Imágenes de páginas

attempts are likely to prove unsuccessful. The Ruthenians and their Russian neighbours across the frontier; by whatever name they may be called, are one people, and their reunion after an Austro-German defeat is inevitable.

Until 1866 all the non-German nationalities in Austria were brutalised by the ruling race. Austrian persecution was most severely felt and most bitterly resented by that highly gifted and energetic Slav race, the unfortunate Czechs of Bohemia. The Bohemian Czechs have been illtreated by Austria during many centuries. Johann Huss, following in Wycliffe's footsteps, introduced the Reformation there about the year 1400, partly as a protest against the degradation of the Roman Catholic Church, partly, and probably chiefly, as a protest against German domination and German brutality. Huss died a martyr. The Reformation in Bohemia was suppressed with the greatest savagery, and Bohemia was totally devastated. Germans were settled among the Czechs, Roman Catholic dragoons were quartered upon Protestant Boh,mians in order to convert' them. The Czechs were treated as helots by the Germans settled among them up to a very recent date. When the Prussian armies invaded Bohemia in 1866 they endeavoured to raise the Czechs against the Austrians by addressing to them the following proclamation :

Inhabitants of the Glorious Kingdom of Bohemia / In consequence of the war, which has been caused against our wishes by the Emperor of Austria, we enter your country, not as enemies and conquerors, but full of respect for your historic and national rights. To the inhabitants, without regard of their calling, religion, and nationality, we bring not war and destruction, but consideration and friendship. Do not believe, as your enemies will tell you, that we have brought about this war through lust of conquest. Austria has forced us to fight by threatening to attack us. But believe us that we have not the slightest intention to oppose your just desire for independence and for unrestrained national


Remembering the heavy and almost unbearable burdens which the Government has placed upon you in preparing for this war, we shall not impose additional taxes, nor shall we ask you to act against your convictions. We shall respect and honour particularly your holy religion. At the same time we shall not tolerate open resistance, and must punish severely all treasonable acts. We leave the issue of the war confidently to the Lord of Hosts. If our just cause should prove victorious, the moment may perhaps arrive when the national aspirations of the Bohemians and Moravians may be fulfilled in the same way in which those of the Hungarians have been fulfilled, and then may Providence establish their happiness for all time.

The proclamation is very interesting because it throws a strong light not only upon the dissatisfaction existing in Bohemia, but also upon Prussian methods of warfare.

Of the 6,700,000 inhabitants of Bohemia, 4,240,000, or about two-thirds, are Czechs and Slovaks, and the remaining third are Germans. In the neighbouring land of Moravia, which lies to the east of Bohemia, approximately the same proportion of Germans and Slavs obtaing. Although the Czechs form the great majority of the inhabitants of Bohemia, their language was suppressed until recently. German was the official language used throughout Bohemia in the law courts and elsewhere. German inscriptions were to be seen in the Czech villages and towns. To the casual visitor, Bohemia seemed to be a German land. Step by step the Czechs have ousted the Germans. To-day Prague, that old stronghold of Germanism, is a Czech town. So great is the hatred between Czechs and Germans that there is practically no intercourse between the two nations. A German will not enter a Czech restaurant or hotel in Prague, nor will a Czech enter a German place of entertainment. The two nations have separate schools, theatres, concert rooms, banks, savings banks, co-operative societies, &c. At the German University of Prague there were in 1910-11 1726 German students and only eighty-six Czechs. At the Czech University of Prague there were in the same

year 4225 Czechs and only nine Germans. At the German Technical High Schools of Prague there were 880 Germans and thirty-seven Czechs. At the corresponding Czech establishments there were 2686 Czechs and ten Germans. In Bohemia the two nationalities follow the policy of segregation, because the Czechs absolutely refuse to associate with Germans. A similar policy of non-intercourse is noticeable between the Poles and Ruthenians at the Cracow University, where there were in 1910–11 2771 Poles and only thirtyfour Ruthenians.

