Karel Stiny of an infantry
regiment, who deserted near Narenta. It appears from the detailed
Italian official report in which his statements are embodied, that he
betrayed all our preparations on the Piave and provided the enemy with
a great deal of most important information. Let us mention further that
Stiny in his mendacious statements to the Italian command about the
Austro-Hungarian situation at the front and in the interior, followed
the line of all traitors in order to appear in a favourable light. It
is characteristic that in his declaration about our offensive he said
that many Austro-Hungarian troops would have surrendered if it had not
been for the German and Bulgarian bayonets behind their backs.

"_It is proved by various documents to what extent the Czechs have
forgotten their honour and duty_. By breaking their oath to Austria and
her emperor and king, they have also forgotten all those who were with
them at the front, and they are responsible for the blood of our
patriots and the sufferings of our prisoners in Italy. The false glory
which is attributed to them by the Italian command, who have lost all
sense of the immorality of these proceedings, cannot efface the eternal
crime which history always attaches to the names of traitors."

5. We could give many proofs of the great service the Czecho-Slovaks
rendered the Allies by their surrenders. But for our purpose it will be
sufficient to quote only some more admissions of the Germans and Magyars

Count Tisza admitted that Czech troops could not be relied upon, and Count
Windischgrätz stated that the chief of staff dare not use them except when
mixed with Magyars and Germans.

Deputy Urmanczy declared in the Budapest Parliament on September 5, 1916,
that during the first encounters with Rumania, a Czech regiment retired
without the slightest resistance, provided themselves with provisions,
entered a train and disappeared. The men went over to Rumania. He blamed
the Czechs for the Austrian reverse in Transylvania.

On June 22, 1917, when the case of deputy Klofác was discussed by the
Immunity Committee of the Reichsrat, General von Georgi, Austrian Minister
for Home Defence, according to the Czech organ _Pozor_ of June
24, described

"... the conditions prevailing in the army, especially the behaviour of
certain Czech regiments, and brought forward all the material which had
been collected against the Czechs since the outbreak of the war, and
which had been used against them. He referred to the 28th and 36th
Regiments as well as to eight other Czech regiments which had
voluntarily surrendered to the Russians. He mentioned also that Czech
officers, not only those in reserve but also those on active service,
including some of the highest ranks of the staff, surrendered to the
enemy; in one instance fourteen officers with a staff officer thus
surrendered. Czech soldiers in the Russian and French armies, as well
as in other enemy armies, are fighting for the Entente and constitute
legions and battalions of their own. The total number of Czechs in the
enemy armies exceeds 60,000. In the prisoners' camps in the enemy
countries, non-German prisoners were invited to join the enemy's ranks.
Czech legions and battalions are composed almost entirely of former
prisoners of war. The minister further went on to describe the
propaganda of the Czechs abroad, the activity of Czech committees in
enemy and neutral countries, especially in Russia and Switzerland. He
also mentioned the case of Pavlu, a Czech soldier, who in a Russian
newspaper described how he penetrated the Austrian trenches in the
uniform of an Austrian officer, annihilated the occupants and after a
successful scouting reconnaissance returned to the Russian ranks. The
minister described the attitude of the 'Sokols' and the Czech teachers.
The tenor of his speech was that Klofác is responsible for the
anti-Austrian feeling of the Czech nation and that therefore he should
not be released."

When the Russian offensive of July, 1917, started, Herr Hummer, member of
the Austrian Reichsrat, addressed the following interpellation to the
Austrian Minister for Home Defence:

"Is the Austrian Minister for Home Defence aware that in one of the
early engagements of the new Russian offensive, the 19th Austrian
Infantry Division, which consists almost entirely of Czecho-Slovaks and
other Slavs, openly sided with the enemies of Austria by refusing to
fight against the Russians and by surrendering as soon as an
opportunity offered itself?"

The most interesting document in regard to the attitude of Czecho-Slovaks
during the war is the interpellation of ninety German Nationalist deputies
(Schurf, Langenhahn, Wedra, Richter, Kittinger and others), of which we
possess a copy. It contains 420 large-size printed pages, and it is
therefore impossible for us to give a detailed account of it. The chapters
of this interpellation have the following headings:

1. The dangers of Pan-Slavistic propaganda.
2. The situation at the outbreak of the war.
3. Motives for the arrest of Kramár.
4. The behaviour of Czechs in Austria:
_(a)_ Demonstrations of Czech national spirit in Prague;
_(b)_ Czech school-books;
_(c)_ Czech officials;
_(d)_ The activities of the "Sokols";
_(e)_ What happened at Litomerice and elsewhere;
_(f)_ The Czech attitude towards war loans;
_(g)_ The Zivnostenská Banka and the war loans;
_(h)_ The financial policy of the Zivnostenská Banka;
_(i)_ The Czechs and war emergency affairs;
_(k)_ The Czechs and the question of food supplies.
5. The anti-Austrian attitude of Czechs abroad:
_(a)_ In France;
_(b)_ In England;
_(c)_ In Russia;
_(d)_ In America;
_(e)_ In Switzerland;
_(f)_ The campaign of Professor Masaryk;
_(g)_ The Czech secret intelligence service.
6. The conduct of Czech soldiers on the battlefield.
7. Military consequences.
8. Some recent documents.

According to the _Neue Freie Presse_ of June 6, 1918, the Austrian Minister
for Home Defence made the following important admissions in reply to the
part of this interpellation concerning the Czech contribution to the
defeats of Austria:

"The 36th Regiment, according to unanimous reports of the high command,
failed to do its duty in May, 1915, on the Russian front, and thereby
caused a heavy defeat of other detachments. This regiment was dissolved
by the imperial decree of July 16, 1915.

"The unsuccessful fighting and heavy losses of the 19th Division in the
battle north of Tarnopol between September 9 and 11, 1915, were caused
by the weak resistance of the 35th Regiment.... During the battles of
June 29 to July 2, 1917, near Zloczow the resistance offered by this
regiment was weak.

"As regards Regiment No. 28 of Prague, according to the statement of
regimental commanders, it appears that the whole detachment, without
firing a single shot, was taken prisoner by a single enemy battalion,
or rather was brought by that battalion from its position."

And in this policy Czech soldiers continue by surrendering voluntarily to
the Entente troops whenever they have the opportunity.



When war broke out, the Czecho-Slovaks all over the world felt it their
duty to prove by deeds that their place was on the side of the Entente. The
Czecho-Slovaks in Great Britain, France and Russia volunteered to fight for
the Allies, while in the United States of America, where there are some one
and a half million Czecho-Slovaks, they have counteracted German propaganda
and revealed German plots intended to weaken the American assistance to
the Allies.

1. In France 471 Czechs, _i.e._ over 60 per cent., entered the Foreign
Legion and greatly distinguished themselves by their bravery. The majority
of them have been mentioned in dispatches and received the Military Cross.
They have also won five crosses and twenty medals of the Russian Order of
St. George. Their losses amount to more than 70 per cent.

Further, many Czechs living in Great Britain at the outbreak of the war
joined the French Foreign Legion in France, and after His Majesty's
Government allowed Czechs to volunteer for service in the British army in
the autumn of 1916, practically all Czechs of military age resident in
Great Britain enrolled so far as they were not engaged on munitions. In
Canada, too, the Czechs joined the army in order to fight for the
British Empire.

The most important part was taken, however, by the Czecho-Slovak colonies
in Russia and America. In Russia, where there are large Czecho-Slovak
settlements, numbering several thousand, a Czecho-Slovak legion was formed
at the outbreak of the war which has rendered valuable services, especially
in scouting and reconnoitring. This legion grew gradually larger,
especially when Czech prisoners began to be allowed to join it, and
finally, under the direction of the Czecho-Slovak National Council, it was
formed into a regular army. In September, 1917, it had already two
divisions, and in 1918 fresh prisoners joined it, so that it counted
some 100,000.

In order to be able fully to appreciate this achievement, we must remember
that this was an army of volunteers, organised by the Czecho-Slovak Council
without the powers of a real government. At the beginning of the war the
Czecho-Slovaks not only had no government of their own, but not even any
united organisation. And if we realise that to-day, after three and a half
years of strenuous effort, the National Council are recognised by the
Allies as the Provisional Government of Bohemia with the right of
exercising all powers appertaining to a real government, including the
control of an army as large as Great Britain had at the outbreak of the
war, it must be admitted that the action of the Czecho-Slovaks abroad was
crowned with wonderful success.

In Russia the difficulties with which the National Council had to cope were
especially grave, and mainly for two reasons. In the first place, the
Czecho-Slovak prisoners who voluntarily surrendered were scattered all over
Russia. It was extremely difficult even to get into touch with them. In
addition there was a lack of good-will on the part of the old Russian
Government. Thus very often these prisoners, who regarded Russia as
Bohemia's elder brother and liberator, were sadly disillusioned when they
were left under the supervision of some German officers, and thousands of
them died from starvation. Nevertheless they never despaired. Eager to
fight for the Allies, many of them entered the Yugoslav Division which
fought so gallantly in the Dobrudja. Nearly all the Czech officers in this
division were decorated with the highest Russian, Serbian and Rumanian
orders. Half of them committed suicide, however, during the retreat rather
than fall into the hands of the enemy.

It was not until after the Russian Revolution, and especially after the
arrival of Professor Masaryk in Russia in May, 1917, that the Czecho-Slovak
army in Russia became a reality.

The Czecho-Slovaks have been mentioned in Russian official _communiqués_ of
February 2, 1916, and March 29, 1917. The most glorious part was taken by
the Czecho-Slovak Brigade during the last Russian offensive in July, 1917,
in which the Czechs showed manifestly the indomitable spirit that animates
them. Since every Czech fighting on the side of the Entente is shot, if he
is captured by the Austrians, the Czechs everywhere fight to the bitter
end, and rather commit suicide than be captured by their enemies. For this
reason they are justly feared by the Germans. As in the Hussite wars, the
sight of their caps and the sound of their songs struck terror in the
hearts of the Germans and Magyars. At the battle of Zborov on July 2, 1917,
the Czechs gave the whole world proof of their bravery. Determined to win
or fall, they launched an attack almost without ammunition, with bayonets
and hand-grenades--and they gained a victory over an enemy vastly superior
in numbers.

According to the official Russian _communiqué_:

"On July 2, at about three o'clock in the afternoon, after a severe and
stubborn battle, the gallant troops of the Czecho-Slovak Brigade
occupied the strongly fortified enemy position on the heights to the
west and south-west of the village of Zborov and the fortified village
of Koroszylow. Three lines of enemy trenches were penetrated. The enemy
has retired across the Little Strypa. The Czecho-Slovak Brigade
captured sixty-two officers and 3150 soldiers, fifteen guns and many
machine guns. Many of the captured guns were turned against the enemy."

