1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Czechoslovakia
CZECHOSLOVAKIA (Čiskoslovensko, Čiskoslovenská Republika). — The republic of Czechoslovakia is a new creation in respect of its name and state-form only. Its modern history as an independent entity begins with the dramatic collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the close of the World War, and the definitive proclamation of Czechoslovak independence on Oct. 28 1918. Some of its constituent territories, however, notably Bohemia and the lands of the Bohemian crown (Moravia, Silesia, Lusatia) enjoyed, up to the year 1620, many centuries of independent existence and played an important, sometimes a dominating, part in the political and religious history of central Europe.
The republic has a pop., according to the census of 1921, of 13,595,818, and an area of about 55,000 sq. m. (approximately the size of England and Wales). It comprises three great natural regions: (1) Bohemia, (2) Moravia and Silesia, (3) Slovakia and Russinia (Sub-Carpathian Russia = Podkarpatská Rus). Bohemia, with an area of some 20,400 sq. m., has a pop. of 6,664,932; Moravia, with 8,600 sq. m., 2,660,737 inhabitants; Silesia, 1,800 sq. m., and 670,937 inhabitants; Slovakia, 20,000 sq. m., and 2,993,479 inhabitants; Russinia, 5,000 sq. m., and 605,731 inhabitants. The whole is about 600 m. long and has a maximum breadth of 185 miles. In respect of population it occupies the tenth place among European countries; in respect of size the fourteenth place; in density of population the seventh.
The frontiers were fixed by the Peace Treaties of St. Germain, Versailles and Trianon, while a portion of the ancient principality of Těšín (Teschen) was adjudicated to it by the Paris Conference (July 1920). On the W. and N., where it borders upon Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia and Poland, it is enclosed by mountains, some of them of very considerable height, which form on those sides a natural and strategic frontier. In Bohemia the highest peak Sněžka (Schneekoppe) has an altitude of 5,216 ft., in Slovakia the summits of the Carpathians and of the High Tatra rise to a height of between 7,000 and 8,000 ft. South of these ranges lie fertile and well-watered plains and lowlands extending to the borders of Austria, Hungary and Rumania. Some 60% of the entire area of the republic is included in the basin of the Danube, the rest being traversed by the Labe (Elbe) and the Vltava (Moldau), the former passing in particular through regions remarkable for their rich fertility. Some one-third of the entire surface of the country is covered by forests. The climate of the republic is a medium between a maritime and continental one.
Prague, the capital (677,000 inhabitants), is picturesquely situated on the Vltava and justly famous for its architectural beauty. Bratislava (Pressburg), the capital of Slovakia, with its great Danubian harbour, is the gateway of central European trade to the East and the Balkans. Other towns of importance in the republic are Brno (Brünn), with 200,000 inhabitants, the capital of Moravia, and the centre of an old established and flourishing textile industry; Plzeň (Pilsen) with 100,000 inhabitants, famous for its beer and as the seat of the Škoda iron works; Košice (Kaschau), the commercial centre of eastern Slovakia; and Užhorod (Ungvár), the capital of Russinia. Of German towns in Czechoslovakia (most of them with a considerable Czechoslovak minority), Liberec (Reichenberg), and Jablonec (Gablonz), are important industrial centres. Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), and Marienbad (Mariánské Lázně), are famous spas. Czechoslovakia indeed is one of the richest states of Europe in mineral and health-giving waters, and possesses more than 200 watering places and health resorts. Besides Carlsbad and Marienbad, Franzensbad, Teplice (Teplitz), Poděbrady (in Bohemia), Luhačovice in Moravia, Pieštany, Trenčianske Teplice, Sliač and Štrbské Pleso (4,100 ft. above sea-level) in Slovakia, are noted. At Jáchymov (Joachimsthal), in North Bohemia, radium is produced.
Ethnology. — The population of Czechoslovakia is ethnologically of a mixed character. The prevailing element is that of the Czechs (7 millions), with whom the Slovaks (2½ millions) form one people; indeed as long ago as the 9th century the kingdom of Great Moravia, with frontiers roughly identical with the present boundaries of the Czechoslovak Republic, was the creation of the Slav people, who occupied in common a territory stretching from W. Bohemia to the Carpathians.
The Czechs and the Slovaks, or, to give them their united name, the Czechoslovaks, are a branch of the great Slav family of which the Russians are the most numerous and the most important member and to which the Serbo-Croats with the Slovenes, the Poles, the Bulgarians and the Wends of Germany also belong. Even after the conquest of Slovakia by the Hungarians, which resulted in Slovak territory being separated from Czech territory till they were reunited in 1918, an intellectual connexion between the two branches of the one family was always maintained, and some of the foremost names in Czech literature are those of writers who were Slovaks by birth. The difference between the Czech language and the language spoken in Slovakia is merely dialectical and the struggle for independence, culminating in the declaration of the Czechoslovak State, has emphasized and developed the sentiment of Czechoslovak unity. It is not without interest to note that the three principal leaders of the movement for independence were a Moravian of Slovak descent (Masaryk), a Slovak (Gen. Stéfanik), and a Czech (Dr. Beneš).
Of the non-Czechoslovak races in the republic the Germans are the most numerous, numbering some 3½ millions, chiefly dispersed along the W. and N. frontiers of Bohemia and in Moravia and Silesia. Their presence is largely the result, firstly of a colonization which was favoured by the Bohemian kings and princes of the 12th and 13th centuries, and secondly of a policy of Germanization pursued by the Habsburg rulers from the date of the battle of the White Mountain in 1620 (when the Czechs lost their independence) up till the very close of the World War.
On the day following the attainment of Czechoslovak independence, Oct. 29 1918, the Germans of Bohemia and Moravia — the so-called Sudetenland Germans — declared the districts where they predominated a province of the new Austrian State, which had been constituted some eight days previously. It was not until the Treaty of St. Germain was concluded on Sept. 10 1919 and the Austrian Government released the Germans from the oath of allegiance they had taken to the new Austrian Republic, that the Germans desisted from openly fighting against incorporation in the Czechoslovak Republic. Their claim to self-determination was rejected by the Peace Conference. From the mere presence of the Germans within the historic frontiers of the Czechoslovak State it would indeed have been difficult, with justice, to deduce a right of self-determination, that is to say, the right, in this case, of retaining all the fruits of misused power. In Slovakia the Slovaks were subjected to a similar system of Magyarization. The Hungarian census of 1910 purported to show that in Slovakia there were 1,697,552 Slovaks and 901,793 Hungarians. The correct figures, however, were shown by the census of 1919 to be Slovaks 2,141,000, Hungarians 665,000.
Other nationalities occupying portions of the Czechoslovak Republic are Ruthenians 600,000 and Poles 250,000. On the other hand there are some 500,000 Czechoslovaks in Austria, 450,000 in Hungary, more than 200,000 in Yugoslavia and Rumania, and over 800,000 in America.
