Slit,—May 1 ask you to give publicity to the foliowing comments on Mr. Baeschlin's inLcresLmg ooscrvations concerning the future of Poland and Czechoslovakia?
Here I venture to remark—en passant—that according to the different agreements concluded between the Czechs and Slovaks during the last war, such as, e.g., the Pittsburgh Agreement, and also according to the Peace Treaties of St. Germain, Trianon and Versailles, the name of the former Czechoslovak Republic was to be written with a hyphen; it had been written in that way for some time also in Czechoslovakia, .especially in her earliest laws and Government Orders; only later the Czechs introduced—i.e., also into the Constitution of the Republic—and. have forced also the Slovaks to use against their will the present " unitaristic " spelling.
I am speaking on behalf of the great Catholic majority of the Slovak people who are, unfortunately, not represented in any officially recognised Government or Committee in this country.
In the future of Poland we Slovaks arc much concerned, as we are in that of the Bohemian lands, because upon their fate depends also our existence as a free nation.
Mr. Baeschlin is right in advocating a strong vigorous Poland, and also in asserting that the return of the Sudetenland to the future Czech State is imperative. I only should like to supplement his remark on Slovakia and to point out a really free Slovak view, unhampered by allegiance to our old rules.
If the principles of the Atlantic Charter, and, as we hope, the Peace Points of Pope Pius XII, are to he the foundations of a new order in Central Europe, no coercion can be exercised upon the Slovak people in order to rejoin thc Czechs in the framework of the former Czechoslovak Republic. It would be not only against any principle of freedom and democracy, but also against commonsense. The internal structure of the Czechoslovak State, which pretended to be a national State but was not, was very far from sound, and its resistance against a powerful external adversary proved too weak. A look at the map must persuade anybody that the frontiers of Czechoslovakia were simply undefendable, especially in the case of a combined attack by several of her neighbours.
But Poland alone would also not be strong enough to defend either her Western or her Eastern boundaries.
As to Slovakia, we Slovaks are well aware that a completely sovereign and independent Slovak State cannot exist, not from the economic point of view but for reasons of security.
The three Slavonic peoples, the Poles, the Czechs and the Slovaks, must unite after this war in a federal union, and thus build up the uucleus of a new political system in Central Europe. In this federal union each of the throe nations should have a certain administrative autonomy (perhaps with some sort of sub-autonomies for the inevitable national minosities), especially in matters of justice, education and civil administration; all other branches of the State machinery should be common. In such a federal union it would be absolutely superfluous to reconstruct Czechoslovakia. Each of the three nations would have a local Government and Diet of its own, and a proportional representation in the common federal Government and in the federal Parliament or Council. For this purpose, we Slovaks do not need any Czech mediators; we can and will speak for ourselves; neither would our people accept such mediators after the sad experiences of the past. We realise very well that we owe much to the Czechoslovak Republic—but so do the Czechs; on the other hand, we only too
well know also the disadvantages of being ruled by another, though brotherly, nation. We have suffered much from the unjust, pseudo-democratic, centralistic and unitaristic rdgime, which paid lip-service to democracy, but in fact exercised a disguised dictatorship. Our national character, our language, and (remember that Czechoslovakia had been an a-Christian. and sometimes even an anti-Christian, especially anti-Catholic, State) also our Christian religion were endangered. Such interference with our special affsirs by Czech politicians or their Slovak " quislings " we will not and cannot tolerate in future, if we are to remain a free people. Therefore we will especially demand that at the Peace Conference our people be represented by Slovak delegates, chosen by the Slovak people, not as after the last war, by Czechs, who denied even the existence of a Slevak nation by asserting that the Slovaks are Czechs.
PETER P. PRIDAYOK. 43, Queen's Court, Queensway, W.2.