Finally, however, when the Russians refused to fight, the Czechs had to
retire as well. General Brussiloff declared:

"The Czecho-Slovaks, perfidiously abandoned at Tarnopol by our
infantry, fought in such a way that the world ought to fall on its
knees before them."

2. The spontaneous and unanimous political action of the Czecho-Slovaks
abroad became co-ordinated when Professor Masaryk escaped from Austria and
placed himself at the head of the movement.

_Professor Masaryk_, the distinguished Czech leader and scholar, whose name
we have already mentioned in the preceding chapters, went to Italy in
December, 1914, and although he desired once more to return to Austria
before leaving finally for France, he found it too dangerous, as the reign
of terror had already been established in Bohemia. He accordingly went to
Switzerland and afterwards on to France and England. In October, 1915, he
was appointed lecturer at the newly founded School of Slavonic Studies at
King's College, University of London. Mr. Asquith, then Prime Minister, who
was prevented through indisposition from presiding at Professor Masaryk's
inaugural lecture on October 19, 1915, sent the following message to
the meeting:

"I congratulate King's College on Professor Masaryk's appointment, and
I can assure him that we welcome his advent to London both as a
teacher--the influence of whose power and learning is felt throughout
the Slav world--and as a man to whose personal qualities of candour,
courage and strength we are all glad to pay a tribute. We believe that
his presence here will be a link to strengthen the sympathy which
unites the people of Russia and Great Britain."

"First and foremost the Allies are fighting for the liberties of small
nations, to the end that they may be left in future free from the
tyranny of their more powerful neighbours to develop their own national
life and institutions. Above all, to-day our thoughts and our
sympathies are moved towards Serbia, whose undaunted courage wins day
by day our unbounded sympathy and admiration."

During the lecture on the Problem of Small Nations in the European Crisis,
Professor Masaryk outlined his political programme which he has ever since
insisted the Allies should adopt, to destroy the German plans of
Mitteleuropa. He declared:

"Great Britain came into this war to protect little Belgium, and now
with her Allies she is faced by the task of protecting Serbia. This
evolution of the war is almost logical, for Germany's aim is and was
Berlin--Bagdad, the employment of the nations of Austria-Hungary as
helpless instruments, and the subjection of the smaller nations which
form that peculiar zone between the west and east of Europe. _Poland,
Bohemia, Serbo-Croatia (the South Slavs) are the natural adversaries of
Germany_, of her _Drang nach Osten_; to liberate and strengthen these
smaller nations is the only real check upon Prussia. Free Poland,
Bohemia and Serbo-Croatia would be so-called buffer states, their
organisation would facilitate and promote the formation of a Magyar
state, of Greater Rumania, of Bulgaria, Greece and the rest of the
smaller nations. If this horrible war, with its countless victims, has
any meaning, it can only be found in the liberation of the small
nations who are menaced by Germany's eagerness for conquest and her
thirst for the dominion of Asia. The Oriental question is to be solved
on the Rhine, Moldau and Vistula, not only on the Danube, Vardar and

Soon afterwards Professor Masaryk issued a proclamation signed by
representatives of all Czecho-Slovaks abroad, the full text of which reads
as follows:

"We come before the political public at a moment when the retreat of
the victorious Russian army is exploited against Russia and her Allies.
We take the side of the struggling Slav nations and their Allies
without regard to which party will be victorious, simply because the
Allies' cause is just. The decision as to which party in this fatal
struggle is defending the right, is a question of principle and
political morality which to-day cannot be evaded by any honest and
clear-thinking politician nor by any self-conscious nation. But we are
prompted to step forward also by our vivid sense of Slav solidarity: we
express our ardent sympathies to our brother Serbs and Russians, as
well as to our brother Poles, so heavily struck by the war. We believe
in the ultimate victory of the Slavs and their Allies, and we are
convinced that this victory will contribute towards the welfare of the
whole of Europe and humanity. The spiteful anti-Slav attitude of
Ferdinand the Koburg and his government cannot retard the victory of a
just cause.

"The Czech nation made an alliance with Hungary and the Austrian
Germans by a free election of a Habsburg to the throne of the kingdom
of Bohemia in 1526; but the dynasty created through a systematic
centralisation and germanisation a unitary absolutist state, thus
violating their treaty guaranteeing the independence of the Bohemian
State within and without. The Czech nation, exhausted by the European
and Habsburg anti-reformation, has only since the Czech regeneration at
the end of the eighteenth century been able to resist this violence. It
was especially the revolution of 1848 which challenged it.

"The revolution was crushed, and the secured rights of nations,
especially of the Czechs, were again sacrificed to absolutism which,
however, was shattered by the war of 1859, and replaced by an
incomplete constitutionalism. Then Vienna gave way to the Magyars. But
the Czechs had to content themselves with solemn promises that were
never kept. The Czech nation started a struggle of passive opposition.
Later on it also took an active part in the new parliament, but whether
in parliament or in the diets, it always claimed its historic right of
independence and struggled against the German-Magyar dualism. The
attempts made to come to an understanding were frustrated by the
obstinate spirit of domination of the Germans and Magyars.

"The present war has only accentuated the Czecho-Slovak opposition to
Austria-Hungary. War was declared without the parliament being
consulted: all other states presented the declaration of war to their
parliaments for ratification, only the Viennese Government was afraid
to consult its peoples, because the majority of them would have
declared against the war. The representatives of the Czech nation would
have certainly protested with the greatest emphasis. That is why the
government did not consult a single Czech deputy or politician with
regard to taking so momentous a step.

"The Czech nation has always in modern times defended a thoroughly Slav
programme. Also during this war, which has found our nation unprepared
like all other peaceful nations, the Czechs have since the very
beginning expressed their sympathies for Russia, Serbia and their
Allies, notwithstanding the unprecedented Austrian terrorism,
suppressing every manifestation of the real feelings of the people. The
pro-Austrian declarations are enforced by the government. To-day the
leading Czech politicians are in prison, the gallows have become the
favourite support of the incapable administration, and Czech regiments
have been decimated for acting spontaneously up to our national Czech
programme. The rights of the Czech language have been ruthlessly
violated during the war, and the absolutist military rule has reigned
throughout Bohemia and other non-German and non-Magyar parts of the
monarchy as in enemy countries. Every declaration in the Czech journals
is suppressed, while our national adversaries are not only allowed to
make propaganda against the Czech nation, but even the pan-German
orgies in the spirit of Lagarde, von Hartmann, Mommsen, and Treitschke
are supported by Vienna and Budapest.

"Under these circumstances the Czech nation cannot continue to keep
silence. That is why the Czech and Slovak emigrants abroad deem it
their duty to inform foreign opinion about the true situation of
Bohemia, to interpret the aspirations of the Czecho-Slovak nation to
the Allied statesmen, politicians and journalists, and to defend the
Czecho-Slovak programme.

"The Czech parties have hitherto striven for the independence of their
nation inside Austria-Hungary. _The course which this fratricidal war
has taken and the ruthless violence of Vienna make it necessary for all
of us to strive for independence without regard to Austria-Hungary. We
are struggling for an absolutely independent Czecho-Slovak State_.

"The Czech nation has come to the conclusion that it must take its
destiny into its own hands. Austria was defeated not only by Russia,
but also by the small and despised Serbia, and became a dependency of
Germany. To-day it has recovered a little under the direction of
Berlin, but that desperate strain of forces does not deceive us: it is
only a proof of the abdication of Austria-Hungary. We have lost all
confidence in the vitality of Austria-Hungary, and we no more recognise
its right to existence. Through its incapability and dependence it has
proved to the whole world that the assumption of the necessity of
Austria has passed, and has through this war been proved to be wrong.
Those who have defended the possibility and necessity of
Austria-Hungary--and at one time it was Palacký himself--demanded a
confederated state of equal nations and lands. But the dualist
Austria-Hungary became the oppressor of non-German and non-Magyar
nationalities. It is the obstacle to peace in Europe and it has
degenerated into a mere tool for Germany's expansion to the East,
without a positive mission of its own, unable to create a state
organisation of equal nations, free and progressive in civilisation.
The dynasty, living in its absolutist traditions, maintains itself a
phantom of its former world empire, assisted in government by its
undemocratic partners, the barren aristocracy, the anti-national
bureaucracy, and the anti-national military staff.

"To-day there is no doubt that Austria-Hungary wrongly used the
assassination at Sarajevo as a pretext against Serbia. Vienna and
Budapest did not hesitate to use forged documents manufactured by their
own embassy against the Yugoslavs, and in this policy of deceit Vienna
and Budapest have persisted during this war. To this deceit they have
now added revengeful spitefulness and cruelty truly barbarian against
the non-Germans and non-Magyars.

"Germany shares the guilt with Austria-Hungary; it was in Germany's
power and it was her duty towards civilisation and humanity to prevent
the war and not to take advantage of the imperialist lust of Vienna and

"Austria-Hungary and Germany are fighting with their Turkish and
Bulgarian Allies for a cause which is unjust and doomed."

Later on, when _Dr. Edward Benes_, lecturer at the Czech University of
Prague and author of several well-known studies in sociology, also escaped
abroad, the Czecho-Slovak National Council was formed, of which Professor
Masaryk became the president, _Dr. Stefanik_, a distinguished airman and
scientist, Hungarian Slovak by birth, the vice-president, and Dr. E. Benes
the general secretary. A French review was started in Paris (_La Nation
Tchèque_) in May, 1915, which became the official organ of the
Czecho-Slovak movement. Up to May, 1917, it was published under the
editorship of Professor Denis, and since then its editor has been Dr.
Benes. A Central Czech organ is also published in Paris called
_Samostatnost_ ("Independence"), edited by Dr. Sychrava, an eminent Czech

The undisputed authority enjoyed by Professor Masaryk among all the
Czecho-Slovaks is undoubtedly the secret of the great strength and unity of
the movement. It is also the reason for the great diplomatic successes
achieved by the Czechs. The chief lieutenants of Professor Masaryk were Dr.
Benes, an untiring worker with rare political instinct and perspicacity,
and Dr. Milan Stefanik, who entered the French army as a private at the
beginning of the war, was gradually promoted, and in May, 1918, rose to the
rank of brigadier-general. He rendered valuable service to France as an
astronomist before the war, and as an airman during the war. He has
rendered still greater service to the Czecho-Slovak cause as a diplomat.
These three men, unanimously recognised by the two million Czecho-Slovaks
in the Allied countries as their leaders, were finally, in the summer of
1918, recognised also by the Allies as the _de facto_ provisional
government of the Czecho-Slovak State, with all rights and powers of a real
government. The central seat of the Czecho-Slovak Government is in Paris,
and official Czecho-Slovak representatives and legations are in all the
Allied capitals.

