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I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.
III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.
IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interest of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest coöperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.
VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.
VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the
world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.
IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be affected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development.
XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.
XII. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development; and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.
XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
In regard to these essential rectifications of wrong and assertions of right we feel ourselves to be intimate partners of all the governments and the peoples associated together against the imperialists. We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.
For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved; but only because we wish the right to prevail and desire a just and stable peace such as can be secured only by removing the chief provocations to war, which this program does remove.
32. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE
CZECHO-SLOVAK NATION, 1918 1 THE Czecho-Slovaks, comprising the Czechs of Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia and the Slovaks of northern Hungary, found in the World War an opportunity to strike for freedom and national existence. Their leaders in Allied countries formed the Czecho-Slovak National Council, with headquarters at Paris. The President of the Council, Professor Thomas G. Masaryk, remained in Washington, where he was in close touch with President Wilson after the United States had recognized the Czecho-Slovaks on September 2, 1918. During the following month (October 18), the Provisional Government issued a formal Declaration of Independence. This stirring document breathes the spirit of democracy in every paragraph.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE CZECHO
SLOVAK NATION, 1918 I. At this grave moment, when the Hohenzollerns are offering peace in order to stop the victorious advance of the allied armies and to prevent the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary and Turkey, and when the Hapsburgs are promising the federalization of the empire and autonomy to the dissatisfied nationalities committed to their rule, we, the Czecho-Slovak National Council, recognized by the Allied and American governments as the Provisional Government of the Czecho-Slovak state and nation, in complete accord with the declaration of the Czech deputies made in Prague on January 6, 1918, and realizing that federalization and, still more, autonomy mean nothing under a Hapsburg dynasty, do hereby make and declare this our Declaration of Independence.
We do this because of our belief that no people should be forced to live under a sovereignty they do not recognize, and because of our knowledge and firm conviction that our nation cannot freely develop in a Hapsburg mock federation, which is only a new form of 1 Current History, 1918, vol. viii, pp. 492–494.
Czecho-Slovak Declaration of Independence 191
the denationalizing oppression under which we have suffered for the - last three hundred years. We consider freedom to be the first prerequisite for federalization, and believe that the free nations of central and eastern Europe may easily federate should they find it necessary.
II. We make this declaration on the basis of our historic and natural right. We have been an independent state since the seventh century; and in 1526, as an independent state, consisting of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, we joined with Austria and Hungary in a defensive union against the Turkish danger. We have never voluntarily surrendered our rights as an independent state in this confederation. The Hapsburgs broke their compact with our nation by illegally transgressing our rights and violating the constitution of our state,which they had pledged themselves to uphold, and we therefore refuse longer to remain a part of Austria-Hungary in any form.
We claim the right of Bohemia to be reunited with her Slovak brethern of Slovakia, once a part of our national state, later torn from our national body, and fifty years ago incorporated in the Hungarian state of the Magyars, who, by their unspeakable violence and ruthless oppression of their subject races, have lost all moral and human right to rule anybody but themselves.
III. The world knows the history of our struggle against the Hapsburg oppression, intensified and systematized by the AustroHungarian dualistic compromise of 1867.' This dualism is only a shameless organization of brute force and exploitation of the majority by the minority; it is a political conspiracy of the Germans and Magyars against our own as well as the other Slav and the Latin nations of the monarchy. The world knows the justice of our claims, which the Hapsburgs themselves dared not deny. Francis Joseph [I], in the most solemn manner, repeatedly recognized the sovereign rights of our nation. The Germans and Magyars opposed this recognition; and Austria-Hungary, bowing before the Pan-Germans, became a colony of Germany, and, as her vanguard to the East, provoked the last Balkan conflict, as well as the
war, which was begun by the Hapsburgs alone without the consent of the representatives of the people.
We cannot and will not continue to live under the rule, direct or indirect, of the violators of Belgium, France, and Serbia, the would be murderers of Russia and Rumania, the murderers of tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers of our blood, and the accomplices in numberless unspeakable crimes committed in this war against humanity by the two degenerate and irresponsible dynasties. We will not remain a part of a state which has no justification for existence and which, refusing to accept the fundamental principles of modern world organization, remains only an artificial and immoral political structure, hindering every movement toward democratic and social progress. The Hapsburg dynasty, weighed down by a huge inheritance of error and crime, is a perpetual menace to the peace of the world, and we deem it our duty toward humanity and civilization to aid in bringing about its downfall and destruction.
1 The so-called Ausgleich.
We reject the sacrilegious assertion that the power of the Hapsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties is of divine origin; we refuse to recognize the divine right of kings. Our nation elected the Hapsburgs to the throne of Bohemia of its own free will, and by the same right deposes them. We hereby declare the Hapshurg dynasty unworthy of leading our nation, and deny all of their claims to rule in the Czecho-Slovak land, which we here and now declare shall henceforth be a free and independent people and nation.
IV. We accept and shall adhere to the ideals of modern democracy, as they have been the ideals of our nation for centuries. We accept the American principles as laid down by President Wilson: the principles of liberated mankind — of the actual equality of nations
and of governments deriving all their just power from the consent of the governed. We, the nation of Comenius, cannot but accept these principles expressed in the American Declaration of Independence, the principles of Lincoln, and of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. For these principles our nation shed its blood in the memorable Hussite wars five hundred years ago; for these same principles, beside her allies in Russia, Italy, and France, our nation is shedding its blood to-day.
V. We shall outline only the main principles of the constitution of the Czecho-Slovak nation; the final decision as to the constitution itself falls to the legally chosen representatives of the liberated and united people.
The Czecho-Slovak state shall be a republic. In constant endeavor for progress it will guarantee complete freedom of conscience, religion and science, literature and art, speech, the press, and the
1 A Moravian bishop and educator (1592-1671).