Page:The Bohemians (Czechs) In The Present Crisis.djvu/15

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rid of the Slavic danger to pan-German and Magyar dreams of empire.

The war is a war not only against England, Russia, and against France, but it is also a struggle against the Slavic majority living in Austria. The Bohemians, having reached the highest state of culture and development among the Austrian Slavs, are an obstacle which the Germans and Magyars seek to crush.

The Vienna government was fully aware that the Czechs, if afforded an opportunity, would oppose the war with all the vigor of a revived and growing nation. It is now apparent that this was the reason for the destruction of the last measure of Bohemian autonomy before the outbreak of the present war when the council of the Bohemian kingdom was dissolved and a special imperial commission created to govern Bohemia.

The present attitude of the Bohemians is therefore not only a result of the inherited national character, not only the result of ancient sympathies and bonds existing between the Czech people and the Russians, the French and the English, but it is a continuation of their efforts to regain their independence.

Ever since the establishment of a semblance of a parliamentary and political life in Austria, the Czech people have been in opposition to the Austrian government, and it certainly was the height of folly to expect that when war broke out against the wishes, against the sympathies, and against the interests of the Czech people, they would support a government with which they were not in accord.

To march without protest to battlefields destined for fratricidal struggles would have been abject cowardice, and would have amounted to a forfeiture of the right of the Czech nation to exist; morally, as well as otherwise, it would have been equivalent to the commission of national suicide. Opposition to the central powers and a virtual spiritual alliance with the Allies was the only course consistent with Czech honor.