The Czech Conspiracy. 
A Phase in the World-War Plot

George Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers

Origin of the Czecho-Slovak Republic

The state of Czecho-Slovakia came into existence on October 28th, 1918, as the result of the Czech cause being espoused by President Wilson at the Peace Conference, and after Great Britain had given recognition to the Czech legionaries, composed of prisoners of war and deserters from the Austro-Hungarian army, who had been formed into a Czech Legion in Russia.

The Czech nationalist movement was first organized some twenty years before the War, and its influence was largely due to the efforts of the first Czech President, the late Thomas G. Masaryk, in America. During the War, these Austrian-Czech deserters were formed into a Czech battalion, which the British Government recognised in June 1918 as one of the White Russian and Allied forces in the war against Austro-Hungary and Germany, for which purpose they were equipped. On the collapse of the Austrian Empire, a Czecho-Slovak "National" Committee was encouraged by the Allies to proclaim itself a government in Prague and was afterwards recognised in the Treaty of Versailles.

Before the end of 1917 nothing remained of Imperial Russia's war aims. No longer could she aspire to control Constantinople, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles, nor to annex Bukovina. No longer could her pre-war pan-Slav ambitions and intrigues serve to rally to her assistance her Czech and Slav Balkan allies, now that the Red standard of World Revolution had replaced the double-headed eagle in Moscow.

Russia was defeated and her army broken before America would consent to join the Allies. Lenin accepted Germany's offer of an armistice and Russian delegates crossed the Russian lines. So Allied diplomacy and propaganda was directed in 1918 to preventing Russia being driven into the arms of Germany. Thus it came about that war aims had to be reconsidered, as it was time to liquidate Imperial Russia's aims which stood in the way of a separate peace with Turkey.

The Bolshevik-internationalist destroyers of our war ally, Russia, and the Bolsheviki's powerful financial friends in the United States of America, who were subsidising world revolution as well as Czech and Serbian agitation, now had to be conciliated. At the same time, Mr. Lloyd George and his Foreign Secretary, Mr. Arthur Balfour, decided that it was necessary to counter the policy of those members of the British Government who were "inclined to take up a strong anti-Bolshevik attitude." Accordingly, the Prime Minister requested Mr. Balfour to draw up a Memorandum in which he embodied the new policy of "winning the goodwill of the present rulers of Petrograd" together with the new "war aims," which circular Memorandum of December 9th, 1917, was sent to members of the Cabinet. It was, according to Mr. Lloyd George, one of Mr. Balfour's "most notable State documents." In this Memorandum Mr. Balfour sets out:

    "I have already indicated my view that we ought, if possible, not to come to an open breach with the Bolsheviks or drive them into the enemy's (Germany's) camp.... If we drive Russia into the hands of Germany, we shall hasten the organisation of the country by German officials on German lines.... The policy of avoiding the active malevolence of the Bolshevik Party raises most important diplomatic issues...."1

It now became the keystone of British diplomatic policy to conciliate Mr. Trotsky and Mr. Litvinov, even though it was well known, as Mr. Lloyd George records, that:

    "The Home Office drew our attention to an article in the Woolwich Pioneer by Mr. Litvinov, given under his official seal, inviting the munition workers of Woolwich to start a revolution. The War Office reported that he had also been endeavoring to tamper with the discipline of British troops, notably Russian Canadians. These were some of the difficulties confronting us...."2

Representatives of the Great Powers, who were signatories to the Treaty of London, dated September 4th, 1914, and the secret pact of April 26th, 1915, by which other powers adhered to it, now had to review their "war aims" in the light of a new balance of power. By this Treaty Great Britain, France and Russia had promised certain Austrian territories, inhabited by the Southern Slavs, to Italy. The Serbs, Croats and Slovenes took alarm at the prospect of the partition of Dalmatia by the victorious Allies, and under the leadership of Dr. Trumbitch, President of the Southern Slav Committee, and M. Pasich, Prime Minister of Serbia, assembled in Corfu, where, on June 2th, 1917, they issued a Southern Slav Unitary Declaration proclaiming the unity of the three peoples and claiming the territory inhabited by them.

Thus it came about that the Great Powers, Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy, who were signatories to the 1914-1915 pacts of London, were obliged in 1918 "to proceed to the examination of the war aims and of the possible conditions of a just and durable peace in concert with Russia, as soon as a regular government, having the right to speak in the name of the nation, should be established in Russia."3

Henry Wickham Steed
Henry Wickham Steed
[Spartacus Educational]
In February 1918, Lord Northcliffe became, at Mr. Lloyd George's invitation, Director of Propaganda in Enemy Countries. An Advisory Committee was set up at Crewe House, which included in its membership various well-known publicists and journalists, including Sir Roderick Jones, Managing Director of Reuter's Agency, Sir Sidney Low, Mr. H. G. Wells, and Mr. Wickham Steed, Foreign Editor and later Editor-in-Chief of the London Times. One branch of the department was divided into sections devoted to propaganda in Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Bulgaria. Co-directors of this Austro-Hungarian section were Mr. Wickham Steed and Dr. R. W. Seton-Watson, afterwards Masaryk Professor of Central European history in the University of London. On the initiative of Messrs. Wickham Steed and Seton-Watson, both members of the Serbian Society of Great Britain, meetings took place between leading Italians and Southern Slavs, which led to these two official propagandists representing their department at a Congress of the "Oppressed Hapsburg Nationalities," which they arranged in Rome in April, 1918.

