German-speaking Community of Belgium
Overview
 
The German-speaking Community of Belgium ( ˈdɔɪ̯ʧ.ˌʃpʀax.ɪgə gə.ˈmai̯n.ʃaft ˈbɛl.giəns, DG; ; ˈdœy̯ts.ˌtaːl.ɪʝə ʝə.ˈmeːn.ˌsxɑp ˈbɛl.ʝi.jə) is one of the three federal communities of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province
Provinces of Belgium
Belgium is divided into three regions, two of them are subdivided into five provinces each.The division into provinces is fixed by Article 5 of the Belgian Constitution...

 of Liège
Liège (province)
Liège is the easternmost province of Belgium and belongs to the Walloon Region. It is an area of French and German ethnicity. It borders on the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and in Belgium the provinces of Luxembourg, Namur, Walloon Brabant , and those of Flemish Brabant and Limburg . Its...

  in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons .
Encyclopedia
The German-speaking Community of Belgium ( ˈdɔɪ̯ʧ.ˌʃpʀax.ɪgə gə.ˈmai̯n.ʃaft ˈbɛl.giəns, DG; ; ˈdœy̯ts.ˌtaːl.ɪʝə ʝə.ˈmeːn.ˌsxɑp ˈbɛl.ʝi.jə) is one of the three federal communities of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province
Provinces of Belgium
Belgium is divided into three regions, two of them are subdivided into five provinces each.The division into provinces is fixed by Article 5 of the Belgian Constitution...

 of Liège
Liège (province)
Liège is the easternmost province of Belgium and belongs to the Walloon Region. It is an area of French and German ethnicity. It borders on the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and in Belgium the provinces of Luxembourg, Namur, Walloon Brabant , and those of Flemish Brabant and Limburg . Its...

  in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons . Traditionally speakers of Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian varieties, the local population numbers over 73,000—about 0.73% of the national total. Bordering the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, the area has its own parliament and government at Eupen
Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

. Although many of the inhabitants (primarily in the border region next to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) in the neighbouring Belgian province of Luxembourg
Luxembourg (Belgium)
Luxembourg is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium. It borders on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, France, and the Belgian provinces of Namur and Liège. Its capital is Arlon, in the south-east of the province.It has an area of 4,443 km², making it the largest Belgian province...

 speak Luxembourgish
Luxembourgish language
Luxembourgish is a High German language spoken mainly in Luxembourg. About 320,000 people worldwide speak Luxembourgish.-Language family:...

, a West Central German
West Central German
West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

 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 German-speaking areas that belonged to Belgium even before 1920, but they are not currently officially considered part of the German-speaking community in Belgium: Bleiberg-Welkenraat-Baelen
Baelen
Baelen is a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Liège. On January 1, 2006 Baelen had a total population of 4,060. The total area is 85.73 km² which gives a population density of 47.36 inhabitants per km².-People living in Baelen:...

 in Northeastern province of Liège
Liège (province)
Liège is the easternmost province of Belgium and belongs to the Walloon Region. It is an area of French and German ethnicity. It borders on the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and in Belgium the provinces of Luxembourg, Namur, Walloon Brabant , and those of Flemish Brabant and Limburg . Its...

 and Arelerland
Arelerland
The Land of Arlon is the traditionally Luxembourgish-speaking part of Belgian Lorraine, but now predominantly French-speaking. Arlon is the main city of this region....

 (city of Arlon and some of its nearby villages in Southeastern province of Belgian Luxembourg
Luxembourg (Belgium)
Luxembourg is the southernmost province of Wallonia and of Belgium. It borders on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, France, and the Belgian provinces of Namur and Liège. Its capital is Arlon, in the south-east of the province.It has an area of 4,443 km², making it the largest Belgian province...

). However, in these localities, the German language is declining due to the expansion of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

.

