Independent Bohemia by Vladimir Nosek

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Kline and PG Distributed Proofreaders INDEPENDENT BOHEMIA AN ACCOUNT OF THE CZECHO-SLOVAK STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY By VLADIMIR NOSEK Secretary to the Czecho-Slovak Legation in LONDON 1918 PREFACE In the following pages I have attempted to outline the story of our movement for independence. The manuscript of this book was completed
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  • 1918
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Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Kline and PG Distributed Proofreaders

[Illustration: Professor Thomas G. Masaryk]




Secretary to the Czecho-Slovak Legation in LONDON



In the following pages I have attempted to outline the story of our movement for independence. The manuscript of this book was completed over four months ago. Since then many important changes have occurred in the international situation. Chapters in which we dealt with the then still existing Dual Monarchy must of course be read in the past tense, since Austria exists no more. And again, many things which we anticipated and hoped for in the future have already become accomplished facts. However, I trust that the story itself has not only lost none of its value thereby, but has acquired an additional interest from a historical point of view. Our aim of national independence, only quite recently declared by our adversaries to be “an empty dream of moonstruck idealists,” has become to-day not only a practical proposition, but an accomplished fact. We have our own army, which is by no means the smallest Allied army, and we also have our own Provisional Government in Paris, recognised not only by the Allies and by all Czecho-Slovaks abroad, but even by Czech leaders in Bohemia, with whom we have since the beginning of the war worked in complete harmony and understanding. The organisation of our independent State is rapidly proceeding. Austria-Hungary, exhausted economically and bankrupt politically, has fallen to pieces by the free-will of her own subject peoples, who, in anticipation of their early victory, broke their fetters and openly renounced their allegiance to the hated Habsburg and Hohenzollern rule, even before Austria had actually surrendered to the Allies.

Events have moved rapidly in Austria, especially since the momentous British declaration of August 9, 1918, recognising the Czecho-Slovaks–those resident in the Allied countries as much as those in Bohemia–as an Allied nation, and the Czecho-Slovak National Council–in Paris as well as in Prague–as the Provisional Government of Bohemia. British statesmen already then foresaw the coming collapse of Austria and acted accordingly. It is also no more a secret to-day that because of the promulgation of the British and United States declarations our Council was able to conclude special conventions with all the Allied Governments during September last, whereby all the powers exercised by a real government have been granted to it.

In the meantime Germany had been losing more and more control over her allies, being herself hard pressed on the Western front, and the consequence of this was a growing boldness on the part of the Austrian Slavs. On October 2 deputy Stanek declared in the name of the whole Czech deputation that the National Council in Paris were their true spokesmen and representatives with whom Austria would have to negotiate. Soon afterwards the Austrian Poles went to Warsaw, where they formed a new all-Polish Government, and the Southern Slavs entrusted the government of their territories to their National Council in Zagreb. Similar councils were formed also by the Ruthenes and Rumanians. On October 14 the Czecho-Slovak National Council in Paris constituted itself as a Government of which the Council in Prague acts as an integral part. The latter took over the reins of government in Bohemia a fortnight later. On October 19 the Czecho-Slovak Council issued a Declaration of Independence which we publish in the Appendix, and from which it will be seen that Bohemia will be progressive and democratic both in her domestic and foreign policy. A glorious future is no doubt awaiting her. She will be specially able to render an immense service to the League of Nations as a bulwark of peace and conciliation among the various peoples of Central Europe.

The break-up of Austria will, of course, affect enormously the constitution of the future Europe, and in our last chapter we have tried to give an outline of these impending changes of conditions and international relations. The break-up of Austria was bound to come sooner or later, whether some misinformed critics or prejudiced pro-Austrian politicians liked it or not. We ourselves were always convinced, and we declared openly, that Austria could not survive this war, because she was at war with the majority of her own subjects, who wished for nothing more than for her destruction. Unfortunately the fact that the sympathies of the thirty million of Austrian Slavs and Latins were on the side of the Entente, constituting such an incontestable moral asset for the Allies as it does, has not always been fully appreciated by Allied public opinion. We ourselves, however, never doubted for a moment that the Allied cause would ultimately triumph and that we would achieve our independence, because we knew that in struggling for this aim we were only carrying out the unanimous will of our whole nation. Without waiting for any pledges, without regard as to which side would be victorious, our nation has from the beginning staked its all on the Allied victory and has contributed with all its powers to hasten it. Despite all adverse circumstances, our people, at first completely at the mercy of their enemies, ruthlessly persecuted and tortured by them, nevertheless remained firm and resolute. Their attitude was most outspoken and courageous at all times, and they have also rendered the Allies active assistance, which is being duly appreciated by them. It is chiefly due to the efforts of the subject peoples themselves, of whom the Czechs have certainly been the most outspoken, that the collapse of Austria has occurred, which finally sealed the fate of Kaiserism and of the Pan-German plans of Mitteleuropa.

To-day our hopes for a better future are at last being fulfilled as a result of the Allies’ complete victory, assuring the creation of a new and just international order. Our much-afflicted yet undaunted people already consider themselves as independent. The Peace Conference, at which the Czecho-Slovak Government will be represented, will only confirm the existence of an independent Czecho-Slovak State.

In conclusion, we should like to express our deep gratitude to all our English friends for their valuable assistance in our struggle for the realisation of our ideals. We especially wish to thank once more the British Government for the generous step taken by them in recognising us as an Allied and belligerent nation. It was chiefly because of this recognition and of the gallant deeds of our army that we achieved all our subsequent diplomatic and political successes. We may assure Great Britain that the Czecho-Slovaks will never forget what they owe to her, and that they will endeavour to do their best to merit the trust so generously placed in them.


_November_, 1918.

[Illustration: The International Position Of The Czecho Slovak Republic In Future Europe]


_(a)_ Czech Deputies and Leaders imprisoned and sentenced to Death; _(b)_ Monster Trials, Arbitrary Executions, Internment of Civilians, etc.;
_(c)_ Persecution of the Press;
_(d)_ Reichsrat Interpellations.
_(a)_ Czech Declaration of May 30, 1917; _(b)_ Courageous Speeches delivered by Czech Deputies in the Reichsrat; _(c)_ After the Amnesty;
_(d)_ During Peace Negotiations with Russia; _(e)_ The Constituent Assembly of Prague on January 6, 1918; _(f)_ The Oath of the Czecho Slovak Nation; _(g)_ The Slovaks’ Attitude;
_(a)_ The Congress of Rome;
_(b)_ The May Manifestations in Prague. IX. BOHEMIA AS A BULWARK AGAINST PAN-GERMANISM





1. The Habsburg Empire is built upon centuries-old traditions of reaction and violence. Its present power is chiefly based on the alliance which Bohemia and Hungary concluded with Austria against the Turkish peril in 1526. The Czechs freely elected the Habsburgs to the throne of Bohemia which remained a fully independent state, its alliance with Austria and Hungary being purely dynastic. But soon the Habsburgs began to violate the liberties of Bohemia which they were bound by oath to observe, and this led finally to the fateful Czech revolution of 1618. At the battle of the White Mountain in 1620 the Czechs suffered a defeat and were cruelly punished for their rebellion. All their nobility were either executed or sent into exile, and their property confiscated. The country was devastated by the imperial hordes, and its population was reduced from 3,000,000 to 800,000 during the Thirty Years’ War.

In 1627 Ferdinand II. greatly curtailed the administrative rights of Bohemia, yet he did not dare to deprive her entirely of her independence. In his “Renewed Ordinance of the Land” Ferdinand declared the Bohemian crown to be hereditary in the House of Habsburg, and reserved legislative power to the sovereign. But otherwise the historical rights of Bohemia remained valid, notwithstanding all subsequent arbitrary centralising measures taken by the Habsburgs. Bohemia’s rights were repeatedly recognised by each succeeding Habsburg. Legally Bohemia is an independent state to-day.

The heavy persecutions inflicted upon Bohemia had a disastrous effect upon her intellectual life and national development which were completely paralysed until the end of the eighteenth century, when owing to the humanitarian ideals of those times, and as a reaction against the Germanising centralistic efforts of Joseph II., the Czechs again began to recover their national consciousness. This revival marked the beginning of the Czecho-Slovak struggle for the re-establishment of their independence. The movement was at first literary, and only in the forties became political. It was a continuous struggle against reaction and absolutism, and if the Czecho-Slovaks to-day can boast of an advanced civilisation, it is only owing to their perseverance and hard endeavours, and not because of any good-will on the part of the Austrian Government which put every possible obstacle in their way.

2. _The present Austria-Hungary_ is primarily a dynastic estate, for the crown was always its supreme political driving force, although at present the Habsburgs are mere slaves of their masters, the Hohenzollerns. It is this characteristic which justifies us in concluding that Austria is an autocratic state _par excellence_. If there were no other reason, this should be sufficient to make every true democrat an enemy of Austria. Furthermore, it is this characteristic which makes us comprehend why the Habsburg monarchy is fighting side by side with German autocracy and imperialism against the allied democracies of the world.

Notwithstanding the so-called constitution which is a mere cloak for absolutism, the monarch in Austria is emperor by “Divine Right” alone, and is the absolute master of his subject peoples in virtue of his privileged position which confers on him an inexhaustible amount of power and influence. The internal as well as the foreign policy of the monarchy is directed in the real or supposed interests of the dynasty. The principle _divide et impera_ is its leading idea in internal politics, and the increase of dynastic power in foreign policy. The question of war and peace is decided by the emperor, to whom it also appertains to order matters concerning the management, leadership and organisation of the whole army. And though in Hungary the power of the monarch largely depends on the Budapest Parliament, yet even here the constitutional power of the dynasty is enormous, the King of Hungary being a governing and legislative factor by no means inferior to that of the parliament.

Even when attempts were made at enfranchising the masses (as in 1896 and finally in 1905), the motive again was purely dynastic. Such constitutional measures as were taken, only strengthened racial dissensions and were equally insincere and inefficient. The present constitution of 1867, as well as the previous constitutions of 1849, 1860 and 1861, was granted by the crown, to whom it was reserved to reverse or modify the same. The parliament is absolutely powerless in Austria. It is a mere cloak for absolutism, since the famous Paragraph 14 provides for absolutist government by means of imperial decrees without parliament in case of emergency. The dynasty took ample advantage of this clause during the first three years of this war when absolutism and terrorism reigned supreme in the Dual Monarchy. While since 1861 up to the beginning of the war 156 imperial decrees had been issued, fully 161 have been passed during the first three years of the present war.

The arbitrary power of the dynasty is based: upon the organisation of the army, the leadership of which is entrusted to the Germans; upon the feudal aristocracy who are the only real Austrians, since they have no nationality, though they invariably side with the dominant Germans and Magyars; upon the power of the police who form the chief instrument of the autocratic government and who spy upon and terrorise the population; upon the German bureaucrats who do not consider themselves the servants of the public, but look upon the public as their servant, and whose spirit of meanness and corruption is so characteristic of the Austrian body politic; finally, the dynasty relies upon the Catholic hierarchy who hold vast landed property in Austria and regard it as the bulwark of Catholicism, and who through Clericalism strive for political power rather than for the religious welfare of their denomination. In alliance with them are the powerful Jewish financiers who also control the press in Vienna and Budapest. Clearly Austria is the very negation of democracy. It stands for reaction, autocracy, falsehood and hypocrisy, and it is therefore no exaggeration to say that nobody professing democratic views can reasonably plead for the preservation of this system of political violence.

