The voice of an oppressed people/The unconsidered martyr
THE UNCONSIDERED MARTYR.
Much, though not a word too much, has been said of the sufferings of Belgium, Poland and Serbia; brave unfortunate peoples bludgeoned by the warmakers of Berlin. But there is another heroic state whose martyrdom, as cruel as these, has passed almost unnoticed—Bohemia.
By this term is meant the Czecho-Slovak nation, including Bohemia proper, Moravia and a slice of northwestern Hungary. This nation numbers nearly 10,000,000 members, has a rich and ancient culture, a stirring history and an unbreakable love of liberty. It has resisted all the efforts of the Hapsburgs to Germanize it and remained a Slavic state; friendly to France and England as the liberal powers of Europe and to Russia as the protector of Slav peoples. For this, even before the war, it was held down like a newly conquered and hostile province, and since the war broke, Bohemian sufferings have been incalculable.
By the end of the first year of the conflict, two-thirds of the Czech publications had been suppressed, and many of the editors imprisoned or executed. No musician is allowed to play the works of the great Bohemian composer, Smetana, and no Czech is allowed to circulare or read the writings of Tolstoi or Emerson. The athletic societies have been disbanded, Germans have been put in charge of the police administration of Bohemian cities, the national language is forbidden on the railways and may not even be used in sending telegrams. These measures are enforced with savage severity; according to a semi-official paper of Vienna, up to December, 1915, there had been 1,045 civil executions in Bohemia and Moravia alone.
The Bohemians have resisted this tyranny in every way they could. Forced by their tyrants into a war against their friends, they have deserted at every opportunity. The Twenty-eighth regiment went over to the Russians in a body, and is now fighting gallantly, on the Russian side. The Eighth, Thirtieth, Eighty-eighth and 102d regiments made the same move in a little less unanimous fashion. Thousands of recalcitrant Bohemian soldiers have been executed, and wholesale confiscations have been levied against the families of those who have been taken prisoners; yet stil the desertions go on.
A people so devoted and resourceful can not be destroyed and should not be held in tutelage. When the war ends, there should be an independent republic of Bohemia.—Chicago Daily Journal.