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SLAVS WANT OWN FOREIGN LEGION IN U. S. ARMY
Promoters of Patriotic Enterprise Say if Teuton Stigma Is Taken Off These Technially Austrian Subjects 500,000 Are Ready to Fight Under the American Flag By Caroline Dawes Appleton "THAT WILL DOt" declared his commander with finality. Well accustomed to injustices, mili? tary and judicial, the Croatian of this instance harbored the conviction that his raco was onco again the victim of official insult. When assigned in his turn to a tour of kitchen police he re? garded it as a peculiar and added affront unequalled by anything Rave the* rankest Prussianism. Wherefore, he and his comrades speedily became examples of martyrized rebellion, whose fame could not fail to spread from camp to camp among relatives and friends until once again the cruel oppression of the Slavic race in gen? eral because the fiery slogan which in? cited fraternal orders and societies to more vehement demonstrations of their But suddenly, over and above them all, sounded the clarion note which dis? tinguished the Slavic cry for freedom as of deeper, more intensely national origin than the lesser wailings of the usual, discontented foreigner. It came and sounded through the sleeping camp on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas, about the 10th of January. It was a muffled rifle shot. A startled investi? gating party found him, stretched upon his own weapon, which he had turned upon himself in the desperate convic? tion that his technical status ns the alien enemy both of his own people and of the service in which he had enlisted would forever bar him from that active service overseas upon which hi3 life's whole interest hung. The sound of that shot hr.s pene FROM factory mouth and mine pit, 1 from field and workshop I throughout America a strange and as yet somewhat unwieldy stream I is pouring into the nation's service. It is a mighty flow of molten patriotism, white hot and susceptible of being cast in the mould of a new and powerful war machine. But at present it is un guided, annealing rapidly, in grave danger of chilling into a formless mass of useless, finely tempered metal. The Slavic immigrant, Pole, Czech and Jugo-Slav, refugee from genera? tions of oppression by the Central Powers, has found the freedom of his soul. Fired by the accumulated resent? ment of years of serfdom, inflamed by the sufferings of his bonded kinsmen overseas, who are forced to fight and die in the support of a rule they detest, the Slav in America, as in France and England, has gathered his brothers about him and declared his readiness to league the fervor and force of his ancient fighting race with the modern war skilled legions of democracy. France has already tested and proved the valiant strength of her foreign legion of Poles, Czechs and Jugo-Slavs. England, slower to absorb the essential foreignness of these volunteers, at le*ngth grasped hands with her Slavic immigrant. But America, it appears, is slower still to recognize and use the ?mighty idle weapon at her hand. Already thousands of Slavs have lost their lives fighting under the banners of France and Italy. Nearly 12,000 Poles died upholding the traditions of the famous Foreign Legion. The Polish Legion in France has been depleted and recruited so often that no record of the ?glen who have passed through its ranks is available, but to-day it numbers 25, 000 men?all volunteers. Fighting in France, too, are 20,000 Czech-Slovaks, while 50,000 more of these escaped Aus? trian subjects are under arms in Italy. There is besides a "lost army" of 15, 000 Jugo-Slavs in Russia?also men escaped from Austria?of whose fate nothing is known here. The Legion of Polish Volunteers in America, in addi? tion to those who have gone to join the colors in France, now numbers more tban 6,000. "The Slav is a fire?a living fire!" is the slogan passed down from father tc son through all the generations which have longed and suffered for freedom Alike on the plains of Poland anc among rugged mountains of Jugo S'.avia littla children are trained t< worship the sacred fire of their nation alism, to sing the patriotic folk song! of their fathers, to regard themselvei as but embers in the mighty leapini flame of Slavic liberty. When the wa; ?was found to relieve the imm?diat pressure of the hated domination o their enemies by emigration to the ne\ world the Slav brought with him thi flame of his hatred, now fanned into ; scorching blast. Has Special Motiye For Hating Teutons Through draft boards and recruitin stations everywhere has poured th country's full quota of Slavic fightin power. From the 2,000,000 Poles, 2,000 000 Czechs and 1,000,000 Jugo-Slavs vast army has been recruited?an arm tpeaking little or none of the languag of its adopted country, knowing less < fta traditions, but an army with motive and a cause of