German speaking community

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German-speaking community
Duitstalige Gemeenschap ( Dutch )
Communauté germanophone ( French )
Member State of the Kingdom of Belgium
Type of state : Community
Official language : German
Administrative headquarters : Eupen
Foundation : January 30, 1984
Area : 853.64 km²
Residents : 77,527 (January 1, 2019)
Population density : 90.8 inhabitants per km²
Holiday: November 15 ( Day of the German-speaking Community )
Prime Minister : Oliver Paasch ( ProDG )
Location in Belgium
Luxemburg Niederlande Frankreich Nordsee Deutschland Brüssel Flandern Wallonische RegionGerman-speaking community in Belgium.svg
About this picture

The German-speaking Community (abbreviation DG , Ostbelgien in external representation , French Communauté germanophone , Dutch Duitstalige Gemeenschap ) is one of the three communities of the Kingdom of Belgium and thus a member state of the Belgian federal state , along with the French Community and the Flemish Community . The municipalities of the DG are located in the east of the province of Liège in the Walloon Region .


The DG comprises nine municipalities with 77,527 inhabitants (January 1, 2019). Thus the DG is the smallest of the three political communities in Belgium. Its origins go back to the German cultural community formed in 1970 and the federalization of the Belgian state, which had previously been centrally governed. Historically, the term German-speaking community is not to be equated with the terms Ostbelgien and Belgian Eastern Cantons , which also include the predominantly French-speaking area of ​​the municipalities of Malmedy and Waimes .

Based on a decision by the government of the German-speaking Community, the German-speaking Community, its political institutions and public services have been marketing themselves as Ostbelgien since March 15, 2017 . This umbrella brand is also open to associations, companies and organizations from the German-speaking area of ​​Belgium. The aim is to replace the cumbersome term German-speaking community and the ambiguous abbreviation DG in common usage . The term Ostbelgien is always only used in German in the other parts of the country.

With the more general designation German-speaking Belgians or German-speaking minority of Belgium , whose number is estimated at around 100,000, the term German-speaking community is not congruent; German-speaking minorities also live outside the area of ​​the German-speaking Community, while the latter is composed in particular of those areas in which German-speaking Belgians make up the majority of the population.

In federalism research, the DG with its own government and a parliament of the German-speaking community is assigned to the type of small-member state .

Geographical location

The area of ​​the German-speaking Community borders in the north on the triangle of Belgium-Germany-Netherlands , in the east on Germany and in the south on Luxembourg , to the west lies the area of ​​the French Community of Belgium .

The German-speaking Community ( detailed map )

Within Belgium, the German-speaking Community exercises its political competences in the German-speaking area, in which there are nine municipalities. Eupen is the seat of government, parliament and the administrative center.

The municipalities of Malmedy and Weismes ( French Waimes ) belong to the local authority of the French Community of Belgium . The German minority has its own rights there. Occasionally, the nine German-speaking municipalities together with the municipalities of Malmedy and Weismes are historically referred to as Ostbelgien and Eastern Cantons , earlier also as Eupen-Malmedy-St. Vith or Eupen-Malmedy for short .

In March 2017, the government of the German-speaking Community decided to market the area as Ostbelgien in the future . Analogous to South Tyrol (officially: Autonomous Region Bozen - Südtirol), the term German-speaking Community of Belgium is still used in official documents, in external presentations, on the Internet and on official signs from the ministry, government and parliament, the region is now called East Belgium .

The territory of the German-speaking Community is located in the Province of Liège and in the Walloon Region . Within the European Union , the DG belongs to the two Euregios Maas-Rhein and Saar-Lor-Lux .



Eupen is the administrative seat of the German-speaking Community.

