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To resist effectively the tendency towards unification, displayed by their Jugoslav subjects, the Hapsburgs have pursued a diabolical policy, based first upon the principle of “divide et impera," and then upon a ruthless and tyrannical persecution.
A mere glance at a map shows that the Jugoslav lands under the rule of the Hapsburgs, form one continuous, unbroken territorial block. But instead of representing one homogenous province, it is shared between the two halves of the monarchy, and incidentally sub-divided under eleven administrations and fourteen legislations. The eleven separate administrations are: Croatia-Slavonia, Rijeka (Fiume), Dalmatia, Istria, the city and district of Trieste, GoricaGradiška, Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, the Jugoslav districts of Hungary proper, and Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Every one of these provinces (except Fiume and the Jugoslav districts of Hungary proper) has its mock-diet for those matters which are autonomous. Fiume has but a municipal council and the Jugoslav districts in Hungary, being under direct Hungarian rule, share the legislation of the Budapest Parliament. All provinces belonging to Austria, must besides send deputies to the Vienna Reichstag, while Croatia-Slavonia has for her common affairs with Hungary a common legislative in the Parliament of Budapest. There are also the Austrian and Magyar delegations for the common of the whole monarchy. The Diet of Bosnia-Hercegovina has no legislative powers and was created only as a mockery with the intention to deceive Europe.
The autocratic administration of these provinces is shared between the Germans and Magyars of the monarchy.
The educational, judicial and ecclesiastical partition, the maritime service, and the railway and tariff policy are even more complicated than the territorial and administrative division. There the muddle is such that any student of Austro-Hungarian affairs would be stupefied and at pains to which quality to attribute it, to ingenuous perfidy or to utter stupidity.
Now, the object of this parcelling out was to divide the Jugoslavs by a series of watertight compartments, so as to estrange each from the other, and to prevent their unification.
It would lead too far to record all the examples of AustroHungarian misrule in Jugoslav lands. They are so many that the space of an article does not suffice to record even the principal ones. Volumes have been written on this misrule. World known authors as H. W. Stead, R. W. Seton-Watson, Sir Arthur Evans, A. H. E. Taylor, Ernest Denis, Cheradame and others, have amply illustrated this misrule and that nonsense of a Hapsburg dominion which has the insolence to call itself a state. Leading statesmen of all the allied nations have openly denounced AustroHungarian misrule, and Lloyd-George was more than right when calling the dual monarchy a ramshackle empire. It is ramshackle to the core, it is perverse, unjust, cruel and vulgar, and among its Slav subjects it is boundlessly hated and despised. Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ruthenians and Jugoslavs are unanimous in their hatred, for each of these nations has abundantly experienced Austrian perfidy and Magyar brutality. And each of these nations demands its liberation from Austro-Hungarian rule, and each will consider the day of redemption as the greatest and happiest event in its history. Could anyone imagine that such a fervent desire to get rid of Austro-Hungarian rule can possibly originate in all these peoples and nations being malcontent elements, unable to accommodate themselves in an orderly state? Or that all the root of it rests with that Pan-Slavism, which Germany and Austria-Hungary have served to the world as an evil spectre? The Austrian premier, Dr. Seydler, in answering to the Entente, concerning the liberation of small nations, especially of those of Austria-Hungary, declared in the Austrian parliament, that no one of the Austro-Hungarian nations or nationalities wants to be “liberated” or torn away from the monarchy, because all are contented with, and happy under the present rule. This content and this happiness deserve to be nailed down. Without entering into things which happened in other Slav provinces in Austria-Hungary before and during the war, and which were just as monstrous as those that happened in
Jugoslav lands, and without enlarging upon reflections, a few statistics will suffice to give a vivid illustration of the content and the happiness of the Jugoslavs.