its own, with private and particular hatred of tl common foe before which any othi anti-German sentiment pales into ii significance. But this army is thinly scattere widely distributed among trainin canuis and stations, and the tnujorit of its members are, through a techni? cality of citizenship, outcast and adrift from the very cause for which they beg to be allowed to fight. By very reason of their former serfdom beneath Teu? tonic rule, a large percentage of Slavic draftees in the National Army and en? listed men of the regular service are technically classed as "enemy aliens" and perforce treated accordingly. With those enemy aliens of avowed pro-Ger? man tendencies the madly patriotic Slav is cast into the ranks of the dis? loyal and denied active service on any front. Relegated to the non-combatant branches of the service, jeered at and ridiculed by his pro-German co workers, entirely misunderstood in his frantic protestations to bo allowed a gun and something to shoot at, the ar? dent Slavic patriot works and per? functorily trains in gloomy depres? sion. And all the while his heart flames with the wild hope that he may some day join the golden ranks of those heroes whose names Slavonia reveres. The petty differences of factional politics which the world arbitrarily associates with Slavic uprisings are sunk in the vital spirit of fraternity in suffering and oppression. A flag, a government, a place for the sacred archives of Slavic history and a shelter I for the guarded flame of national inde? pendence are the dream of each and every Slav. Whether laboring uncom- I prehendingly and misunderstood in the non-combatant sections of an Allied j army, whether chafing beneath the en? forced trappings of an Austrian uni? form, or bound with the thraldom of Poland, the Slav sees only the star of his race's freedom and his hatred of the Teuton foe. Here, it would seem, is fighting material for something more organized, more coordinated, more vast than merely a foreign legion. An Idea Comes Out of the West From a training camp in the Mid? dle West where harassed officers are ! struggling with some thirty-odd na tionalities and as many languages, the j j germ of an idea came into existence in the mind of a high ranking officer. j Watching with absorption the phleg ! matic or overenthused activities of his motley official family, he caught one day the gleam of that "living fire" which is Slavonia. On a gusty night, walking alone among the outposts of the camp, turn j ing in his mind the thousand perplcxi ; ties of the day, he heard a voice in the i darkness, singing softly but with in? tense fervor. The officer paused. Th-e^ strain was wild and gypsy-like, with a curious martial beat, and the words were guttural and unintelligible?. Verse after verse poured forth, rhythmic and monotonous, fraught with a tremen? dous intensity. The singer paused sud? denly as though interrupted, his song broken off in midair. The officer stepped forward and saw crouched at the edge of the camp, close to the barbed wire inclosure. a slender, boyish figure which sprang erect as he approached. There in the darkness the officer asked a question or two and was answered quietly and directly. Who was the singer and what his nationality? He was a Serb from Aus? tria. What was he singing? What, indeed, but an extemporaneous poem which re? counted the deeds of his great an? cestors. And who were his ancestors? Great Serbian heroes, sir, who fought for the ! freedom of the Slav against Turk and 1 Teuton in the jjast?oh, very long ago. Then he, although an enemy alien, desired to fight against these same enemies ? In a torrent of broken English the ? boy declared his passionate willingness ! to fight any one ? anywhere ? that would bring about the freedom of his people. In fact, he insisted upon fight? ing, immediately, in the most sangui? nary sectors possiblel "Do you not realize," the officer ? pointed out, "that if captured you will be shot for treason by your own gov? ernment?" "I suffer more here, a non-combatant, than by being tortured by an Austrian executing party!" answered the boy simply. Slavic Contingent Of the U. S. Army "Well, turn in now," directed the offi? cer, flatly. But the seed was sown. Somewhere in his memory the wild strain of that patriotic lament echoed. Its queer abrupt ending irritated him. Suddenly he remembered having heard somewhere that these people sang end? lessly in this fashion, and their abrupt terminations were a part of their musical history?the result of the in? variable interruptions of their meet? ings and song-feasts by investigating parties of soldiers whose mission it was to quell these dangerous national? istic s?ances among the bonded Sla\ whose territories they ruled by con? quest. Smiling at his reminiscent digressior into the sphere of musical history, the officer turned in his mind the feasibil ity