Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/22

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The Bohemian Review

This can only mean that Bohemian and other Slav languages, with the exception of Polish, will be eliminated altogether from the sphere of public affairs, and that Austrian subjects of every race will be compelled to learn the German language as the only medium of communication with public authorities and all public service. That also has been for years the principal demand of the Germans of Austria and it means the absolute defeat of all the struggles of the Czech political leaders since the days of 1848.

But the policy of Germanization will not save Austria. The outcome of the war may still be in the distance, but this much is certain that Germans will not be allowed to swallow the Slavs of Austria. Over there in the old home all the Bohemian political parties into which the parliamentary delegation had formerly been broken up have formed one solid body of 108 deputies and preserve an attitude of cold aloofness to threats and blandishments on the part of Vienna. Beyond the line of German trenches Czech soldiers fight on the side of the Allies and Czech leaders appeal to the world for justice. A Bohemian, familiar with this history of his native country, is reminded again and again of the year 1618 by the spectacle of a Martinic, tool of the Hapsburg emperor for the oppression of Bohemia. When Martinic was last at the head of affairs in Bohemia, the country lost its freedom. Now Martinic is again in the seat of power and the cycle of three hundred years is coming to a close. With it the days of subjection of the Czech race will pass away.

Current Topics.


It is customary for the publishers of a new periodical to state the reasons for their belief that they have a mission to perform or some useful purpose to serve. And so we are ready to account here for the existence of the Bohemian Review.

If times were ordinary, we would simply point to the census figures of 1910, giving the number of Bohemians and their children then living in the United States. It appears that seven years ago there resided in this country 228,130 men and women of the Bohemian or Czech race born in Europe; on the other hand the number of men, women and children born in this country of Bohemian parents was 310,654. Now, if two hundred some thousand people can support more than eighty periodicals in the Bohemian language, why should not three hundred thousand of their children, more used to the English language, establish and support just one organ devoted to their interests as Americans of Czech descent, men and women having an affection for the country they had never seen, but in which generations upon generations of their ancestors had lived and suffered?

To that reason for the creation of a journal dealing with Bohemian questions in the English language the war has added a reason still more cogent. The war will decide whether Bohemia shall flourish or perish, whether the Czech tongue will continue to enrich the literatures of the world, or become one of the dead languages, whether the Czech people will again become one of the nations of the earth or be swallowed by German Kultur. No one who has Bohemian blood in his veins can be indifferent to these issues. And men in America of Bohemian birth or descent who cannot take a direct part in the momentous struggle want to help the land of their fathers by calling attention at least to its cry for liberty.

America needs to have its eyes directed to the country of Hus and Comenius. For America is so big, so self-sufficing, so sure of its “manifest destiny” and the special favor of Providence that it cares little for the small nations of Europe and knows of Bohemia, a highly cultured country in the heart of Europe with ten million Czechs and Slovaks, little more than of some tribe of pigmies in the darkest Africa. But America is also a land of noble principles and much idealism. The cry for help of the Cubans, of Armenians, of Poles, of Belgians, has found ready response in the United States. Bohemians know that the powerful influence of the United States, the only great neutral country, will be exerted in favor of the just demands of the Bohemians for liberty, if only the people of the Union will take at least as much interest in the fate of Bohemia, as they do in the disposition of Poland.

Here is the chief aim of this modest publication at this time: to tell the people of the United States that “no lapse of time, no defeat of hopes, seems sufficient to reconcile the Czechs of Bohemia to incorporation with Austria”, as Woodrow Wilson expressed it many years ago; that they demand independence, and that they possess in abundance the