The New Europe/Volume 2/Bohemia and the European Crisis
|The New Europe|
|Vol. II, No. 15.||January 25, 1917|
Bohemia and the European Crisis
The Allies’ political programme formulated in the Note to President Wilson demands the liberation of the Czechs and Slovaks from foreign domination, as well as that of the Italians, Southern Slavs and Roumanians. Italy, Serbia, Roumania are fighting as parts of the great alliance against the Central Powers. Can the Czechs and Slovaks, as parts of Austria-Hungary, be treated on the same terms? It is just the inclusion of this point in their political programme which proves that the Allies have grasped the European situation; that they perfectly understand the part which Pangermanism plays in the war, and that they are aware of the significance of Austria-Hungary for Germany, and, therefore, for Bohemia and Slovakia.
Bohemia is a part of Austria-Hungary, but, nevertheless, the Czecho-Slovaks are working and even fighting for and with the Allies. The peculiar passive revolution of Bohemia is now known to the whole world, though the Austro-Hungarian and German Censors for a long time succeeded in suppressing the facts and‘in spreading false news about the unity and loyalty of all the Austro-Hungarian nations. Europe now knows what it means when all the leading politicians and writers of Bohemia, and thousands of men and women of all classes, are imprisoned, and many even sentenced to death; when all independent newspapers are suppressed, when the property of thousands is confiscated, when the Czech regiments refuse to fight, and surrender whenever opportunity offers. And Europe, I hope, also realises the awful moral situation of a nation which wholly sympathises with the Allies, but whose sons, by the mere mechanical organisation of militarism, are forced to fight against those whom they consider as Allies, and whom they love as brethren!
In my article on “Pangermanism” (New Europe, No. 1) I have shown that the Pangerman politicians are the bitterest enemies of the Czechs. From Lagarde to Winterstetten and Tannenberg they all demand the subjugation of Bohemia, and in this aim they simply follow the lead of Bismarck, who showed that he realised the significance of Bohemia when he said that her master was the master of Europe. Bismarck having, by his policy after 1866 and 1870, secured close alliance with Austria-Hungary, became the master of Vienna, and in that way would really have become the master of Bohemia and Europe if Bohemia had accepted this mastery. But she did not, and she never will!
Bohemia, as a Slav country, has a peculiar geographical and ethnographical position in the midst of Europe. Lying farther west than the rest of the Slavs, it forms a barrier against Germany and a wedge between German lands. Since the seventh century the Bohemian nation has been able to resist Germany’s push towards the east and south; and, thanks to its inherent qualities, it has not merely proved equal to this great historical task, but has even grown in political wisdom and ability to resist.
1. The first Bohemian State, founded by Samo (627–652), stretched as far as Carinthia, and comprised part of the South Slavs. Samo defeated the Avars and held his own against Frankish aggression. It must be remembered that at that time the Slavs inhabited almost half the Germany of to-day; on the Elbe the Slavs were neighbours of the Angles and Saxons, near Liibeck and Kiel; even parts of Hanover were Slav. South of Magdeburg the whole of the territory bounded by the Saale and the north of Bavaria, as far as Regensburg, was Slav. All these vast regions, during a struggle that lasted for centuries, have been Germanised. The last remains of the Elbe Slavs disappeared as lately as the eighteenth century; to-day, all that remains of the Slavs in Prussia and Saxony are the Lusatians or Sorbs.
This Germanising tendency was checked by Bohemia, which was able to resist the Holy Roman Empire—a continuation, in Teutonic garb, of the Roman Empire. Charles the Great joined hands with the Church, thus forming the strong organisation of the medieval theocracy; and Pangerman writers are full of praise for Rome and its Church, in that it helped the Emperors to Germanise the Slavs.
The revived empire organised its eastern outposts as Marches, notably those of the East (Ostmark, Oesterreich), and later Brandenburg—the foundations of Austria and Prussia. The Slavs of Bohemia and the other Bohemian countries (Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia) organised their State in a region where there were no effective remains of the Roman Empire; and even Christianity was brought to them from Constantinople. The Great Moravian Empire (830–894), comprising the Bohemian countries and extending south of the Danube in Hungary to the river Drave, was Christianised by the Slav apostles Cyril and Methodius. But the German Church, penetrating into Bohemia from Regensburg, succeeded in ousting the Slav Church of Moravia, while the Magyars, having settled in the wide plains of Hungary, made an end of the Moravian Empire. Slovakia was incorporated in Hungary early in the tenth century.