When we remember the enormous power of the dynasty and the political system which supports it, we understand why in the past Austria has always played the part of the most reactionary, autocratic and tyrannic state in Europe. Hopes have indeed been expressed by some Austrophils in the good-will of the new Austrian Emperor on account of his amiable character. The Slavs have ample reason to distrust the Habsburgs who have proved to be treacherous autocrats in the past, and whose records show them as an incapable and degenerate family. As a political power Kaiser Karl is the same menace to his subject Slavs as his predecessors. Above all, however, he is of necessity a blind tool in the hands of Germany, and he cannot possibly extricate himself from her firm grip. The Habsburgs have had their chance, but they missed it. By systematic and continuous misgovernment they created a gulf between the Slavs and themselves which nothing on earth can remove. Every Habsburg believes he has a “mission” to fulfil. The only mission left for Kaiser Karl is to abdicate and dissolve his empire into its component parts. There is no reason whatever why Austria should be saved for the sake of the degenerate and autocratic Habsburg dynasty.

3. Let us now examine the much misunderstood racial problems of the Dual Monarchy. There is no Austrian nation, since there is no Austrian language. Austria is a mere geographical expression. In fact the Slavs, constituting the majority of Austrian subjects, would think it an insult to be called Austrians. During the war they have been treated as subjects of an enemy state, and to-day they have no part or lot with Austria. The Czech statesman Rieger once declared that when the Slavs no longer desired the existence of Austria, no one would be able to save her. And indeed, the claims raised by the majority of Austria’s population to-day mean the death warrant of the Dual Monarchy.

To get a clear idea of the racial issue, we will quote the official Austrian statistics, which tell us that in Austria-Hungary there are:

AUSTRIA. HUNGARY. BOSNIA. TOTAL. SLAVS: Million. Million. Million. Million. Million.

Czecho-Slovaks 6.4 2 — 8.4 Yugoslavs 2 3 1.8 6.8
Poles 5 — — 5
Ruthenes 3.5 0.5 — 4 — 24.2
Italians 0.8 — — 0.8 Rumanians 0.3 2.9 — 3.2
— 4
GERMANS 10 2 — 12 MAGYARS — 10 — 10 OTHERS 0.6 0.4 — 1

28.6 20.8 1.8 51.2

Thus it appears that the Slavs alone (without Italians and Rumanians) form about 48 per cent. of the total population. The Germans form only 24 per cent. of the population of Austria-Hungary, while in Hungary proper the dominant Magyars do not form quite 50 per cent. of the population. The predominance of the German and Magyar minorities is apparent not only from the fact that they hold the reins of government, but also from their unfair proportional representation in both parliaments. Thus instead of 310 seats out of 516 in the Reichsrat the Slavs hold only 259, while the Germans hold 232 instead of 160. By gaining 83 Polish votes in return for temporary concessions, the Germans have thus always been in the majority in the Reichsrat in the past. In Hungary the proportion is still more unjust. The Magyars hold 405 seats instead of 210 in the parliament of Budapest out of the total number of 413, while the non-Magyars, entitled according to their numbers to 203 seats, have in reality only five representatives in the “democratic” parliament of Budapest.

All the above calculations are based upon official statistics which are grossly exaggerated in favour of the Germans and Magyars. The picture would be still more appalling if we took into consideration the actual number of the Slavs. The Austrian census is not based upon the declaration of nationality or of the native language, but upon the statement of the “language of communication” (“Umgangsprache”). In mixed districts economic pressure is brought against the Slavs, who are often workmen dependent upon German masters and bound to declare their nationality as German for fear they should lose their employment. From private statistics it has been found that the percentage of Germans in Bohemia can hardly exceed 20 per cent, as against 37 per cent, given by the official census. Still greater pressure is brought to bear against the Slavs by the Magyars in Hungary, who are famous for the brutal methods in which they indulge for the purpose of shameless falsification of their official statistics. Thus the actual strength of the rival races of Austria-Hungary may with every justification be estimated as follows:

Czecho-Slovaks 10 million \ Yugoslavs 7-1/2 ” |
> 27 million Poles 5 ” |
Ruthenes 4-1/2 ” / LATINS:
Italians 1 million \ > 5 “
Rumanians 4 ” /
GERMANS 10 ” \
> 18 ” MAGYARS 8 ” /
OTHERS 1 ” __________________________ 51 million

4. The rule of the German-Magyar minority over the Slav and Latin majority, finally established by the introduction of dualism in 1867, was made possible only by the demoralising system of violence described above. One race was pitted against the other in Austria and this enabled the Germans to rule them better, while the Magyars in Hungary, by keeping their subject races in the darkness of ignorance and by using the most abominable methods of violence, succeeded in securing for themselves the entire monopoly of government. The Magyars, who are a race of Asiatic origin, are truly the faithful descendants of the ancient Huns, and true allies of the Huns of to-day.

When Kossuth came to England in 1848, he was hailed as the champion of freedom and liberty, and entranced his audiences in London and other English cities by his remarkable oratory. As a matter of fact Kossuth, though called “the father of the Magyars,” was himself a denationalised Slovak; instead of a “champion of liberty,” he might with much greater justification have been called the champion of the greatest racial tyranny in Europe. For even then, while fighting for their own liberty and for the independence of Hungary, the Magyars denied the most elementary political and national rights to the other peoples living in Hungary.

In 1910 there were 2,202,165 Slovaks in Hungary according to the official census. These two million Slovaks had only two deputies (Dr. Blaho and Juriga), while the 8,651,520 Magyars had 405 seats, so that every Slovak deputy represented one million electors, every Magyar deputy, however, 21,000. As regards administration, all civil service officials in Hungary have to be of Magyar nationality. The cases of persecution for political offences are innumerable: Slovak candidates were prevented from being elected by being imprisoned. Corruption and violence are the two main characteristics of all elections in “democratic” Hungary. Even to-day when some Radicals in Budapest talk of electoral reform, they want suffrage to be extended to Magyar electors only, and also stipulate that the candidates shall be of Magyar nationality. No Magyar politicians will ever abandon the programme of the territorial integrity of Hungary, their aims being expressed in the words of Koloman Tisza: “For the sake of the future of the Magyar State it is necessary for Hungary to become a state where only Magyar is spoken. To gain the Slovaks or to come to a compromise with them is out of the question. There is only one means which is effective–Extirpation!” And this aim the Magyars have faithfully kept before them for at least the last hundred years.

In the same way also the economic development of the non-Magyar nationalities has been systematically hampered, because the Magyars know that economic dependence means also political subservience. The Slovaks and Rumanians are not allowed to found co-operative societies or banks on the ground that such institutions “are opposed to the interests of the elements which hold the Magyar State together.”

But it is not only the non-Magyars who suffer. The Magyar working classes and the majority of the Magyar country people themselves are deprived of political rights, for Hungary is ruled by an oligarchy and scarcely 5 per cent. of the population has the suffrage right.

We may say, therefore, without exaggeration that to-day Hungary is the most reactionary country of Europe. Nowhere else (not even in Prussia) have the people so little power as in Hungary, where the Socialists have not a single seat in parliament. The “politics” in Hungary are the privilege of a few aristocrats. Hungary is a typical oligarchic and theocratic state.

When the Magyars plead to-day for “peace without annexations” and for the integrity of Hungary, they want to be allowed to continue to oppress and systematically magyarise the Slavs and Rumanians of Hungary. The triumphant allied democracies will not, however, stoop before autocratic Hungary. The dismemberment of Hungary, according to the principle of nationality, is a _sine qua non_ of a permanent and just peace in Europe.

5. The four strongest races in Austria-Hungary, then, are the Germans, Magyars, Czecho-Slovaks and Yugoslavs, numbering from eight to ten million each. The Austrian Germans and the Magyars occupy the centre, while the Czecho-Slovaks inhabit the north (Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Slovakia), and the Yugoslavs ten provinces in the southern part of the monarchy. In order to facilitate German penetration and domination and to destroy the last remnants of Bohemia’s autonomous constitution, the Austrian Government attempted, by the imperial decree of May 19, 1918, to dismember Bohemia into twelve administrative districts with German officials at the head, who were to possess the same power to rule their respective districts as had hitherto appertained only to the Governor (Statthalter) of Bohemia, legally responsible to the Bohemian Diet.

But not only are the Czecho-Slovaks and Yugoslavs divided between both halves of the monarchy and among numerous administrative districts which facilitate German penetration. Dissensions were fomented among the different parties of these two nations and religious differences exploited. The Yugoslavs, for instance, consist of three peoples: the Serbs and Croats, who speak the same language and differ only in religion and orthography, the former being Orthodox and the latter Catholic; and the Slovenes, who speak a dialect of Serbo-Croatian and form the most western outpost of the Yugoslav (or Southern Slav) compact territory. It was the object of the Austrian Government to exploit these petty differences among Yugoslavs so as to prevent them from realising that they form one and the same nation entitled to independence. At the same time Austria has done all in her power to create misunderstandings between the Slavs and Italians, just as she tried to create dissensions between Poles and Ruthenes in Galicia, and between Poles and Czechs in Silesia, well knowing that the dominant races, the Germans and Magyars, would profit thereby. Fortunately the war has opened the eyes of the subject peoples, and, as we shall show later on, to-day they all go hand in hand together against their common enemies in Berlin, Vienna and Budapest.



In order to understand fully what is at stake in this war and why the Slavs are so bitterly opposed to the further existence of Austria-Hungary, it is necessary to study the foreign policy of the Central Powers during the past century. The “deepened alliance” concluded between Germany and Austria-Hungary in May, 1918, resulting in the complete surrender of Austria’s independence, is in fact the natural outcome of a long development and the realisation of the hopes of Mitteleuropa cherished by the Germans for years past. The scares about the dangers of “Pan-slavism” were spread by the Germans only in order to conceal the real danger of Pan-Germanism.

1. The original theory of Pan-Germanism was the consolidation and unity of the whole German nation corresponding to the movement of the Italians for national unity. In fact it was a German, Herder, who first proclaimed the principle of nationality and declared the nation to be the natural organ of humanity, as opposed to the idea of the state as an artificial organisation: “Nothing seems to be so opposed to the purpose of government as an unnatural extension of territory of a state and a wild confusion of holding different races and nations under the sway of a single sceptre.” It was this humanitarian philosophy recognising the natural rights of all nations, great or small, to freedom which inspired the first Czech regenerators such as Dobrovský, Jungman and Kollár.

The legitimate claims of the Germans to national unity became unjust and dangerous for Europe when the Germans began to think of subduing the whole of Central Europe to their hegemony, which meant the subjugation of some 100 million Slavs and Latins. At first it was Austria which, as the head of the former Holy Roman Empire, and the traditional bulwark of Germany in the east (Osterreich–an eastern march), aspired to be the head of the Pan-German Empire. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Austrian Emperor became the head of the German Confederation. Prussia at that time entirely gave way and left the leadership to Metternich’s system of absolutism.

By and by, it became obvious that Austria was, on account of her non-German population, internally weak, condemned to constant employment of violence and reaction, and therefore unfit to stand at the head of a strong modern Pan-Germany. Prussia therefore, as the greatest of the homogeneous German states, became Austria’s rival and was accepted by the Frankfurt Assembly as the leader of the Confederation. The rivalry between Austria and Prussia ended in 1866, when after Austria’s defeat the clever diplomacy of Bismarck turned the rivalry between Austria and Prussia into friendship. Since the Germans in Austria began to feel their impotence in the face of the growing Slav power, a year later the centralising efforts of the Habsburgs were finally embodied in the system of dualism which gave over the Slavs and Italians in Austria to German hegemony and the Slavs and Rumanians in Hungary to Magyar tyranny. For the support of this hegemony the Austrian Germans and Magyars, whose ambitions are identical with those of Germany, were entirely dependent on Berlin. Thus Austria-Hungary became inevitably Germany’s partner and vanguard in the south-east. Finally, the present war was started by the Germans and Magyars with the object of achieving the ambitious plans preached and expounded by Pan-German writers for years past. The Germans wanted at all costs to become the masters of Central Europe, to build an empire from Berlin to Bagdad, and finally to strike for world domination.

2. In this turn of events Magyar influence played a greater part than might be thought. Already in 1848 Kossuth defined the Hungarian foreign policy as follows:–

“The Magyar nation is bound to maintain the most cordial relations with the free German nation and help it in safeguarding Western civilisation.”

And while the Hungarian Slavs were prohibited from attending the Pan-Slav Congress held in Prague in 1848, the Magyars sent two delegates to Frankfurt in order to give practical expression to the above Magyar policy.

The value of Hungary for the Pan-German plans has been expressed by Friedrich List who, in 1862, dreamt of “a powerful oriental German-Magyar Empire,” and declared:

“The way towards the realisation of this plan runs through Hungary, and while without Hungary we can do nothing, with her aid we can do everything. Hungary is for Germany the clue to Turkey and the Near East, and at the same time a bulwark against a superior power from the north.”

The Magyars realised from the beginning the importance of an understanding between themselves and Prussia, and they directed their foreign policy accordingly. The setting up of dualism in 1867, which finally established the German-Magyar hegemony in Austria-Hungary in the interests of Prussia, was the work of two Magyars–Julius Andrassy and Francis Deak, who took advantage of Austria’s defeat at Sadova to further their interests. In 1870, when Vienna contemplated revenge against Prussia, the Magyars again intervened in favour of Prussia. When questioned as to Hungary’s attitude, Andrassy, then Premier, declared in the Hungarian Parliament that under no circumstances would he allow any action against Prussia, and exerted all his influence in Vienna to that effect. It was also due mainly to Magyar influence that all attempts of the Czechs to weaken German influence in Austria were frustrated. Francis Joseph always promised to be crowned King of Bohemia when he wished to placate the Czechs in times of stress for Austria: in 1861, 1865, 1870 and 1871. But he never carried out his promises. In this he was guided not only by considerations of dynastic interest, but also by the advice of the Magyars.

But the most decisive and fateful exercise of Magyar influence upon Austria’s foreign policy occurred in 1879, when the Austro-German Alliance was finally concluded. This was equally the work of Bismarck, who spared the defeated Austria in order to make an ally of her, and of a Magyar–Count Andrassy–who from 1871 to 1879 was the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister. It was this Magyar help which made Bismarck utter words of gratitude and declare in 1883:

“Our political judgment leads us to the conviction that German and Magyar interests are inseparable.”

It is true that there always was a Magyar opposition against Austria (though never against Prussia). But this opposition was used as a weapon to extort concessions from Austria. At the bottom of their hearts, however, the Austrian Germans were always at one with the Magyars in their common desire to oppress the Slavs. And the responsibility of Count Tisza for the present world catastrophe is just as great as that of the Kaiser himself.

3. The Czechs saw clearly the progress of events. Bismarck was well aware of the importance of Bohemia, for he declared that the master of Bohemia would become the master of Europe. He did not desire to annex any Austrian territory, since he knew that sooner or later Germany would swallow the whole of Austria, as she has done in this war. Indeed, at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Bismarck did not conceal his intention of using Austria-Hungary in Germany’s interests. At the bottom of his heart he was at one with the radical Pan-German writers, like Lagarde, Treitschke, Mommsen, Naumann and others, who openly declared that the Slavs should be subjugated and the Czechs, as the most courageous and therefore the most dangerous of them, crushed.

The Slavs always bitterly opposed the encroachments of Germanism, and saw in it their chief enemy. The Czech leader Palacký rejected the invitation to Frankfurt in 1848 and summoned a Slav Congress to Prague. It is true that Palacký at that time dreamt of an Austria just to all her nations. He advocated a strong Austria as a federation of nations to counterbalance Pan-Germanism. Yet at the same time Palacký has proved through his history and work that Bohemia has full right to independence. He was well aware that a federalistic and just Austria would have to grant independence to the Czecho-Slovaks. But later on he gave up his illusions about the possibility of a just Austria, when he saw that she abandoned the Slavs entirely to German-Magyar hegemony, and declared that Bohemia existed before Austria and would also exist after her. In 1866 he wrote:

“I myself now give up all hope of a long preservation of the Austrian Empire; not because it is not desirable or has no mission to fulfil, but because it allowed the Germans and Magyars to grasp the reins of government and to found in it their racial tyranny.”

Exasperated by the pact of dualism which the Czechs never recognised, Palacký went to Moscow and on his return declared:

“I have already said that I do not cherish any hopes of the preservation of Austria, especially since the Germans and Magyars made it the home of their racial despotism; the question therefore as to what will happen to the Slavs hitherto living in Austria is not without significance. Without attempting to prophesy future events which for a mortal man it is difficult to foreshadow, I may say from my inner conviction that the Czechs as a nation, if they fell under the subjection of either Russia or Prussia, would never rest contented. It would never fade from their memory that according to right or justice they should be ruled by themselves, that is by their own government and by their own sovereign. They would regard the Prussians as their deadly enemies on account of their germanising rage. But as to the Russians, the Czechs would regard them as their racial brothers and friends; they would not become their faithful subjects, but their true allies and, if need be, vanguards in Europe.”

Moreover, modern Czech politicians always clearly saw what the Germans were aiming at. Dr. Kramár, for instance, foresaw the present situation with remarkable perspicacity. In the _Revue de Paris_ for February, 1899, he wrote on “The Future of Austria,” declaring that her subject nationalities should be on guard lest she should become a vassal of Germany and a bridge for German expansion into Asia:

“The Austrian Germans wish to see Austria subordinated to German policy, and with the help of a subordinated Austria, the sphere of German political and economic activity would extend from Hamburg to Asia Minor.”

Similarly also he warned Great Britain in the _National Review_ for October, 1902, that if Pan-German plans were realised,

“Austria would become an appanage of Germany as regards international relations, and the policy of Europe would be obliged to reckon, not with a free and independent Austria, but, owing to Austria’s unconditional self-surrender, with a mighty, almost invincible Germany…. The Pan-Germans are right, the Czechs are an arrow in the side of Germany, and such they wish to and must and will remain. Their firm and unchangeable hope is that they will succeed in making of themselves an impenetrable breakwater. They hope for no foreign help; they neither wish for it nor ask for it. They have only one desire, namely, that non-German Europe may also at last show that it understands the meaning of the Bohemian question.”

In 1906 Dr. Kramár wrote again in detail on the plans of German domination in Central Europe, in the Adriatic and in the Near East. In a book on Czech policy he declared that to prevent the realisation of these plans was the vital interest of the Czech nation: “A far-seeing Austrian policy should see in the Czech nation the safeguard of the independence of the State.” And then followed the famous passage which formed part of the “evidence” quoted against him during his trial for high treason:

“If Austria-Hungary continues her internal policy by centralising in order to be better able to germanise and preserve the German character of the State, if she does not resist all efforts for the creation of a customs and economic union with Germany, the Pan-German movement will prove fatal for her. To preserve and maintain a state the sole ambition of which was to be a second German State after Germany, would be superfluous not only for the European Powers, but also for the non-German nations of Europe. _And if, therefore, a conflict should break out between the German and the non-German world and the definite fate of Austria should be at stake, the conflict would surely not end with the preservation of Austria_.”

And on November 10, 1911, he admitted that his former hopes for the destruction of the Austro-German Alliance and a rapprochement between Austria and Russia proved to be in vain:

“… _I had an aim in life and a leading idea. The events of the annexation crisis have proved calamitous for the policy which I followed all my life_. I wished to do everything which lay within the compass of my small powers, to render my own nation happy and great in a free, powerful and generally respected Austria … _I have always resented the fact that when they talked about Austria people really meant only the Germans and Magyars, as if the great majority of Slavs upon whom rest the biggest burdens did not exist_. But now–and no beautiful words can make me change my opinion on that point–an entirely independent policy has become unthinkable, because the only path which remains open to Vienna leads by way of Berlin. Berlin will henceforward direct our policy.”

4. To offer any proofs that the present war was deliberately planned and provoked by the Governments of Berlin, Vienna and Budapest seems to me superfluous. Who can to-day have any doubt that Austria wilfully provoked the war in a mad desire to crush Serbia? Who can doubt that Austria for a long time entertained imperialist ambitions with respect to the Balkans which were supported by Berlin which wished to use Austria as a “bridge to the East”?

No more damning document for Austria can be imagined than Prince Lichnowsky’s Memorandum. He denounces Austria’s hypocritical support of the independence of Albania. In this respect he holds similar views to those expressed in the Austrian delegations of 1913 by Professor Masaryk, who rightly denounced the Austrian plan of setting up an independent Albania on the plea of “the right of nationalities” which Austria denied her own Slavs. Professor Masaryk rightly pointed out at that time that an outlet to the sea is a vital necessity for Serbia, that the Albanians were divided into so many racial, linguistic and religious groups and so uncivilised that they could not form an independent nation, and that the whole project was part and parcel of Austria’s anti-Serbian policy and her plans for the conquest of the Balkans. Prince Lichnowsky admits that an independent Albania “had no prospect of surviving,” and that it was merely an Austrian plan for preventing Serbia from obtaining an access to the sea.

He apparently disagrees with the idea of “the power of a Ruling House, the dynastic idea,” but stands up for “a National State, the democratic idea.” That in itself seems to indicate that he is in favour of the destruction of Austria and its substitution by new states, built according to the principle of nationality. He admittedly disagrees with the views of Vienna and Budapest, and criticises Germany’s alliance with Austria, probably knowing, as a far-sighted and well-informed politician, that Austria-Hungary cannot possibly survive this war.

Prince Lichnowsky frankly admits that the murder of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand was a mere pretext for Vienna, which in fact had resolved on an expedition against Serbia soon after the second Balkan war by which she felt herself humiliated. In scathing terms he denounces the Triple Alliance policy and thinks it a great mistake that Germany allied herself with the “Turkish and Magyar oppressors.” And though he says that it was Germany which “persisted that Serbia must be massacred,” he makes it quite clear that it was Vienna that led the conspiracy against Europe, since on all questions Germany “took up the position prescribed to her by Vienna.” The policy of espousing Austria’s quarrels, the development of the Austro-German Alliance into a pooling of interests in all spheres, was “the best way of producing war.” The Balkan policy of conquest and strangulation “was not the German policy, but that of the Austrian Imperial House.” What better testimony is required to prove that Austria was not the blind tool, but the willing and wilful accomplice of Germany?



The Czech policy during the past seventy years has always had but one ultimate aim in view: the re-establishment of the ancient kingdom of Bohemia and the full independence of the Czecho-Slovak nation. From the very beginning of their political activity Czech politicians resisted the Pan-German scheme of Central Europe. They preached the necessity of the realisation of liberty and equality for all nations, and of a federation of the non-Germans of Central Europe as a barrier against German expansion.

