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not a stage, but a real weather-corner, where Germany and Austria-Hungary have stored an immense quantity of diplomatical, political and economic explosives, with the purpose of setting at a moment's notice the whole world in flames. From the Berlin Congress onward AustriaHungary and Germany were supplied with a “laissez passé” in the Balkans, and it was their supreme task to divide the Balkan peoples and to make each of them a powerless tool in their hands. Turkey and Bulgaria readily consented, and even Rumania was for a considerable time an Austro-German vassal. With the acquirement of Turkish and Bulgarian support, easily fomented owing to Turkish impotence and Bulgarian greed, Germany and Austria-Hungary got almost free hands in political and economic matters in the Balkans, the more as they were, alhough unwillingly, supported by Rumania also. It must be owned that Turkey and Bulgaria were of immense value to the Teutonic powers, not only in peace time, but even more in siding with them in the present war. Turkey's and Bulgaria's capacity to subjugate themselves under the Teutonic will, and their exceptional position as proteges of certain European states was fully exploited by Germany. It is still inexplicable how could Turkey and Bulgaria, who were the arch-intriguers of the Balkans, ever gain all the sympathies of Europe whereas at the same time those, who sincerely and faithfully guarded the interests of humanity and civilization at the doors of the East, remained misunderstood and even despised. Much was of course done by Turkish and Bulgarian propaganda, the later prominent by its shamelessness and hypocrisy, but there are ample proofs that it ought in first line to be attributed to the very able machinations of Germany and Austria-Hungary, who know how to impose upon the world their own opinions, and how to mislead everybody concerning their designs.
But there was in the Balkans one state which never consented to be lead by Germany, and which equally refused to be honored with the "mighty' protection of the Apostolic Hapsburgs. A state which desperately struggled to make the world believe that the Austro-German “Drang nach Osten” means its destruction and a tremendous menace for the whole world. That state was Serbia. Small and weak in comparison with its hereditary foes, but determined and strong in its will of self-preservation and its defence of Europe and humanity, she remained in all her struggles and sufferings faithful to right and democracy. Unfortunately only very few were there to appreciate it. Europe, and even America saw Serbia only in those colours with which she was painted by Austia-Hungary. No one was interested in the fact that Serbia represents a modern, truly democratic state, with a constitution equalled only in the United States, that her political, cultural and economic institutions can stand comparison with any of those in Western Europe, and that her art and literature deserve to be appreciated by all cultured nations. But she was throughout her national and cultural development the victim of perfidious Austro-German intrigues which paralysed all her progress. Not before Serbia's valiant stand in the Balkan wars has European opinion changed. And even then it was more the admiration for a nation of brave soldiers and gallant fighters than the right appreciation of her value as a member of the European communion. The fact was easily overlooked, that Serbia is called upon to play a tremendously important part in the development of world's affairs, and she was only too often left to fight alone her own and other's battles. Having Austria-Hungary continuously pressing her down like a nightmare, Serbia was unable to resist successfully, and she would have perished forever if Germany and Austria-Hungary had not prematurely disclosed their devilish plans for the destruction of the world. The greatest crime in history was necesssary to convince Europe how right Serbia was in continuously warning the world of the Teuto-Magyar danger, and how more right in struggling mercilessly against subjugation under AustroMagyar domination.
But the barring of the Eastern road was not the only reason for the destruction of Serbia as planned by the Teutonic powers. She was guilty of another crime, in that she tried and worked for the dismemberment and the partition of the dual monarchy. Yes, for that she worked, as far as her kinsmen in Austria-Hungary were concerned. But she did it in full agreement with the 9,000,000 of those enslaved kinsmen, who had and have the only and sole desire, the only and sole aim and longing, to be freed from Austro-Magyar yoke, and to be united with Serbia and Montenegro in one free and independent state. In this work Serbia acquitted herself only of her sacred duty as the only independent Jugoslav state. In her struggle against Teuto-Magyar penetration she was morally supported by all the Jugoslavs, who never ceased to gravitate towards Serbia as their liberator, and being chosen as the Jugoslav Piedmont, she naturally became the centre and the axle of the Jugoslav movement.
Now, who are the Jugoslavs, what are their aspirations, and what does their movement represent?
In the Serbo-Croat language Jug means South, and therefore Jugoslavs means Southern! Slavs, viz.: geographically the southern branch of the great Slav family. Historicaly the Jugoslavs bear three different names: Croats, Serbs and Slovenes. But ethnographically they are one and the same nation. They originate from the same stock, speak the same language, inhabit a continuous territory, their customs are identical, and from time immemorial their national aspirations aimed at restless unity. During the time between the fifth and seventh century the Jugoslavs migrated from the Trans-Carpathian regions into their present home, and in spite of living in different groups they never ceased to consider themselves one and the same nation.