The invasion and settlement of the Magyars, a people of Mongolian origin, had, and has, a fatal significance for the Bohemians and Slovaks; it interrupted the unity of the Slav peoples, being a wedge driven between the northern and southern groups. The Magyars ceased to be nomads and accepted Christianity, but they have always remained antagonistic to the Slovaks and Southern Slavs.
After the fall of the Great Moravian Empire Bohemia soon became a strong State under native princes, and, in 1068, was acknowledged as a kingdom. The Kings of Bohemia even became Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Luxemburg dynasty (Charles IV. and his son, Wenceslaus) succeeded in being elected Emperors. In the thirteenth century Bohemia began to push southwards, and Premysl Otokar II. (1253–78) incorporated the Austrian duchies into his kingdom. Rudolf of Habsburg defeated Ottokar, strengthened Austria, and not only became Emperor himself, but laid the foundations of the Habsburg dynasty. Yet Bohemian imperialism was not checked by Rudolf; under the Luxemburg dynasty Lusatia and Silesia were acquired, and even the Margravate of Brandenburg was, for a time, joined to Bohemia.
Bohemia was quite independent, though German historians often treat it as part of Germany. The king was sovereign in his State, but received investiture from the Emperor. In earlier times the princes of Bohemia paid a small tribute to the Emperor, and the church of Bohemia was dependent upon the Archbishop of Regensburg, until, in 973, the Bishopric of Prague (1344 Archbishopric) was founded. Though much smaller than Germany, Bohemia, having her power centralised and being well-administered, succeeded in maintaining complete independence against the temporal pretensions of the Empire.
Though the mediæval Empire did not rest upon a national principle, it nevertheless oppressed the non-German peoples and Germanised them, ruler and State being alike German. The Church supported and aided Germanisation, though Latin, her own peculiar language, was also the language of the administration and diplomacy. The Kings of Bohemia acquired German lands and imported German colonists, whose devotion they secured by the grant of special privileges. Germany was dangerous by reason of her numbers, and sometimes her culture; but Bohemia was able to resist because she knew how to use her forces, and because she had a culture of her own, which was not inferior to the German. Yet it must be conceded that the Bohemian Court and aristocracy adopted German customs and even the German language.
2. From the fourteenth century Bohemia has really played a decisive rôle in European history; from her came the great reforming movement which has stirred up the world. The period during which the new Luxemburg dynasty linked Bohemia to the Empire and the French West coincided with a Czech literary revival which repudiated the influx of unwonted luxury and refinement, and was brought home to the masses of the nation by able preachers. The University of Prague, founded by Charles IV. in 1349, became the centre of culture for Bohemia and her neighbours. John Hus and his noble friend, Jerome of Prague, became the great torchbearers of the Reformation. Their death inflamed the whole Bohemian nation against Rome and the treacherous Emperor Sigismund.
The Hussite Reformation of Bohemia was the inauguration of modern spiritual life. Hus opposed the individual conscience and the Bible to the authority of the Church and of Rome, and thus became the forerunner of the Reformation: but his true significance lies in his moral teaching and death. There were many heretics before Hus: but Hus involved the whole Bohemian nation in his heresy, and as Rome, making use of Germany, tried to crush Bohemia by means of crusades, the Hussite war is a landmark in European thought. Bohemia held not only Germany but the whole of Europe at bay, and Žizka, the leader of the victorious Hussites, became the inventor of modern strategy.