On January 1, 2019, 77,527 inhabitants lived in the area of ​​the German-speaking Community. Of these, 38,907 residents were female and 38,620 were male. The DG has a population density of 90.8 inhabitants per square kilometer and is therefore sparsely populated. The population density in the canton of Eupen (north) and in the canton of St. Vith (south) differ considerably. While the canton of Eupen with 47,308 inhabitants has a population density of around 210.4 inhabitants per square kilometer, the canton of St. Vith has a density of 48.1 inhabitants per square kilometer. The demographic north-south divide becomes particularly clear when comparing the northernmost and southernmost communities: the most densely populated community in the DG is Kelmis (613 inhabitants per square kilometer), the least populated communities are Büllingen and Burg-Reuland (36 Inhabitants per square kilometer). For comparison: On January 1, 2019, there were 374 inhabitants per square kilometer in Belgium, 216 in the Walloon Region and 487 inhabitants per square kilometer in Flanders.

21.1 percent of the population do not have Belgian citizenship. The proportion of foreigners in the canton of Eupen is 29.6 percent, whereas in the canton of St. Vith it is only 7.7 percent (January 1, 2019).

By far the largest group among foreigners (January 1, 2012) are German citizens, followed by Dutch. The municipality of Raeren has the largest proportion of German citizens with almost 50 percent.

Population in the municipalities of the German-speaking Community on January 1, 2019
local community Area
in km²
Residents Proportion of foreigners *
in percent
per km²
Eupen 103.74 19,677 16.5 190 Eupen
Kelmis 018.12 11,108 38.2 613 Eupen
Lontzen 028.73 05,764 20.6 201 Eupen
Raeren 074.21 10,759 49.5 145 Eupen
Amel 125.15 05,474 05.3 044 St. Vith
Büllingen 150.49 05,478 08.9 036 St. Vith
Burg-Reuland 108.96 03,935 10.3 036 St. Vith
Butgenbach 097.31 05,610 07.1 058 St. Vith
Saint Vith 146.93 09,722 07.8 066 St. Vith
total 853.64 77,527 21.1 091
* Foreigners are residents without Belgian citizenship.


The inhabitants of the German-speaking Community are linguistically assigned to different national dialect groups:

Otherwise the high German standard language (German) is largely used in administrations, schools, in church life and in social relationships.

The largest minority of the population in this region, mainly in the northern municipalities of Kelmis, Lontzen and Eupen, are the French-speaking Belgians.

In 2009, the German-speaking community was with the institutions Price German language excellent, and in 2011 she appeared as a corporate member of the Association German language at.


In the German-speaking Community, the population is mostly of the Roman Catholic faith. The area is divided into three deaneries with 32 parishes belonging to the diocese of Liège . There is also a smaller Protestant community based in Eupen. This is affiliated to the United Protestant Church of Belgium .


Middle Ages and Early Modern Times

The area belonged to the 13th century to the Duchy of Limburg , fell after the Battle of Worringen in Brabant . In the 15th century it fell through marriage to the Dukes of Burgundy , then to the Spanish Habsburgs and in 1713, after the Peace of Utrecht , to the Austrian Habsburgs . From 1794 to 1815 it belonged to the French Ourthe department .

1815 Congress of Vienna, 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the period after the First World War

Administrative districts in the Rhineland (1905)

After the coalition war and the demise of Napoleon, this area was given to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 , and German became the official language . In the course of the establishment of the Empire in 1871, the area became part of Prussia and part of the German Empire . The old Belgian-Prussian boundary stones still remind of the former course of the border. After the First World War , the Eupen and Malmedy districts and part of the Monschau district were separated from Germany in the Peace Treaty of Versailles in 1918 and given to Belgium as the eastern cantons, and until 1925 provisionally administered by General Herman Baltia . During this time (1918–1925) the regional media were subject to censorship. During this time, pro-German political organizations such as the Heimattreue Front or the Christian People's Party emerged .

A referendum was planned for the districts of Eupen and Malmedy for 1920, on the question of whether the region should be permanently separated from Germany and belong to Belgium. However, this referendum was not held in secret as contractually stipulated. Rather, from January 10, 1920, option lists were publicly displayed on certain days in which those entitled to vote could enter themselves. Due to the massive influence of Baltia - who announced that "Germany voters" would be expelled from Belgium immediately or that the exchange of money and distribution of food cards etc. would be negative - only 271 of the 33,726 authorized persons entered these lists.