3. The first political success of the National Council was the Allies' Note
to President Wilson of January 10, 1917. The Czechs are especially grateful
to France for this first recognition of their claims.

In this Note, in which the Allies for the first time stated publicly and
explicitly their war aims, the Allies declared that these include:

"The reorganisation of Europe guaranteed by a stable settlement, based
upon the principle of nationality, upon the right which all peoples,
whether small or great, have to the enjoyment of full security and free
economic development, and also upon territorial agreements and
international arrangements so framed as to guarantee land and sea
frontiers against unjust attacks; the restitution of provinces or
territories formerly torn from the Allies by force or contrary to the
wishes of their inhabitants; _the liberation of Italians, Slavs,
Rumanians and Czecho-Slovaks from foreign domination_; the liberation
of the peoples who now lie beneath the murderous tyranny of the Turks,
and the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman Empire, which has proved
itself so radically alien to Western civilisation."

The greatest success of the Czecho-Slovak National Council, however, has
been the formal recognition by France of the formation of an autonomous
Czecho-Slovak army in France with the National Council at its head. By this
act France recognised:

(1) That the Czecho-Slovaks have a right to form an army of their own,
which right appertains only to a sovereign and independent nation;

(2) That the Czecho-Slovaks have a right to fight on the side of the
Entente, and therefore are to be considered as one of the Allies;

(3) That the political direction of the army is reserved to the
Czecho-Slovak National Council, which right is usually accorded only to the
government of an independent state.

The full text of this historic document, signed by the President of the
French Republic, M. Poincaré, the French Premier, M. Clémenceau, and the
Foreign Secretary, M. Pichon, and dated December 19, 1917, reads
as follows:

"1. The Czecho-Slovaks organised in an autonomous army and recognising,
from the military point of view, the superior authority of the French
high command, will fight under their own flag against the Central

"2. This national army is placed, from the political point of view,
under the direction of the Czecho-Slovak National Council whose
headquarters are in Paris.

"3. The formation of the Czecho-Slovak army as well as its further work
are assured by the French Government.

"4. The Czecho-Slovak army will be subject to the same dispositions as
regards organisation, hierarchy, administration and military discipline
as those in force in the French army.

"5. The Czecho-Slovak army will be recruited from among:

(_a_) Czecho-Slovaks at present serving with the French army;

(_b_) Czecho-Slovaks from other countries admitted to be transferred
into the Czecho-Slovak army or to contract a voluntary engagement with
this army for the duration of war.

"6. Further ministerial instructions will settle the application of
this decree.

"7. The President of the War Cabinet, the Secretary of War, and the
Foreign Secretary are charged each in his own sphere to bring into
effect the present decree, which will be published in the _Bulletin des
Lois_ and inserted in the _Journal Officiel de la République

In a covering letter, dated December 16, 1917, and addressed to M.
Poincaré, the French Premier and the Foreign Secretary declared:

"France has always supported by all means in her power the national
aspirations of the Czecho-Slovaks. The number of volunteers of this
nationality who at the outbreak of the war enlisted to fight under the
French flag was considerable; the gaps created in their ranks prove
unquestionably the ardour with which they fought against our enemies.

"Certain Allied governments, especially the Russian Provisional
Government, did not hesitate to authorise the formation on our front of
units composed of Czecho-Slovaks who had escaped from the oppression of
their enemy.

"It is only just that this nationality should be given means of
defending, under their own flag and side by side with us, the cause of
right and liberty of peoples, and it will be in accord with French
traditions to assist the organisation of an autonomous Czecho-Slovak

Needless to say, the joy over this recognition was very great in Bohemia,
while the German papers were furious. The _Neue Freie Presse_ of December
28 devoted its leading article to the Czecho-Slovak army on the Western
front, and concluded with the following remarks:

"Although the strength of this new army is estimated at 120,000 men,
the Czecho-Slovak army will not have a decisive influence on the
military operations. Nevertheless, it may do us considerable harm in
case we should transfer troops to the Western front. However, the
greatest harm is in the moral effect which this act of wholesale
treachery of the Czechs will have on the military power of the
monarchy. In any case the co-operation of the Czecho-Slovak army on the
side of the Entente will only strengthen the Allies' belief that right
is on their side."

Soon afterwards Italy also generously allowed an expeditionary corps of the
Czecho-Slovak army to be formed from the Czecho-Slovak prisoners of war who
surrendered to her. On May 23, 1918, the Czecho-Slovak troops welcomed the
Prince of Wales to Rome, and soon afterwards they distinguished themselves
on the Piave and were mentioned in one of General Diaz's dispatches and
also in the official Italian _communiqué_ of September 22, 1918.

From the recognition of the Czecho-Slovak army followed the full
recognition which the National Council obtained from the Allies.

4. While the general secretariat was actively working for these concessions
in the West, Professor Masaryk, after devoting his attention to the
education of public opinion in Great Britain on the importance of Bohemia,
by means of private memoranda and various articles in the _New Europe,
Weekly Dispatch_ and elsewhere, decided in May, 1917, to go to Russia.

In Russia, Professor Masaryk succeeded admirably in uniting and
strengthening all Czecho-Slovak forces, and in organising a regular army of
the many thousands of Czecho-Slovak prisoners there. As we have already
pointed out elsewhere, before the Revolution these efforts of the National
Council and the Czech prisoners, who were always eager to fight for the
Allies, were rendered immensely difficult by the obstacles inherent in the
geographic conditions of Russia and by obstacles placed in their way by the
old Russian régime.

Unfortunately now, when the Czecho-Slovaks had at last succeeded after much
work in realising their plans, the Czecho-Slovak army became powerless
owing to the collapse of Russia. Without ammunition, without support from
anywhere, the Czecho-Slovaks thought they could no more render very
effective service to the Allies in the East. They decided, therefore, to go
over to join their compatriots in France.

The position of our army was as follows: After the offensive of July, 1917,
the Czechs retreated to Kieff where they continued to concentrate fresh
forces. At that time they numbered about 60,000, and this number had
gradually increased to 80,000 by the end of 1917. They always observed
strict neutrality in Russia's internal affairs on the advice of their
venerable leader, Professor Masaryk. It was necessary to counsel this
neutrality for the sake of our army itself, since it contained partisans of
different creeds and parties disagreement among whom might have led to its
dissolution. On the whole, the Czecho-Slovaks, who are an advanced nation,
fully conscious of their national aspirations, remained unaffected by the
misleading Bolshevist theories. The Czechs abstained throughout from
interfering with Russian affairs, yet they did not wish to leave Russia as
long as there was any chance for them to assist her. It was not until the
shameful peace of Brest-Litovsk in February, 1918, that Professor Masaryk
decided that the Czecho-Slovak army should leave Russia _via_ Siberia and
join the Czecho-Slovak army in France. The Bolsheviks granted them free
passage to Vladivostok.

This journey of some 5000 miles was not, however, an easy task for an army
to accomplish. The troops had to move in small échelons or detachments, and
concentration at the stations was prohibited. They had to procure their
trains and their provisions, and they had constant trouble with the
Bolsheviks, because in every district there was a practically independent
Soviet Government with whom the Czechs had to negotiate. The first
detachments with the generalissimo of the army, General Diderichs, at the
head arrived in Vladivostok at the end of April, 1918. But the other
detachments were constantly held up by the Bolsheviks and had great trouble
in passing through.

They moved from Kieff _via_ Kursk, Tambov, Penza and Samara. The two
last-named towns lie on the line between Moscow and Tcheliabinsk at the
foot of the Urals, whence a direct line runs across Siberia to Vladivostok.

As we have already pointed out, the Bolsheviks agreed in principle to allow
our troops to leave Russia. Their commander-in-chief, General Muraviev,
allowed the Czechs free passage to France on February 16. The same
concession had been granted by the Moscow Soviet. On the whole the Czechs
were on tolerably good terms with the Bolsheviks. Professor Masaryk
rejected every plan directed against the Bolsheviks submitted to him even
by such of their political adversaries as could not justly be called
counter-revolutionaries. The Czecho-Slovak troops went still further; they
actually complied with the request of the Bolsheviks and partially
disarmed. The trouble only began in May, 1918, when the Bolsheviks yielded
to German intrigues and resolved to destroy our army.

Already at the beginning of May the Czechs had begun to feel embittered
against the Bolsheviks, because in defiance of the agreement their troops
were constantly being held up by local Soviets. At Tambov, for instance,
they were held up for a whole month. At Tcheliabinsk the Czechs had a
serious scuffle with Magyar ex-prisoners on May 26, and the Bolsheviks
sided entirely with the Magyars, even arresting some Czecho-Slovak
delegates. The Czechs simply occupied the city, liberated their comrades,
and at a congress held by them at Tcheliabinsk on May 28 it was decided to
refuse to surrender any more arms and ammunition and to continue transports
to Vladivostok, if necessary with arms in their hands. This was a reply to
Trotsky's telegram that the Czecho-Slovaks should be completely disarmed,
which the Czecho-Slovaks defied as they knew that another order had been
issued by Trotsky simultaneously, no doubt on the instigation of Count
Mirbach, saying that the Czecho-Slovak troops must be dissolved at all
costs and interned as prisoners of war. The Bolsheviks now arrested
prominent members of the Moscow branch of the Czecho-Slovak National
Council on the ground that they were "anti-revolutionaries." They alleged
also that they had no guarantee that ships would be provided for the Czechs
to be transported to France, and that the Czechs were holding up food
supplies from Siberia. The Bolsheviks deliberately broke their word, and
Trotsky issued an order to "all troops fighting against the
anti-revolutionary Czecho-Slovak brigades" in which he said:

"The concentration of our troops is complete. Our army being aware that
the Czecho-Slovaks are direct allies of the anti-revolution and of the
capitalists, fights them well. The Czecho-Slovaks are retreating along
the railway. Obviously they would like to enter into negotiations with
the Soviets. We issued an order that their delegates should be
received. We demand in the first place that they should be disarmed.
_Those who do not do so voluntarily will be shot on the spot._ Warlike
operations on the railway line hinder food transports. Energetic steps
must be taken to do away with this state of affairs."

