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German-speaking Community (Belgium)

Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft

Last modified: 2012-10-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: belgium | german-speaking community | deutschsprachige gemeinschaft | lion (red) | law | quintefoils: 9 (blue) | gentian |
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[Flag of the German-speaking Community]     [Flag of the German-speaking Community]

Flag of the German-speaking Community (left, official flag; right, flag in use) - Images by Mark Sensen, 2 July 2001

See also:

Presentation of the German-speaking Community

The German-speaking Community stretches over 853 sq. km in the East of Wallonia, and includes ca. 67,000 inhabitants (German-speaking Belgian citizens). It is made of two parts, geographically not connected:

  • the Eupen country, in the north, along the border with the Netherlands and Germany, with a "Three Countries' Point" (Dreiländerpunkt, Drielandenpunt); it includes the municipalities of Eupen, Kelmis (La Calamine), Lontzen and Raeren.
  • the Belgian Eifel, in the south, along the border with Luxembourg and Germany, with a "Three Countries' Corner" (Dreiländereck); it includes the municipalities of Amel (Amblève), Büllingen (Bullange), Burg-Reuland, Bütgenbach (Butgenbach) and Sankt Vith (Saint-Vith).

The German-speaking Community is not strictly equivalent to Eastern Belgium (Ostbelgien) or the Eastern Districts (Ostkantonen, Cantons de l'Est). Those two names were coined in 1920 to designate the newly annexed, formerly Prussian districts (Kantonen) of Eupen, Malmedy and Sankt Vith. However, the municipalities from the district of Malmedy belong today to the French Community and not to the German-speaking Community.
All the German-speaking municipalities are located in the province of Liège.

Within the German-speaking Community, the legislative power is exercized by the Council (25 elected Councillors) and the Government of the German-speaking Community (a Minister-President and two Ministers), whereas the executive power is exercized by the Government of the German-speaking Community.
The competences of the Council and the Government of the German-speaking Community are defined by the Federal Consitution of Belgium, adopted on 17 February 1994.

Ivan Sache, 28 November 2004

Flag and arms of the German-speaking Community

The flag of the German-speaking Community is a banner of the arms of the Community. According to a drawing attached to the Decree prescribing the flag and arms, the flag should be square or "Belgian square" (13:15), but it is always used in 2:3 proportion.

This flag (square version) is shown on the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #71, with the following caption:

Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft - Eupen, Malmedy and Sankt-Vith

The caption is erroneous since Malmedy is not part of the German-speaking Community.

[Arms of the German-speaking Community]

Coat of arms of the German-speaking Community - Image from the official website of the German-speaking Community, 2 July 2001

The arms of the German-speaking Community are:

Argent a lion gules surrounded by nine quintefoils azure.

In 1989, there was a call for proposals for a flag and arms of the Community. Some of the proposals were published in the local newspaper Grenz-Echo.
Before the Belgian independence (1830), the northern part of the Community belonged to the Duchy of Limburg whereas its southern part belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg.
The coat of arms of the Community was designed by merging the arms of the two former Duchies. Both include a red lion. The lion for the Community was kept red, but lost its crown. Its claws and tongue were changed from gold to red.
The (National) Council for Heraldry and Nobility asked to change the forked tail in saltire for a simpler tail curved to the lion back. The lion was modernized but many people did not enjoy the modification, finding the animal much too aggressive and looking jigsawed.
The silver field recalls both the fields of Limburg and Luxembourg arms, the latter being charged with five azure stripes. In the first draft of the arms of the Community, those blue stripes were supposed to be recalled by nine green lime-tree leaves, standing also for the nine municipalities of the Community.
Léon Nyssen was eventually able to convince the authorities that the nine elements should be blue and changed for flowers of a gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe), easily represented by quintefoils. However, Nyssen could not convince the authorities to "transpose" the arms into a flag rather than simply placing them on a white field.

The flag and arms were adopted on 1 October 1990 by the Council of the German-speaking Community after long discussions. "Colours" were also adopted (white and red), but their arrangement was not stated and they were apparently never used.
The official texts in German do not strictly match their French and Dutch translations, as it is unfortunately often the case in Belgium.

Source: Léon Nyssen Le drapeau de la Communauté germanophone. Vexillacta [vxl] #12, June 2001.

Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 2 July 2001

Decree on the day, arms and flag of the German-speaking Community

The Decree adopted on 1 October 1990 and published on 15 November 1990 prescribes the arms, the flag, the colours and the Community day. Here is an unofficial translation of the original version of the Decree (German).

1 October 1990. Decree on the adoption of the day, arms and flag of the German-speaking Community

Article 1.

The Day of the German-speaking Community shall be celebrated every year on 15 November.

Article 2.

The German-speaking Community shall bear the following arms:
In silver a red lion together with nine blue quintefoils, surmounted by a royal crown.
The flag of the German-speaking Community shall show on a white field a red lion together with nine blue quintefoils.
The colours of the German-speaking Community shall be white and red in a horizontal position.

Article 3.

The flag of the German-speaking Community shall be hoisted on 15 November on the official buildings of the German-speaking area (Gebiet of Belgium; outside this area, it shall be hoisted on the buildings, which, because of their use, are placed under the liability of the German-speaking Community or are temporarily put at its disposal.
In the German-speaking area of Belgium, the flag shall be further hoisted on the administrative buildings in the same conditions and on the same days as the Belgian national flag.

Source: Official website of the German-speaking Community

Ivan Sache & Santiago Dotor, 28 November 2004

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