Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/207

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strictly the principle that the Czechs and their army were only guests on Russian soil and could not take part in the internal quarrels of Russia. Whether any subsequent developments would make him change this attitude we are unable to say. The possibility, however, must be kept in mind that if the rule of the fanatics now in control remains unshaken and they succeed in making peace with Germany, then the Czechoslovak army will have to cut their way through to freedom. In the eyes of Austria all the prisoners who enlisted in this army or supported the anti-Austrian movement are traitors subject to capital punishment. None of them will surrender to the Austrians without a fight. The developments in Russia are watched with extreme anxiety by Bohemians and Slovaks in this country. They are thankful that Masaryk is there to guide the people who look up to him for guidance.

The formation of a Czechoslovak army in France is proceeding at a satisfactory pace. There is great enthusiasm for it in the camps of Bohemian prisoners of war in Italy and France, who are eager to strike a blow for the liberation of their motherland. The picture shown here is one of Bohemian prisoners of war who surrendered to the Roumanians and were subsequently transported to France, where they volunteered for service against Germany. More than a thousand volunteers from the United States have by this time joined the war prisoner volunteers in the training camps in France, and more are coming in continually.

The Czechoslovak army in France claims naturally the largest share of interest among the workers in the cause of Bohemian independence in the United States. The regular work of keeping up enthusiasm for war among people of Czech blood, collecting subscriptions for the support of the movement and bringing home to America the danger of Pan-German Central Europe is kept up by the Bohemian National Alliance. A number of largely attended mass meetings were held in November under the auspices of the Alliance, to hear M. Marcel Knecht, assistant editor of the Paris Matin, who hails from Lorraine, and in his public addresses in this country couples the redemption of Alsace-Lorraine with the redemption of Bohemia.


An interesting little story from Canada has just reached the editor. It shows that the Bohemian people and their principal organization, the Bohemian National Alliance, enjoy the confidence of the Canadian authorities. Soon after the outbreak of the war all alien enemies in Canada were compelled to register and report at regular intervals to the police. A Bohemian in a city in Ontario, ignorant of the English language and reading only Bohemian papers from the United States, did not learn of this requirement, until nearly three years later. He was very much perturbed about it, not knowing whether he should come forward and submit to a severe penalty for violating the law, or say nothing in the hope that the authorities had overlooked his case and would not trouble him. His doubts were resolved suddenly, when a police officer called at his home in his absence and left him a notice to show up at the police headquarters next morning. He obeyed, full of apprehension, because technically he was an Austrian subject. When asked for his nationality, he stated boldly that he was Bohemian and produced his membership card from the Winnipeg office of the Alliance with his photo, identifying him as a good Bohemian. The officer looked at it uncertainly, took it inside to the chief and came out saying: “You are all right. Keep this card; you need not register.”


A somewhat belated testimonial of the bravery of our boys in Russia has recently reached this country. It will be remembered that in the brief Russian offensive, undertaken in July of this year by General Brusiloff in Galicia, the first Czechoslovak Brigade, the original unit of the Czechoslovak army in Russia, distinguished itself near Tarnopol and that a few weeks later this brigade covered for two weeks the disorderly retreat of the Russians.

Brusiloff, in an interview given on the day before he was deprived of the chief command, had this to say about the Russian rout and about the deeds of the Czechs and Slovaks:

“I was prepared for the catastrophe: it could not be otherwise. It is the necessary, logical outcome of the systematic undermining of the army which has gone on during the last five months. Whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall reap. In a few days the enemy captured, or rather leisurely occupied all that large area which I took away from the Germans a year ago at a great cost by employing my splendid army of half a million. If a mere particle of blame attached to me personally, I would blow off my head this minute. But my conscience is clear. I did all in my power and shall continue to labor for the salvation and restoration of the army. But a disease attacks suddenly and is expelled very gradually. Just one order, No. 1 (referring to Kerensky’s famous order abolishing death penalty at the front) sufficed to transform an army of many millions into a mob. To effect a cure, to transform camp orators into fighters will take many months. If I am given full power, if they will let me introduce iron discipline, we will smash the Germans in spring. The civilians bragged: ‘Now we have an army that has no equal, a free army.’ Oh yes, there is no other army like it; we got ahead of them all. The army was not only dragged into politics, but it was made a partisan army. And you have seen the consequences. Regiments, divisions, whole army corps, ran away for thirty-five versts, when they saw three German companies. There were a few noble exceptions—cavalry, artillery, storming troops and the Czechoslovak Brigade.