History

The area known today as the East Cantons
Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

 consists of the German-speaking Community and the municipalities of Malmedy
Malmedy
Malmedy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region, Province of Liège. It belongs to the French Community of Belgium, within which it is French-speaking with facilities for German-speakers. On January 1, 2006 Malmedy had a total population of 11,829...

 and Waimes
Waimes
Waimes is a Walloon municipality located in the province of Liège, in Belgium. On January 1, 2006 Waimes had a total population of 6,728. The total area is 96.93 km² which gives a population density of 69 inhabitants per km²....

 , which belong to the French Community of Belgium
French Community of Belgium
The French Community of Belgium is one of the three official communities in Belgium along with the Flemish Community and the German speaking Community. Although its name could suggest that it is a community of French citizens in Belgium, it is not...

. The East Cantons were part of the Rhine Province
Rhine Province
The Rhine Province , also known as Rhenish Prussia or synonymous to the Rhineland , was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822-1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

 of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 until 1920 (as the counties (Landkreise) of Eupen and Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

), but were annexed by Belgium following Germany's defeat in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. Thus they also became known as the cantons rédimés, "redeemed cantons". The peace treaty of Versailles demanded the "questioning" of the local population, about their political status. This process was not carried out as an anonymous plebiscite. Instead those locals who were unwilling to become Belgians and who wanted the region to remain a part of Germany were required to register themselves along with their full name and address. In fact the Belgian military administration, headed by Herman Baltia
Herman Baltia
Baron Herman Baltia was a Belgian military officer, the son of the Belgian General Charles Baltia and of a German mother....

, prevented a fair execution of this "questioning", and many locals feared reprisal
Reprisal
In international law, a reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breached the rights of civilians, an action outlawed by the Geneva...

s or even expulsion after enlisting. Therefore, the plebiscite cannot be considered valid.

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. 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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. 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.

In the early 1960s Belgium was divided into four linguistic areas, the Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 speaking Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 area, the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 speaking area, the bilingual capital of Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, and the German speaking area of the east cantons. In 1973, three communities and three regions were established and granted internal autonomy. The legislative Parliament of the German-speaking Community
Parliament of the German-speaking Community
The Parliament of the German-speaking Community is the legislative assembly of the German-speaking Community of Belgium based in Eupen.The most important tasks of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community include the election and the supervision of the Government of the German-speaking...

, Rat der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft, was set up. Today the German-speaking Community has a fair degree of autonomy, especially in language and cultural matters, but it still remains part of the region of French speaking Wallonia. There has been much argument in the past few years that the German-speaking Community should also become its own region which is an ongoing process with the permanent transfer with previous accord of some competences concerning social policy, conservation of sites and monuments, environment protection policy, transport, the financing of municipalities, among other things from the Walloon Region. One of the proponents of full regional autonomy for the German-speaking Community is the current Minister-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz
Karl-Heinz Lambertz
Karl-Heinz Lambertz , is a jurist and politician, currently the leader of the Government of the German-speaking Community of Belgium. He is noted for voicing an outspoken demand for his community, numbering about 70,000 around Eupen, to be separated from Wallonia and be recognised as a autonomous...

. Especially regional autonomy for spatial planning, city building and housing should be considered, according to the government of the German-speaking community.

Government

The German-speaking Community has its own government, which is appointed for five years by its own parliament
Parliament of the German-speaking Community
The Parliament of the German-speaking Community is the legislative assembly of the German-speaking Community of Belgium based in Eupen.The most important tasks of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community include the election and the supervision of the Government of the German-speaking...

. The Government is headed by a Minister-President
Minister-President
A minister-president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments, in which a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government prevails, who presides over the council of ministers...

, who acts as the "prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

" of the Community, and is assisted by the Ministry of the German-speaking Community. The government currently formed by four Ministers:
  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz
    Karl-Heinz Lambertz
    Karl-Heinz Lambertz , is a jurist and politician, currently the leader of the Government of the German-speaking Community of Belgium. He is noted for voicing an outspoken demand for his community, numbering about 70,000 around Eupen, to be separated from Wallonia and be recognised as a autonomous...

