Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/34

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The Bohemian Review

point for Suez and the East. The anti-Slav policy of the Magyars is too notorious to require special treatment here. King Milan’s policy is an illustration of how the Austrians are willing to extend toleration to the Balkan Slavs, when they accept thraldom.

This anti-Slav policy culminated, after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in unreasoning hostility to Serbia, and the present war is its logical outcome—the continuation of the policy inaugurated by the mediaeval Empire.

Though essentially anti-Slav, the Pangermanism of Germany and Austria-Hungary threatens the Western nations in Africa and Asia, and has welded together Slavs, Latins and British. In this vast struggle the place of the Czecho-Slovaks can only be on the side of the Slavs and of the Western nations; not their geopraphical position, but their whole historical development and national programme forces them to join those who have proclaimed as their aim the respect for nationalities and liberation of all nations, great and small, the crushing of Prussian militarism, and consequently the inner regeneration of Europe as a whole. The national ideals of Bohemia and her Reformation are unrealizable in Austria-Hungary, where the organization of Brute Force secures to the minority the means of exploiting the majority. Bohemia can never accept the ideal of Prussia and Germany, which would enslave the world by military drill and Machiavellian mixture of science and culture. The German is a strange mixture of the schoolmaster an dthe bully; he first knocks his opponent down and then gives him a lecture and a sermon.

8. The fight for Right has been waged by the Czechs ever since they settled in Central Europe. For centuries they had to hold their own against Germany, Habsburg Austria and the Magyars; and, since Dualism was established, they have had to face Austria and Hungary united with Prussia-Germany. Bohemia has not been conquered by Austria—she joined Austria and Hungary as par inter pares; she is legally just as independent a State as Hungary, and by the same right. This right has been violated by the dynasty; the personal union has been changed viáfacti into a real union. But law and justice cannot be affected by material force or so-called historical necessities. Bohemia has been struggling against Austria-Hungary since 1867, and with the same right she continues her fight in this war. The Habsburgs have forfeited their rights in regard to Bohemia by their repeated and almost continuous treachery. Not the Czechs alone, but no nation can trust or accept Austro-Hungarian policy, for it is the policy of a single family, and only the advocates of mediaeval theocracy and absolutism can prefer the rights of one family to the rights of ten royal nations. The Prussian Germans, the Turks and Austria’s royal agent in Bulgaria accept the Habsburgs, because they pursue the same antiquated dynastic aims; but if Europe is to be regenerated this immoral and obsolete tradition must be finaly overcome. The Allies, if we may judge from their answer to President Wilson, understand this. The great question is how their aims can be realized. There is only one way: victory on the battlefield can alone secure the victory of truth and humanity. Truth and humanity in the abstract are not victorious, if men and nations do not defend and protect them.


Prussia’s Proclamation to Bohemia in 1866

At the moment when the Allies have solemnly committed themselves to the liberation of the Czecho-Slovaks as one of their war aims, it is worth recalling the words of the proclamation issued by the Prussian High Comamnd on 8. July 1866, the day of their entry into Prague during the Seven Weeks’ War against Austria. It will be seen from this document that the Germans were ready enough to recognize Bohemia’s right to national independence when it suited their own ends to do so:


As the result of the war unchained despite us by Austria we set foot on the soil of your country, not as enemies, but with full respect for your historical and national rights.

We come to offer to all the inhabitants without distinction of rank, religion or nationality, not war with its ravages, but a considerate friendship. Do not allow yourselves to be persuaded by our enemies and calumniators, that we have produced the present war by our desires of conquest. It is Austria who forced us to accept the combat, for she wished to attack us unexpectedly, in concert with the other German Governments. But we, on the contrary, will do nothing to oppose your just desire for independence and free national expansion. . . .

We leave the rest in full confidence in God the Omnipotent. If our just cause is victorious, the moment will perhaps come again, when the inhabitants of Bohemia and Moravia can freely dispose of their fate. A happier star will illumine this war and will establish your happiness forever.