Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/106

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ments crossed over to the Serbian side contributed much to the ignominious Austrian defeat in Serbia in the closing months of 1914. Thus, e. g., the 102nd Regiment, recruited from Benešov, crossed over in a body to the Serbians and entered Nish with its band playing the Serbian national hymn. Similar incidents occurred also at the Russian front. Some regiments, as for instance, the 88th, from Brno, were found out when attempting to surrender to their friends, and were massacred by the German and Magyar troops; others, however, like the 35th Regiment from the town of Pilsen and the 28th Regiment from Prague succeeded in crossing over to the Russian side. Similarly, of the 11th Regiment, from Pisek, all but two companies joined the Russians.

The Czechs who surrendered to the Serbs, Russians, or Italians were soon found fighting again—but this time on the side of their friends. The services rendered by them, especially to Serbia during the two Austrian invasions, and to Russia during the Galician campaign of 1916, can hardly be exaggerated. With their thorough knowledge of the Austrian army, and in view of the very high level of their education, they form everywhere a most valuable element in the intelligence service. For obvious reasons the full story of their deeds cannot be told as yet, especially no cases of individual bravery or achievements can be mentioned. But the mere fact of men going through all the dangers of desertion at the front and then entering the ranks of the “enemy” army, with the knowledge that, if taken prisoners, they would be shot out of hand, is a sufficient test of the ardour with which the Czechs desire their liberation and fight for it. It is not the case of soi-disant aristocrats knocking about the capitals of Europe and America with big phrases on their lips about the greatness of their nation and the claims which it has on the world. Less has been heard about the Czechs during the war than their cause deserves. For big talking does not suit their nature. It was not by political intrigues or by boundless self-advertising, but by war-work performed in every allied country in which they found themselves, and by true heroism shown on every front to which they were led, that the Czechs have been working for the future of their nation.

Of the Czechs who at the outbreak of the war found themselves on neutral ground or in the States of the Entente, or who were able to escape from Austria afterwards, almost every man of military age is doing his duty. There are Czechs fighting in the French army—they have specially distinguished themselves on the Somme in the Foreign Legion. There are Czechs serving in the British army—some of them have been put into the artillery, which in itself is the greatest sign of confidence that can be shown to men who nominally are “alien enemies.” All over the world the Czechs have, by all means at their disposal, fought and counteracted the plots and rancours of their Magyar and German enemies. If at the end of this war the Czecho-Slovak nation attains its liberty and an open road to a new greatness and glory, no one will be able to say that this comes to them as a gift and that they had not done enough to deserve it. They are working and fighting in the best spirit of a modern democracy, without narrow calculation of sacrifice and immediate reward. This must be said about the Czechs, that they take always and everywhere the widest view of the interests of the Entente, and, living in the very centre of “Mittel-Europa,” in the very depths of the German-Magyar jail, they do not mind on which front they fight and in conjunction with which Power. They know that the battle-front is one and that victory and defeat will be common to all. Nor does any other nation bear a more signal testimony to the belief in the power and final victory of the Entente. Of all the nations to be liberated the Czechs are the most distant, the most deeply engulfed in “Mittel-Europa,” and yet they do not doubt that for them also the hour of liberation will come in this war. They firmly believe, as the Austrian officials put it in their indictment of Dr. Kramarzh, that theirs will be a glorious lot when the nation “rises out of darkness and humiliation to new life,” and that “after the catastrophe to which this war must lead, the Czech nation will be able to develop its strength, unity, and organization.”

Churches in Austria lost their bells, which were taken over by the government and used for making of cannon. Now a report comes from Vienna to the effect that churches having steam heating plants were instructed to call the worshippers to services by blowing the whistle.

If you so desire, you can get the Bohemian Review from beginning, with the exception of the April issue, which is all gone.