Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: waimes | weismes | faymonville | turkey | crescent (white) | star (white) |
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Municipal flag of Waimes - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 11 September 2005
The municipality of Waimes (in German, Weismes; 6,107 inhabitants, 9,719 ha) is made of the former municipalities of Faymonville, Robertville and Waimes. The municipality is part of the Eastern Cantons (but not of the German-speaking Community, cutting it into two parts, the canton of Eupen in the north and the canton of St. Vith in the south), and shares 8 km of borders with Germany. Waimes is therefore the easternmost French-speaking municipality of Belgium and the only one to share a border with Germany.
The municipality is totally included in the ancient massif of Ardenne,
made of rocks dating back to the primary era; the oldest rocks were
submitted to the Caledonian folding (600 millions years BP) whereas the
Ardenne was constituted by the Hercynian folding (300 millions year
BP). Ardenne was eroded during the secondary era, and lifted up again
during the Alpine folding (70 millions years BP). Accordingly, faults
opened and erosion resumed, making of Ardenne a high plateau gashed by
several valleys. During the quaternary era, peat was formed on the
places locally called fagnes. From the total area of the municipality
of Waimes, 39% are arable lands (meadows), 34% are covered with forests
and 13% are fagnes and uncultivated lands. More than half of the
municipal territory (5,487 ha) is part of the Belgo-German natural park
Waimes is the highest municipality in Belgium, having on its territory the highest Belgian "mountain", Signal de Botrange (694 m).
Waimes and the villages constituting the municipality, excepted Faymonville and Sourbrodt, depended on the Principality of Stavelot-Malmédy, founded in the VIIth century by St. Remacle and ruled by a Prince-Abbot. A chart by Arnulf of Carinthia, dated 888, mentions Vuadninnas, probably built on the site of an ancient Carolingian royal estate (villa). The other villages are listed on a document dated 1188. Faymonville and Sourbrodt depended on the Duchy of Luxembourg.
In 1534, a man named Johan Sourbrodt settled near the forest of Averscheidt. The place, known as Walloon Fagnes, belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg but was exploited by the inhabitants of Robertville, depending on the abbey of Stavelot-Malmédy, who suppressed the fences set up by Sourbrodt. After having won a trial, Sourbrodt founded a village bearing his name; in 1703, Sourbrodt purchased the rights on the whole Walloon Fagnes by offering more than the former owners from Robertville. As a retaliation, the inhabitants of Soubrodt were forbidden the entrance of the chapel of Robertville. They built their own chapel, but the conflict worsened. On 1 December 1755, Charles of Lorraine, Governor of the Low Countries signed on behalf of Empress Maria-Theresa a treaty, known as the Borders' Treaty. Some thirty boundary stones were erected in 1756; seven of them are still there. In 1807, Sourbrodt purchased the Walloon Fagne, which was ceded to the Belgian State in 1957 in order to set up the National Nature Reserve of the Upper Fagnes.
Waimes was occupied by France from 1794 to 1814 and later incorporated to Prussia with the Malmedian Wallonia. In 1873, Chancellor Bismarck imposed the Germanization (Kulturkampf) to the administration, the schools and the church. Abbots Bastin in Faymonville and Pietkin in Soubrodt refused; since French was forbidden, people decided to speak Walloon. This explained why Walloon is still very vivid in Waimes.
In 1875, a Silesian miner named Julius Jung visited Waimes and noticed several heaps located near the brooks and rivers. He understood that the heaps were remains of gold washing workshops set up there by the Celts in the IIIrd-Ist centuries BP. After his retirement, Jung started gold washing and found significant amounts of gold specks. Jung's findings triggered a gold rush in 1896. In Faymonville, a small brook located near the sources of the Warchenne was particularly rich in gold. It was renamed Goldbach (Gold brook); the gold washer Joseph Paquay employed there three to four workers until the Second World War. Gold washing resumed in Waimes a few years ago as a leisure, and the first Belgian Championship of Gold Washing was organized there.
After the First World War, the Eastern Cantons were reallocated to Belgium, which officially reincorporated them in 1925. Hitler annexed the Eastern Cantons to the German Reich in 1940 and forced the inhabitants of the area to join the German army. During the winter 1944-1945 and the German counter-offensive in Ardenne, Faymonville was destroyed at 90%.
Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005
The municipal flag of Waimes, as confirmed by the municipal administration is made of ten horizontal stripes in turn black and white. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.
However, Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones says that Waimes has no flag.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005
Flag of Faymonville - Image by Željko Heimer, 11 September 2005
The inhabitants of Faymonville are nicknamed Turks. The local football club is RFC Turkania, the youth association is "The United Young Turks" and the hotel of the village is named "At the Old Sultan's". A legend says that the nickname dates back to the battle of Amel (716) known as Türkenschlacht (Turks' battle). There is, however, a more plausible explanation of the nickname: in the XVIth-XVIIth centuries, the Princes-Abbots of Stavelot often collected taxes to fund the war of the Holy Empire against the Ottomans; the collects were common in the churches depending on monasteries, like in Waimes, and were not very popular. At that time, Faymonville depended on the Duchy of Luxembourg and had not to pay taxes; accordingly, the inhabitants of Faymonville were accusated to support the enemies of the Empire and were nicknamed Turks.
The flag used in Faymonville is indeed the Turkish national flag. Images can be seen on the Anadolu website. Accordongly, the Turkish flag is used during parades but is also hoisted on the village square along with the flags of Belgium and Wallonia.
Ivan Sache, 9 June 2005