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Czechs

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CZECHS and an ethnic group of the great Slavonic family of races. Of the former, about 7,000,000 inhabit Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia, while about 3,000,000 Slovaks live under Hungarian rule. The approximate total of 10,000,000 Czechs and Czecho-Slovaks must be accepted with some reserve. The last official census, 1910, shows a total of 8,404,000. Prominent Bohemians claim that the official figures are inaccurate and that the total stands nearer to 11,000,000. In 1526 the Czechs by popular choice invited the Haps burgs to the Bohemian throne under pledges to respect the ancient privileges and liberties. The continual encroachments of successive Hapsburg monarchs upon the constitutional rights enjoyed by Bohemia since the 7th century reduced the country from a kingdom to a province by 1620 and had almost exterminated Czech nationality by persecution and confisca tion. Many thousands were driven into exile; German was introduced as the official language and the Czech spirit rigorously suppressed. It was in the country districts and village com munities, however, that the national language and aspirations were cultivated, and early in the 19th century a number of Czech writers inspired their countrymen to revive the smolder ing embers of national consciousness. The European upheaval in 1848 strengthened the Czech movement; it assumed a political shape with the establishment of a Czech language press which found its first expression in a pro test and a revolt against Germany's Central European imperialism. Czech representatives were summoned to attend the German revolu tionary Parliament at Frankfort; they refused, and convoked a Pan-Slav congress at Prague instead, at which Czechs, Poles and Jugo-Slays formulated plans for unification. The dream came to naught; hopes of union were still fur ther removed by the Ausgleich or Dualist Set tlement of 1867, by which the Slovaks were separated from the Czechs and handed over to Hungary. By the same instrument the Czechs were compelled to send representatives to the Parliament in Vienna, which for years they had refused to do. They entered it under pro test, still asserting the inalienable rights of the Bohemian Crown. Being in a hopeless minor ity, they were unable to exert any influence on foreign or domestic policy. The Austrian gov ernment never ceased its systematic coercion of the Czech minority, yet their national aspira tions grew stronger under repression and broke into flame with the European War. A stringent policy was adopted in Bohemia; during the first 18 months of the war upwards of 1,000 Czech civilians were executed in Bohemia for political offenses. The Czecho-Slovak population was

covered by the operations of the Imperial secret police. Women, girls and old men were crowded — chained — into cattle-trucks and con veyed to internment camps, where public flog gings of both sexes were of frequent occur rence. During the Austro-Russian campaign thousands of Czechs went over to the Rus sians; many joined the Serbian army and the French Foreign Legion. In the Austrian Parlia ment the leader of the Czech nationalists, Herr Stanck, declared on 30 May 1917 that his party would strive for the union of all the branches of the Czecho-Slays into a democratic state.

Meanwhile, the Szecho-Slovak movement was energetically in the United States, France and England by the propaganda of Prof. Thomas G. Masaryk, its foremost representative and exponent. As organizer and president of the Czecho-Slovak National Com mittee, he lectured in London, Paris and New York, enlisting Allied sympathy on behalf of the oppressed Slays in the Dual Monarchy. In June 1918 the British government accorded official recognition to the Czecho-Slovak Na tional Council as the representative of the Czecho-Slovak nation and its aspirations. Similar recognition had already been extended by France, Russia and Italy. The celebration of Kossovo Day in New York on 17 June 1918 evoked a letter of sympathy from President Wilson, addressed to Dr. Axson, National Sec retary of the American Red Cross. During the summer of 1918 there were large bodies of Czecho-Slovak troops operating with the Allies in France and Italy; about 14,000 landed in Vladivostok, and proceeded along the Siberian Railway with the Russian White Guards to oppose the Soviet or Bolsheviki government. By the end of June they controlled a number of towns on the railway for a distance of over 1,300 miles. Together with the White Guards they established a new Siberian central gov ernment at Novo Nikolaievsk, making the fourth government at the time claiming control of Siberia. (See BOHEMIA ; RUSSIA ; SLAVS ; WAR, EUROPE.AN). Consult the publications of ohemian National Alliance of America, Chicago; the Czech National Alliance in Great Britain, London; Baker, J., (New York 1910) ; T.,