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after nearly thirty years in pubUc life during the rise of Germany.
Within limitations natural to his class he had experience and
knowledge. The exhaustive article on "The PoUtical Law of
the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg" was written by him for Mar-
quardsen's series of handbooks on pubUc law. Moreover he
represented the grand duchy at the Hague conferences of 1899

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and 1907, and had taken larger part in the discussion of the rights
of neutrals than delegates from more important states. He
knew BerUn and the men surrounding the Kaiser. If he thought
^ that the ultimate fate of his own land might be incorporation
into the German Empire, it was because he had followed the
trend of commercial affiliation closely and had reason to assume
an inevitable consequence of business connections. Eyschen's
intimate knowledge of the theory of neutral rights did not greatly
help Luxemburg, but probably his acquaintance with the Ger-
man personnel aided him to soften some of the inconveniences
of that first German occupation, passage, and requisitions. The
amount paid by Germany within the first eighteen months of
the war is estimated at $250,000. That there was any payment
at all is probably due to Eyschen.

The real sentiment in the country during 1914-15 is hard to
gauge accurately, in spite of the official dictum that government
and people were at one. If the majority were pro-ally from the
beginning, a lack of belief in their victory led to some conceal-
ment of preference. But there were many and potent proofs
of warm sympat^Jiy. A Munich paper declared that Luxem-
burgers were so ungrateful for Germany's kindness that 8000
men had joined the ranks of her foe. This was Teutonic exag-
geration, but before the war was over, it was true of more than
one-third of that number.

The calming influence of one hand, steadied by long experi-
ence, free from ministerial crisis, did its work for a time; but
Eyschen's death in October, 1915, threw the governmental
machinery completely out of gear, and opposition to his general
conciliatory policy gained ground in the chamber. After some
little delay, Hubert Loutsch took the portfolio, but at once
found himself at odds with the deputies; a vote to test confidence
resulted 26 to 25 against him and he resigned. His successor,
Vannerius, held office for less than a month, and then a Catholic-
Liberal-Socialist cabinet was formed with Victor Thorn at the
head. He received a vote of confidence 39 to 1 ; but it was soon
plain that the old order of a stable, fairly acquiescent govern-
ment was gone forever. The spirit of the land had changed.

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Socialists and radicals, to be siirC; were no new apparition among
the grand ducal deputies. Before the crisis, several had been
elected and seated without any such trepidation as was excited
by their party name in America, and their voice has grown
louder since 1918. Thorn did not prove a staying power and
he yielded his office to the director of finance in his cabinet,
L^on Kauffman, who managed to keep his post m the face of
much impopularity, for over a year; but his identification with
the betrothal of Antoinette, the fourth princess of the grand
ducal house, to Ruprecht of Bavaria, forced his resignation.
This event took place in the sinnmer of 1918, when German
defeat was sure and pro-ally sentiment dared to manifest itself
boldly. Again there was an election, and in spite of the increas-
ing discontent and radicalism that was surging everywhere, the
conservative Catholic party still showed the largest following.

One of their nmnber, Dr. Renter, a Luxemburg lawyer, became
minister of state. Born in 1874 and one of the four youngest
deputies, he represented Luxemburg coimtry and Wiltz in the
chamber. He is of a naturally conservative temperament, yet
of a nature to prefer a middle course rather than reactionary
conservatism. Upon his shoulders fell the burden of meeting
confused conditions following the armistice.

The new chamber of 1918 was divided as follows: CathoKcs,
23; Liberals, 8; Socialists, 12; Independents, 5; Democrats, 5.*
It was an important body, for it was to reform the constitution,
and there were those among the deputies who demanded far
greater reforms than mere amendments to the old fundamental
law. Europe was turning republican, and the party of the Left
declared that there was no reason to retain any dynasty at all,
let alone one whose chief had been very friendly with the now
despised Germans. There were grumblings during November,
1918, but they came to nothing, calmed by the presence of new
allied troops. Marie Adelaide stood with General Pershing to
review the incoming Americans in a most friendly manner; but
there were intimations that American officers had better not be
too willing to receive favors from the coiul; party if they wished

* The figures are taken from La Pairie Luxemburg, Paris, Aug. 15, 1918.

