Selfkant is a municipality in the Heinsberg district
Heinsberg (district)
Heinsberg is a Kreis in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Viersen, district-free city Mönchengladbach, Neuss, Düren and Aachen, and also the Dutch province Limburg.-History:...

, in North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

, Germany. It is the most westerly municipality in Germany. Its border with the Netherlands is 27 kilometres long, while the border with the rest of Germany is only 6 kilometres long.


The most important domain in Selfkant in the Middle Ages was the castle and village of Millen, the residence of the lords of Millen, which became part of the domain Heinsberg in 1282. In 1499 these were joined by the duke of Jülich
Duchy of Jülich
The Duchy of Jülich comprised a state within the Holy Roman Empire from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The duchy lay left of the Rhine river between the Electorate of Cologne in the east and the Duchy of Limburg in the west. It had territories on both sides of the river Rur, around its capital...

 and Millen became the seat of an Amtmann. The places Tüddern, Wehr, Süsterseel and Hillensberg belonged to the Amt Born
Born (Netherlands)
Born is a town of approximately 6,000 inhabitants in the Dutch municipality of Sittard-Geleen. It has a port on the Julianakanaal . Born is also the site of the car factory Nedcar. It has a zoo....

 and after 1709 to the Amt Sittard
Sittard is a city in the Dutch province of Limburg, which is the southernmost province of the Netherlands.On the east Sittard borders on Germany . It has some 48,400 inhabitants . Sittard is part of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen...


From 1794 to 1815 Selfkant was part of the French canton Sittard (department of the Roer
Roer (département)
Roer is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present day Germany and the Netherlands. It was named after the river Rur, which flows through the département. It was formed in 1795, when the Southern Netherlands and the left bank of the Rhine were occupied by the French...

). After the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 it became part of the 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...

n Rhine province. The border with the Netherlands which was then fixed continued to exist until shortly after the Second World War.


After the Second World War, on 23 April 1949, the Netherlands annexed Selfkant as part of war reparations, and its inhabitants were given a Dutch passport with the special indication "to be treated as a Dutchman". The Dutch government appointed a country landdrost to head the governing board of the Tüddern 'office', as the Selfkant was renamed for administrative purposes. The governing board appointed by the Germans was sent home because it was contrary to the Dutch constitution. However as a transitional measure for ex-German territories, the German governing board retained an advisory role.

At that time much was invested in such things as houses and roads. Parts of the area became Dutchified, and the Dutch
Batavianization or Batavianisation also known as Dutchification and; historically, as Belgianization, is the spread of the Dutch language, people and/or culture either by force or assimilation...

 influence is still present.

In the Dutch period, the N274 road was built to provide a direct link between Roermond
Roermond is a city, a municipality, and a diocese in the southeastern part of the Netherlands.The city of Roermond is a historically important town, on the lower Roer at the east bank of the Meuse river. It received city rights in 1231...

 and Heerlen
Heerlen is a city and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. The municipality is the second largest in the province of Limburg. It forms part of Parkstad Limburg, , an agglomeration of about 220,000 inhabitants.After its early Roman beginnings and a rather modest medieval period, Heerlen...

. Even after 1963 the road remained a narrow strip or corridor
- Entertainment :* Corridor * Corridor , the first Indian graphic novel, written by Sarnath Banerjee* Corridor , a short story collection by Alfian Sa'at published in 1999* Corridor of uncertainty in the game of cricket...

 of Dutch territory with no junctions with German roads, and no passport was needed to use it. On 25 February 2002 the road was returned to Germany and in the course of 2004 connections were made with several roads, among others with the B56 between Gangelt
Gangelt is a municipality in the district Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated on the border with the Netherlands, approx. 10 km east of Sittard and 10 km south-west of Heinsberg. Gangelt was the town in which Gerard Kremer, better known as Gerardus Mercator,...

 and Süsterseel.

German municipality

In March 1957 official negotiations started between the Netherlands and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 concerning the return of the area, and on 1 August 1963 the area was returned to Germany in exchange for a payment of 280 million deutschemarks. From the existing 'office' of Tüddern the old municipalities of Havert, Hillensberg, Höngen, Millen, Süsterseel, Tüddern and Wehr were formed. Two months later, on 21 October 1963, the first municipal council elections under German authority were held.

The seven municipalities, with the municipality of Saeffelen from the Amt Waldfeucht
Waldfeucht is a municipality in the district Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated on the border with the Netherlands, approx. 15 km south of Roermond and 8 km west of Heinsberg.-External links:*...

, were added to the municipality Selfkant on 1 July 1969.

With 233 inhabitants per km² Selfkant is considered a rural municipality. Because of the favourable price of land the municipality is nowadays very much in demand with young families. A lot of Dutch cross the border to build their own houses there. Roughly one quarter to one half of the inhabitants are Dutch. At the mayoral election of 2003 a Dutch inhabitant put himself forward as candidate.

Many residents are also stationed, work, or are family members of employees at the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen. Tüddern alone has over 30 American families with the Gem. Selkant having dozens more. Many Canadians at the NATO base also live in Selfkant. English is quite prominent as a third language to Dutch and German in the whole area.
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