The Hussite Reformation was essentially one of life and of morals. The Hussites became anti-clerical; and even to-day clericalism in Bohemia is considered the enemy of true religion. Being conservative in its theological teaching and radical in its moral endeavour, Hussitism soon became radical in its teaching also. The Taborites had already rejected all Roman teaching and ceremonial; they even accepted women as preachers, and in their zeal for Christian equality they adopted communism as practised in the Apostolic Church. Hussitism reached its height in the Unitas Fratrum—the Church of Bohemian (Moravian) Brethren, the remnants of which are the English and churches of the Brethren, and the German Herrenhut Church. Their founder was Peter Chelčicky, who interpreted Christian love in its radical form of non-resistance, and thus fully anticipated Tolstoy’s famous doctrine. Chelčicky rejected both “whales”—the Pope and the Emperor—Church and State alike, the whole theocracy and its clerical and official organisation. His followers in the next generation were obliged to modify his teaching; amid the horrors of the war against Bohemia they doubtless confounded legitimate defence with force and aggression, forgetting that Christ brought not only peace but also a sword to defend truth and justice against aggression. But humanitarian endeavour remained the lasting foundation of this Church, which historians praise as the truest realisation of Christ’s teaching. Amos Comenius, the great humanitarian teacher of the nations, became its last bishop, before it was crushed by the Austrian Counter-Reformation.
The Bohemian Reformation, as Palacky rightly observes, contains the germ of all modern teaching and institutions; it was an anticipation of the future, an ideal to be reached by future ages. But Europe did not understand Bohemia, and united, under the leadership of Pope and Emperor, to crush the nation which had dared to follow its own path.
Historians differ as to the origin and development of the Hussite Reformation. Some Russian and Czech writers see in it a revival of the Slav Church of Cyril and Methodius; others point to the great influence of Wycliffe and the West; while the Germans treat it as a national anti-German movement. This last explanation is quite wrong. Hus himself declared more than once that he preferred a German who was right to a Bohemian who was wrong. Hussitism is the practical, political and social embodiment of John Hus’s command: “Seek the truth, hear the truth, learn the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, hold to the truth, defend the truth even to death.”
This deep moral reformation brought the Bohemians to love their nation, and to defend it against German aggression led by the Church; it thus became a barrier to the German Drang nach Osten, though it was not so much national as moral and religious.
Hussitism, chiefly in the form of the Brethren’s movement, spread to Slovakia and to Poland, and had a great moral influence even on the Germans. Luther himself, as is well known, confessed: “We are all Hussites.” On the other hand, the later Reformation of Switzerland, France and Germany exercised a great influence over the Hussites, who to a great extent accepted Protestantism. Only about one-tenth of the nation remained in the Roman Catholic Church—principally the higher aristocracy.
3. The Hussite wars in the end weakened Bohemia. At the same time the Turkish menace against Central Europe induced Hungary, Austria and Bohemia to unite in a free federation (1526). At first, all three States remained entirely independent, linked only by personal or rather dynastic ties. Nevertheless their common King had behind him the power of the Empire and the resources of Spain, and thus gradually succeeded in his centralising and Germanising designs. At first there was only a common imperial committee for foreign affairs, but the army also promoted unification, and the common finances worked in the same direction.
Bohemia was from the very beginning the economic backbone of this strange confederation; almost the whole of Hungary fell under Turkish dominion, and thus remained economically weak and undeveloped. Austria proper was barely self-supporting, while Trieste and the Adriatic at that time were hardly utilised at all.
The centralising absolutism of the Habsburgs and their Counter-Reformation caused the Revolution of 1618, which ended two years later in the disastrous battle of the White Mountain. Ferdinand II, avenged himself by ordering the execution of the leaders, whose heads for years frowned upon the population of Prague from the tower of the famous bridge of Charles IV. Ferdinand, acting on Jesuit advice, made use of the occasion to persecute the Protestants, and especially the Bohemian Union of Brethren; about 30,000 families had to leave the country, amongst them Comenius! Not only were the Bohemian countries depopulated, but the Habsburgs carried through one of the greatest economic revolutions in history. Four-fifths of the soil were taken from the legitimate owners to fill the treasury of the greedy Emperor and his tools, drawn from the dregs of every aristocracy in Europe. The country was brought back to Catholicism by fire and sword—her best men were exiled, her literature burned, her lands plundered.
In 1627, Ferdinand II, curtailed the legislative and administrative rights of the aristocracy—at that time the only representatives of the nation—but he did not dare to deprive Bohemia of her independence. In the same year he issued a new charter confirming the privileges of Bohemia, and expressedly rejecting the theory, preached by his advisers and upheld in modern times by Austrian and German historians, that the Bohemian nation had forfeited its rights to independence. Ferdinand himself and his successors were only too glad to remain kings of Bohemia.