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to please their French allies; and M. Pichon intimated very
plamly that the grand duchess was persona rum grata to the
French government. Two or three times the rising discontent
was smoothed down. On December 13, the chamber requested
the sovereign to abstain from any executive act. The motion
was carried 35 to 2. A few days more and a fresh crisis came.
On January 9, 1919, there was a mutiny of the troops — the small
force of volunteers charged with policing the land — ^while vehe-
ment cries were heard that a republic must be proclaimed and
the dynasty abolished once for all.* The movement was char-
acterized by the various features of greater revolutions, but it
was all on so small a scale as to be almost theatrical.

The Catholic party reahzed that there was no possibility of
retaining Marie Adelaide in the face of the determined demand
for her removal; but they did succeed in saving the dynasty,

* There were many broadsides issued by the various groups, each proclaiming
itself the real type of patriot, able to save the country. The following was
addressed to the people in the north by two deputies who had recently separated
themselves from the Catholic party:

Appeal to the people of the Oealing

''Our volunteers have mutinied and ranged themselves in the service of the
Revolution. Decorated with red emblems they march through the city, stir
up the population and attempt to occupy the public buildings. Yesterday after-
noon they seized the issue of Luxemburg Wort at the station and burned it all in
public places. We learn from reliable sources that the Clerfer Zeitung is to suffer
the same fate.

"Our army does not consist of the entire armed population as is the case in
other lands, but of 150 twenty-year old youths who have volunteered in the
hope of getting good public positions later.

"Will you let these 160 green boys suppress and rob you of your civil rights?
Under no condition I We must meet force with force! Chase these rebels in uni-
form out of your frontier villages. Take away their uniforms and arms, for
they are misusing them to rob peaceful citizens of their rights and to drag the
state into misfortune! Farmers, workmen, and citizens of the Oesling be ready
to hasten to the capital at the first call and help law and order prevail. Mean-
while organize in your villages and suffer no fire brand in your ranks. Down
with the red Revolution at whose head stands Michel Welter, Oesling's foe.
Long live Luxemburg, free and independent!*'

Th. Boevbr. p. Prum.

January 9. "Independent Oesling Deputies."

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although when the chairman, Altwies, followed by the whole
party of the Right, marched out of the chamber, it looked for
a space as though the grand duchy had received its death blow.
Emile Mark, a Socialist, organized the remaining deputies as a
kind of nunp parliament, and actually proclaimed the republic.
It had an existence of only half a day. Altwies regained control,
proclaimed the abdication of the grand duchess, annoimced the
automatic succession of her sister, Charlotte, according to the
constitutional regulation of the succession, dispatched a coni-
mittee to the chateau of Colmar Berg to receive her oath (January
15), and the immediate crisis was past. The precise story of the
events of the days, January &-15, with all the influences that
worked openly or in secret, is not yet told. This much is plain.
True to her past history, Luxemburg's ingrained conservatism
predominated partially. The old order held its own momentarily
but it yielded to the idea of a referendum as arbiter of its main-
tenance — ^itself a novel measure.

The revision of the constitution began in January, 1919,
proceeded throughout the winter and spring, both radicals and
conservatives obtaining certain victories. Article 32 related to
the seat of state sovereignty and was the first to be altered.
*'The grand duke exercises the sovereign power conformably
to the present constitution and the laws of the land," was replaced
by: "The sovereign power resides in the nation. The grand
duke exercises it conformably to the present constitution and
to the laws of the land. He has no other powers than those
formally attributed to him by virtue of the constitution itself,
all without prejudice to Article 3 of the present constitution."
This article 3L provided definitely for the succession and for Nas-
sau family rights. Thus so Qiuch was gained to the advantage
of the dynasty.

