Innocent Abroad: Belgium at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919

By Sally Marks | Go to book overview
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FIVE
THE QUEST FOR LUXEMBURG

THE SITUATION IN THE GRAND DUCHY

When the final version of the Versailles treaty was signed on 28 June 1919, two issues of great concern to Belgium remained unresolved. The Belgian delegation had long accepted that renegotiation of the 1839 treaties would be deferred until after more pressing questions were decided, but they were dismayed that the status of Luxemburg also remained unsettled. The decision about the 1839 treaties resulted from extended examination by an expert commission and careful consideration by the Four, culminating in establishment of a procedure for further progress. Quite the reverse was true of the Luxemburg question, which never received any coherent or systematic attention at all.

The mishandling of the Luxemburg question arose both from a series of British errors and from French determination to defer the issue. Unlike the other great powers, France was intensely interested in Luxemburg and thus hoped to avoid settlement of the problem until she could deal alone with an isolated Belgium in a thoroughly disadvantageous position, without the intervention of Britain or America on Belgium's behalf. As she succeeded, the Versailles treaty disposed of the Luxemburg question in essentially the same way as the revision of the 1839-treaties. The peace treaty merely required that Germany renounce all ties with the Grand Duchy and accept in advance any future arrangements made by the Allies.1

Hymans brought the problem of Luxemburg before the peace conference in the course of his exposition of Belgian claims on 11 February. Although all other questions arising from the 1839 treaties were

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1
Versailles treaty, Article 40.

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