The chief reason for the failure of their efforts was the fact that they sometimes had illusions that the Habsburgs might favour the plan of such an anti-German federation, although the Habsburgs always mainly relied on the Germans and Magyars and could not and would not satisfy the Czech aspirations. The Czechs were greatly handicapped in their political struggle, because they had only just begun to live as a nation and had to face the powerful German-Magyar predominance, with the dynasty and the whole state machinery behind them. Moreover, the Czechs had no national aristocracy like the Poles or Magyars, and their leaders lacked all political experience and all sense of reality in politics which was so marked in a state built on deceit and hypocrisy. They continually defended themselves with declarations about the justice of their claims, satisfied themselves with empty promises which Austria has never kept, and cherished vain illusions of obtaining justice in Austria, while Austria was _via facti_ steadily depriving them of all their rights. On the other hand, it should be remembered that they were faced with a government that had the whole powerful German Empire behind it, and that they had to struggle for freedom in a state where genuine constitutional government and democracy were unknown. The Czech efforts to obtain some measure of freedom by struggling for democratic reforms were consistently opposed by the dominant Germans. To-day, of course, the situation has greatly improved as compared with the situation seventy years ago. The Czecho-Slovak nation, through its own work and energy, is a highly advanced and economically self-supporting and rich nation, and in its struggle for a just resettlement of Central Europe it has the support not only of all the other non-German nations of Central Europe, but also of the Entente on whose victory it has staked its all. The Czecho-Slovaks are resolved not to let themselves be fooled by Austria any longer and claim full independence from Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, which alone will safeguard them against the possibility of being again exploited militarily, economically and politically against their own interests for a cause which they detest.

1. Although as early as 1812 the Bohemian Diet (then a close aristocratic body) demanded the restitution of the rights of the kingdom of Bohemia, the political activity of the Czechs did not really begin until 1848 when, on April 8, the emperor issued the famous Bohemian Charter recognising the rights of Bohemia to independence. It was that year which marked the end of Metternich’s absolutism and in which revolution broke out in Western and Central Europe, including Hungary and Bohemia. Already at that time the Czechs counted on the break-up of Austria. Havlícek, who in 1846 began to publish the first national Czech newspaper, wrote on May 7, 1848, when inviting the Poles to attend the Pan-Slav Congress in Prague:

“An understanding between us–the Czecho-Slovaks and the Poles–would be to the mutual advantage of both nations, especially under the present circumstances when everything, even the break-up of Austria, may be anticipated. I am sure that if the government continues to pursue its present policy, Austria will fall to pieces before next winter and the Czechs are not going to save her. The Czecho-Slovaks, Poles and Yugoslavs, united politically and supporting each other, will surely sooner or later attain their object, which is to obtain full independence, national unity and political liberty.”

It is characteristic of Austria that during the present war she has prohibited the circulation of this article written seventy years ago.

Similarly, also, Palacký in his letter to Frankfurt, explaining why the Czechs would not attend the Pan-German Parliament, made it clear that he had no illusions about the good-will of Austria to adopt a just policy towards her nationalities:

“In critical times we always saw this state, destined to be the bulwark against Asiatic invasions, helpless and hesitating. In an unfortunate blindness this state has never understood its true interests, always suppressing its moral duty to accord to all races justice and equality of rights.”

At the Pan-Slav Congress presided over by Palacký, Bakunin, the Russian revolutionary, openly advocated the dismemberment of Austria in the interests of justice and democracy, and proposed a free Slav federation in Central Europe.

The Pan-Slav Congress, in which also the Poles and Yugoslavs participated, issued a manifesto to Europe on June 12, 1848, proclaiming the “liberty, equality and fraternity of nations.” It ended prematurely by the outbreak of an abortive revolt in Prague, provoked by the military, which resulted in bloodshed and in the re-establishment of reaction and absolutism.

2. In the first Austrian Parliament of 1848, eighty-eight Czech deputies formed a united _Nationalist Party_ (later on called the _Old Czech Party_), led by Palacký, Rieger and Brauner. They formed the Right wing which stood for democratic and federalist ideals. The Left was formed by the Germans who stood for centralism and a close union with Germany. Only an insignificant number of Germans formed the Centre which stood for the preservation of Austria.

In October, 1848, fresh troubles broke out in Vienna, partly directed against the presence of the Czechs. On November 15, the parliament was summoned to Kremsier, in which the Czechs, Ruthenes, Yugoslavs and some Poles formed a Slav _bloc_ of 120 members. On December 2, Francis Joseph ascended the throne, and a constitution was proposed by a parliamentary committee of which Rieger was a member. The proposal was opposed by the government, because it defined “the people’s sovereignty as the foundation of the power of the State,” and not the dynasty. On March 6, 1849, the parliament was dissolved and a constitution imposed by an imperial decree.

The _Czech Radical Democrats_, led by Fric, Sabina and Sladkovský, who already in 1848 stood for a more radical policy than that of the Liberal Nationalists led by Palacký, now again thought of organising an armed revolt against Austria. But the leaders of the conspiracy were arrested and sentenced to many years’ imprisonment. After the Austrian victories in Italy and the collapse of the Hungarian revolution, absolutism again reigned supreme.

During the ten years that followed, Bach tried, relying upon the army and the hierarchy, to centralise and germanise the empire. In January, 1850, Havlícek’s _Národní Noviny_ was suppressed and later, also, three of the other remaining Czech journals. Palacký openly declared that he abandoned political activity and Rieger went abroad. Havlícek continued to work for the national cause under great difficulties, until he was arrested in December, 1851, and interned without a trial in Tyrol where he contracted an incurable illness to which he succumbed in 1856. Even as late as 1859 the Czechs were not allowed to publish a political newspaper.

3. After the defeats at Magenta and Solferino in 1859, Austria began to see the impossibility of a continued rule of terrorism and absolutism. Bach was obliged to resign, and on March 5, 1860, a state council was summoned to Vienna. Bohemia was represented only by the nobility who had no sympathy with the Czech national cause, and on September 24 the Rumanian delegate, Mosconyi, openly deplored the fact that “the brotherly Czech nation was not represented.”

The era of absolutism was theoretically ended by the so-called “October Diploma” of 1860, conferring on Austria a constitution which in many respects granted self-government to Hungary, but ignored Bohemia, although formally admitting her historical rights. This “lasting and irrevocable Constitution of the Empire” was revoked on February 26, 1861, when Schmerling succeeded Goluchowski, and the so-called “February Constitution” was introduced by an arbitrary decree which in essence was still more dualistic than the October Diploma and gave undue representation to the nobility. The Czechs strongly opposed it and sent a delegation on April 14 to the emperor, who assured them on his royal honour of his desire to be crowned King of Bohemia.

In the meantime Dr. Gregr founded the _Národní Listy_ in Prague in November, 1860, to support the policy of Rieger, and in January, 1861, the latter, with the knowledge of Palacký, concluded an agreement with Clam-Martinic on behalf of the Bohemian nobility, by which the latter, recognising the rights of the Bohemian State to independence, undertook to support the Czech policy directed against the centralism of Vienna. The Bohemian nobility, who were always indifferent in national matters and who had strong conservative and clerical leanings, concluded this pact with the Czech democrats purely for their own class interests This unnatural alliance had a demoralising influence on the Old Czech Party and finally brought about its downfall.

The Czechs elected two delegates to the parliament summoned for April 29, 1861, while Hungary and Dalmatia sent none, so that the parliament had 203 instead of 343 deputies. In the Upper House the Czechs were represented by Palacký. In the Lower House the Slavs, forming a united body, again found themselves in a hopeless minority which was absolutely powerless against the government. In June, 1863, the Czechs decided not to attend the chamber again, seeing that all hopes of a modification of the constitution in the sense of the October Diploma were in vain. The government replied by depriving them of their mandates and by suspending the constitution in 1865. A period of “Sistierung,” that is of veiled absolutism, then set in.

4. In the meantime, a new political group came to the front in Bohemia, called the Young Czechs. The party was led by Sladkovský, and had more democratic leanings than the Old Czechs. In the diet, however, the Czechs remained united in a single body. The Young Czechs opposed the policy of passive resistance which the Old Czechs pursued for fully sixteen years, that is up to 1879. The Young Czechs clearly saw that it enabled Vienna to rule without the Czechs and against them. The Czechs, of course, still reckoned upon the break-up of Austria, although, as we shall see later on, they failed entirely to profit from Austria’s difficulties in that period. In 1865 Rieger openly warned Austria:

“Those who direct the destinies of Austria should remember that institutions based on injustice and violence have no duration. If you desire to save Austria, the whole of Austria, you must make justice the basis of your policy towards the Slavs. Do not then say that we did not warn you. _Discite justitiam moniti_.”

In the same sense also Palacký warned the government against dualism, pointing out that if it were introduced it would inevitably lead to the break-up of Austria. Seeing that Austria did not listen to his warning, he later on declared that he no longer believed in the future of Austria, and added: “We existed before Austria, we shall also exist after her.”

The greatest mistake the Czechs made was when in 1866, after the battle of Sadova, they thought that Austria would cease to be the bulwark of Pan-Germanism and would do justice to her subject Slavs, and thus become a protection against Germany. It is true that Austria did cease to be the head of the Pan-German Confederation, but instead of becoming a bulwark against Prussia, she became her faithful ally and obedient tool. The Czechs, who feared lest they should be annexed by Prussia, failed to grasp the subtle plans of Bismarck who in a short time succeeded in converting Austria into Germany’s bridge to the East.

When the victorious Prussians entered Prague in 1866, they issued a proclamation to the Czechs recognising their right to independence. This proclamation was probably drafted by the Czech exile J.V. Fric, an ardent democrat who fled abroad after the abortive revolution of 1848. Fric, who was a man of keen sense for political reality and a great friend of the Poles, exerted all his influence with the Czech leaders to proclaim Bohemia independent, without an armed revolt, simply by means of a plebiscite, as he was aware that the masses were always thoroughly anti-Austrian and desired nothing more than independence. He proposed to his fellow-countrymen to establish a monarchy, with some other dynasty than the Habsburgs on the throne, preferably the youngest son of the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel. Even while peace negotiations between Prussia and Austria were going on, he conducted an active propaganda and distributed a proclamation all over Bohemia in which he declared himself as “the deadly enemy of the Habsburg dynasty and of Austrian militarism and bureaucracy”:

“The Hungarians are preparing, the Yugoslavs are ready. Let us come to a common agreement with them and we shall succeed. And when all the Austrian nations have been freed they may form a great federation on the basis of international law which will be an example to Europe. _A federation without the freedom and independence of the nations who form part of it is an empty dream. Let him who desires a federation work for the independence of his nation first_. It is not a question of a revolution, it is a question of a public proclamation of the Czech nation so that Europe may realise that we live and what we want. Europe will surely lend us a helping hand, but she expects us to ask for it. Let us therefore, my brother Czecho-Slovaks, proclaim aloud, so that the whole world may hear us: ‘_We do not want Austria because we realise that she not only does no good to us, but directly threatens our very existence. We are able to and want to maintain an independent state existence without Austria_.”

Unfortunately, however, the Czech leaders at that time did not follow Fric’s advice and, as we have already pointed out, they fell into Bismarck’s trap.

