(PROFESSOR MASARYK'S Confidential Memorandum of April 1915)
This Memorandum gives the programme for the reorganisation of Bohemia as an independent State. It is the programme of all Bohemian political parties except the Catholic Clericals. All details and minor problems are omitted. The plan of reconstructing the independent Bohemian State in the very heart of Europe naturally leads to the fundamental political problems of the present war. The interdependence of all these problems explains why they are touched upon here, in so far as the Bohemian and Slav questions seem to require it.
These views are of course presented from the Bohemian standpoint; this will, it is hoped, facilitate an understanding of the Bohemian Question.
British statesmen and politicians have frequently proclaimed as the idea and aim of this war the liberation and freedom of the small states and nations. The same principle has been proclaimed in France. In Russia the Tsar and the Generalissimo publicly spoke of the liberation of their Slav brethren, while in Britain and France the integrity of Belgium was specially emphasised.
In these solemn proclamations of the Allies the Regeneration of Europe was accentuated as an aim of the war.
Till recently mankind was divided and organised into states and churches, without regard to Nationality. The modern era is characterised by the development of various nationalities, as strong political and state-forming forces.
In practice, language, as the medium of common cultural life and effort, is the main test of Nationality. Besides Nationality,
in modern times economic development, as well as provident care for the masses--not merely for aristocratic minorities--has become a great political and racial force.
Nationality is not the only organism force in society, but it is a very powerful force, the more so as it is very often opposed to the State. The watchword 'National States' sums up the tendency of modern political development.
For the purposes of this Memorandum it is not necessary to estimate the degree to which Nationality works as a political power. The future may bring a decided victory of the organisms power of Nationality; to-day it is at least well to recognise its force to the extent of avoiding the evils which have led to the war and have been revealed in its course.
There is a striking difference between the west and east of Europe in regard to the composition of states and the number of small nations. The west has four (five) great nations and only five small ones, whereas the east has only one great nation and a great number of small ones. In the west the states are formed by one dominant race, in the east they are nationally mixed.
2. Holland (and Flemings of Belgium)
Russia, who herself includes many small nations, while Austria-Hungary is composed of nine nations, and the Balkans of seven nations.
In fact there are only three great nations in Europe: Russia (170 millions), England (45 millions), Germany (65 millions).
These three are at least the greatest nations, measured by the number and the constant growth of population. France was the greatest nation at the Congress of Vienna when Europe was shaped; Germany had in 1816 on the territory which she now possesses 2708 millions; France more than 30. To-day France is much smaller than Germany and smaller than Britain.
Italy is the smallest of the greater nations; Spain will hardly be acknowledged as a great nation at all. The difference in the growth of the population, the constant increase of it, the approximate determination of the period of doubling, the growing difference in the number of soldiers and workers, begin to instigate statesmen and politicians to regulate the migration of the population (emigration-immigration), and to pursue a far-sighted colonial policy.
The colonial effort of Germany and of France is to be looked at from this populationistic view; this view enables us to understand the antagonism of France and Germany, the alliance of France with Russia (170 millions), and the whole political situation of Europe.
The geographical position of England is unique; England is the Colonial and Sea Power par excellence; so far the only Sea Power, whereas Russia is the Continental Power par excellence. The modern means of communication at sea enable England to gather her colonial forces and even face the great army of continental Germany.
This difference and natural antithesis of England and Russia
regulate the foreign policy and the military and naval character of the two States.
Both nations have a vital interest in Asia--hence the difference, but also the coincidence, of political interest displayed in the policy regarding Turkey, Persia, China, Japan, etc., and above all regarding Germany.
The central position in Europe, the outgrowth and defeat of France in 1870, and the colonial endeavour bring Germany, with her large and dense population, into competition with Russia and England. Her military forces are directed against Russia, her navy against England.
Germany is essentially a continental Power. She is a military, not a naval, State.
Her central position induces Germany to arrogate the supremacy over Europe.
Heeren, the great German historian and philosophic geographer, apprehended the future effect of uniting Germany at the Congress of Vienna: 'La constitution d'un Etat central de l'Europe ne saurait etre indifferente aux puissances etrangeres. Si c'etait une grande monarchie quelle possibilite d'assurer la paix pour elle? Une telle puissance pourraitelle resister longtemps a la tentation de s'arroger sur le reste de l'Europe la preponderance a laquelle sa situation et sa puissance sembleraient l'autoriser? L'etablissement d'une monarchie unique en Allemagne serait bientot le tombeau de la liberte en Europe.'
As a Continental, overpopulated, Power Germany presses constantly on Austria and uses her. Bismarck's policy towards Austria is the diplomatic and political formulation of the constant pressure
of the Prussian North on the Austrian South. Lagarde, the father of modern Pan-Germanism, formulated the German programme: 'Colonisation of Austria by Germany.'
By colonising Austria Germany aspires to colonise the Balkans and thus to reach Constantinople and Bagdad.
This 'Drang nach Osten' explains the policy of Berlin towards the Magyars, towards Roumania, towards Bulgaria, and towards Turkey.
The watchword Berlin-Bagdad denotes the real ai m of Germany, the direction of the 'Drang nach Osten'. The alliance with Turkey in the war is the final result of the German invasion in Constantinople and in Asia Minor (financial policy, railways, schools and hospitals, etc.).
