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No. 131 (March 23, 1948)

Scammon, Richard M.
Czechoslovakia--a cause for hope,   pp. 11-12 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 11

Czechoslovakia - A Cause for Hope
T4HE RECENT unhappy events in
Czechoslovakia present us, pa-
radoxically, with a cause for hope,
a pattern for courage. The Czech
people have lost a government of
their own choice, but they have not
lost the democracy that was in them.
As you know, millions of Germans
held on to their faith in the dignity
of the human being long after Hitler
denied them that idignity. In the same
way there are millions of Czechs
who remain loyal democrats today,
and who will fight everlastingly back
against this new effort to destroy the
free democratic institutions theyhave
so laboriously carved out of their
hardships during two world wars.
The Communists, like any people
carried along on a tide of belief that
the state, and the state alone, is
entitled to authority over the lives
and thoughts of people, forget some
basic things. The Communists, like
the Nazis, forget that eventually
every act of force breeds a counter-
force that one day will be active.
The Communists forget that their
every move to snatch from the
common man his right to a life of
his own design will drive that man
into a brotherhood with his fellows
dedicated to regain that right for
himself and his fellowship in de-
That fact was established among
men in Germany just 100 years ago,
when German liberals rose against
the monarchical tyranny that frustrat-
ed their dawning sense of the po-
litical rights of man. In 1848 there
were strong liberal forces in Ger-
many that still survive those terrible
experiences. In 1948 there are liberal
forces in Czechoslovakia that will
survive difficult ordeals. That sur-
vival is not reckoned with in the
Communist plan by which Czecho-
slovakia was recently taken.
What the new, totalitarian forms
of aggression against man in the 20th
Century are, the western democracies
were slow to grasp. It took the de-
mocratic world too long to com-
prehend the true international mean-
ing of Hitler's imperialism. When the
western democracies did, indeed and
MARCH 23, 1948
By Richard M. Scammon
Chief, Elections and Political Parties
Branch, CivilAdministration Division,
at last, realize that Hitler was driv-
ing western civilization toward a new
chaos, it took action that was swift
and decisive. Pacific nations that had
no arms and no armies, created arms-
and trained soldiers to use them.
Hitler was prevented from pushing
the Western world into the abyss of
irrevocable destruction.
G OVERNMENTS of the western
7 democracies were slow, indeed,
in their understanding of what tota-
litarianism meant, whether it carried
the Fascist, or the Nazi, or the Com-
munist label. This time we can re-
cognize the signs without hestitation.
The western world has begun to take
action, n o w, against a broader
disaster. A new spirit of cooperation
is emerging in Washington, in Paris,
in London, in the Hague, and in the
other capitals of the 16 nations that
have proposed to join their energies
and their resources in a mighty effort.
This is proposed as the mightiest
effort ever made, short of the co-
operative effort that goes into fighting
a war. It is an effort for peace, not
for war; for construction, not for de-
struction; for strength without the
misuse of power; for freedom from
fear that is not expressed in violence.
Proposals have been made for the
collaboration of free peoples, whose
combined strength will be greater
than the strength of any bloc arti-
ficially created by imperialist mil-
itarism or political trickery. In the
end such unity will be stronger be-
cause it will rest on the will of free
peoples, than any such blocs as may
be forged by the temporary sub-
jugation of the Czechs or of those
other nations now suffering under the
indignities of minority dictatorships.
The economic and spiritual recovery
of western Europe now is the only
real answer to the tactics that have
succeeded in Czechoslovakia. Those
same tactics failed in France, where
there was also a considerable Com-
munist minority. They failed because
the French people rejected a system
that would limit their individual lib-
erties. Those same tactics failed in
Italy, where there is also a consider-
able Communist minority because
the Italians, having once suffered the
indignities of dictatorship, want no
more of it.
These two more fortunate countries,
France and Italy, were able to exer-
cise their popular volitions, unlike
the Czechs and the Slovaks and those
other people of central Europe, be-
cause they were under neither mili-
tary, nor economic, nor political
threat from without. These western
powers were free to make their own
decisions unlike the Czechs, who
were ordered, under threats not hard
to imagine, to withdraw from the
Paris conferences on European re-
covery. They decided that their
destinies lay in the direction of free-
dom and economic cooperation.
HY    DID THE Czech democracy
fall when the others did not?
There were three cardinal reasons:
military encirclement, political infil-
tration, and economic isolation from
the resources of the West. These
three causes were compounded. The
deadly political climate they created
in Czechoslovakia differed slightly
from that which in the last three
years has become so dismally familiar
to the people of eastern Europe.
But to find the pattern, the tech-
nique, for bringing about the fall of
Czechoslovakia, you have only to
The Czech people have lost a
government of their own choice,
but they have not lost the dem-
ocracy that was in them. So
stated Richard M. Scammon,
chief of the Elections and polit-
ical Parties Branch, Civil Admi-
nistration, OMGUS, in a radio
broadcast to the German people.
Mr. Scammon spoke from Berlin
March 4 in the 16th of a weekly
series of MG radio talks.

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