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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 17.djvu/264

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Thomas G. Masaryk as the first |)resident. The tion of the Czechoslovak forces became desperate, Constitution was passed by the National Assembly as they were hard pressed and near to the end of on 29 February, 1920. In the general elections their resources. A frantic appeal to the allies was following, Masaryk was elected president (28 May, made. Japanese and American Expeditionary ig^). Forces landed at Vladiovostok and fought theu* In the meantime the Czechoslovak army was way far into the region of the Amur and the fighting gallantly in Siberia. It had been organized Trans-Baikal Provmc«B to protect the railway hues, in Russia from the Czech and Slovak prisoners of which afforded the sole meAns of transportation of war and fought side by side with the Russian army, the Czechoslovak troops from the interior of Siberia keeping up the advance even after the Russian to the Port of Vladiovostok. In January, 1920, the debacle. When the Bolshevist Soviet Government United States decided to terminate its military un- signed the peace treaty at the beginning of March, dertaking in Siberia and ordered the withdrawal of 1918, the Czechoslovak army of 50,000 men was in its forces. The last of the Czechoslovak troops Ukrainia near Kiev. With the advance of the safely embarked from Vladiovostok in September, Austrian and German armies into Ukrainia and 1920, returning home via the United States, the continual surrender of the Ukrainians into their Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, a hands, there was nothing for the Czechs to do but plebiscite was to be held in the district of Austrian to retreat, despite their lack of lines of communica- Silesia surrounding the town of Teschen, in order tion, of stores of materials, and of reserves. They to decide whether that district should be united decided to transport the army over Siberia and with Poland or with Czechoslovakia. The Czechs America to France, and with this purpose began claimed the Teschen district in the first instance the difficult retreat from Kiev. As proof of their on historical grounds, since the province had been loyalty to the Bolshevik government they sur- part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, which they rendered all their arms, and in return the Bolsheviks claimed to be indivisible. On the other hand there guaranteed them unmolested passage through was a large Polish majority in the northeastern Siberia. Soon, however, came the order counter- part of the district. In 1919 actual hostilities broke mandin^ the permission and in May, 1918, Trotzsky out. The controversy was settled at the Spa Peace of Russia declared war on Czechoslovakia. By this Conference in Julv, 1920, where it was decided to time the soldiers were strung out in a thin line partition the Teschen province forthwith instead of from the Volga to Vladivostok. Assisted by Cos- holding a plebiscite. The agreement gave a large sacks and Czechs, Colonel Kadlets, then commander moiety of 'territory, including the city of Teschen, of the Czech forces west of Irkutsk, fought his to Poland, but Czechoslovakia had the better of way west to Omsk, taking towns en route. Owing the bargain in the matter of coal fields, receiving to the keen hostility of the Bolsheviki, the situa- as its sbore valuable mines and railways.