Article 37 gave the grand duke power to make war and treaties,
giving such information to the chamber as the safety of the state
permitted. The revised article 13 reads: 'The grand duke com-
mands the armed force. He makes the treaties. No treaty is
effective without the assent of the chamber. Secret treaties are
abolished. No cession, no exchange, no addition of territory
can take place except by virtue of a law."

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Article 52 on the suffrage was radically changed. As ^tmended
it reads: ''The deputies are elected on the basis of universal
and simple suffrage by ballot, according to the rules of propor-
tional representation, conforming to the principle of the smallest
electoral quotient and to regulations to be determined by law."

''The coimtry is divided into four electoral districts. South —
Esch, Capellen; Centre — Luxemburg city, country and Mersch;
North — Diekirch, Redange, Wiltz, Clervaux and Vianden ; East —
Grevenmacher, Remich and Echternach.

To be an elector it is necessary:

1. To be a Luxembourgeois or Luxembourgeoise.

2. To enjoy civil and political rights.

3. To be 21 years old. [Twenty-five had been the age limit
for tax paying males.]

4. To be resident in the grand duchy.

"To these four qualifications must be added those determined
by law. No condition of tax payment can be required. To
be eligible as deputy one must be 25 years of age, and in addition
possess the three other qualifications.

"The electors shall be called upon to declare their preferences
by way of the referendum in the case and under the conditions
to be determined by law."

Deputies living in the capital have had no compensation.
Those from a distance received first five, and since 1898, ten
francs a day for each day of presence. Article 75 as amended
reads: "Members of the chamber of deputies shall enjoy an
indemnity of not more than 4000 francs per annum. They shall
also have a right to indemnity for displacement. Details relative
to this double indemnity shall be regulated by law which shall
be retroactive for the session of the constituent assembly."

These four articles— 32, 37, 52, and 75 — duly ratified by the
council of state and endorsed by the young sovereign, were
published on May 16, 1919 and became law.

Since that time practically every adult in the land, considered
as true Luxemburger, has been called upon to express an opinion
on the composition of the legislature. According to the election
law a notice is sent to all voters by a town official. They are

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thus saved the duty of registration and have their legal ballot
in hand when they go to the appointed polls. More than that,
a fine is incurred for failure to vote, except in case of a referendum,
where balloting is optional.

Coincidently with their efforts to set their house in order, the
deputies watched the Paris peace proceedings most anxiously.
Meantime, the powers failed to endorse Luxemburg's change of
rulers, and Charlotte remained simply an acting (imder orders)
but imrecognized ruler, Belgium alone sending a diplomatic envoy
to her capital. The grand ducal attitude, however, had begun
to be Tii7:ieo Danaos et donaferentes.

Might not republican France, unable to assimilate a grand
duchy, be a safer associate in the customs imion? In order to
obtain a fair statement of terms and to show the real position
of the people, it was decided to hold the proposed referendum
on May 4. At that moment, there might still have been a
majority for Belgiiun, in spite of waning sympathy. But an
intimation came from Paris that the moment was not coimted
favorable for a plebiscite of any kind. Dr. Renter yielded the
point and the election was postponed, to the special annoyance
of the opposition.

About a week later a portion of the preliminary draft of the
Peace Treaty appeared in the papers. This was the first view
obtained by Luxemburgers of Articles 40, 41, and 268, of the
Treaty of Versailles, all of which had to do with the severance of
the grand duchy from German control. A SociaUst deputy,
Joseph Thorn, seized the occasion to attack the government with
considerable asperity. He read the articles aloud, and then
proceeded to declare that if these had been adopted without a
hearing being given to the Luxemburg government it was a
proof of the latter's complete incapacity. If the minister of
state had been informed and had failed to take the public into
his confidence, the proof of incapacity was still plainer.

Applause came from the Left and protests from the Right.
Thorn continued: "If the government obtained a hearing and
refused to make an explanation, it is a behavior which I have
not hard enough words to characterize."

