United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918

United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918

United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918

United States and East Central Europe, 1914-1918

Excerpt

Before World War II the western traveler arriving by the Orient Express in Prague, Czechoslovakia, would detrain at the Wilson Station. Coming out of the station, he would face the Wilson Square and the Wilson Park, with a statue of President Woodrow Wilson in its center. There were innumerable Wilson Avenues, Wilson Squares, and Wilson statues in Belgrade, Bucharest, Warsaw, Prague, and the other cities of the new national states of East Central Europe, all testifying to the fact that the Yugoslavs, Rumanians, Poles, and Czechoslovaks regarded President Wilson as one of their liberators and heroes.

During World War II the German occupants and their native supporters suppressed these tokens of gratitude to the American President. Following the war these symbols were generally restored, only to be removed soon again by the new Communist governments of the countries of East Central Europe. In the framework of the general eastern reorientation of these countries, all their ties to Western Europe and the United States have been systematically severed. A strong effort has been made to obliterate even the memory of such ties. Communist historians have set to work on revising the traditional history of the origins of their national states. Recently the Czech Communist historian, J. S. Hájek, present Czechoslovak Ambassador to London, published a study, Wilsonovská legenda, v dejinách Ceskoslovenské Republiky (The Wilsonian Legend in the History of the Czechoslovak Republic), Prague, 1953. It seeks to prove that Czechoslovakia does not owe her independence in any way to the efforts of the United States or the Western Allies. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the rise of the Czechoslovak state are here interpreted as a product exclusively of an internal social revolution set in motion by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. President Wilson is depicted not as a friend but as a foe of the Czech and Slovak peoples who joined in supporting their movement for independence only to divert their social-revolutionary élan into safe bourgeois-nationalist channels. Communist historians in other Soviet . . .

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