     (SP
    Socialist Party (francophone Belgium)
    The Socialist Party is a Francophone social-democratic political party in Belgium. As of the 2010 elections, it is the second largest party in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and the largest Francophone party...

    ), Minister-President and Minister for District Authorities.
  • Oliver Paasch (ProDG), Minister for Education, Formation and Employment.
  • Isabelle Weykmans (PFF
    Partei für Freiheit und Fortschritt
    The Party for Freedom and Progress is a regional liberal party in Belgium, only active in the tiny German-speaking Community of Belgium....

    ), Minister for Culture, Media and Tourism.
  • Harald Mollers (ProDG), Minister for Family, Health and Social Affairs

Municipalities in the German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community consists of the following nine municipalities:
  • Amel
    Amel
    Amel is a Belgian municipality in the Walloon province of Liège, and is part of the German-speaking Community of Belgium .On January 1, 2006 Amel had a total population of 5,282...

  • Büllingen
    Büllingen
    Büllingen is a largely German language-speaking municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006 Büllingen had a total population of 5,385. The total area is 150.49 km² which gives a population density of 36 inhabitants per km²....

  • Burg-Reuland
    Burg-Reuland
    Burg-Reuland is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège.The name of the municipality refers to the castle "Burg-Reuland", which is located in the center of the community.On January 1, 2006 Burg-Reuland had a total population of 3,903...

  • Bütgenbach
    Bütgenbach
    Bütgenbach is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006 Bütgenbach had a total population of 5,574. The total area is 97.31 km² which gives a population density of 57 inhabitants per km². The official language in this municipality is German....

  • Eupen
    Eupen
    Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

  • Kelmis
    Kelmis
    Kelmis is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006, Kelmis had a total population of 10,396...

  • Lontzen
    Lontzen
    Lontzen is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006 Lontzen had a total population of 5,071. The total area is 28.73 km² which gives a population density of 177 inhabitants per km²....

  • Raeren
    Raeren
    Raeren is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. It was part of Germany until the First World War, after which it became part of Belgium. It is one of several towns in Eastern Belgium which still predominantly speak German....

  • Sankt Vith
    Sankt Vith
    St. Vith is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège, and in the German speaking community in Belgium. It was named after Saint Vitus....


Flag and coat of arms

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
Duchy of Limburg
The Duchy of Limburg, situated in the Low Countries between the river Meuse and the city of Aachen, was a state of the Holy Roman Empire. Its territory is now divided between the Belgian provinces of Liège and Limburg , the Dutch province of Limburg , and a small part of North Rhine-Westphalia in...

 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
Day of the German-speaking Community of Belgium
The Day of the German-speaking Community of Belgium is celebrated on November 15 each year. It is a public holiday for the German-speaking Community of Belgium but it is not celebrated elsewhere in Belgium...

, which was to be celebrated annually on 15 November.

The coat of arms, in heraldic
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 blazon
Blazon
In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image...

, 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

  • Parliament of the German-speaking Community
    Parliament of the German-speaking Community
    The Parliament of the German-speaking Community is the legislative assembly of the German-speaking Community of Belgium based in Eupen.The most important tasks of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community include the election and the supervision of the Government of the German-speaking...

     and Government of the German-speaking Community
  • List of Ministers-President of the German-speaking Community
  • German-speaking Europe
    German-speaking Europe
    The German language is spoken in a number of countries and territories in West, Central and Eastern Europe...

  • Low Dietsch
    Low Dietsch
    Low Dietsch is a term mainly used within the Flemish terminology for the transitional Limburgish–Ripuarian dialects of a number of towns and villages in the north-east of the Belgian province of Liege, such as Gemmenich, Homburg, Montzen and Welkenraedt....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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