of forming these countless Slavii draftees of his own and other campi into a vast Slavic army; not a foreigi legion, but a Slavic contingent of the American army, to fight beneath the American flag and according to wel tested systems prescribed by the regu lations. But this army should be offi cered?at least its noncommissione officers and a certain portion of th commissioned?should be picked me who know the language and customs c the Slav and of all the Slavic countrie; and who could guide their men an fight with them in their own cause which, after all, is identical with our The plan is big. With the recent u] risings in Bohemia, the presentatio to the State Department of the orgai ized movement whose object is the sy tematic encouragement of these patri-1 otic demonstrations in Austria, the I military feasibility of the plan in? creases. Immigration and citizenship experts as well as military are concen trating upon the upbuilding and main tenanue of the Slavic spirit which ap? pears to be so rapidly dissipating un? der the adverse conditions of the train? ing camp. And He Is Mentally Overlooked It has been remarked that the vari? ous societies and the elaborate and effective systems which have been es? tablished in the various training camps for the amusement and recreation of the men treat with the foreign speak- | ing soldier not at all. Lectures and plays in English he cannot understand; the camp library is a closed door to him; his mind is continuously be? fogged regarding the issues and prog? ress of the war, and he is conscious only of living to do what he considers to be menial and unworthy labor be? neath a stigma of citizenship which he can never overcome and which forever bars him from active service. But the acuteness of the situation has become so marked as to attract the necessary attention of the government. Plans are afoot to provide the Slav with the mass meetings his heart thrives upon; the native speakers to thrill him and keep alive in him the great spirit of his people, and event? ually to make him part of the vast army which shall deal justice and ret? ribution to his oppressors?perhaps by descending upon them through the eastern gateway to Russia. Many tales, pathetic, amusing and even tragic, are told of the training camp situation, while the wheels of government revolve to control and re? lieve the tension. A young company commander, weary with explaining over and over i his simplest commands to a score or more extremely foreign members of his company, and suddenly realizing that after all these were technically enemy aliens and never to utilize their arduous training in any active fashion, gave way to his exasperation. "You're nothing but a bunch of huns, anyway!" he roared irascibly. "What you can understand you won't. Not a - one of you will ever fight under me?I wouldn't trust you out of my sight!" The Old Mistake Was Made Again They understood this time. Under the suppressed laughter of a hundred odd of their more Americanized fel? lows, the handful of Poles, Czechs and Austro-Serbs looked at each other sul? lenly and morosely. The old mistake had been made again. In that silent exchange of glances they picked their leader. After drill he approached his commander respectfully. "Sir," he said, "I and my brothers are indignant. Again we are treated as enemies and traitors. I'm not an Aus? trian. I am Croat?two of them are Austro-Serbs?ten of them are Czechs from Bohemia ? another a Serb from" "Nothing of the kind!" snapped the exasperated officer. "You're all Aus trians. "There may be political differ? ences and all that in your own coun? try?you're always kicking up some kind of a row over there?but you're all cut off the same piece of cloth. I can't stop to argue with you. Either you're an American, an alien or an enemy alien." "No, no! I am a Croat?a Slav?my people have always fought; why, sir the first two prisoners taken by the American Army in France were taken by Poles!" determination for the liberation of their kind, under any and all circum? stances and governments. Patriotic fervors, self-sacrifices and self-abnegations have arisen and tran? spired in impassioned sequence. The Slav Note Brings an Answer One man, practically ignorant of the English language, enlisted because he had gathered the impression that the cause which America had espoused was the cause of his own freedom. Ar? riving at a training camp and being promptly classed with the enemy aliens whom he hated and despised, he aban? doned a particularly offensive round of kitchen police and in "unbefitting terms" addressed his commanding offi? cer. He declared wildly that he had entered the army to fight, not to slave in a kitchen, and that he desired most earnestly to be sent to France, Italy, anywhere, immediately, and thus be removed from the hateful society of his fellow soldiers, who happened to be of most