Joseph Bech (17 February 1887 – 8 March 1975) was a Luxembourgish politician and lawyer. He was the 15th Prime Minister of Luxembourg, serving for eleven years, from 16 July 1926 until 5 November 1937. He returned to the position after World War II, serving for another four years, from 29 December 1953 until 29 March 1958. The 1982–1983 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour.
|15th Prime Minister of Luxembourg|
29 September 1953 – 29 March 1958
|Preceded by||Pierre Dupong|
|Succeeded by||Pierre Frieden|
16 July 1926 – 5 November 1937
|Preceded by||Pierre Prüm|
|Succeeded by||Pierre Dupong|
|Born||17 February 1887|
|Died||8 March 1975 (aged 88)|
Christian Social People's
Bech studied Law at Fribourg and Paris, before receiving his doctorate in law in 1912, and qualifying as a lawyer in 1914. The same year, on 30 June, he was elected to the Luxembourgish Chamber of Deputies for the newly founded Party of the Right, representing the Canton of Grevenmacher.
On 15 April 1921, Bech was appointed to Émile Reuter's cabinet, holding the positions of Director-General for the Interior and Director-General for Education. In 1925, Bech lost these positions, as the Party of the Right was edged out of government by a coalition of all other parties, who formed the government under Pierre Prüm.
When Prüm's coalition collapsed, in 1926, Bech became Prime Minister, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Education and Wine-growing. He was to remain Foreign and Wine-growing Minister until 1954. His term as Prime Minister, on the other hand, lasted until 1937, when he resigned over the outcome in the referendum on the Maulkuerfgesetz. At various points he also held the portfolios of Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, and the Interior.
In World War II Bech was the Foreign Minister of the Luxembourg government-in-exile in London. In this capacity he signed the Benelux Treaty in 1944.
Bech is considered to be one of the 'Founding Fathers' of the European Union and Community. He was one of the participants of the Messina Conference in 1955, which would lead to the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
He was Prime Minister again from 1953 to 1958, succeeding Pierre Dupong. He remained in the government until 1959; after this he was President of the Chamber of Deputies until 1964. Bech died on 8 March 1975 at the age of 88.
Honours and awards
- Order of the Oak Crown
- Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria (1955)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1958)
- Charlemagne Prize (26 May 1960) – "in recognition of his life's work and his high merits for the unification of Europe that began in the old League of Nations and in the European institutions took their purposeful continuation."
- Thewes, Guy. "Les gouvernements du Grand-Duché depuis 1848." Service information et presse. Luxembourg: Imprimerie Centrale, 2011.
- Dumont, Patrick; Hirsh, Mario (2003). "Luxembourg". European Journal of Political Research. 42 (7–8): 1021. doi:10.1111/j.0304-4130.2003.00129.x.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 19. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
| Director-General for Justice
| Prime Minister of Luxembourg
| Minister for Foreign Affairs
| Minister for Defence
| Prime Minister of Luxembourg
| President of the Chamber of Deputies