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THE NEW . Př PUBLIC LIBRARY
ASTOR, LENOX TILDEN FCONDITIONS MAP SHOWING THE DISTRIBUTION OF LANGUAGES IN SCHLESWIG, 1838
By F. H. F. Geerz From Franz de Jessen: Manuel Historique de la Question du Slesvig.
Danois predominant sur
Danois et frison
Danois, frison et allemand
in some places, where the two groups were mingled in the same parish. These so-called “mixed districts” of Schleswig contained the city of Tondern and forty-nine country parishes of the departments of Flensburg, Tondern, Husum and Gottorp. In eighteen of these parishes, in the centre of the region, Danish was used exclusively in ordinary speech, and there were eight parishes where German was the common medium.1 The region properly referred to as mixed contained 23 parishes, chiefly in Anglia, and 29,879 inhabitants. The total population of the ¡duchy, according to the census of 1855, was 395,860. That of Holstein was about 500,000. Their combined area was approximately 700 square miles. Linked to the fate of the two duchies was that of the former Prussian Duchy of Lauenburg, lying along the Elbe to the southeast of Holstein, and given to the Danish King in 1815.
Although both Schleswig and Holstein had for many years been ruled by kings of Denmark, the law of succession in the kingdom and in the duchies was different, the kingdom being heritable in the female line, and the Salic law still being in force in the duchies. The imminent danger of the failure of the male line, which was the only common heir, had given rise in Denmark to an agitation to induce the king to change the law of succession in the two duchies, and to make them an integral part of the kingdom of Denmark. Christian VIII had accordingly, by a rescript of July 8, 1846, arbitrarily decreed the continuance of the union of the duchies with Denmark in spite of the different laws of inheritance in the two states. These efforts had called forth such violent protests 3 from the Estates of the duchies, that the matter had been left in abeyance. Christian soon died. His successor, Frederick VII, was forced by a revolutionary movement in Copenhagen to issue a rescript on January 28, 1848, announcing that there would be a single constitution for the three units, Holstein, Schleswig, and Denmark, leaving to the duchies autonomy in local matters, but providing for common estates. This supreme effort of the Danish party of expansion occurred at the very moment when the new German nationalist spirit was eager to unite under the Germanic Confederation all territories inhabited by the German race. And as the Danish nationalist party had not been content to incorporate only Danes in the Danish kingdom, so the German nationalists coveted the incorporation of the whole of Schleswig, as well as of Holstein, in the Confederation, and to do this made use of the argument of the indissoluble union of the duchies. 1 The estates of the duchies, in warm sympathy with the Germanic movement, answered the royal rescript with a demand for the incorporation of Schleswig under the sovereignty of the Danish king, as a state in the Germanic Confederation. This they said was the only means of safety against the Danish imperialists. Their demand was carried to Copenhagen in March, by the delegates to the constituent assembly who, true to their instructions, laid before the Danish Government the demand for incorporation.
1 The German contention was that the Danes in North Schleswig were peasants, whereas the men of property were for the most part German. However true this may have been in 1848, it is obvious from the map on opposite page that the situation had changed radically by 1906.
2 This account is taken from P. K. Lauridsen: "La situation des langues en Slesvig," in Manuel historique, pp. 114-18 and 122. See map on opposite page.
3 See State Papers, vol. 40, p. 1253, for protest of the Estates of Holstein against the vote of the Roeskild Assembly in Denmark for uniting the two duchies to Denmark. The union was strongly opposed by Duke Frederick of Augustenburg who had strong claims to the duchies, but none to Denmark.
