Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/87

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But the continuous opposition of Austria to the principle of nationality may perhaps best be seen in her attitude towards the Balkan nationalities, and especially the Serbs. The Hapsburgs, when the Turks were forced to give up their conquests, did not liberate the Roumanians and Serbs, but simply annexed a large part of the lands inhabited by them to their own empire in the hope of extending their dominion as far as Salonica and Aegean Sea. The erection of new independent national states in the Balkans was not in accord with their plans and imperialistic aspirations, and Austria-Hungary developed into as dangerous an enemy of freedom for the Balkan nations as Turkey ever was.

The main reason why Austria was unsuccessful in her policy of penetration in the Balkan peninsula is to be sought in the rivalry of Russia which, related to the Balkan nations both by blood and religion, pursued a policy directly opposed to that of Austria. While Austria was the enemy of independence for the Balkan nations, Russia favored the erection of independent states in the peninsula, and, as a matter of fact, every Russian victory over the Turks was followed by the creation of such an independent state. It would, of course, be naive to claim that Russia did not have in mind the extension of her own influence, but it cannot be gainsaid that the Russian understanding of Russian interests was consistent with freedom for oppressed Slav nations, while Austria saw her interests onlyin opposition to their liberation.

The crimes of Austria against the principle of nationality culminated in the infamous attack upon Serbia. This little country, strengthened by the two victorious Balkan wars, formed a strong barrier against the Austro-German Drang nach Osten. The rise of the Serbian state, of course, created a desire on the part of Austrian Southern Slavs for national unity; Serbia became the Piedmont of the Balkans. For this reason, and this reason alone, Austria sought to destroy independent Serbia and pounced upon the unfortunate land like a vulture.

Does not this recital furnish sufficient proof that the very existence of Austria is a negation of the principle of nationality? If there is to be permanent peace, if, to paraphrase one of President Wilson’s statements to the senate, the world’s life is to be stable, if the will is not to be in rebellion, if there is to be tranquillity of spirit, and a sense of justice, of freedom and of right, the Austro-Hungarian state must go, even as the Turks must be driven from Europe.

Countries with Ideals.[1]

By Rev. Joseph Křenek, Silver Lake, Minn.

Being a minister, I cannot begin my talk without a biblical allusion, one which it seems to me, brings out splendidly the character of the American participation in the great war. It was on Good Friday that the Son of Man, the greatest liberator of mankind, fought in the darkness of Calvary for the freedom of humanity. And on Good Friday of this year of our Lord 1917, our beloved country reached the Calvary of this gigantic world anguish. Our decision, born in pain and free from all the thought of national selfishness, carries us into the footsteps of the Great Redeemer. We are persuaded that our share in the terrible tragedy will prove to be an honest service and magnanimous sacrifice upon the altar of humanity’s freedom.

The entrance of America into the war will be put down by future historians as the real turning point in the course of this seemingly endless slaughter. We have given the war a new significance; or, at least, we have made its real object clear. For now the whole world sees that the great war is fundamentally a struggle of democracy against autocracy. The lofty sentiments and noble diction of our President have swept away from the minds of neutrals all German-made sophistry. And when the character of the fight has thus been revealed, it becomes also plain that the peace for which we must fight can be secured and guaranteed only, when all nations, great and small, are made free.

In his proclamation of April 15, the President calls us to a single-minded service to our country. He says: “We must all speak, act and serve together.” Now I want to suggest to you that one of the things upon which we must all get together is the liberation of the small nations and races of Europe from bondage to German kings and emperors. Make the small nations free, and despotism will be abolished, for usually it thrives on small, helpless nations. And the one nation which must be the very cornerstone of the future Euro-

  1. Address delivered in Omaha, April 30, 1917.