The power of the Habsburgs was strengthened by their success in reimposing Catholicism. The Reformation, while destroying the medieval theocracy, strengthened the State, and, in Catholic countries, the State gained by its alliance with the Counter-Reformation.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Habsburgs continued the unification and centralisation of Austria proper, Bohemia and Hungary, and this aim seemed to have been attained under Maria Theresa and Joseph II. But the latter’s radical and Germanising methods provoked opposition alike in Bohemia, Hungary and all the non-German provinces, and since his days history tells of the revival of the Austrian nations.
4. The opposition of the Bohemian aristocracy to Joseph II. was only the political side of a national revival. The whole of Europe awakened in the eighteenth century; it was the period of humanitarianism in philosophy and literature, the age of reason and freethought, the age of Rousseau, Kant and Paine. Absolutism could not oppose such a movement indefinitely, and even the absolutist monarchs of Austria, Prussia and Russia—Joseph, Frederick and Catherine II.—paid their tribute to the age, and became “enlightened” despots. It was this European movement which worked for the revival of the Bohemian nation; for the principles of humanitarian philosophy and of the French Revolution, the principles of “Liberté—Egalité—Fraternité” were the natural outcome and continuation of the Bohemian Reformation and Chelčicky’s religion of Fraternity. The suppression of the Jesuits sanctioned by the Pope himself, clearly showed the character of the general upheaval of thinking Europe.
Joseph II.’s Toleration Edict (1781) did not extend to the Hussites and the Brethren, who, therefore, had to join either the Lutheran or Calvinist Churches; but even this restricted freedom strengthened Hussite memories and promoted the national revival. Everywhere the masses were acquiring political rights, the courts and aristocracies were no longer able to keep the peoples in political and spiritual serfdom; democracy was born, and with it nationality became a political factor. It was the great humanitarian Herder who proclaimed the nations, in opposition to the artificial State, as the natural organs of humanity.
The French Revolution put an end to “enlightened” despotism, and in every country an unenlightened reaction set in. In Austria Francis I. was led by Metternich, whose system is, for Western Europe, the very embodiment of reaction—the continuation of the Habsburg and Jesuit Counter-Reformation with all its spiritual horrors. “Spirit murderer” it has been called by the greatest German poet of Austria.
The Emperor Francis, absolutist and legitimist to the core, was convinced that the time was ripe for transforming Austria, Bohemia and Hungary into a united and centralised State. In 1804 the Austrian Empire was proclaimed; in 1806 the new Austrian Emperor resigned the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet this resignation was only formal, and when, at the Vienna Congress, the German Confederation was created, the Emperor of Austria was proclaimed its head. Indeed, the Pope and England urged him to resume the abandoned dignity.
5. The Metternich régime was not able to suppress that literary revival of the Bohemian nation which was the forerunner of the political revival of 1848. Dobrovsky, the founder of Slavistic studies—the science and philosophy of the Slavs—threw a bridge from the Golden Age of the Reformation across the dark epoch of the Habsburg Counter-Reformation to the Age of Reason and Humanity; he was the first among the Czech “awakeners” who guided his nation towards Russia, and rekindled those Slav sentiments which have characterised Bohemia ever since. Patriot and Slav—that was the general national programme.
After Kollár, the true disciple of Herder, conceived a fascinating philosophy of history; the Teutonic and Latin nations, he argued, having accomplished their historical task, will be followed by the Slavs. To strengthen the Slavs not only geographically but culturally, he demanded that every Slav, in the cause of “reciprocity,” should learn at least one Slav language besides his own. Meanwhile Šafařík, the well-known archeologist, revived Slav antiquity and history, Palacky wrote the first scientific history of his nation, and dwelt more especially upon the universal meaning of the Bohemian Reformation.,
The remarkable character of the Czech national revival is shown by the philosophic and religious attitude of its leaders. Dobrovsky, the follower of Josephinism, though a Catholic priest and even a Jesuit, became a freethinker; Kollár and Palacky were both Protestants—the first a follower of Herder, the latter of Kant; Jungmann, the great philologist, was a Voltairian. Kollár and Šafařík were Slovaks; Slovakia, having received the Hussite emigrants and adopted the Hussite Reformation, became the natural supporter of the Bohemian revival.
