Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
German-speaking community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium (Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Belgien in German) is one of the three federal communities in Belgium. It is also often referred to as the East Cantons or 'Ost-Kantone'. It is 854 sq. Kilometers and has a population of over 71,000 of which almost 100% are German speaking.
The area known today as the East Cantons or DGB was historically part of Germany but were ceded to Belgium following Germany's defeat in World War I and the resulting Treaty of Versailles. Thus they also became known as the "cantons rédimés", "redeemed cantons".
The new cantons had been part of Belgium for just 20 years when in 1940 they were once again retaken by the Germans in World War II. Many people of the east cantons welcomed this as they felt they were German. Following the defeat of Germany in 1945 the cantons were once again annexed by Belgium and as a result of alleged collaboration an attempt was made to 'un-Germanize' the local population by the Belgian and Wallonian authorities.
Starting 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 autonomy. The legislative Council of the German Speaking Community, 'Rat der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft' (or DGB) was set up. Today the DGB has a fair degree of autonomy especially in language and cultural matters. The DGB however still remains part of the region of French speaking Wallonia. There has been much argument in the past few years that the DGB should also be given its own region just as the Flemish and Wallonians. Many German-speakers welcome this. They also demand much more fiscal and financial autonomy; fiscal autonomy is still nearly zero for now.
The current Minister-Präsident of the DG is Karl-Heinz Lambertz . He is one of the persons insisting on full regional autonomy.
- Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft Official Site of the German Speaking Community.
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