Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/122

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gether. The fourth day everyone was ordered to move to the hangars, but again had to sleep on bare ground. Even at that sleeping space was at a premium. Prisoners could not change their clothing, and none of them had money. The guards delighted in giving the most refined people the dirtiest tasks. Women and clergymen were flogged to make them work more zealously. When the number of interned kept on growing, there was no room for them in the hangars, and many had to sleep out side, while the temperature hovered around zero. The death rate among the younger girls and among the old people, due to this treatment and to insanitary conditions, was awful. At the end of November 1914, upon the urgent representations of a staff medical officer construction of barracks was undertaken. When the prisoners were moved into the barracks, their clothing was disinfected; the interned, many of them women and young girls, had to undress in front of all and wait for an hour or more, before receiving their clothing back again. In December, 1914, the number of interned reached five thousand. It was natural that in the absence of strict sanitary measures epidemic diseases, principally the spotted typhus, got many victims. Not till February, 1915, were the sick separated from the well. In Talerhof the number of those who died of epidemic was 1,200, while the total number of suspect citizens buried at the local cemetery exceeds 2,000. All these statements can be substantiated by the testimony of seventy witnesses”, said Deputy Stříbrný.

Most of these victims, subjects of the Austrian emperor, whose only crime was to become suspect of disloyalty, were from Galicia; the next highest number came from Bohemia and Moravia. During Mr. Stříbrný’s speech Bohemian, Polish, Yugoslav and Little Russian deputies gave vent to their anger and shouted stormy protests against the government.

Interpellation of deputies Prokoš, Jaroš, and Charvát, addressed to the minister of defense, dealt with a similar subject, the sufferings of three hundred Czech teachers from Moravia. It is as follows: "In the summer of 1915 secret instructions were issued by the military command in Vienna by which Czech school teachers from Moravia were designated as unreliable from the political viewpoint. Those who had been classified by the army drafting board as unfit for service under arms and should have been permitted to carry on their teaching work were interned. They were sent first to Krapfenwald near Vienna, and later, when their number increased, were interned at Hameau near Neuwaldeg. In rough barracks, used shortly before for Russian prisoners, three hundred educated men lived a life of convicts, although they were neither condemned, nor even accused by either civil or military authorities. Their only crime was that they were Bohemian schoolteachers. Soldiers of the 59th regiment, fully armed, watched them behind barbed wire fences; no one was allowed to approach the barracks, all access to the world was cut off, and the interned men had to perform the hardest kind of manual work. Some crushed rocks, others hauled the rock in wheelbarrows, others mended roads, others felled and cut firewood and timber for themselves and for soldiers, others peeled potatoes or carried water from a spring at the bottom of a steep hill. Letters and packages were strictly censored and visits by relatives were not allowed. Even when the school authorities asked for the prisoners’ services, they were not released, and when their relatives died, they could not attend the funeral. One man who was about to be married, when he was imprisoned, received permission to go to Vienna for a few hours one afternoon; under guard of a soldier he marched to the altar like a criminal. In the evening he came back, threw himself on his wooden couch and cried.

“After four months at Hameau, one-half of the prisoners were sent to Presburg, the rest to Komarno. Here in Hungary they found different commanders and their life was more bearable. But the health of many was seriously affected; some died, some are still in hospitals. Who will compensate them for their mental sufferings, who will return them peace of mind, who will make up to them for the tortured nights?

“Some of these three hundred were later taken upon recommendation of military commanders out of the suspect class and were permitted to qualify for officers in the army, but the majority are still undergoing unmerited punishment.

“Most of these teachers will some day return to the practice of their profession. Can these men be expected to train children to love Austria? Therefore, in the name of these afflicted schoolteachers and in the