The Russian Revolution; The Jugo-Slav Movement Part 3

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It is the story of a nation which entered its new home in the Balkans in the seventh century and became divided geographically and politically, in faith and written language, and in economic and social life, until at last its spokesmen could truthfully say that it was divided into thirteen separate administrative units dependent upon fifteen legislative bodies. [FN: In 1915 the Slovenes inhabiting Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, Istria, and Goerz-Gradisca, and the Serbo-Croats of Istria and Dalmatia, were under the direct rule of Austria. Trieste and its district were a part of Austria. The Serbs of Hungary belonged to Hungary proper for the most part; the Croats by a fundamental agreement were ent.i.tled to autonomy in Croatia. Fiume, the seaport of Croatia and Hungary, had an administration of its own. Bosnia-Herzegovina possessed a diet and was under the dual rule of Austria and Hungary. All the provinces or districts mentioned above were governed by the two parliaments at Vienna and Budapest. There were, in addition, two independent Serb states, Serbia and Montenegro. Down to 1912 Turkey ruled over a large number of Serbs.] How did it come about that this evolution of twelve centuries, beginning with primeval unity and pa.s.sing through a political, economic, and social decomposition of a most bewildering character, has once more arrived at national unity and is even now demanding the last step--political amalgamation? Is it a doctrine or a dream or is it a reality?

I

When the Jugo-Slavs first occupied the western half of the Balkan peninsula, they were one in speech, in social customs and ancestry, and were divided only into tribes. The Slovenes, who settled in the northern end of the west Balkan block, were not separated from their Croat and Serb kinsmen by the forces of geography, but rather by the course of political evolution. On the other hand, the Croats became separated from the Serbs by forces largely geographical, though partially economic and political, in nature.

The Slovenes gave way before the pressure of the Germans who swept through the Alps and down the Danube and forced the Slovene vojvodes to acknowledge their suzerainty and accept their religion. The Germans would doubtless have succeeded in obliterating them had not the Magyar invasion weakened their offensive. The Slovenes, however, were left a wrecked nationality whose fate became blended with that of the Habsburg possessions and who against the forces of geography--which firmly bound them to the Croats--were politically riveted to the Habsburg north.

This division was therefore the result of forces created by man and changeable by him. The Croats settled in the northwestern half of the territory south of the Slovenes; the Serbs roughly in the southeastern part of it. Here geographical influences--the direction of the rivers and the Dinaric ridges--combined with divergent political and economic possibilities, produced a dualism. The Croats on the Save and its tributaries naturally expanded westward and aspired to closer connection with the sea where their struggle with the remnants of Roman civilization and a superior culture absorbed their energies.



They developed out of their tribal state more quickly, while the Serbs, further inland and amid more difficult surroundings, developed more slowly. The people who lived along the Save aspired to control the Dalmatian coast which military and geographical authorities claim can best be held from the mainland. The people who lived in Montenegro or along the Morava, which was the gateway to the peninsula, would naturally expand south and east toward the other cultural center, Constantinople, and thus seek to dominate the Balkan peninsula. In both cases, the attraction proved too much for feudal kings and led to the formation of cosmopolitan empires instead of strong national monarchies.

The kingdoms of Croatia and Serbia thus parted company politically. The former became a separate kingdom attached to Hungary in 1102 and to the Habsburg dynasty in 1527, while the Serbs began their expansion under the Nemanja dynasty late in the twelfth century and almost realized the dominion over the Balkans under Stephen Du[s]an in the fourteenth century.

This political, geographical, and economic dualism became still greater when in 1219 the Serbs cast their lot with orthodoxy. The Croats, like the Slovenes, adopted Roman Catholicism, the Latin alphabet, and the culture of Rome. The Serbs accepted Greek Orthodoxy, the Cyrillic alphabet, and the culture of Constantinople.