At present the Jugoslavs number about 13,000,000. Five million live in Serbia and Montenegro, 7,500,000 in AustriaHungary, and about half a million are living in America and the British colonies and dominions. Others are scattered in Northern Albania, in Greece and in Bulgaria. About 40,000 Jugoslavs dwell in the Kingdom of Italy. The western part of the Jugoslav territory in Austria-Hungary is occupied by the Slovenes, the centre by the Croats, the eastern part by the Serbs. But this is taken only in a general sense. As a matter of fact the Croat and Slovene elements on the one hand, and the Serb and Croat on the other, are intermingled in the various countries.
The Slovenes were the first who succeeded in founding an independent state. The ninth century saw the birth of a Croatian and a Serbian state. The Slovenes were the first to lose their independence to Charlemagne, in 778. The Croats elected the King of Hungary to be their king after the extinction of their native dynasty in 1102. Serbia which reached its zenith under Tsar Dušan, was definitely conquered by the Turks in 1459. The Kingdom of Bosnia lost its independence to Turkey four years later. The Slovenes and Croats fell finally under the Austrian domination, the Serbs under the Turkish. The whole of Jugoslav history is full of struggles against Germans, Magyars, Turks and Venetians. These perpetual conflicts with their invaders and oppressors, have prevented the Jugoslavs from achieving their unification.
The French revolution at last awakened their national consciousness. It gave the impulse to the insurrection under Karagjorgje in 1804, and to the resurrection of Serbia. It inspired Napoleon with the idea of realising the partial unification of the Jugoslavs by uniting Dalmatia, Istria with Trieste, Carinthia, Carniola, Gorica-Gradiška and part of Croatia into an administrative unit under the name of Illyrian Provinces, a name derived from the ancient inhabitants of the Balkans, who were erroneously looked upon as the ancestors of the Jugoslavs. This unification, although temporary (1807-1815), represents one of the most precious pages in modern Jugoslav history. After centuries of oppression, the French introduced the native tongue in the schools and public life of the country. The Napoleonic experiment was followed in the thirties of the last century by another movement for Jugoslav unification, known as the Illyrian movement. It was in the end suppressed by the Austrian government, and Ljudevit Gaj, its originator, cast in prison.
The nearer we come to our own day, the stronger rows the national spirit, and the more ardent the desire for union. Already in 1869 the Croatian Parliament unanimously proclaimed the political identity and equality of the Serbs and Croats, and even passed a resolution whereby the SerboCroat language was in future to be officially styled the Jugoslav language. That same year a congress of the most notable Croatian, Serbian and Slovene patriots proclaimed in Ljubljana, the capital of the Slovene lands, with boundless enthusiasm the unity of all the Jugoslavs. Since then the whole national life of the Jugoslavs has been impregnated with the Jugoslav idea. But the more that idea progressed, the more it excited the persecuting fury of the Germans and Magyars, who—with right-looked upon it as highly dangerous for their hegemony. The last forty years of Jugoslav history are nothing but a fierce and unremitting fight on the part of the Austro-Hungarian authorities against the irresistible Jugoslav movement. But the idea of national and political unity was eternal in the soul of the Jugoslav nation. It was in the mind of the great rulers of their national empires before the Turkish invasion, it was the ideal of all the martyrs of their race during the Ottoman oppression, it inspired their national poetry and the works of the great thinkers and poets of Dubrovnik, it gave strength to the heroic resistance of the Montenegrins, and to the rising under Karagjorgje which gave birth to modern Serbia. It directed every action of the great Njegoš, inspired the policy of Prince Michael, and has been the goal of all the house of Karagjorgjevic. It accomplished the renaissance of the Croats and Slovenes, which bore such heroic fruit in the struggles of 1848, and irradiates the lifework of the great Bishop Strossmayer. It was the primary cause of the long struggles of the Croats for their independence and unity, and of all the national struggles in Dalmatia, Istria, Rijeka (Fiume), and South Hungary, in the Slovene lands and in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Political deliverance, the integrity of national territory, and the foundation of a united State has been the final aim of all Pan-Croat and Pan-Serbian aspirations, of every constitutional struggle and of every riot and insurrection throughout Jugoslav lands, whether in Austria-Hungary or in the Balkans.