The Czecho-Slovaks were greatly handicapped, since they were not only
almost unarmed, but were also dispersed along the trans-Siberian line in
small detachments which had considerable difficulty in keeping in touch
with each other. Nevertheless the fates were favourable to them. They were
victorious almost everywhere, thanks to their wonderful spirit and

The first victories gained by the Czecho-Slovaks over the Bolsheviks were
at Penza and Samara. Penza was captured by them after three days' fighting
at the end of May. Later the Czecho-Slovaks also took Sysran on the Volga,
Kazan with its large arsenal, Simbirsk and Yekaterinburg, connecting
Tcheliabinsk with Petrograd, and occupied practically the whole
Volga region.

In Siberia they defeated a considerable force of German-Magyar ex-prisoners
in Krasnoyarsk and Omsk and established themselves firmly in Udinsk. On
June 29, 15,000 Czecho-Slovaks under General Diderichs, after handing an
ultimatum to the Bolsheviks at Vladivostok, occupied the city without much
resistance. Only at one spot fighting took place and some 160 Bolsheviks
were killed. The Czecho-Slovaks, assisted by Japanese and Allied troops,
then proceeded to the north and north-west, while the Bolsheviks and German
prisoners retreated to Chabarovsk. In September the Czech and Allied troops
from Vladivostok joined hands with the Czecho-Slovaks from Irkutsk and
Western Siberia, and thus gained control over practically the whole
trans-Siberian railway. By this means they have done great service to the
Allies, especially to Great Britain, by defending the East against the
German invaders. Furthermore, it was the Czecho-Slovaks' bold action which
induced Japan and America at last to intervene in Russia and for the sake
of Russia, and it was their control of the Siberian railway which made such
intervention possible. Let us hope that their action will lead to the
regeneration and salvation of the Russian nation.

The service rendered by Czecho-Slovak troops to the Allied cause was, of
course, justly appreciated by the Allies. Mr. Lloyd George sent the
following telegram to Professor Masaryk on September 9:

"On behalf of the British War Cabinet I send you our heartiest
congratulations on the striking successes won by the Czecho-Slovak
forces against the armies of German and Austrian troops in Siberia. The
story of the adventures and triumphs of this small army is, indeed, one
of the greatest epics of history. It has filled us all with admiration
for the courage, persistence and self-control of your countrymen, and
shows what can be done to triumph over time, distance and lack of
material resources by those holding the spirit of freedom in their
hearts. Your nation has rendered inestimable service to Russia and to
the Allies in their struggle to free the world from despotism. We shall
never forget it."

The deeds of our army met with equal admiration and gratitude also in
Bohemia. This is clearly shown by the speech of the Czech deputy Stríbrný,
delivered in the Austrian Reichsrat on July 17, and entirely suppressed in
the Austrian and German press. Despite the vigilance on the part of the
Austrian authorities, however, we have been able to secure the full text of
this remarkable speech which reads as follows:

"GENTLEMEN,--Let me first of all emphasise that my speech is not a
defence of the Czech nation and of the Czech soldiers. There are no
judges in this parliament competent to judge us.

"You call us traitors. We accept your declaration as the view of our
enemy. Nothing more--nothing less.

"You gentlemen on the German benches, you dared, however, to touch the
honour of our soldiers--you called them cowards. And in this respect we
are not going to keep silent. We shall always protest against such
injustice! We shall never permit these heroes to be abused by being
called 'cowards.' If there is a single gentleman among you he ought for
a moment to reflect on the soul of a Czech soldier--a soldier who has
been compelled by force to fight in a war which the German Imperial
Chancellor has openly called 'a war of Germans against the Slavs'; a
soldier who was compelled under the threat of immediate execution to
take up arms against the interests of the Slavs, against the interests
of his brothers, against the interests of his own country--Bohemia.
Well then, was it cowardice on the part of this soldier when he,
exposed to the fire of Austrian and German guns and machine guns from
behind, went over to the other side? Was he a coward when, while free
to remain in his captivity as a prisoner of war safely waiting until
the end of the war, he volunteered to fight again and was ready to risk
his life and health once more? Is that Czech soldier a coward who went
once more into the trenches, although aware that if he were captured he
would not be treated as an ordinary prisoner of war but as a deserter,
and hanged accordingly? Is that man a coward who sacrifices his family
which he has left behind and his soil and property inherited from his
ancestors? Is that man a coward who sacrifices himself, his father and
mother, his wife and children for the sake of his nation and country?

"Is that Czech soldier not a hero who to-day is voluntarily fighting
from the Ural Mountains to Vladivostok, on the Piave and in France?

"If there is a single gentleman, a real gentleman among you, let him
stand up and answer these questions.

"And if there is not such a gentleman among you, remember the words of
our bitter enemy the late Minister for Home Defence, Baron Georgi, who
related to this House in a secret sitting all that our regiments have
accomplished. He could not as a soldier suppress a sigh and say, 'We
regret all those treacheries of Czech soldiers, still more because from
their deeds committed on the side of our enemy we can realise what a
splendid military material we have lost.' And if this is not
sufficient, I will remind you of the opinion of those who are in your
eyes the best judges--the Prussian officers. In an Austrian officers'
canteen where Czech soldiers had been abused the whole evening by being
called cowards, the Prussian officers present were asked to give their
opinion on this point. They answered, 'We shall only be able to judge
as to whether the Czechs are cowards or not when they begin to fight
against us.'

"You should at least be gentlemanly enough not to slander your enemies
who have proved themselves to be greater heroes than any other
soldiers, because they are voluntary heroes, whereas the others are
heroes under compulsion!

"This question of cowardice is therefore, I hope, settled forever.

"And now with regard to the title of 'traitors.' _We are traitors to
Austria--every one of us admits it honestly_. Not one of you, however,
has the right to reproach us for this. All of you are patriots by
order, and it cannot be otherwise in a dynastic state like Austria.

"With regard to the patriotism of the Magyars, we have proofs of this
dating from 1866. They have done the same as we are doing to-day. They
surrendered and organised Klapka's legions against Austria. The fact
that they were punished for their treachery by being given their own
independence does not speak against us.

"Yes, gentlemen, we are traitors as much as you Magyars, or as you
Germans were, or would be under similar circumstances. And _we want the
same as you want_, i.e. _to be free citizens of our own state_. Our own
state--that does not mean to have a few officials or one more
university. To have a state of our own--that means to be able to decide
freely if our soldiers shall go to war again, and if they do, to see
that they go only for the interests of their own nation, and not for
the interests of their enemies. An independent state--that means for us
no longer to die by order of foreigners, and no longer to live under
foreign domination.

"Let me remind the gentlemen on the German benches of a lesson in
history. Up till 1866 Germany was nominally under the sceptre of the
Habsburg dynasty--a German dynasty, mind you. Prussia and Northern
Germany felt the indignity of the 'foreign' rule of the Habsburgs--and
they started the fratricidal war in 1866 in order to get rid of this

"It is for you gentlemen on the German benches to speak! Let him who
regrets the blood then spilt stand up and speak. Let him stand up and
condemn Bismarck and William I. who started the war in order to deliver
Germany from the same yoke from which we are trying to free ourselves
to-day. If there is a single man among the Germans who would be
prepared to say that the war against Austria should never have
happened, let him stand up. That war was carried on to free Germany
from the incapable rule of Vienna and it had the same aim in view which
you reproach us with to-day and call high treason!

"You are silent, gentlemen! We are satisfied with your silence. And now
go and continue to stone and abuse us."

5. In the meantime, Professor Masaryk arrived in the United States _via_
Japan in May, 1918. He was accorded a splendid reception at Chicago where
some 200,000 Czecho-Slovaks, as well as various Allied representatives,
greeted him. His presence in the United States not only stimulated
recruiting among Czecho-Slovaks there, but had also political results,
especially when the Central Powers launched their peace offensive.

At the end of May, Mr. Lansing issued the following statement:

"The Secretary of State desires to announce that the proceedings of the
Congress of Oppressed Nationalities of Austria-Hungary which was held
in Rome in April have been followed with great interest by the
Government of the United States, and that the nationalist aspirations
of the Czecho-Slovaks and Jugoslavs have the earnest sympathy of this

This declaration was endorsed by the representatives of Great Britain,
France and Italy at Versailles on June 3, 1918. On June 29, Mr. Lansing
completed and explained his statement as follows:

"Since the issuance by this government on May 29 of a statement
regarding the nationalist aspirations for freedom of the Czecho-Slovaks
and Jugoslavs, German and Austrian officials have sought to
misinterpret and distort its manifest interpretation. In order,
therefore, that there may be no misunderstanding concerning the meaning
of this statement, the Secretary of State to-day further announces the
position of the United States Government to be that _all branches of
the Slav race should be completely freed from German and Austrian

On the following day, that is on June 30, 1918, President Poincaré
presented the Czecho-Slovak army with a flag and delivered an inspiring
speech to them.

On the occasion of the handing of this flag by President Pioncaré to the
Czecho-Slovak army, M. Pichon, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, on behalf
of the government of the French Republic, addressed the following letter to
Dr. Edouard Benes, the general secretary of the Czecho-Slovak National
Council in Paris:

"At the moment when the 21st Regiment of Chasseurs, the first unit of
the autonomous Czecho-Slovak army in France, after receiving its flag,
is leaving its quarters to take up its position in a sector amongst its
French brothers-in-arms, the Republican Government, in recognition of
your efforts and your attachment to the Allied cause, considers it just
and necessary to proclaim _the right of your nation to its independence
and to recognise publicly and officially the National Council as the
supreme organ of its general interests and the first step towards a
future Czecho-Slovak Government_.

"During many centuries the Czecho-Slovak nation has enjoyed the
incomparable benefit of independence. It has been deprived of this
independence through the violence of the Habsburgs allied to the German
princes. The historic rights of nations are imperishable. It is for the
defence of these rights that France, attacked, is fighting to-day
together with her Allies. The cause of the Czechs is especially dear to

"France will never forget the Prague manifestation of December 8, 1870.
Neither will she forget the resistance of its population and the
refusal of Czech soldiers to fight for Austria-Hungary, for which
heroism thousands of these patriots paid with their lives. France has
also heard the appeals of the Czech deputies of January 6, April 13,
and May 16, 1918.

"Faithful to the principles of respect for nationalities and the
liberation of oppressed nations, _the Government of the Republic
considers the claims of the Czecho-Slovak nation as just and well
founded, and will, at the right moment, support with all its solicitude
the realisation of your aspirations to independence within the historic
boundaries of your territories_ at present suffering under the
oppressive yoke of Austria and Hungary.

"It is very pleasant for me, Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, to make
this declaration. Your sentiments, reflecting those of your
compatriots, are for me the measure of the high degree of the future
happiness of your country.

"In the name of the Government of the French Republic I tender _my
warmest and most sincere wishes that the Czecho-Slovak State may
speedily become, through the common efforts of all the Allies and in
close union with Poland and the Jugoslav State, an insurmountable
barrier to Teutonic aggression_ and a factor for peace in a
reconstituted Europe in accordance with the principles of justice and
rights of nationalities."

It is unnecessary to add long comments to this clear and explicit state
paper which forms a veritable pledge on the part of France to secure
Czecho-Slovak independence. It is a recognition of Bohemia's right to
independence and of the National Council as the supreme organ of the
Czecho-Slovak nation abroad. At the same time it is also an acceptance of
our programme of the reorganisation of Central Europe, necessitating the
break-up of Austria, and in this respect it is also a success and a pledge
for the Poles and Yugoslavs.

6. If France and Italy showed such deep understanding of the cause of
Bohemia's liberty, exhibited in practice by special military conventions
concluded with our National Council, Great Britain may be proud of no less
generosity. Although having no direct interests in seeing Bohemia
independent, Great Britain, true to her traditions as a champion of the
liberties of small nations, did not hesitate to give us a declaration which
not only fully endorses all pledges of France and Italy, but which goes
still further and practically recognises our full national sovereignty.

On August 9, 1918, His Majesty's Government issued the following

"Since the beginning of the war the Czecho-Slovak nation has resisted
the common enemy by every means in its power. The Czecho-Slovaks have
constituted a considerable army, fighting on three different
battlefields and attempting, in Russia and Siberia, to arrest the
Germanic invasion.

"_In consideration of their efforts to achieve independence, Great
Britain regards the Czecho-Slovaks as an Allied nation and recognises
the unity of the three Czecho-Slovak armies as an Allied and
belligerent army waging a regular warfare against Austria-Hungary and

"Great Britain also recognises _the right of the Czecho-Slovak National
Council as the supreme organ of the Czecho-Slovak national interests,
and as the present trustee of the future Czecho-Slovak Government to
exercise supreme authority over this Allied and belligerent army_."

It will be readily seen of what a tremendous significance this declaration
is from an international point of view. Apart from the fact that it
recognises our efforts towards independence, the declaration says
explicitly that the Czecho-Slovaks, abroad and at home, are an Allied
nation, which implies that the Allies will treat them henceforward as such,
and will allow their government to establish consular service and to send
representatives to Allied conferences. The sovereignty both of the
Czecho-Slovak army and of the National Council is fully recognised in this
declaration which proclaims "the unity of the three Czecho-Slovak armies
(in Russia, France and Italy) as an _Allied and belligerent army_ waging
_regular warfare_ against Austria." Only a sovereign army is a belligerent
army waging regular warfare. Thus the Czecho-Slovaks, according to
international law, are no more rebels but regular soldiers whom, when
captured, Austria has no more the right to execute. Similarly also the
recognition of the National Council as the "trustee" of the Czecho-Slovak
Government is clear and explicit; in fact a "trustee" is the word applied
to a provisional government of a state. As a matter of fact, the National
Council, on the ground of this recognition of full sovereignty, was
constituted as a Provisional Government on October 14, 1918, and has the
power to exercise all rights appertaining to a sovereign and independent

Thus implicitly Great Britain considers Czecho-Slovak independence already
a _fait accompli_. It speaks of and considers a Czecho-Slovak State no more
as a probability, but as a certainty. As with the Czecho-Slovaks so with
Great Britain, Austria exists no more.

The recognition is of additional importance because it comes from Great
Britain who has always been considered a traditional friend of Austria, and
who is known for conservatism in foreign politics. The decision to issue a
declaration of such far-reaching importance was surely arrived at only
after due and careful deliberation. The step which Great Britain has taken
thereby once more proves the deep sense of justice and the far-sightedness
of British statesmen. Needless to say that the Czecho-Slovaks will always
remain grateful to Great Britain for this bold and generous act. Its
immediate effect has been consternation in Vienna and encouragement both to
the Czecho-Slovak soldiers fighting on the side of the Entente and to the
Czech leaders courageously defending Bohemia's rights in Vienna. As deputy
Klofác put it at a meeting in Laibach on August 15:

"Henceforward the Czechs will refuse to hold any negotiations with
Vienna, with whom any compromise is now out of the question. The
Czecho-Slovaks will firmly continue the struggle for complete national
independence, strengthened by the support of other Slavs, and by the
knowledge that the British and other Allied governments had formally
acknowledged and were working for the establishment of an independent
Czecho-Slovak State."

This chapter would not be complete if we did not quote the subsequent
declarations of the United States of America and Japan, practically
endorsing the British declaration.

On September 3, Mr. Lansing issued the following statement:

"The Czecho-Slovak peoples having taken up arms against the German and
Austro-Hungarian empires, and having placed in the field organised
armies, which are waging war against those empires under officers of
their own nationality and in accordance with the rules and practices of
civilised nations, and Czecho-Slovaks having in the prosecution of
their independence in the present war confided the supreme political
authority to the Czecho-Slovak National Council, the Government of the
United States recognises that a state of belligerency exists between
the Czecho-Slovaks thus organised and the German and Austro-Hungarian

"It also recognises _the Czecho-Slovak National Council as a_ de facto
_belligerent government_, clothed with proper authority to direct the
military and political affairs of the Czecho-Slovaks.

"The Government of the United States further declares that it is
prepared to enter formally into relations with the _de facto_
government thus recognised for the purpose of prosecuting the war
against the common enemy, the empires of Germany and Austria-Hungary."

A week later the Japanese Government, through the medium of its ambassador
in London, communicated the following declaration to the Czecho-Slovak
National Council:

"The Japanese Government have noted with deep and sympathetic interest
the just aspirations of the Czecho-Slovak people for a free and
independent national existence. These aspirations have conspicuously
been made manifest in their determined and well-organised efforts to
arrest the progress of the Germanic aggression.

"In these circumstances, the Japanese Government are happy to regard
the Czecho-Slovak army as an Allied and belligerent army waging regular
warfare against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and to recognise the
rights of the Czecho-Slovak National Council to exercise the supreme
control over that army. They are further prepared to enter into
communication with the duly authorised representatives of the
Czecho-Slovak National Council, whenever necessary, on all matters of
mutual interest to the Japanese and the Czecho-Slovak forces in



The opening of the Reichsrat in May, 1917, was intended to give Austria the
appearance of a "democratic" country in which diverse nationalities live in
peace and happiness. Democratic indeed! A parliament, subject to
censorship, lacking the freedom of speech and all influence on the
government, with 463 members instead of 516, many of whom were still in
prison and in exile! And if there was still any person in the Allied
countries having any doubts concerning the attitude of the Czechs and
Yugoslavs, these doubts were certainly dispelled after the courageous
indictment against Austria made by the Slav deputies, representing
practically all the Czech and Yugoslav political parties. The declaration
of the Poles in favour of a united and independent Poland, the statement of
Messrs. Stanek and Korosec in the name of _all_ Czechs and Yugoslavs in
favour of a Czecho-Slovak and Yugoslav State, the speech of deputy Kalina
denying all responsibility of the Czechs for the war, and expressing Czech
sympathies with the Entente Powers, and the terrible story of persecutions
which the Czechs had to suffer from Austria during the war, told by deputy
Stríbrný, formed a veritable "Mene Tekel," a death sentence pronounced by
the Austrian Slavs on their tyrants in Vienna and Budapest.

The revelation in the Reichsrat of the hopeless state of decay prevailing
in Austria-Hungary was, of course, due to the Russian Revolution. If it was
not for the Russian Revolution, the Austrian Emperor and Clam-Martinic
would perhaps have continued their reign of absolutism by way of imperial
decrees, and they would never have dreamt of convoking the Reichsrat.

However, the desperate economic and political situation forced Austria to
find some way out of her difficulties, and to plead for peace as she began
to realise that otherwise she was doomed. The change of order and the
situation in Russia and the uncertain attitude of some Allied statesmen
seemed favourable for the Austrian calculations respecting a separate
peace. But Austria could not possibly hope to deceive free Russia or the
Allies and lure them into concluding a premature peace if the reign of
terrorism and absolutism still prevailed in the Dual Monarchy. For this
reason Tisza, with his sinister reputation, was forced to go, and the
Reichsrat was convened. Austria based her plans on the ignorance of some
Allied politicians who really believed in the "new orientation" of the
Vienna Government because of the Bohemian _names_ (not sympathies) of
Clam-Martinic and Czernin. In the same way Austria wanted to make outsiders
believe that a change in the name of the Hungarian Premier meant a change
of system, and that the convocation of the Reichsrat meant a new era of
"democracy" in Austria.

Neither of these assumptions was, of course, correct. If the Magyars talk
of introducing universal suffrage, they want to extend it to Magyar
electors, and on one condition only, viz. that all the candidates shall be
of _Magyar_ nationality, or, as the Hungarian Premier, Count Esterhazy, put
it, "democracy in Hungary can only be a Magyar democracy"--that is, a
system utterly at variance with the principles of justice.

But far from averting the doom of Austria and bringing her peace and
consolation, the opening of the Reichsrat only hastened Austria's downfall,
for it enabled the Austrian Slavs, who now felt that the moment had come
for them to speak, to declare before the whole world their aspirations, and
their determination to destroy the monarchy.

_(a) The Czech Declaration of May_ 30, 1917

Before entering the Reichsrat, the Czechs made it clear that they no longer
desired any compromise with Austria. In a manifesto signed by 150 Czech
authors and subsequently endorsed by professors, teachers and various
societies and corporations, the Czech deputies were reminded that the fate
of their nation was at stake:

"The doors of the Austrian Parliament are opening and the political
representatives of the nations have for the first time the opportunity
of speaking and acting freely. Whatever they may say and decide will be
heard not only at home, but also throughout Europe and overseas.... The
programme of our nation is founded on its history and racial unity, on
its modern political life and rights. The present time emphasises the
necessity for carrying out this programme completely.... To-day you are
forced to develop this programme, to defend it to the last breath
before the forum of Europe, and to demand its realisation without
limitations.... Democratic Europe, the Europe of free and independent
nations, is the Europe of the future. The nation asks you to be equal
to this historic occasion, to devote to it all your abilities and to
sacrifice to it all other considerations...."