On the basis of the voting result, Eupen, Malmedy and part of Monschau, around 1,036 km², were separated from the German Reich on September 20, 1920 and handed over to Belgium. Up until the time of National Socialism , all German governments tried to revise the boundaries of Eupen-Malmedys. In particular, negotiations between Belgium and Germany ran from 1925 to the end of the 1920s to return the area to the German Reich for compensation of 300 million gold francs. This failed mainly because of the resistance of the French government, while the other signatory powers of the Versailles Treaty had given their approval through diplomatic channels. The talks were then broken off.

Second World War

After the German invasion of Belgium , the area was annexed on May 18, 1940 and enlarged by ten old Belgian communities that had remained with Belgium in 1815 and thus did not belong to the territory of the German Empire .

1943 postcard with stamp "EUPEN homecoming to the Greater German Fatherland"

Around 8,800 men from the eastern cantons fought in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War . After the war, the area was reassigned to the Belgian state. In 1945 an official denazification followed, which could lead to the denial of civil rights and other sanctions.

Potsdam Conference and its consequences

After the Second World War, it was decided at the Potsdam Conference to put Germany back into the 1937 borders, which meant that the Eupen and Malmedy districts occupied during the war went back to Belgium.

The last time the borders were corrected was the German-Belgian border treaty of 1956.

Current situation

As a result of the language legislation of 1963, Belgium was divided into three language communities; This was implemented in 1970, and thus the Council of the German Cultural Community (RdK) could be used as a direct forerunner of the Council of the German-speaking Community (RDG), which has been called the Parliament of the German-speaking Community (PDG) since 2004 .

The German-speaking Community is part of the Greater Saar-Lor-Lux region, which was founded in 1998 .

As a border region, the German-speaking Community has been actively involved in European integration for a number of years through its participation in the greater Saar-Lor-Lux region and the Euregio Meuse-Rhine . In particular, the dismantling of border controls in the course of the Schengen Agreement and the monetary union through the introduction of the euro benefited the community.

In the context of the serious government crisis in Belgium due to the Flemish-Walloon conflict after the parliamentary elections in June 2010, the then Prime Minister of the DG, Karl-Heinz Lambertz , theorized for the eventual failure of the Belgian state and the like. a. via an independent state of Wallonia with the involvement of DG, complete independence of the community, a return to Germany or a merger with Luxembourg.

Politics and institutions

Sovereignty symbols

Flag of the German-speaking Community

The German-speaking community has a coat of arms and a flag. On October 1, 1990 was Decree on the introduction of the feast day, the coat of arms and the flag of the German-speaking Community adopted .

Coat of arms of the German-speaking Community
Blazon : "In silver, a red lion accompanied by nine blue five-petals , topped with a royal crown."


On the one hand, the German-speaking community has the authority over cultural matters, personal matters, teaching, cooperation between the communities and international cooperation in the matters mentioned, as well as regulating the use of languages ​​for teaching in those created by the public authorities , subsidized or recognized institutions.

On the other hand, she has the opportunity to exercise certain competencies of the Walloon Region in her own area. For this reason, the German-speaking Community is also responsible for monument and landscape protection (since 1994), employment policy (since 2000), community supervision and financing (since 2005), tourism (since 2014) and housing, spatial planning and aspects of the Energy policy (since 2020).

In the course of the future state reform, the German-speaking Community is striving to separate the German-speaking area from the Walloon Region and to become the fourth Belgian member state with equal rights alongside Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.

From September 2019, the people of the DG have extended political rights, more than anywhere else in Europe, apart from a few areas of Switzerland. Citizens get power in German-speaking Belgium , headlines De Standaard . In Eupen, citizens will soon be constantly consulted , says Le Soir . The Grenz-Echo speaks of a constant public dialogue . The Parliament of the German-speaking Community unanimously adopted a decree on February 25, 2019, which in future gives citizens a large say in shaping daily politics.

