Vladimír Nosek.

Independent Bohemia An Account of the Czecho-Slovak Struggle for Liberty online

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north, and Italy, Yugoslavia and Rumania in the south, she will
successfully prevent German penetration to the East, Near East and
the Adriatic.

Austria and Hungary, reduced to their proper racial boundaries, will be
states of about eight million each. The Magyars, being situated in the
Lowlands, which are mainly agricultural, hemmed in between Bohemia, Rumania
and Yugoslavia, will be in a hopeless strategic and economic position. They
will be unable to attack any of their neighbours, and they will be wholly
dependent on them for industrial products. Hungary will thus be forced to
come to an understanding with her neighbours. Austria will be in a similar
position: deprived of her richest provinces, she will no longer be of any
great economic or military value to Germany.

Let us now examine the probable future relations between Bohemia and her

1. The formation of a strong _Polish-Czech block_ is the only means of
arresting the German expansion towards the East. To-day, when Russia has
collapsed, the liberation of the non-Germans of Central Europe can alone
save Europe from the hegemony of the German Herrenvolk. The creation of a
strong and united Poland with access to the sea at Gdansk (Dantzig) and an
independent Czecho-Slovak State has become a necessity for Europe.

The understanding between the Poles and Czechs is of vital interest to both
peoples concerned, and to Europe as a whole. It is by no means
hypothetical, considering that geographically the Poles and Czechs are
neighbours, that they speak almost the same language, and that their
national spirit, history and traditions bear a close resemblance. The
history of Poland offers many strange parallels to that of Bohemia. It is
specially interesting to note that in the fifteenth century, as to-day, the
Poles and Czechs together resisted the German "Drang nach Osten." The Czech
with their famous leader Zizka participated in the splendid Polish victory
over the Teutonic knights at Grünwald in 1410, while on the other hand,
there were many Poles in the Hussite regiments who so gloriously defended
the Czech religious and national liberties in the fifteenth century. Poland
and Bohemia were also united several times under a common dynasty.

After Bohemia lost her independence at the battle of the White Mountain in
1620, she became the prey of Austrian barbarity. The Habsburgs have done
their best to extirpate the Czech heretics and abolish and destroy the
Bohemian Constitution. With Bohemia's loss of independence her contact with
Poland also ceased. And Poland herself became the prey of Prussia, Russia
and Austria some 170 years later, notwithstanding the constitution of May 3
and the heroic resistance of Kosciuszko.

The regeneration of the Czechs at the end of the eighteenth century meant
the resumption of friendly relations between Czechs and Poles. The Czechs
desired to come to an agreement with the Poles because the latter are their
nearest kinsmen in race and language, and like themselves have suffered
terribly from alien oppression. There were many Polonophils amongst the
first Czech regenerators, and the Polish revolutions always evoked sincere
sympathy in Bohemia. The modern Czech writers were all sincere friends of
the Poles. Thanks to their efforts, Sienkiewicz and Mickiewicz are read in
every household in Bohemia, and the dramas of Slowacki, Krasinski,
Wyspianski and others are frequently played on the stage of our National
Theatre in Prague.

The present interests and aspirations of Poles and Czechs are identical.
Like the Czechs, the Poles are threatened by the Pan-German schemes of
Mitteleuropa and "Drang nach Osten," to which they are bitterly opposed.
These plans can be checked effectively only by the establishment of a
strong and united Poland with access to the sea, a strong Czecho-Slovak
State, and a united and independent Yugoslavia and Rumania.

It was proved by events that Russian imperialism and oppression was never
so dangerous to Europe as Pan-Germanism, since the former was built upon
sand and opposed by the Russian people themselves; while Pan-Germanism
rests upon effective organisation, and its brutal principles of domination
are supported by the bulk of the German people. The Central Powers are
to-day Poland's only enemies, and are a danger to her as to all Europe.
Poland's interests lie only in one orientation: in absolute opposition to

The alliance between Poland and Bohemia will provide the latter with an
outlet to the sea (Gdansk). This will draw the two countries still closer
together. Economically such an alliance would be to the mutual interests of
both countries. Since Bohemia has not, like Poland, been devastated during
this war, she could greatly assist Poland in rebuilding her trade and
industries, and this would prevent German economic penetration to the East.
On the other hand, Poland could supply her with oil and salt from Galicia.

