The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 2/United We Stand

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United We Stand.

By Frank Šindelář, Secretary, National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics.

One of the most remarkable things in the whole fight of American Czechoslovaks for the freedom of their native land has been the absolute unanimity of the entire nation. It is manifested in their common work, in the ideals for which they all struggle, and in the sacrifices which all gladly bring.

That has not been so always. It must be admitted that before the great war came upon us, for more than fifty years, the Czechs in America to their own great loss were divided into camps, sharply hostile to each other. It seemed as if the abyss separating the religious from the irreligeous Czechs could never be bridged. Sober and thoughtful men have long grieved at this unnatural split of their people, but they were powerless to bring about a change, for others who directly or indirectly profited by the discord frustrated all efforts at harmony.

Then came the great war, and with all its horrors it brought to the Czech people the first hope in centuries of regaining its independence. To the United States came the appeal of the Czech leaders who escaped from Bohemia and opened a campaign on the hospitable soil of France: “Help us in the fight for the liberation of Bohemia and Slovakia, for our people at home have their hands tied.” The appeal found an instant response. Organizations arose which in a short while combined to form the present Bohemian-National Alliance, and soon after the Alliance was strengthened by the co-operation of the Slovak League which came into existence sometime before the war. These two bodies grew in strength and importance, until they covered most of the Czech and Slovak settlements in the United States and Canada. But even then they did not represent the whole of the Czecho-slovak people in this country, for side by side with them there was the strong Catholic section of the people with its many organizations, newspapers, parishes, schools and churches. For a long while this section limited itself to relief work only. The deep cleft maintained for half a century prevented it from uniting with the rest of the people. On both sides sensible men called for union in the fight for the liberation of the old land, but the cry found little response, because the two opposing camps did not know how to come together.

But thank God there were men among the Bohemian Catholics, both clergymen and laymen, who undertook to bring about a union. At an important conference held in the city of Chicago in February 1917 the foundations were laid for the National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics. In a few months the new organization under the leadership of patriotic and wise men and women accomplished what had formerly seemed impossible—they induced the Czechs of the United States to lay aside for a time the prejudices which separated them and to work together in the same ranks for the support of the campaign of liberation carried on in France, England and all the Allied countries. Today we may proudly and with complete satisfaction declare that the Czechs and Slovaks both at home and abroad are completely united.

The first premier of the provisional Czechoslovak Government, Professor Thomas G. Masaryk, during his recent visit to Chicago laid much emphasis on the fact, that we are fully united in this critical period, and that we have all of us the same ideal, that we have subordinataed our differing interests to one common aim. This is not true to the same degree of other nations that were oppressed and are now striving for real liberty. When some day a history of our fight for liberty is written, full credit must go to those who by organizing the National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics made possible the full participation of all divisions of our people in the great work.

Let me add also that the National Alliance from its very foundation, when the future form of the Czechoslovak government was uncertain, insisted on the establishment of a republic, fashioned after the example of the United States; and we have always emphasized the necessity of gaining the good will of our great President Wilson and of the American Government.

The National Alliance of Bohemian Catholics has its headquarters in Chicago (2601 South St. Louis Avenue) and represents about 200 Czech Catholic parishes in the different state of the Union. It carries on its work independently of the Bohemian National Alliance, which has been in existence for two years earlier. But the distinction between the two is limited to their internal affairs; outwardly in all public manifestations the two organizations are one and they use the common name—The Bohemian National Alliance.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1929, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 93 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.