1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Luxemburg

LUXEMBURG (see 17.145). The Grand Duchy as a whole is a plateau 1,000 ft. above sea-level on the N. and N.W., sloping down to S.E. into the Moselle valley, a deep and winding gorge which forms its frontier on this side.

The whole district is furrowed by deep river valleys, and falls

into two contrasted divisions, the Osling or northern portion and the Gutland or southern. The Osling forms part of the Ardennes-Eifel massif, a high and bleak plateau with a cold, swampy clay soil overlying Devonian and Silurian rocks. Here only the river valleys are fertile or at all thickly inhabited; the plateau, which is over 1,300 ft. above sea-level, has little agriculture (oats, rye, potatoes; hay in the valleys) and a thin population. The Gutland, so called on account of its relative fertility, is a part of the Lorraine plateau, geologically composed of Jurassic formations (mostly oölites and marls) with some Triassic sandstones. Here the lower elevation and the comparatively good calcareous soils, even apart from the presence of iron ore, enable the country to support a denser population. Even here the soil is not rich; on the oölites it is thin and dry, on the marls cold and heavy; but a good deal of wheat is grown, some barley, beets, peas and beans, and some lucerne.

The Luxemburg section of the Moselle valley, like its German continuation north-eastwards, is warm and sheltered, and contains extensive vineyards which, together with orchards, occupy the greater part of the Moselle valley communes. The main centres of wine-growing are Wormeldingen, Wellenstein, and Remerschen; Grevenmacher is the chief market. A few vineyards may be found in the lateral valleys, but never very far from the Moselle except up the Sauer, where isolated examples occur even as far up as Vianden. The total vineyards occupy 1% of the cultivated area.

The amount of live stock kept is negligible except for pigs, which are common everywhere.

The average density of the pop. is 246 per sq. m. for the whole country. The valleys generally, the centre round the capital, and the iron-working district of the extreme S.W., are somewhat densely inhabited, especially the last named, which has a pop. of 1,000 3,000 per square mile. The main river valleys have a density of 200-400, rising in the neighbourhood of the towns: the Gutland plateau an average of 150, and the Osling below 100. The rainfall varies from rather over 30 in. in the extreme W. to 25 in the E.

The Grand Duchy possesses a small portion of the extreme N. end of the famous minette iron-field of Lorraine. The ore occupies a continuous stratum in the so-called Dogger beds of the Jurassic oölite. Its importance is due to the great size and continuous character of the deposits, and to the special suitability of the pig-iron produced for conversion into steel by the basic process. The Luxemburg portion of the field (14 sq. m., of which the unexhausted portion was estimated in 1913 to contain 270,000,000 metric tons of ore) yields 7,000,000 tons of ore per annum; this is mostly smelted in the Grand Duchy, apart from a certain amount exported to Belgium. The output of iron and steel is declining; that of pig was 1,950,514 tons in 1916 as against 1,266,271 in 1918, while the output of steel declined in the same period from 1,296,407 tons to 857,937.

Industries occupy over a quarter of the population. Of the total industrial population one-third works in the mines and furnaces of the iron district, which also contains mechanical construction, electrical and other factories of similar kinds. The centre of the country has a fair number of industrial establishments, including foundries, potteries, textile works, saw-mills and quarries. In the capital there are 4,000 industrial workers, especially engaged in the production of food-stuffs and hardware. The northern districts have practically no industry, and the same is true of the east, which lives chiefly by its wines and fruit.

The population is prevailingly Germanic in speech, but this has only been the case since 1839, when the present western frontier was drawn, whose claim to be a natural frontier rests on the fact that it roughly corresponds with the linguistic frontier between

Teutonic and Romance dialects.

The entry of the Grand Duchy into the German Customs Union (1842) marked the beginning of a close economic union with Germany which was the chief cause of Luxemburg's industrial development. Her railways, on the other hand, were in 1857 taken over by the Eastern Railway Company of France. After the Franco-German War Germany deprived the French Eastern Co. of its rights and worked the Luxemburg railways herself as part of the Reichsland system, pledging herself not to use them for the transport of troops or munitions in time of war, a pledge which, however, was not taken into account in the plans of the German general staff.

On Aug. 2 1914 the capital and the chief railway bridges were seized by German troops, which had already entered the country on the previous day. The protests of the Grand Duchess Marie Adelaide and the Government were ignored, and the country remained in German hands for the remainder of the World War. The native authorities were allowed to conduct the civil administration, but there was a strict German censorship of post, telegraphs and telephones, and for some time the German Emperor resided in the Grand Duchy. There were no allegations of German atrocities, but the openly Francophil attitude of the inhabitants led to a good deal of friction and was probably responsible for such events as the Cabinet crisis of 1915. The American troops which entered the capital after the Armistice, on Nov. 22 1918, were received with the greatest enthusiasm.

On the conclusion of the war it became necessary to reconsider both the position of the Grand Duchy as a member of the German Zollverein and of the Grand Duchess, whose German sympathies were in conflict with the general views of her subjects. She accordingly abdicated in favour of her sister Charlotte Adelgonde early in 1919, and a referendum was held later in the year to decide the political and economic future of the country. The Treaty of Versailles acquitted Luxemburg of her obligations towards Germany, and it was known that the Peace Conference would not permit the resumption of the old relation, even if the Luxemburgers had wished it. Voters were therefore asked to choose between economic union with France and with Belgium, and between the existing Grand Duchess, a new ruler, and a republic. They resolved by a large majority upon economic union with France and on the retention of their constitution and of the Grand Duchess Charlotte. (R. G. C.)