Partition of Schleswig by Plebiscite

Pro-German propaganda urging residents to vote to maintain union with Germany in the Schleswig Plebiscite of March 14, 1920. Slogan reads:
" Seit 1000 Jahren sind wir Schleswiger. Wir wollen Schleswiger bleiben darum stimmen wir deutsch"
(For 1000 years we have been Schleswigers. We want to remain Schleswigers therefore we vote German). Publ. by Aug. Westphalen, Flensburg (Schleswig).

Schleswig is the Duchy which forms the territorial commonality between Germany and Denmark. The province, along with its neighbor to the south, the Duchy of Holstein, were under Danish administration from the 1815 Treaty of Paris (with settled post-Napoleon European borders) until Denmark's defeat by Germany and Austria in the Danish War of 1864. By the 1864 Treaty of Vienna, Schleswig and Holstein were granted jointly to Prussia and Austria. Prussia occupying and administering Schleswig and Austria occupying Holstein. However Prussia's Chancellor Prince von Bismarck, seeking to break Austria's dominant position in the German Confederation, precipitated a crisis in Holstein which triggered the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. It is also called "The Seven Weeks War" because in less than 2 months the Austrian defeat at Koniggratz in Bohemia caused Austria to sue for peace. Provisions in the Treaty of Prague (August 1866) provided That Schleswig and Holstein were ceded outright tp Prussia, and all Austrian troops and civil administrators evacuated the provinces.

This was the situation in 1914 at the outbreak of World War One. Schleswig, a province of mixed ethnic German and Danish population had been an integral part of Prussia, the German Empire's dominant state for 48 years. With the end of

the world war, Denmark (which had maintained neutrality) pressed its claims with the victorious allies, wh were receptive. The fate of Schleswig was therefore directly and minutely addressed in the formal 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Section XII Articles 109 - 114, provided that German troops and civil authorities would vacate the plebiscite area, that an International Commission would immediately administer the province and that a plebiscite would be held to determine its national disposition. The 1864 Treaty of Vienna is what formed the legal basis for the mandated plebiscite. That treaty contained a provision for a popular plebiscite to be held in Schleswig to determine the wishes of the people. That plebiscite was never held. Therefore officially the Allies were not seeking to reward Denmark at the expense of Germany, but rather to make good the promise that Prussia and Austria had made, but not fulfilled, some 55 years earlier.

Sonderburg, Plebis-
cite area Schleswig.

I am German

We want to be Ger-
man as our fathers

Tondern, Plebis-
cite area Schleswig.

The Schleswig Plebiscite actually consisted of two separate tallied votes. The plebiscite region, closely equivalent to the traditional Duchy boundaries and identified in the terminology of Versailles as the "evacuation zone" was divided into two sections. One comprised the roughly northern third of the Duchy and the other the southern two-thirds. Resultant national affiliation of each section was to be determined on the basis od total majority vote in each separate section. This division was almost certainly in recognition that the population of Flensburg south was predominantly ethnic German; while ethnic Danes predominated in the north. By stipulating two votes, and drawing the division line north of Flensburg, the Allies all but guaranteed that the province would be partitioned between Denmark and Germany. If a single vote plebiscite had been held in the province the result almost certainly would have been for the entire province to remain a part of Germany. Thus was established from the onset a condition ripe for subsequent German nationalist and Nazi inspired irredentist agitation. To the Germans, Schleswig was a political and geographic unity, and had been for hundreds of years. The plebiscite vote took place on March 14, 1920 and as expected, the northern third of the province voted to return to Denmark, the southern two-thirds to remain a part of Germany.

schleswig14.JPG (37633 bytes)

Plebiscite in Flensburg

1920 Flensburg

surrounded by sea

Must Schleswig
really be split up?


                 schleswig13.JPG (46890 bytes)

          Must we Germans
          vote Danish now?



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