The main objective and aim of our propaganda department was to form a strong anti-German chain of Central European and Danubian states and to dismember the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the aid of the Czechs and the Southern Slavs. The difficulties of winning over the Southern Slavs to our rapid changes of policy and our new "war aims" were, as I have shown, their misgivings on the "Adriatic question." Nevertheless, the representatives of the Italian, and of the Yugo-Slav people in particular, found it politic to declare categorically at the Rome Congress that:

    "They pledge themselves.... in the future to solve amicably the various territorial controversies on the basis of the principles of nationality and of the right of peoples to decide their own fate.... To such racial groups of one people as may be found necessary to include within the frontiers of the other, there shall be recognised and guaranteed the right of their language, culture, and moral and economic interests."4

Amongst the principal points of the Memorandum on propaganda issued by the British Director of Propaganda in 1918 is found the following:

    "For propaganda among the anti-German peoples the agencies already existing should be utilised. These agencies are chiefly the Bohemian (Czecho-Slovak) National Alliance, the Southern Slav Committee, and various Polish organisations."

In reply to this Memorandum the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Balfour, wrote:

    "Everything which encourages the anti-German element in the Hapsburg dominions really helps to compel the Emperor to a separate peace.... A propaganda which aids the struggle of the nationalities now subject either to Austrian-Germans or to Magyar-Hungarians towards freedom and self-determination, must be right, whether the complete break up of the Austrian Empire or its de-Germanisation under Hapsburg rule be the final goal of our efforts."4

It becomes quite clear, then, that the official British interpretation of self-determination and freedom of subject nationalities was intended to mean the permanent subjugation of German and Magyar peoples under the yoke of Czechs and Serbs. For twenty years this propaganda, with these objects and aims in view, under the specious cloak of "self-determination" and "collective security," has been unrelentingly and unremittingly pursued to the very brink of yet another world war, with the able assistance and direction of such official expert Balkan propagandists as Messrs. Wickham Steed and Seton-Watson, Masaryk Professor of the London University.

In order to understand the long story of the conflicts and rivalries of the German, Magyar, and Slav peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which has been the arena in which the belligerent intervention of the Great Powers was taking place; and in order to understand the part played by international Jewry on this swift-moving and kaleidoscopic stage, we must go back in history at least as far as the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

In 1877 Bosnia-Herzegovina was emancipated from Turkish rule, whilst Bulgaria was about to emerge as an autonomous principality under Russia's protection but remaining a tributary under the suzerainty of the Sultan. At the same time Bosnia-Herzegovina was occupied and administered by Austria, though never formally annexed until the Austro-Turkish Convention of February, 1909. Thus these inflammable South-Slav provinces became and remained for sixty years the focal point of Central European power politics. Out of the Treaty of Berlin of the following year emerged also an independent Serbia and an independent Roumania. (Articles 34 and 43.)

The confused and rapid changes in British foreign policy towards the German Empire and towards Germans, which is not the same thing, have for a century and more been intimately connected with the influence of European Jewry upon both Empires, and with the dramatic changes in Jewish allegiance that mass migrations and obscure movements in the financial world have brought about. These changes have been signalled in recent history, for example, by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, after the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, whereby the interests of Jewry brought about an apparent rapprochement in the foreign policy of Great Britain and Germany. This event, however, at the same time marked the set-back to the pan-Slav and expansionist ambitions of Imperial Russia in the West, which dates from the first phase of a new era of power politics, whose precarious diplomatic equilibrium has since been so often disturbed and reversed by oscillations caused by hidden currents.

Engraving of Bismarck and Disraeli at the Treaty of Berlin
Engraving of Bismarck and Disraeli at the Treaty of Berlin
[Eastern Michigan University]
At the time, the Treaty of Berlin was hailed as the brilliant achievement of two great statesmen, Bismarck and Disraeli - then Lord Beaconsfield - which would ensure for generations to come the peace of Europe. British as well as German interests were thought to have been safeguarded, Turkey's hold on Europe checked, and Russia isolated by the revision of her gains in the Russo-Turkish war acquired by the Treaty of San Stefano; while Austria was induced to follow the lead of Great Britain. Except for the cession of Bessarabia, Russian appetites were directed towards the East.

Apart from her enhanced prestige, England's material reward, Cyprus, she obtained secretly from the Turks, who were led to believe that, with Cyprus as a base, a philo-Turkish England would be in a better position to defend the Asiatic possessions of the Ottoman Empire against Russian designs directed towards Constantinople and the Dardanelles. The British plenipotentiaries at the Congress of Berlin were Disraeli, the Prime Minister, and his Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury.

