The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 1/Address of Bohemian Authors to the Parliamentary Representatives of the Bohemian People
Address of Bohemian Authors
to the Parliamentary Representatives of the Bohemian People
We address you, gentlemen, at a great period of our national life, at a time for which we shall all be held responsible to future centuries. We address you, the delegates of the Czech people, well knowing that we, the literary men of Bohemia, known and active in our public life, have not the right only, but the duty also to speak for the overwhelming majority of the cultural and spiritual world of Bohemia, nay for the nation itself, unable to speak directly.
The Reichsrat is to meet shortly, and the political representatives of the Czech nation for the first time since the war began will have the opportunity to express from the parliamentary tribune all that could not be expressed through the print or any other public manner. We regret, of course, that this parliamentary tribune will not be the ancient diet of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and we declare expressly that the diet is the only rightful place in which the wishes and needs of our nation should be discussed. But at present, alas, there is no Bohemian diet; the only free forum of Bohemian representatives at this time can be the parliament in Vienna. There at least, gentlemen, be the true spokesmen of your nation, there at least tell the state and the world what your nation wants and what it insists upon. There at least do your sacred duty and in a spirit of determination and self-sacrifice defend Bohemian rights and Bohemian claims in this most fateful time of the world’s history, for now the fortunes of the Bohemian nation are being moulded for centuries to come.
But you can do your duty fully only when all constitutional conditions which parliamentary life presupposes in every case are fully satisfied in advance. That means not only actual freedom of assembly before the parliamentary session, so that the people’s delegates might hear the wishes and complaints of their constituents, not only the abolishing of press censoring in all non-military matters, but also complete freedom and inviolability of all parliamentary speeches in the Reichsrat and in the print, and above all complete inviolability of the representatives of the people. Many Czech and Jugoslav deputies were deprived of this privilege, this exemption, many were sentenced to jail and even to death, others were interned, and it is not known yet of what they were guilty. Political persecution has grown enormously during the war, and if a new civic life is to begin, the necessary foundation of all parliamentary proceedings, it is surely imperative that you first obtain general amnesty for all who have been condemned by military courts for political and non-military reasons. The Bohemian nation cannot concede to its present delegation the right to speak and act in its name in the Reichsrat, until complete civic freedom of our public life is first secured. And further we are opposed to the plan to have the parliament extend its mandate, for more than forty delegates will not be present, one-half of them still living and entitled to sit. Only the people can give and renew the mandate, and the Bohemian man can accept from the hands of people only political representation of the people’s rights and desires.
These desires and these rights of the Czecho-Slovak nation get new strength and new emphasis through the progress to date of the world war, for the future of Europe is coming to have a new, democratic appearance. All our political aims likewise must be looked at from a standpoint equally elevated and freedom loving, combined with the old Bohemian honesty, unselfishness and devotion, with the ancient noble consideration for the honor of the Bohemian nation and for the verdict of the future. These great qualities the Bohemian nation manifested through the self-confident calm which it managed to preserve during the war in spite of all provocation, not needing instruction by its delegates or other political counsels. This self-confident calm, this instinct of self-preservation, were the healthiest expression of our national life. This eloquent national silence, unbroken through the severest oppression, was to continue till the end of the world struggle. But now the doors of the Austrian parliament are about to open and the political spokesmen of the peoples for the first time are given the opportunity to act and speak freely, should they so desire. What they may say and what they may do will be heard not only at home, but through all Europe and even beyond the seas. Both the present and the future will look upon you as spokesmen of the Czecho-Slovak nation; nor is there any doubt as to what is expected of you.
The program of our nation is given by its history and by its racial individuality, by its modern political life and by its rights and by all that which gave rise to these rights and solemnly guaranteed them. The present day approves this program to its ultimate corollaries; if it ever appeared that it may be postponed or cut down, the present time compels you to demand its fulfilment without any reservations, to unfold it before the forum of all Europe and then defend it to the very end. For the Bohemian people never gave it up; the Czecho-Slovak hearts never lost faith in its solemn future realization.