The Czecho-Polish block would prevent German penetration in Russia, which
would thus be able to set her own affairs in order. The Czecho-Polish block
would also frustrate the German plans of creating a Polish-German-Magyar
combination by means of a small Poland, completely dependent on the Central
Powers, or by means of the so-called Austro-Polish solution. The
Czecho-Slovaks, owing to their geographic position and past traditions, and
owing to their advanced civilisation, may be fully relied upon as the
pioneers of peace and stability in Central Europe.

2. The Czecho-Slovak State will probably have a common frontier with
_Rumania_. The Rumanians-and Czecho-Slovaks will have common interests, and
their mutual political and economic relations will be of great importance.
Economically, agricultural Rumania and industrial Bohemia will complete
each other. Prague will have direct railway connection with Bukarest and
Jassy, while the Danube will connect the Czecho-Slovaks both with the
Yugoslavs and the Rumanians, under the protection of the League of Nations.

Politically the alliance between a united Poland, Bohemia and Greater
Rumania is of paramount importance, because if Poland and Rumania remain as
small as they are at present, and if the Czecho-Slovaks and Yugoslavs are
left at the mercy of Vienna and Budapest, the Germans will be masters of
Central Europe.

3. The relations between _Czechs and Yugoslavs_ have always been cordial,
since both of them have always had the same anti-German and anti-Magyar
orientation. By way of the Danube the Czecho-Slovaks would be in direct
communication with Belgrade. The Czechs could further also be accorded an
international railway connecting Pressburg with the Adriatic. The Czechs,
being well developed industrially and commercially, could greatly assist
the Yugoslavs in organising a state sufficiently strong to arrest German
and Magyar penetration in the Balkans.

The Czechs, being good friends of the Yugoslavs and Italians, will at the
same time exert their efforts to prevent all misunderstandings between
these two Adriatic nations from which only the Germans would profit. A
close alliance between Bohemia, Italy, Yugoslavia and Rumania will form an
effective safeguard against German penetration in the Near East. Since
Rumania will border both on Bohemia and Yugoslavia, the Germans will be
completely encircled by a strong Latin-Slav barrier, of which Bohemia will
form the centre, working for stability in Central Europe and safeguarding
Europe from a repetition of the German attempts at world domination.

4. The Czecho-Slovak State itself will be strong both strategically and
economically. It will number over twelve million, and its territory,
comprising Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian-Silesia and Slovakia, will be about
50,000 square miles, that is a territory as large as England (without
Scotland, Ireland and Wales).

Surrounded by high mountains, Bohemia forms a veritable fortress in the
heart of Europe. Economically, too, she will be strong and self-supporting.

In the past Bohemia was the richest part of the Habsburg Empire, with
well-developed agriculture and industries. Bohemia produced 829 lbs. of
grain per inhabitant, the rest of Austria 277 lbs. The Bohemian lands are
responsible for 93 per cent. of Austria's, production of sugar, most of
which has been exported to England. Hops of remarkable quality are produced
in Bohemia, and Pilsen beer is known all over the world. Bohemia
manufactures over 50 per cent. of all the beer produced in Austria. Bohemia
has also abundant wealth in minerals, the only mineral which is not found
there being salt. Bohemia produces 60 per cent. of Austria's iron and 83
per cent. (26 million tons) of her coal. As regards trade, almost all the
business between Bohemia and Western Europe has always passed through
Vienna, which of course greatly profited thereby. This will cease when
Bohemia becomes independent.

Two-thirds of the total Austrian exports, the value of which was over
£63,000,000 in 1912, come from the Bohemian lands. To England alone Austria
exported £9,000,000 worth of Bohemian sugar annually. Bohemian beer, malt
and hops were exported especially to France, textiles and machines to
Italy. On the other hand, Germany and German-Austria imported from the
Bohemian lands especially agricultural products (butter, eggs, cheese,
cereals, fruit), also coal and wood manufactures.