Thus was the long-time fuse lit which eventually detonated the Balkan powder magazine and threw Tzarist Russia into the arms of the French Republic.

British opinion was particularly delighted when the news of England's Cypriot plum was made public; and when Disraeli returned from Berlin to London, proclaiming "Peace with Honour," he received the Order of the Garter at the hands of Queen Victoria.

Mr. Wickham Steed's retrospective comments on this passage in the annals of British history, while consistent with his pan-Slav and anti-Austrian partisanship and sympathies, also provide food for reflection upon the rapid changes and reversals of foreign policy which alone are characteristic of British diplomacy. Referring to it in his Hapsburg Monarchy, he wrote:

    "British policy has rarely been worse inspired than when, under the Oriental guidance of Disraeli, it secured Cyprus as the price of peace with dishonour, helped Austria-Hungary and Germany to tear up the Treaty of San Stefano, and incurred the moral responsibility for the carnage and havoc of the recent Balkan wars."5

Mr. Wickham Steed, indeed, supplies an explanation of German-Austrian policy which, it would appear, could even more forcibly be applied to British policy to account for its changes towards Germany and Austria, corresponding to the successive periods when Ashkenazic, or the German-Austrian-Polish-Russian wing of, Jewry exhibited pro-German or anti-German leanings. The theory which Mr. Wickham Steed puts forward he claims was in fact advanced to him by a learned Austrian Hebrew in order to explain the "pro-German tendencies displayed by the Ashkenazim Jews the world over." "German," he quotes this pundit as saying, "is the basis of our jargon, and next to Palestine, Germany is the country which we regard as our home. Hence our sentimental leaning towards Germany." Another less sentimental theory put forward by Mr. Steed of the former undoubted pro-German leanings of the Ashkenazim he summarises in the assertion that:

    "Since 1870, the Jews have believed Germany to be the rising power and have consequently striven to 'back the winner.' No observer who has had dealings with the Jews of Austria will doubt that some impulse more subtle than the expectation of immediate advantages drives them to pose as Germans and to associate themselves with Germanism rather than with any non-German tendency. The Jews who have deliberately associated themselves with and sought to become assimilated by Slav races like the Czechs, the Serbo-Croatians [sic], the Slovenes, the Slovaks, or by the Roumanes of Hungary, are exceedingly few in number. The case of the Hungarian Jews - who appear to have accepted Magyarisation - is peculiar, and the sincerity of their attachment to Magyarism has yet to be proved. The bulk of the Galician and Hungarian Jews who migrate to Vienna and other parts of Austria claim German 'nationality.' When authentic Germans disown them, these Jews reply that they 'feel like Germans,' an assertion which authentic Germans passionately deny.... So large a part does this distinction play in Austrian-German politics that a leading Jewish journalist has declared, bitterly but truthfully, that anti-Semitism forms the only bond between the various sections of the Austrian-German 'national' party. Pan-Germanism, in Austria at least, has always had an anti-Jewish tendency.... The historian Dr. Friedjung, who had drawn up the programme of the Austrian Pan-German party, and whose pan-German leanings were strong, was thus, as a full-blooded Jew, excluded from the party he had helped to form. It is an irony of fate that while these exclusive tendencies prevail among the 'Germanic' German 'Liberals,' the whole 'Liberal' i.e. non-clerical press of Austria should be in Jewish hands; and that the home policy of the German 'national' parties in Austria should be largely determined by the influence of the 'Germans' of Prague, most of whom are Jews. The political interests of the veritable Germans have long been subordinated to the exigencies of the struggle between Czechs and Germans of Bohemia, in which the Jewish-German press of Prague and of Vienna have been important if not determining factors. 'As long as the Czech-German quarrel lasted,' wrote a Jewish weekly review, 'the Jews were often protected by the circumstance that the decision lay in their hands.... Henceforth the Jews must pursue none but a Jewish policy, and must so determine their conduct as to inflict damage upon economic and moral anti-Semitism.' Whether ungrateful or not, this frank declaration must be regarded as a healthy sign. The Jewish 'danger,' if danger it be, does not lie in the proclamation and defence of a specifically Jewish standpoint, but in the dissimulation of Jewish ideas under a non-Jewish cloak."6

In 1871 the Anglo-Jewish Association was established. Its first president was Jacob Waley, Professor of Political Economy at University College, London. From its foundation the Association was prominent in ventilating the disabilities and the interests of the Jewries of Russia, Roumania, Turkey, Persia, North Africa and the Balkan States. Whenever a suitable occasion presented itself the association sought the intervention of the Government in the interests of international Jewry through the British Foreign Office. It was mainly through the efforts of the Association that the Berlin Congress included clauses in the Treaty safeguarding the political and civil liberties of the Jews of Roumania and Serbia. This was the first time before Versailles that Jews were recognised by Treaty as a National Minority. The credit for this has rightly been accorded by Jewry to the influence of Disraeli, the British Prime Minister.7

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The Czech Conspiracy
A Phase in the World-War Plot