A democratic Europe, a Europe composed of equal and free nations, is the Europe of tomorrow and the future. The people demand of you that you be equal to these great historical times, that you sacrifice all other considerations, that you offer your utmost abilities, that you act at this time as men who are independent, who have no personal ties and obligations, men of supreme moral and national consciousness. If you cannot comply with everything the nation demands of you and lays upon you, then give up your mandates before you enter the parliament, and appeal to your final authority, to your nation.
In Bohemia and Moravia, May 1917.
Signed by 183 Bohemian literary men:
Dr. Ed. Babák, Bohumil Bauše, Václav Beneš-Šumavský, B. Benešova, R. Bojko, J. Borovička, F. A. Borovský, Bohumil Brodský,, , , K. M. Čapek-Chod, Em. Čenkov, Adolf Černý, Jak. Deml, Fr. Drtina, Viktor Dyk, Otokar Fischer, V. Flajšhans, Břetislav Foustka, Emil Franke, Bedřich Frida, Marie Gebaurova, J. Guth, Karel Guth, Jaroslav Haasz, Josef Hanuš, Zdenka Háskova, Prokop Haškovec, Jan Havlasa, Jan Heidler, F. K. Hejda, Vladimír Helfert, , Frant. Herites, Ignát Herrmann, , Karel Hikl, K. H. Hilar, Jaroslav Hilbert, Jos. Hloucha, Karel Hoch, Jos. Holeček, Josef Holý, Jan Hudec, Em. Chalupný, Karel Chodounský, Frant. Chudoba, Methoděj Jahn, Jan Jakubec, Gustav Jaroš, , , , Karel Jonáš, V. A. Jung, J. Kabelík, E. Kálal, M. Kalašová, Josef Kalus, , Frant. Khol, , Jan Klecanda, Karel Klosterman, Bohuslav Knosl, Jaroslav Kolman, Karel Kolman, Jan Koloušek, Josef D. Konrád, Josef Kořenský, Jan Koula, , Fr. Krejčí, F. V. Krejčí, Kamil Krofta, Petr Křička, , Josef Kuchař, , Vlastimil Kybal, Josef Laichter, Eduard Lederer-Leda, Karel Leger, , Jan Leir, Stanislav Lorn, Ludvík Lošťak, Ant. Macek, Karel B. Madl, Jiří Mahen, , , Marie Majerová, Helena Malířová, Frant. Mareš, Jaroslav Maria, Miloš Marten, Karel Mašek, Pavla Maternová, Vilém Mathesius, Karel Mečíř, Jindřich Metelka, Alois Mrštík, Zděnek Nejedlý, Boh. Němec, Lubor Niederle, Ladislav Novák, , Václav Novotný, František Obrtel, Ivan , Hanuš Opočenský, Jan Opolský, Jan Osten, Gustav Pallas, Jan Patrný, Josef Pešek, Karel Pippich, Jiří Polívka, Gabriela Preisová, Arnošt Procházka, , Em. Radl, , Miloslav Rutte, August Sedláček, , Karel Sezima, Primus Sobotka, Karel Scheinpflug, Antonin Schulz, E. Sokol, , Adolf Srb, Otokar Srdénko, Antal Stašek, Ferdinand Strejček, Lothar Suchý, Jiří Sumín, Tereza Svatova, Emil Svoboda, , Růžena Svobodová, Ladislav Sallaha, F. X. Šalda, Josef V. Šimánek, Otokar Šimek, Karel Šípek, Ant. Schneidauf, Ervin Špindler, Václav Štech, Josef Štolba, František Táborský, Josef Teige, Felix Tevér, , Josef Thomayer, Jan Thon, Anna Marie Tylšova, , Emil Tréval, , Ant. Uhlíř, Rudolf Urbánek, Jindřich Vančura, Božena Viková-Kunětická, Jaroslav Vlček, Jan Voborník, Jindřich Vodák, Václav Vojtíšek, Fr. Votruba, Jan Vrba, , F. Wald, Richard Weiner, , , Zděnek Záhoř, Josef Zubatý, Franta Župan.
- The Austrian parliament met May 30, 1917. Bohemian representatives broke off definitely with Austria and announced their program to be the creation of a democratic Czech-Slovak State.