In November, 1866, the Bohemian Diet uttered a warning against the danger of dualism, pointing out that Bohemia had the same right to independence as Hungary. Relying upon the support of the other Slav races of Austria, the Czechs declared they would never enter the Reichsrat.

In February, 1867, Beust concluded an agreement with Hungary, and on December 21 the “December Constitution” was introduced. Thus _dualism_ became a _fait accompli_.

5. Exasperated by this step, the Czech leaders visited Moscow in the same year and fraternised with the Russians, thus showing their hostility to Austria. In 1868 they published an eloquent declaration, written by Rieger, declaring that they would never recognise dualism and emphasising Bohemia’s right to independence. When Francis Joseph visited Prague in the same year, people left the city in crowds, anti-Austrian demonstrations were held throughout the country, and flowers were laid on the spot where prominent members of the Bohemian nobility had been executed by the Austrians in 1621.

Vienna answered by fierce reprisals. Baron Koller was sent to Prague where a state of siege was proclaimed. Czech papers were suppressed, and their editors imprisoned. This only strengthened Czech opposition. The passive policy of the Old Czechs gained popularity and the Czechs did not even attend the Bohemian Diet. Finally, when the Franco-Prussian War was imminent, the dynasty was forced to yield, and Potocki began to negotiate with the Czechs.

Meanwhile the Czechs again entered the Bohemian Diet on the day of the battle of Sedan, August 30, 1870, and issued a declaration of rights with which also the Bohemian nobility for the first time publicly identified themselves. On December 8, 1870, the Czechs (without the nobility) presented the Imperial Chancellor, Beust, with a memorandum on Austrian foreign policy, declaring their sympathy with France and Russia and protesting against the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine and against an alliance of Austria with Germany.

In February, 1871, Hohenwart was appointed Minister President with the object of conciliating the Czechs, and Francis Joseph addressed to them an imperial proclamation, called the “September Rescript,” in which he declared:–

“Remembering the constitutional (‘Staatsrechtliche’) position of the Crown of Bohemia and the glory and power which the same has lent to Us and Our ancestors, remembering further the unswerving loyalty with which the population of Bohemia at all times supported Our throne, We gladly recognise the rights of this Kingdom and We are ready to acknowledge this recognition by Our solemn Royal Oath.”

It is well known, of course, that Francis Joseph did not keep his word and was never crowned King of Bohemia.

6. In answer to the rescript, the Czechs formulated their demands in the so-called “fundamental articles,” the main point of which was that the Bohemian Diet should directly elect deputies to the delegations. The _Národní Listy_ declared that the “fundamental articles” meant minimum demands, and that the Czechs would in any case work “for the attainment of an independent Czecho-Slovak state, as desired by the whole nation.”

At this stage Berlin and Budapest intervened. The emperor yielded to the advice of William I. and Andrassy, and signed an unfavourable reply to the Czech address on October 30, 1871. Czech opposition was now openly directed against the dynasty. Hohenwart resigned on October 27. In November, Baron Koller was again appointed Governor of Bohemia and repressive methods of administration were once more introduced.

In 1873 elections were held, marked by violence and corruption. Notwithstanding the passive resistance of Czech deputies, the parliament continued to meet in Vienna. In 1878 Austria occupied Bosnia and thus inaugurated the conquest of the Balkans for Germany. In 1879 Count Taaffe at last induced the Czechs to abandon their policy of “passive resistance” and to enter the parliament in return for some administrative and other concessions, including a Czech university. On September 9, the Czechs, united in a party of fifty-two members, entered the Reichsrat to maintain their protest against the dual system.

7. In parliament it became clear that the Old Czech Party, now led by Rieger, was inclined to be too conservative and too opportunist. In 1887 the Young Czechs left the national party and entered into opposition. Their party grew steadily, and during the elections in 1889 gained a decided victory in the country districts. The Old Czechs finally sealed their fate when, in 1890, they concluded an unfavourable agreement with the Germans, called the _punctations_, to the detriment of Czech interests and of the integrity of Bohemia. This roused popular indignation throughout Bohemia and brought about the complete collapse of the Old Czech Party.

At the same time the so-called _”Realist” movement_ originated in Bohemia, led by Professor Masaryk, Professor Kaizl and Dr. Kramár. It was not a separate party movement, but a philosophic effort for a regenerated democratic national policy. The Realists demanded a practical, forward movement, such as would at last secure independence for the Czechs. In 1890 the Realists published their programme and joined the Young Czechs. This meant the end of the political career of Rieger and the Old Czechs.

8. In parliament the Young Czechs inaugurated a radical anti-German policy. In 1891 they openly attacked the Triple Alliance, and in 1892 Dr. Menger called Masaryk a traitor for his outspoken defence of the right of Bohemia to independence.

A _Radical movement_ was also started at this time in Bohemia, mainly by students and advanced workers of the Young Czech Party, which called itself “Omladina” (Czech word for “youth”). Its object was to rouse the young generation against Austria. In 1893 anti-dynastic demonstrations were organised by the “Omladina.” A state of siege was proclaimed in Prague and seventy-seven members of this “secret society” were arrested; sixty-eight of them, including Dr. Rasín, were condemned for high treason, and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

In 1893 Professor Masaryk, realising the futility of his efforts against the encroachments of Germanism, resigned his mandate and devoted his energies to scientific and philosophical work. In 1900, however, he founded a party of his own, with a progressive democratic programme.

In the elections to the Bohemian Diet in 1895, the Young Czechs gained eighty-nine seats out of ninety-five; in the Moravian Diet seventeen seats were held by the _People’s Party_, corresponding to the Young Czech Party in Bohemia, thirteen by the Old Czechs and five by the Clericals. In 1896 Badeni made an attempt at enfranchising the masses; seventy-two additional deputies were to be elected by universal suffrage. In these elections the Young Czechs again won in Bohemia. In Moravia the People’s Party concluded a compromise with the Old Czechs and gained fifteen seats, the Socialists gained three seats and the Clericals one. On entering the parliament the Czechs again made a declaration of state right. In 1897 Badeni, a Pole, issued his famous Language Ordinances, asserting the equality of the Czech and German languages in Bohemia and Moravia. The Germans raised a fierce opposition, supported by the Socialists, and the Reichsrat became the scene of violent attempts on the part of the Germans to obstruct sittings by throwing inkstands at the leader of the House and using whistles and bugles to make all proceedings impossible. Badeni lost his head and resigned, and his decrees were rescinded. The dynasty, afraid of a repetition of German obstruction, gave the Germans a completely free hand in all matters of government.

9. Owing to the rapid cultural, economic and industrial development of Bohemia, the Czech party system began to expand. The _Czecho-Slav Social Democratic Party_, founded in 1878, began to acquire increasing influence. At first it was based on purely international socialism, and in 1897 it even opposed the national Czech demands. Later, seeing the duplicity of their German comrades who recognised the state right of Finland and Hungary, but not that of Bohemia, and who openly preached the necessity of assimilating the Slavs, the Czech Socialists began to identify themselves more and more with the national struggle for independence. They organised their own trade unions, which brought them into open conflict with the Austrian Socialists. This question was discussed at the Socialist International Conference at Copenhagen in 1910. It is, moreover, on account of these differences on nationality questions that the various Socialist parties of Austria have not met since 1905.

In April, 1898, the _Czech National Social Party_, led by Klofác, was formed in opposition to the Socialists. It was radically nationalist, and consisted mainly of workmen, as it was evolved from the workers’ organisation in the Young Czech Party.

On January 6, 1899, the _Agrarian Party_ was formed. It was chiefly composed of farmers and peasants. It defended the interests of their class and acquired considerable influence among them. In national matters it subscribed to the programme of Bohemian independence, and its organs have during the present war adopted a courageous anti-Austrian attitude.

In 1900 the so-called _State Right Party_ was founded by some of the members of the former “Omladina.” It had a radical programme and stood uncompromisingly against Austria, demanding independence for Bohemia chiefly on the ground of her historic rights.

In the elections of 1901 the United Czech Club gained fifty-three seats, the National Socialists four and the Agrarians five. But the real influence of the various new parties began to appear only in 1907, after the introduction of the universal suffrage which deprived the Young Czechs of their predominance. The Reichsrat elected in 1907 consisted of 257 non-Slav and 259 Slav members, of whom 108 were Czechs. The result of the election in Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia was as follows:–

28 Agrarians
24 Social Democrats
23 Young Czechs
17 National Catholics
9 Radicals
4 Moravian People’s Party
2 Realists
1 Independent Candidate.

This result showed that the Young Czechs, owing to their deficient organisation, had lost ground, especially among the country population, which formed the bulk of the nation. Among the workers Socialist doctrines were spreading with remarkable rapidity.

The parliamentary activity of the Czechs soon revealed to them how vain were their hopes that a new era of democracy was dawning in Austria. They soon found out that in Austria parliamentary institutions were a mere cloak for absolutism and that all their efforts were doomed to failure.

The Czechs were strongly opposed to the annexation of Bosnia. In 1909 Professor Masaryk gained a world reputation by his courageous defence of the Yugoslav leaders, who were accused of high treason at Zagreb (Agram). During the Friedjung trial it was again chiefly due to Professor Masaryk’s efforts that forgeries of the Vienna Foreign Office, intended to discredit the Yugoslav movement, were exposed and the responsibility for them fixed on Count Forgach, the Austro-Hungarian minister in Belgrade. Professor Masaryk clearly saw that Austria aimed at the conquest of the Balkans and intended at all costs to crush Serbia.

10. In 1911 new elections to the Reichsrat took place with the following result for the Czechs:–

40 Agrarians
25 Social Democrats
14 Young Czechs
13 National Socialists
7 Radicals
7 Clericals
1 Old Czech
1 Socialist (Centralist).

The Radicals (four Moravian People’s Party, two State Right Party, one Realist) formed a party of independent deputies with Professor Masaryk at their head. They demanded full independence for Bohemia, some of them laying greater stress on her historical rights, some on the natural right of Czecho-Slovaks to liberty.

The whole group of Czech deputies stood in opposition against Vienna with the exception of Kramár, who tried to imitate the Polish positivist policy in the hope of obtaining concessions in return. But, as we have already shown in a previous chapter, Dr. Kramár abandoned this policy even before the war, when he saw how completely Austria was tied to Germany. The bulk of the Czech people were, of course, always solidly anti-Austrian. During the Balkan War the Czechs openly showed their sympathies with their brother Slavs who were struggling for liberty.

The _Clerical Party_ had comparatively little influence and prestige. All their deputies (seven) were elected in country districts of Moravia, where civilisation is comparatively less developed than in Bohemia. In Bohemia and in the more developed districts of Moravia, people resist the efforts of the clergy to mix religion with politics. The three million Slovaks in Hungary, who speak a dialect of Czech and who form with the Czechs a single Czecho-Slovak nation, had only two deputies (Dr. Blaho and Father Juriga), and were without any influence in the Budapest Parliament.

11. Although many Czech politicians foresaw that Austria’s anti-Serbian policy in the Balkans and her increasing dependence on Germany must lead to war, yet on the whole the Czechs were not prepared for this contingency. The Reichsrat was closed when war broke out, and the Diet of Bohemia had been replaced by an Imperial Commission in 1913. War was declared by Austria against the will of the Slavs, and yet they did not dare to protest, as an organised revolution was impossible in view of the presence of German troops and of the perfect police spy system in Austria. Two German divisions would have been sufficient to suppress the best organised revolutionary movement in Bohemia.