In sympathy with the general European movement the Bohemian nation passed in 1848 from national literature to national politics. The revolution of Paris broke out on 21 February. On the 29th the news reached Prague; and on 11 March the first popular meeting was held, after two centuries of political extinction, and formulated the national demands.
As early as the Bohemian Diet, then a close aristocratic body, demanded the restitution of the rights of the kingdom of Bohemia, though of course in vain. But the rising in 1848 had the desired effect. On 8 April the Emperor, as King of Bohemia, issued the “Bohemian Charter,” according national rights and promising future political independence. But the constitutional innovations of 1848 proved but a very brief interlude; the revolution was suppressed alike in Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Absolutism, Centralism and Germanisation resumed their sway. Meanwhile Ferdinand was superseded by Francis Joseph, whose long and sinister régime has already been outlined in The New Europe (No. 7). The only lasting result of the revolution was the liberation of the peasants; otherwise Francis Joseph returned to the old system. Only the name of Bach replaced the name of Metternich. The true spirit of this reaction was revealed in the Concordat with Rome. Austria was and is the land of the Counter-Reformation.
But defeat on the battlefields of Italy in 1859 taught Francis Joseph at last that absolutism, even on a military basis, was impotent and dangerous. The following year (1860) an advisory state council was summoned, and on 20 October the new constitution—the so-called “October Diploma”—was proclaimed as the “permanent and irrevocable constitutional fundamental law of the Empire.” But already, in February, 1861, this “permanent and irrevocable” law was superseded by a new centralist constitution, and as this was firmly opposed by the Czechs and all the non-German nations of Austria, absolutism was restored in 1865, this time in a slightly veiled form. At last, in 1867, yet another constitution was established in Austria, but both it and Parliament have, by their inherent conditions, proved to be far rather the helpmate of absolutism than a democratic check upon it. Austria up to the present day has really been ruled by the mediæval theocracy. For a brief moment in 1848 the Parliament of Kremsier laid down the fundamental law, “All power proceeds from the people,” and the Czech leader Dr. Rieger expounded this theme in one of his best speeches. But ever since this short-lived child o the revolution was dismissed and its home occupied by Austrian soldiers each successive constitution in Austria has been not a democratic achievement, but the personal gift of Francis Joseph, designed as a cloak for theocratic monarchism, which claims to possess superhuman and divine rights.
6. The year 1866 wrought a great change; the Habsburgs were turned out of Germany, the Hohenzollerns became the leaders of Germany. The national craving of all Germans for unity now became a practical reality; Prussia, who had prepared for it by her military and economic policy, finally achieved it in 1871 through the defeat of France. It would have been natural that Austria, after 1866, should have sought and found her strength in the development and unity of her various nations; but the Habsburgs were unable to give up their absolutist and imperialist leanings.
In 1866 the Prussian invaders of Bohemia published a proclamation acknowledging her right to full national independence, just as they recognised the same right to Hungary. But the Czechs turned a deaf ear and continued in their democratic and national endeavours of 1848; their politicians worked in the common Parliament and in the Diets for the federalization of the Empire, and in this they were supported by the non-German nations, the Germans being the protectors of centralism. But the dynasty came to an agreement with the Magyars, and the Dual system was designed to assure the hegemony of the Germans in Austria and of the Magyars in Hungary.
The Czech leaders, with Palacky, the “Father of the Nation,” at their head, answered the transformation of Austria into “Austria-Hungary” by paying an official visit to the ethnographic exhibition in Moscow in 1867, and thus proclaiming a radical national and Slav policy. Next year at the Diet the Czech deputies issued their famous Declaration, re-stating the historic rights of Bohemia.
Vienna answered by a fierce persecution. The common law was suspended and martial law introduced and administered by a General specially selected by Francis Joseph himself. But all the ferocity and cruelty employed did not crush the resistance of the leadersand the people. The Emperor had to yield, and he did so by appointing a new ministry presided over by Count Hohenwart, to conclude an agreement with the Bohemian nation. In a solemn rescript to the Bohemian Diet (12 September, 1871) Francis Joseph acknowledged the rights of Bohemia and promised to be crowned as its King.
“We are aware of the position of the Bohemian Crown founded on her constitutional law, and of the splendour and the power which it has brought to Usand Our predecessors. Remembering, also, the unshakable loyalty with which the people of Bohemia have always supported Our Throne. We are happy to acknowledge the rights of this kingdom, and We are ready to renew this acknowledgment with Our Coronation Oath.”
Promises have ever been cheap with Francis Joseph. The Czechs formulated their wishes in a draft constitution—the Fundamental Articles of 10 October, 1871—but in less than a month the influence of Berlin and Budapest succeeded in getting rid of Count Hohenwart and his ministry, and in replacing it by one selected for the special purpose of breaking Bohemian opposition. Never in the nineteenth century, in any civilised and constitutional country save Hungary, has a government, acting for the sovereign himself, behaved so shamelessly. An electoral caucus was organised to control the elections to the Diet and the Central Parliament; votes were openly bought and sold; meetings were suppressed by force; and the Czech papers and their editors persecuted. The gendarmerie and troops did not shrink from bloodshed. Corruption was rampant everywhere. In all departments of the administration the national life was checked and Germanisation openly proclaimed. Vexations of all kinds, even in trifling matters, were the rule. I remember how the national songs were forbidden and the national emblems prohibited. Czech telegrams were not accepted, and we composed French words giving a meaning in our language. Vienna succeeded so far that a group of Moravian deputies gave up their policy of passive resistance, which had culminated in abstention from the Central Parliament and even from the Diets, and in refusal to pay the taxes. Finally the Premier, Count Taaffe, the descendant of an Irish family, agreed in 1879 to make some concessions if all the Czech deputies would take their seats in the Central Parliament. At the beginning of his speech from the Throne the Emperor acknowledged their “full right of constitutional conviction.’ Certain administrative rights were granted, and the long-fought-for Czech University was established; on the whole a practical modus vivendi was introduced, the achievement of our political rights being hoped for by the new method of compromises.
7. The establishment of the Hohenzollern Empire and the growth of national chauvinism in Germany led the Germans of Austria to make common cause with their kinsmen in Germany, and Francis Joseph yielded to their pressure. Pangermanism became a popular programme among the Austrian Germans, and their Radical wing demanded the union of Austria and even Hungary with Germany. The “Los von Rom” movement of the new century was nothing else than “Los von Oesterreich” or “Los von Habsburg.’ Bismarck, strong in his authority as the founder of united Germany, resisted the Pangerman extremists. His plan was to leave Austria-Hungary independent, but to use her for Germany and her programme. In reality, he heartily despised Austria, for he saw through her.
But Bismarck’s plans were not original. They were merely the continuation of older ideas and aims; it is only half true to say that he pushed Austria-Hungary towards the Balkans and the East. Austria was from the first the eastern kingdom (Ostreich, Oesterreich), and has fostered plans of conquest ever since the days of Prince Eugene. The weakening of Turkey suggested this to the neighbouring victorious Empire. It was not only Bismarck who induced Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina; Radetzky and Cardinal Rauscher of Vienna formulated this programme long before Bismarck. In the same way, when in 1848, at Frankfurt, the German nationalists were offering the German crown to the Hohenzollerns, Austria answered by the imperialistic programme of Prince Schwarzenberg and of Baron Bruck, who, following Friedrich List, devised the programme of Central Europe as it is now preached in Germany and Austria.
Bismarck, it is true, gained Andrássy and the Magyars for his plans; but it was Dualism which unchained Magyar imperialism. Bismarck was clever enough to use it as a means of putting pressure on Vienna, which could not easily forget 1866. But long before Bismarck List had preached in Germany a very practical Pangerman Magyarophilism.
The occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina led Austria into a fatal antagonism against not only the Southern Slavs but also Russia. Germany joined her in this direction. Bismarck hoped, in spite of the Berlin Congress, not to lose the friendship of Russia, and even the creation of the Triple Aliance did not prevent him from the effort to secure the re-insurance of Russia, or rather, of Petrograd. But the new generation in Germany conceived Pangermanism in the sense of “Berlin-Bagdad,” and the road to Bagdad led to an inevitable dispute with Russia about Constantinople. William II., accepting Lagarde’s teaching and the designs of world-power which it involved, dismissed Bismarck and placed himself at the head of the new generation. Austria-Hungary and Prussia-Germany inaugurated a very decided anti-Slav policy with the double object of crushing the Czechs in the North, and the Jugoslavs, and above all the Serbs, in the South.