Special provision is made in the Constitutional Charter of the republic (in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of St. Germain) for the protection of national, religious and racial minorities. Difference in religious belief, confession or language, constitute no obstacle to any citizen in regard to entry into the public services or offices, to the attainment to any promotion or dignity, or to the exercise of any trade or calling. In towns and districts in which there lives a considerable section (20% or more) of citizens speaking a language other than Czechoslovak, schools are to be provided, the instruction to be imparted in the language of that minority. Such a minority has also a right to a proportionate amount of the funds set aside by the State or by the local authorities for purposes of education, religion or philanthropy. The courts of justice and the public offices are also required to pay due regard in respect of language to the desires of a minority which numbers at least 20% of the inhabitants of the locality. Every act tending to force a citizen to abandon his nationality — in other words oppression of a citizen on account of his race — is expressly prohibited.
Creation of the Republic. — When in July 1914 Austria commenced hostilities against Serbia, thus bringing about the World War, this act of aggression took place against the will of the Czechs and Slovaks, at that time subject to Austrian and Hungarian rule respectively. Open protest or organized revolt, however, was impossible owing to the proximity and indeed the presence in overwhelming numbers of German and Hungarian troops, who were expressly garrisoned among the Czech population in order to stifle any possible outburst of national and pro-Ally sentiment. Direct political action was equally impossible, as the Austrian Parliament was suspended. Whenever opinions did happen to be expressed which could be construed as criticism of Austria or Germany the offenders were speedily punished, and it was not long before the political leaders of the Czechs and Slovaks found themselves in confinement, some of them under sentence of death, while the Czech and Slovak press was subjected to a rigorous censorship and many of its organs prohibited from appearing. Some of the political leaders escaped over the frontier — among them Prof. Thomas Garrigue Masaryk and Dr. Eduard Beneš, who were subsequently to lead a successful campaign abroad for the destruction of the Austrian Monarchy and the attainment of Czechoslovak independence.
The persecutions, sometimes revolting in their cruelty, to which (on account of their pro-Ally sympathies) the Czechs were subjected during the first two years of the war, had the effect of uniting all the different political parties into one single national block; and when the Austrian Parliament was at length convoked in May 1917 the Czech parties made a unanimous declaration that it was their aim to work for the union of Czechs and Slovaks as one people in an independent state.
As the war proceeded, further declarations of national and anti-Austrian sentiment were made, the most notable being the “Twelfth Night Manifesto,” issued at Prague on Jan. 6 1918, in which all the Czech deputies of the Austrian Reichsrat and of the Diets of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia unanimously demanded full independence and representation at the future conference which should conclude peace in Europe.
Meanwhile the Czechs, who were as Austrian subjects obliged to serve in the Austrian army, lost no opportunity of passing over to the Allies. Of 70,000 prisoners taken by Serbia early in the war 35,000 were Czechs. Of these 32,000 perished during the Serbian retreat or died of fever or cholera. The remnant, 3,000 in number, proceeded to France and there joined the Czechoslovak legions already fighting on the French front. Of a total of 600,000 Czech troops in the Austrian army over one-half surrendered to the Allies. In Russia a Czechoslovak legion was formed at the outset of the war, and later this grew into a regular army which by 1918 numbered 100,000 men.
The activities of Prof. Masaryk in Russia, England and America, enthusiastically supported by his compatriots living abroad, and especially by the Czechs and Slovaks who had emigrated to the United States, the self-sacrificing valour of the Czechoslovak legions on the French, Italian and Russian fronts, and the work of the Czechoslovak Council with its headquarters at Paris, moved the Allies to acknowledge the last-named body as the de facto Provisional Government of the Czechoslovak State. On July 13 1918 a Czechoslovak National Council, representing all parties, was formed at Prague as a complement to the National Council already existing at Paris. This was the first direct step taken at home towards the establishment of the new State.
On Aug. 9 1918 the British Government issued the following declaration:—
“Since the beginning of the war the Czechoslovak nation has resisted the common enemy by every means in its power. The Czechoslovaks have constituted a considerable army, fighting on three different battle-fields and attempting, in Russia and Siberia, to arrest the Germanic invasion. In consideration of their efforts to achieve independence, Great Britain regards the Czechoslovaks as an Allied nation and recognizes the unity of the three Czechoslovak armies as an Allied and belligerent army waging a regular warfare against Austria-Hungary and Germany. . . .”
This declaration materially helped to seal the fate of Austria, and implicitly recognized Czechoslovak independence as an accomplished fact. France and Italy, by accepting the assistance of Czechoslovak legions on the French and Italian fronts, had already practically acknowledged Czechoslovakia's claims (Briand, 1916). In the first week of Sept. 1918 the United States of America and Japan issued declarations practically endorsing the British declaration. On Oct. 14 1918 the Czechoslovak National Council was constituted as a Provisional Government with all the attributes of sovereign and independent power. On Oct. 17 the Austrian Emperor Charles issued a manifesto offering the various nationalities of his empire a measure of autonomy on the basis of an Austrian federation. The offer was too partial and came too late. Austria's hour had struck. The Czechs at home declined even discussion with the Vienna Government, and declared that the question of Czechoslovakia must be left to the Peace Conference. On the 18th the Provisional Government at Paris issued a declaration of independence, signed by Prof. Masaryk, Dr. Beneš and Gen. Štéfáik. On Oct. 27 the Austro-Hungarian Government recognized the rights of the Czechoslovaks, and cabled to President Wilson at Washington a request for an armistice and peace negotiations.
Thus, on Oct. 28 1918 the Czechs regained the independence which they had lost almost 300 years before, at the ill-fated battle of the White Mountain on Nov. 8 1620. The National Council at Prague issued a proclamation of independence and took over the reins of government. In spite of the presence of Austrian and Hungarian garrisons in Prague and other towns, there was no bloodshed. Every consideration was shown to the Imperial troops and the Imperial civil authorities, who were allowed to vacate their posts without being subjected to force, and the universal rejoicings of a liberated people were happily marred by no scenes of violence.
On Nov. 16 the first representative body of the Czechoslovak people — the National Assembly as it was called — met at Prague. Its members, 236 in number, were selected from all the different political parties in proportion to their strength as shown by the last parliamentary election previous to the war. The Assembly proceeded to decide upon the form of government to be adopted. The unanimous decision of the Assembly was in favour of a republic, and Prof. Masaryk, at that time still absent abroad, was unanimously chosen as first president. A Cabinet was formed, with Dr. Kramář, who during the war had been sentenced to death for treason and afterwards reprieved, as premier, and Dr. Beneš as foreign minister.
Two days after the declaration of the independence of the Czechoslovak State, which had been signed also by the representatives of Slovakia, the Slovak National Council issued a “Declaration of the Slovak nation,” wherein it was solemnly set forth that the Slovaks in blood, in language and civilization form part of the Czechoslovak nation. A considerable time, however, elapsed before the Slovaks were allowed without hindrance to unite fully with the Czechs. The Hungarians (Magyars) declined to surrender the territories inhabited by Slovaks, and it was necessary to call in the military help of the Czechs before the last Hungarian troops, who had initiated a reign of terror in Slovakia, could be driven out of the land.