Known German politicians and publicists emphasise all the time during the war the plan to occupy Asia as far as Bagdad; for instance: Lamprecht, von Liszt, Dirr, the director of the Ethnological Museum, Munich, etc.
The Triple Alliance is the diplomatic and military weapon of the Berlin-Bagdad plan: Austria-Hungary is absolutely at Germany's disposition; Italy is checked in her national endeavour, for it is obvious that Germany tries to preserve Trieste and the Adriatic for herself--the way to Asia Minor and East Africa. The Pan-German politicians since Lagarde claim Trieste very strongly for Germany.
At bottom it is the German aspiration for Asia which reveals one of the most effective causes of the war and which explains the antagonism of Germany against England and against Russia.
Austria, being an aggregate of nine small nations, is quite an artificial State, as she was called by an Austrian politician (Plener, the younger); no nation in Austria is so populous that it would have the ruling majority. The dynasty, therefore, tries to maintain its absolutistic position by the principle of divide et impera, by little concessions now to one nation, now to another; the Germans (the dynasty is German) and Magyars are the favourites.
Austria owes her origin to the invasions of the Turks, and previously of the Huns (Magyars); Austria means the Eastern Empire, the German provinces, Bohemia and Hungary joined in a federation against Turkey. With the fall of the Turks Austria falls also; Austria lost her ruling idea, and is unable to find a positive idea. So Austria falls from step to step. The Austrian-Spanish Empire was dissolved. Austria lost the greater part of Silesia and was driven by Prussia to abandon Germany; in 1848, saved by Russia, she lost in 1859 the Italian provinces; in 1866 she was beaten by Prussia. Since then she exists only as the vassal of Berlin, being divided into Austria and Hungary; it is to Berlin that both the Germans and Magyars owe their dominating position in Austria.
The other nations, especially the Bohemians and South Slavs, are in everlasting opposition against the two Prussified vassals, the Germans and Magyars. Austria was unable to unite all nations in a strong federation and to pursue her own aim to work for the growth and development of the single national components. Germany--and that is Bismarck's plan with Austria--uses the seeming Great Power for her own ends. The war of 1914 has uncovered the weakness of the Dual Monarchy. Austria, though she initiated the war by her brutal and dishonest anti-Serbian policy, was not prepared for the war, was beaten by the Russians, lost the greater part of Galicia, and
only the help of Germany and her strategical leading retards the final collapse. Austria is degenerated, she is the Catholic Turkey, she has lost her raison d'etre.
Bohemia was formerly associated with German-Austria and with Hungary as an independent kingdom; the King was in common for all three States; each possessed its own administration. The revolution of 1618, leading to the battle at the White Mountain and causing the Thirty Years' War, did not deprive Bohemia of her independence; it was the absolutism of the eighteenth century, strengthened by the reaction against the French Revolution, which endeavoured to shape the three federated States into a centralised State. The revolution of 1848 in Hungary and in Bohemia restored the rights of Bohemia for a while; the reinforced absolutistic centralism was checked in 1859, and 1866. Vienna made peace with Hungary in 1867 (Dualism), but Bohemia had to continue to assert her rights and liberty. Since Vienna had to concede the Constitution, Bohemia and her legal representatives have been persistently fighting for independence against the German and Magyar supremacy.
In this fight she is supported by the non-German and non-Magyar nations, especially by the Southern Slavs.
The war of 1914 revealed, as did the two wars of 1859 and 1866, that Austria-Hungary is unable to protect and to administer Bohemia and the other nations. Vienna has utterly failed in this war, and failed the more, in view of the recent military preparations, since the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina; indeed, it was boastfully proclaimed that Austria-Hungary alone would defeat the Russians, the Germans directing their main forces against France and her Allies in the West.
Bohemia must now take care of herself.
The Bohemians are since the awakening of the national feeling strongly Slavophil. The political meaning of Bohemian Slavophilism was revealed in 1849 by the summons of the Slav Congress at Prague, and later in the so-called Moscow Pilgrimage in 1876--Palacky himself, the 'Father of the Nation', manifested Russophil tendencies against Dualistic Austria.
In the last war of the Serbians and Bulgarians against Turkey the Bohemians, as is generally known, strongly helped the Slav Allies by sending physicians, sanitary materials, money, etc. Previously to that war the Bohemian representatives in the Delegation and in Parliament openly supported the Southern Slav cause against Vienna and Budapest.
Since the beginning of the war last August and its antecedents the Bohemian nation has manifested its sympathy for Russia, Serbia and the Allies.
Bohemia, as the majority of the belligerent nations, was surprised by the sudden, unexpected outbreak of the war; she was therefore not prepared to manifest her opposition to Vienna by a regular revolution; but she manifested her feelings and thoughts strongly enough.
Whereas representatives of the Germans, Magyars and Poles proclaimed their support of the war and their allegiance to the dynasty, the representatives of the Bohemians did not join in these proclamations; the Bohemians did not favour the War Loan, and it is known that Bohemian public opinion is constantly in conflict with the authorities, expressing sympathy with the Allies. It is further known that many Bohemian regiments only went to the front under compulsion, and that they showed their antipathy to the war by frequent demonstrations--reported in the papers--by declining to fight, and by repeated surrenders. There is documentary evidence that the Austrian Generalissimo fears this attitude of the Bohemian troops and civil population as a serious weakening of the Austro-Hungarian army.