The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Czechoslovak National Council

Czechoslovak National Council

A year ago the Czechoslovak National Council was the Czechoslovak revolutionary government. Under that name Masaryk and his principal associates, Beneš and Štefanik, guided the campaign for independence, organized distinct Czechoslovak armies and received the recognition of Allied governments as one of the belligerents on the right side.

In the United States there was originally also a Czechoslovak National Council, a body of twenty men representing the two great national organizations—the Bohemian National Alliance of America with which the National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics is affiliated, and the Slovak League of America. But when the name used by this central organ became the name of the recognized Czechoslovak government, it became necessary that the principal organization of American citizens of Czech and Slovak descent assume a different name. Last October the name was changed to American Czechoslovak Board, and under that name much noble work was done for the Czechoslovak soldiers in Siberia, for the returning volunteers from America who had served in the Czechoslovak army in France, and for the relief of the needy in the Czechoslovak Republic.

But the name Board never really grew popular and was a hindrance to the use fulness of the institution. And so at the meeting of the executive committee of the American Czechoslovak Board, held in Chicago on July 26, it was proposed to return to the old name which no longer could be confused with the government of the Czechoslovak Republic.

The proposal was placed before the entire membership of the Board by mail and unanimously adopted. The change went into effect at the meeting of the executive committee in Chicago on September 24 and 25. Thus the central organ of Bohemian and Slovak national societies in the United States will now be known as the Czechoslovak National Council of America, with following officers and members: Prof. B. Šimek, president; Albert Mamatey and Rev. Innocent Kestl, vicepresidents; Vojta Beneš, secretary; Andrew Schustek, treasurer; John Straka, financial secretary; Mrs. Libuše Moták, director of relief work; Ivan Bielek, Michael Bosák, Rev. John Bradač, Thomas Čapek, Hynek Dostál, Joseph Hušek, Rev. L. Karlovský, Rev. J . Kubášek, Joseph Martinek, Rev. J. Murgaš, John Pankuch, Dr. Joseph P. Pecival, Rev. Oldřich Zlámal and Prof. J. J . Zmrhal, members.

During the last few months the chief activity of the Board or Council consisted in relief work for the needy of the Czechoslovak Republic.

At the end of June an office was opened in Chicago by the American Czechoslovak Board for the purpose of receiving boxes of clothing and other gifts, sent by Czechoslovaks in this country to relatives on the other side, and forwarding them in carloads to destination. Through the co-operation of the New York branch of the Czechoslovak Commercial Commission, an agency of the Czechoslovak government, a very low rate was secured, so that at present the rate on larger boxes is 10 cents a pound, on small packages 12 cents a pound, covering the cost of handling and transportation from Chicago to any destination in the Czechoslovak Republic. Recently it was necessary, in order to protect the interests of the Board which guarantees safe delivery, to charge in addition to the above rate by weight an insurance fee of $1.50 per each $100 value.

Between June 30 and September 23 the Chicago office in charge of Fráňa Klepal shipped to New York 16 car loads of relief goods, weighing 664,000 lbs and valued at $633,089.73. Out of that 158 boxes weighing 40,459 lbs were gifts for distribution by the Czechoslovak Red Cross, the cost of transportation being paid by the Board.

At its last meeting the American Czechoslovak Board, now the Czechoslovak National Council, decided to continue this work for some time longer and will carry on during October a campaign for the purpose of sending a large Christmas shipment to the old country to be delivered in Prague by the last barges going up the Elbe before the freeze-up. Chicago and states west of it, and to some extent settlements even east of Chicago, are sending their gifts to the office and warehouse at 2500 S. Sawyer Ave., while in the East several private firms are attending to this work.

Steamship Zaca which sailed from New York for Hamburg early in September carried among its cargo a gift from the American Red Cross to the Czechoslovak Red Cross. There were 405 bales of used clothing and 78 bags of used shoes, weighing togethere 72,285 lbs.; that was the least valuable part of the shipment, for the Red Cross donated 1710 cases of woolen knit goods, all new, and 77 cases of miscellaneous cotton piece goods, weighing 340,300 lbs. The total value of the shipment exceeds one million dollars, being thus the largest gift sent so far from America to the Czechoslovak Republic. The clothing will be divided equally between Czechs and Slovaks under the supervision of the Prague representative of American Red Cross. One condition of the gift was that the Czechoslovak organization in America pay for the cost of transportation, which was cheerfully done by the Czechoslovak National Council through Mrs. Libuše Moták, director of relief work.