R2475-131 View From The Watch Tower

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AUSTRIA-HUNGARY is called “the dual kingdom,” but really it represents three distinct races:—Germans (Austrians), Czechs (Slavs, Bohemians) and Hungarians (Magyars). The Germans occupy the northern Austrian provinces nearest to Germany. The Slavs are most numerous but have long been subservient to the Magyars or real Hungarians, who are in the minority as compared with both the others. All are Roman Catholics, tho the Slavs have quite a sympathy for the Greek Catholics or Church of Russia, to which most of their race residing in Russia give adherence.

The progress of education during the last twenty-five years has had a great influence upon the subject race—the Bohemians, giving them new ideas of their “rights,” “liberties,” etc. This has caused no end of trouble to the government, precipitating bitter race-contentions in their Parliament, the Germans and Hungarians being unwilling to concede the demands of the Czechs who are in the majority. Seemingly only the loyalty of all to the Emperor has prevented a civil war; and serious results are feared in the event of the death of the now aged ruler. He is nearly seventy.

Once the Papacy had so firm a hold that to be a Protestant meant death—this being the land of John Huss, the martyr; but a change of sentiment came gradually with greater enlightenment. The Czechs were first to discuss the wisdom of leaving the Church of Rome and affiliating themselves with the Greek Catholic Church. This led to Roman concessions to the Czechs to placate them. This however has gradually led to a coolness toward the Church of Rome on the part of the Germans, and it is this that specially interests us now.

The German Catholic element looks with admiration toward the German Empire to the North and West, where German influence is supremely dominant, and annexation to these their brethren is earnestly craved—leaving the balance of Austria to the Hungarians and Bohemians. But Germany has already so many Roman Catholics that they trouble her in her Reichstag or Parliament as an opposition party, and more are not wanted: it was for this reason that Bismarck ignored and declined these pro-Catholic provinces of Austria when forming the Empire.

The new move of the Germans of northern Austria is to renounce adhesion to the Church of Rome and become Protestants, with a view to making themselves acceptable to so-styled “Protestant Germany.” The movement has been in progress only a short time, but is spreading rapidly and means some awakening at least amongst these people long bounden under priestcraft and superstition; later it may mean the disintegration of Austria, and points to growing race prejudices the world over.

What influence this may have upon the impending “time of trouble” and distress of nations is hard to say; but surely it marks decline of despotic Papacy—as in France, Italy, Mexico and Spain’s colonies. The extent of this Austrian movement may be judged from the following extracts from foreign newspapers:—


The Schwaebische Mercur says:—

“The ‘Los von Rom’ movement is increasing, especially in German Bohemia, where it occasions no little worry to the authorities. The Government has nowadays no means at hand to prevent this wholesale desertion, as the Protestant churches, or rather the Evangelical church, has legally the same status with the Church of Rome. In Eger 1100 Catholics have joined Protestantism, in Carlsbad 100, and another 1000 will become Protestants together. Within a short time half of German Bohemia will be Protestant.”

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The Tageblatt of Vienna says:—

“The Germans on the whole will not renounce their right to make use of their intellectual powers. This the church will not and can not permit. The Slavs, as the case of Russia shows, are patterns of submissiveness, hence the church prefers that Slavs should have all power. For a long time the Slav clergy has preached the doctrine that German is synonymous with Lutheran. ‘Very well,’ say now the Germans, ‘we will become Lutheran to emphasize our nationality. Los von Rom!’ How much the church is responsible for this, the case of Bohemia shows. In the mixed districts only 23 priests are German, 262 are Czech. In the purely German districts 618 are German and 562 Czech.”

The London Outlook says:—

“The Pan-Germanic movement is one of the disintegrating forces at work upon Austro-Hungary. The events of 1871, says one of its leaders, were but a step in the right direction, and the movement will not be complete, the Altdeutsche Verband will not have achieved its aims, until all the members of the Teutonic race on the continent of Europe have been welded into one state. Not until this is accomplished can Germany assert herself with success as a world power.”

The London Saturday Review referring to Baron Schonerer, the head of the new movement, says:—

“His last theatrical stroke of organizing secessions, ten thousand at a time, from the Church of Rome, while naturally exasperating to his opponents, emphasizes his strength beyond previous belief.”

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Linz said, at a recent church conference in Austria,—

“In open meetings and in the press our holy faith is attacked in the most violent manner; openly and secretly the people are solicited to desert our holy church.”

Herr Wolff, a leader among German Austrians, with his entire family, was recently baptized a Protestant; and in consequence he is now denounced as “a servant of Satan,” by the Catholic press, which is extremely bitter on the entire subject.

In a time of such shaking up there should be some with ears for the present truth, and any who have the opportunity should be prompt to use it in serving the King and his “brethren.”


— June 1, 1899 —