Слике страница

l'intervention éventuelle de la Suisse en vue d'assurer cette neutralité devraient, d'après l'Acte d'acceptation du traité de Vienne en date du 12 août 1815, être l'objet d'un accord entre la France et la Suisse.

Replying to this communication, the Swiss minister at Paris declined to admit that a right to occupy Upper Savoy on the part of Switzerland depended in any manner upon a preliminary agreement between the two governments in view of the treaties and agreements of 1815.

In the end the point here under discussion failed to assume practical importance. Wounded prisoners and civilians seeking repatriation were, as has been already noticed, taken freely across Swiss and Savoy territory, the town of Evian on Lake Geneva being a principal point of transshipment on the long route from northern France through Geneva to the south or east. Nor was it found necessary to reach any more precise diplomatic settlement of the questions thought to be at issue, if indeed such questions could be properly said to exist under the treaties noticed in the earlier installments of the present article.

It should be noticed that while Italy was not a signatory to the neutralization treaties of 1815, nor as yet, in 1914, a belligerent Power, it promptly announced, in replying to the Swiss declaration of neutrality, its determination to abide by the principles conceded by the other Powers in 1815:

Par note du 5 de ce mois, la Légation de Suisse à Rome a bien voulu porter à la connaisance du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères le texte de la déclaration de neutralité faite par la Confédération suisse en raison de l'état de guerre existent entre plusieurs Puissances européennes.

Le Gouvernement de Sa Majesté, en informant le sous-signé de ce qui précede, vient de le charger de déclarer au Conseil fédéral que, quoique l'Italie ne soit pas une des Puissances signataires de l'Acte du 20 novembre 1815, portant reconnaisance et garantie de la neutralité pérpétuelle de la Suisse et de l'inviolabilité de son territoire, le Gouvernement du Roi s'est toujours inspiré des principes consacrés par cet Acte et est fermement résolu à observer cette attitude à l'avenir.

Early in the war it was determined by the Council to confine the conduct of the press within limits which would be consistent not only

come at the


with neutrality, but with due regard to the interior safety of the country. Accordingly, on August 10, 1914, the Council issued a general order touching censorship with regard to publications as to the number and movements of army units or other information tending to compromise the military situation. To the Army High Command was therefore assigned to a certain degree the faculty of press censorship with regard to military affairs. At the same time a Federal Press Commission was instituted composed of five members, two of these being nominated by the press itself, and three by the government, whose jurisdiction was to embrace not only the press proper, but also Swiss publications of every kind, and also imported printed material, the commission to notify the Council touching all transgressions of the rules or principles upon which it was established. The Commission of Press Control was formed under the presidency of Professor Roethlisperger, president of the Bureau de repatrie ment des internées civiles created by the Federal Council September 22, 1914; Diesbach, of the National Council; Professor Rochat, and Dr. Wolti, the two latter being nominated by the Swiss Press Association. The celebrated Professor Huber, who, at the outset, accepted the presidency of the commission, was subsequently, upon Rothlisperger's taking the presidency, replaced by Ringlier, former chancellor of the Confederation.

In no department of its activity, however, was the Federal Council called to exercise its patience and discretion in greater degree than in the economic field, although here its labors have been reflected in the measures subsequently taken by many other governments. But Switzerland's peculiar position geographically may be fairly said to have imposed upon the country many economic problems special to itself and not to be precisely paralleled elsewhere. Nevertheless it is worthy of notice that here the problems of food conservation, on the one hand, and of obtaining fuel and certain varieties of food products, on the other, were at times of the gravest character, and are not, even as these lines are being written, by any means happily adjusted. Mutual jealousies between the two belligerent parties led to the placing of importations under the watchful care of two high commissions—on the part of the Allies, the com