In the extreme eastern corner of the Czechoslovak Republic, there is situated a little autonomous region of Russinia (or Sub-Carpathian Russia), which, together with Slovakia, was part and parcel of the Hungarian Kingdom till the Treaty of St. Germain permitted its incorporation with Czechoslovakia. The National Central Council of the Ruthenians, which met on May 8 1919 at Užhorod, their capital, unanimously adopted a resolution approving of incorporation with Czechoslovakia, on special terms of autonomy. Thus by the express will of their peoples, the various lands represented in the Czechoslovak Republic, viz. Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Russinia, united to form one State with a single central Government having its seat at Prague. The tasks, almost infinite in number, confronting the new State were of great gravity. The country had been brought by the Austro-Hungarian war policy to the very brink of economic and financial ruin. A starved and decimated population stood face to face with difficulties, not only on every frontier but indeed to some extent within the borders of the State itself. The spirit of courage and endurance which had enabled the Czechoslovaks to achieve their independence was now to inspire a further work of no mean significance — the consolidation of a free, democratic and enlightened republic in the heart of Europe, the most westerly outpost of the great Slavonic world stretching from the banks of the Elbe and the Danube to the Pacific Ocean, and at the same time a nation bound by ties of gratitude and common interest to the Anglo-Saxon and Latin races. “At home we feel sufficiently confident,” said Dr. Kramář, the premier, at the first session of the National Assembly, “of being able to rely upon our own powers alone, and that without injustice to others. We shall count upon the devotion of all towards the State and we shall show that not only have we been able to achieve our liberty but that we know how to preserve it and to be really free — worthy of our great past, of our traditions and of our sufferings.”
The National Assembly confirmed all the emergency measures which had been passed by the National Council between Oct. 28 and the date of the first session of the Assembly, such for instance, as enactments declaring the Austro-Hungarian code of laws (with some few express exceptions) as still in force and measures securing continuity in the executive and administrative offices of State. There was thus no appreciable break in political, legal or local administration. The framing of a constitution for the new State was early proceeded with. On Feb. 29 1920, after a parliamentary committee had been at work on its provisions for almost a year, a constitution of the republic was adopted by the National Assembly.
Constitution. — The framers of the constitution were largely influenced by the American and French constitutions, and the American principle of the division and balance of the legislative, executive and judicial powers was followed.
The actual terms of the constitution are introduced by a preamble, which runs:—
“We, the Czechoslovak nation, desiring to consolidate the perfect unity of our people, to establish the reign of justice in the Republic, to assure the peaceful development of our native Czechoslovak land, to contribute. to the common welfare of all citizens of this State and to secure the blessings of freedom to coming generations, have in our National Assembly this 29th day of February 1920 adopted the following Constitution for the Czechoslovak Republic; and in so doing we declare that it will be our endeavour to see that this Constitution together with all the laws of our land be carried out in the spirit of our history as well as in the spirit of those modern principles embodied in the idea of Self-determination, for we desire to take our place in the Family of Nations as a member at once cultured, peace-loving, democratic and progressive.”
Legislative authority is exercised by two popularly elected bodies, a Chamber of Deputies of 300 and a Senate of 150 members. Of these, the Chamber of Deputies, as the more fully representative of the popular will, possesses greater powers, being enabled in certain cases to carry through its legislation in face of the opposition of the Senate. The Senate was intended to play the part of an organ of supervision, so as to act as a preventive of too hasty or too loosely drawn-up legislation. It has in more than one instance already exercised its power as a checking and restraining authority with good effects — its amendments even on substantial points having been several times accepted by the Lower Chamber.
Suffrage is universal, both men and women who have attained the age of 21 years being able to vote in elections to the House of Deputies. To vote in elections to the Senate the voter must have reached the age of twenty-six.
The president of the republic is elected in a joint session of the two Chambers. His period of office is fixed at seven years, and he may be reëlected at the end of his first term for a second period of seven years. For a third term, however, he cannot be elected until after the expiration of seven years from the conclusion of his second term of office. This restriction does not apply to the first president — President Masaryk.
The president of the republic is not answerable at law for his official acts. He may be impeached in one case only — namely, for high treason, on the motion of the Chamber of Deputies; and his only punishment, if found guilty, is the loss of his office and disability ever to hold it again. For each and all of his State acts one minister at least is responsible.
Among other outstanding terms of the constitution are the following:— The Czechoslovak State is declared to be a democratic republic with an elected president at its head. To make any alteration in its frontiers a constitutional law is required — a law which, as opposed to an ordinary law, has to be passed by a three-fifths majority of Parliament. Russinia (Sub-Carpathian Russia) is granted the widest possible autonomy compatible with the integrity of the Czechoslovak Republic. The Chamber of Deputies is elected for six years, the Senate for eight. Deputies must be at least 26, senators 45 years of age. They possess immunity, but may be handed over to the ordinary courts by resolution of the House to which they belong. Parliament must sit twice a year. Declarations of war and amendments to the constitution require a vote in their favour of three-fifths of all members of both Houses. Cabinet ministers may participate in the meetings of either House and on the request of either House must attend its session.
Finance and army bills must be introduced first in the Lower House, the Chamber of Deputies. A measure passed by the Chamber of Deputies becomes law, in spite of its rejection by the Senate, if the Chamber of Deputies by a vote of the majority of its entire membership repasses the measure.
During the period when Parliament is not sitting, a permanent commission of 24 members (16 from the deputies and 8 from the senators) sits to enact urgent measures which have temporarily the force of law. They lose their validity unless confirmed within two months by the Parliament which subsequently meets.
Cabinet ministers are appointed by the president; they need not be members of either House.
In respect of civic rights no privileges of sex, birth or vocation are recognized. Titles may be conferred only when they refer to office or occupation. The liberty of the press, the right of free expression of opinion by word, writing, printed matter, etc., liberty of conscience and religious profession are guaranteed. All religious confessions are equal before the law.
All citizens of the republic are fully equal before the law and enjoy equal civil and political rights whatever be their race, language or religion; the special provisions for the protection of national and other minorities have already been referred to. The constitutional charter thus represents an honest effort to set up a truly democratic republic which shall fairly meet the demands of the varied races and religions within its borders.
Administration and Justice. — The executive Government is placed in charge of 15 ministries concerned with the following matters:— foreign affairs, interior, finance, commerce, labour, food supplies, railways, health, social welfare, justice, agriculture, public instruction, national defence, posts and telegraphs, and the unification of laws. The collective responsibility of this Cabinet of ministers is expressly laid down in the charter of the constitution. The president of the republic enjoys such executive power as is expressly assigned to him by the constitution, and he has his own office — the president's bureau — presided over by a permanent official, to conduct such matters as fall within his competence and to facilitate communication with the rest of the executive.
