German-speaking Community of Belgium

The German-speaking Community of Belgium (German: Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgiens [ˈdɔʏ̯tʃˌʃpʁaːxɪɡə ɡəˈmaɪ̯nʃaft ˈbɛlɡi̯əns], DG; French: Communauté germanophone de Belgique [kɔmynote ʒɛʁmanofɔn də bɛlʒik]; Dutch: Duitstalige Gemeenschap van België [ˈdœy̯tsˌtaːlɪɣə ɣəˈmeːnˌsxɑp vɑn ˈbɛlɣijə]) or Eastern Belgium (German: Ostbelgien; French: Belgique de l'est; Dutch: Oost-België) is one of the three federal communities of Belgium.[2] Covering an area of 854 km2 (330 sq mi) within the province of Liège (German: Lüttich) in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of 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.

German-speaking Community

Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft  (German)
Communauté germanophone  (French)
Duitstalige Gemeenschap  (Dutch)

Flag

Coat of arms
CountryBelgium
Established1984
CapitalEupen
Government
  ExecutiveGovernment of the German-speaking Community
  Governing parties (2014–2019)ProDG, PS, PFF
  Minister-PresidentOliver Paasch (ProDG)
  LegislatureParliament of the German-speaking Community
  SpeakerKarl-Heinz Lambertz (PS)
Area
  Total854 km2 (330 sq mi)
Population
 (2019[1])
  Total77,527
  Density91/km2 (240/sq mi)
Day of the German-speaking Community15 November
LanguageGerman
Websitewww.dglive.be

Bordering the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, the area has its own parliament and government at Eupen. 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 German is or has been 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.[3]

History

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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[5]

In the early 1960s, Belgium was divided into four linguistic areas, the Dutch-speaking Flemish area, the French-speaking area, the bilingual capital of Brussels, 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, 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 predominantly 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 the 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 Karl-Heinz Lambertz, the minister-president from 1999 to 2014.[6] Especially regional autonomy for spatial planning, city building and housing should be considered, according to the government of the German-speaking Community.[6][7]

Government

The German-speaking Community has its own government, which is appointed for five years by its own parliament.[8] 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:

  • Oliver Paasch (ProDG), Minister-President and Minister for Local Government
  • Isabelle Weykmans (PFF), Vice-Minister-President and Minister for Culture, Media and Tourism
  • Harald Mollers (ProDG), Minister for Education
  • Antonios Antoniadis (politician) (SP), Minister for Social Affairs

Municipalities

The German-speaking Community consists of nine municipalities, listed in the table below.[9] Numbers on the map to the right correspond to the "Map #" column in the table below.

Map #MunicipalityCantonPopulation
(2017)[1]
Area
(km²)
Area
(sq mi)
5AmelSankt Vith5,523125.15 48.32
6BüllingenSankt Vith5,489150.49 58.10
7Burg-ReulandSankt Vith3,944108.96 42.07
8BütgenbachSankt Vith5,58397.31 37.57
1EupenEupen19,461103.74 40.05
2KelmisEupen10,96418.12 7.00
3LontzenEupen5,68428.73 11.09
4RaerenEupen10,61174.21 28.65
9St. VithSankt Vith9,661146.93 56.73
Total76,920853.64 329.59

( = comparable to previous year).

The population figures are those on 1 January 2017 (compare to a total of 73,675 on 1 January 2007). The municipalities are grouped into two cantons, namely the Canton of Eupen in the north and the Canton of Sankt Vith in the south. The wider region is included in the Arrondissement of Verviers.

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 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.[10]

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. "Bevölkerungsstruktur". ostbelgienstatistik.be. Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens. 2019-07-01. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  2. "The German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Archived from the original on 2014-05-04. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  3. Society for Threatened Peoples: gfbv.it
  4. "History of the German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  5. Asbrock, Frank; Van Hiel, Alain (21 November 2017). "An Insiders' Outside Perspective on the Flemish-Walloon Conflict: The Role of Identification and Disidentification for the German-Speaking Minority". Journal of the Belgian Association of Psychological Science. 57 (3): 115–131. doi:10.5334/pb.347. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  6. De Vries, J.; Tielemans, A. (2008-08-15). "De triangelspeler van België: Duitstalig België" (in Dutch). De Groene Amsterdammer. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27.
  7. "Duitstalige Gemeenschap wil extra bevoegdheden". De Morgen (in Dutch). 2009-09-15.
  8. "German-speaking Community: The jurisdiction of the Government". Dglive.be. Archived from the original on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  9. http://www.dgstat.be/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-2569/4686_read-32765
  10. "Coat of Arms and Flag of the German-speaking Community". Dglive.be. Archived from the original on 2007-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
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