No. 131 (March 23, 1948)
Scammon, Richard M.
Czechoslovakia--a cause for hope, pp. 11-12 PDF (1.3 MB)
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- mocracy. 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, OMGUS 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 INFORMATION BULLETIN 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. 11
As a work of the United States government, this material is in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright