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Independent Bohemia An Account of the Czecho-Slovak Struggle for Liberty   By: (1895-1964)

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[Illustration: Professor Thomas G. Masaryk]




Secretary to the Czecho Slovak Legation in LONDON



In the following pages I have attempted to outline the story of our movement for independence. The manuscript of this book was completed over four months ago. Since then many important changes have occurred in the international situation. Chapters in which we dealt with the then still existing Dual Monarchy must of course be read in the past tense, since Austria exists no more. And again, many things which we anticipated and hoped for in the future have already become accomplished facts. However, I trust that the story itself has not only lost none of its value thereby, but has acquired an additional interest from a historical point of view. Our aim of national independence, only quite recently declared by our adversaries to be "an empty dream of moonstruck idealists," has become to day not only a practical proposition, but an accomplished fact. We have our own army, which is by no means the smallest Allied army, and we also have our own Provisional Government in Paris, recognised not only by the Allies and by all Czecho Slovaks abroad, but even by Czech leaders in Bohemia, with whom we have since the beginning of the war worked in complete harmony and understanding. The organisation of our independent State is rapidly proceeding. Austria Hungary, exhausted economically and bankrupt politically, has fallen to pieces by the free will of her own subject peoples, who, in anticipation of their early victory, broke their fetters and openly renounced their allegiance to the hated Habsburg and Hohenzollern rule, even before Austria had actually surrendered to the Allies.

Events have moved rapidly in Austria, especially since the momentous British declaration of August 9, 1918, recognising the Czecho Slovaks those resident in the Allied countries as much as those in Bohemia as an Allied nation, and the Czecho Slovak National Council in Paris as well as in Prague as the Provisional Government of Bohemia. British statesmen already then foresaw the coming collapse of Austria and acted accordingly. It is also no more a secret to day that because of the promulgation of the British and United States declarations our Council was able to conclude special conventions with all the Allied Governments during September last, whereby all the powers exercised by a real government have been granted to it.

In the meantime Germany had been losing more and more control over her allies, being herself hard pressed on the Western front, and the consequence of this was a growing boldness on the part of the Austrian Slavs. On October 2 deputy Stanek declared in the name of the whole Czech deputation that the National Council in Paris were their true spokesmen and representatives with whom Austria would have to negotiate. Soon afterwards the Austrian Poles went to Warsaw, where they formed a new all Polish Government, and the Southern Slavs entrusted the government of their territories to their National Council in Zagreb. Similar councils were formed also by the Ruthenes and Rumanians. On October 14 the Czecho Slovak National Council in Paris constituted itself as a Government of which the Council in Prague acts as an integral part. The latter took over the reins of government in Bohemia a fortnight later. On October 19 the Czecho Slovak Council issued a Declaration of Independence which we publish in the Appendix, and from which it will be seen that Bohemia will be progressive and democratic both in her domestic and foreign policy. A glorious future is no doubt awaiting her. She will be specially able to render an immense service to the League of Nations as a bulwark of peace and conciliation among the various peoples of Central Europe.

The break up of Austria will, of course, affect enormously the constitution of the future Europe, and in our last chapter we have tried to give an outline of these impending changes of conditions and international relations... Continue reading book >>

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