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  • 1918
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From the foregoing chapters it is clear that by continuous misrule and by the attempt to reduce the Czecho-Slovak nation to impotence through terrorism and extermination during this war, the Habsburgs have created a gulf between themselves and their Czecho-Slovak subjects which can never again be bridged over. Realising this, and seeing that since Austria has voluntarily sold herself to Berlin their only hope for a better future lies in the destruction of the political system called Austria-Hungary, the Czecho-Slovaks have from the beginning staked their all on the victory of the Entente, towards which they have contributed with all possible means at their disposal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the official Russian _communiqué_:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On August 9, 1918, His Majesty’s Government issued the following declaration:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_(c) After the Amnesty_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_(d) During Peace Negotiations with Russia_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On November 29, deputy Modrácek declared in the Reichsrat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To the Czecho-Slovak Nation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“_We will hold on unto victory!_

“_We will hold on until our nation obtains independence_.

“_Long live the Czecho-Slovak nation!_

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

_(g) The Slovaks’ Attitude_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To the Czecho-Slovak Nation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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