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German-speaking Community of Belgium

German-speaking Community
Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft (German)
Communauté germanophone (French)
Duitstalige Gemeenschap (Dutch)
Community of Belgium
Flag of German-speaking Community
Flag
Location of German-speaking Community
Country Belgium
Established 1984
Capital Eupen
Government
 • Executive Government of the German-speaking Community
 • Governing parties (2014–2019) ProDG, PS, PFF
 • Minister-President Oliver Paasch (ProDG)
 • Legislature Parliament of the German-speaking Community
 • Speaker Karl-Heinz Lambertz (PS)
Population (2013)
 • Total 76,090
Day of the German-speaking Community 15 November
Language German
Website www.dglive.be
The Executive (government) of the German-speaking Community meets in Eupen.

The German-speaking Community of Belgium (German: Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgiens , DG; French: Communauté germanophone de Belgique; Dutch: Duitstalige Gemeenschap België ) is one of the three federal communities of Belgium.[1] Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège (German: Lüttich) in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons (German: Ost-Kantone). Traditionally speakers of Low Dietsch, Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian varieties, the local population numbers over 75,000—about 0.70% of the national total. Bordering the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, the area has its own parliament and government at Eupen. Although in the Belgian province of Luxembourg many of the inhabitants in the border region next to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg speak Luxembourgish, a West Central German language, they are not considered part of the German-speaking Community. The German-speaking Community of Belgium is composed of the German-speaking parts of the lands that were annexed in 1920 from Germany. In addition, in contemporary Belgium there are also some other areas where Germanic languages were or are spoken (the difference line between German, Dutch, Luxembourgish and Limburgish is very slight since they are all part of the same dialect continuum) that belonged to Belgium even before 1920, but they are not currently officially considered part of the German-speaking Community of Belgium: Bleiberg-Welkenraedt-Baelen in northeastern province of Liège and Arelerland (city of Arlon and some of its nearby villages in southeastern province of Belgian Luxembourg). However, in these localities, the German language is declining due to the expansion of French.[2]

Contents

  • History 1
  • Government 2
  • Municipalities in the German-speaking Community 3
  • Flag and coat of arms 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

History

Eupen-Malmedy area and other German territories lost in both World Wars are shown in black, present-day Germany is marked dark grey on this 1914 map.

The area known today as the East Cantons consists of the German-speaking Community and the municipalities of Malmedy and Waimes (German: Weismes), which belong to the French Community of Belgium. The East Cantons were part of the Rhine Province of Prussia in Germany until 1920 (as the counties (Landkreise) of Eupen and Malmedy), but were annexed by Belgium following Germany's defeat in World War I and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles.[3] Thus they also became known as the cantons rédimés, "redeemed cantons". The peace treaty of Versailles demanded the "questioning" of the local population. People who were unwilling to become Belgians and wanted the region to remain a part of Germany were required to register themselves along with their full name and address with the Belgian military administration, headed by Herman Baltia, and many feared reprisals or even expulsion for doing so.

In the mid-1920s, there were secret negotiations between Germany and the kingdom of Belgium that seemed to be inclined to sell the region back to Germany as a way to improve Belgium's finances. A price of 200 million gold marks has been mentioned.[3] At this point the French government, fearing for the complete postwar order, intervened at Brussels and the Belgian-German talks were called off.

The new cantons had been part of Belgium for just 20 years when in 1940 they were retaken by Germany in World War II. The majority of people of the east cantons welcomed this as they considered themselves German. Following the defeat of Germany in 1945 the cantons were once again annexed by Belgium, and as a result of alleged collaboration with Nazi Germany an attempt was made to de-Germanize the local population by the Belgian and Walloon authorities.

1943 postcard with Nazi propaganda stamp "Heimkehr ins Grossdeutsche Vaterland" ("Return to the Great German Fatherland")

In the early 1960s Belgium was divided into four linguistic areas, the [5]

Government

The seat of the Executive and Council of the German-speaking Community in Eupen

The German-speaking Community has its own government, which is appointed for five years by its own parliament.[6] The Government is headed by a Minister-President, who acts as the "prime minister" of the Community, and is assisted by the Ministry of the German-speaking Community. The 2014–2019 government is formed by four Ministers:

Municipalities in the German-speaking Community

Map of the German-speaking Community (yellow)

The German-speaking Community consists of the following nine municipalities:[7]

Municipality In region Population
(2015)
Area
(km²)
Amel Belgian Eifel 5,511 125.15
Büllingen Belgian Eifel 5,503 150.49
Burg-Reuland Belgian Eifel 3,955 108.96
Bütgenbach Belgian Eifel 5,609 97.31
Eupen Land of Eupen 19,122 103.74
Kelmis Land of Eupen 10,897 18.12
Lontzen Land of Eupen 5,627 28.73
Raeren Land of Eupen 10,551 74.21
St. Vith Belgian Eifel 9,553 146.93
76,328 853.64

The population figures are those on 1 January 2015. Compare to a total of 73,675 on 1 January 2007.

Flag and coat of arms

The entrance of the ministerial building of the German-speaking Community shows the coat of arms of the Community, which has the nine cinquefoils arranged differently from the flag, and also sports a royal crown.

In 1989, there was a call for proposals for a flag and arms of the Community. In the end the coat of arms of the Community was designed by merging the arms of the Duchy of Limburg and the Duchy of Luxembourg, to which the two parts of the community had historically belonged.

A decree adopted on 1 October 1990 and published on 15 November 1990 prescribed the arms, the flag, the colours as well as the Day of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, which was to be celebrated annually on 15 November.[8]

The coat of arms, in heraldic blazon, is: Arms: Argent, a lion rampant gules between nine cinquefoils azure. Crest: A royal crown. The flag shows a red lion together with nine blue cinquefoils on a white field. The colours of the German-speaking Community are white and red in a horizontal position.

See also

References

  1. ^ "The German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  2. ^ Society for Threatened Peoples: gfbv.it
  3. ^ a b "History of the German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  4. ^ a b De Vries, J.; Tielemans, A. (2008-08-15). "De triangelspeler van België: Duitstalig België" (in Dutch). De Groene Amsterdammer. 
  5. ^ Belga/eb (2009-09-15). "Duitstalige Gemeenschap wil extra bevoegdheden" (in Dutch). De Morgen. 
  6. ^ "German-speaking Community: The jurisdiction of the Government". Dglive.be. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  7. ^ http://www.dgstat.be/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-2569/4686_read-32765
  8. ^ "Coat of Arms and Flag of the German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 

External links

  • Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft, the official site of the German-speaking Community in Belgium.
  • Parliament website
  • Government website
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