Czecho-Slovakia Within.

Czecho-Slovakia is a State in the centre of Europe whose existence dates from the Versailles Treaty. It is a country without a coast line, and possessing no rivers from source to mouth; its largest river, the Moldau, is a tributary of the Elbe. If we are to go by the Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe Czecho-Slovakia's chief port is Hamburg! The Moldau belongs geographically to the Elbe system.

Czecho-Slovakia's lack of coast line makes the country comparable with Switzerland, though the compactness which characterizes the latter country is lacking.

On the one hand, the State is bounded by the Carpathians and Poland: on the Hungarian frontier there is no natural barrier; the border line cuts through an area extensively populated by Hungarians.

Czecho-Slovakia comprises the provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia, all of which formerly belonged to the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. It consists, in fact, largely of the remnants of the old Dual Monarchy and inherits problems implicit in the merger of a number of widely differing peoples into one State marked by an ethnographic Babel.

Every accusation brought by England against the Austrian Monarchy in pre-War days is applicable to [vi] an even greater degree against present-day Czecho-Slovakia. In the old days there was at least the personal touch, such as our own country knows, and the Kaiser Franz Josef had a wide popularity. To-day the only symbol of unity is the artificial constitution promulgated after the cessation of hostilities. There are no traditions to hold the various parts of this politician-made State together.

Czecho-Slovakia is not an economic entity. Her main river belongs to the German Elbe river system; her border provinces belong, both geographically and economically, to other systems. A glance at the map shows the artificial geographical nature of the State. Its frontiers have no historical or geographical justification and are the results of arbitrary demarcation.

Chapter 1

Czech historians base their country's right of existence upon the belief that Bohemia has from time immemorial been a Czech province. According to them it was annexed by the Hapsburg dynasty at the end of the Middle Ages. Its historic frontiers they aver enclosed a far larger area than do those of the present day.

The peace of Europe has been threatened during the last few months by the fact of the Czecho-Slovakian question. The real crux of the matter is not the land hunger of any bordering State, but is in reality the unnatural formation of the country; in addition the Czechs have failed to carry out those conditions of the Peace Treaty which alone permitted of the creation of their national state.

For the last hundred years Czech historians have endeavoured to make the world believe that Bohemia is of a comparatively recent creation as a German province; even the most cursory glance at European history proves this to be a fact. The whole civilization and culture of the country can be traced to German sources.

The first mention of Bohemia in history shows that it was then populated by a Teutonic tribe, the Marcomanni. This tribe occupied a compact area in that part of present-day Czecho-Slovakia known as [2] Bohemia which the Marcomanni called Bojerheim. That was in the fifth century and the greater part of the tribe migrated to Bavaria somewhere about A.D. 535. The similarity between the names Böhmen and Bayern (the German names for Bohemia and Bavaria) indicates the probability of a common root. After the Marcomanni had left the country their place was taken by the Teutonic Langobards and it was only when they too migrated that Slavs invaded Eastern Bohemia and the Prague district. Archaeological discoveries and local tradition are ample proof of the facts given. Their authenticity has never been questioned by English historians.

The Teutons who first reigned in Bohemia left many traces of their occupation in its marches. No people has a better claim to its native soil and to national self-determination than the Germans of Czecho-Slovakia's frontier provinces.

The first known state of a wholly Czech composition came into existence in the eighth century, long after the formation of a Teutonic State on the banks of the Moldau near Prague and in East Bohemia. These new Czech duchies proved to be extremely bad neighbours. Their fondness for pillage and love of strife was so marked in the first years of their existence that Charlemagne was forced to take punitive action against them. In A.D. 807 the Czech Duke of that time became his vassal; from that day until 1806 Bohemia ceased to have a separate existence but was incorporated as a province of the German Empire.

Its existence during those many centuries was no [3] different to that of any other German province; there appears never to have been any need for successive German Emperors to rule it with an iron hand.