mission was known as Société Suisse de Surveillance Economique (S. S. S.), and on the part of the Central Powers Schweizerische Treuhandstelle (S. T. S.). The war had placed the country, as has been already mentioned, in a condition of extraordinary economic difficulty, a difficulty or a series of difficulties immensely enhanced by the fact that the opposing belligerents were determined to carry on a warfare of economic as well as of a military and naval character. Switzerland's position utterly forbade it to disregard either the wishes or necessities of either belligerent group. The government was compelled, therefore, to recognize not merely Swiss necessities but those of the surrounding belligerent territory; all sales of materials on the part of the belligerent Powers and their importation into Switzerland were consequently made subject to certain principles of reciprocity as well as to real or imaginary belligerent advantage, while, on the other hand, looking further afield the Swiss Government was compelled anxiously to watch its opportunity of securing transoceanic supplies through the French ports of Bordeaux and Cette, the latter port being on the Mediterranean and destined to rise through war conditions to a position of importance unknown to it for many centuries. Carriage via Rotterdam and the Rhine was soon seen to be impracticable, for international law, freely allowing commerce between neutral countries, has been obliged in the present war nevertheless, as on earlier occasions, to warrant the stoppage of supplies whose destination was only apparently neutral and in reality belligerent. Now Rotterdam was for all practical purposes a German seaport, and commerce in ascending the Rhine, after leaving Holland, necessarily passed through German territory before reaching Swiss borders. Switzerland, therefore, could only rely upon food supplies from beyond sea coming to her through Bordeaux, Cette, or the Italian port of Genoa. Again, it was not to the interest of the belligerent Powers surrounding Switzerland that raw material of any description should cross Swiss borders by way of importation from the territory of one belligerent to be subsequently either sold to another and opposing government, or converted through process of manufacture into merchandise useful in war to the opponent. Starting from such premises, Germany

insisted on severe conditions touching all material imported by the Swiss, none of which in any form, original or converted, should reach Entente territory. In addition to these more or less reasonable requirements there were added on Germany's part a series of demands for compensation, that is to say, if German coal, iron and steel, for example, were supplied to Swiss importers, Switzerland should guarantee to Germany permission to import needed agricultural and other supplies in certain proportional amounts annually.

With respect to the Allies, the regulations of the Swiss Surveillance Society expressly laid it down that permission to export might be given where there was no question of warlike use in the manufactured articles derived from the raw materials supplied by importations across the French border. Germany, however, went further and insisted that no German coal be used in any Swiss industry producing munitions of war exported to the Entente, and laid down these principles in a series of formal treaties. The seat of the Surveillance Society was in the federal capital of Berne; that of the German Trust Organization, S. T. S., at Zurich. The Swiss Government organized a special commission which might receive from the German authorities permission to import when the details had been satisfactorily passed upon by the Trust Office (S. T. S.) at Zurich. With the close of hostilities these complicated arrangements, never functioning without much friction, will now become things of the past. In theory and practice they were of course quite outside of the constitutional order, and were an emanation from the unrestricted executive authority given to the Federal Council on August 3, 1914.

Equally outside of constitutional provisions were the long series of measures devised by the Council as the war progressed, to secure the actual provisioning of the country and to relieve the serious questions arising between debtor and creditor. To assure an adequate supply of provisions, the government found itself compelled to sequester and in effect monopolize stocks on hand and to be imported of the principal foodstuffs; this process was ultimately extended to the milk, cheese and butter production, an equitable and necessary supply of these latter being found ultimately possible only through direct aid extended by the government, which itself appropriates sufficient funds to meet the cost to the consumer in fixed proportions, so that all may be fed, and fed at a price which every class is found fairly able to pay.

The innumerable problems arising from the relation of debtor and creditor by reason of the stress produced by the war forced the government at the very outset to call to public assistance the institution of the moratorium and kindred measures. If we understand by the term moratorium a measure whose effect is to postpone maturities fixed by law or agreement, there were found, save in the case of registration of patents and industrial designs, few occasions for the enforcement of this institution, although allied measures of protection were numerous enough, and notably in the respite granted to mortgagors, including the railways, against a too severely abrupt realization of creditors' claims. In the category of those granted relief against a stress produced wholly by the war should be included the numerous company of hotel proprietors who found themselves in a peculiarly trying situation for the reason that many of the most noted Swiss resorts are leased only by those operating them, and these lessees, in the absence of pleasure travel, were quite unable to meet the demands of their landlords.

As the war progressed the extra-constitutional powers conferred upon the Federal Council began to seem oppressive to some and to others more or less in conflict with the traditions of Swiss self-government. It was found also that so constant were the demands of the country's necessities upon the Council that it perforce neglected to bring up before Parliament and the people for a final decision at the polls a series of constitutional reforms proposed by popular initiative, and received by the Council though not acted upon within the term of one year as contemplated by the constitution. Among these reforms is an initiative petition signed by over 100,000 voters and seeking to compel Parliament to submit national treaties for ratification by referendum vote; another measure would abolish public gaming. The treaty initiative took its rise in the conclusion of a convention by the Federal Council in 1909 with Germany and Italy renewing the earlier agreement under which the international St.

« ПретходнаНастави »