pronounced pro-German ten? dencies. When reprimanded for insub? ordinate conduct he retired, to suffer acutely, but not in silence. He wrote at random to everyone he knew de? scribing the cruel injustice of his posi? tion, which, needless to say, was not apparent to his commanders, overtaxed as they were with the strain of trim? ming to the rigid olive drab confines of the service the variegated and very raw material in hand. The age-old wrongs of a hot-hearted Slavic patriot, while forming the essential leaven of the loaf of Slavic emancipation, failed to impress the military authorities a? unusual, and his periodical protests, arriving invariably' with his tour of kitchen police, were hastily classed with the other unintelligible com? plaints which reached their ears daily in some thirty-five languages. THE GATHERING OF THE POLISH LEGION Part of the thousands of Polish volunteers who gathered near Buffalo to begin their training for service on the Western front? -? trated to the furthest corners of the ( country's understanding. America has ? come to look upon the Slav with new j and somewhat wondering eyes; to as- j sume somewhat her own share of the j responsibility of the lack of compre? hension in which she has been at fault as well as the failure of the Slav with? in her gates to adequately express himself in the new tongue, or to ade? quately inform himself of the tradi? tions of the new country. The Most Difficult To Assimilate The Slavic immigrant has lost, per? haps less than any other, his national? istic tendencies and enthusiasms. He is difficult, if not impossible, to assimi? late, and that which so definitely de? clines to assimilate is scarcely popular in America. The first thought to be carefully im? pressed upon the arriving immigrant is the importance of his immediate Amer? icanization. This had been a definitelj constructive policy upon which mucfc of the country's present unity depends The Slav demonstrates thoroughly anc courteously his willingness to be Americanized, but not his willingnesi to be assimilated. It is his proudes boast that though Slavonia is at pr?s ent a nation without freedom, th Slavic race has never been assimilatec by any other. He maintain? that th strength of his race lies in the ver stubbornness of his determination t become nothing and remain a Slav. Certain military and civil authoritie of the United States government hav come recently to believe that in thi strength may possibly lie the greates weapons of all those various and star lingly discovered defences and n sources which America has rev?ale beneath the developing processes < the war. The old question which hs taxed the brain of immigration e perts, as to the feasibility of inco porating .Jnto the nation's existen these unassimilated foreigners, is sui into oblivion before the military ?r? portance of utilizing a ready-ma< nationalism which has its own pec liar and intensified reasons for hatii and fighting the common foe. For this assimilation of the und niabfy rich resources of the Slavic tel perament and energies, the Centr Powers, foreseeing the present situ tion no doubt, have struggled with i creasing perturbation since Bisniarcl drastic step immediately after t Franco-Prussian war. The Iron Chs cellor first proclaimed the imperati necessity of absorbing the Slavic ra primarily by the abolition of its lanj age, dialects and customs throughc central Europe. The Language of Hope and Freedom With ponderous German textboi and their systems of pedagogy fli rishing in an overnight growth throi Bohemia and Jugo-SIavia, the Sla tongue slipped into the intimate ch neis of love, home, laughter and mu and with the indomitable spirit of origin it has laughed softly and res ?ntly throughout the years, the s< language, tha love language, tho 1 euage of music and childhood Wherever Slavic homes live and hope for futur? freedom. "I am a Slav?a living fire! A Sla?--^ a living fire!" chants a childish voice that could sing to you by the hour of the heroic deeds of his ancestors who fought and died and left behind him the glory of his name and the flame of the sacred fire. A fire, unquenchable indomitable is the metaphorical got,? which the Slav treasures above all earthly wealth. "Slavonia is a fire?a living fire!" ;, the slogan muttered in the wet dark of Austrian trenches where weary sen? tries peer into the darkness, not for 4 spying enemy but for the listening Austrian, who is more than enemy and whose uniform they wear. Meet? ings, conferences, those gatherings of patriotic sympathy which has kept the fire alive, are held in dugouts in the very teeth of the Austrian defence? where Poles and Czechs and the lithe mountain men whose heritage is among? the ancient rocky heights of Montene? gro curse the bondage which drives them forth to fight the battles of their enemies. In a memorandum prepared by a ranking officer of the