For purposes of political administration the republic has been divided into administrative subdistricts, the heads of which are appointed by and directly responsible to the central Government. Local civil government is carried on by popularly elected parish, district, urban and municipal councils.
The tribunals of the republic are the Supreme Court of Justice, which sits at Brno and is the court of final appeal both in civil and criminal causes, two high courts sitting at Prague and Brno respectively, 33 provincial courts and 410 district courts, all of which possess jurisdiction in both civil and criminal causes. Commercial cases are dealt with by the ordinary courts, except at Prague where a special commercial court sits. Litigation in mining matters is conducted before special benches attached to the district courts in mining districts. In large industrial centres there are also industrial courts to deal with disputes between employers and workpeople. At Prague there sits also an electoral court which decides upon the validity of disputed elections or forfeiture of seats and other questions relating to parliamentary or elected bodies. A constitutional court decides whether laws promulgated by Parliament are in harmony with the charter of the constitution.
Previous to 1918 the territories now composing the Czechoslovak Republic were of course subject to the Austrian or Hungarian code of laws respectively. On the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the Austrian code was adopted for the lands of the Bohemian crown and the Hungarian code for Slovakia. A special Ministry — that for “the unification of legislation and administrative organization” — has been entrusted with the unification of the laws for the whole republic; and two commissions of legal experts under the control of the Ministry of Justice were in 1921 at work on a careful revision of the old codes, which when completed would be issued as a uniform code for the entire republic.
Foreign Policy. — “Our policy,” said Dr. Beneš in 1921, “is a policy of peace: in domestic affairs our programme is the logical sequel to our foreign policy, namely, social and racial order and justice, and unremitting effort on behalf of social and political democracy. The Great War must have taught us all that a calm and sensible discussion of all our differences is possible.” The Czechoslovak Republic was first and foremost concerned, while avoiding all that may smack of chauvinism or imperialism, to maintain its integrity within the frontiers assigned to it by the Peace Conference. To that end it insisted upon the strict observance of the Treaties of Versailles, of St. Germain and of Trianon. It favoured an Anglo-French entente or alliance, seeing therein a substantial guarantee for the due carrying-out of those pacts. An intimate collaboration with England and France was a conditio sine qua non for Czechoslovakia. The creation of the so-called “Little Entente,” aiming at the preservation of the status quo in central Europe, was the primary outcome of Czechoslovak foreign policy. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania became bound together in the Little Entente by a treaty of alliance (Convention with Yugoslavia dated Aug. 13 1920, with Rumania April 23 1921), positive in so far as it aimed at the establishment and maintenance of peace, security and normal economic conditions in central Europe, and defensive in so far as it was directed against all attempts at reaction menacing the existence of the new states. The efficacy of the Little Entente as a counter-reactionary alliance was manifested in April 1921, and again in October 1921, when its concerted action helped to frustrate the two attempts of Charles of Habsburg-Lorraine to recapture the throne of Hungary.
In respect of Austria Czechoslovakia was animated by the desire to assist in relieving the economic situation of the country, while opposed both to the incorporation of Austria with Germany and to the foundation of a Danubian confederation. It was in favour of aiding Austria on a broad basis of financial and economic help, to be rendered generally to the states of central Europe by international agreement. It was in favour of creating in central Europe a new political and economic system by which permanent peace would be secured — a definite understanding between all the “Succession States” of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the matter of communications, post, telegraphs, navigation, finance and banking, exchange of goods and commercial treaties generally, opening up the way to a system of unfettered economics and freer trade — but at the same time jealously guarding the economic and political sovereignty of the Czechoslovak Republic.
In respect of Hungary Czechoslovakia was at one with Yugoslavia and Rumania in holding that a Habsburg restoration would be a casus belli. These countries adopted the view laid down by the Paris Conference on Feb. 2 1920, which declared that “it is not within the intention nor can it be regarded as the duty of the principal Allied Powers to intervene in the internal affairs of Hungary or to dictate to the Hungarian people what form of Government or of Constitution they shall adopt: nevertheless the Powers cannot allow the restoration of the Habsburg dynasty to be regarded as a question concerning the Hungarian nation alone. They declare therefore that a restoration of this nature would be in conflict with the very basis of the peace settlement and would be neither recognized nor tolerated.”
On the other hand Czechoslovakia was desirous of renewing economic and political relations with Hungary, the more so as agricultural Hungary might be regarded as the complement of industrial Czechoslovakia, supplying her with natural products and providing a market for Czechoslovak manufactures.
With Poland the relations of the Czechoslovak Republic were for a considerable time seriously troubled by the question of Teschen, both countries laying claim to that territory. The Paris Conference in July 1920 decided for the partition of the disputed area; and the decision, though it signified no small sacrifice for the Czechoslovaks and caused deep disappointment throughout the country, was accepted loyally in the hope that by this sacrifice the friendship of the Poles would be secured. In the words of Dr. Beneš, “the Czechoslovak Government regards the conflict with the Poles as definitively ended and is desirous of systematically pursuing a policy of rapprochement.” It was in this sense that the whole policy of Czechoslovakia towards Poland was directed, and the Czechoslovaks were hopeful that Poland would ultimately join with the Little Entente.
Towards Russia the policy of Czechoslovakia was logically consistent. It had always been opposed to intervention in Russia, and insisted upon Russia desisting from any act that might be construed as intermeddling in the affairs of Czechoslovakia, in particular the pursuit of Bolshevist propaganda on Czechoslovak territory. The Czechs were animated with intense sympathy for the real Russian people, and looked forward to the day when they will be able to coöperate as kinsmen in the reconstruction of a peaceful and well-ordered Russia.
In pursuance of its practical policy of rapprochement and economic cooperation in the reconstruction of central Europe in particular and of Europe in general, Czechoslovakia concluded a series of commercial treaties with her various neighbours and with the Allied Powers.
Political Parties. — Not only was there in 1918-21 a sharp contrast in policy between the Czechoslovaks and the minority races living within the republic — the Germans and the Magyars — but each nationality was split up into a multiplicity of factions. The Czechoslovaks had 199 representatives in the House of Deputies and 103 in the Senate, and this total of 302 members was divided among no less than nine parties. The Germans and the Magyars were also proportionately split up. The strongest party in the republic was that of the Czechoslovak Social Democrats, which up to Sept. 1920 was represented by 74 deputies and 41 senators. The left wing of the party, — 22 deputies and 5 senators — after a somewhat violent quarrel, then broke away and formed an independent organization owing allegiance to the Third (Moscow) International. This Communist party established its own organ, the “Rudé Právo” (The Red Rights), in opposition to the “Právo Lidu” (The Rights of the People), the organ of the Social Democratic party. The Social Democrats were well organized among the industrial workers and agricultural labourers. They pursued a Marxist programme aiming at the socialization of the State, the means of production and consumption: they were opposed to a dictatorship of the proletariat, and were for evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary methods. They supported the peace policy of the Czechoslovak Government in foreign affairs, and were strongly opposed to intervention in Russia. They were also in favour of a closer coöperation with the German democratic element in the State.