In 1905 Austria exported 425,000 metric tons of wheat and 186,000 metric
tons of malt, which were mostly produced in Bohemia. The export of Bohemian
beer brings Austria 15,000,000 kronen annually (£625,000), of malt
55,000,000 kronen (£2,290,000). The Bohemian lands further export
130,000,000 kronen (£5,430,000) worth of textiles annually.

The Austrian import trade is also largely dependent on Bohemia. All French
articles bought by Bohemia come through Vienna, two-thirds of the whole
French export being destined for that country.

As regards England, in 1914 £2,676,000 worth of goods were exported to
Austria-Hungary, the greater part of which again was destined for Bohemia,
the chief articles being printing and agricultural machines and textile
manufactures. England will after the war find a good market in Bohemia, and
valuable assistants in Czech banks and business men in the economic
competition against the Germans in the Near East, since the Czechs
boycotted German goods even before the war. Prague is a railway centre of
European importance, being situated just midway between the Adriatic and
the Baltic Sea. An agreement with her neighbours (Poland, Yugoslavia and
Rumania) and the League of Nations arrangement would secure her an outlet
to the sea by means of international railways, while the Elbe and Danube
would also form important trade routes. Bohemia would become an
intermediary between the Baltic and Adriatic as well as between East
and West.

Also the future relations of Bohemia with the British colonies are not
without importance. More than half the trade of Austria with the British
colonies was transacted by the Czechs, and Austria-Hungary exported to
British colonies £3,500,000 and imported from them £10,500,000 worth of
goods annually.

5. One of the most important reasons why the Czecho-Slovaks, when
independent, will be able to render such valuable services to the Allies,
is the high degree of their civilisation. Despite all efforts of the
Austrian Government to the contrary, the Czechs have nevertheless been able
to attain a high standard of education, and they also excel in literature,
music and the arts.

The Czechs are not only the most advanced of all Slavs, but they are even
the most advanced of all nations of Austria-Hungary. In Austria as a whole
6.7 per cent. of the children do not attend school; in Bohemia only 1-1/2
per cent. The standard of education of the Czechs compares with that of the
Austrian-Germans and Magyars, according to the _Monatschrift für Statistik_
of 1913, as follows:

Czechs. Austrian Magyars.
Persons knowing how to write
and read 95-1/2% 92% 40%
Persons knowing how to read
only 3% 1% 4%
Illiterates 1-1/2% 7% 56%

The Czechs have accomplished this by their own efforts, as is shown by the
fact that 151 Czech schools are kept up by a private Czech society. These
151 schools have altogether 287 classes and 522 teachers, and are attended
by more than 15,000 children. The unjust treatment of the Czechs in regard
to schools is further shown by the fact that 9,000,000 Germans in Austria
had five universities, 5,000,000 Poles two universities, while 7,000,000
Czechs had only one. The German University in Prague had 878 students in
1912, the Czech University 4713. The Germans in Prague number some 10,000
(_i.e._ 1-1/2 per cent.), yet they have their public schools and even a
university; while the Czechs in Vienna, numbering at least some 300,000
(_i.e._ over 15 per cent.), are deprived even of elementary schools, to say
nothing of secondary schools and universities.

The Slovaks of Hungary were, of course, in an absolutely hopeless position
in view of the terrible system of Magyar oppression. The Magyars consider
the schools as the most effective means for magyarisation. In the 16
counties inhabited by the Slovaks there are only 240 Slovak schools, and
even in those schools Magyar is taught sometimes fully 18 hours a week. The
number of Slovak schools has been systematically reduced from 1921 in 1869
to 440 in 1911, and 240 in 1912, and these are attended by some 18,000
children out of 246,000, _i.e._ 8 per cent. The Slovaks opened three
secondary schools in the early seventies, but all three were arbitrarily
closed in 1874. They have, of course, no university. Thus they were
deprived of intellectual leaders and are doomed to complete
denationalisation, unless liberated and united with the Czechs in an
independent Bohemia.