The immediate effect of the declaration of war was the unity of the whole Czech nation. One of the leaders, Professor Masaryk, escaped abroad, and is at the head of the Czecho-Slovak Government, recognised by the Allies as the trustee and representative of the Czecho-Slovak nation.

Political activity was of course out of the question until the Reichsrat reopened on May 30, 1917. Before that date there was an absolute reign of terror in Bohemia. Some of the leading Czech newspapers were suspended soon after the outbreak of the war. The few Slovak papers published in Hungary were suppressed at the same time.

Those newspapers which survived were subject to strict censorship and were compelled to publish leading articles written by government officials and supplied to them by the police. Dr. Kramár, one of the most prominent Czech leaders, his colleague Dr. Rasín, and five National Socialist deputies were thrown into prison, and some of them even sentenced to death.

The effect of these persecutions was that all the Czecho-Slovaks became unanimous in their desire to obtain full independence of Austria-Hungary. Old party differences were forgotten and some of the Czech deputies who had formerly been opportunist in tendency, such as Dr. Kramár and the Agrarian ex-minister Prásek, now at last became convinced that all hopes of an anti-German Austria were futile, that Austria was doomed, as she was a blind tool in the hands of Germany, and that the only way to prevent the ten million Czecho-Slovaks from being again exploited in the interests of German imperialism was to secure their complete independence. On entering the Reichsrat on May 30, 1917, all the Czech deputies, united in a single “Bohemian Union,” made a unanimous declaration that it was their aim to work for the union of all Czechs and Slovaks in an independent, democratic state. To-day Dr. Kramár is in complete agreement with the Radicals who formerly were his most bitter opponents. In fact four Czech nationalist parties (the Young Czech, Realist, State Right and Moravian People’s Parties) united in February, 1918, as a single body under the name of “The Czech State-Right Democracy.” The president of its executive is the former Young Czech leader Dr. Kramár, who was sentenced to death in 1916, but released in July, 1917. The executive committee of the new party included all the leaders of the four former parties, namely, Dr. Stránský, Dr. Herben, M. Dyk, Professor Drtina, and others.

In their proclamation published in the _Národní Listy_ of February 10, 1918, the executive declared that:

“The chief aim of the new party will be to engage in a common national effort for the creation of an independent Bohemian State, the fundamental territory of which will be composed of the historical and indivisible crown-lands of Bohemia and of Slovakia. The Bohemian State will be a democratic state. All its power will come from the people. And as it will come from the Czech people, it will be just towards all nationalities, towards all citizens and classes.”

In a speech to the Young Czech Party before its dissolution, Dr. Kramár openly declared that “at the moment of the outbreak of the war it became quite clear that, despite all tactics of opportunism, our party remained true to the programme of Czech independence. It became at once evident to all of us that _the chapter of our former policy was forever closed for us_. We felt with our whole soul that the Czech nation would not go through the sufferings of the world war only to renew the pre-war tactics of a slow progress towards that position to which we have full historical rights as well as the natural rights of a living and strong nation….” And again, in an article in the _Národní Listy_ of December 25, 1917, Kramár wrote under the heading “By Order of the Nation”:

“We have sought with utmost sacrifice to find a compromise between our just claims and the international situation which was unfavourable to us. The war has completely changed all our policy, removing the possibility of a compromise to which we might have been disposed, and we cannot once more roll up our flag now so proudly unfurled, and put it aside for the next occasion.”

As we shall show also later on, there is not the least doubt that the necessity for the independence of Bohemia was proclaimed not by a few extremists, but by all the Czech parties with the approval of the entire nation.

When Kramár in 1917 again took over the leadership of the Young Czech Party, which led to the amalgamation of four nationalist parties, a change took place also in the leadership of the Czech Social Democratic Party which hitherto was in the hands of a few demagogues and defeatists, such as Smeral, who dominated the majority of the members. The return of the Socialist Party to its revolutionary traditions and its entire approval of the Bohemian state right and the national policy of Czecho-Slovak independence means a complete and absolute consolidation of the whole Czech nation.

As the Social Democrats became quite loyal to the Czech cause, the National Socialist Party lost its _raison d’être_. Owing to the great sufferings of the working class during the war, it became imbued with Socialist ideas.

On April 1, 1918, the Czech National Socialist Party held its eighth annual conference in Prague, at which it adopted a resolution endorsing international Socialism and changing its name to “The Czech Socialist Party.” The conference was attended also by two representatives of the Czecho-Slav Social Democratic Party, J. Stivin and deputy Nemec. The National Socialist leader, deputy Klofác, welcomed the representatives of the Social Democrats “whom we have for years past been struggling against, but with whom the trials of this war have united us.” He declared that his party accepted the Socialist programme and would join the new Socialist International. On September 6, 1918, the executive committees of the two parties elected a joint council. Its object is to work for the consolidation of the Czech working classes and for the formation of a united Czech Labour Party, composed of Social Democrats as well as of the former National Socialists. A similar process of consolidation is taking place also among the other parties, so that soon there will probably be only three Czech parties, on the basis of class difference, viz. Socialists, Agrarians and Democratic Nationalists (_bourgeoisie_), all of whom will stand behind the programme of full Czecho-Slovak independence.

The most significant demonstration of the Czech national sentiment took place at Prague on January 6, 1918, at a meeting of all the Czech deputies of the Reichsrat and of the diets of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia, with which we deal in another chapter, and at which a resolution was unanimously carried demanding full independence and representation at the peace conference.

Finally, on July 13, 1918, a National Council or Committee was formed in Prague on which all the parties are represented and which may rightly be described as part of the Provisional Government of Bohemia.

The whole Czech nation to-day is unanimously awaiting the victory of the Entente, from which it expects its long-cherished independence. The Czecho-Slovaks are only waiting for a favorable opportunity to strike the death-blow at the Dual Monarchy.



Austria-Hungary declared war not only on her enemies outside her frontiers, but also on her internal enemies, on her own Slav and Latin subjects. From the very first day of war terrorism reigned supreme in Bohemia, where the Austrian Government behaved as in an enemy country. Three political parties (the National Socialist, Radical and Realist Parties) were dissolved and their organs suppressed. Fully three-quarters of all Czech journals and all Slovak journals were suspended. Political leaders were arrested, imprisoned, and some of them even sentenced to death. Many leaders have been imprisoned as hostages in case an insurrection should break out. Over 20,000 Czech civilians have been interned merely for being “politically suspect,” and about 5000 were hanged in an arbitrary way by military tribunals, since juries had been abolished by an imperial decree. Other Slav districts were no better off: the Polish Socialist deputy Daszynski stated in the Reichsrat that 30,000 persons were hanged in Galicia alone, and another deputy stated that the number of Slavs (Austrian subjects) who were executed by Austria exceeded 80,000. Czech troops were marched to the trains watched by German soldiers like prisoners of war. Thousands of them were massacred at the front. The property of those who surrendered was confiscated, while the families of those Czech leaders who escaped abroad were brutally persecuted. It is impossible for us to give a detailed description of all the persecutions committed by Austria on the Czecho-Slovaks, but the following is a brief summary of them:–

_(a) Czech Deputies and Leaders imprisoned and sentenced to Death_

The most important perhaps was _the case of Dr. Kramár,_ one of the most moderate of the Czech leaders. Dr. Kramár was arrested on May 21, 1915, on a charge of high treason as the leader of the Young Czechs; together with him were also arrested his colleague, deputy Dr. Rasín, Mr. Cervinka, an editor of the _Národní Listy_, and Zamazal, an accountant. On June 3, 1916, all four of them were sentenced to death, although no substantial proofs were produced against them. Subsequently, however, the sentence was commuted to long terms of imprisonment, but after the general amnesty of July, 1917, they were released. Among the reasons for which they were imprisoned and sentenced to death were the following, as given in the official announcement, published in the Austrian press on January 4, 1917:

Dr. Kramár before the war was “the leader of Pan-Slav propaganda and of the Russophil movement in Bohemia.” He was also alleged to have kept up a connection with the pro-Ally propaganda conducted by the Czecho-Slovaks and their friends abroad during the war, and the Czech military action against Austria on the side of the Entente. Dr. Kramár was further blamed for the “treasonable” behaviour of Czech regiments who voluntarily surrendered to Russia and Serbia, and for the anti-German sentiments cherished by the Czecho-Slovaks for centuries past. Obviously in striking Dr. Kramár Austria meant to strike at the Czech nation. The “proofs” for the high treasonable activity of Dr. Kramár before and during the war were the following:[1]

(1) Dr. Kramár was (before the war) in communication with Brancianov, Bobrinski, Denis, Masaryk, Pavlu and others, who now preach the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary.

(2) In his articles in the _Národní Listy_, published during the war, Dr. Kramár advocated the liberation of small nations as proclaimed by the Entente. His organ, “the _Národní Listy_, laid special stress on news favourable to our enemies and on the state of disruption of Austria, and indirectly invited Czechs to passive resistance.”

(3) A copy of _La Nation Tchèque_ was found in Dr. Kramár’s pocket at the time of his arrest.

(4) Dr. Kramár had a conversation with the Italian consul in April, 1915, which is “an important cause of suspicion.”

(5) In a letter to the Governor of Bohemia, Prince Thun, Dr. Kramár admitted that, always faithful to his political principles, he refrained from everything that might appear as approval of the war.

This was the evidence brought up against Kramár, on the ground of which he was to be hanged. These are the “proofs” of his responsibility for the distribution of treasonable Russian proclamations in Bohemia, repeated manifestations of sympathy with the enemy, and the refusal of Czech deputies to take part in any declarations or manifestations of loyalty.

Equally characteristic is also _the case of the National Socialist leader, deputy Klofác_, who was arrested in September, 1914. Owing to lack of proofs the trial was repeatedly postponed, while Klofác was left in prison. A formal charge was brought against him only when the Reichsrat was about to open in May, 1917, so as to prevent him from attending the meeting. Nevertheless he was released after the amnesty of July, 1917. Writing in the _Národní Politika_ about his experience in prison, deputy Klofác says:

“Many educated and aged political prisoners were not allowed out to walk in the yard for five months or more, which is contrary to all regulations. They were also not allowed to read books given to them by the judge, and they had to do the lowest work. One student who refused to wash the floor was beaten and confined to a dark cell. No wonder that many committed suicide. Dr. Vrbenský could tell how he used to get excited by the cry of the ill-treated prisoners. Even his nerves could not stand it. It is quite comprehensible, therefore, that Dr. Scheiner (the president of the ‘Sokol’ Union) in such an atmosphere was physically and mentally broken down in two months. Dr. Kramár and Dr. Rasín also had an opportunity of feeling the brutality of Polatchek and Teszinski. In the winter we suffered from frosts, for there was no heating. Some of my friends had frozen hands. We resisted the cold by drilling according to the Müller system. This kept us fit and saved us from going to the prison doctor, Dr. A. Prinz, who was a Magyar and formerly a doctor in Karlsbad. If a prisoner went to this ‘gentleman,’ he did not ask after his illness, but after his nationality, and for the reason of his remand imprisonment. On hearing that a prisoner was Czech and on remand for Par. 58_c_ (high treason), he only hissed: ‘You do not want any medicine. It would be wasted, for in any case you will be hanged.'”

Besides Klofác, the following four National Socialist deputies were also imprisoned: Choc, Burival, Vojna and Netolický. The accused were condemned on July 30, 1916, for “failing to denounce Professor Masaryk’s revolutionary propaganda.”