The Communists aimed at a dictatorship of the proletariat, the creation of workmen's and military councils and a close hand-in-hand coöperation with Soviet Russia.
The Popular party, composed of Catholics and recruited largely from Slovakia and the country districts of Moravia, was represented by 33 deputies and 18 senators. Its organization was chiefly in the hands of the priests. It championed the rights of private ownership against Socialism, and combated the anti-Rome movement which was taking place throughout the republic. In foreign affairs it supported the Government.
The Agrarian party numbered 42 members, and published an important daily, the “Venkov” (Country). It was drawn from the peasant and small-farmer class, was in favour of land reform, private property rights and increased production all round. It was opposed to Socialism.
The National Socialists numbered thirty-four. They pursued a national as opposed to an international social policy, being thus opponents of the Social Democrats and in particular antagonistic to Communism. They were opposed to the Soviets, but while favouring a constitutional Russia were against any intervention in that country.
The National Democrats (Liberals), whose organ was the “Nádrodni Listy,” numbered twenty-nine. They were led by Dr. Kramář, and, being mostly recruited from the educated, professional and official classes, were more influential than the numbers suggest. They were strongly represented in Prague and other cities. They were, of course, opposed to Marxism and Communism. In domestic politics they were strongly Nationalist and suspicious of the Germans. They were the champions of State authority, order and public morals.
Of the German parties the strongest was again the Social Democratic party, originally numbering 31 deputies and 16 senators, but having subsequently lost three deputies who formed a German Communist party acting more or less in concert with the Czechoslovak Communists.
In 1921 the total number of Socialists of every complexion in the House of Deputies was 141, as opposed to 137 Bourgeois members (Czechoslovaks 199, Germans 72, Magyars 7). In the Senate the Socialists numbered 68, as against 75 Bourgeois members (Czechoslovaks 103, Germans 37, Magyars 3).
The composition of the Chambers sufficiently explained the fact that up to Sept. 1921 the Government of the republic had remained in the hands of a Coalition Cabinet, or (as at the latter date) of a Cabinet composed of permanent officials supported by a coalition of parties.
Social Legislation. — The democratic sentiment of the Czechoslovak nation, and its maturity in social matters, resulted in the adoption of a social policy which, while proceeding without undue haste, was characterized by a comparatively rapid course of reform. Social legislation first took the form of accident and sickness insurance. In respect of the former an increase of 30% in the payments to the insured as compared with July 1 1917 was made, while at the same time better terms were given in the insurance of miners and of railwaymen; insurance against sickness was completed by extending it to agricultural and domestic workers as well as to the families of the insured. In addition to this, in the course of fixing the premiums to be paid, the amount of State support was several times increased. Sickness insurance was made to include maternity insurance. Old-age and invalidity pensions were not universal; they were made to apply, outside civil servants, to clerks and private officials only.
Pensions were also secured to the widows and orphans of the assured. A universal scheme of old-age and invalidity insurance was before Parliament in 1921. Pensions for war invalids had been granted by special enactments. Insurance against unemployment was originally introduced as an emergency measure, but the economic conditions following the war necessitated the maintenance and extension of this form of insurance, which for normal times has been given legal sanction according to the Ghent system, by State contributions to the payments made by the trade unions.
The most notable accomplishment of the young republic in the field of social-political reform has been the enactment of Dec. 19 1918 establishing an 8-hour day for industrial and agricultural workers (with some specific exceptions). Prohibitions in respect of night work, the work of women (especially mothers) and young persons have been dealt with in the sense of the resolutions adopted at international conferences.
Wages have also been the subject of legislation; special commissions have been empowered to regulate the wages in the so-called “home” industries (sweating), and an arbitration board has been appointed to fix the salaries of clerks in the metal industry, thus minimizing the danger of conflicts in respect of wages having to be settled by means of strikes.
By a far-reaching policy an attempt has been made towards solving the housing problem. A special enactment protects tenants against arbitrary treatment at the hands of landlords in respect of notice to quit and raising of rents. Numerous enactments have also been passed for the encouragement of building operations. The State grants generous support to local authorities and to coöperative societies. These grants amounted in 1919 and 1920 to more than 625,000,000 crowns.
A vast measure of freedom, compared with their position under the Austrian régime, has been granted to women both politically and socially. Politically women are now the equals of men, and there is nothing legally to prevent a woman occupying any position in the various professions or in the administration of the State. In the two Houses of Parliament they were represented in 1921 by 16 members.
Nationalization of the coal-mines and the great industrial concerns was one of the main items on the programme of the Socialist parties. In practice moderate discussion was still proceeding in 1921 with the view of giving a more democratic character to factories and other undertakings and assuring a closer coöperation of the workers in the management. In regard to the mines specialists were in conference as to the part to be taken by the State and by public bodies in ownership and management. A first step towards democratizing industrial undertakings was taken by an enactment touching mining councils. By this enactment it is made possible, where more than 20 workers are employed, for an elected council to coöperate in securing the welfare of the workers, to see to the due execution of contracts and agreements, to settle disputes, and to take part in the management of philanthropic institutions.
Another enactment assures to miners a 10% share of the net profits, this sum to be employed for educative, philanthropic, or other purposes of utility for the benefit of the miners.
On the principle of the mining councils, factory or industrial councils were projected for all industrial undertakings.
The idea underlying these councils was to create, as it were, a certain constitution for factories by which the workman who had hitherto been a mere machine should become a creative factor, closely identified with the organization of the undertaking, conscious of responsibility, and thus making of democracy the same reality in economic life as it had already become in political life.
Land Reform. — Long before the political revolution of 1918 the Czechoslovaks had been convinced of the necessity for a far-reaching measure of land reform, both from a social and economic point of view as well as from national considerations. Vast entailed estates were the property of a small group of landlords (in Bohemia 37.7%, in Moravia 34.4%, in Silesia 39.9% of all land belonged to owners representing 0.1% of the population), while great masses of the people did not own a single acre of their native land. The great majority of the landlords were nobles of foreign origin who acquired their estates at the hands of the Habsburg conqueror from 1621 onwards, when, after the battle of the White Mountain, the lands of the Czech nobles and yeomen were confiscated, the owners being executed or, as adherents of the Moravian Brotherhood and other Protestant churches, preferring to pass into exile rather than surrender their faith. The demand for the nationalization of the great landed estates was thus not only supported as a social and economic necessity in order to provide the landless population, notably the legionaries, with land, but was, deep in the minds of the people, regarded as a legal rectification of the wrongs suffered through the confiscations which followed the defeat of the White Mountain.
