Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

TEXT OF DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK NATION ADOPTED BY PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT AT PARIS1
October 18, 1918

At this grave moment, when the Hohenzollerns are offering peace in order to stop the victorious advance of the Allied armies and to prevent the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary and Turkey, and when the Hapsburgs are promising the federalization of the Empire and autonomy to the dissatisfied nationalities committed to their rule we, the Czecho-Slovak National Council, recognized by the Allied and American Governments as the Provisional Government of the CzechoSlovak State and nation, in complete accord with the declaration of the Czech deputies made in Prague on January 6, 1918, and realizing that federalization and, still more, autonomy, means nothing under a Hapsburg dynasty, do hereby make and declare this our declaration of independence.

We do this because of our belief that no people should be forced to live under a sovereignty they do not recognize and because of our knowledge and firm conviction that our nation can not freely develop in a Hapsburg mock federation, which is only a new form of the denationalizing oppression under which we have suffered for the past 300 years. We consider freedom to be the first prerequisite for federalization, and believe that the free nations of central and eastern Europe may easily federate should they find it necessary.

We make this declaration on the basis of our historic and natural right. We have been an independent State since the seventh century, and in 1526, as an independent State, consisting of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, we joined with Austria and Hungary in a defensive union against the Turkish danger. We have never voluntarily surrendered our rights as an independent State in this confederation. The Hapsburgs broke their compact with our nation by illegally transgressing our rights and violating the constitution of our State, which they had pledged themselves to uphold, and we therefore refuse longer to remain a part of Austria-Hungary in any form.

We claim the right of Bohemia to be reunited with her Slovak brethren of Slovakia, once a part of our national State, later torn from our national body, and 50 years ago incorporated in the Hungarian

____________________
1

Text in the Official Bulletin, October 19, 1918, p. 3.

-425-

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