DR, SPACEK, Czechoslovak chap lain, has asserted that the Slovak Catholic Populist Party has collaborated in every way with the Nazis in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. I categorically deny this, writes Dr. Pridavok.
The truth is that there were in the Slovak Populist Party—as there were
in Mr. Berms' Czech National Socialist Party as well—some vile individuals who collaborated or have been collaborating with Hitler's agents. The Slovak Populist Party did not want to destroy the Czechoslovak Republic, but it vindicated and tried in every legal way to get home rule for Slovakia, and claimed the national rights for' he Slovak people, to whom Dr. Benes and his regime denied the most fundamental right of every free people, the right to call themselves a nation. The Czechising and centralistic policy of the Prague governments had created in Slovakia such an atmosphere that surely no impartial observer could be surprised that Hitler succeeded in finding some insignificant persons for his destructive work. especially when it is remembered that. the Nazis have succeeded also among those people in Bohemia, who were the most faithful adherents of M. Benes.
If Dr. Spacek's assertions that the Slovak People's Party was pro-Hitler were true, why has Dr. Benes considered necessary to have a so-called representative of this Party in his State Council, and why has he nominated into it a pretended representative of the Hlinka Party?
Dr. Tiso—that Unfortunate Puppet I ill not talk too much about Dr. Tiso, the unfortunate puppet President of Slovakia; I only would like to remark that this unhappy man (without tvhose support Dr. Benes never would have been elected President of Czechoslovakia!) as late as December, 1938, being then the Prime Minister of the autonomous Slovakian Government, declared : " We are democrats, because democracy is Christian!"
Further, that until the very last moment he wanted to keep the Czechoslovak Republic, but with a home rule, i.e., a self-government and a legislative Parliament for Slovakia; that in the critical days of March, 1939, he originally declined Hitler's invitation to go to Berlin, and only when Hitler's emissaries twice in a night called upon him coming from Bratislava to his residence at Brinovce and told him that his refusal would mean the immediate occupation of Slovakia by German forces, did he accept, and go first to Vienna and from there by aeroplane to Berlin; finally, in the session of the Slovak Diet, on March 14, 1939, he declared he was 'told in Berlin that if Slovakia did not declare her " independence " within 24 hours, Hitler would occupy Western and Northern Slovakia with his troops and would take no responsibility for what happened to the remainder of the Slovak territory and would agree to its occupation by the Magyars and Poles.
After this threat of Hitler's, Dr. Tiso recommended to the Deputies to carry out Hitler's demand. Little Slovakia was unable 'to defend herself against the Nazi aggressors.
On this point I quote from a speech in the Czechoslovak State Council in London, on July 2, 1941, made by Dr. Jan Caplovic, one of the members of this body. nominated by Dr. Benes—and Dr. Caplovic is not an adherent of the Hlinka Party, he is a Social Democrat : " From the examples of Poland and Yugoslavia we learn that even if the whole Slovakia had been content with the conditions in Czechoslovak, it had not prevented flitter from dismembering of the Republic." There are also British witnesses of these events; I hope that Mr. Peter Pares, the then British Consul at Bratislava, who in these tragic days was living in the Capital of Slovakia, informed the British Foreign Office of the details. Mr. Pares knows also my convictions and present activities in these days.
Quislingist Gang I certainly cannot and will not defend what Dr. Tiso and his Government have been doing, especially since the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak Republic and the outbreak of war. But I have to say that his presence at the head of my unhappy country, which must be for him a self-sacrifice, has at any rate made milder many cruelties and mischiefs which would otherwise have been done by the quislingist gang of Tuka, Mach and Murgas, particularly against the Jews.
In any case Dr. Tiso ceased to he an authorised representative of the ideals held by Mgr. Hlinka until his death in August, 1938, at the moment when he ceased to be a master of his own will and was cornpelted to carry out the will of the Nazi " protectors" of Slovakia. About the resistance of the true followers of Hlinka against the Nazi rule 1 would like to quote from an article published in the Central European Observer. a Czech fortnightly paper in the English language, supported by Dr. Benes' Government (March 1, 1941). The writer of this article, even if he distorts sonic facts, where it seems to him to be in favour of M. Benes' government, brings the precious confirmation that the Slovak Populist Party did not want to destroy the Czechoslovak Republic. 1 recommend Dr. Spacek to read 'this quotation, which may be considered as his master's voice: "To-day it is obvious that a rivalry has rent the Slovak Government camp into three mutually hostile groups. "The first group consists of three men, Tuka, Mach, and Murgas, who are nothing but express agents of Berlin. Their power proceeds solely from the protection of their employers in Berlin. These expressed Slovak Nazis (Tttka is a Magyar—my remark) have their own daily paper, the Guardist. which launches bitter attacks against the group of President Tiso and his ally Canon Koerper.
Agents of Berlin " The second group is predominantly clerical. It is attempting a hopeless cornpromise between Nazi teaching and Christian ethics. so as to make the present regime more palatable to the Slovaks . . (I would like 'to say that they are trying to preserve as much of the Christian ethics as is in the present circumstances possible.) " Its paper, Catholic News, defends this policy against the attacks of the Nazi Guardist. The result of this has been the mass retirement of Catholic priests, formerly the most convinced of Hlinka's adherents, from the ranks of the official political party. " The third strongest group in the Slovak Government camp to-day consists of the conservative adherents to the old programme of Hlinka's " People's Party." which can be summarised in the words: an autonomous Slovakia within the framework of the Czechoslovak Republic. That might reconcile the group of the Slovak autonomists with Dr. Benes; but I am sorry to say that they have gone farther by.now: they wish to form after the victory of the Allies a common State of the Polish, Czech and Slovak peoples. with a common federal Government and with three local Governments (or perhaps more. if other peoples would join this Federation) for the internal affairs of each part of the Federation.