Legislative power

The new parliament building on Eupener Kehrweg, which was occupied at the end of 2013
House Grand Ry, seat of government (Eupen)
Belgian Embassy in Berlin, seat of the DG representation in Berlin

The legislative power (legislature) forms the parliament of the German-speaking community , which is composed of 25 representatives who are directly elected by the population for five years. For the legislative period 2019-2024 the composition of the parliament is as follows:

Political party Seats
Christian Social Party (CSP) 6th
Socialist Party (SP) 4th
Party for Freedom and Progress (PFF) 3
ProDG 6th
Ecolo 3
Vivant 3
total 25th

Government parties are marked with a dot (•).

The PDG appoints a community senator who represents the German-speaking community at the federal level in the Senate . This office is currently held by Alexander Miesen (PFF). The legislative texts are called decrees. The President of Parliament was Ferdel Schröder (PFF) until his death on January 4, 2013 , and was succeeded by Alexander Miesen (PFF) in January 2013. After the 2014 elections, Miesen was succeeded by the former Prime Minister of the DG Karl-Heinz Lambertz (SP).

In addition to the 25 MPs with voting rights, the German-speaking elected from other decision-making levels (currently a Chamber MP , a representative of the European Parliament , two regional MPs and six members of the Provincial Council ) belong to Parliament with an advisory vote.

Executive power

The executive power is exercised by the government of the German-speaking Community as the Gubernative and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community of Belgium as the administrative . The government of the German-speaking Community is currently formed by a three-party coalition ( ProDG , SP and PFF ). The government has four ministers :

Prime Minister of the German-speaking Community
Surname Beginning of the term of office Term expires Political party
Bruno Fagnoul January 30, 1984 November 11, 1986 PFF
Joseph Maraite November 11, 1986 July 6, 1999 CSP
Karl-Heinz Lambertz July 6, 1999 June 30, 2014 SP
Oliver Paasch June 30, 2014 officiating ProDG


The German-speaking Community maintains a partnership with the State of Rhineland-Palatinate .

Economy and tourism

The typical Venn landscape

Various cycling and hiking trails of the RAVeL network lead through the DG .

Eupener Land

The Eupen region in the north has several industrial focal points, facilitated by the connection to the Belgian railway network and the close connection to the A3 : Eupen cable works , plastics processing companies, production of drying felts for the paper industry, chocolate production, precision mechanical companies, aluminum processing, stone pits, freight forwarding companies, etc.

Tourist attractions are those of the Aachen architect of the Baroque, Johann Josef Couven , designed buildings and Wesertalsperre in Eupen, the City Museum Eupen , the Pottery Museum Raeren , the museum Vieille Montagne in Kelmis with information about Neutral Moresnet and its Galmeiminen and Eyneburg in Kelmis.

Belgian Eifel

In the south of East Belgium, the economy is characterized by the nearby High Fens and the forest areas of the Belgian Eifel , mainly by forestry and agriculture as well as numerous sawmills . Tourism is also an important source of income in the Eifel communities.

The main tourist destinations are the Hohes Venn-Eifel nature park , the medieval Reuland castle , the town of St. Vith, the Bütgenbach dam , the European monument at the three-country point and the Wiesenbach chapel (9th century).


Carnival is celebrated in the German-speaking communities, although this is strongly based on the Aachen carnival .

After it was founded in 1992, the OstbelgienFestival started its first successful season in autumn 1993. The concept of distributing ten top-class concerts across the entire region was very well received by the audience. The idea of ​​leaving the usual concert halls and opening acoustically and architecturally valuable rooms with their special ambience to a wider audience also played an important role. In the meantime, 12 to 17 concerts are held every year throughout the German-speaking Community of Belgium and in the neighboring communities of Malmedy and Stavelot. The artistic direction is carried out by BRF music editor Hans Reul, Joseph Schroeder was the managing director from 1993 to 2011 and Daniel Hilligsmann has been Daniel Hilligsmann since 2012.