It is in these discussions at Copenhagen that we hear the first suggestion of a division of Northern Schleswig by a plebiscite. The plan, which required leaving to the vote of the inhabitants, taken by parishes, the question of incorporation in Denmark or in the Confederation, appears to have been proposed by two of the German delegates from the duchies, Clausen and Olshausen, to the Danish Minister, Lehmann. How much support it actually received from the Danish government is uncertain. Certainly it received no official assent, although there appears to have been some hope of this for a short time in March. The King, however, although yielding a separate constitution for Holstein, answered the demand of the duchies not only by refusing the incorporation of Schleswig in the Confederation but by incorporating it as an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Without waiting for the king to reply to their demands, the duchies had broken into open insurrection. On March 24, a provisional government had been erected at Kiel, which, proclaiming that the duke was no longer free but under the influence of the Eider Danes, called its supporters to rally with
to preserve their German land from being absorbed.” A week later, on March 31, the Provisional Government issued from Rendsburg a proclamation to the Danish people, promising that the people of North Schleswig should freely declare whether they desired to be a province of the kingdom of Denmark or to follow the German nation, although, “ so long
1 The view of the German inhabitants of the duchies and that of many of the Danish inhabitants was that this union was a constitutional right and could not be taken from them. The Danish view was that it was a visionary affair, belief in which was of modern origin, due largely to the propaganda of various German professors at Kiel. Elberling in Manuel historique, p. 159. The right to union had, however, been formally recognized in various royal rescripts of the Danish crown and had an undeniable historical basis.
2 Sten Bille, the Danish admiral who carried the delegates back to Kiel recounts in Bidrag Til Martsdagenes Historie, Hist. Tidsskrift, R. VI, p. 413, that one of the delegates showed to him a map and drew a line across it nearly as high as Flensburg, saying that they might have supported that line as a basis for such a solution, but that the Danish ministers had refused it. Manuel historique, p. 137.
as the male line rules in Denmark they offer to the Danes an honorable alliance and a common sovereign.” 1
Danish troops were at once dispatched to Schleswig. The revolt in the duchies had occurred at the time when the revolution in Berlin was at its height. The Prussian Government, seeing the popularity of a movement in harmony with the growing nationalist sentiment, made the marching of Danish troops into Schleswig the excuse for dispatching Prussian troops into Holstein. This action was endorsed by the Germanic Diet at Frankfort, which, on April 4, formally declared that the Federal German State of Holstein was in danger of being attacked and that the Prussian action was approved. The Diet in the same proclamation offered mediation based on recognition of the independence of the two duchies and their right to indissoluble union. Great Britain who, with Russia, had guaranteed the possession of Schleswig to the Crown of Denmark in 1721, looked with great disfavor on the action of Prussia, and threatened to send her fleet to preserve the status quo. Russia, France and Sweden also opposed Prussia and the Confederation. The latter refusing to withdraw its troops, mediation was offered by Great Britain and Russia, and accepted by Prussia and the Diet.
The proposal for a vote in North Schleswig had been quickly adopted by von Arnim, the Prussian Minister for Foreign Affairs. With Great Britain giving full support to the Danish cause and the other Powers ranged beside her, it was plain that Germany would not be allowed to absorb the whole of Schleswig: von Arnim saw in the proposal of a vote in North Schleswig a method by which, by adhering to the principle of nationality and thus sacrificing a part of Schleswig, the remainder of the duchy, as well as all of Holstein, could be claimed by the Confederation by an unquestionable title. He accordingly informed the Diet and the British Cabinet that Prussia would agree to a plan of armistice if there were included in the principles of peace not only a recognition of the indissoluble union and independence of the duchies, and inheritance through the male line only, but also the division of Northern Schleswig according to nationality as established by a vote. Although the Provisional Government had itself been the author of this last point of the vote, and it had gained wide support in the duchies, the coming
1 Documents, post, p. 864.
2 Elberling says that von Arnim hoped that a vote would give Germany the line of Apenrade-Tondern although he knew the linguistic frontier to be approximately FlensburgTondern. Manual historique, pp. 139, 152.
3 In the debate on April 3d in the common assembly of the duchies at Rendsburg, three of the chief delegates declared that no obstacle would be put in the way of the people of Northern Schleswig if they should evince a desire for Denmark, “for the happiness of a people can not be effected in spite of themselves.” The Prussian Major Wildenbruch, who had been sent by his government to conduct negotiations with the Danish authorities after the battle of Schleswig (early in April) had found that in Rendsburg opinion was