United States Army, who has made an exhaustive study of the situation, he states what he considers to be an effective plan for the "organization of Slavs in America and Europe against the Central Powers." He says in part: An Army Plan for Using Their Energies "To get any real promise of adequate results in the tremendous operations that are possible on the Eastern front there must be a complete organizatioa under a competent military officer. Ut should be placed in complete contml and held responsible for organizing tod directing the efforts of all the Slav peoples in the United States. These are divided into two classes: "One?Those who are conscripted in? to the United States Army for opera? tions over-seas from these Slavic races, and he should be authorized to have his agents in every camp where the?e are sent after being conscripted. Two?He should also have charge of the organization, coordination and di? rection of the efforts of the varions Slavic Councils in the United States. This latter includes the organization and direction of all propaganda that may be sent out. "The high grade mentioned should be accorded because of the beneficial effect this grade will have upon all Slavic peoples in this country as well as abroad; and as a second reason be? cause, should he go abroad to assum? command of any ?liied expeditiom (which, of course, must be contem? plated), there would be no questioi about his being a senior in grade to all commanders of these allied forces com? ing under his command. He must b? senior to all such officers, because this work must be taken over?if we are to secure success?by the American got ernment, and the sooner this fact il recognized the better for all concerned "The sooner this officer is selectei and authorized to commence his organ ization the more promptly he will se cure results. "It goes without saying that this en tire proposition must be taken up wit the governments of Great Britaii France and Italy and he should b given proper recognition before thea governments on all proper occasions. "The first thing to be done, of cour* is to complete our organization i home and to advise these councils ( the various Slavic races here exactl what the United States government ; prepared to do, both as to the handUn of the enemy alien situation and tb recognition that will be accorded t them now and at the final peace coi ference. "The qualifications of the militai man who should be placed in charge < this have previously been given and should be emphasized that this job an entirely different one from that | the man in command on the Westei front. The knowledge in Washingtc of the capabilities of the army men < experience should enable them to d cide upon the proper person. One Slav Body Opposes the Plan The one Slavic organization which opposing the organization of Slav legions is the Polish National Defen Committee, which was organized 1912 for the purpose of aiding t! movement for independent Polaa From the first, funds were forward' to Joseph Pilsudski, now General P sudski, heading the Polish Legions, f the maintenance of military schools Poland organized by him. Pilsudski used the money for tl formation of secret military schoc for the training of officers, and wto the present war started he headed small army. Since the great fight Poland was directed against Russii autocracy, the Polish Legions, wi General Pilsudski as their command? directed their attention to fighti: Russia. When the Russian revoluti overthrew the Czar, General P?sud! refused to fight Russia. As a rest the Germans imprisoned him in t Fortress of Magdeburg, together Wl 20,000 men of his army. "The committee anticipated the ? trance of the United State3 into t world war," said Dr. B. D. Kulakovs editor of "Wici." official organ of fc Polish National Defence Comtnitt? '"For this reason we did not ally ? selves politically either with G? Britain or With France. Wo oppos the formation of Polish military um on the side of the Allies, or in t United States. An army is one of t attributes of the sovereignty of a st? and is the force guaranteeing the int pendence of a nation. It is in the i terest of Poland that the United Stat be militarily strong and efficient. T splitting up of the uniform mil?* organization of the United States ? Italian, Greek, Polish, Armenian, Sy ?n or Jewish armies would be tan' mount to complete chaos. "Those who wanted to serve rai tionary political ends, who denounc Pilsudski and his followers as B| sian mercenaries, must now *???? their error. The only belligerent American soil is the Government ox ? United States. We urged all the m? bers of our committee, and there < over 10,000 of them, at the time ? ? entrance of this country into 'naJ*l to prove by their acts that the rj? in America are conscious of their ? toward this country and of the Pou tradition of fighting for 'our a??' Il freedom.' "