CHAPTER 31 Resistance

WHEN the Czechoslovak people see a blow coming they have a habit of ducking. They duck out of sight and then after a while they come up again and look around to see what they can do about the fellow who swung at them. The Czechoslovaks are a canny race. They know they are a little nation and that if they stood up to the first blow they would be destroyed. Instinctively they bide their time, waiting to strike back when and where it will count most.

That is exactly what has happened in Czechoslovakia since the Communist coup d'état. And now we are reaching the time when the Czech people, after ducking the first mighty Communist blow, are coming up, looking around and beginning to do something about it. They are resisting the tyrant in every way known to man, and, as we shall see, particularly in ways suited to their national character.

I have begun with this affirmation of Czech resistance because the ability and will of the Czechoslovak people to resist has been questioned since they went down without a fight in 1938 and in 1948. In recent years it has been fashionable for diplomats in Prague to remark, over cocktails, that no resistance is to be expected from the Czechoslovaks. They are wrong. They do not know the facts and they do not know Czech history or the character of the Czechoslovak people.

How do we know about Czech resistance? Even if there were not direct evidence from Czechs recently escaped from their country, every political trial and arrest reported in the Communist press bears witness to the existence of resistance. To be sure, in some cases the charges brought by the Communists are pure fantasy, but in other cases the "bands of terrorists" and "treasonable conspiracies" about which the prosecution rages represent very real underground resistance organizations.

Every day's broadcasts of "Radio Free Europe" and the "Voice of America" are based on the voices of resistance groups -- men and women with courage and intelligence who gather information about life in Czechoslo

-426-

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