The relations between the Dukes of Bohemia and the German Empire originally founded by Charlemagne were on a perfectly normal footing and remained so throughout the whole of the Middle Ages. The Czech population appear to have been fully aware of the advantages conferred by German rule. Law and order were well kept and individual freedom was everywhere respected to the satisfaction of all men. Even the Dukes of the famous Przemysl line ordered themselves as became loyal lieges of the Empire. They took their part in its battles and worthily earned the laurels bestowed upon them on so many occasions. The city of Prague of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was as German as any other Imperial city of those days.

Hradchin Castle
Hradchin Castle Complex
Ulrich von Eschenbach, Reimar von Zweter and Ulrich von Freiburg were frequent guests of the Hradchin, a castle in Prague whose architecture could not be more typically Teutonic. There was a King of Bohemia who won for himself a great reputation as a singer of German Lieder. German peasants and yeomen tilled the fertile fields of Bohemia and cleared forest lands in their stolid methodical way, an example followed by their Czech neighbours. Germans brought the plough to Bohemia, introduced the vine and were responsible for many other agricultural innovations.

[4] The Czechs took the plough from the Germans and use the German name to this day. A plough in Czecho-Slovakia is a pluh; its German name is Pflug. The
Veits Cathedral
Detail: Veits Cathedral, situated within the Hradchin complex.
influence of Germany can be traced in many other fields. In the times of the Przemysls and the Emperors of the House of Luxemburg, old Prague was built by German architects whose work was responsible for its present-day interest and beauty. The guides will tell you that the historic pile known as the Veits Cathedral in Prague was designed by a Czech named Petr Parlé; the actual fact is that the architect responsible was one Peter Parler, a Swabian, whose name has been given this non-German intonation by the Czechs.

The Emperor Charles IV and his descendants are claimed to be of Czech origin; as a matter of fact this ruler had no Czech affiliations, nor had he any ambition towards creating an autonomous Czech state. The motive which underlay his building activities in Prague was jealousy of Vienna and a wish to create what he regarded as a fitting background for his imperial state. All this building was in the German manner, for at that time no indigenous style existed; nor was it desired by the Czechs.

Chapter 2

If we are to believe the chroniclers nobody seems to have noticed the need for a Czecho-Slovakian State during the Middle Ages; the area in question seems to have been perfectly happy as an integral part of the German Empire. Even in those far-off days Czech Nationalists existed, of course, who dreamed of an independent future and displayed an ill-founded hatred for all things Teutonic. But they were few and aroused neither interest nor enthusiasm among their countrymen. These are the men who to-day are treated as evidence of a long-felt anti-German sentiment and the desire for Czech national independence throughout the centuries.

It seems certain that the Czech people and their rulers were well content with their existence under the wings of the German eagle throughout the Middle Ages. There is no evidence of any Czech complaint, moreover, during the last century of their incorporation in the Dual Monarchy.

As is usual, dissatisfaction with the existing conditions and a desire for a separate corporate existence was actually started by a group of ambitious politicians. This start coincided with the publication of Bohemian History by Franz Palacky, just over a hundred years ago. He exaggerated the importance of the discontented few and appealed to folklore and to [6] what he described as "mediæval Czech poetry." The existence of these verses cannot be questioned, but their authenticity is open to the gravest doubt. In the opinion of most experts these Grueneberg and Koenigshof MSS. are clever forgeries. Yet the standard Czech history is largely founded on their so-called evidence.

In a recent speech at Karlsbad, Henlein demonstrated the mythical nature of Franz Palacky's claim. Henlein's aim was not the termination of an academic quarrel, but rather the ending of propaganda based on an historic fallacy, a fallacy dangerous to the peace of Europe. It is a fallacy which has given rise to Czech ambitions which go much farther than the frontiers demarcated after the Armistice.

