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The assertion being made in Finnish papers that the above appeal addressed by the people of Aland to the King and people of Sweden (December, 1917), was caused by the oppression and cruelties of the Russian military invasion of the islands at that time, a new expression by popular vote was decided upon and took place during the month of June of the current year. The result was that 9,735 men and women of major age signed a petition giving full power to the Aland popular representation (landsting) to take all measures necessary for the confirmation of the stand already taken by the people, and alone to represent the people of Aland and to speak for them.
Of the major population of Aland—about 11,000 men and women, altogether—10,196 took part in the vote. Only 461 voted against Aland's reunion with Sweden. The other 9,735 who voted in favor of the reunion amount to 96.3 per cent of the voters. The balance, 3.7 per cent, consists mainly of persons having moved in from Finland and of the Finnish Government officers.
Thus a renewed testimony of the well-nigh unanimous desire of the inhabitants of the Aland Islands to again become members of the Kingdom of Sweden has been given since the question of the future status of the islands was brought up before the peace conference.
Senator Brandegee. Will you be kind enough to allow me to interrupt you there for a minute?
Mr. Johnson. Yes.
Senator Brandegee. Before the war with Germany, who owned the island of Aland?
Mr. Johnson. The Czar of Russia.
Senator New. You sav the Czar of Russia?
Mr. Johnson. Yes. The Province of Finland and the island of Aland were ceded to the Russian Czar in 1809. The Province formed the grand duchy of Finland, but the island of Aland was a separate part of Swedish territory and did not belong to Finland or to the grand duchy at all.
Senator Pomerene. Are you a native of the island of Aland?
Mr. Johnson. No; I am a native of Stockholm, just across the street, you may say, from the island of Aland.
Senator Pomerene. Are you a naturalized American?
Mr. Johnson. Yes; I have been naturalized for over 30 years.
Senator Pomerene. Have you been in communication with the inhabitants of this island on this subject?
Mr. Johnson. Yes. I have been in communication with them through correspondence, and through people coming from there representing them and asking me to help them along.
Senator Pomerene. Did the people of that island take any part in the war?
Mr. Johnson. They took no part whatever in the war. The people of Finland took some part in the war, but the Alanders never took any part in the war. Even in the internal strife in Finland they kept aloof.
Senator Knox. Has any disposition been made of this island by this treaty?
Mr. Johnson. It does not form a part of the treaty that is now before the Senate. It has just been handled by the Baltic Commission of the peace conference. After the treaty with Germany it came before the peace conference proper. Just recently they have discussed the question, and the representatives of the Swedes and the Finlanders were heard; but my contention, and what I think is the main point in this controversy, is the demand or request of the people of the island of Aland to determine their own fate.
Permit me to say in conclusion that even in the interest of future peace in the Baltic it seems evident that the possession of the Aland Islands by a more powerful, albeit peace-loving, country, such as Sweden, would be preferable to their possession by Finland, whose history as an independent State is an unwritten page.
But the political side of the question is no concern of mine. As an American citizen, I am interested in seeing American principles of fairness prevail over the whole world. To me the desire of the Aland people to join their own nationality by a reunion with Sweden seems so much more justified, as the geographical position of the country makes Aland a physical entity. Thus no objection could reasonably be raised against the desire of the population to determine their own fate.
Senator Knox. How long had Kussia sovereignty over this group of islands?
Mr. Johnson. Russia had possessed Finland and the Aland Islands from 1809, when they were ceded to Russia after the Russian-Swedish war by the treaty of Frederickshaven.
Senator Knox. And prior to 1809?
Mr. Johnson. Before that they belonged to Sweden. Aland and Finland were settled from Sweden. The islands belonged to Sweden from prehistoric times, from time immemorial. The Finland Provinces belonged to Sweden for 700 years before they were ceded to Russia.
Senator Knox. Did Sweden lose this group of islands at the same time that she lost Finland?
Mr. Johnson. Yes. All that is extensively described in the pamphlet whicli I leave with you. Sweden tried very hard to keep the Aland Islands, but Russia wanted them, and claimed them by right of conquest, because they had overrun them. To show the territorial importance of the islands, it is a question of life and death to Sweden to possess them. They absolutely dominate Stockholm, far more so now, with the powerful engines of war that have been discovered. But I am not talking for Sweden or any political party.
