Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/118

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White Mountain in 1620, when the Hungarian mercenaries had deserted them, will now be added the Iron Brigade of the first Bohemian army since 1620.

The three regiments were annihilated, because some of the Russians did not do their duty. Bohemians bear no ill will to Russia for this. No other race has followed the rapid changes of the Russian kaleidoscope since March of this year with greater sympathy or with clearer comprehension of the enormous difficulties that Russia has to overcome in its effort to become a real democracy. It is certain that the fate of the first brigade will not dampen the ardor of the remaining units of the Czecho-Slovak army in Russia nor the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of others who are volunteering for service against the common enemy of mankind. “They shall not have died in vain,” will be the firm resolution of every one who has Czech blood in his veins. Liberty of Bohemia shall be bought by the lifeblood of her sons.

Can Austria Be Saved?

The Allies are to meet in August at the invitation of the provisional Russian government to take up the discussion of their war aims and their possible revision. Germany and its partners have never stated specifically the concrete aims for which they were fighting. The Allies did so in their answer to President Wilson’s inquiry as to their peace terms.

It is well known that the aims of the Allies, stated in the note of January 10, 1917, involve the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not that the Allies demand it in so many words, not that they have vindictive feelings toward Vienna rather than toward Berlin, not that they consider the Hapsburgs more dangerous than the Hohenzollerns; but because the very existence of the hybrid Dual Empire is the negation of the principle upon which the Allies plan to reconstruct Europe—the principle of nationalities. For that reason the Powers of the Entente in January of this year declared “the liberation of Italians, Slavs, Roumanians, Czechs and Slovaks from foreign domination” to be one of the aims which they set for themselves. And the liberation of those races is equivalent to the disruption of the Hapsburg Empire.

This fact is fully appreciated in Austria and Germany. Peace on terms announced by the Allies in January is plainly impossible, until the Central Powers are decisively defeated or until exhaustion compels them to surrender unconditionally. At the opening of the fourth year of the war the defeat of Germany is still far away. Russia is in the throes of reconstruction and its military strength is seriously affected; western offensive seems to be at a standstill and America’s might has not yet made itself felt. What wonder that people who are appalled by the constant slaughter, by the terrifying growth of the expense bill, by the tremendous difficulties that must be faced before complete victory can be gained, suggest a compromise that might be acceptable to the two Central Empires—federalization of Austria-Hungary on a basis of equality of the races subject to the Hapsburg sceptre.

The basis for this suggested compromise is found in some of the acts of Emperor Charles. He called together the Austrian parliament for its first session since March, 1914; he moderated the barbarities of the military regime which took thousands of victims during two and a half years of the war; he granted pardon to the condemned Czech leaders and approached the Czech people with offers of concessions. His efforts have achieved one small bit of success; the Vienna parliament by a majority of three-fifths voted the budget. But as against that the stormy sessions of the Reichsrat have furnished one more proof that Austria cannot be saved.

The fundamental trouble with Austria is that it is an artificial creation held together only by the dynasty. Without the Hapsburgs and their army the races composing the empire will fly apart. Americans and all true democrats must view with suspicion and regret the continued existence of a political formation that is based on armed force. But granting the desirability of a compromise on Austria can the Hapsburgs be trusted to give their subjects of various races equal rights and to grant to each people full opportunity to develop their national individuality? Few people are aware of the fact that the present constitution of the Austrian half of the empire guarantees to all races equality before the