Czech Nationalist ambitions were by no means fully satisfied after the loss of the War by the Central Powers. That they expected a larger share of territory to be accorded to them by their friends in London, Paris and Washington is shown by documents produced at the Peace Conference by the memoirs of prominent Czech politicians and by carefully-prepared maps accompanying those documents. It was claimed that there was a great Czech State in Central Europe in mediæval times which was destroyed by the Germans and which the Czechs wished to see restored. Even President Masaryk, founder and first President of Czecho-Slovakia, alleged that successive Kings of Bohemia had "tried to create a mighty state organization by expansion and dynastic policy in the centre of Europe" and that the [7] Czech State under the Luxemburg princes had extended its boundaries to Cracow and Posen and included Hungary, Styria, Lusatia and, last but not least, Brandenburg. It will be seen that Masaryk's claim was modest, for he might well have included Holland, Italy, North and West Germany, all of which belonged in mediæval times to the same Empire as did Bohemia and Brandenburg! His claim, however, would have had to be qualified by the statement that that Empire was ruled not by Bohemian kings but by German emperors.

The World War was welcomed by those Czech firebrands who saw in it the opportunity to persuade numbers of their fellow countrymen to desert to the Allies and thus curry favour with the latter. There is no doubt that the Entente Powers were aware of Czech territorial ambitions, even before the commencement of hostilities. The Russian Ambassador in Vienna received a memorandum outlining the proposed frontiers of the Czech Nationalist State from Dr. Kramarsch, one of the most prominent members of the Czech movement, some time before the War. Bohemia was to receive Lusatia and most of German Silesia under a Czech Tsar whose marches were to run with those of the Father of All the Russias; a Slav Corridor was to run through Hungary as a connexion between Bohemia and the South Slavs.

Rumania, as envisaged by Kramarsch, was to have been even larger than it is to-day; Hungary was to have been denuded of even more territory than she [8] has actually lost; Serbia was to have received Styria, Klagenfurt, Trieste and Pola. South Germany was to be bestowed upon the Hapsburgs, together with Hesse-Nassau, Westphalia and Hanover; they were to keep Vienna and the Austrian Tyrol, while the whole of Schleswig-Holstein was to be given to the Danes and (as an all-important make weight) France's "security" was to be ensured by the fulfilment of her age-long desire; she was to have, at long last, the left bank of the Rhine.

It will thus be seen that Kramarsch's plan gave satisfaction, not only to his own ambition, but also to the Imperialistic longings of his friends. He was not alone in his dreams. Klofatsch, later to be Defence Minister in Czecho-Slovakia, was ready in May, 1914, with a plan for the disruption of the Dual Monarchy based, confessedly, on the strategic consideration. At his request a map was drawn by Hanus Kuffner, a former Czech Imperial officer, showing the frontiers desired by him. Numerous other politicians, among them one Wladimir Sis, contemplated frontiers extending far beyond those of to-day.

All these Nationalist aspirations were disappointed by the Allied decision in 1919 to give them only part of what they claimed. Even this part is not justified by their numerical strength. The total population of Czecho-Slovakia is about 14,500,000, not more than half of whom are Czechs. The rest is composed of national minorities on whom Czech rule was imposed by force.

[9] The artificial existence of Czecho-Slovakia came into being in the Conference chamber and resulted in one-half of its population being placed in the position of ruler over the other half; a rule which they have since exercised by means of force and, on occasions, terror. The Czechs' ruling position is not due to their own superior power or ability, nor has it any historical justification; it is due solely to the fact of their having committed high treason during the War, by offering their services to the Allies, who were the declared enemies of their own properly constituted government, and to the fact that they formed a strategical outpost for France in her latent conflict with the Germans.

The European Chancellories have known anxious hours during the last few months. The Czech question, even more than that of the Spanish Civil War, has darkened the political horizon of Europe.

Many in England have thrown the blame for the dangers implicit in the situation on Czecho-Slovakia's most powerful neighbour, but there is no real evidence of ill-intent on the part of that neighbour. On the contrary, it is the Czechs who have multiplied their provocations of Germany during recent months. This has only been made possible by Prague's belief in the certainty of French and Soviet support. The Czechs still cherish illusions as to the possibility of a future based on the documents and maps referred to earlier. In endeavouring to understand Czech mentality it must always be remembered that this State, negligible in size though it is, is swollen with [10] Imperialistic ambitions and an unceasing urge towards ever wider expansion. Political cartoonists usually represent Czecho-Slovakia as a small boy with an immensely swollen head... and are not far wide of the mark.

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Czecho-Slovakia Within