Page:EB1922 - Volume 31.djvu/31

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

recognized as the official language (this applied chiefly to Swedish, Russian and German). The people exercise their political rights (a) by plebiscite, (b) by their initiative in legislation, and (c) by elec- tion to the State Assembly (Riigikogu). No law passed by this Assembly can come into force if opposed by one-third of the legal number of members pending a plebiscite. The State Assembly is composed of 100 members elected for three years by universal suffrage. The governor, i.e. the head of the State (Riigiwanem or State Elder), acts as prime minister. The other ministers are elected by the Assembly. They must resign on failure to obtain a vote of confidence. The State Court of Justice is elected in the same way, and selects the local judges for life.

The Church is separated from the State, all glebe land and incomes based upon former public law being abolished without compensation by the Land Act. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, J. Poska (d. 1920), supported by the Constituent Assem- bly, negotiated the peace with Soviet Russia and prepared the de jure recognition of Esthonia. The decision of the Supreme Council at Paris on this matter (Jan. 21 1921) was not adopted by the United States. Admission to the League of Nations was refused on Dec. 17 1920 owing to the attitude of the French and British delegates.

The Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on Dec. 21 1920. The State Assembly began its functions on Jan. 4 1921. Labour (22 seats) and Social Democrats including Communists (34) formed the majority; the remainder (44 seats) belonged to the Peasants' party, Christian, popular party and national minorities. The Cabinet was a Coalition ; premier, K. Paetz. Its programme reflected the problems and tendencies of the day: (i) Estates to be divided into small hold- ings; (2) enforcement of Land Act to harmonize with the food problem; (3) estates managed by State officials to be either let or divided ; (4) suitable buildings on estates to be arranged for indus- try I (5) consolidation of internal peace; (6) de-control; (7) organiza- tion of minorities; (8) religion to be taught in the schools if so desired; (9) emigres to be repatriated; (10) compensation for nationalized land to be reexamined.

At the municipal elections the Social Democrats lost a number of seats, but on the other hand Communistic plots were sporadi- cally referred to in the press.

The Land Problem. The division of property before the Land Act of Oct. 1919, according to official figures for United Esthonia, with the exclusion of the Pechori district, was as follows:

(A) Large Estates (a) belonging to individual owners

734 manorial estates (knights' estates) 95 entailed estates (no) .

6 1 small estates


Total Av. incl'd'g acreage, wasteland. 3,791,718 5-165

998,133 74456

10-507 1-286

(b) belonging to corporations

8 to the nobility corporations 101 to the Russian State 19 to the Peasant Land Bank . 3 charitable endowments 108 Church estates (glebe land) . 1 8 to townships (corporations)

(B) Small Holdings 23,023 leased farms on large estates 50,961 farms owned by the occupiers


109,712 13-714

851,945 8-534

168,575 8-872

20,477 6-825

133,796 1-239

. 102,376 5-688

1,386.881 Total 6,251,188

1,375,329 59-73

4.349,614 84-76


Of the large estates 79% (84%) was forest and 1.386,881 ac. agricultural land. Hardly I % of the small holdings is under forest, while 4,927,763 ac. are agricultural land.

This division of property, large and small farming being con- ducted in independent self-contained units, proved economically progressive. (Only some 12,000 leasehold farms in North Esthonia were too small.) But social and political conditions as well as racial antagonism produced a change tantamount to a social revolution, accomplished by a coalition of the petty bourgeoisie and the prole- tariat with a speed attributed to the danger of a spontaneous Bolshevik move. The beginning was made by the decree of Dec. 17 1918 empowering the State to take possession of " badly managed " estates. This was not a corn production act, nor a means of enforcing proper cultivation ; no notice was served, no directions given to the landlord, no default established, no arbitration admitted, no com- pensations. The economic result was negative (as shown by the Agricultural Conference Nov. 1918), but the measure satisfied some aspirations, seeing that in the course of a year some 300 landlords were dispossessed. On Feb. 28 1919 another decree promised the division of the large estates among the soldiers and the landless agricultural workers, and on Oct. 10 of the same year an agrarian reform was passed by the Constituent Assembly. It was based on the assumptions that the rights of the landlord were non-existent in the cases (a) of entails, (b) of glebe land, (c) of estates seized by Sweden after 1680 and restored to their owners by Russia according to Art. XI. of the Nystad Treaty of 1731 (this applied to % of the manorial estates) and (d) with regard to former waste land (peasant land) reunited to the demesne according to the Statutes of 1849 and 1856 (about Vf, of this category of land). No compensation was therefore to be granted in these cases. The fact that during the German occupation the landlords were prepared to cede % of their land for German colonization, and the desire to prevent confiscation without order and programme as in Russia, were also of moment.

