Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/9

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The Bohemian Review

Jaroslav F. Smetanka, Editor, 2324 South Central Park Ave., Chicago.
J. J. Fekl, Business Manager, 2816 S. St. Louis Ave., Chicago

Vol. I, No. 1. FEBRUARY 1917

10 cents a Copy
$1.00 per Year

Masaryk and His Work

A patriot desires but one reward: that he should live to see his labors bear fruit. On January 12, 1917, thousands of Czechs in the United States found time in the midst of their joyous celebration of the dawn of Bohemia’s independence to remember the grand old man of Bohemia, Thomas Garigue Masaryk. He it was who put the ancient kingdom of Bohemia once more upon the map of Europe. On the day when the Allies’ answer to President Wilson was published, he surely was happy, for he had proof that his titanic labors, his tremendous personal and family sacrifices were not made in vain. Bohemia's right to independence was clearly recognized by the Allies and the liberation of the country from foreign domination was made one of the conditions of peace.

For centuries no one in Bohemia did more than dream of independence. This Slav country had been subject to the Hapsburgs for so many generations and so thoroughly was it repressed that even the boldest spirits among its leaders regretfully put aside all thoughts of absolute freedom as visionary and aimed merely at securing for the lands of the Bohemian crown the widest possible autonomy within the confines of the Austrian Empire. On several occasions during the long reign of Francis Joseph the Czechs came near to the realization of these moderate ambitions, but always the emperor drew back unable to give up his ambition to be the German ruler of German or Germanized subjects.

Of late years the struggle of the Czechs for a certain amount of liberty at home and for the right to participate in the government of the Empire was growing more and more hopeless. The general European situation was undergoing a change greatly to the disadvantage of Bohemia. The Hapsburg realm was losing its standing as a great power, due mainly to the constant internal dissensions and language disputes, while the truly national states of Europe were growing in population, wealth and military power. Above all Germany, excelling in industrial and military preparedness, aggressive and domineering, was looking for new worlds to conquer. America was out of the question, for the United States was guarding jealously against the invasion of the two western continents through its Monroe doctrine. Germany’s African colonies were unsuitable for colonization by white men and constituted merely a financial burden. Only Asia offered an undeveloped field—the ramshackle Turkish Empire—and to that land of promise the road from Germany led through the dual empire and the Balkan states. Prague was the first stage on the Berlin-Bagdad highway, and the Czech people were the first obstacle to German expansion. It was a part of Germany’s plan to reduce Austria to complete subserviency by the exaltation of its German minority and a more thorough repression of the Slav and Latin races, with the assistance of the Magyars.

There were not lacking statemen in Bohemia who saw whither things were tending. Two of them stand out above the other Czech patriots: Dr. Charles Kramar and Professor Thomas G. Masaryk. Kramar, the leader of the Young Czech party, for years representative of the middle class of Bohemia, yielded to no one in his devotion to the race from which he sprang or in the sincerity of his intentions to serve the Czech people to the best of his great ability. But being a wealthy manufacturer, a “practical” man, intent upon gaining results in the Vienna parliament, he failed to draw the only conclusion necessitated by the changed European situation which he so well understood. He realized that Germany was “peacefully penetrating” the Danube monarchy, that the very existence of the Czech nation was imperiled; on the floor of the parliament and in the Austrian delegation