Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finals, Flu, and Some Developments on Schleswig

OK, so I have missed some of my anniversaries. Unfortunately, working with about two dozen term papers and then being overwhelmed with finals, an especially sick group of test-takers (no swine flu that I know of, but several hospitalized with lung infections, etc.), and some severe cases of senioritis has taken its toll.

By the way, my college, Austin College, is in Texas, though nowhere close to the border, but the authorities were on swine flu alert. As readers of this blog will have perceived, there were loads of references to the 1918/1919 flu in the discussion of this swine flu (and, because of this one, the discussion of the 1976 "failed" epidemic). In both cases, scientists were thinking about the second round of the flu pandemic. It was the beginning of this one which killed several peacemakers in Paris in the early months of 1919.

Well, finals are done: the strong have overcome, the graduators have graduated. So I continue!
Let turn back to the issue of Schleswig-Holstein.

You may remember from my February 22 post that there was a long history to the northern border of the German world. It was a border that was, like most European borders, not especially clear. That is, there was a continuum from one hundred percent Danish speaking, southward, to some point at which Danish-speakers and German-speakers were about fifty-fifty, to some point farther south at which everyone spoke German. This zone (say from one hundred to one hundred percent) started in the middle of the Jutland Peninsula and ended just south of its base—perhaps a hundred and twenty miles north and south. And the Peninsula here averages maybe forty miles wide. (Quote me if you like, but the glib summary I have just made constitutes pretty rough justice. The demographics of the region were hotly disputed by, basically, German scholars on the one hand, and Danish scholars on the other, for fifty years.)

In any case, with the wars of German Unification, the region ended up not as a proud, independent German state of the new federal Germany, but as a somewhat unwilling province of Prussia, the largest German state, the one to rule them all, so to speak.

If we scroll forward to the Peace Conference, we have Woodrow Wilson insisting on "self-determination" and meaning ethnic togetherness. We have the whole French diplomatic establishment insisting on the old truism (outworn even in 1919) that cutting down the size and population of a state would cut down on its power, and of course on the application of that rule in cutting as much territory away from Germany as possible.

Clearly, Alsace-Lorraine would go back to France. Clearly, Wilson's concern with Poland would place many parts of Germany in Polish hands. And some German territory could be handed over in one way or another to Belgium and Lithuania.

But Denmark? Denmark had been neutral in the War. Yet the Entente diplomats found a way. German states, especially Prussia, had "unjustly" taken too much territory in the Danish War of 1864. This incorporation of territory had trapped many ethnic Danes south of the border. Hence, both on grounds of general "justice" (remember Wilson's unctuous commandment to his researchers: "Tell me what is right, and I will fight for it") and on grounds of ethnic self-determination, the Entente began to work (as early as March 1919) on a plan to give Schleswig, or some part of it, to Denmark.

OK. Now we are caught up, at least on this issue, and I promise to add the next installment in a reasonable day or two.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
Design of a Violent Century by Hunt Tooley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.