And to this appeal of their nation the Czech, deputies did not turn a deaf

On entering the Reichsrat on May 30, 1917, Mr. Stanek, president of the
Union of Czech Deputies, made the following memorable declaration in the
name of all the Czech deputies:

"While taking our stand at this historic moment on the natural right of
peoples to self-determination and free development--a right which in
our case is further strengthened by inalienable historic rights fully
recognised by this state--we shall, at the head of our people, work for
_the union of all branches of the Czecho-Slovak nation in a single
democratic Bohemian State_, comprising also the Slovak branch of our
nation which lives in the lands adjoining our Bohemian Fatherland."

Both the Yugoslav and the Polish press greeted this declaration with
undisguised joy and sympathy.

The _Glos Naroda_ welcomed the Czech declaration, and added: "Those who
to-day are asking for an independent national existence do not claim
anything but the minimum of their rights. Nothing less could satisfy them
(_i.e._ the Czechs and Yugo-slavs), seeing that even smaller and less
historic nations claim the same." The _Nowa Reforma_ also said that the
Czechs were quite right to ask for full independence. "They are entitled to
it by their position in which they can lose nothing more than they have
lost already, but gain a great deal. Among the Entente Powers there is
nobody who would have an open or disguised interest in opposing even the
boldest claims of the Czecho-Slovak nation."

The declaration of deputy Stanek was completed by a statement of deputy
Kalina who made it quite clear that the Czechs refuse responsibility for
the war, and that their sympathies are with the Entente. Kalina, a
prominent leader of the State Right Party, said:

"As deputies elected by the Czech nation, _we absolutely reject every
responsibility for this war_.

"After three years, the government has summoned the _Reichsrat, which
the Czechs never recognised_, and against which, as well as against the
so-called constitution, they again make a formal protest. The great
Russian Revolution forced the government to a plausible restoration of
constitutional life.

"_The Czech nation hails with unbounded joy and enthusiasm the
liberation of Eastern Europe_. The main principles of that memorable
Revolution are closely related to our own traditions, _i.e._ to the
principle of _liberty, equality and fraternity of all nations_. Bohemia
is a free country. Never in her history did she accept laws from
aliens, not even from her powerful neighbours in Europe. Liberty of
individuals, liberty of nations is again our motto which the nation of
Hussites is bringing before the world. In these historic moments, when
from the blood-deluged battlefields a new Europe is arising, and the
idea of the sovereignty of nations and nationalities is triumphantly
marching throughout the Continent, _the Czech nation solemnly declares
before the world its firm will for liberty and independence_ on the
ground of the ancient historic rights of the Bohemian Crown. In
demanding independence, the Czech nation asks, in the sense of the new
democracy, for the extension of the right of self-determination to the
whole Czecho-Slovak nation."

_(b) Courageous Speeches delivered by Czech Deputies in the Reichsrat_

During the subsequent session of the Reichsrat, various Czech deputies,
representing all the Czech parties, made declarations, some of which we
will quote in order to show the remarkable unanimity of the Czechs in their
opposition to Austria and in their demand for independence. _It was chiefly
this unanimity of all Czech parties and classes in Bohemia and the absolute
harmony between their action and the Czecho-Slovak action abroad which
formed the real strength of the movement_.

_Dr. Stránský_, leader of the Moravian People's Party, delivered a long
speech in the Reichsrat on June 12, 1917, from which we quote the following
significant passages:

"The Germans say that germanisation is not carried out except where it
is in the interests of the state. We do not think that the interests of
the state should go first. If the interests of a state are not
identical with the liberties and interests of a nation, then _such a
state has for that nation no right to exist_.

"If Clam-Martinic thinks that we will enter the Reichsrat which the
Polish deputies would not attend in their present strength, then he is
greatly mistaken. We heartily wish the Poles to achieve their national
independence, but should we be denied an equal right, then it would
mean an end to this Reichsrat. We want to enjoy the same happiness as
the rest, _we want to be free from all oppression, from all foreign
domination. We want to decide for ourselves the form of our political
existence_. We want to choose our own laws, we want to govern
ourselves. _We claim the restitution of our political independence and
of the supreme historic right of the Czech nation in the lands of the
Bohemian Crown. The time is ripe also when the Austrian fortresses of
St. Peter and St. Paul will open, and when their prisoners will change
places with their persecutors. The state and dynasty have lately taken
away the rights and liberties of our nation and trampled them

On June 15, the National Socialist deputy _Stríbrný_, openly demanded the
creation of a Czecho-Slovak Republic:

"The German annexationist plans are doomed. The Czechs greet with joy
the new era of equality and fraternity, an era in which a _democratic
republic_ is considered as the best form of government. The Czechs
demand the creation of a Bohemia in which they will possess their own
independent government. _Too long have they been oppressed by Austria,
and now they are determined to achieve their national liberty_."

On June 26, _Dr. Soukup_, the leader of the Czecho-Slav Social Democratic
Party, made an equally remarkable statement:

"As a Social Democrat I say that we, the Czecho-Slovak nation, have
also a right to a place in the sun, and we want to be seen. Do you
consider that a nation numbering over ten million and boasting of a
highly developed civilisation can continue to breathe under such
oppressive conditions, seeing what an important role is being played by
four million Bulgars, two million Greeks, two million Danes and other
small nations? _We welcome the resurrection of the great and united
Polish State, we witness the great Yugoslav nation shaping its
boundaries along the Adriatic, and we also see Ukrainia arising. At
such moments we want to live as well, and we will live_!"

_(c) After the Amnesty_

The political amnesty of July, 1917, intended to appease the Slavs, had
just the opposite effect: it only strengthened the Slav resistance which
acquired fresh strength and impetus by the return of the old leaders.

Kramár was hailed like a sovereign when he entered Prague again. He now
became the recognised leader of the whole nation. The _Národní Listy_
became the mouthpiece of all the most eminent leaders of the nation without
party distinction. Its issue of October 31, 1917, contained a map of the
future independent Czecho-Slovak State and a series of articles. We will
quote only a few passages from an article written by deputy Rasín which
read as follows:

"The war has brought our problem home not only to us but to the whole
world. Nothing could have better expressed our situation than the
propaganda of Mitteleuropa. Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria had to form a
bridge for the imperialistic march of Germany to the Persian Gulf _via_
Constantinople and Bagdad. The Czechs and Yugoslavs were to be crushed
and become the victims of those plans. This was the ideal that the
German nation considered as its war aim and as a war aim of
Austria-Hungary. They could not have obtained a better reply than was
given to them by the Czechs and Yugoslavs in their demand for their own
independent states, which would be able to form a permanent bulwark
against the _Drang nach Osten_ as planned by the Germans and Magyars.
Even if Herr Naumann ceases to promote the idea of Central Europe, in
reality _a new programme which would do away with the old evils and
assign a new mission to Austria-Hungary is inconceivable_. All the
declarations of the government are only destined to conceal their real
intentions. The German-Magyar hegemony is as strong as ever, and the
Polish question is to be solved only according to the Pan-German
programme. During this war Austria's real face has been unmasked before
the whole world by her persecutions, arbitrary decrees and the
Pan-German propaganda.

"The Czechs, who in their policy always went hand in hand with the
Yugoslavs, saw all this, and consequently the only thing left for them
to do is to insist on their attitude, constantly to reveal Austria's
insincerity, to reject all pretty phrases without any meaning in them,
and all compromises, which we know would never be kept. _We also must
reject a compromise peace which would lead to fresh wars_.

"_The policy of the Czechs cannot but aim at the absolute independence
of the whole Czecho-Slovak nation_, and all our action at home and
abroad must tend towards persuading the world that only thus can a
stable peace in Europe be achieved."

It was about this time also when Seidler made desperate attempts to induce
the Slav leaders to participate in a special commission for the revision of
the Austrian Constitution. Dr. Stránský, speaking in the name of the
Czechs, openly refused the proposal, declaring that the Czech problem could
not be solved by Austria, but only by the Peace Conference, that is after
the victory of the Entente. A joint committee of representatives of the
Young Czech, National Socialist, Progressive Independence and Moravian
Progressive Parties issued a proclamation protesting against any
participation of Czechs in Austrian politics, and declaring that since the
Czech question is an international one and can therefore be decided only at
the Peace Conference, the duty of the Czech deputies is not to assist in
the revision of the Austrian Constitution, but to insist upon the creation
of an "_independent Czecho-Slovak State with all the attributes of

Simultaneously also the Czech Agrarian deputy, _Zahradník_, made the
following remarkable declaration in the Reichsrat on September 26:

"In view of the prevailing policy directed against the Czech people,
can any one wonder that _they have lost all confidence in Vienna_ and
that they refuse to let this parliament decide their fate? _It is
necessary to secure for all peoples, great or small, the right to
decide their own destinies_. This applies also to the ten million
Czecho-Slovaks who, moreover, cannot rightly be considered merely as a
'small' nation: the Czechs, too, do not desire anything more than
peace, but it must not be forgotten _that our men did not shed their
blood merely for imperialism or for Pan-Germanism. We do not want
anything but an honourable peace which would bring equality to all
peoples_, a peace assuring liberty and equality to all, and not a peace
which would leave our fetters unbroken. We regret that the Pope omitted
to mention the Czechs in his peace offer although he mentioned the
Poles. _But we shall obtain our right without alien support. The Czechs
will never swerve from their demand for an independent Slovak State
with all the attributes of sovereignty. The Czechs are convinced that
the question of Bohemia is too great to be solved in Vienna. It must be
decided at the Peace Conference_."

On November 9, deputy Stanek made it clear that the Czecho-Slovaks expect
the resurrection of their independence only from the break-up of Austria:

"We cannot conceive of peace or of the transformation of Europe except
when _on the ruins of the Dual Monarchy_ new national states shall
arise. The German-Magyar misrule must be destroyed."

And when on November 21 Seidler talked about the peace conditions of the
"enemy," Dr. Stránský interrupted him by exclaiming, "Our enemies are here,
in Vienna and in Budapest!"

_(d) During Peace Negotiations with Russia_

When peace negotiations were opened with the Bolsheviks, the
Austro-Hungarian delegations were also summoned, for the first time during
the war, on December 3, 1917. During the speech from the throne the Czechs
demonstratively left the hall. On the same day the Bohemian Union, the
Yugoslav Club and the Ruthenes issued a protest against the government
having published a distorted version of the Russian peace offer. In this
protest the Slav deputies asked:

"How can the government answer for having purposely distorted such a
highly important document as the Russian Note of November 28, and why
did the government suppress just the paragraph out of it containing
guarantees for national self-determination?"