The Slovenes became a part of the Austrian possessions of the Habsburgs; the Croats fell under the dominion of the Hungarian crown and the republic of Venice; and the Serbs succ.u.mbed to the Turks by the middle of the fifteenth century. The loss of political independence brought with it ultimately the loss of the native n.o.bility, the sole guardians of the const.i.tutional and historical rights of the nations down into the nineteenth century in central Europe. In addition, many towns were Germanized and the middle cla.s.s disappeared. The Jugo-Slavs, like the Czecho-Slovaks, appeared in modern times as a nation which had lost its native n.o.bility and had been reduced to a disarmed, untutored, and enserfed peasantry. In the absence of these leaders, the nation turned to its clergy who in order to retain their hold on the peasantry must needs ever remain national. But here again the misfortune which awaited the Jugo-Slavs was that historically three religions had taken deep root, the Catholic among the Slovenes and Croats, and the Mohammedan and Orthodox among the Serbs. We may therefore conclude the first half of the historical evolution of the Jugo-Slavs with the observation that political, economic, social, and geographical divisions led to their downfall as a nation and that if they ever desired to become one, each one of these chasms would have to be bridged. A solution for each of these problems--the most difficult which ever faced a nation--would have to be found; meanwhile the policy of the four masters, the German, Venetian, Magyar, and Turk, would always be "divide and rule," in other words, to perpetuate the divergencies.

II

The history of the evolution of the Jugo-Slavs from the sixteenth to the twentieth century has been an effort to find the means of melting down these differences until finally one--nationalism--accomplished the purpose. Unity came first in the imagination and the mind, next in literature and speech, and finally in political action. The four hundred years beginning with the fifteenth and ending with the eighteenth century will be remembered by the Jugo-Slavs as the age of humiliation.

Only Slavicized Ragusa and indomitable Montenegro kept alive the imagination of the nation which was brought back to life by the half-religious, half-national Slovene poets of the sixteenth century, by the Ragusan epic poet [Gundulic], by the incessant demands of successive diets of the ever-weakening Croatia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and by the progressive and zealous Serbs of Hungary, who ever since the fifteenth century in increasing numbers made their home there, refugees from the oppression of the Turk, but who ever longed to push out from the frontier and rebuild Serbia anew. [Krizanic], a Croat Catholic Dalmatian priest, a firm believer in Jugo-Slav and Slavic unity in general, appealed to the rising Russian empire to help save dying Slavdom.

While the Turkish and the Venetian empires decayed, the Austrian and the Russian gained courage. By the end of the seventeenth century the house of Habsburg had won back all except the Banat and in the eighteenth century aspired to divide the Balkan peninsula in halves with the Russians. Along with this future foreign interference in the affairs of the Balkans came the Germanizing and centralizing "reforms" of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, whose result was to cripple still further the few const.i.tutional and historical rights which remained to the Jugo-Slavs.

But these "reforms" had nevertheless salutary effects upon the nation of peasants. The enlightened despots, spurred on by the loss of Silesia--which was at the same time a great loss in revenue as well as prestige--sought to make good the loss by the economic betterment and education of the peasantry. How else could an agrarian state increase its revenue and supply able-bodied men for the numerous armies which the overarmaments of Frederick II had brought upon central Europe?

[FN: Emphasis on this fundamental fact of Habsburg history in the eighteenth century cannot be too strong. The writer of this paper hopes soon to present archival proof of the far-reaching results of the seizure of Silesia. The doc.u.ments are to be found in the archives of the _Hofkammer_ and _Ministerium des Innern_ in Vienna.] Centralization and Germanization really helped to awaken the Slavs. Enlightened despotism gave them the weapons of political struggle--education and economic resources.

Of the Jugo-Slavs, the Serbs of Hungary were the first to achieve national and cultural consciousness. In the absence of a native n.o.bility, but with unusual economic opportunities at their command, they developed a wealthy middle cla.s.s--a rare thing among Slavs before the middle of the nineteenth century. This cla.s.s came into contact with nationalized western Europe and found that the bulwark against national oppression was education for the ma.s.ses. The nation must be educated and must be economically sound in order to undertake the political struggle against the Germans, the Magyars, and the Turks. That was the background of Dositej Obradovi[c]'s literary labors as he raised spoken Serbian ultimately to the literary language of the Jugo-Slavs and of Karad[z]i[c]'s efforts which resulted in that wonderful collection of Serbian national poems, and which clinched for all time the literary supremacy of the _[S]to_ dialect. Serbian Hungary was the starting place for Kara George's revolution which brought partial freedom in 1804 and autonomy in 1830 and thus planted the germ of the modern Greater Serbia.