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The colloquy that ensued between Dr. Reuter and his critic
showed the minister in a difficult position. It may be inferred
that he had not been fully warned of the proceedings, and his
statement that all neutral lands were in the same box simply
produced a storm of protest. Thorn continued: "We are forced
to ask whether we have any representative in Paris or Brussels.
Did they think you were not in the rujining, or did they consider
us simply as quantiU negligeablef'

Dr. Reuter: "I repeat. All the neutral lands were in the same

Thorn proceeded to declare that Switzerland would never
have been treated in this cavalier fashion, and that he was justi-
fied in informing people that their representatives in Paris did
not know what was going on, and that the Entente had never
shown them the complete text of a treaty important to their
land in the highest degree. "The question now is whether our
representatives are in a position to furnish an explanation."

Reuter: "A few days time must be given."

Brasseur: "It should have been done long ago."

Joseph Thorn: "To like right there is like duty. I cannot
understand why Luxemburg should renounce her neutrality and
why anyone in Paris should meddle with this change of our
status. As far as I am informed, Switzerland is negotiating her
neutrality with France. We are negotiating with no one. No
one addresses a word to us, and that is the reproach I make to
the government and on this groimd I call it incapable to direct
the economic and political future of the land and to bring it
into a safe port." (Violent protests from the Right.) Thorn
proceeded further to declare that they could not talk of their
independence when their customs union was discussed at

Reuter: "In Paris they insist on the abolition of our customs
union with Germany but it is at our instigation."

J. Thorn: "That is a matter that only concerns us. What
business is it of the Peace Conference whether we quit or maintain
our customs union with Germany? (Interruption.) While they
are discussing the fate of this land at Versailles you have the

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face to come to us with the statement that you have nothing
to tell us. In my opinion you are, under these circumstances,
incapable of saving the future of this land and we refuse to give
y6u the confidence you ask for."

Renter: "If you did not have this pretext you would find

J. Thorn: "You are leading the land to ruin."

Renter: "And you would lead it to bolshevism if you had the
power as you recently declared in' a meeting at Esch."

J. Thorn: "To socialism I said."

Renter: "No to bolshevism. In a public meeting at Esch you
allowed a speaker to talk about the entry of bolshevism into our
land and you said you were ready to receive it with open arms."

J. Thorn: "I never said so."

Renter: "You said so."

J. Thorn: "I deny that formally. I never declared myself
for bolshevism. (Violent interruptions.) In Moscow at least
they respect some rights, in Versailles none."

Renter: "Declare war (interruption)."

Thorn was finally silenced, but Brasseur, leader of the less
radical Liberal party, proceeded in much the same vein:

"I am convinced that our government, in the most crucial
hours, has nothing to commimicate while news of .the greatest
importance to us is going the rounds of the foreign press. We
have a government on our hands that is not in a position to
inform the pubUc of the most weighty things."

Schiltz: "Would you be any more so if you sat on the govern-
ment bench?"

Brasseur: "If I were in your place I would certainly not serve
the dynasty which at the present is directing the fate of the
land." ("Very good"— Left. Protests— Right.)

Renter: "The people are masters of their own fate. Give
them the word through the referendum."

The request to postpone the election arranged for May 4
struck the deputies, according to M. Huss like a "bolt from
heaven." There was an increasing sensitiveness in regard to
any interference in grand ducal concerns. M. Huss, conservative

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Catholic leader, took occasion to answer an American's suggestion
written in 1918, that Belgium was the neighbor with whom the
grand duchy should naturally affiliate, owing to the long historic
connection between Luxemburg and the Belgic provinces. He
declared that no foreigner could imderstand their needs, that
the situation was new and must be settled entirely as a question
of the present. Every one had sympathy with Belgium in her
misfortune at the outbreak of the war and undoubtedly she had
been disappointed at the result of the Peace Conference. But
that was no reason why Luxemburg should be sacrificed to her
as a compensation. *'If we have lost sympathy with Belgium
it is on account of an unskillful propaganda. Every one knows
that a considerable part of the agricultural population of the
land was in sympathy with their Belgian brothers who had
suffered so keenly. Dr. Hoffman was offered thanks by King
Albert for his efforts in their behalf. But since our brief meeting
with the Belgian deputies, the fear of Belgium has increased
instead of diminishing. The referendum ought to be held as
soon as possible."