Their declaration naturally exasperated the Germans and the government. The
organ of the Austrian Foreign Office, the _Fremdenblatt_, expressed regret
that the Slav parties in the Reichsrat "place obstacles in the way of
peace." It also regretted that "some parties in the Austrian Parliament
should take up an attitude incompatible with our state's
self-preservation." On the next day, M. Stanek made a declaration in the
delegations in the name of Czechs and Yugoslavs, saying:

"We Czech and Yugoslav delegates declare that it is our deep conviction
as well as the firm will of our respective nations that a lasting peace
is possible only on the ground of the full right of self-determination.
_The Imperial Government deliberately and wilfully distorted the most
important part of the Russian peace offer_, viz. the demand for the
self-determination of nations. It is still more surprising that the
prime ministers in both halves of the monarchy should try to deceive
the public opinion of the world by a false interpretation of the right
of self-determination. The Austrian Premier, Dr. Seidler, declared that
the Viennese Parliament is a forum through which the nations could
obtain self-determination, while the _Hungarian Premier had the
impudence to describe the conditions in Hungary, which are a mockery of
all civilisation, as the ideal of national liberty._ We, therefore,
declare in regard to any peace negotiations: _Our national development
can only then be secured when the right of self-determination of all
nations shall be fully, clearly and unreservedly recognised_ with
binding guarantees of its immediate realisation."

At the same time the Slavs made a proposal in the Austro-Hungarian
Delegations, insisting that the peace negotiations with Russia should be
conducted by a committee selected from both parliaments on the basis of
nationality, and consisting of twelve Germans, ten Magyars, ten
Czecho-Slovaks, seven Yugoslavs, five Poles, four Ruthenes, three Rumanians
and one Italian.

Finally, on December 5, the Czech Socialist deputy Tusar declared in the

"We want to be our own masters, and if it is high treason to ask for
liberty and independence, then let us say at once that _each of us is a
traitor, but such high treason is an honour, and not a dishonour_. As
regards the negotiations with Russia, we declare that _Count Czernin
does not represent the nations of Austria_ and has no right to speak in
our name; he is merely the plenipotentiary of the dynasty. _The old
Austria, based on police, bureaucracy, militarism and racial tyranny,
cannot survive this war_. We also want peace, but it must be a just
peace. The Czecho-Slovaks will under all circumstances defend their

In conjunction with this declaration we may quote two other Czech
Socialists showing the opinion of the Czechs on the Russian Revolution.

On November 29, deputy Modrácek declared in the Reichsrat:

"The Revolution of the Bolsheviks is a misfortune for the Russian
Revolution, the Russian Republic and all the oppressed nations of
Europe. _So long as the German Social Democracy permits the working
masses to be brought to the battlefield in the interests of
Imperialism, the action of the Bolsheviks is not the work for Socialism
but for German Tsarism_. I do not undervalue the significance and the
greatness of the Russian Revolution: it is the German Social Democrats
who fail to perform their moral duty in this war and do not comprehend
the Russian Revolution."

Still more outspoken is the declaration of deputy Winter, who said in the
Reichsrat on February 21, 1918:

"The workers of the whole world will never forget that the Russian
Revolution was the first social revolution on a large scale. And on
this revolutionary movement Germany has directly and Austria-Hungary
indirectly declared war. _Perhaps Austria-Hungary wants to repay the
Romanoffs in_ 1918 _for the aid which they rendered to the Habsburgs
in_ 1848.... Austria-Hungary once before engaged in the European
reaction by crushing revolution in Italy. She gathered the fruits of
this act in 1848, 1859, 1866, and in the present war. Formerly France
and Russia participated in the Holy Alliance, but _to-day the Central
Powers are the only refuge of reaction in Europe_."

_(e) The Constituent Assembly of Prague on January_ 6, 1918

The most important manifestation of Czecho-Slovak national will took place
in Prague on January 6, 1918, when all the Czech deputies assembled in
order to give expression to their deep gratitude for the French recognition
of the constitution of a Czecho-Slovak army on the side of the Entente. At
the same time it was a protest against Austria-Hungary and a demand for
representation at the Peace Conference.

As to the resolution unanimously adopted by this constituent assembly,
there is no doubt about its meaning: in it the Czecho-Slovaks no more act
with Austria but demand full liberty. This even the Austrian Premier, Dr.
Seidler, had to admit, when he declared in the Reichsrat on January 22:

"This resolution, in which we in vain look for a distant echo of
dynastic or state allegiance, adopts to a certain extent an
international standpoint, and shows that this people is ready, at any
rate on the conclusion of peace, to accept international support with a
view to obtaining the recognition of foreign states. Such a standpoint
is calculated to encourage our enemies and to prolong the war.

"The resolution demands the right of self-determination in order to
dissolve the existing unity of the state, and to assure full
independence and sovereignty. _The resolution gives the impression of
having been conceived in a sense absolutely hostile to the state_, and
must be indignantly rejected by every Austrian and resisted by every
Austrian Government with all the means in its power."

The Czech declaration of January 6, which is the most important of all
declarations of the Czechs and which has been suppressed in the Austrian
press, reads as follows:

"In the fourth year of this terrible war, which has already cost the
nations numberless sacrifices in blood and treasure, the first peace
efforts have been inaugurated. We Czech deputies recognise the
declarations in the Reichsrat, and deem it our duty emphatically to
declare, in the name of the Czech nation and of its oppressed and
forcibly-silenced Slovak branch of Hungary, our attitude towards the
reconstruction of the international situation.

"When the Czech deputies of our regenerated nation expressed
themselves, during the Franco-Prussian War, on the international
European problems, they solemnly declared in the memorandum of December
8, 1870, that 'only from the recognition of the equality of all nations
and from natural respect of the right of self-determination could come
true equality and fraternity, a general peace and true humanity.'

"We, deputies of the Czech nation, true even to-day to these principles
of our ancestors, have therefore greeted with joy the fact that all
states, based upon democratic principles, whether belligerent or
neutral, now accept with us the right of nations to free
self-determination as a guarantee of a general and lasting peace.

"The new Russia also accepted the principle of self-determination of
nations during its attempts for a general settlement and as a
fundamental condition of peace. The nations were freely to determine
their fate and decide whether they want to live in an independent state
of their own or whether they choose to form one state in common with
other nations.

"On the other hand, the Austro-Hungarian delegate declared, in the name
of the Quadruple Alliance, that the question of the self-determination
of those nations which have not hitherto enjoyed political independence
should be solved in a constitutional manner within the existing state.
This point of view of the Austro-Hungarian representative is not our
point of view, because we know, from our own numberless bitter
experiences, that it means nothing but the negation of the principle of
self-determination. We indignantly express our regret that our nation
was deprived of its political independence and of the right of
self-determination, and that by means of artificial electoral statutes
we were left to the mercy of the German minority and of the government
of the centralised German bureaucracy.

"Our brother Slovaks became the victims of Magyar brutality and of
unspeakable violence in a state which, notwithstanding all its apparent
constitutional liberties, remains the darkest corner of Europe, and in
which the non-Magyars who form the majority of the population are
ruthlessly oppressed by the ruling minority, extirpated, and
denationalised from childhood, unrepresented in parliament and the
civil service, and deprived of public schools as well as of all private
educational institutions.

"The constitution to which the Austro-Hungarian representative refers,
nullified even the right of general suffrage by an artificial creation
of an over-representation of the German minority in the Reichsrat, and
its utter uselessness for the liberty of nations was clearly
demonstrated during the three years of unscrupulous military absolutism
during this war. Every reference to this constitution, therefore, means
in reality only a repudiation of the right of self-determination for
the non-German nations of Austria who are at the mercy of the Germans:
and it means an especially cruel insult and injury to the non-Magyar
nations _in Hungary, where the constitution is nothing but a means of
shameful domination by the oligarchy of a few Magyar aristocratic
families_, as was again proved by the recent electoral reform proposal.

"Our nation longs with all the democracies of the world for a general
and lasting peace. But our nation is fully aware that _no peace can be
permanent except a peace which will abolish old injustice_, brutal
force and the predominance of arms, as well as the predominance of
states and nations over other nations, which will assure a free
development to all nations, great or small, and which will liberate
especially those nations which are still suffering under foreign
domination. That is why it is necessary that this right of free
national development and of self-determination of nations, great or
small, to whatever state they may belong, should become the foundation
of future international rights, a guarantee of peace, and of a friendly
co-operation of nations, as well as a great ideal which will liberate
humanity from the terrible horrors of a world war.

"_We deputies of the Czech nation declare that a peace which would not
bring our nation full liberty could not be and would not mean a peace
to us_, but would only be the beginning of a new, desperate and
continuous struggle for our political independence, in which our nation
would strain to the utmost its material and moral forces. And in that
uncompromising struggle it would never relax until its aim had been
achieved. _Our nation asks for independence_ on the ground of its
historic rights, and is imbued with the fervent desire to contribute
towards the new development of humanity on the basis of liberty and
fraternity in a free competition with other free nations, which our
nation hopes to accomplish in a sovereign, equal, democratic and
socially just state of its own, built upon the equality of all its
citizens within the historic boundaries of the Bohemian lands and of
Slovakia, guaranteeing full and equal national rights to all

"Guided by these principles, we solemnly protest against the rejection
of the right of self-determination at the peace negotiations, and
_demand that, in the sense of this right, all nations, including,
therefore, also the Czecho-Slovaks, be guaranteed participation and
full freedom of defending their rights at the Peace Conference_."

_(f) The Oath of the Czecho-Slovak Nation_

It will be remembered that Count Czernin delivered a speech to the Vienna
Municipal Council on April 2, 1918, which caused his downfall. In this
pronouncement he also attacked Czech leaders and blamed them for the
failure of his peace efforts. This interesting passage of his speech reads
as follows:

"What terrible irony it is that, while our brothers and sons are
fighting like lions on the battlefield and millions of men and women at
home are heroically bearing their losses and are sending up urgent
prayers to the Almighty for the speedy termination of the war, certain
leaders of the people and the people's representatives agitate against
the German Alliance, which has so splendidly stood the test, _pass
resolutions which no longer have the slightest connection with the
state idea, find no word of blame for the Czech troops which criminally
fight against their own country_ and their brothers-in-arms, would tear
parts out of the Hungarian State, under the protection of their
parliamentary immunity _make speeches which cannot be considered
otherwise than as a call to enemy countries to continue the struggle_
solely in order to support their own political efforts, and ever anew
kindle the expiring war spirit in London, Rome and Paris. _The wretched
and miserable Masaryk is not the only one of his kind. There are also
Masaryks within the borders of the monarchy._ I would much rather have
spoken on this sad matter in the delegations, but, as I have already
mentioned, the convoking of the committee has at present proved to be
impossible and I cannot wait."