The Chairman. What is the total population of the islands?
Mr. Johnson. Twenty-two thousand and some hundreds.
The Chairman. They are all Swedes?
Mr. Johnson. Yes; there are not 2 per cent that do not talk the Swedish language.
Senator Moses. Does Sweden claim these islands are necessary for her self-defense?
Mr. Johnson. I do not know that they made that claim before the peace conference, but they have always done so, and that is an admitted fact. Under the treaty of Frederickshaven Sweden tried to get an engagement or a promise from Russia not to fortify those islands, but Russia was so strong and Sweden so weak at that time that the request was paid no attention to.
Senator Knox. It seems to me that it is obvious on the face of it that they do dominate Stockholm, because they are only about 25 miles away from Stockholm, and with the modern engines of war like these long-range guns, those islands fortified would have Stockholm at their mercy.
Senator Moses. I can understand that perfectly from the map, but what I was trying to get at is why the claim of necessity of those islands for self-defense of Sweden, when the league of nations is going to abolish war.
Mr. Johnson. All those questions will be eliminated, I suppose, as soon as the league of nations is an actuality, but that claim was raised by Sweden right after the islands were ceded by Sweden to Russia. They were fortified by Russia. In 1856 when the Crimean war took place, the English and French fleet combined to destroy the fortifications of Aland, and then in the treaty of Paris in the next year it was stipulated that those islands should not be fortified any more. During this war Russia permitted herself to start fortifications on the islands, and when Sweden made protest against it they claimed it was in fear pf a German attack.
Senator Moses. What I was trying to get at was whether Sweden would rather have the Aland Islands or the league of nations as a means of defense.
Mr. Johnson. I can not talk for Sweden. I think if they got the Aland Islands to begin with, they would be satisfied, and then they would make a request to be admitted to the league of nations afterwards. It may be, T do not know.
Senator New. Mr. Johnson, I would like to have you clear up one point that is not clear in my mind. You spoke of Sweden losing Finland and the Aland Islands at the same time.
Mr. Johnson. Yes.
Senator New. That was in 1800?
Mr. Johnson. Yes.
Senator New. You said Finland was taken by Russia?
Mr. Johnson. Yes.
Senator New. And the Aland Islands were given to the Czar. Do you mean that there is a difference in the condition in which the two were lost?
Mr. Johnson. I beg your pardon, but they were both ceded to the Czar of Russia. The wording of the treaty says that the King of Sweden cedes to the Czar of Russia, and my contention is that the Czar of Russia, if he was alive, could cede the Aland Islands to Sweden without the consent of Finland.
Senator New. That is all right, but from the way in which you first stated it I thought there might have been a difference in the condition under which the two were ceded.
Mr. Johnson. No.
The Case For Czechoslovakia.
STATEMENT OF MR. EDWABD VACZY.
Mr. Vaczy. Mr. Chairman, I am a resident of Brooklyn. Mr. Van Svarc, of Cleveland, Ohio, an American by birth, of Czech descent, a lawyer by profession, Mr. O. D. Koreff, of Pittsburgh, an American citizen of Czech birth, u newspaper editor, and myself, also an American citizen of Slovak birth, represent the Slovak people and the Bohemian National Alliance of America, and its branch organizations, which organizations exist in nearly one-half of the States of the Union. I want to state at this time that our committee has been somewhat handicapped. It was very late last evening when we received the stenographic reports of the meeting yesterday morning, and we have not been able to prepare our briefs in a manner that would do justice to this case.
The Chairman. The committee will give you time to prepare your brief, if you wish to file anything after the hearing.
Mr. Vaczy. I appreciate that very much. I trust you will, therefore, appreciate our position in this matter. At this time I wish to thank you most kindly in extending to us the opportunity to present the case of Czechoslovakia insofar as it relates to the Magyar people. Our purpose in view in appearing before you is to cooperate with your committee and assist you in reaching a fair settlement in the so-called matter entitled, "The Case of Hungary," and further to refute and correct the misleading statements propounded by the representatives of the Magyar people who appeared yesterday before your honorable body.