In literature the Czechs may rightly range themselves side by side with the
great nations of Western Europe. Practically all the most important works
of foreign literature have been translated into Czech. The Czechs have many
good dramas, novels, and much excellent poetry which can be fully
appreciated only by those knowing their language. They are also very
musical, and their composers such as Dvorák, Smetana, Novák or Suk, singers
such as Emmy Destinn, and violinists such as Kubelík, are known all over
the world. They are also developed in all other arts, and their folk-songs,
peasant arts and industries, especially those of the Slovaks, bear ample
testimony to their natural talents and sense for beauty and art.

6. It is obvious that the cause of Bohemia is of very great importance to
the very existence of the British Empire. If Germany succeeded in
preserving her grip on Austria-Hungary, the Balkans and Turkey, she would
soon strike at Egypt and India, and thus endanger the safety of the British
Empire. Germany would control vast resources in man-power and material
which would enable her to plunge into another attempt at world-domination
in a very short time. On the other hand, when the non-German nations of
Central Europe are liberated, Germany will be absolutely prevented from
repeating her present exploits, Great Britain will be no more menaced by
her, and a permanent peace in Europe will be assured. Thus with the cause
of Bohemia the cause of Great Britain will either triumph or fall. Bismarck
truly said that the master of Bohemia would be the master of Europe.

Bohemia has many traditions in common with England, and she will become her
natural ally and friend. In the Czecho-Slovaks, the most democratic,
homogeneous and advanced nation of Central Europe, Great Britain will find
a true ally and fellow-pioneer in the cause of justice, freedom and



The following is the text of the resolution passed by the Czecho-Slovak
National Council in Prague, in conjunction with the Union of Czech
Deputies, on September 29, 1918, and suppressed by the Austrian censor:

"Our nation once more and with all possible emphasis lays stress on the
fact that it firmly and unswervedly stands by the historical
manifestations of its freely elected representatives, firmly convinced
of the ultimate success of its highest ideals of full independence and
liberty. _Our silenced and oppressed nation has no other answer to all
attempts at a change of the constitution than a cool and categorical
refusal_, because we know that these attempts are nothing except
products of an ever-increasing strain, helplessness and ruin. _We do
not believe to-day in any more promises given and not kept_, for
experience has taught us to judge them on their merits. The most
far-reaching promises cannot blind us and turn us away from our aims.
The hard experiences of our nation order us imperatively to hold firm
in matters where reality is stronger than all promises. _The Vienna
Government is unable to give us anything we ask for_. Our nation can
never expect to get its liberty from those who at all times regarded it
only as a subject of ruthless exploitations; and who even in the last
moment do not shrink from any means to humiliate, starve and wipe out
our nation and by cruel oppression to hurt us in our most sacred
feelings. _Our nation has nothing in common with those who are
responsible for the horrors of this war_. Therefore there will not be a
single person who would, contrary to the unanimous wish of the nation,
deal with those who have not justice for the Czech nation at heart and
who have also no sympathy with the Polish and Yugoslav nations, but who
are only striving for the salvation of their present privileged
position of misrule and injustice. _The Czech nation will follow its
anti-German policy, whatever may happen, assured that its just cause
will finally triumph, especially to-day when it becomes a part of the
great ideals of the Entente, whose victory will be the only good
produced by this terrible war_."


Speaking in the Reichsrat, deputy Stanek declared in the name of the Union
of Czech Deputies on October 2, 1918:

"This terrible war, started against the will and despite the warnings
of the Czecho-Slovaks, has now reached the culminating point. Two
worlds have been struggling in this war. One of them stood for the
Middle Ages and has with daring impudence inscribed upon its banner
'Might is Right.' Inspired by this watchword, the spirit of German
Imperialism believed it had a mission to rule the whole world, and it
was voluntarily joined by the rulers of Austria-Hungary in the mad
desire of enslaving the whole world.

