Now Slovakia Arises. It's Pulling off Its Shackles


This World War I poster showing soldiers and the Slovak coat of arms is one of a series by Czech artist Vojtěch Preissig (1873–1944) urging Czech and Slovak volunteers living in the United States to fight with the Czechoslovak Legion against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Czech lands and Slovakia were at that time part of Austria-Hungary and leaders of the national independence movement believed that the cause of an independent Czechoslovak state could be furthered by fighting on the Allied side. In December 1917, the government of France approved the organization of an autonomous Czech army on French soil. A Czechoslovak rifle regiment, established with volunteers from Russia, Romania, the United States, Italy, and Serbia, went on to fight with the 53rd French Infantry Division. Preissig was born in the Czech-speaking part of Austria-Hungary. From 1892 to 1896 he studied in Prague at the School of Applied Industrial Art. He then studied and worked in Paris and Prague before moving to the United States in 1910. From 1912 to 1916 he taught at both the Art Students’ League and at Columbia University in New York. From 1916 to 1926 he directed the School of Printing and Graphic Arts at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. Shown beneath the central image of the poster is a variant of a flag that Preissig created as a possible new national flag for Czechoslovakia. The poster was one in a series designed and printed at the institute and distributed by the Czechoslovak Recruiting Office in New York.

Last updated: November 14, 2017