In Eupen, Chudoscnik Sunergia has been organizing the Eupen Music Marathon since 1991, in which greats such as BAP , Reamonn , Beatsteaks , Guano Apes , Jupiter Jones , Juli and Rea Garvey have performed. In addition, other events are organized throughout the year, such as the international street theater festival “HAASte Töne ?!” in the lower town.

The Hergenrath Flower Parade takes place every two years , a parade with motif floats decorated with flowers, which attracted up to 20,000 visitors during its weddings. The Flower Parade has been part of the Flower Festival since 2014 , a multi-day event that includes numerous other program items such as concerts and shows.


The German-speaking community has a wide range of media at its disposal, with some of the media mentioned below also being received across borders in Germany. Conversely, numerous German media are also used in the DG.


  • Grenz-Echo AG's daily newspaper Grenz-Echo
  • The weekly newspaper Wochenspiegel, a free paper for the canton of Eupen
  • The weekly newspaper Kurier-Journal, a free paper for the cantons of St. Vith and Malmedy

Online media

  • The online service of the Belgian Radio
  • The online offer of the GrenzEcho
  • The online magazine Ostbelgien Direkt , which started on August 27, 2012 and is operated by the former GrenzEcho editor-in-chief Gerard Cremer


  • Grenz-Echo Verlag of Grenz-Echo AG
  • The Pabst & Pesch publishing house
  • The magazine and book publisher Krautgarten in St. Vith

Radio stations

There is a wide range of private and public broadcasters in Ostbelgien. Terrestrial via VHF or digital radio can be received:

The following can be received on the Internet:

  • Belgian public radio (BRF) with two radio programs (BRF1 and BRF2)
  • The popular and folk music oriented program Radio Sunshine
  • RTR radio with three specialty channels

Television programs


The autonomous university in the German-speaking community in Eupen is at the forefront of the German-speaking education and training system.


With the football club KAS Eupen , a club from the German-speaking community of Belgium played for the first time in the Pro League , the top division of Belgium , in the 2010/11 season . In the 2015/16 season, the club made it to the first division for the second time. The Roller Bulls Ostbelgien from Sankt Vith play in the German wheelchair basketball Bundesliga . The HC Eynatten was repeatedly Belgian league and cup in handball.

The "Association of German-speaking Gymnastics Clubs of Belgium" is u. a. in the discipline wheel gymnastics involved in the Euroregion base wheel gymnastics .

See also

Portal: German-speaking community  - overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of German-speaking community
  • the Flemish Community , which includes the Dutch-speaking area and the bilingual Brussels-Capital area
  • the French Community , which includes the French-speaking area and the bilingual Brussels-Capital area


  • Carlo Lejeune , Christoph Brüll (ed.): Border experiences - a history of the German-speaking community of Belgium. 5 vols., Two of which appeared:
    • Volume 1: Villas, Villages, Castles (Ancient and Middle Ages). Grenz-Echo Verlag, Eupen 2015, ISBN 978-3-86712-104-0 .
    • Volume 5: Purge, Reconstruction, Autonomy Discussions (1944–1973). Grenz-Echo Verlag, Eupen 2013, ISBN 978-3-86712-086-9 .
  • Carlo Lejeune, Andreas Fickers, Freddy Cremer: Traces into the future. Notes on an eventful century . Lexis, Büllingen 2001, ISBN 90-806682-1-4
  • Frank Berge, Alexander Grasse: Belgium - disintegration or federal future model? - The Flemish-Walloon conflict and the German-speaking community . Regionalization in Europe Volume 3. Leske and Budrich, Opladen 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3486-X
  • Hubert Jenniges: Behind the East Belgian scenery. Stations on the way to the autonomy of the German-speaking area in Belgium (1968–1972) . Grenz-Echo, Eupen 2001, ISBN 90-5433-148-8
  • Katrin Stangherlin (Ed.): La Communauté germanophone de Belgique - The German-speaking Community of Belgium . Coll. Projucit, Bruges, La Charte, 2005, ISBN 2-87403-137-2
  • Selm Wenselaers : De laatste Belgen. A divorced van de Oostkantons . Meulenhoff / Manteau, Antwerp 2008, ISBN 90-8542-149-7
  • Evelyne Mertens: The German-speaking Community in Belgium . In: From Politics and Contemporary History , 8, 2008, February 18, 2008 ISSN  0479-611X pp. 3–5. on-line
  • Heinrich Rosensträter: German-speaking Belgians. History and present of the German language group in Belgium. Publishing house Mainz, Aachen 1985
  • Annette Gramß: The German-French language border in Belgium. A sociolinguistic study to the left and right of the neutral road. VDM, Saarbrücken 2008, ISBN 978-3-8364-7524-2