The Act by which the great estates were sequestered was unanimously passed by the National Assembly on April 16 1919. It gives the State the right to “take” (seize) and distribute estates in so far as they exceed 150 hectares (370 ac.) of arable land or 250 hectares (617 ac.) of land of any kind. Estates belonging to the house of Habsburg-Lorraine, property illegally acquired, as well as the property of persons who during the war were guilty of gross offences against the Czechoslovak nation are taken for a compensation paid to the Reparation Commission at Vienna. In all other cases the State gives to the owner a proportionate compensation based on the average prices in the years 1913-7. For the purchase and distribution of the land a “State Land Office” has been set up. A share in the distribution may be claimed on the one hand by private persons to the amount of 15 hectares (37 ac.) — the amount suitable for cultivation by one family; on the other hand by agricultural, housing and coöperative societies. The lands taken over by the State may, of course, be used for other purposes of public utility and remain the property of the State. Even persons without means may obtain land, an enactment enabling them to purchase on credit to the extent of nine-tenths of the value of the land acquired. Special protection is given to small holders. This Land Act was to be carried out in a series of successive periods, during the first of which only estates over 5,000 hectares (12,350 ac.) would be affected.
The Army. — The military forces of the republic were organized, immediately on the attainment of independence, on a democratic basis. The army was formed of the legionaries who had fought in Russia, France and Italy on the side of the Allies, and of those Czechoslovak troops who, on the collapse of Austria-Hungary, streamed back from the various fronts. Recruits now serve for two years, and the strength of the army is fixed at 150,000. This force, which is in essence a militia, is designed to be something different from a mere fighting machine. During their term of service the men are given not only military training but also educational advantages, as well as the opportunity of learning some handicraft. Well-organized continuation schools and systematic courses of lectures aim at providing the young soldier with a complete adult education. The Sokol societies, in collaboration with the army gymnastic clubs and with the Y.M.C.A., devote themselves systematically to the physical and moral welfare of the troops.
Education. — In Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia the standard of education elementary higher and technical is excellent, and there are practically no illiterates a state of affairs attributable to the interest which the Czech nation (imbued with the traditions of Comenius) had ever taken in education. In Slovakia the situation is different. The Slovaks under the Hungarian régime were kept in a backward state — they did not possess a single Slovak school — while still worse conditions prevailed in Russinia, some 75% of the population being unable to read or write. The Czechoslovak Government, between 1918 and 1921, set up some 2,000 additional elementary and some 40 higher schools in Slovakia and Russinia (including 80 new German schools), so that a vast improvement in the educational status of those countries is only a matter of time.
In the entire republic there are four universities, three Czech and Slovak — the Charles University of Prague, the Masaryk University of Brno and the Comenius University of Bratislava — and one German (at Prague). The Masaryk and Comenius Universities are new foundations since 1918. There are four polytechnics enjoying university rank at Prague and Brno, two of them being Czech and two German. At Příbram in Bohemia there is a high school of mines, while two other high schools have been founded at Brno, one for veterinary science and the other for agriculture.
A high standard of physical training is set by the popular gymnastic organizations, known as “Sokols.” In addition to the original Sokol Society (founded in 1862) there are the special organizations of the Labour (Socialist) and the Catholic Gymnastic Unions (under Sokol influence). The great Sokol union has a membership of over 300,000 in all, and the programme includes not only physical but also moral and disciplinary training, aiming at the production of citizens of character and patriotism. The Sokol organization and the Sokol spirit were one of the mainsprings of the movement resulting, in the years 1914 to 1918, in the formation of the Czechoslovak legions on the various European battle-fronts. The “Scout” movement, too, both for boys and girls, has since 1918 developed with much success, especially in collaboration with the other original Czech gymnastic and sport corporations.
Religion. — The religious history of the lands which now compose the Czechoslovak Republic has a special interest for the English-speaking world owing to the fact that the work of John Hus, the great Czech reformer (1369-1415) was largely a result of the influence of Wyclif. At the beginning of the 17th century some 90% of the Bohemians were Protestant, but the loss of independence and the effects of religious persecution (the Counter-Reformation) under the aegis of the Habsburg dynasty, caused the position to be reversed, and up to 1918 almost 90% of the Czechoslovak population was entered in the official statistics as belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. This adherence was, and still is, often only nominal, for the statistics take no note of the great mass of indifferentism and liberalism which prevails in the ranks of the Church. Two other tendencies were also manifest during the last few decades before the war: a movement among the intellectual classes, and to some extent among workers also, towards a non-ecclesiastical religious life; and an “Away from Rome” movement which in one aspect helped to recruit the ranks of Free Thought and on the other hand resulted in a growth of the Protestant churches. Between 1918 and 1921 about 1,000,000 persons left the Roman Church, the most conspicuous secession being that which resulted in the formation of a national “Czechoslovak Church.” A considerable section of the priesthood demanded some dogmatical reforms, including the abolition of celibacy, the introduction of the vernacular into the Church services, and a more democratic administration of Church affairs. On the Holy See declining to meet these demands the “Czechoslovak Church” was founded in Jan. 1920. It has a membership of some 500,000, and possesses 120 churches. Further large secessions took place in favour of the Free Thought movement. The Protestants number about one million, the largest body being the Evangelical Church in Slovakia with a membership of over 400,000. In Bohemia the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren represents a spiritual .and historical continuity with the old Hussites. It was constituted in 1918 by the fusion of two existing Protestant bodies, the Reformed (Calvinist) Church and the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church. Other Protestant denominations (Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist) are in smaller numbers. The Greek Church in Slovakia and Sub-Carpathian Russia has a membership of over 500,000, while the Jews number about 350,000.
Economics and Finance. — The economic and financial position of Czechoslovakia showed signs in 1921 of steady recovery from the chaos which succeeded the close of the war. Rich in natural resources and peopled by an intelligent, experienced and frugal population, the country had every reason to look forward to a prosperous industrial development in the future. Without Slovakia the republic would be mainly an industrial State: with it there is a slight preponderance in favour of agriculture, 41.5% of the entire population being occupied on or in connexion with the land and 38% in industry and commerce.
In special branches of industry Czechoslovakia is prominent among European countries, as for instance in the production of sugar and glass. In the manufacture of alcoholic liquors it occupies third place among European countries. It is less favourably placed in respect of the iron and textile industries, having to rely to a large extent upon the import of raw materials from abroad. The coal-mines of the country are capable of producing some 15 million tons of black coal and 24 millions of brown coal (lignite). The yield of iron ore is almost one million tons annually, while gold, silver, tin, graphite and salt are also mined. Iron and steel foundries exist at Kladno near Prague, as well as in Moravia and in Slovakia. Their blast furnaces produce 1,700,000 tons of pig-iron annually. The output of steel amounts to 298,000 tons, iron in bars 400,000 tons, iron girders 130,000 tons and sheet-iron 34,000 tons. Czechoslovakia manufactures and exports agricultural machinery, plant for sugar refineries and distilleries, locomotives, railway carriages and trucks and other rolling-stock, motor-cars, tractors. Aeroplanes are made at Prague and Plzeň (Pilsen). In its output of graphite Czechoslovakia takes second place among European countries, Great Britain being the first. Naphtha wells are working with favourable results at Gbely in Slovakia, and researches in progress at other points (Russinia) promise results that would make Czechoslovakia independent of foreign sources in respect of petroleum, even if no surplus were produced for export. Potters' clay, kaolin and felspar, which have largely facilitated the development of the flourishing porcelain industry, are found in various parts of the country, which is also fortunate in possessing sand suitable for use in the manufacture of the glass for which Bohemia has long been famous.