According to the Act of Oct. 10 the nationalized land fund had to be redivided on the following lines: (a) Leased farms remained the property of the occupier; (b) forests were to be managed by the State (Art. XXVI.) ; (c)the manorial houses, gardens and parks became the property of the State (Art. XXVII.) ; (d) glebe land must either be let to church parishes or distributed to neighbouring boroughs; (e) arable land was to be allotted in small holdings to soldiers, their relatives and landless workers, with hereditary tenure. The former owners were to move from their homes, only foreigners to remain in occupation of their lands and homes, until a definite compensation Act could be passed and the indemnity paid. The principles on which compensation was to be calculated were laid down in the Act (Art. XII.-XIV.) and, unless alterations should be introduced, would lead'to the following consequences.

The valuation of the land for the former land tax was to be the limit of the indemnity. Therefore (a) many mortgagees, banks as well as private persons, would lose their security, although since 1864 all such charges had been duly registered. In Northern Estho- nia mortgages of 34,352,400 rubles would be deprived of security to the mortgagees, (b) The value of the buildings alone was insured against fire in 449 estates for a sum of 42,544,264 rubles, while the proposed amount of compensation for 468 estates amounted to 11,981,450 rubles. (c) In numerous estates the value of drainages effected for the last 25 years is higher than the promised compensa- tion for the land, (d) The rate of indemnity for live stock and imple- ments was from 15 to 150 times lower than their market value. Even Esthonian politicians (Toennison) appeared doubtful whether the ruin of the landlords would prove ultimately of economic benefit to the country, and amendments were being discussed in order to restore confidence and improve the money market. The Ministry of Agriculture reports concluded: " In spite of all difficulties 20,000 farms were established by spring 1920. The lack of inventory is one great obstacle. Many of the agricultural workmen due to this have not succeeded in becoming tenants and therefore oppose the dis- tribution of land. A certain percentage of the new landholders will fall out of the ranks; but the production problem is not considered to be insolvable." An Esthonian critic (A. Busch) in a monograph insisted that live stock and implements were deteriorating and that not a single building had been erected since the law was passed. The transformation of large holdings into small holdings required a new investment of capital, which was totally lacking.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Apart from the official publications of the Estho- nian Government quoted at length in the non-official periodicals published in Paris and London, sources of information were scanty in 1921. The proceedings of the Paris Peace Conference were not yet accessible. The literature on the subject is either panegyric, prop- agandistic or detractory. Memoire sur VRsthonie presentee par la Delegation esthonienne a la Conference de la Paix, 1919; Martna, Memorie della Delegazione estone (Rome, 1919); in German, Die Esten und die Estnische Frage; in French, L'Esthonie et les Esthoniens (Paris, 1919); Revue Baltique (Paris, Sept. 1918. in progress): Estho- nian Review^ (London, July igig-June 1920) ; Baltic Review (London, Aug. 1920, in progress) ; Oskar Bernmann, Die Agrarfrage in Estland (1920); Courland, Livonia and Eslhonia (handbooks prepared under the direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office, 50, London, 1920) ; Gaston Gaillard, L Allemagne et le Baltikum (1919) ; Baron Alfons Heyking, The Baltic Probleiti (1919) ; Russian Libera- tion Committee, The Baltic Provinces (anonym, by Baron Korff, 1919); Alexis Engelhardt, Die deutschen Ostseeprovinzen Russlands (3rd ed., 1916). All such publications represent various points of view. (A. M.)

EUCKEN, RUDOLF CHRISTOPH (1846- ), German philos- opher and religious teacher (see 9.878). During the World War Eucken, like many of his academic colleagues, took a strong line in favour of the causes with which his country had associated itself. After the war he became the chief leader of the new idealist movement in Germany, which obtained many adherents among politicians as well as among sections of the general public hitherto averse to the tendencies it represents. The representatives of the main current of this movement regarded Christianity as the culminating point of religious aspirations, but based no hopes upon the Christian churches ever deepening the religious consciousness. Other currents continued to identify themselves more or less with the churches, and a common ground was found in great assemblies of men and women of the younger generation,