By their strength of character and strength of intellect, and by their great artistic and scientific achievements, the Czechs have become the leading nation among the Austrian Slavs. Their intellectual pre-eminence may be seen from the extent and from the wonderful progress of their Press, regarding which figures have been furnished on another page. The Czechs occupy a most important position in the Dual Monarchy. Owing to its mines, its fruitful soil, and its very highly developed industries, Bohemia is the most valuable possession of Austria, and the Dual Monarchy would lose it most unwillingly. Besides, Bohemia occupies a most valuable strategical position. Bohemia, with its surrounding mountain walls, is a strong natural fortress, and it lies on the most direct route from Berlin to Vienna. At present Bohemia connects Germany and Austria, Berlin and Vienna. An independent Bohemia would separate the two States and their capitals. An independent Bohemia and Moravia would border to the east upon an independent Poland. Prussia, which at present is in contact with Austria through Silesia and Bohemia, would be separated from the German districts of Austria by a solid wall of Slavonic nations if Poland, Moravia, and Bohemia should become independent States. In that case the German parts of Austria would be in contact with Germany only by means of Bavaria. That is an important fact, the political and strategical bearings of which will presently be considered.

Of the inhabitants of Bohemia and Moravia, two-thirds,

as has been said, are Slavs, and one-third are Germans. The Germans form a broad fringe along the Austro-German frontier. If the future frontiers of Bohemia should be determined on a racial basis, about one-third of its territory should fall to Germany. It might perhaps fall to the kingdom of Saxony, upon which it borders, and which then would regain some of its former importance, of which it was deprived by Prussia exactly a century ago. After the War the Southern States of Germany may require strengthening against Prussia, so as to create a balance of power within Germany.

As the Czechs have at last conquered for themselves a position in which they can freely use their language and develop their individuality, and as their influence in AustriaHungary, which as yet is not great, is bound to increase, they may hesitate to cut the connection with Austria, especially as their manufacturing industries depend very largely upon the Austrian market for the sale of their productions. The action of Bohemia will probably largely depend upon that of the other nationalities. An isolated Bohemia and Moravia, being shut off from the sea, would politically, militarily, and especially economically occupy a very exposed and insecure position, unless it could enter into a federation with some of its neighbours.

South of Bohemia lie the German districts of Austria. These extend in a solid block from Switzerland and Bavaria in the west to a line about thirty miles east of Vienna. The southern border of Bohemia forms the northern frontier of the German territory of Austria, and the river Drau its southern limit. If Bohemia and Moravia should cut themselves off from German Austria, the physical connection between German Austria and Prussia would be destroyed, while direct contact between German Austria and Bavaria would be retained. Bavaria and her neighbour Baden are the most strongly Roman Catholic States of Germany. Of their joint population of 9,000,000, about 6,100,000, or two-thirds, are Roman Catholics. The easy-going Austrians sympathise far more with the people of Bavaria and Baden than with the overbearing Prussians. An organic connection of German Austria, Bavaria, and Baden would give 20,000,000 inhabitants to German Austria, and would correspondingly weaken the power of Prussia for mischief. That block of nations might be joined by the remaining South German States, Würtemberg, Saxony, and the rest, and thus a fairly even balance of power might be produced in Germany. The German race would be divided into almost equal halves, different in character, religion, and tradition, and possessing different historic capitals. They would be extremely powerful for defence, but would presumably be less dangerous for an attack. By uniting with Bavaria and Baden, Austria would border on the Rhine. She would occupy once more a position of great political and strategical importance, not only towards Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, but also towards France. That position should secure the peace of Europe and of the world.

If Austria-Hungary should resolve to conclude a separate peace, the State of the Habsburgs might once more become the leading State of Germany. The Austrian monarch might make it a condition that he should receive compensation for the Slavonic and Latin provinces which he is likely to lose by being given not only the South German States, which until 1866 followed Austria's lead, but also Silesia, which was torn from Austria by Frederick the Great. Prussia has grown great at Austria's expense. It would be only a fit retribution if the process should be reversed, and if Vienna should regain its old supremacy. If the 10,000,000 Austro-Germans were joined by 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 South Germans and Silesians, the 10,000,000 Magyars would no longer be able to cause trouble to the Habsburg Emperors. Berlin would no longer be able to play out Budapest against Vienna. Austria's greatest internal difficulty would disappear, and so would her economic troubles. The Dual Monarchy is a poor country because


« AnteriorContinuar »