The fetters of the Press were drawn more tightly. Even the German papers were not allowed into Bohemia. For some months, two or three enterprising editors used to send a representative to Dresden to read the German and English papers there. At present three-quarters of the Czech papers and all the Slovak newspapers have been suppressed. The columns of those which are still allowed to appear in Bohemia and Moravia are congested by mandates of the police and the military authorities, which the editors are compelled to insert. Recently the Government censorship has been particularly active against hooks, collections of national songs, and post-cards. It has even gone so far as to confiscate scientific works dealing with Slav questions, Dostoyevski’s novels, the books of Tolstoi and Millioukoff, and collections of purely scientific Slav study and histories.
The Government, however, have had to proceed to far greater lengths. By May, 1916, the death sentences of civilians pronounced in Austria since the beginning of the war exceeded 4,000. Of these, 965 were Czechs. A large proportion of the condemned were women. The total of soldiers executed amounts to several thousands.
Is it not peculiar that among people which the Viennese propaganda represents as loyal, hostages are taken in Bohemia, and condemned to death, under the threat of execution if a popular movement takes place? The people are told of this and are given to understand that the hostages have hopes for mercy if all is quiet.
Not only have the authorities confiscated the property of all persons convicted of political offences and of all Czechs who have fled from Austria-Hungary, but a system has been established by which the property of Czech soldiers who are prisoners in Russia is confiscated. The State profits doubly by this measure, for it further suppresses the allowances made to the families of these soldiers. In order to terrorise its adversaries through such measures, the Government instructs the Austrian newspapers to publish long lists of confiscations and other penalties.
After a time, however, the Austrian Government practically abdicated in favour of the Prussians and now undertake to carry out the measures of Germanisation dictated by Berlin. The rights in connection with the use of the Czech language in administration, in the Law Courts and on the railways, rights which were won by the desperate efforts of two generations of Czech politicians, have been abrogated. The management of the railways has been placed in the hands of Prussian military officials; the use of the Czech language has been suppressed in the administration, where it had formerly been lawful. The Czechs have been denied access to the Magistrature and to public offices where they had occasionally succeeded in directing the affairs in their own country.