Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/94

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against Austria. When Austrian authorities succeeded in driving out of Switzerland the editor of the Bohemian Slovak Independence, Albert Bonnard said that they would drive him out too, if they could.

Even the Bern general staff could not touch Bonnard, though his own associates counselled greater circumspection and stricter neutrality. Bonnard upheld his attitude to the day of his death. He was one of those who looked upon neutrality between crime and right as absurdity and as participation in crime. He was not a man of hate or an enemy of the German nation. Though brought up on French civilization, he was a Swiss. But not one of those whose narrow horizon corresponds to the narrow boundaries of the Helvetian republic and who are interested solely in their own small country. To Bonnard, the peaceful Swiss oasis amid the universal war tumult was a watch tower from which he studied the death struggle raging on all sides. He had a truly European standpoint, and from it he viewed the Slav and Bohemian question. *****

I shall never forget the day, when I knocked for the first time upon the door of his cozy study. He received me in a friendly way and told me to sit down in a wide armchair, while he looked me over with a searching look. I told him about the situation in Bohemia, how I got out and what plans I had. “Interesting, very interesting,” he repeated. “Write it out and we will publish it. Now, not too much politics: we want facts. We really know nothing of Austria, and less of Bohemia.” Bonnard, of course, knew of Bohemia, of our parliamentary struggles, of Kramář and Masaryk. But what happened in Bohemia since mobilization was all news to him. I wrote out my story and it was accepted.

To an exiled journalist it was a great event and wonderful encouragement. Up to that time all efforts to get the simplest facts published had been vain. Confidence was lacking and so was interest. Some would not believe, others would give the excuse that the reports were too extravagant and colored. It was a difficult beginning, no personal connections, no preparations, no appreciation of the seriousness of our problem and the tragedy of our struggle, while Austria still seemed to be a mighty country with a future.

Today, when we have come so much nearer to our goal, we have confidence. We know that we shall get, if not all, at least far more than we looked for in the days of uncertainty. Then we shall gather recollections and say much that cannot be said today. The story of our movement will be interesting and instructive. Several men will have a place in it whom free Bohemia will delight to honor. Albert Bonnard will be among them.

Current Topics


The month of May opened with the visit of the French Commission to Chicago. When Mayor Thompson made his unfortunate statement that he would not issue an invitation to the French guests of the nation, because it might not please the various immigrant groups of Chicago, naming Bohemians among other races, the Alliance made a strong protest to the mayor and took steps to have the real attitude of the people of Bohemian birth on this point made clear in the public press. Officers of the Alliance were members of the Chicago Invitation Committee and at the dinner in the Congress Hotel presented Minister Viviani with an elaborate address of thanks, referring to the part played by France to have the peace terms of the Allies expressly include a declaration in favor of Bohemian independence.

In the protests made by foreign born citizens of Chicago against the so-called Kaiser spelling-book, the Bohemian National Alliance took a leading part. Thousands of torn out leaves containing the objectionable article laudatory of the Kaiser were brought by school children to the headquarters of the Alliance.

In New York a large mass meeting of all Slavs was held in the Carnegie Hall early in May, due mainly to the efforts of the local Bohemian Alliance. Prof. J. Dyneley Prince of Columbia University was chairman, and among the speakers were Dudley Field Malone, Collector of the Port; Count Tolstoy, Minister Charles B. Vopicka and Dr. B. E . Shatzky, representative of the new Russian government.

Bohemians of Nebraska, Kansas and the Dakotas held a very successful convention in Omaha at the end of April. Pledges of loyalty were given to the President, universal national service was endorsed, and the sympathy of America was asked for the just claim of Bohemia to independence.

The situation in Russia caused much anxiety to the leaders of the Alliance. When at first the talk was heard of separate peace, several lengthy cablegrams were sent to the big men of New Russia be-