The Germans used the unjust privileges conferred by an artificial constitution to maintain a majority in the Parliament and in the Diets; the bureaucracy and army also served their aims. The so-called Linz programme, and, still more, the motion brought forward by the Pangerman leader. Schönerer, in 1901, aimed at granting a kind of autonomy to Galicia, Bukovina and even to Dalmatia, with the object of securing to the Germans a strong and unshakable majority. Count Badeni induced the Emperor to restore to Bohemia a part of her national right, but again the Emperor gave in to German terrorism and Badeni’s decree was step by step abolished.
The Poles were partly satisfied (Galician Resolution 1868), but Vienna temporarily favoured the Ruthenes not only against Russia but also against the Poles; the Southern Slavs were utterly neglected, and though in Dalmatia the Croat language was introduced into the administration, this was done not to satisfy the Slav majority, but simply to annoy the Italian minority. Trieste was invaded by Viennese and Berlin capital—Tnieste, which not less than Prague, is coveted by the Pangermans as the starting-point for Suez and the East. The anti-Slav policy of the Magyars is too notorious to require special treatment here. King Milan’s policy is an illustration of how the Austrians are willing to extend toleration to the Balkan Slavs, when they accept thraldom.
This anti-Slav policy culminated, after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in unreasoning hostility to Serbia, and the present war is its logical outcome—the continuation of the policy inaugurated by the mediæval Empire.
Though essentially anti-Slav, the Pangermanism of Germany and Austria-Hungary threatens the Western nations in Africa and Asia, and has welded together Slavs. Latins, and British. In this vast struggle the place of the Czecho-Slovaks can only be on the side of the Slavs and of the Western nations; not only their geographical position, but their whole historical development and national programme forces them to join those who have proclaimed as their aim the respect for nationalities and liberation of all nations, great and small, the crushing of Prussian militarism, and consequently the inner regeneration of Europe as a whole. The national ideals of Bohemia and her Reformation are unrealisable in Austria-Hungary, where the organisation of Brute Force secures to the minority the means of exploiting the majority. Bohemia can never accept the ideal of Prussia and Germany, which would enslave the world by military drill and Machiavellian misuse of science and culture. The German is a strange mixture of the schoolmaster and the bully; he first knocks his opponent down and then gives him a lecture and a sermon.
8. The fight for Right has been waged by the Czechs ever since they settled in Central Europe. For centuries they had to hold their own against Germany, Habsburg Austria and the Magyars; and, since Dualism was established, they have had to face Austra and Hungary united with Prussia-Germany. Bohemia has not been conquered by Austria—she joined Austria and Hungary as par inter pares; she is legally just as independent a State as Hungary, and by the same right. This right has been violated by the dynasty; the personal union has been changed viâ facti into a real union. But law and justice cannot be affected by material force or so-called historical necessities. Bohemia has been struggling against Austria-Hungary since 1867, and with the same right she continues her fight in this war. The Habsburgs have forfeited their rights in regard to Bohemia by their repeated and almost continuous treachery. Not the Czechs alone, but no nation can trust or accept Austro-Hungarian policy, for it is the policy of a single family, and only the advocates of medizval theocracy and absolutism can prefer the rights of one family to the rights of ten nations. The Prussian Germans, the Turks and Austria’s royal agent in Bulgaria accept the Habsburgs, because they pursue the same antiquated dynastic aims; but if Europe is to be regenerated this immoral and obsolete tradition must be finally overcome. The Allies, if we may judge from their answer to President Wilson, understand this. The great question is how their aims can be realised. There is only one way: victory on the battlefield can alone secure the victory of truth and humanity. Truth and humanity in the abstract are not victorious, if men and nations do not defend and protect them.
- It is of legal importance that this charter was acknowledged even as late as 1898 as valid law by the Viennese Supreme Court of Appeal.