The economic importance of Czechoslovakia is strikingly shown by a comparison with the rest of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Previous to the war the present Czechoslovak territories were responsible for 92% of the sugar produced by Austria-Hungary, for 46% of the spirits, beer 57%, malt 87%, foodstuffs 50%, chemicals 75%, metals 60%, porcelain 100%, glass 90%, cotton goods 75%, woollen goods 80%, jute 90%, leather 70%, gloves 90%, boots 75%, paper 60%. The war, of course, cut off the supply of raw materials for the textile trade, which in 1921 was still suffering from shortage, particularly of raw cotton.
Czechoslovakia is the only European State which can export sugar: it is the second largest beet-sugar producer in the world, having some 500,000 ac. of beet under cultivation. In 1920-1 some 715,000 tons of sugar were produced, 189 factories and refineries being engaged in the industry, and 300,000 tons were available for export.
Of beer 13 million hectolitres are brewed annually, of which one million are exported. Exceptionally fine hops are grown in the Žatec (Saaz) district of Bohemia, and of these no less than 40% are exported. The republic has 676 breweries and 140 malt-houses.
With an area of over 10 million ac. of forest it is only natural that Czechoslovakia exports not merely large quantities of timber but also furniture, bent-wood furniture, toys, musical instruments, etc. Of the bent-wood furniture 90% is exported and finds a ready market in England and America. Paper is also produced to the extent of some 250,000 tons annually. Of porcelain 30,000 tons is produced annually in 68 factories, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) being the chief centre of the pottery industry.
Glass manufacture in Bohemia dates from the 15th century. Bohemian glass enjoys a world-wide reputation, which is well deserved: the crystal ware of Bor (Haida), the imitation jewelry and stones of Jablonec (Gablonz), the paste and semi-precious stones of Turnov, are exported to every part of the globe. Over 60,000 work-people are employed in the glass industry.
Leather is among the more important manufactures of Czechoslovakia. Boot factories employ 40,000 workmen, glove manufactories the same number. Some three-fourths of the entire output in both these wares are exported, largely to England and to Germany.
Czechoslovakia, as already indicated, is not only an industrial State: it possesses at the same time a highly developed agriculture in which over 40% of the entire population is engaged, that is to say, some 5,700,000 persons are workers in some way or other connected with the land. Climate and soil are favourable: beet-root is grown up to an altitude of 1,100 ft. and corn to 1,300 ft. above sea-level. Only 4% of all arable land in the country is unproductive (in Great Britain 15%). The chief agricultural products are potatoes and vegetables, beet-root and hops, wheat, rye, barley and oats. The agriculture of the republic supplies the material for several important industries, including the production of sugar, beer and spirits, starch (120 factories), syrup, glucose, chicory, coffee substitutes from rye and barley, jams. Alcohol and spirits are distilled in 1,100 distilleries employing 18,000 workmen and producing annually some 380,000 hectolitres (1919-20; 1,151,000 hectolitres before the war). Excellent wines are also made, those of Melnik in Bohemia and the Slovakian wines being the best known.
Agriculture is encouraged by a suitable system of education. Since it came into being the republic had by 1921 founded 13 new agricultural schools, and in all there were 180 agricultural and forestry schools (higher and elementary), including the so-called “winter schools,” while more than 50 periodicals appeared regularly for the technical instruction of those engaged in agriculture. The agricultural interests were also represented directly in the Parliament by a strong Agrarian party.
The foreign trade of Czechoslovakia was in 1921 growing steadily in volume. Previous to the war the country's products were, of course, classed as Austrian goods: now the description of “Made in Czechoslovakia” was beginning to make its way in the markets of the world. In 1919 the republic exported merchandise to the extent of 566 million tons and imported 183 millions. In 1920 these figures rose to 690 and 200 million tons respectively. In 1919 Czechoslovak exports to Great Britain (exclusive of colonies) amounted to a value of 238 million crowns, imports to 328 millions. Sugar, malt, hops, beer, mineral waters, glass, porcelain, leather, gloves, furniture and toys are the principal articles of export to Great Britain.
While suffering from the symptoms affecting central Europe generally, the republic was distinctly better off as regards its financial situation than any of its neighbours. The budgets of 1919 and 1920 disclosed deficits of 5 billion and 3 billion kronen respectively, but in that for 1921 the revenue slightly exceeded the expenditure. Czechoslovakia was thus the only country in central Europe with a well-balanced budget. The national debt amounted to some 40 billion crowns, against which the state itself possessed assets in the shape of forests, coal mines, the former domains of the Habsburgs, mineral, naphtha, radium and other sources of natural wealth, besides the State-owned railways.
Communications. — As a wholly inland nation, Czechoslovakia has to rely in the matter of transport upon its railways and its waterways, notably the Elbe, which connects the republic with Hamburg and the North Sea, and the Danube, which unites it with the east of Europe and the Balkans. Under the peace treaties Czechoslovakia acquired her own docks and warehouses in the harbour of Hamburg. Before the war the Czechoslovak traffic on the Elbe totalled some 4 million tons annually. On the Danube the amount was 2 millions, but this total bids fair, under normal conditions, to be easily passed, inasmuch as the work of developing the port of Bratislava, the construction of docks, warehouses and shipbuilding yards, was already proceeding energetically. It was also proposed to link up the Elbe and the Danube by a canal which would enable direct transport to be effected from North and Baltic Seas to the Black Sea. A further scheme in contemplation was that of a Danube-Oder canal.
The total length of railway track in Czechoslovakia was in 1921 a little over 8,000 m., which represents 1 m. of railway for every 8½ sq. m. of area. In the course of a few years this mileage was to be largely increased, Parliament having voted some 6,500 million crowns for further construction and improvements. Some 4,700 m. of track are State-owned; the rest are in the hands of private companies, but were gradually to be taken over by the State.
Czechoslovakia has 5,000 post-offices, some 10,000 m. of telegraphs, and close upon 8,000 m. of telephone communication. Aerial posts are established with Paris, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, in addition to which there exist also cross-country services. The republic possesses seven radio-telegraph stations.