Napoleon's Illyria, created in 1809, joined for the first time Slovenes and Croats in one political unit, and the excellent administration and the schools left an undying memory of what might be if the Habsburgs cared. Vodnik, the Slovene poet, sang of Illyria and her creator, but it was the meteoric Croat, Ljudevit Gaj, in the thirties, who so eloquently idealized it as he poured heated rhetoric into the camp of the Magyars, who after the Diet of 1825 began their unfortunate policy of Magyarization. Illyria, though short-lived, became the germ of the Greater Croatia idea, which, with Greater Serbia, existed as the two, not necessarily hostile, solutions of the Jugo-Slav problem down to the Congress of Berlin. It was as yet a friendly rivalry with the possible formation of two separate units. The occupation of Bosnia in 1878 led to actual friction between them. On the other hand, the annexation of the same province in 1908 had just the opposite effect, for from that time the ultimate ideal was no longer Greater Croatia or Greater Serbia in any selfish sense, but Jugo-slavia, because, to use a plat.i.tude, Bosnia had scrambled the eggs. Evidence of the fairly amicable relations between Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs at the time of Gaj is not lacking.

It was Gaj who reformed Croatian orthography on the basis of the Serbian. Bleiweis and Vraz endeavored to do the same in Slovene.

The revolution of 1848 demonstrated still further the friendly relations of these potential rivals as national unifiers. For the first time, the Croats and Serbs publicly fraternized and showed that the seemingly insurmountable barrier of religious difference tended to disappear in the struggle for national independence. In this sense the events of 1848--when the hand of the foreign master was for the while taken away--have given confident hope to those who believe that Jugo-Slav differences are soluble. Jela[c]i[c], Ban of Croatia, the idol of the Serbo-Croats, was proclaimed dictator and supported by the Croatian Diet at Zagreb (Agram) and the Serbian a.s.sembly at Karlovac (Karlowitz). The Serb Patriarch Raja[c]i[c] and the young and gifted Stratimirovi[c], provisional administrator of the Serb Vojvodina, attended the Croatian Diet and the High Ma.s.s where Bishop O[z]egovi[c] sang the Te Deum in Old Slavic. After Gaj, Raja[c]i[c], and Stratimirovi[c] had failed at Vienna and Pressburg to bend the dynasty or the defiant Kossuth, Jela[c]i[c]

was empowered to defend the monarchy and bring back the historical rights of the Triune Kingdom and the Serb Vojvodina. The dynasty and the monarchy survived, but Jugo-Slav hopes and the promises they had received were unfulfilled or soon withdrawn, as for instance the Vojvodina in 1861. Absolutism reigned supreme from 1849 to 1860.

This disappointment led the Croats and Serbs to try cooperation with the Magyars, who under Deak and Eotvos appeared to be anxious to conciliate the non-Magyars in those uncertain years which began in 1859 and ended in dualism. Austria lacked a great statesman, and the Prusso-Austrian rivalry led the fearful and impatient Francis Joseph into the Compromise (Ausgleich) of 1867. It was a work of haste and expediency and bound with it the fate of the dynasty. Thereafter, the German minority in Austria and the Magyar minority in Hungary were the decisive factors in the problems confronting the Jugo-Slavs. Dalmatia was handed over to Austria; Croatia, by a compromise, which it has never really accepted, to Hungary.

The Ausgleich between Austria and Hungary and Hungary and Croatia opened in 1868 a period which ended in 1905--it was a period, on the one hand of the greatest decay and decomposition in the political life of the Jugo-Slavs, and, on the other, of the greatest literary and intellectual unity as shaped by Bishop Strossmayer and Peter II and Nicholas of Montenegro.

Bishop Strossmayer and the Slovene, Croat, and Serb academies, matica, and learned societies, as well as men of literature, spoke, wrote, and pleaded for unity in this period, in vain. But they and the universities of Prague and Zagreb produced a younger generation which later took up the fight for national unity and which abandoned individual political foibles and looked over the boundaries of their provinces for inspiration.

Among the Slovenes, politics degenerated into the struggle for minor concessions from the court at Vienna in regard to the Slovene language and schools, while political parties multiplied freely through personal and social differences. The lines which bound them to their kinsmen in the south were weakest during this period.

The Croats found themselves no match for the astute Magyars who resorted to packed diets, gerrymandering, bribery, and forgery. The Compromise (NaG.o.da) of 1868 was as decisive as the murder of the farsighted Prince Michael of Serbia in that year. It will be remembered that, in spite of his many faults, he had made an agreement with Montenegro for the ultimate merging of their states and, after allying himself with Rumania, had carried out an agreement with the Bulgarian committee for the amalgamation of Bulgaria with Serbia, thus obtaining a commanding influence in the Balkans. With his death, Serbia fell into the hands of Milan and Alexander, whose weak and erratically despotic reigns ushered in an era in Serbian history from which she emerged in 1903, through the a.s.sa.s.sination and the extinction of the last of the Obrenovics, a country without a good name, a nation which, through no special fault of its own, had become degraded.