_Professor Masaryk_, who escaped abroad in 1915, was sentenced to death in Austria in December, 1916. Unable to reach him, the Austrian Government revenged themselves on his daughter, Dr. Alice Masaryk, whom they imprisoned. Only after an energetic press campaign abroad was she released. A similar fate also met the wife of another Czech leader, Dr. Benes, who escaped abroad in the autumn of 1915 and became secretary general of the Czecho-Slovak National Council.

_Dr. Scheiner_, president of the “Sokol” Gymnastic Association, was imprisoned, but was again released owing to lack of proofs. A similar fate also met the Czech Social Democratic leader _Dr. Soukup_, who was for some time kept in prison.

_(b) Monster Trials, Arbitrary Executions, Internment of Civilians, etc_.

A notorious reason for imprisonment, and even execution, was the possession of the so-called Russian Manifesto dropped by Russian aeroplanes, being a proclamation of the Tsar to the people of Bohemia promising them the restoration of their independence. Mr. Matejovský, of the Prague City Council, and fifteen municipal clerks were sentenced to many years’ imprisonment for this offence in February, 1915. In May, 1915, six persons, among them two girls, were condemned to death in Kyjov, Moravia, for the same offence. On the same charge also sixty-nine other persons from Moravia were brought to Vienna and fifteen of them sentenced to death. One of the Czech girls who were executed for this offence was a Miss Kotíková, aged twenty-one, who, according to the _Arbeiter Zeitung_ of September 8, 1917, refused to say from whom she had received the manifesto, and through her heroic attitude saved the lives of others.

Without a fair trial and without evidence, the editor of the National Socialist organ _Pokrok_ in Prostejov, Mr. Joseph Kotek, was sentenced to death on Christmas Eve of 1914. The sentence was passed at noon, confirmed at half-past four and carried out at half-past six. As no one could be found to act as hangman, Kotek was shot. The reason given for the verdict was that the accused editor of the _Pokrok_, which was suppressed as being dangerous to the State, delivered a speech at a meeting of a co-operative society in which he said that all Czechs were unanimous that they knew that Austria was losing the war and that they prayed to God that her downfall might be soon. He was further alleged to have said that it was doubtful how Europe would be divided after the war, but that in any case the Czecho-Slovak countries would be made independent as a wedge between Germany and Austria, and that if Germany won the Czechs would be germanised, like the Poles in Germany. The accused admitted that he did speak about the reorganisation of Europe, but not in the words used by the prosecution. But, as the _Arbeiter Zeitung_ said, even if he did say what the prosecution alleged, as a civilian he should never have been sentenced to death by a military tribunal. According to Czech papers, Kotek was buried among ordinary criminals outside the cemetery. The grave of the innocent martyr was not even marked with his name, and his wife was not allowed to visit it, because the military authorities forbade the sexton of the church to allow any one to see the graves of those executed for high treason.

_Dr. Preiss_, the manager of the Czech bank, Zivnostenská Banka, which has its branches in Galicia, Rumania, Serbia and elsewhere, and four of his colleagues were imprisoned, because the Czechs would not subscribe to Austrian war loans and Dr. Preiss had done nothing to induce them to do so.

As regards the horrors of the internment camps, in which over 20,000 innocent Czechs, men, women and children, were confined, we will only quote the revelations of the Czech National Socialist deputy Stríbrný, who declared in the Reichsrat on June 14, 1917:

“This war was begun by the Austrian Government without the consent of the Austrian Parliament, against the will of the Czech people.

“In Bohemia, the most brutal cruelties have been perpetrated by the Austrian authorities against the Czech population. An anonymous denunciation suffices to bring about the arrest and imprisonment of any Czech man, woman or child. Thousands of Czech citizens have simply been seized and placed in internment camps on the ground that their political opinions are dangerous to the existence of Austria.

“Such prisoners were led away from their homes handcuffed and in chains. They included women, girls and old grey-haired men. They were conveyed from their homes to internment camps in filthy cattle trucks and were cruelly ill-treated with a strange persistence. On one occasion forty-three Czechs, who were being conveyed to a camp of internment, were killed on the way by a detachment of Honveds (Hungarian militia) which was escorting them to their place of imprisonment.

“The conditions under which the Czechs were interned at the Talerhof Camp, near Graz, were absolutely outrageous. They were beaten and tortured on their way there. Immediately after their arrival many were tied to stakes and kept thus day and night in absolutely indescribable sanitary conditions. Many were done to death by their guards. When the thermometer showed 20 degrees of frost, old men, women and girls were left to sleep in the open air, and mortality increased amongst them to a frightful extent. Two thousand unhappy victims of Austria’s brutal tyranny lie buried in the cemetery attached to the Talerhof Camp of internment. Of these, 1200 died of epidemics.”

Other information concerning the same camp of Talerhof fully corroborates this statement. In a letter to his friends, a Czech interned at Talerhof wrote as follows:

“Many of my friends died from bayonet wounds; out of 12,000 at least, 2000 have so perished. The majority of us did not know why we were interned. Many were hanged without a trial on mere denunciation. Human life had no value for them. The soldiers had orders to strike us with bayonets for the slightest movement….

“We were covered with insects. One day an order was given that everybody should undress to be rubbed with paraffin. Some ladies who objected were undressed by force before our eyes, since men and women slept together, and the soldiers rubbed them with paraffin.

“A Ruthene who protested against the ill-treatment of women, who were forced to do the lowest work, was bayonetted. He was lying for five days between two barracks more dead than alive. His face and body were all green and covered with lice and his hands were bound. Then the Austrian officers and soldiers ill-treated him till he died.”

In consequence of the general political amnesty, over 100,000 political prisoners in Austria were released. Thousands of them emerged from prison or internment camps reduced to mere skeletons by the systematic lack of food.

According to reports published in the Austrian press, one of the Ukrainian prisoners, named Karpinka, was left in solitary confinement without any fire in winter, so that his feet were frost-bitten and had to be amputated.

A Czech named Jarý, who was condemned to twelve years’ hard labour, came out with consumption contracted through the rigour of his imprisonment. Many others were reduced to such weakness through starvation that they had to be carried out of the prison.

(c) _Persecution of the Press_

Among the Czech journals suppressed in Bohemia at the beginning of the war, the following deserve to be especially mentioned:

_Ceské Slovo_, organ of the National Socialist Party; the editors have been imprisoned. _Cas_ (“Times”), organ of Professor Masaryk (Realist Party); the editors Dusek and Hájek were imprisoned. _Samostatnost_, organ of the State Right (Radical) Party; the editors were imprisoned or sent to the front.

The _Národní Listy_ (Kramár’s organ) was twice suspended, and in May, 1918, suppressed altogether because it “fostered sympathies for the Entente.”

The _Lidové Noviny_, organ of Dr. Stránský (Moravian People’s Party), was also several times suspended during the war.

All Socialist journals were suppressed except _Právo Lidu_ and _Rovnost_.

According to the _Wiener Zeitung_, seventy-eight Czech journals were suspended during the months of April, May and June, 1916, alone. All Slovak newspapers were also suppressed.

As regards censorship, we need only mention that even speeches delivered in the Austrian Parliament were censored in the press. The sense of the speeches delivered by Allied statesmen was invariably distorted and declarations in favour of Czecho-Slovak independence were suppressed. Foreign newspapers were not allowed to be quoted; and the journals were forced to publish unsigned articles supplied to them by the police….

The Union of Czech Journalists declared on April 25, 1917

“We protest against the practice prevailing in Prague as against means quite contradictory to the moral principles of modern journalism, as in Prague the newspapers are forced to publish articles supplied by the Official Press Bureau, as though written by the editor, without being allowed to mark them as inspired. Thus the journals are not in reality edited by the editors themselves, but by the Press institution of the state.”

The same union again protested on November 16, 1917

“After the victorious Russian Revolution which brought about also the opening of the Reichsrat, the fetters binding the Czech press were a little relaxed, but only for a short time, and to-day we see the same conditions prevailing in which we lived for the first three years of war. Every free reflection in the Czech journals is confiscated. They are even prohibited to publish articles which appeared in the German and Austrian press. Furthermore, they are again compelled to publish articles written by officials without marking them as such. They cannot even inform their readers correctly about parliamentary debates, _as speeches and interpellations delivered in parliament are suppressed_. We ask the Union of Czech Deputies to protest again against this violation of parliamentary immunity, and to obtain a guarantee that in future the Czech papers will not be compelled to print articles not written by the editorial staff and that the Czech press shall enjoy at least the same freedom as the press in Berlin, Vienna and Budapest.”

_(d) Reichsrat Interpellations_

To complete the picture of Austrian terrorism, we will quote some of the interpellations addressed to the Austrian Government by Czech deputies in the summer of 1917.

The Czech deputies_ Prokes, Jaros and Charvát_ (Socialists) have demanded an explanation from the Minister for Home Defence respecting 300 Czech teachers from Moravia who were interned in 1915, being suspected of disloyalty, although there was no charge made against them either by the civil or by the military authorities. They were first interned in Lower Austria and then in Hungary, and had to do the hardest work. Though the educational authorities reclaimed them they were not set free even to attend to the burials of their relatives. The only exception made was when one teacher was allowed to be married in Vienna, and even then he was followed by the guard with fixed bayonets. In Hungary the conditions were still worse, and many of these teachers died and many of them are still in hospitals.

A long interpellation was addressed to the government by the Czech deputies_ Binovec, Filipinský and Stejskal_ (Socialists) regarding the outrageous and inhuman treatment of the Czech political prisoners. They mentioned a vast number of appalling instances of deliberate torturing and starving of the prisoners. All rights of the prisoners were suspended and they depended entirely on the will of the commander: many of these political prisoners were imprisoned together with ordinary murderers; they were not allowed to read books or to write letters; their families were not permitted to visit them or even to send them provisions from home, so they starved in prison. Such cruel treatment did not affect only political prisoners but even people on remand, and it was nothing extraordinary for them to be imprisoned for years on remand only. The deputies asked whether the authorities wanted these prisoners to die from starvation.

The most interesting document is the interpellation of deputies _Stanek, Tobolka and Co_. on the persecutions against the Czech nation during the war. The interpellation has been published as a book of 200 pages which has been prohibited by Austria to be sent abroad, but a copy of which we have nevertheless been able to secure. The following are short extracts from the volume:

The Behaviour of the Austrian Government towards the Czech Nation during the War

“YOUR EXCELLENCY,–At a time when it proved impossible to continue to rule in an absolute way in this empire and when after more than three years the Reichsrat is sitting again, we address to you the following interpellation in order to call your attention to the persecutions which during the past three years have been perpetrated on our nation, and to demand emphatically that these persecutions shall be discontinued. They were not done unintentionally or accidentally, but, as will be shown from the following survey, this violence was committed deliberately and systematically by the Austrian Government on our nation, which took the abominable view that the present war is the most suitable period for realising the plans and aims of German centralism in the Habsburg Monarchy by curing the Czechs forever of all hallucinations about equality among nations, and about the glorious past of Bohemia and her relationship with other Slav nations. A general attack was made upon the Czech nation during the critical situation created by the war: our participation in civil service was curtailed, German was made the official language of the state, the press was muzzled, schools persecuted, the Sokol idea declared to be high treason, men distinguished for service in the state arrested, imprisoned, persecuted and sentenced to death, everything reminding the population of the famous past of Bohemia removed, the ancient Czech aspirations for political independence or even aims for a mere reorganisation of the Habsburg Monarchy on a federal basis were not allowed and were suppressed, even the name of the ancient kingdom of Bohemia, which was the foundation stone to the Habsburg Monarchy in 1526, was to disappear for ever.