The pre-war persecutions and the reign of terror in Jugoslav lands, marked by an almost continuous suspension of the Constitution, by continuous dissolutions of the Croatian parliament and the provincial diets, by the brutal reign of the Magyar satraps Khuen-Hedervary, Baron Rauch and von Cuvaj in Croatia, by so many insurrections in Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Dalmatia, and crowned by numerous trials for high treason, of which the Zagreb trial in 1908 and 1909, founded on documents which were forged in the Austro-Hungarian legation in Belgrade, was a European scandal, were only preludes for all that terrible ravaging which took place since the war began. With the mere advent of war, the “happy and contented" Jugoslavs had to give proof that they do not want to be liberated. All the prominent national leaders were at once cast in prison, many of them notwithstanding the fact that they were members of the parliament, and protected by their parliamentary immunity. The property of all suspected persons was by mere administrative order confiscated for the benefit of the state and sold at auction, mostly to German and Magyar Jews. During the war these confiscations have overreached the number of 100,000. In Srijem, the richest agricultural district in Jugoslav lands, more than a thousand peasant families were evicted and deprived of their property, because they were pro-Serbian. Immediately afterwards the evacuated parts, mostly model farms, were colonized with Magyar peasants, the object being twofold: to prevent the property being ever returned to the rightful owners, and to Magyarise a purely Jugoslav district. More than 200,000 persons whose sentiments for Jugoslav freedom and unity were known to the authorities, were interned in penal camps, and it was openly stated in the Austrian parliament, that more than half of them have died as a result of the terrible sufferings imposed upon them. Monster trials for high treason were held everywhere, and death sentences poured down on the unfortunate victims like rain. Although all the sentences were not made public, from those which were published, it can be seen, that in Croatia-Slavonia, Dalmatia, BosniaHercegovina and in the Slovene lands, not less than 35,000 people were executed for high treason and for crimes against the military power of the state. At one single trial, in Banjaluka, in 1915, sixteen people, belonging to the best classes of society, were sentenced to death on the gallows, and eighty-two to penal servitude amounting altogether to 858 years.
To proceed with similar statistics would mean never to end. There is a continuous chain, black and bloody, showing to the utmost extent the "happiness" of the Jugoslavs and their “disgust” to be liberated from the “blessed and fatherly'' rule of the Hapsburgs.
It is true, there were in the past periods when the Jugoslavs tried to come to terms with their oppressors and to induce them to establish such conditions as would give to the Jugoslavs the possibility for a free political, cultural and economic development. But all and everything was in vain. The two dominant races, the Germans and the Magyars, although a minority in the Monarchy, never consented to sacrifice even a bit of their hegemony in the interest of democratic principles or the rebuilding of the state in a better and truer sense. It is therefore only natural that the principle of liberation and unity became a national dogma for all the Jugoslavs wherever they live.
The prospect of settling the Jugoslav question within Austria-Hungary has become utterly impossible, and there remains only one possibility to settle it, viz.: the liberation of the Jugoslavs, and their unification with Servia and Montenegro in one single, free and independent state. This of course means the partition, and with the settlement of the Czech and Polish questions, the destruction of AustriaHungary. But Austria-Hungary must be destroyed, because her destruction is a European and a world interest. To leave Austria-Hungary strong and in her present structure, means to leave the arch-enemy of humanity free to display all his evil abilities against democracy and civilization, and simply to invite him to be yet more the limitless ally and supporter of German militarism and German devilish designs in the East.
Having in short lines exposed the birth and the development of the Jugoslav movement for unity and independence, with all the accompanying circumstances which have strengthened its determination, it is necessary to give some details and some explanation of the Jugoslav programme as regards liberation and the future Jugoslav state. The Jugoslav programme was not drawn up by a couple of politicians or learned men. Every single member of the Jugoslav nation, the nation as a whole, with all its longings and sufferings, the spirit which animated the public and private life of the Jugoslavs, which inspired their poets, artists and soldiers, all and everything which is theirs, collaborated to build up a national gospel on which Jugoslav future may be based. Therefore it can safely be said that the Jugoslav programme expresses and represents the true and genuine will of the entire Jugoslav nation. Framed in words, the Jugoslav programme finds its best expression in the momentous Declaration of Corfu, dated July 20, 1917, and signed by the prime minister of Serbia, M. Nikola Pašić, representing the government and the people of Serbia, and by Dr. Ante Trumbić, president of the Jugoslav Committee, representing all the unredeemed Jugoslavs of AustriaHungary.
The declaration in ascertaining first, that the Jugoslav nation is absolutely unanimous in its will to be liberated and united, and declaring "anew and most categorically that our people constitutes but one nation, and that it is one in blood, one by the spoken and written language, by the continuity and unity of the territory in which it lives, and finally in virtue of the common and vital interests of its national existence and the general development of its moral and material life," proceeds to give a concise synopsis of Jugoslav struggles for independence in the past, which were unsuccessful as the Jugoslavs were numerically inferior to their enemies in the East and West, and it was impossible for them to safeguard their unity as a nation and a