It was in the midst of this political decay that the Bosnians revolted in 1875 and that Serbia, Montenegro, Russia, and Rumania became involved in the Russo-Turkish war. s.p.a.ce forbids but the most hasty survey of the occupation and administration by Austria of Bosnia and the Herzegovina by virtue of the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

Bismarck, Francis Joseph, and Andra.s.sy were swayed by differing motives whose total result was that Austria was to become a Balkan power--the outpost of the German _Drang nach Osten_--and that it was worth while making a greater Serbia impossible, even at the cost of increasing the number of Slavs in the Habsburg monarchy, which, now reenforced by the Ausgleich, could stand the strain of advancing democracy and the necessity, therefore, of granting further rights to the Slavs.

The occupation of Bosnia led to the first real quarrels in modern times between Croat and Serb, for the former wanted Bosnia in Greater Croatia in order to have connection with Dalmatia; the latter wished it annexed to Greater Serbia, because it was Serbian. Magyar and German, further, quarreled as to the status of Bosnia and left it unsettled. But one thing was settled by the occupation in 1879 and the annexation in 1908. Neither Greater Croatia nor Greater Serbia were any longer truly possible as a final solution, only a Jugo-Slavia. The Greater Croatia received a mortal blow by the addition of Serbs up to more than one third of the number of Croats in Austria-Hungary, and Serbia faced the future either as a va.s.sal or as a territory which must be annexed. From that time until the present the Habsburg monarchy, largely owing to the predominance of the Magyars in Croatia, adopted a policy of prevention--Jugo-Slav nationality was to be prevented. Viewed in that light the rule of Count Khuen-Hederv[a]ry, Ban of Croatia from 1883 to 1903, in which time, according to Croats, he corrupted a whole generation, turned Serb against Croat, and played out the radical demands of the party of Star[c]evi[c] and Frank, is intelligible. The policy of Count Khuen, which was based on corruption and forgery, on press-muzzling and career-exploding, has since been imitated, and its imitation has been largely responsible for this war.

It was not until the Serbs and Croats formed their coalition in 1905 that the trial of strength had come. In Serbia, Peter Karageorgevitch ascended the throne and reversed the pro-Austrian policy of his predecessor. This it will be remembered was influenced until then by the Bulgarian policy of Russia and by Serbia's defeat at the hands of Bulgaria in 1885. The commercial treaty with Bulgaria in 1905, and the tariff war which Austria began immediately afterward, pointed out which way the wind was blowing.

An era big with decisive events arrived. The Jugo-Slavs had learned that union meant victory, division foreign mastery. Petty politics and religious fanaticism were forgotten, and Jugo-Slav nationality was formed in the fierce fires of Austro-Magyar terrorism and forgery and in the whirlwind reaped from the Balkan wars.

It was too late to talk of trialism unless it meant independence, and, when it meant that, it did not mean Austrian trialism. The treason trial by which Baron Rauch hoped to split the Serbo-Croat coalition, and which was to furnish the cause of a war with Serbia on the annexation of Bosnia in 1908, collapsed. It rested on forgeries concocted within the walls of the Austro-Hungarian legation in Belgrade where Count Forgach held forth. The annexation of Bosnia in 1908 completed the operation begun in 1878 and called for the completion of the policy of prevention.

It was the forerunner of the press campaign in the first Balkan war, the Prohaska affair, the attack by Bulgaria upon Serbia and Greece, the rebuff to Masaryk and Pa[s]i[c], the murder of Francis Ferdinand, and the Austro-Hungarian note to Serbia. The mysteries connected with the forgeries and this chain of events will remain a fertile field for detectives and psychologists and, after that, for historians. For us, it is necessary to note that, as the hand of Pan-Germanism became more evident, the Slovenes began to draw nearer to the Croats and the Serbs.

It remained only for the Serbs to electrify the Jugo-Slavs--"to avenge Kossovo with k.u.manovo"--in order to cement their loyalty to the regenerated Serbs. Religious differences, political rivalries, linguistic quibbles, and the petty foibles of centuries appeared to be forgotten in the three short years which elapsed from k.u.manovo to the destruction of Serbia in 1915. The Greater Serbia idea had really perished in 1915, as had the Greater Croatia idea in 1878. In their place emerged Jugo-Slavia--the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes--implied by the South Slav Parliamentary Club in Austria in their Declaration of May 30, 1917, and formulated by the Pact of Corfu of July 7, 1917, which Pasie, premier of Serbia, and Trumbie, the head of the London Jugo-Slav Committee, drew up. The evolution had been completed. Nationalism had proved stronger than geography, stronger than opposing religions, more cohesive than political and economic interests.