“The persecutions against our nation were very cruel indeed.

“In the first place, _Dr. Kramár_ was attacked as the veritable leader of the Czech nation. In return for his valuable services for this state and for his nation, in return for his endeavours to educate the Czech nation towards realism in politics, he was recompensed by being arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to death, although a member of the delegations and therefore enjoying immunity. He was not brought up before the ordinary tribunal, but before a judge who was absolutely ignorant of Czech or foreign politics, so that his condemnation might be assured.

“The same fate also met his political friends, deputy Dr. Rasín and the editor of _Národní Listy_, V. Cervinka.

“Incredible proceedings were taken against the deputy Klofác. Although being a member of the delegations and therefore enjoying immunity, he was arrested on September 7, 1914, and has been imprisoned ever since. A charge was hurriedly prepared against him on May 24, 1917, that is when the Reichsrat was to be opened. Both Dr. Kramár and Klofác were prosecuted by the Vienna court-martial under the direction of Colonel Gliwitzki and Dr. Preminger in such a way that no ordinary judge would dare to act.

“The way in which the military tribunals treated the ordinary uneducated people is apparent from the following examples:

“The tailor Smejkal in Vienna was sentenced to six months’ hard labour for saying, ‘The government does not want to give us Czech schools in Vienna.’

“For saying, ‘I do not know whether the Emperor Francis Joseph was ever crowned King of Bohemia or not,’ a boy gardener named Tesar was sentenced to six months’ hard labour, which sentence was altered to sixteen months by the High Court of Justice (the poor boy died in prison).

“The shoemaker’s assistant Hamouz, of Vienna, sixty-seven years of age, ill and mentally stunted, served in his youth with the 28th Regiment. He defended this regiment, therefore, by saying, ‘It is a good regiment.’ He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

“Private Cepera from Moravia was sentenced to three years’ hard labour for saying, ‘The German Kaiser is responsible for the war.’

“For saying that ‘those of the 28th Regiment are our “boys,”‘ gunner Purs, of Benatky, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. He was sent in chains to the military prison in Möllersdorf.

“The wilfulness of military tribunals, culminating in many cases in apparent hatred against everything that is Czech, is shown by the following, out of many examples:

“The editor of _Ceské Slovo_, E. Spatny, of Prague, was arrested on September 26, 1914, and interned in Prague, without being told the reason. In March, 1915, he was transferred to the internment camp at Göllersdorf, in Lower Austria. The Czechs interned there arranged on July 5 a Hus anniversary at which the editor E. Spatny and Dr. Vrbenský spoke about the life and importance of Hus. Being accused by a certain fellow-prisoner, Davidovský, that they had been speaking against the Germans and that ‘the speakers expected deliverance by a certain state but were disappointed,’ they were transferred to the military prison in Vienna, and charged with high treason according to Par. 58_c_. The latter was discharged for want of proofs, but the editor Spatny was sentenced to fourteen years’ hard labour.

“The Sarajevo prisoners were not allowed to be visited by their relatives in contravention of the orders of the official statutes D 6. Out of five of those prisoners, three have already died, the fourth is dying, and the last one, a student Cubulic, was allowed a visit after two years when it became certain that the Reichsrat would meet.

“The extent to which starvation and inhuman treatment is raging in the state prisons is best shown by the conditions prevailing in the prison of Möllersdorf. In the years 1915-16, 61 prisoners died there out of 350 to 450 prisoners on the roll. Between January 1, 1917, and May, 1917, 101 prisoners were doomed to death. The majority belong to the sixth category of prisoners. The thieves, criminals and impostors, if they had served previously in the army, enjoy special treatment in Möllersdorf prison. They wear civilian clothes, and are treated with consideration and well fed. On the other hand, political prisoners, especially those classed as second category, are dying from ill-treatment and insufficient nourishment. The judge, auditor A. König, famous for his arbitrary verdicts against the Czech people, was a solicitor’s clerk in civil life, and now recommends to his wealthy defendants his Vienna lawyer friends as splendid specialists and advocates in political matters. Thus, for instance, he forced Dr. Glaser upon Mr. Kotik as the counsel. Kotik was sentenced to death by König, and Glaser sent him a bill for 10,000 kronen (£400) for the ‘successful defence.’

_The Persecutions of the Sokols_

“Terrible persecutions were inflicted on the Sokol Gymnastic Association during the war. The sphere of the Sokols’ activity does not touch political affairs at all, being reserved to gymnastics and spiritual education. Their activity was public, open to official inquiries and supervision. But this did not save them from persecutions. The first persecution was already committed in 1914 in Moravia, when some branches of the Sokol Association were dissolved for various reasons. Numerous societies were afterwards dissolved throughout Bohemia and Moravia.

“_On November_ 23, 1915, _the Central Czech Sokol Association (Ceská Obec Sokolska) was dissolved_ as the centre of the Czech Sokol movement, which before the war kept up lively relations with foreign countries and manifested brotherly feelings of sympathy towards Serbia and Russia. It was alleged that the Central Sokol Association had had relations with the American Sokol branches during the war through its president, Dr. J. Scheiner, and conducted an active propaganda against Austria. The alleged relations were founded on a communication of the American branches to the president, Dr. Scheiner, asking him whether he would be willing to distribute money collected in America to people in Bohemia afflicted by the war. Dr. Scheiner was arrested and kept in prison for two months.

“Very characteristic was the way in which the military authorities treated the members of Sokol societies. In many cases soldiers, especially recruits, were questioned whether they belonged to the Sokol Association. The authorities searched for Sokol badges or membership cards, and those who were found to have these in their possession were severely punished. The members of the Sokol societies as long as they were in the army were invariably subjected to ill-treatment and persecution. They were transferred to do heavy work, and not recommended for promotion, and in every way treated more brutally than other soldiers. In the case of both civil and military trials, one of the most important questions asked, was whether the accused belonged to any Sokol society, and if the accused did belong to a society this always went against him.

_Bohemian History_

“Every possible means was employed to wipe out the memory of important events in Bohemian history. Not only were historical books (like Lützow’s _Bohemia_ and others) confiscated, but even scientific lectures on John Hus and the Hussite movement were prohibited. The metal memorial plate with the names of Bohemian lords executed in 1621 inscribed upon it was removed from the Town Hall, and that part of the square which showed the spot on which they were executed was ordered to be repaved.

“In order to destroy the idea that the Czechs are of Slav origin, any use of red, blue and white colours was prohibited. Varnishes in these colours were not allowed to be used. The street plates of pre-war times had to be repainted in black and yellow. Newspaper posters, match-boxes and other articles were not allowed to be sold or exhibited, if they were painted in the Slav tricolours.

_The Suppression of Czech Literature_

“More than two hundred books published before the war were confiscated. The tendency of this action was clear. The government wanted to destroy the memory of the glorious past of Bohemia, of John Hus and the Hussite movement, of the suffering of the Czech nation after the defeat of the White Mountain, to restrict all progressive and liberal movements and to kill the ‘Sokol’ idea, and further to destroy the consciousness that Czechs and Slovaks are the same nation and belong to the great Slav family. The apostles of this idea were proclaimed traitors, especially Dr. Kramár, J.S. Machar and others. These persecutions cover a great period before the war, and the following is a list of the books suppressed (follows a list comprising eleven foolscap columns). The government treated the Czech nation with special brutality. The persecutions in Bohemia were opposed not only to the liberal ideas of Czechs, but especially to their national feelings. The anxiety of the censor for the safety of the monarchy often bordered on absurdity. The word ‘shocking’ was deleted from a play, for instance, because it was English. _Henry IV_. was not allowed to be played ‘until we reach a settlement with England,’ and it was only when it was reported by the Vienna and Berlin papers that the prohibition was withdrawn.

_Persecution of the Czech Press_

“The Czech press was persecuted in a peculiar manner. Its editors were not allowed to receive papers from neutral countries and to express their own opinions as regards the propaganda of the Czechs abroad. Under threats of suppression of the journals and imprisonment of the editors, the journals were obliged to print and publish articles supplied to them by the police, without mentioning the source from whence they came. The articles had to be put in in such a way that they appeared as if they were the editors’ views. The articles betrayed the low intellectual level of the authors who lacked any knowledge of Czech affairs. Such articles which the Czech journals were compelled to publish were, for instance: ‘In Foreign Pay,’ published March 25, 1916; ‘The Czechs in America against Masaryk’s Agents,’ published in all Czech papers on April 8, 1916; on January 16, 1917, the article ‘Our Answer to the Quadruple Entente.’

“The Police Directorate ordered first that such articles should appear on the same day in all papers and in the same wording, but recognising the stupidity of such an action, they compelled only one journal to publish them and the others had to ‘quote’ from them.

“Preventive censorship was established and a number of articles were passed by the censor for publication in Czech papers only when proofs were supplied that the articles had already appeared in some other journal in Austria. _Independent articles or reports were not allowed to be published_. The _Národní Listy_ was treated with special spite by the censorship.

“_Almost ninety important journals were suppressed by the government_, the majority of them without any apparent reason or justification.

_The Suppression of Czech School and National Literature_

“Words, sentences or whole paragraphs in school books were found objectionable, since they were alleged to propagate Pan-Slavism and to encourage in the pupils hostile feelings against Austria’s allies. According to the official ideas about Austrian patriotism, purely educational paragraphs were considered as wanting in patriotic feeling; not only literary but also historical paragraphs were ‘corrected,’ and official advice was issued as to how to write handbooks on patriotic lines on special subjects, as for instance on natural history, physics, geometry, etc. The foundations of all knowledge to be supplied to the pupils in the public schools had to reflect the spirit of the world war.

“Numerous folk-songs with absolutely no political tendency in them were confiscated, merely because they expressed the Czech national spirit. All songs were suppressed which mentioned the word Slav–‘The Slav Linden Tree’–the army or the Allies. Even if the publishers offered to publish new editions without the objectionable songs they were not allowed to do so, and were asked to put in more ‘loyal songs’ and to replace melancholy songs with cheerful ones.

“In every secondary school a zealous library revision was started and many books were removed, so that these libraries lost all their value for the students. The Czech youth must not know the principal works either of their own or foreign literature. Certain libraries had to be deprived of some hundreds of books. All this happened at a time when the discussions here and abroad were taking place about the importance of raising the standard of knowledge of the educated classes.

“The opening of Czech minority schools has been postponed since the beginning of 1914. Consequently the Czech School Society must keep them up and pay the expenses in connection with them, amounting to a loss of more than two million kronen up till now. On the other hand, many German schools have been established in Bohemia.

“The steps which are being taken against Czech schools in Lower Austria, especially in Vienna, are not only contrary to the standing laws but also to the decisions of the ministry concerned.

“We conclude by asking:

“Are the above facts of systematic persecution of the Czech nation during the war known to your Excellency?

“Is your Excellency prepared to investigate them thoroughly?

“Is your Excellency prepared to stop the persecution of the Czech nation and the wrongs suffered by us through these proceedings?

“_In Vienna, June_ 6, 1917.”

[Footnote 1: For the full text of this document see Dr. Benes’ _Bohemia’s Case for Independence_.]