" The 'third group represents the greater part of those people who formed the imosing ranks of the so-called Slovak autonomists. It also includes Catholic students. whose organisation was recently officially dissolved by an order from Berlin for an anti-German demonstration."
I Am in Good Company So you see, Dear Dr. Spacek, on the evidence, therefore, of a Benes-supported paper in London, that to be a representative of the Slovak People's Party is not necessarily, or probably, to be a Nazi propaganda again. a Quisling, or a fifth columnist. As for being in opposition to Dr. Benes, in that I am in good company and for good reasons. I do not claim to be a representative either of Dr. Tiso or of the present Government of the Slovak State. But while I cannot for reasons involving the personal safety of those who gave me my mission, mention at present their names. these names and the fact that I was accredited to work for the ideals of the Slovak People's Party abroad are known to Dr. Benes and to several prominent Catholic Poles in London.
My object here is to defend my fellow Slovak Catholic people, attacked by Dr. Spacek and M. Benes, and I am reluctant to embark also on self-defence. But since my own bona-fides as a defender of my people have been questioned, I must say something about myself.
About Myself I was for a long time editor of the Catholic daily newspaper Slovak. and in 'the last years of my journalistic activities I was editor of two newspapers of the then Czechoslovak Prime Minister. Dr. Hodza, which were—as can be presumed —anti-Nazi. In one of them, in the daily Slovensky bias, in summer 1938, I published under the headline " Christ's Cross and the hooked cross," which evoked great excitement at the German Legation. When, after Dr. Benes resignation in autumn, 1938, Slovakia obtained her home rule for which the Slovaks have fought for twenty years, I became Director of the governmental Press Depart ment. All my activity during the six months of my office was strongly antiNazi. I helped, where I could, above all the Jews and the Czechs who were persecuted by some officials who became more and more influenced by the Nazi agents at Bratislava. When they later in March, 1939, overruled Slovakia, I was the first man whom they have arrested twice in succession.
After the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak Republic 1 was engaged in activities against the Germans, together with my political friends and some officials of the Polish Legation at Bratislava, and I sent my younger brother to Poland, where he made violent speeches against the Germans in the Polish Radio at Katowice and Warsaw.
I Fled to Paris When the war broke out I fled my country, after having consulted some of my political friends, in order to work for the Slovak cause abroad. On my arrival at Belgrade I notified 'the Czechoslovak Minister in Paris, M. Osusky, of my flight, and he sent me a letter in which he heartily welcomed the future collaboration with me.
On October 15 1939 I came to Paris. The weekly newspaper of the Czechoslovak National Committee also greeted me heartily, (But these gentlemen changed their mind when they saw that I earnestly intended to defend the rights of my Slovak people.) Later I founded, with the former Prime Minister, Dr. Hodza, first a Slovak, and later on a Czechoslovak. National Council, of which Dr. Hodza became the chairman and myself the first secretary, Would Dr. Hodza, who knows me long years ago, have co-operated with a Fifth Columnist? Or was he also one of them. because he disapproved the policy of M. Benes?
To the York Internment Camp, where 1 was at this time detained in consequence of the denunciations of 'the Benes people, Dr. Stefan Osusky, who in the meantime became a Cabinet Minister in Dr. Benes' Provisional Government, sent me on September 16, 1940, the following letter: "My dear Felitor,-1 have received your letter. You must have patience, very much patience. In a country like England the truth is sure to win. You know very well that I regard you as a staunch Slovak and Czechoslovak patriot. Lies sometimes. have not got short, but long, legs, but they cannot get far away with them.-1 am sending you toy heartiest greetings. — Stefan °Risky."
Sentenced to Eleven Years The Nazi-controlled Court of Justice at Bratislava sentenced me last winter, together with other prominent Slovaks, to eleven years of imprisonment for anticonspiracy. The Central EuropeanObserver reported about this trial as follows: THE NAZI'S HONOUR CZECHOSLOVAKIA'S REPRESENIAT1VES. It is tust reported from Bratislava that the public prosecutor there brought a charge against Dr. Osusky, the former Czechoslovak Minister in Paris, Dr. Milan Hodza, the, former Czechoslovak Prime Minister, Dr. Jan Pauliny-TOth, a lawyer, and Peter Pridavok, a journalist, of having, after March 15, 1939, and more particularly since the outbreak of the war, organised in France an opposition movement, the purpose of which was to re-establish the Czechoslovak Republic as an armed power. The proceedings against the defendants took place at the Bratislava High Court under the presidency of Dr. Markovic, and were directed by the public prosecutor, Dr. Novomestsky, as a result of which all the defendants were found guilty of military treason and conspiracy against the Republic. Dr. Osusky was sentenced to imprisonment for life, Dr. Hodza received eighteen years' imprisonment, Dr. Pauliny-Toth fifteen years, and Mr. Pridavok eleven years. The defendants were also condemned to forfeit their civil rights, and their property on the territory of the Slovak Republic '."