For this, the Jugo-Slavs have not only themselves and modern progress, like railroad-building, to thank, but also the policy of the Habsburg monarchy, the hopeful, though feeble, Note of the Allies to President Wilson, the Russian Revolution, and the entry of the United States into the war.

For the historian, it remains to examine the depth and the character of the movement. He should neither lament that it succeeded, nor frown upon it that it did not come long ago when his own nation achieved its unity.

That it is a reality is proved by the fact that the Central Powers believed its destruction worth this catastrophic war. A nation of eleven or twelve millions holds the path to the Adriatic and the Aegean and the gateway to the Orient and world dominion. It can help to make impossible the dream of mid-Europe or of Pan-Germany.

The Jugo-Slav movement has ended in the formation of a nation which is neither a doctrine, nor a dream, but a reality.

APPENDICES DECLARATION OF THE JUGO-SLAV CLUB OF THE AUSTRIAN PARLIAMENT

ON MAY 30, 1917

"The undersigned deputies, a.s.sembled as the 'Jugo-slav Club,' taking their stand on the principle of nationalities and on the rights of the Croatian state, declare that they demand that all the countries in which Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs live shall be united in an independent and democratic state organism, free from the domination of any foreign nation and placed under the sceptre of the dynasty Habsburg-Lorraine.

They declare that they will employ all their forces to realize this demand of their single nation. The undersigned will take part in the parliamentary labor after having made this reserve...."

[FN: Referring to the Declaration of the Jugo-Slav Club, May 30, 1917, in the Vienna Parliament J. J. Grgurevich, Secretary of the South Slavic National Council, Was.h.i.+ngton, D. C., writes:

"In order to understand correctly this Declaration, it is necessary to state that the same was presented in the Vienna Parliament during war time, when each, even the most innocent, word in regard to rights, principles of nationality, and liberty of peoples, was considered and punished as a crime and treason, by imprisonment, even death.

"Were it not for these facts, this Declaration would never contain the words: 'and placed under the sceptre of the dynasty Habsburg-Lorraine.' It was, therefore, necessary to insert these words in order to make possible the public announcement of this Declaration; it was necessary to make a moral sacrifice for the sake of a great moral and material gain, which was secured through this Declaration among the people to which it was addressed and which understood it in the sense and in the spirit of the Declaration of Corfu."]

APPENDIX II

THE PACT OF CORFU

At the conference of the members of the late (Serbian) Coalition Cabinet and those of the present Cabinet, and also the representatives of the Jugo-Slav Committee in London, all of whom have hitherto been working on parallel lines, views have been exchanged in collaboration with the president of the Skupstina, on all questions concerning the life of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in their joint future State.

We are happy in being able once more on this occasion to point to the complete unanimity of all parties concerned.

In the first place, the representatives of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes declare anew and most categorically that our people const.i.tutes 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.

The idea of its national unity has never suffered extinction, although all the intellectual forces of its enemy were directed against its unification, its liberty and its national existence. Divided between several States, our nation is in Austria-Hungary alone split up into eleven provincial administrations, coming under thirteen legislative bodies. The feeling of national unity, together with the spirit of liberty and independence, have supported it in the never-ending struggles of centuries against the Turks in the East and against the Germans and the Magyars in the West.

Being numerically inferior to its enemies in the East and West, it was impossible for it to safeguard its unity as a nation and a State, its liberty and its independence against the brutal maxim of "might goes before right" militating against it both East and West.

But the moment has come when our people is no longer isolated. The war imposed by German militarism upon Russia, upon France and upon England for the defense of their honor as well as for the liberty and independence of small nations, has developed into a struggle for the Liberty of the World and the Triumph of Right over Might. All nations which love liberty and independence have allied themselves together for their common defense, to save civilization and liberty at the cost of every sacrifice, to establish a new international order based upon justice and upon the right of every nation to dispose of itself and so organize its independent life; finally to establish a durable peace consecrated to the progress and development of humanity and to secure the world against a catastrophe similar to that which the conquering l.u.s.t of German Imperialism has provoked.

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