Literature, Art and Music. — The Czechs have possessed a notable literature from the 13th century onwards. It has shared the vicissitudes of the nation itself and like it been in danger of extermination at the hands of fanatic foes. The names of Hus, Chelčický and Comenius (Komenský) are connected with the pre-Renaissance religious periods. The revival of the Czechs after a hundred years of torpor, due to the loss of their independence in 1620 and subsequent oppression at the hands of the Habsburgs and the dominant Germans, gave birth, from 1780 onwards, to a literary activity which still continues to yield rich fruit. From the modest and simple art of the patriotic poets and novelists of the first half of the 19th century, whose work nevertheless was an influential factor in the awakening of a national sentiment among the common people, Czech literature, after a period characterized by the romanticism of Mácha and the critical realism of Havliček, arrived at a school which, while it took its inspiration from the sources of the national spirit, did not shut itself out from foreign influences. Vrehlieký, a master of verse and a perfect cosmopolitan, and Čech, who took the material for his epics from Czech history, are the outstanding names of this epoch. Among their contemporaries were Heyduk and Sládek, two poets both belonging in form and in matter to the national school. Sládek was, with his excellent translations, one of the first to make Czech readers acquainted with the riches of English literature (especially Shakespeare). Eminent among the novelists of this generation were Němçová, a good observer of social conditions who reproduced in her works the charm of Bohemian peasant life; her kinswoman Světlá, Arbes and Zeyer. Neruda, a poet of bitter irony but of profound faith in and affection towards his nation, was also the author of novels, notable for their original realism, and numerous belletristic works of a high order. He marks the period of transition to the younger generation of writers, in the forefront of whom stands the poet and novelist Hachar, who revolutionized the conception of Czech patriotism and is famous for his historical glosses. Jirásek, the author of a vast series of novels and short stories, drawing their material from Bohemian history, unites the past with the present generation. By the healthy spirit of patriotism breathed in all his works Jirásek contributed not a little to maintaining among the masses of the people a national consciousness and faith in a better national future. The youngest literary generation in Czechoslovakia was represented in 1921 in particular by three leading poets: Sova, a writer of delicate lyrics; Bezruč, who sings of social and national oppression, and Březina, a profound visionary and pantheistic mystic. Among prose writers the leading contemporary names are Svobodová, Čapek, a robust realist, and Srámek, who has also met with success as a dramatist. In Slovakia the foremost name is that of the poet Hviezdoslay.
The Czechs were famous as musicians as far back as the 15th century. The history of modern Czech music commences with the creator of Czech opera, Frederick Smetana. The compositions of Dvořák have become classics. Among contemporary composers in 1921 the foremost were Foerster, Novák, Ostrčil, and Suk; and as executants Ševčík, Kubelík and Ondříček.
Eloquent testimony is given by the beautiful churches and palaces of Prague — largely Gothic and baroque in style — to the architectural genius of the nation. The graceful cathedral of St. Vitus, rising above the castle (Hrad) on the heights of the Hradčany (Prague), is a magnificent specimen of Gothic. The beautiful church of St. Barbara at Kutná Hora, the royal castle of Karlúv Týn, the Powder Tower, the church of St. Nicholas, the King Charles bridge at Prague, are among the many objects of universal admiration which are to be found in Bohemia.
Of modern sculptors the works of Myslbek and Sucharda are prominent in the public monuments at Prague. The latter, as well as others of the younger school of Czech sculptors, such as Bílek, Kafka and Mařatka, studied under Rodin at Paris.
Modern painting among the Czechs begins with Josef Mánes (1826-71) and Czermak (1831-78), and Aleš. Brožlk is known for his historical canvases, among them “John Hus before the Council of Constance,” while others worth mention are the marine painter Knuepfer, the landscape painters Slavíček and Hudeček, and Preisler and Švabinský as painters of portraits and allegorical subjects. Mucha has won a name abroad for decorative work and historical canvases. In Slovakia, Joža Úprka and his school have devoted themselves to interpreting peasant life.
Science and Philosophy. — In the course of the new intellectual life, by which after three hundred years of subjection the Czech nation again entered the ranks of the living peoples of Europe, scientific effort early resumed its due place.
At the very threshold of the Czech renaissance men of science were among the first pioneers of national thought, as for example Dobrovský the philologist, and in the ensuing generation Purkyně (Purkinje) the physiologist, and Palacký the greatest of Czech historians. Scientific effort received an impetus from the establishment of an independent Czech university at Prague in 1881, and from that time there is hardly a branch of science in which workers of profound and creative talent did not arise (in physics Zenger, in biology Vejdovský), while a whole series of eminent names as well in the technical and mathematical as in the historical and philological (e.g. Zubatý) sciences might be mentioned.
Philosophy was early cultivated in Bohemia. At first the influence of German thought, German enlightenment and idealism was apparent, particularly in Kollár (a Slovak); the influence of Kant was seen in Palacký, that of Hegel and post-Kantian speculation in Aug. Smetana, while the philosophy of Herbart had a deep influence on educationists like Lindner, Durdík and Hostinský. To the more recent tendencies of contemporary philosophical thought the way was opened up by Thomas G. Masaryk, who, as a counterpoise to German speculation and the intellectualism of Herbart, emphasized the critical study of English philosophy, notably Hume, Spencer and Mill, and the French Comte; at the same time he fully appreciated the value of Kant in epistemology. Masaryk's work, Spirit of Russia, is a close analysis of the Russian philosophy of history, and of the Russian religious, moral and political thought. Enriched by new ethical and religious elements, Czech philosophy manifests itself in Masaryk's works as a new realism or humanism. A whole series of philosophic thinkers — Drtina, Foustka, Rádl and Beneš — followed in Masaryk's footsteps.
Bibliography. — W. F. Bailley, The Slavs of the War Zone (1916); E. Beneš, Bohemia's Case for Independence (1916, with an introduction by H. Wickham-Steed); Détruisez l'Autriche-Hongrie (1916); Besteaux, Bibliographie Tchèque (1920); Alex Brož, The First Year of the Czechoslovak Republic (1920), The Rise of the Czechoslovak Republic (1919); Cisař, Pokorný, Selver, The Czechoslovak Republic (1921); T. Čapek, Bohemia under Habsburg Misrule (1915); The Bohemian Biography (1918); Dědeček, La Tchécoslovaquie et les Tchécoslovaques (1919); Louis Eisenmann, La Tchécoslovaquie, une carte hors texte (1921); Étienne Fournol, De la Succession d'Autriche (1918); Hoetzl and Joachim, The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic (1920); D. Jurkovič, Slowakische Volksarbeiten (1915); T. G. Masaryk, The New Europe (1918), The Problem of Small Nations in the European Crisis (Council for the Study of International Relations 1916); B. Matějka and Z. Wirth, L'Art tchèque contemporaine (1920); W. S. Monroe, Bohemia and the Czechs (1910); Vl. Nosek, Independent Bohemia (1918); C. Pergler, The Czechoslovak State (1919); C. Rivet, Les Tchécoslovaques (4th ed., 1921); P. Selver, Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry (1912); R. W. Seton-Watson, German Slav and Magyar (1916), The Czechoslovak Republic (1921); E. Stern, La législation ouvrière tchécoslovaque (1921); J. E. S. Vojan, Modern Musical History of Bohemia (1917); Weiss, La République Tchécoslovaque (1919). (T. G. M.)
- For an Austrian view of the nationality question, see the article Austrian Empire (Ed. E. B.).