I shall be very brief with the Czecho-Slovaks and Magyar situation and discuss the matter as it exists in the United States to-day, and leave the economic, geographical and historical questions affecting the European situation to my colleagues. The Czecho-Slovaks began to emigrate to the United States before the Civil War. Many of them fought bravely and heroically in this war. The Czechoslovaks began to come to our shores in large numbers, principally to escape the hardships and cruelties perpetrated upon them by the Magyar imperialistic Government, and further to escape the military service, realizing the humiliation and the insults and treatments that would be accorded to them by the Magyar militaristic lords. As the years rolled on their immigration began to increase to this land until to-day the Czecho-Slovak population in the United States is approximately 1,600,000, or five times that of the Magyar population in this country.
The Czecho-Slovaks have principally settled in the States of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, West Virginia, Texas. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Minnesota. In many of the cities in these States they have built magnificent churches and schools, and in fact most of these people, I may say, own their homes. It is their absolute intention to remain in this country. They have became a part of our Government. These people have expended and invested millions of dollars in building operations and have materially assisted in developing our country in this one respect.
There has been an erroneous impression received by the average American that the Czecho-Slovaks are only capable of performing manual labor. This is incorrect. Thousands of these men are expert artisans, many of them are successful business and professional men, while other have established reputations as artists and musician*. The Czecho-Slovaks have developed a deep interest in our political life and have made rapid strides in that direction. Two members of the present House of Congress are of Czecho-Slovak birth. Others occupy elective and appointive political positions, while others hold civil-service positions in nearly every arm of our service, Federal, State, and municipal.
I might state this, that the Czecho-Slovaks of this country have proven themselves to be an extraordinarily patriotic and independent, liberty-loving people. They have organized a Czecho-Slovak army in the United States. They were able to organize a force of upwards of 3,500 Czecho-Slovaks, men who were not citizens of the United States and who were under no obligations to serve our country, but who were exceedingly glad and desirous of going to the front and fighting for our country and fighting for the cause of the Allies.
There was only one way in which those men could engage in battle, and that was by enlisting in the Czecho-Slovak Army. I might say that while yesterday the Magyar representatives appeared here and asked you for justice for Hungary, or for the Magyars, as I maintain, there is no such place, as Hungary. Hungary to-day has been equitably divided. There is only a place there, Magyarland, and not a united Hungary. Twenty-five hundred Czechoslovak soldiers were marching up Fifth Avenue while the Magyar representatives here were asking for sympathy and justice to their country—these 2,500 Czecho-Slovak soldiers live in the. United States; they are not citizens—after coming from Siberia. Many of them have been wounded and crippled. They left their wives, their parents, their dependents, while they were in the Czecho-Slovak Army. I am sure that you must admire their heroic position in this matter. But while the Czecho-Slovaks in this country have been doing everything in their power to assist the United States to win this war—and I say they materially assisted the United States in winning this war—what were the Hungarians doing—or the Magyar people, to be correct? What were they doing? \ou realize and you know the extensive propaganda that the Magyar agents in this country were carrying on prior to our declaration of war against the Central Powers. These Magyar agents were scheming and plotting to blow up munitions factories, sink ships, if you please, do anything in order to destroy our property, in other words to cause disorder, to cause strikes, to interrupt our business pursuits in this country until the matter became so serious, if you recall, that an investigation was had, and a convincing report was drawn up of the operation of the Magyar agents in this country, and of the harm that they were doing, so that Dr. Dumba as a result of that investigation was asked to be recalled, which he was. We bid that gentleman a final farewell, a representative of a so-called highly cultured, humane people.
At this very time, Mr. Chairman and Senators, on August 10 a whole page advertisement appeared in four New York newspapers entitled "To the American Nation. Real facts about Hungary." It is signed "American committee for the relief of Hungary, Arnold Somlyo, corresponding secretary; Bertalan Barna, chairman." Thev conclude by stating "We respectfully appeal, therefore, to the President of the United States, to the United States Senate, to Congress, and to the American Nation for justice to Hungary."
I have read this article, and I am sorry to state that there seems to be no conscience as to the extent to which these Magyar