The debates during the summer of 1919 showed that the
popular trend grew more and more anti-Belgium. Personal
feeling ran high. In the chamber there were accusations of
imfair dealing. On July 17, for example, Hoffman, a Catholic
member from Redange, complained that important legislation
was frequently carried through after 5:30 p.m. when the out-of-
town deputies had left by the last train. ''We are not profes-
sional poUticians. We have our own work at home and must
perform it. Advocates can pursue their calling here in Luxem-
burg. We cannot. Why should we not begin promptly at
3 p.m.?" He also suggested that all ballots taken after half
past five should be annulled as not giving a just return of the
chamber's sentiments. In the course of his remarks h^ inti-
mated that politics played a large part in the hour at which a
vote was taken. Chairman Altwies reprimanded him with:
"You ought not to cast aspersions on the intentions of* your
colleagues;" and there were various angry declaimers of the
sUghtest intenticn to be unfair.

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Schaack (a deputy who was not a candidate in 1919): *'M.
Hoffman asserts that we are here for our constituents. No, we
represent the land — not our constituents." (The remark betrays
the fact that the ancient idea that the legislators were delegates
appeared occasionally.)

Hoffman: "That is understood of itself. The voters are the

Hemmer: "It should be decided not to take any vote after
5:15 p.m., so that every one can go home."

Diderich (Radical): "The system of voting after 5:15 was
inaugurated by the party of the Right to pass motions that
they thought pressing. In this manner were carried the accession
of the grand duchess Charlotte, the referendum and the election
law. The party of the Right demanded the vote on these
motions after 5:15, and now they are complaining about the
very system they inaugurated."

Hoffman: "The chamber made the decision."

President AUvnes: "As president, I assert that the decision
not to take a vote after 5: 15 p.m. was not a party move but was
at the request of the deputies who had to take the northern train
in order to get home, and the chamber approved. No party
was to blame for it. Last week we voted daily up to six o'clock,
but the motion not to vote after 5: 15 was passed in the interest
of the deputies."

Kieffer: "If we met at 2 p.m. we could rise at 5."

President AUvnes: "That was suggested, but the Esch deputies
said they could not get here at 2."

Many voices: "That is not true."

It was finally decided that the roll should be called at 3:10
precisely. But pimctuaUty seemed difficult of attainment. In
September, 1919, day after day the writer often waited in the
visitors' gallery until nearly four o'clock before the session opened.

The discussions in July and August were directed mainly
to details of the budget and the workmen's indemnity. The
surplus as existing in 1913 had changed into a large and growing
deficit. An optimistic note is apparent in the statements made
by the minister of finance, Neyens, while the magnitude of his

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figures caused deep apprehension in the hearts of many of
his hearers. Minister Neyens said rather jauntily that Laval
had rated the national wealth at 3,650,000,000 francs in 1916,
making the per capita quota 14,000 francs. A loan of 75,000,000
would tax each at 300 francs, "which with the individual wealth
of 14,000 is not disquieting."

De Villers (Right) objected that the property cited was imagin-
ary and not reaUzable, and another deputy declared that a cry
of horror rang through the land when the finance minister with
shameless frankness announced that they came out of the war
with a deficit of 145 milUons. Neyens corrected his figures to
105, but the speaker proceeded to doubt whether 180 million
would spell the whole debt.

Certain deputies urged: "We must look to it that we do not
leave all our debts to the next generation." To the assurance
that posterity could properly bear its share of the world war
came the question: "How do we know that they will not have
their own war problem to grapple with? There may be a worse
war in twenty years. It would be terrible if they had to bear
their burden and ours too. If you examine the articles of peace
you will find that they are articles of war."

Reproaches about the debt brought out the statement that
they were simply in the same case as all neutral lands. It was
the war. Holland raised four or five loans, Switzerland eight
or nine. At various stages in the debate suggestions were not
wanting that many Luxemburgers had grossly profiteered during

Online LibraryWestel Woodbury WilloughbyThe American political science review → online text (page 61 of 77)