The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 1/The work of the Alliance

THE WORK OF THE ALLIANCE.

During the last month three things claimed the attention of America—registration, liberty loan and the Red Cross. The Central Committee of the Alliance, as well as the subordinate societies, pulled hard for all these three patriotic objects. Appeals, signed by the National President of the Alliance, and published in all the Bohemian newspapers, were issued calling on all citizens and residents of Bohemian blood to do their full duty to America and the cause of liberty. There were very few slackers, if there were any at all, among the Bohemians, for the uppermost thought in the mind of every true Czech is the firm belief that the United States is fighting for justice and freedom and that victory will result in the liberation of Bohemia.

Registration again brought home to the Bohemians their awkward position as members of a race whose homeland is subject to Austria. Young men born in Bohemia were urged through Bohemian newspapers to insist at registration that their na tive country was not Austria, but Bohemia. In some cases the registrars accepted this statement, but in many cases they deliberately enrolled Bohemians as Austrians. In Omaha two young men, Stanley Serpan and Anton Benda, refused to accept as final this wrongful classification and sued out a writ of mandamus against the election commissioner, claiming that they were incorrectly registered. It is to be hoped that the court will disregard technicalities and decide what every well-informed man knows to be true that Bohemians are not and never will be Austrians.

The Slav Press Bureau of New York, supported jointly by the Bohemian National Alliance and the Slovak League of America, is extending its activity and supplying to the American press information about the Slavs. Among other things it has issued a series of five excellent recruiting posters, designed by Vojtěch Pressig. Its director, Chas. Pergler, is greatly in demand as lecturer on topics dealing with the reconstruction of Europe.

The last of this season’s bazaars in the interest of the movement for Bohemian independence was held in Minneapolis at the end of May and the beginning of June. Bohemians of Minneapolis, St. Paul and the important suburb of Hopkins took part. The net proceeds amounted to $4000.

Professor Ferdinand Písecký of Petrograd stimulated greatly the interest of the members of the Alliance by his exceedingly well-informed talks on the situation in Russia and on the progress in Europe of the campaign for freedom of Bohemia. He delivered, some twenty lectures in cities as far distant as Boston and Houston and is about to return to his work in Russia.

Toward the end of June Dr. Milan Štefanik arrived in America. Dr. Štefanik was a noted astronomer before the war. In the war he distinguished himself as a daring flyer and holds now the rank of flight commander in the French army. More recently he was employed by the French Government on diplomatic service in Russia. He comes to Washington in his official capacity. In the move ment for the liberation of the Czecho-Slovaks he occupies a place second only to that of Prof. T. G. Masaryk. He is vice-president of the Paris National Council for the Czecho-Slovak Lands, being the principal representative of the Slovaks in the joint labor for the liberation and union of Bohemians and Slovaks.

From the standpoint of organization the Bohemian National Alliance is enjoying a healthy growth. New branches during June number 17. The Canadian headquarters of the Alliance in Winnipeg reports 15 local branches with the influence of the organization reaching into the most remote settlements of Bohemian farmers in Western Canada. A new affiliated organization of the Bohemian National Alliance of America is reported from Buenos Ayres; so far five branches have been formed in Argentina and Brazil.

The report of the unanimous stand of Bohemian deputies against all compromise with Austria was celebrated in Chicago on June 12 by a large mass meeting at which representatives of all sections of Bohemians, from socialists to Catholics, promised their cordial cooperation in the interest of the freedom of the motherland.

Resolutions introduced in Congress in favor of Bohemian independence are still reposing in committees, though on the other hand a large number of public bodies throughout the country endorsed them. What is, however, more encouraging to the workers of the Alliance is President Wilson’s changing attitude. While the president has not specifically endorsed the Bohemian demands, his late speeches show a thorough comprehension of the vitality of Central European and Near Eastern problem. His declaration in the note to Russia that “no people must be forced under sovereignty under which it does not wish to live” implies not merely self-government, but complete independence for Slav subjects of Austria. And in his flag day speech Mr. Wilson states explicitly that Bohemians—together with several other nations—would be satisfied only by indisputed independence.