Thereupon he attempted to absolve the Czech "people" from the charge of
high treason.

The Czech leaders did not resent his charge that they were "traitors" like
Masaryk. Indeed, the _Lidové Noviny_ openly declared: "We are proud to be
called traitors." But they resented his subsequent allegation that the
Czech people do not stand behind their leaders. In order to refute this
allegation and to assure the Czech soldiers fighting on the side of the
Entente of their solidarity, the Czechs summoned a meeting at Prague in
which some 6000 _delegates of all Czech parties and classes took part_, as
well as twenty-three delegates of the Yugoslavs. The meeting was most
solemn and impressive. It was a new manifestation by the whole nation of
its unanimity in the struggle for independence. The Czecho-Yugoslav
solidarity was again emphasised. Finally, a solemn oath was unanimously
taken by the whole assembly. The following are some of its passages:

"To the Czecho-Slovak Nation!

"The terrible world war is approaching its culmination. In awe and
sorrow a great number of Czecho-Slovak men and women are standing here.

"The Czecho-Slovak blood has been and is still being shed in torrents.

"Unbroken, united in suffering, our nation believed and believes that
the storm of the world war will ultimately result in a better future
and that its humanitarian ideals will be sanctioned by a universal
peace which will forever guard humanity against a repetition of the
present catastrophe.

"We never asked for anything but to be able to live a free life, to
govern our own destinies free from foreign domination, and to erect our
own state after the manner of all other civilised nations. That is our
sacred right. It is the national and international right of a nation
which has done great service to civilisation and can proudly range
itself among the most civilised and democratic nations of Europe.

"This is the firm and unanimous will of the nation:

"_We have assembled here to-day as the legitimate representatives of
the Czecho-Slovak nation in order to manifest unmistakably that the
whole nation is united as it never was before, and that it stands like
a rock behind the memorable and historic declarations of its deputies_.

"_So we are standing here, firmly convinced of the ultimate victory of
Justice, of the victory of Right over Might, of Liberty over Tyranny,
of Democracy over Privilege and of Truth over Falsehood and Deceit_.

"At the cross-roads of history, we swear by the glorious memory of our
ancestors, before the eyes of the sorrow-stricken nation, over the
graves of those who have fallen for the cause of liberty, to-day and
for all eternity:

"_We will hold on and will never give way!_

"_We will be faithful in all our work, struggles and sufferings,
faithful unto death!_

"_We will hold on unto victory!_

"_We will hold on until our nation obtains independence_.

"_Long live the Czecho-Slovak nation!_

"Let our nation grow and flourish freely in the great family of
nations, for its own welfare as well as for the welfare of the future
liberated humanity!"

_(g) The Slovaks' Attitude_

The appalling terrorism prevailing in Hungary made it impossible for the
Slovaks to manifest their feelings as they would have liked to do. The
Slovaks abroad, of course, work hand in hand with the Czechs for their
common cause.

Nevertheless, even in Hungary the Slovaks showed their unanimity with the

According to the _Národní Listy_ of July 24, 1917, the Slovak political
leaders, especially their two deputies, Father P. Juriga and Dr. P. Blaho,
and the veteran leader of the Slovak National Party, M. Dula, have been
subjected to all sorts of persuasions and threats on the part of the
Magyars who were anxious that the Slovaks should disavow the declaration of
the Bohemian Club in favour of the union of all Czechs and Slovaks in an
independent state. The Slovak leaders, however, refused to become the dupes
of the Magyar Government.

According to the _Národní Listy_ of May 5, 1918, a great manifestation was
arranged by Slovak Socialists in St. Miklos on May 1 in favour of the union
of the Hungarian Slovaks with the Czechs of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.
Several thousand Slovaks took part in the manifestation despite the
obstacles put in the way by the Magyar gendarmerie and police spies. A
resolution was carried unanimously demanding amongst other things a just
and lasting peace which would prevent the outbreak of fresh conflagrations
and assure liberty to all nations in Europe, and "_self-determination for
all nations_, including also that branch of the Czecho-Slovak nation which
lives in Hungary." Besides this manifestation, the Slovaks sent
representative delegates to the National Theatre celebrations in Prague,
with which we deal in our next chapter.

_(h) The Czecho-Slovak National Council in Prague_

On July 13, 1918, an important event took place in Prague. The
Czecho-Slovaks established an inter-party council which may well be
described as part of the _Provisional Government of Bohemia_, whose
programme is identical with that of the Czecho-Slovak Provisional
Government in Paris.

The inaugural meeting of the council in Prague was opened by the president
of the Agrarian Party, Mr. Svehla, who gave a report about the preparatory
work and principles which led to the constitution of the council. On the
proposal of M. Stanek, president of the Union of Czech Deputies, _Dr. Karel
Kramár_, the leader of the Independent Democratic Party, was elected
president of the council, _M. Klofác_, leader of the National Socialists,
and _M. Svehla_ vice-presidents, and _Dr. Soukup_, leader of the
Socialists, secretary. Dr. Kramár greeted the assembly in the name of the
presidency. Afterwards deputy Klofác delivered a speech in the name of the
Socialists, and the vice-president of the Czech Union, supported by deputy
Habermann, proposed that the presidency should itself select members of the
council. The proposal was unanimously accepted. Deputy Stanek greeted the
National Council in the name of the Czech Union as the supreme
representative of the whole Czecho-Slovak nation, of all its classes and
parties. Thereupon Dr. Soukup proposed a resolution which was carried
unanimously and the chief passages of which read as follows:

"To the Czecho-Slovak Nation!

"On the decision of all political parties, representing the united will
of our whole nation, the Czecho-Slovak National Council has been formed
to-day. The immense gravity of the present times and our common concern
for the future fate of the Czecho-Slovak nation have united us in a
national organisation.

"The ultimate aim of the Czecho-Slovak National Council in Prague is
postulated by the demand of these times: _to enlist for systematic
work, to organise and lead the great spiritual, moral and national
resources of the nation_ to that end which is the most sacred and
inalienable right of every nation and which cannot and will not be
denied also to our nation:

"_The right of self-determination in a fully independent Czecho-Slovak
State with its own administration within its own borders and under its
own sovereignty_.

"The Czecho-Slovak National Council wish to interpret this will of the
nation and to be the executive organ of all the common declarations of
its delegates which culminated in the solemn oath of April 13, 1918.

"Our work will not be easy. We shall have to suffer much more
opposition and _we shall have to undergo another great test._ But no
obstacles are able to arrest our nation's progress. In full mutual
agreement with our delegates and with the whole cultural and economic
Czech world, the Czecho-Slovak National Council will faithfully fulfil
its difficult and responsible task, so that it may be truly said before
the conscience of the nation that we did everything that was in our
human power.

"_We know that our whole nation stands behind the Czecho-Slovak
National Council_ as one united rampart. Full of joy at the great
political act which the constitution of the National Council
represents, and full of confidence in the victory of our common cause,
we address to-day to the whole Czecho-Slovak nation an urgent appeal to
support our work with all its strength, to obey all orders of common
discipline and to follow firmly our common national aim."

It is significant that the presidency of this council is composed of four
of the most eminent leaders of the four greatest parties in Bohemia: Dr.
Kramár, Klofác, Svehla and Soukup. All of these have been in prison during
this war, as well as the following members of the council: Dr. Rasín and
Cervinka, friends of Kramár; Cyril Dusek, former editor of Masaryk's organ
_The Times_; Dr. Scheiner, president of the "Sokol" Gymnastic Association;
and Machar, the eminent Czech poet. Besides these the members of the
council include: the Socialist leaders Bechyne, Habermann, Krejcí, Nemec,
Stivín, Meissner, Tusar and Vanek; the Clerical leaders Hruban, Srámek and
Kordác; the author Jirásek; Agrarians Stanek (president of the Czech
Union), Udrzal and Zahradník, Dr. Herben, of Professor Masaryk's party, and
others. _All Czech parties are represented on the council without
exception,_ from the Socialists on the extreme Left to the Clericals on the
extreme Right.

The council is the supreme organ of the Czecho-Slovak nation, and
represents all its classes and parties. It is a national organ and its sole
aim is to work for the welfare of Bohemia, without any regard to Austria.
It stands above all party politics and is the supreme organ to which all
disputes are referred that may arise affecting Czecho-Slovak national
interests. Its aim is, in the words of its proclamation, "to enlist for
systematic work, to organise and lead the great spiritual, moral and
national resources of the Czecho-Slovak nation." Its ultimate object is to
realise "the right of self-determination in a fully independent
Czecho-Slovak State with its own administration within its own borders and
under its own sovereignty." Its aims are obviously identical with those of
the Czecho-Slovak Government in Paris, who alone, of course, are able to
exercise the executive power as a government, especially to organise armies
fighting on the side of the Entente. On the other hand, the National
Council in Prague is organising the nation for the final blow which the
Slavs will, no doubt at an opportune moment, strike at the Dual Monarchy.

Immediately after this important event most significant declarations were
made by Czech deputies in the Reichsrat of Vienna. The Czech deputy _Tusar_
declared that "_the war must end with the creation of a Czecho-Slovak
State_, with the victory of democratic ideas and with the defeat of
militarism and despotism. We will obtain freedom, cost what it may."
Thereupon the Czech deputies sang the Czech national anthem.

The next day deputy _Stríbrný_ delivered a speech which we have quoted in a
previous chapter.

The most significant speech, however, was that of _Dr. Stránský_ in the
Austrian Reichsrat on July 23, which surpasses any of those we have quoted
hitherto in its frank anti-Austrian spirit and expression:

"We want to expose and show up before the whole world the _intolerable
state of foreign domination over us_. You cannot prevent us, not only
before a helpless curtailed parliament, not only before an illusory
high court, but before the whole world, raising our voice against the
Premier who is a typical representative of that _Austria whose mere
existence is a constant and automatic prolongation of the war. One of
the obstacles to peace is the oppression of nationalities in Austria_
and their domination by the Germans. _In this war the Germans, even if
they do not openly admit it, have come to the conclusion that the
German hegemony in Central Europe, and especially in Austria, is
standing on its last legs_. Since they see that their predominance can

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