"It was not difficult to guess which side would win unless civilisation
were to be thrown back for centuries. On one side stood the mediaeval
spirit of autocracy; on the other, pure love of liberty and democracy.
And we who have been oppressed by Austria for centuries and who have
tasted Austrian 'education' have naturally not formed voluntary legions
on the side of Austria. In fact _the Czecho-Slovaks have not
voluntarily shed a single drop of blood for the Central Powers_. But
our compatriots abroad, remembering the centuries-old Austrian
oppression, have _formed voluntary legions in all the Allied armies_.
They are shedding their blood for the most sacred rights of humanity
and at a moment of the greatest danger for the Allies they saved the
situation. In Russia, too, they are fighting for democracy. Nobody will
succeed in arresting the triumphant progress of true democracy, not
even the Austrian and German Governments, nor any diplomacy, nor any
peace notes or crown councils. The world will not be deceived again and
nobody takes the Central Powers and their governments seriously any

"Your peace offensives will avail nothing to you, nobody will speak
with you again. _Even the Austrian peoples refuse to negotiate with
you, knowing the value of your words. We have no intention of saving
you from destruction_. Your aim is still the German-Magyar hegemony and
the oppression of Slavs and Latins. You must look elsewhere for
support. The fateful hour for you and the Magyars has come sooner than
we expected.

"And the dynasty? Look at the electoral reform in Hungary sanctioned by
the emperor! This reform is intended to destroy completely the
political and national existence of the non-Magyars in Hungary. This is
how the emperor keeps his word.

"In view of these events we must ask ourselves: Are there any moral
guarantees in this empire? We do not see them and therefore we declare
that we _reject all community with the political system of this empire.
We want a single front of three Slav States extending from Gdansk
(Dantzig) via Prague to the Adriatic._ We protest against any partial
solution of the Czecho-Slovak question. The Czecho-Slovak State which
must also include the Slovaks of Hungary is our minimum programme. We
again emphasise our solidarity with our Yugoslav brethren, whether they
live in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar or Lubljana, and we ask for the
removal of those statesmen who wish to subjugate the remainder of the
Bosnian population. _A free Yugoslavia, an independent Greater Poland
and the Czecho-Slovak State_ are already in process of formation,
closely allied to each other, not only by the knowledge of common
economic interests, but also on the ground of the moral prerogatives of
international right.

"Peace is in sight. We wanted to be admitted to peace negotiations with
representatives of other nations. The Germans refused and replied: 'If
you insist you will be hanged.' Of course the Germans never kept their
word except when they promised to hang some one! But the Entente
replied by deeds recognising the Czecho-Slovak army as an Allied and
belligerent army. Thereupon _the Austrian Government asked us, Czech
leaders in Austria, to protest against it. But of course we refused._ I
said so openly to the Premier, and if you like, I will tell it to the
Austrian Emperor himself. _You would not admit us to the peace
negotiations with Russia, and now you will have to negotiate with Czech
leaders after all_, whether you like it or not. _These leaders will be
representatives of the same Czecho-Slovak brigades which Count Hertling
called rascals_ ('_Gesindel_'). _You will have to negotiate with them,
and not with us_, and therefore we will not speak with you. Our
question will not be solved in Vienna. If you accept President Wilson's
terms, if the German people, and not the German bureaucrats, accept
them, then you can have peace at once and save humanity from further
bloodshed. There is no other way out, and _we therefore advise you
honestly and frankly to surrender to the Allies unconditionally_,
because in the end nothing else will be left to you.

"In agreement with the whole Yugoslav nation, in agreement with Polish
representatives, voicing the will of the Polish people, the
Czecho-Slovaks declare before the whole world:

'Forward in our struggle for liberty and for a new life in our own
liberated, restored state!'"


In reply to the Austro-Hungarian proposal for an armistice of October 7,
1918, Mr. Robert Lansing addressed the following communication from
President Wilson to the Austrian Government through the medium of the
Swedish Legation in Washington on October 18, 1918:

"The President deems it his duty to say to the Austro-Hungarian
Government that he cannot entertain the present suggestion of that
government because of certain events of the utmost importance which,
occurring since the delivery of his address of January 8 last, have
necessarily altered the attitude and responsibility of the Government
of the United States.

"Among the fourteen terms of peace which the President formulated at
that time occurred the following:

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