Web links

Commons : German-speaking community  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f population structure. In: Ministry of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, July 1, 2019, accessed on September 11, 2019 .
  2. ↑ The Ostbelgien brand has been launched. In: Belgian Broadcasting, March 16, 2017, accessed May 14, 2017 .
  3. ^ Ostbelgien location brand - Ostbelgien wording and corporate design. December 22, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2017 .
  4. Ostbelgien Live - HOME. Retrieved March 24, 2017 .
  5. Migration and Integration in the German-speaking Community ( Memento from February 19, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF). Council for Development Cooperation, Solidarity and Integration in the DG, 2014
  6. Press release of October 31, 2009. Accessed March 20, 2012 .
  7. Meeting on July 20, 2011. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 19, 2014 ; Retrieved March 20, 2012 .
  8. Klaus Schlupp: Conservative and Open - Evangelical Christians in Belgium on , December 27, 2011.
  9. ^ Website of the Evangelical Church Congregation Eupen - Neu Moresnet
  10. ^ Karl Hans Ertl: Territorial and population losses of the German Empire and German Austria after 1918 , series "German History in the 20th Century". Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft Rosenheim, ISBN 3-920722-35-3 , p. 37.
  11. ^ Karl Hans Ertl: Territorial and Population Losses , p. 38.
  12. Deutsche Rentenversicherung: List of annexed communities in the legal work instructions for Section 113 SGB VI ( Memento from February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive ).
  13. Peter M. Quadflieg , "Zwangssoldaten" and "Ons Jongen". Eupen-Malmedy and Luxembourg as recruiting areas for the German Wehrmacht in World War II . (Master's thesis) Shaker, Aachen 2008, ISBN 978-3-8322-7078-0 .
  14. BGBl. 1958 II p. 262
  15. pages of the SaarLorLux region
  16. Video Belgium - 249 days without government  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 26, 2014. (offline)
  17. Coat of arms and flag. In: Ministry of the German-speaking Community of Belgium, accessed on 14 May 2017 .
  18. Art. 127 Belgian Constitution
  19. Art. 139 Belgian Constitution
  20. Parliament of the DG: Declaration of principles of the parliament on the positioning of the German-speaking community in the process of state reform of June 27, 2011 ( Memento of November 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 270 kB).
  21. See Karl-Heinz Lambertz in June 2012: Belgium, a country with a future? ( Memento of January 9, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 58 kB, p. 3): “A federal state model with the four constituent states of Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and the German-speaking Community of Belgium lies in the logical continuity of the previous development and corresponds without a doubt the four institutional realities that have become firmly established in Belgium since the end of the unified state and with which a very large majority of the respective population feels closely connected. "
  22. ^ Report, Belgischer Rundfunk , February 26, 2019; in English at Foundation future generations
  23. Art. 8 ff. Of the law of December 31, 1983 on institutional reforms for the German-speaking community ( BS January 18, 1984)
  24. ^ The Belgian Constitution, Art. 67, § 1, 5 °
  25. Alexander Miesen is the new President of Parliament . ( Memento from February 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Parliament of the German-speaking Community
  27. Homepage of the event
  28. Flower parade becomes the "Festival of Flowers" . ( Memento of April 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on February 20, 2014
  29. The parade becomes a festival . ( Memento of April 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on February 20, 2014
  30. “Ostbelgien Direkt” starts online